Moonlight Graham Is Back

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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.

Year Age Tm Lev PA R SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2000 21 Queens A- 308 42 28 8 45 57 .262 .386 .349 .735
2001 22 2 Teams A+-AAA 575 95 44 12 48 84 .304 .371 .365 .736
2002 23 Tennessee AA 631 109 45 13 50 86 .280 .361 .329 .689
2003 24 3 Teams AA-AAA 456 69 48 7 28 55 .293 .362 .337 .700
2004 25 Nashville AAA 461 73 40 15 26 62 .287 .348 .404 .752
2005 26 2 Teams AA-AAA 502 67 58 8 39 72 .247 .325 .334 .659
2006 27 2 Teams AAA-AA 346 54 17 11 39 50 .291 .400 .408 .808
2007 28 Tucson AAA 367 60 15 2 28 49 .295 .360 .415 .776
2008 29 2 Teams AAA-AA 416 42 25 2 39 74 .265 .340 .381 .721
2009 30 Lehigh Valley AAA 493 69 26 4 38 73 .265 .334 .366 .700
2010 31 2 Teams AAA-AA 534 70 41 4 33 75 .284 .339 .382 .721
2011 32 Lehigh Valley AAA 490 81 48 4 37 84 .276 .354 .408 .762
2012 33 Lehigh Valley AAA 101 5 7 2 8 18 .307 .390 .398 .788
13 Seasons 5680 836 442 92 458 839 .280 .355 .371 .727
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
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/16/2012.

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.

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