Frosch Returns to Pen, Saints Add Van Steensel
One from the right side and one from the left side. The St. Paul Saints bullpen continues to get deeper as manager George Tsamis remakes the strength of the team from 2018. He signed former Minnesota Twins farmhand, right-handed pitcher Todd Van Steensel and announced lefty Ken Frosch will play out his option in 2019.
The 28-year-old Van Steensel is coming off his third All-Star season in the last four years. In 2018 he pitched at Double-A Chattanooga in the Twins system and was solid going 5-1 with a 3.07 ERA and four saves in 25 games (two starts). In 44.0 innings pitched he walked 23 and struck out 49 while opponents hit a miniscule .169 against him. He went at least 2.0 scoreless innings in 12 of his 23 relief appearances and struck out at least one hitter in 23 of 25 appearances. He was released by the Twins in August.
The Sydney, Australia native was a non-drafted free agent signee by the Philadelphia Phillies in 2009 and pitched in the Gulf Coast League that year. He was 2-1 with a 5.83 ERA in 12 games (five starts). In 29.1 innings pitched he walked eight and struck out 29 while opponents hit .314 against him.
He was released by the Phillies prior to the 2010 season and headed to Australia where he attended the MLB Australian Academy. While there Van Steensel caught the attention of the Minnesota Twins who signed him in June, 2011.
Van Steensel spent all of 2011 with the Low-A Elizabethton Twins. He was 5-2 with a 5.68 ERA in 13 games (10 starts). In 57.0 innings pitched he walked 17 and struck out 58 while opponents hit .263 against him. The Twins made the playoffs, but lost two-games-to-one to Bluefield.
Over the next two years Van Steensel pitched in Australia and was re-signed by the Twins in 2014 where he began to show his dominance. He began the year at Single-A Cedar Rapids and went 0-0 with a 1.30 ERA and eight saves in 23 relief appearances. In 34.2 innings pitched he walked just nine and struck out 45 while opponents hit .189 against him and he had a stellar 0.923 WHIP. He finished up his time with the Kernels by not allowing a run over his final seven appearances (8.2 IP). He also showed his strikeout prowess, fanning 22 over his first six outings (13.0 IP). He struck out six in 2.1 relief innings on May 9 at Wisconsin. On July 7 the Twins promoted Van Steensel to High-A Fort Myers where he continued his success going 1-0 with a 1.52 ERA and one save in 16 relief appearances. In 23.2 innings pitched he walked 15 and struck out 26 while opponents hit .181 against him. He allowed a run in just two of 16 relief appearances and allowed one run over his final 20.2 innings pitched. He helped lead the Miracle to their first Florida State League Championship.
In 2015 Van Steensel earned his first All-Star appearance pitching the entire season in Fort Myers. He was 2-4 with a 2.32 ERA and 13 saves in 46 relief appearances. In 66.0 innings pitched he walked 32 and struck out 81 while opponents hit .223 against him. Van Steensel finished the season second in the Florida State League in strikeouts per nine innings (11.05), tied for third in games pitched and fourth in games finished (29). He struck out at least one batter over his first 27 relief appearances and did not allow a run over seven relief appearances (13.0 IP) from May 30-June 17. He went at least 2.0 shutout innings in 16 different appearances.
The hot pitching continued with his second All-Star appearance in 2016 as Van Steensel spent most of the season with the Miracle. He was 4-2 with a 3.46 ERA and five saves in 39 relief appearances. In 54.2 innings pitched he walked 28 and struck out 50 while opponents hit .238 against him. He was promoted to Double-A Chattanooga on August 18. He was 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA in five relief appearances.
Van Steensel dominated Double-A in 2017 going 5-3 with a 1.38 ERA in 36 relief appearances. In 58.2 innings pitched he walked 25 and struck out 59 while opponents hit .207 against him. He finished fourth in the Southern League in lowest batting average against among relievers and fewest baserunners per nine innings (11.05), and fifth in strikeouts per nine innings (9.05). His team shared the Southern League title with Pensacola when the championship series was cancelled due to the impending threat of Hurricane Irma. Van Steensel finished out the season by allowing just one run over his final 10 relief appearances (13.1 IP). He went at least 2.0 shutout innings in 18 different appearances.
The 29-year-old, left-handed Frosch will play out his option year after having an incredible 2018. He was 3-1 with a 2.06 ERA and one save in 52 relief appearances. In 39.1 innings pitched he walked 16 and struck out 39 while opponents hit just .157 against him. He was nearly untouchable against lefties who hit .107 against him with just seven hits, only one for extra bases, in 67 at bats. He also didn’t allow a run in four relief appearances in the playoffs. He set the franchise record, and finished second in the American Association, in games pitched. Frosch was remarkable all-season long and started out of the gate unscored upon in his first 28.2 innings pitched over 35 outings. The 28.2 scoreless innings were the second longest streak in franchise history only surpassed by Caleb Thielbar’s 29.2 scoreless streak in 2011.
Frosch was a reliable lefty out of the pen for the Saints in 2017. In just his second professional season he went 4-1 with a 3.61 ERA and one save in 35 relief appearances. In 42.1 innings pitched he walked 18 and struck out 42 while opponents hit just .239 against him. He went nine consecutive appearances, a span of 14.0 innings pitched, without allowing a run from July 2-August 4. Frosch proved how reliable he could be early in the season when he pitched the final 3.0 innings, on May 29, of a 15-inninng contest, allowing just one hit, and got the win on the road at Cleburne. He went multiple innings 10 times and didn’t give up a run in nine of them. Along with the May 29 appearance he also went 3.0 shutout innings on June 8 at Kansas City.
Frosch had a tremendous rookie campaign in 2016 with the Evansville Otters in the Frontier League. He went 5-4 with a miniscule 1.50 ERA in 47 relief appearances. In 48.0 innings pitched he walked just 21 and struck out 37 while opponents hit a minute .144 against him. In his professional debut on May 18 he tossed 2.0 perfect innings of relief against the Normal CornBelters. Overall he tossed 36 scoreless appearances and had a string of eight consecutive appearances without allowing a run from May 28-June 14 and didn’t allow a run in 13-straight appearances from July 16-August 11. He was a workhorse throwing on four consecutive days on two separate occasions and three consecutive days three times. He finished third in the Frontier League in games pitched and helped guide the Otters to the championship allowing one run in 6.0 innings of relief over six appearances. He was traded to the Saints on November 21 for a player to be named later.
Frosch is a graduate of Palm Beach Atlantic University and led the team in appearances during his senior season with 19. He finished 2-4 with a 4.72 ERA in 26.2 innings of work. He walked just eight and struck out 17.
During his first season at Palm Beach Atlantic University Frosch went 5-0 with a 3.45 ERA in 18 relief appearances. In 28.2 innings pitched he walked 10 and struck out 22.
Frosch began his collegiate career at Pasco-Hernando Community College where he was chosen as the Suncoast Conference Fireman of the Year, given to the top reliever in the conference.
The Saints have eight players on their roster.
P Mitch Brown
P Ken Frosch
P Eddie Medina
P Todd Van Steensel
INF Josh Allen
INF Devon Rodriguez
INF Joey Wong
OF Max Murphy
The Saints begin the 2019 season with a 10-game homestand. Opening Day is Thursday, May 16 at 7:05 p.m. against the newest member of the Milwaukee Milkmen.
By Sean Aronson