Originally written on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 11/14/14

A number of big-league position players were once pitchers. Blessed with strong arms, they excelled on the mound, as well as at the plate, against amateur competition. Only a few would be able to return to the hill with any chance of success against professional hitters. Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland is among them.

In high school, Moreland logged a record of 25-2 and in his senior year he had a 0.53 ERA with 112 strikeouts in 55 innings. Continuing as a two-way player at Mississippi State, he made 25 appearances out of the bullpen, logging a pair of saves and going 5-0, 3.31 with 45 strikeouts in 33 innings. One year after being taken in the 17th round of the 2007 draft, he had a brief flirtation with returning to the mound.

——

David Laurila: What is your background as a pitcher?

Mitch Moreland: Pitching is kind of how I got my recognition as a player. It seems like everybody recruited me as a pitcher. I only had about three schools that wanted me to hit.

I didn’t have a whole lot of professional scouts looking at me coming out of high school. I went to college as a two-way guy, at Mississippi State, and I did pitch a little there. I ended up throwing about 40 innings. When draft time came, I thought I was going to get drafted as a pitcher, but I ended up getting drafted as a hitter, by Texas.

Texas actually brought me into instrux, in 2008, to pitch. That was after a couple of mop-up innings in low-A. They wanted me to pitch, but they also kind of left it up to me. I wanted to [be a position player] and they honored my decision to hit until I couldn’t hit anymore. It’s kind of been history since then. I’ve hit well enough to stay a position player.

DL; What made you a good pitcher?

MM: I don’t know. I didn’t throw real, real hard. I was left-handed and would go low 90s, but it wasn’t like I was going to light the gun up. I threw a lot of strikes; I pumped the zone. I don’t know what made me a good pitcher, I just kind of did it. I loved the competing part and really just let it go. It was “Here it is, try to hit it.”

DL: Were you more of a thrower than a pitcher?

MM: No, I had three pitches. I had a slider and a changeup that I could throw for strikes, as well. My location was pretty good and my fastball had some movement. It wasn’t straight; it had a little arm-side run to it. Some days it had a little more sink than arm-side run. Being able to mix and throw strikes is probably what helped make me successful.

DL: Do your teammates know you used to be a pitcher?

MM: Some of them do. The guys who came up through the organization with me and were there when I did the little pitching experiment remember it. They’re always like, “Why don’t you throw for us?”

DL: Can you say a little more on “the experiment”?

MM: I was in low-A and we were getting boat raced by a team. Rick Adair, our pitching coordinator at the time, was in town and asked if any one of us had pitched and could get an inning in. I raised my hand and said, “I threw in college. I’ll throw.” He said, “All right.” I went to the bullpen and then out on the mound. I think I struck out the side.

I probably hadn’t pitched in a year, but I’ve always been comfortable on the mound. I threw all three pitches [in that game]. After I did that, he was kind of gung ho on having me pitch. He was asking me where that came from. I told him that I had always pitched, I had simply been drafted as a hitter.

He asked if I wanted to come to instrux and throw. This was 2008. In 2007, I had gone there as a hitter and in 2008 I went as a pitcher. I didn’t touch a bat the whole time. I pitched throughout instrux and did really well. They asked if I wanted to go to winter ball to throw, but I kind of backed out of that, because I felt my arm wasn’t ready for that kind of work after a full season of playing a position. I hadn’t really had a chance to train as a pitcher and get my arm strength to where it needed to be to have the stamina to do it.

That was kind of the end of it. When I came to spring training, they asked if I had thrown any in the offseason and I told them, “Not really.” I had decided to hit. “They said, “OK.” I threw a couple more pens, but we kind of decided… I told them that I needed to do one or the other; I couldn’t do both. They agreed. They said, “If you want to hit, we’ll let you hit. We‘ll put pitching on the back burner.” That’s what we did and I haven‘t looked back. My last professional innings — and there were only two — were in 2008.

DL: What would it be like to go back on the mound now?

MM: It’s hard to say. I felt good then, but it had only been a year since I’d been on the mound. It might be a little tougher now, because it’s been awhile. It might take some getting used to if I stepped on the bump again. But I’d be all for it. If we need an inning, I’ll do it.

DL: If something happened and you couldn’t hit anymore, would you try to reinvent yourself as a pitcher?

MM: Shoot yeah. I’d love to. I’d give it an opportunity if I could no longer hit, for health reasons or something like that. But that would only be down the road and hopefully I can stay intact here with my everyday job.

DL: What would your role be?

MM: I’d definitely be a reliever. I’m kind of a max-effort guy, all over the place. I’ve been described a few times as a bull in the china shop when I’m on the mound. I’d be a one- or two-inning guy, maybe later in the game. I don’t know that I have quite the stuff to close out ballgames, which I kind of did in college. I’d probably be more seventh or eighth inning, or a match-up guy. I’d welcome it with open arms if I got the opportunity.


GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: NBA exploring moving start of Finals up

Isaiah Thomas: Danny Ainge wants my input on free agents

Brian Matusz suspended eight games for substance on arm

Report: Ray McDonald arrested again for domestic violence

Baseball players in the military: A tribute

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

'Free Tom Brady' rally draws about 150 Patriots fans

LeBron's triple-double leads Cavs to win in OT thriller

Report: Adrian Peterson will skip Vikings first OTAs

Corey Brewer: We got our butt kicked, it was embarrassing

Brian Kelly hints Notre Dame will have fast offense

John Madden: Last play of Super Bowl will 'torment' Pete Carroll

Is Adrian Peterson leveraging himself out of the league?

Mascot creates controversy with 'Police Lives Matter' sign

The Talented Mr. Blatt

The curious case of Frank Kaminsky

Is the Cavs' Matthew Dellavedova a dirty player?

LeBron lifts Cavaliers to brink of Finals, but are they ready?

Will Phil Jackson give himself a chance to succeed with Knicks?

Most valuable non-QB for each NFL team

Federer unhappy with security after fan comes on court

WATCH: LeBron throws down ferocious dunk in traffic

WATCH: Al Horford ejected for elbowing Matthew Dellavedova

Seahawks fan starts GoFundMe for Russell Wilson's contract

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Could the NBA Finals be moved up?

The Talented Mr. Blatt

Is Dellavedova a dirty player?

Ballplayers in the military: A tribute

Most valuable non-QB for each NFL team

WATCH: LeBron's ferocious dunk in traffic

Kelly drops hint about ND offense

John Madden: Last SB play will 'torment' Carroll

Eight biggest surprises of the MLB season

Bryan Price ejected before first pitch

Vin Scully narrates marriage proposal

Pats fan's obituary defends Brady

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.