Blue Springs pitcher to face Royals on Saturday

At least one fan hopes the Royals’ recent troubles continue Saturday.

“I hate to see the Royals keep (losing),” said Thomas Tepesch of Blue Springs, “but I’m hoping (Saturday) they really keep (losing).”

In fact, Tepesch wouldn’t mind seeing the Royals get no-hit by the Rangers.

That’s because his son Nick is starting for Texas as he continues his successful rookie season.

In nine starts, Tepesch is 3-4 and his 3.88 ERA is the best among American League rookies who have thrown at least 30 innings. He is also second among AL rookies in strikeouts (37) and victories.

“It’s definitely been fun so far,” Tepesch said in a phone interview, “and I’m looking forward to the rest of it.”

The good times have been rolling for quite a while.

Tepesch, a 24-year-old right-hander, attended the University of Missouri where he pitched in the NCAA Tournament and was an Academic All-Big 12 pick. At Blue Springs High School, he helped the Wildcats win a state championship.

So the good vibes continued when was picked by the Rangers in the 14th round of the 2010 draft. At this time last year, Tepesch was at Class A Myrtle Beach before being promoted on June 14 to Class AA Frisco, where he finished the season.

The Rangers were so impressed that they brought him to the major-league spring training camp in February. It was an invite he didn’t take lightly.

“When I got invited to big-league spring training, it was definitely good news,” Tepesch said. “Anytime you go into spring training, whether it’s minor-league spring training or big-league spring training, your goal is to win a job.

“That’s kind of the mind-set I took into it. It’s not like I’m just up here to be up here; I’m here to win a job.”

Tepesch opened the spring by facing the Royals in Surprise, Ariz., tossing two scoreless innings while striking out three.

The Rangers, who have made three straight playoff appearances including trips to the World Series in 2010 and ’11, eventually picked Tepesch as their fifth starter.

Tepesch made his major-league debut against Tampa Bay on May 9 and limited the Rays to one run on four hits in getting the victory.

“Seeing him on the mound and then on the façade in the lights, they keep the pitcher’s name up there while they’re throwing, and seeing his last name in big letters up there, it was surreal at the time,” Thomas Tepesch said of that first game.

“And still when I think about it, it’s still kind of surreal.”

That’s because Nick is a bona fide major-leaguer, one with ups (85 straight batters faced without a walk during one stretch) and downs (he’s had trouble with a blister on his right middle finger).

Yet dad still sees the little leaguer who played first base and hoped to be the next Mike Sweeney.

No question about it, Nick was a Royals fan. That’s obviously changed.

“You always dream about pitching in the big leagues,” Nick Tepesch said. “You always dream about pitching in your hometown.

“(But) I play for the Rangers and whenever we play a team, our goal is to beat them. It’s just another team.”