'Surprised' Ivey to make MLB debut Friday

May 20th, 2021

HOUSTON – Astros pitching prospect walked into the clubhouse kitchen at Minute Maid Park last weekend and was greeted by pitching coach Brent Strom, who delivered some information that would leave the young right-hander stunned and bring his family to tears.

Strom told Ivey he would be making his Major League debut on Friday against the Rangers -- near where he grew up cheering for those same Rangers in Rowlett, Texas -- as a replacement for injured starter José Urquidy. Ivey is the Astros’ No. 9-ranked prospect, per MLB Pipeline.

“I was kind of taken [aback],” Ivey said. “I was like ‘Whoa, hold on a second. Are you serious?’ That’s how I found out. I was really surprised and very thankful.”

Ivey, 25, started at Texas A&M as a freshman before transferring to Grayson County Community College, where he was drafted by the Astros in the third round in 2017 after posting 14.1 strikeouts per nine innings. He worked just 52 innings in 2019, when he got suspended after umpires found a foreign substance on his glove and was sidelined for six weeks with an elbow sprain. He missed out on alternate camp and instructional league last year after coming down with COVID-19.

Ivey has a 3.19 ERA in 52 career Minor League games, including 38 starts. He appeared in two games with Triple-A Sugar Land this year, posting a 7.11 ERA and 1.90 WHIP in 6 1/3 innings. In his last full season in the Minors in 2019, he posted a 1.38 ERA with 68 strikeouts in 52 innings, topping out at Double-A Corpus Christi.

Added to the 40-man roster in November, Ivey has a funky delivery. His fastball tops out at 95 mph and he has a plus curveball while mixing in a slider and changeup, which he has been trying to refine. He threw five innings in three outings in the spring and struck out six batters.

“I like what I’ve seen,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “I think I’ve got a pretty good eye on things. I’m just hoping that the big stage is not too much for him, which I don’t think it will be. He’s a pretty determined young man and borderline stubborn, which I kind of like a little bit. He’ll be pitching in front of his hometown folks, which a lot of times makes you better.”

Ivey grew up in Rowlett, which is about a 30-minute drive from Arlington. He was a Rangers fan growing up, but said he also spent a couple of years of his youth in the Houston suburb of Katy and cheered for the Astros for a time, as well.

“Growing up a Rangers fan, it’s really crazy,” he said. “The Lord works in mysterious ways. To be able to make my debut in my hometown is something. I just can’t describe it.”

Ivey struck out seven batters and allowed three runs and four hits in 4 2/3 innings in his first 2021 start May 7 for Sugar Land at Albuquerque. He threw in relief Friday in Round Rock, giving up two runs on three hits, including a homer in 1 2/3 innings.

“It’s all good, my arm is in good shape and I’m ready to go as long as I possibly can,” he said.