FARGO — When this American Association baseball season started, Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks manager Chris Coste wasn’t sure there was a consistent role on the pitching staff for Alex DuBord.
Now, the Fargo South graduate is one of the most important arms in the team’s bullpen.
“He’s really good right now,” Coste said. “It was pretty incredible how the first week of the season I had no idea how we were ever going to get him into a meaningful situation.”
The 6-foot-5, 225-pound DuBord has a 2-0 record with a 1.11 ERA with one save in 19 appearances. The right-hander has struck out 44 batters in 31 1/3 innings heading into F-M’s game against Gary SouthShore on Tuesday, July 13, at Newman Outdoor Field.
“He’s been a really nice piece,” said RedHawks catcher Dylan Kelly. “I really like the story, too. He's from Fargo, he's a great dude and he (works hard) every day. I think we’re seeing the fruition of his hard work.”
DuBord pitched for the San Francisco Giants organization in 2018 and 2019 before not pitching professionally in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. He pitched a combined 49 innings with a 8.82 ERA in those two seasons in the Giants farm system.
“This year I feel a lot more locked in,” said the 24-year-old DuBord. “I’m confident on the mound.”
DuBord is still classified as a rookie status in the American Association due to his service time. He is one of six rookie pitchers on the RedHawks roster. The team has lost four top-end starters to Major League Baseball organizations since May, including Frank Duncan, Kevin Herget, Tyler Pike and Kevin McGovern. Duncan had his contract transferred before the season started.
“All I’ve been taught is when you’re given your chance go out there and do what you know what to do and don’t look back on it,” DuBord said. “At the beginning of the season, I wasn’t really depended on.”
DuBord started to play a more significant role as Herget, Pike and McGovern moved to MLB organizations.
“You could feel that the bullpen was going to be a big part of our team,” DuBord said.
DuBord, right-hander Michael Hope and right-hander Ryan Flores are the top three pitchers on the team in appearances. Flores recently made his first start this season. DuBord was seventh on the team in innings pitched through 50 games, the midway point of the 100-game regular season.
“DuBord is going to have a huge impact on our season,” Coste said. “It’s been huge because it’s helped us win games No. 1. … He’s eaten up innings that we didn’t know he was going to be able to eat up.”
With a fastball that tops out in the mid-90s, along with a slider and changeup, DuBord said his fastball has been his best pitch this season.
“Command and conviction is what’s helping me right now,” said DuBord, a 2015 Fargo South graduate.
Kelly said DuBord’s frame helps with his fastball effectiveness.
“He’s a big tall kid and he’s got a lot of leverage so the ball comes out of his hand kind of like a rocket ship,” Kelly said. “It sneaks up on a lot of hitters.”
Coste said the RedHawks were playing at Gary SouthShore in early June when he could tell DuBord was going to garner a larger role as the season progressed. DuBord pitched three scoreless innings in a game the RedHawks ultimately lost, but his performance helped keep F-M in the game.
“You could see the competitiveness kick in,” Coste said, “His competitiveness kicked in like he was an MMA fighter almost out there. From that point, he just continues to get better.”
DuBord said Kelly and RedHawks bullpen coach Robbie Lopez, along with Coste have helped contribute to his success this season.
“He knows how to talk to us,” DuBord said of Lopez. “He keeps it really simple. … He’s always willing to catch you, always willing to work with you.”
DuBord added it’s also been refreshing to pitch in his hometown, with at least a few friends and family in the stands for home games at Newman Outdoor Field.
“It’s a great feeling not being all the way across the country,” DuBord said. “It’s a great feeling to be able to pitch at home and have success.”