Rick Ankiel got the call today and will be starting for the Cardinals against the Padre's. This also means that Dodger fans will get a look at a very unique player. I'm sure it has happened before but just from memory I've got Bobby Darwin being the last player to go from pitching in the majors to being a position player. Mel Queen was a hitter who became a pitcher in the mid 60's, and Brooks Kieschnick went both ways in 2003/2004, but like Queen, was also originally a hitter. If you can think of any others who pitched in the majors and then returned as a hitter, please let me know.
Anybody who follows baseball knows the story of Rick Ankiel. At 20 years old in 2000 he was the best young pitcher in baseball but his command left him and he imploded during the playoffs. He came back in 2001 to only pitch 24 innings and didn't see the majors again until 2004, and then quit pitching when success on the mound continued to elude him. Seems like just yesterday but it has been 4 years since Rick threw a pitch in the major leagues. When he decided to focus on being a hitter most of baseball scoffed and gave him little chance for success. It was not for lack of tools but because he had lost 5 years development time. For a while it looked like the baseball people had called this right, but Ankiel kept at it and with just two full seasons in the minors under his belt he's going to make his debut for the Cardinals.
He did it the hard way. At the age of 26 he started all the way back in A ball and did well enough to get promoted to AA. However he needed surgery and missed the whole 2006 season. He came back this year, and 8 years after his scintillating debut as a 20 year old phenom, he'll be taking the field for the 1st time in the majors as a position player.
His minor leaguer numbers show him with alot of power but he does not seem to have the secondary skills to go with it. His walk rate is dismal with only 24 walks in 409 plate appearances resulting in a meager 316 OBP for AAA. He deserves congratulations for continuing with his dream and hopefully he'll have some type of career as a hitter. Even though I'm not expecting much, I'm still excited to see what he can do. Here's hoping he hits at least one major league home run. Update [2007-8-10 0:11:56 by ToyCannon]: Ankiel Homers in Debut