Nine years after he made the majors as one of the top young lefthanders in the game and three years after he gave up on pitching Rick Ankiel is back in the majors. The one-time minors top pitching prospect has proved to be a pretty impressive hitting prospect as well.
The Cardinals announced on Thursday that they were purchasing Ankiel’s contract and adding him to the big league roster. He’s expected to be in the starting lineup for tonight’s game against the Padres.Ankiel was second in the minors with 32 home runs at the time of his promotion. He hit .267/.314/.568 in 389 at-bats with Triple-A Memphis. He did have seven errors as the Redbirds center fielder, but as you would expect Ankiel has an above-average arm. Because he made it to the majors so young as a pitcher, it’s easy to forget that Ankiel just turned 28, giving him time to still have a significant career as a hitter.
Ankiel joins a very small fraternity of players who have made it to the majors as both a hitter and a pitcher. In the early days of the game it was relatively common, but in recent years Ron Mahay and Brooks Kieschnick are the two most prominent names to make it to the majors both as pitchers and hitters.