Monday, August 06, 2007

Ankiel poised to return

Persistent St. Louis Cardinals minor leaguer Rick Ankiel is nearing a full-time return to the majors as a power-hitting outfielder years after he suddenly and inexplicably lost his ability to find the strike zone as a star pitcher for the team. As a twenty-year old in 2000, Ankiel was poised to become one of the league's best pitchers, logging nearly ten strikeouts per nine innings. In a playoff game that season, however, Ankiel threw five wild pitches in a single inning against the Braves and never really regained his control. He tried to return as a pitcher multiple times, had surgery on his arm, and eventually abandoned pitching altogether to focus on making the bigs as an outfielder. Seven years later, his transformation has proved successful on the Cardinals' AAA affiliate, hitting 31 home runs this year with an OPS of .888, and he's now positioned to play regularly on a big league team as early as this season, and definitely next season. Read more about his career here, his minor league stats here, and his big league pitching stats here.