One of the top strikeout pitchers of the early 1960s, Camilo Pascual is one of the few pitchers to post three consecutive strikeout crowns in his career. A member of the lowly Senators who moved to Minnesota and became the Twins, Camilo was a five-time All-Star who currently ranks 55th on the all-time strikeout list.
The Cuban born Pascual joined the Washington Senators in 1954. The Senators were a second division team when Camilo came up, as the inexperienced pitcher struggled to win with the poor club. In 1955, “Little Potato” posted a 2-12 record on a 6.14 ERA. From that moment, there was only one way to go. After trimming his ERA slightly in ’56, Pascual still had his struggles–he paced the AL in homeruns allowed and had an unflattering 6-18 record. Despite his terrible peripheral stats, Camilo did finish sixth in strikeouts, showing what would eventually become his trademark.
Pascual started to put his vast potential to use in 1958 when he lowered his ERA to 3.15 and fanned 146 batters in 177 innings of work. After five years of losing records, Camilo finally turned the page in 1959 when he was named to his first All-Star game. The Cuban right-hander led the American League in complete games and shutouts, finished second in strikeouts and posted a 17-10 record for the last place Senators.
When the Senators relocated to Minnesota and became the Twins, Pascual became one of the elite pitchers in the game. In the Twins first year of existence, Little Potato led the Al with eight shutouts and 221 strikeouts. Although they had packed the Uhaul and moved west, they were still the same Senator team and Camilo had a losing record. But Camilo was exceptional. In the hitter’s paradise year of 1961, he averaged a stingy 0.813 hits allowed per inning.
A 20-game winner for the first time in 1962, Pascual led the American League in strikeouts and complete games while tying for the lead in shutouts. He made his fourth straight All-Star appearance and showed terrific accuracy after walking 100 batters in 1961. Camilo trimmed his free pass total down to 59. A workhorse for the Twins, he led the AL in complete games again in 1963 and his 202 strikeouts placed him atop the league leader board for the third year in a row. More importantly, the Twins had become a contender, as they moved into third place, which enabled Pascual to post a 21-9 record.
Pascual made his last All-Star team in 1964 as he finished second in the league with 213 strikeouts. The Twins returned to their old Senator ways however, as they had a losing record, although Little Potato was able to fashion a winning percentage above .500. But the Twins turned things around in 1965 as skipper Sam Mele brought the team in atop the American League. Camilo missed a portion of the year to injury and was ineffective against the Dodgers in the World Series.
Injuries continued for Pascual in 1966 and with his strikeout totals down, the Twins traded him to the “new” Washington Senators. He won a dozen games for Washington in 1967 and had his last good year in 1968 when he logged 200 innings for the sixth and final time. He pitched for four different teams in his final three years.
W 174/L 170/PCT .506/ERA 3.63/G 529/CG 132/SHO 36/IP 2,931/H 2,703/BB 1,069/SO 2,167