Best Detroit Tigers Debut Number 2 – Andy Van Hekken
In the late 1990s the Seattle Mariners started raiding Michigan for MLB Draft talent. From 1996-1999 they took five Michigan natives near the top of the draft, from Dan Garey of St. Joseph, to J.J. Putz of Trenton. And in 1997 they used their 3rd round pick on Andy Van Hekken, a left-handed pitcher from Holland High School. Van Hekken spent just one season in the Seattle organization before he was traded to the Detroit Tigers for speedy center fielder Brian Hunter.
Van Hekken was considered one of Detroit’s top ten prospects, and on Septembers 3, 2002 he made his MLB debut. And what an interesting debut it was. Van Hekken threw a shutout on 114 pitches, blanking Cleveland despite allowing 8 hits and 2 walks while striking out just one batter. That pitching line (9IP, 8H, 0ER, 2BB, K) has been achieved dozens of times in MLB history, but Van Hekken is the last to do it (oddly enough, Greg Maddux did it just 6 days earlier).
Andy Van Hekken made four more starts that season, but never won another game, and he never reached the Majors again. He’s still the last pitcher to throw a shutout in his MLB debut.