San Francisco Giants right-hander Sean Hjelle, listed officially at 6-foot-11, tied retired reliever Jon Rauch as the tallest pitcher in Major League Baseball history on Friday night when he made his big-league debut against the St. Louis Cardinals. Hjelle had been promoted to the majors hours earlier as part of a series of roster moves that saw the Giants activate outfielder LaMonte Wade Jr. and option pitchers Sammy Long and Mauricio Llovera to the minors.
Hjelle worked a perfect seventh inning, coercing a ground out from Juan Yepez to begin the frame. He then struck out Corey Dickerson on four pitches before getting another ground out, this time off the bat of Andrew Knizner.
Here’s video of Hjelle’s strikeout against Dickerson:
Hjelle, who will celebrate his 25th birthday on Saturday, was originally selected by the Giants in the second round of the 2018 draft. He entered the season ranked by Baseball America as the 21st best prospect in San Francisco’s system. BA noted that Hjelle throws a “mix of four- and two-seam fastballs,” as well as a slider and a changeup. Despite his size, his writeup concluded that he’s “uniquely coordinated,” which allows him to boast average control over his pitches.
Hjelle (pronounced like “jelly”) played his college baseball at Kentucky. He had made five starts in Triple-A this season, amassing a 4.37 ERA and a 2.80 strikeout-to-walk ratio. For his minor-league career, Hjelle has a 3.90 ERA over 69 appearances (all starts).
Hjelle and Rauch are the only big-league pitchers to be measured at 6-foot-11. Several pitchers have been listed at 6-foot-10, including Hall of Fame left-hander Randy Johnson and injured Tampa Bay Rays reliever Aaron Slegers.