ST. PAUL, MN (January 21, 2013) – The St. Paul Saints will have the luxury of choosing between a righty and a lefty in late game situations during the 2013 season. Right-hander Mike Mehlich and left-hander Connor Whalen, both who have experience as closers, were signed by the Saints on Monday.
The 25-year-old Mehlich was actually claimed off of waivers by the Saints in August of 2012 after pitching for the Kansas City T-Bones in the American Association. Mehlich was placed on the inactive list, but had a solid season with the T-Bones. He was 1-2 with a 3.27 ERA and nine saves in 23 games. In 22.0 innings pitched he walked 16 and struck out 21 while opponents hit .250 against him. Mehlich began the 2012 season in the Atlantic League with the Camden Riversharks where he went 1-0 with a 7.16 ERA in 13 games. In 16.1 innings pitched he walked nine and struck out 14 while opponents hit .279 against him.
Mehlich was a quarterback at Bishop Moore High School in Florida, but his fastball, which was clocked between 88-94, earned him an 11th round draft pick by the Atlanta Braves in 2006. He spent four seasons in the Braves organization as a reliever and reached High-A Myrtle Beach in 2009. In 2006, at the Gulf Coast level, and in 2008, with Rome in the South Atlantic League, his K/9 IP was an eye-popping 10.1 and has averaged 8.4 strikeouts per 9.0 innings in his career. After being released by the Braves organization in 2009, he began the 2010 season with the Newark Bears of the Can-Am League and then signed with the Florence Freedom of the Frontier League. He pitched all of 2011 with the Bears and set a career high with 13 saves.
The 24-year-old Whalen spent his only two professional baseball seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers organization. He signed as a non-drafted free agent in June, 2011 out of the University of Santa Barbara. He started that season with the organizations Arizona League team. Last season he split time between Rookie League Helena and Single-A Brevard County. He went 1-2 with a 3.61 ERA and seven saves between the two stops. In 42.1 innings pitched he walked 20 and struck out 48 while opponents hit .266 against him.
While at Santa Barbara, Whalen pitched two years (2010-11) for the Gauchos and appeared in 46 games, the most by any player over that span. He was 1-1 with a 3.73 ERA in 31.1 innings pitched striking out 33. He earned the Golden Eagle Award in 2011, given to the player with the highest grade point average.
The Saints currently have 13 players under contract, four position players and nine pitchers. The Saints 2013 season begins on Thursday, May 16 with a 7:05 p.m. home game against the New Jersey Jackals.