Local lefties shining in minors


Two former high school pitching standouts, both southpaws, are enjoying success so far this season in the minor leagues.

Columbia’s Josh Fleming is pitching for the Montgomery Biscuits, which is an affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays in the Double-A Southern League.

Gibault’s Zach Neff is pitching for the Cedar Rapids Kernals, which is an affiliate of the Minnesota Twins in the Class A Midwest League.

Fleming leads his team in pitching wins with a 5-3 record in 10 games (nine starts), which is also tied for second among all Southern League pitchers. 

The 6-foot-2, 190-pound pitcher has a 3.94 ERA and 49 strikeouts in 59-plus innings.

The 2014 Columbia High School graduate was selected in the fifth round (139th overall) of the 2017 Major League Baseball draft following a sensational career at Webster University.

Neff, who pitched at Austin Peay State University and Mississippi State before being drafted by the Twins, made his first start with the Kernals on Sunday, striking out six in five innings pitched with one earned run allowed in a no decision. 

The 6-foot-1, 195-pound hurler is 2-1 with a 2.57 ERA, two saves and 46 strikeouts in 35 innings pitched so far this season at Cedar Rapids. He has pitched in 17 games.

Neff graduated from Gibault in 2014 and was named the Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Association Class 1A Player of the Year in 2013 after leading the Hawks to a state title.

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