Pitchers come in all shapes and sizes, but none are as intimidating as a nearly seven-foot hurler staring down an opponent in the batter's box. In honor of those vertically-gifted, here is a look at baseball's tallest pitchers, past and present. Leading the charge is 7-foot-2 Frank Szczepanik, a reliever at Division II Barry College and the tallest pitcher in NCAA history.
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Loek Van Mil
Loek Van Mil is currently the tallest player in the minors and majors. His 7-1 stature is equal to that of Shaquille O'Neal. The 26-year-old is on the 40-man roster for the Los Angeles Angels but is projected to begin the season in the minors. Despite his large frame and mid-90's fastball, Van Mil posted a 6.37 ERA in Double A ball last season.
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Until Loek Van Mil makes his major league debut, pitcher Jon Rauch will be recognized as the tallest MLB player at 6-11. Rauch took over closer duties for the Twins last year after Joe Nathan went down with a season-ending injury. He signed with the Toronto Blue Jays this past offseason and will compete for another opportunity to close games.
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Eric Hillman spent three seasons (1992-1994) with the New York Mets and posted a career 4-14 record with a 4.85 ERA.
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Sisco, 28, has bounced around the big leagues, spending time in the Royals, White Sox, Athletics and Giants farm systems. He has played three full seasons, most recently with Chicago in 2007 and is currently in Yankees Camp trying to find a spot on the roster.
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As if his 100 mph fastball wasn't imposing enough, Randy "The Big Unit" Johnson was a daunting 6-10 ace. The intimidating, mullet-bearing left-hander won 303 games, five Cy Youngs and threw the league's 17th perfect game in 2004.
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The Yankees took a chance in 2007 on 6-10 Andrew Brackman. The North Carolina State prospect played both basketball and baseball in college and was a highly touted pitcher before elbow injuries. New York still selected him with the 30th overall pick and he is currently in spring training vying for a spot in the rotation.
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Chris Young was a two-sport athlete at Princeton University and the first Ivy League male athlete to be named the Rookie of the year in two sports -- baseball and basketball. He chose baseball after being selected in the third round of the 2000 Amateur draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates. and boasts a career 3.80 ERA while on the Rangers and Padres. He will start the 2011 season with the Mets.
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Billed as "The Little Unit" for obvious comparisons, Ryan Anderson never fully materialzed despite being the No. 1 overall pick by the Mariners in the 1997 draft. He threw three years in the M's organization, succumbed to arm surgeries and resurfaced in 2005 with the Brewers' high-A affiliate before giving up baseball for good. In 2006, USA Today reported Anderson enrolled in culinary school in Scottsdale, Ariz.
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Daniel Cabrera was a hard-throwing started for the Orioles from 2004-08, but after leading the American League in wild pitches (15) and finishing second in walks (90) his final season, they didn't offer him a contract for 2009. He pitched briefly for the Nationals and Diamondbacks last season and is currently unsigned.
11 of 17Mitch Stringer/Icon SMI
Mark Hendrickson was drafted six times by MLB teams, but opted for professional basketball and was drafted by the 76ers in 1996 (31st overall). He played 114 games for four teams from 1996-2000 before retiring to give baseball another shot. He made his major league debut for the Blue Jays in 2002 and has pitched for the Rays, Dodgers, Marlins and Orioles, where he signed a minor league contract for the 2011 season.
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The Seattle Mariners took Kam Mickolio, a 6-9 righty out of Utah Valley State College, in the 18th round of the 2006 draft. He was dealt to the Baltimore Orioles in the trade that brought Erik Bedard to the Mariners. That same season he made his debut with Orioles and hopes to earn a spot in the bullpen with the Arizona Diamondbacks this spring.
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Jeff Niemann is one of the many promising young Tampa Bay Rays pitchers. The 6-9 starter had a terrific career at Rice and was drafted fourth overall by Tampa Bay in 2004. Niemann made his debut in 2008 and had a stellar rookie year in 2009 winning 13 games with a 3.94 ERA.
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A once prized pitching prospect in the White Sox organization, 6-8 Adam Russell was shipped to San Diego in 2009 with three other players for Jake Peavy. He was traded again this offseason to Tampa Bay Rays and the 27-year-old will try to earn a roster spot this spring.
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Only 24, Chris Volstad started 30 games for the Florida Marlins last season. The 6-8 pitcher was the 16th overall pick in the 2005 draft and eyes a rotation spot the young Marlins staff.
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Despite a 6-14 record last season, the Mariners are confident starter Doug Fister can contribute on the mound this coming season. The lanky 6-9 fifth starter will enter his third full-season in the big leagues this spring.
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While his role was not glamorous, Dustin Nippert was a key component of the Rangers' 2010 playoff run in the role of long reliever. The Rangers declined to resign him and will now tower over opponents as a member of the Doosan Bears, a professional baseball team in South Korea.
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