He has a degree rather than medicine, but the closest thing baseball has to the fictional Moonlight Graham character in Field of Dreams is now a part of the Rays 25-man roster. Earlier today, the Rays traded Durham Bulls outfielder Kyle Hudson to the Phillies for veteran minor league outfielder Rich Thompson and have added him to the 25 man roster as his name appears on tonight's lineup card per Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times.
Thompson was drafted in the 2000 draft by Toronto and has but one major league plate appearance in his professional career and that came in 2004 as a Rule 5 player with the Royals. One of our readers pointed out that the plate appearance came against former Devil Rays catcher Tim Laker in a game whose winning pitcher was current television color analyst Brian Anderson.
He was returned to the Pirates a few days after that plate appearance and has remained in the minor leagues since that time. It has been a very long career for Thompson who is known for his baserunning as he has had quite a successful conversion rate throughout his career.
|AAA (11 seasons)||AAA||3413||463||256||48||262||507||.276||.349||.383||.732|
|AA (6 seasons)||AA||1445||241||119||25||107||203||.283||.357||.347||.704|
|A- (1 season)||A-||308||42||28||8||45||57||.262||.386||.349||.735|
|A+ (1 season)||A+||514||90||39||11||44||72||.311||.380||.374||.754|
Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer had a great story on Thompson over the weekend that is a must read and helps put a nice framing on how special this roster move is for a player who has persevered in the minors a very long time waiting for another chance. In that story, he highlights this anecdote:
"It (a callup) would give a lot of validation to my rationale," Thompson said. "It obviously doesn't look like it's that realistic. It would give me some affirmation. But if you were to tell me I won't make it to the big leagues again, it's not like I would just leave. That doesn't drive it at all. By no means is anything I do in the big leagues from this point on going to change my life financially. You get called up for a month, it would be nice. Maybe I could buy a new car."
Who knows what the move will bring for the Rays, but a guy with 5,680 minor league plate appearances is back in the major leagues hoping to get his second career plate appearances and that elusive first major league hit at the young age of 33.