By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Right-handed pitcher Patrick Christensen enjoyed a dominant career as the hammer at the back of the bullpen for La Salle University.
He graduated in 2013 tied for 5th, all-time, in saves in Division I history with 44.
Last June, he was drafted by the Houston Astros in the 27th round, and since turning pro he has not missed a beat.
Christensen is currently in the bullpen for Houston’s Single-A team in the Midwest League, the Quad Cities (Iowa) River Bandits.
“So far things have been going pretty well,” Christensen tells KYW Newsradio. “I’m glad that things have been working out and hopefully, I keep getting a shot to pitch and move in the organization if they give me one. So I’m liking where things have gone so far and hopefully, they continue to go well for me.”
In eight games this season, Christensen, a side-armer, is 1-1 with a 1.13 ERA in eight innings. He has struck out nine and walked two, while allowing just five hits.
This success comes after he put together a 2.57 ERA in 23 games last season in his first taste of professional baseball. One of the most impressive things about Christensen is how he doesn’t beat himself. In 36 innings as a pro, he has walked just five batters. Needless to say, the transition from college to the pros has been quite smooth.
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“Going to college for four years, maybe you have a little bit of an advantage because you’ve played a little bit longer than some of the young guys coming out of high school,” the 23-year-old Christensen says. “So I think that definitely helped me out. I wasn’t sure coming in, I’m not really the guy who is hitting 95 on the gun, I’m more of a mid-to-upper 80’s guy at best. So I was a little nervous at first, that that’s going to translate into pro ball. But so far, so good. So I’m hoping I can continue the success I’ve had so far.”
In addition to that impressive save total, Christensen also set a La Salle mark for lowest career ERA (2.72). He finished his college career second in school history in appearances (105), third in wins (17) and fourth in strikeouts (206). As far as the biggest lesson he learned during his college career? He says that’s how to deal with pressure situations on the mound.
“I think that’s been pretty key for me,” Christensen says. “Because lately (with Quad Cities) I’ve been coming in with a couple guys on base, maybe a turning point in the game early on, fifth inning, two guys on base, one out. I think being the closer at La Salle helped me out. So I kind of got used to the pressure situations, was able not to let those bother me, and just pitch how I want to pitch without letting the outside factors influence me. I think that’s been probably the best thing that happen to me being at La Salle, the amount of pressure I got there and being able to take that and use it to my advantage out here.”
Christensen is a California kid who played his college ball in Philadelphia and now finds himself in Iowa. So baseball has already provided quite the ride.
“It’s been nice,” Christensen says. “I got to travel a lot when I went to La Salle, different places. Never thought I’d really be in the Midwest playing baseball, but here I am in Iowa. It’s actually pretty fun. I enjoy it out here.”
Christensen and his Quad Cities squad plays a double-header Thursday night against the Clinton LumberKings.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.