UCLA freshman Kyle Molnar named Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week

UCLA’s Kyle Molnar was named the Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week today, his prize for accomplishing something no Bruin had in over a decade.

The freshman righty struck out eight batters in a row in an 11-2 win over Washington State on Sunday, giving the team its fifth straight win and a series sweep to open conference play. The last UCLA pitcher to record that many consecutive strikeouts was David Huff, who fanned nine straight on Feb. 16, 2006 at Pacific.

Molnar’s streak looks even more impressive given the Bruins’ track record of producing top pitchers. Since Huff was taken 39th overall in the 2006 MLB draft, seven UCLA pitchers have become either first-, second- or third-round picks.

That run includes Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer — who went first and third overall in 2011 — as well as James Kaprielian, who went 16th to the New York Yankees last June. Cole struck out seven straight against Texas A&M in March 2010.

Molnar, who opened the season as UCLA’s Sunday starter, was ranked as Baseball America’s No. 53 draft prospect. The Aliso Niguel alum was intent on going to college despite one West Coast scout describing him as the most pro-ready high school pitcher available last year.

The 6-foot-4 freshman has a 4.50 ERA through five starts, but that number drops to 3.43 after excluding his career debut against North Carolina.