Steven Shell

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Steven Daniel Shell

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Biographical Information[edit]

Steven Shell pitched 8 years in the minors before making his major league debut in 2008 for the Washington Nationals. He had one of the most notable wins in Team USA history.


Shell was a third-round pick of the Anaheim Angels in the 2001 amateur draft, their 4th overall selection after Casey Kotchman, Jeff Mathis and Dallas McPherson. The pick was compensation for the loss of Mark Petkovsek to free agency. The 81st pick overall, Shell had gone 4-7 as a high school senior with a 2.56 ERA. He had struck out 117 in 71 innings, though. He was signed by scout Kevin Ham for a $460,000 bonus and made his pro debut that summer.

2001-2007: Minors[edit]

Shell split his first pro season between the AZL Angels (1-0, 0 R in 4 IP) and the Provo Angels (0-3, 1 Sv, 7.17, .331 opponent batting average). In 2002, the teenager was starting regularly in a full-season league, going 11-4 with a 3.72 ERA for the Cedar Rapids Kernels with 26 walks in 121 innings.

Shell was 6-8 with a 4.24 ERA for the 2003 Rancho Cucamonga Quakes and was third in the California League in fewest walks per 9 innings (1.91). He pitched in the California League All-Star Game. Baseball America rated him as the league's #18 prospect, between Drew Meyer and Jason Botts.

In 2004, the right-hander returned to Rancho Cucamonga and improved to 12-7, 3.59. He twice was named Cal League Pitcher of the Month and struck out 190 while walking 40 in 165 1/3 IP. He was named the Organization's Pitcher of the Year. Shell led Angels minor leaguers in strikeouts and was 4th overall in the affiliated minors, trailing Brandon McCarthy, Yusmeiro Petit and Jeff Francis. He led the California League in strikeouts and was 4th in ERA after Brian Burres, Enrique Gonzalez and Bobby Livingston. He was one win shy of a pitching Triple Crown as Gonzalez and Matt Lynch each won 13. Shell was named to the California League postseason All-Star team. Baseball America ranked him as the league's #12 prospect, between John Danks and Jeff Baker.

Shell was less effective in 2005 with the Arkansas Travelers. He allowed a .283 average, was 10-8 and had a 4.57 ERA while walking the third-most batters in the Texas League, 58. He was third in the TL in strikeouts (126). He was rated as the TL's #16 prospect by Baseball America, between Joe Saunders and Omar Quintanilla.

In 2006, Shell pitched for Arkansas (1-2, 4.00) and the Salt Lake Stingers (4-9, 6.16, .326 average). In 2007, he had a 0.68 ERA in five games for Arkansas and was 7-3 with a 4.73 ERA for Salt Lake, working out of the bullpen primarily.

2007: Team USA[edit]

He joined Team USA that summer. Roughed up in 2 2/3 IP in the Arizona Fall League (13.50 ERA), he had a 6.43 ERA in three games in the 2007 Baseball World Cup. On November 9, he pitched in the US's 6-2 loss to Italy, relieving Jerry Blevins with a 3-2 deficit and two on in the 4th and allowing hits by Maximiliano De Biase and Mario Chiarini to make it 6-2; Shell was charged with one run, the only earned run the US gave up that game. He pitched 3 2/3 innings on the game, allowing only that one run. On November 14, he relieved Josh Outman with a 6-3 lead over host Taiwan in the sixth. He retired his first batter via strikeout, but then plunked #3 batter Chen-Min Peng and allowed a single to Chin-Feng Chen and walked Tai-Shan Chang. He was replaced on the mound by Blevins, who allowed a 3-run double to Chia-Hsien Hsieh to tie the game and charge Shell with three runs. Despite those two outings, Shell was still Davey Johnson's choice to relieve Brian Duensing with a 5-2 lead over Cuba in the bottom of the fifth in the Gold Medal game. Shell was at his best, allowing no hits and striking out 3 in the next 3 innings. He finally tired in the bottom of the 8th, allowing a double to Yulieski Gourriel and a single to Alexander Mayeta to close it to 6-3; Blevins relieved him. Shell got credit for the victory, the first time the US had ever beaten Cuba in the Gold Medal game of a Baseball World Cup and the first US Gold in a World Cup in over 30 years. Despite his poor statistics for the competition, Shell had come through when it counted.

The Majors at last[edit]

Steven Shell started the 2008 season with the AAA Columbus Clippers after joining the Washington Nationals organization in the off-season. He went 3-2, 2.62 with one save in 22 games with 54 strikeouts in 58 ⅓ innings. He made his major league debut on June 22 pitching one inning of scoreless relief against the Texas Rangers. He entered in the 9th with a 5-3 deficit and got David Murphy, Ian Kinsler and Brandon Boggs in order.


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