July 7, 2000
Former Clemson pitcher and current Toronto Blue Jay reliever Billy Koch has agreed to answer questions on Ask The Tigers. Ask The Tigers is a feature on ClemsonTigers.com where fans submit questions to selected guests that are affiliated with Clemson athletics.
Koch is in his second season with the Blue Jays and has 19 saves through games played on July 6. In his first year with the club, Koch set the American League record for saves by a rookie with 31 to surpass the old record of 24 set by Gregg Olson in 1989 with Baltimore. In July of last season, Koch set the Blue Jays’ club record for saves in a month with 11 on the way to winning the AL Rolaids Relief Award for the month.
During his final year at Clemson, Koch had a 10-5 record with an ERA of 3.14. He appeared in 19 games and had 152 strikeouts in 112 innings pitched. He helped lead the Tigers to the 1996 College World Series. Koch was the fourth pick overall of the Major League draft that summer by the Blue Jays. Following his final season at Clemson, Koch was a member of the 1996 U.S. Olympic Team.
In 1997, Koch pitched in three games for Toronto’s single A team in Dunedin, Fla. before suffering a season ending injury to his right elbow. The injury required reconstructive surgery on his ulnar colateral ligament.
Koch made a miraculous comeback during the 1998 season. He earned Howe Sportsdata’s Comeback Player of the Year as he spent most of the season with Dunedin where he was 14-7 with a 3.75 ERA. He was also named to the Florida State League All-Star team.
Koch opened the 1999 season with Syracuse, Toronto’s AAA affiliate, and was 3-0 in five starts with a 3.86 ERA before his contract was purchased by Toronto from Syracuse on May 5.
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