Big man on campus: Jon Rauch
In the spring of 1998 Turks owner Bob Wease, took a chance on signing an unknown RHP from Morehead State University to come and play for the Turks that summer. From the day that Jon Rauch arrived in Harrisonburg, the 6’10” 220 lb. pitcher made his presence known. Rauch who was quickly tagged “Lurch” (for the butler from the TV series “The Addams Family”) by his fans, proved to be an intimidating figure on the mound as his new namesake.
“Lurch” never let the pressure get to him. He valiantly faced each opponent with determination and unharnassed talent while continually developed his pitching skills. Wease watched as his prize find Rauch completely dominated the Valley League. He compiled a record of 8-1 .889 winning percent, an ERA of 1.69, and 126 SO. Raunch won the Outstanding Pitcher Award for the Turks, made All-Star Team, and won the MVP and Outstanding Pitcher Award for the VBL that summer. Rauch went from obscurity to being swarmed by fans, scouts, Baseball America and ESPN.
In 1999 Jon Rauch was drafted in the 3rd round by the Chicago White Sox. During his two seasons in the minor league he compiled a record of 16-4, 187 SO in 166 innings with an ERA of 2.66. In 2000 he pitched in the Minor League All Star game and went on to win the Baseball Americas’ Minor League Player of the Year award. While that was a wonderful accomplishment in itself, there was more excitement in store for the young athlete. Rauch was selected to be on the USA Olympic Baseball Team in Sydney, Australia. His performance during the Olympics produced 21 strikeouts in 11 innings with 0 walks, 6 hits, and 1 earned run.
The Turks are proud to have shared a brief moment in the exciting career of this outstanding athlete. Jon Rauch is not only a talented pitcher with a bright future ahead of him, but he is a first class young man. It was truly a pleasure getting to know him.
“Best wishes from all your fans in the Shenandoah Valley, Jon! We look forward to seeing you play your second season in the White Sox starting pitching rotation!”