Steven Ames may be the most careful and considerate pitcher in professional baseball.
The Chattanooga Lookouts reliever has appeared in 121 minor league games, compiling 206 strikeouts and allowing 32 walks. He has yet to hit a batter, not in 150 innings worked.
"It is hard to believe I've never hit anybody, not even by accident," a smiling Ames said this week. "I'm just trying to live down and away, and that's kind of why it's been like this. In college I had a couple get away from me and I hit some guys inside, but in pro ball it just hasn't happened yet.
"It's fine with me, and I'm going to keep going with it."
The 24-year-old right-hander out of Gonzaga University had no idea of his streak until Lookouts pitching coach Chuck Crim pointed it out last month. Crim calls it a "wild stat" and speaks from 449 games of big-league experience from 1987 to '94.
"My concept is to never get beat inside late in the game," Crim said. "Steven has always been a late-inning guy, and you never want to make the mistake to a guy's power side. I was told that by Rollie Fingers when I made my first big-league camp, and it's something that has always stuck with me.
"Steven has been so good at hitting black [edge of the plate] away, and in his role he's never gotten close to hitters. It's interesting, and we joke about it all the time, but in his role we know we can't afford to hit anybody."
Ames said he has witnessed games when tempers flared and pitches intentionally sailed off course but he never had to come in and throw in those.
The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder was a 17th-round pick of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2009. He was promoted to Chattanooga in May of last year and went 2-2 with a 2.48 earned run average in 28 appearances.
This season, Ames is 1-2 with a 2.04 ERA in 35 games, and the Southern League all-star continues to steer clear of opposing hitters. Former Dodgers great Sandy Koufax set the single-season standard in the majors by working 323 innings without hitting a batter in 1966, and former New York Giants pitcher Larry Benton went 755 innings over several seasons during the 1920s.
"It's a good stat that tells you about his command," Lookouts manager Carlos Subero said. "Steven has been consistent, and he's been successful. Hopefully he can go all the way up to the big leagues without doing it.
"He'll probably plunk the first guy when he gets up there."