The Round Rock Express inducted pitcher Kirk Saarloos to their Hall of Fame on Friday, September 9, 2022, at Dell Diamond in Round Rock Texas.
Although his time with the Round Rock Express was brief, Kirk Saarloos left a lasting legacy on the team’s record books. In 2002, the 22-year-old righty pitched to a 10-1 record with a 1.40 ERA in 13 starts with the Express, striking out 82 while walking only 21. To this day, he still owns the lowest career ERA in Round Rock Express franchise history among pitchers who threw at least 50.0 innings with the club.
Across his 13 outings in 2002, Saarloos posted a jaw-dropping .828 WHIP while holding his opposition to a .168 batting average. His WHIP remains the best in franchise history, both for a single season and a career, while his career opponent batting average is surpassed only by Steve Randolph’s .139 mark from 2007-2008.
Just months removed from a record-setting, four-year career at Cal State Fullerton, Saarloos began his professional career by going 1-1 with a miniscule 1.17 ERA (4 ER/30.2 IP) in 22 games with Class A Lexington after being drafted by the Houston Astros in the third round of the 2001 MLB Draft
After tossing six shutouts in his final 10 games with the Express, Saarloos was called up by the Houston Astros to make his major league debut on June 16, 2002. The rookie went on to make 17 starts with the Astros that season, winning a bevy of awards, including National League Rookie of the Month in July, Houston Astros Minor League Pitcher of the Year, Texas League Pitcher of the Year and Round Rock Express Pitcher of the Year.
Saarloos pitched in 36 games with the Astros in 2003, finishing 2-1 with a 4.93 ERA (27 ER/49.1 IP) while racking up 43 strikeouts to only 17 walks. He was part of a six-pitcher no-hitter of the New York Yankees on June 11, hurling 1.1 innings of relief in what was the final no-hitter thrown at the original Yankee Stadium.
The Long Beach, California native was traded to the Oakland Athletics in 2004, where he went on to pitch in 70 games, including 48 starts, with the club over the next three seasons. He also pitched with the Cincinnati Reds prior to announcing his retirement as a player following the 2009 season.
He returned to his alma mater to serve as Cal State Fullerton’s Pitching Coach in 2011, where he helped lead the Titans to a pair of NCAA Regionals before accepting a job as the Pitching Coach at TCU prior to the start of the 2013 season. In 2021, Saarloos was named the 20th head coach of TCU baseball.
During his time at TCU, the Horned Frogs have totaled six conference regular season and tournament championships as well as four College World Sries appearances.