When lefthander Pat Monteverde started Texas Tech’s 2021 season opener in Houston with four scoreless innings against Arkansas, there was something familiar waving in the stands.
It was a yellow-and-black Pittsburgh Steelers “Terrible Towel”, and it was brought there by his cousin.
As Monteverde, a Pittsburgh native, kept pitching well, the Terrible Towels caught on, and there were about 300 of them the next month for his start against Oklahoma State.
By the time he beat North Carolina in a regional on June 5, Monteverde estimates there were 1,000 Terrible Towels in the stands.
“It was incredible,” Monteverde said. “The fans were chanting my name.”
Incredible is a good way to describe Monteverde’s story.
The 6-foot-2, 190-pound southpaw went from Division III to D-II to D-I and then became the Marlins’ eighth-round pick this year, overcoming elbow surgery along the way.
Unwanted by D-I schools out of high school, he went 7-2, 1.96 in his one year at Virginia Wesleyan in 2017. Looking for a tougher test, he transferred to D-II Seton Hill in Pennsylvania.
In a start during his second year there, he heard his elbow pop as he tried to throw a fastball.
He threw one more pitch, but it went about 40 feet, and the pain he didn’t feel on the previous pitch flooded his arm.
Monteverde had surgery and returned in 2020, throwing 30 pitches on March 6.
But that was his last start before the pandemic canceled the season.
Suddenly, he had 43 offers as a graduate transfer.
Monteverde chose Texas Tech, and he proved himself by going 7-4, 3.75 in a team-high 16 starts. He struck out 101 batters and walked 21 in 86.1 innings.
Texas Tech pitching coach Matt Gardner said Monteverde, who turns 24 this fall, throws his changeup 40% of the time. Monteverde also has a fastball that sits 89-92 mph, an occasional curveball and a putaway slider.
Monteverde started his pro career in the Rookie-level Florida Complex League but could move quickly because of his age and talent.