Zags in the MLB: Casey Legumina shines early for Reds

Legumina has struck out nine batters over his first four big-league innings

Former Gonzaga University pitcher Casey Legumina made his MLB debut on April 15. After playing many different roles for the Zags, he is trying to make his mark on the professional level.

Legumina was drafted into the MLB three different times. In 2016, he was a 25th-round pick out of high school by the Toronto Blue Jays and he did not sign. In 2018, Cleveland spent a 35th-round pick on him after a stellar season, but he returned to the Zags for one final season. Finally, he signed with the Minnesota Twins after being an eighth-round pick in 2019.

His time with GU came with accolades and records. In 2018, he was the team’s closer, recording a program-record 13 saves in 26 appearances. He sported a 2.77 ERA and had 52 strikeouts in 48.2 innings.

The 2018 team won the West Coast Conference and made the College Baseball World Series Regionals where they got a win against Canisius College, but lost two games to UCLA and were unable to advance.

Legumina made the switch to starting pitcher in the 2019 season and got off to a hot start going 2-0 in four starts with a 1.50 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 24.0 innings. Unfortunately, he suffered an injury that would end his season and would be the end of his career with the Zags. 

“You saw big league potential when he was here,” said associate head coach Brandon Harmon. “2019 unfortunately his year got cut short because of injury, but those first four weeks, he was one of the top arms in the country.”

After working through the Twins farm system, he was traded in the offseason to the Cincinnati Reds. He began the season in Triple-A Louisville but was quickly called up to the big leagues. 

In the majors, he has been working out of the bullpen and threw two shutout innings in his debut. Three days later he made another appearance giving up one run in 2.1 innings and was sent back down to the minors after the game. 

However, after placing Wil Myers on the injured list and Graham Ashcraft on the bereavement list, Legumina was recalled to the bigs. 

The former Zag was called into a one-run game against the A’s where he pitched a scoreless eighth inning. The Reds came back to win the game in the ninth and Legumina recorded his first MLB win.

“You never know when you’re going to get it,” Legumina said to reporters after the game. “It’s a cool experience. All the guys go crazy.”

He made sure he remembered the moment as well, taking some mementos from the win. 

“I got the lineup card and the umpire cards,” Legumina said. “But the win is good enough.”

It appears that he will remain rostered for the time being with reliever Fernando Cruz being placed on the injured list. 

The former Zag struck out three Padres in his next appearance after the win. Unfortunately for him, his last two outings were not as strong as he gave up a seven runs across two innings. 

It is just the beginning for Legumina. He has made his way to the big leagues quickly and with the Reds potentially in another rebuilding season, they could opt to keep the younger guys up to see what they have for the future.

Legumina’s success was not a shock to the ones who saw him pitch at GU and he will have the continued support of the Zags as his career progresses.

“Not surprised that he made the big leagues,” Harmon said. “Obviously it’s a huge task to get there … proud of him, hopefully, he can have a big, long career.”

Aidan Chrisley is a staff writer.