Pitcher has big league dreams for the future
April 6th, 2012; Kent, OH, USA; Kent State Baseball teams against Buffalo in a Friday matchup at Olga A. Mural Field at Schoonover Stadium. The Kent State Golden Flashes defeat the Buffalo Bulls 5-4. Photo by Matthew Vern Bliss.On April 6, 2012, pitcher David Starn recorded his 275th career strikeout in a game against Buffalo and became the all-time strikeout leader in the history of Kent State baseball. Four years ago, many college scouts wouldn’t have even imagined Starn would be this good.
Starn, a Hudson, Ohio, native, played baseball for Walsh Jesuit High School and became a dominating force on the mound before coming to Kent State. In his three seasons with Walsh Jesuit, Starn compiled a record of 34-6 and led the Warriors to state championships in 2006 and 2008. The left-handed pitcher was also named first team All-Ohio in 2008.
Despite his high school accomplishments, most colleges passed on Starn and refused to give him an opportunity to prove himself at the college level.
Kent State gave him the opportunity.
“I was a walk-on here, so I didn’t really have a lot of offers coming out of high school,” Starn said. “But I made the right decision in coming here. They took a chance on me, and it turned out good for me.”
One could say it turned out better than good. As a walk-on in 2009, Starn contributed immediately as a freshman, appearing in 19 games and winning both of his starts that season. He has started nearly every game he has appeared in since then and holds a career record of 22-8 over the course of four seasons.
Now a senior, Starn looks to continue his success and extend his strikeout total, which now sits at 289 with much of his final college season left to go.
Coach Scott Stricklin said Starn has overcome a lot of odds after so many college scouts overlooked him.
“He had a successful high school career, but because he’s not a real hard thrower, he didn’t get the scholarship offers,” Stricklin said. “We gave him the option to walk on here, and after his first year, he was no longer a walk-on. He earned his scholarship right away.”
Starn said breaking the career strikeout record at Kent State was a memorable moment of his career, but he said winning another championship is still his number one priority.
“It was just a great accomplishment, but ultimately what we’re trying to do is just win,” Starn said. “It’s a great feeling to have, but we’re just trying to win another championship here. That’s the ultimate goal.”
After this season ends and his college career comes to a close, Starn said he will set his sights on continuing his career in Major League Baseball.
“That’s always been my dream, to play professional baseball.” Starn said. “That’s what I’m going to try to do, and I’m going to do whatever I can to do it.”
Starn said he has received letters and forms from nearly every MLB team and has talked to a few professional scouts. Stricklin said Starn possesses a lot of qualities that scouts will like.
“He’s a different kind of pitcher,” Stricklin said. “He’s not the guy who’s going to throw a fastball by you, but his fastball is good enough, and he’s got other great pitches. He’s a pitcher who can really frustrate hitters because he can throw every pitch for a strike. Plenty of pro scouts like him, and he’s going to get an opportunity at the next level.”
Birkbeck agrees with Stricklin and said he feels Starn has a very good chance of being drafted.
“He is, in the true sense of the word, a pitcher,” Birkbeck said. “He commands the ball, he commands the game and those are things that professional scouts are looking for.”
Birkbeck, who pitched in the major leagues from 1986 to 1995, said in order to make it to the next level, a player needs to be consistent, healthy and a bit lucky. He said he believes Starn has what it takes to become a big leaguer.
“You need to be consistently good every year and throughout the course of your career,” Birkbeck said. “ ... We’re rooting for him. We do everything we possibly can to promote his cause, but what he does on the mound far exceeds anything we could ever say about him.”
Starn will take the mound Friday in a 3 p.m. start against Western Michigan at Schoonover Stadium.