"What?! He's Still Playing?!" Part Two of Five

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If you've read Part One, the intro to this article is the same, so skip down to the players. For the benefit of those of you who haven't read Part One, here is the series intro:


Have you ever looked at a box score or turned on the TV to a baseball game and seen a name you never expected to see?

A name you hadn't seen in several years?

I had a moment like that just last week. I looked at a Royals box score and was flabbergasted at their starting pitcher.

"What?! Bruce Chen's still pitching?!"

Obviously, players who come back to the majors after several years away get some mainstream exposure.

I thought it would be a fun idea to look through the minor leagues and see what former major leaguers are still kicking around.

I'll do this in five parts. I feel that often, when I'm doing a big list like this, I wind up writing a 10-page article nobody wants to read all the way through, and  I'm losing viewers by cramming four or five articles' worth of information into one. So I'm trying out a new split-up approach—we'll see how it goes.

The first article looked at the International League (Triple-A) pitchers. This one will look at IL hitters. Part 3 will be Pacific Coast League (Triple-A) pitchers, and Part 4 will be PCL hitters. Part 5 will be everyone in Double-A or below.

Got that memory ready? Here we go!

 

Daryle Ward

The fact that Ward's still playing wasn't so surprising to me. It surprised me that he accepted a Triple-A contract. After all, Ward's played in the majors every season since 1998, and 11-year-vets don't often accept minor league work.

But here he is, a Triple-A player for the White Sox. He's hitting .257/.337/.434, which isn't bad, but it also probably isn't good enough to get the 34-year-old back to the majors.

Will he ever get another big league look? He played as recently as 2008, and he's known as a good pinch-hitter, so it's possible, but his stats don't lend much hope.

Keith Ginter

Brewers fans might remember Ginter as a scrappy infielder who played well in 2003 and 2004. A's fans might remember him as an awful hitter in 2005. Ginter's played for four different Triple-A teams in the last four years, and is currently with the White Sox's AAA affiliate, hitting .259/.328/.384.

Will he ever get another big league look? Unlikely. He's 32 and is basically an average hitter in Triple-A.

Michael Restovich

Restovich was once thought to be one of the top power prospects in baseball when he was in the Twins organization. He never got consistent big league playing time, however, and struggled as a bench player.

Always an excellent Triple-A player, Restovich returned from a year in Japan to join the White Sox organization. He's hitting .280/.361/.475.

Will he ever get another big league look? He deserves one, but he's got the Quad-A label, which hurts his chances. Restovich would at least be as good as Matt Holliday (A's version).

Henry Mateo

Here's a throwback.

Once upon a time, Henry Mateo was considered one of the best basestealers in the game. However, he couldn't hit. He hit .233/.289/.292 in 280 major league PAs with the Expos/Nationals, playing from 2001-2006 in the majors.

Not only has he survived in the minors since, but Mateo's actually hitting .307/.414/.465 this year with the Rays' AAA affiliate. He's also 7-for-8 in steals.

Will he ever get another big league look? He's 32, but if he keeps hitting like this, he may be able to have an Augie Ojeda-esque two-or-three-year big-league run in his mid-30's.

Chris Richard

Remember him, Orioles fans?

Way back in 2001, Richard hit .265/.335/.435 as a regular for the Orioles. The baby-faced first baseman struggled with Baltimore in 2002 and Colorado in 2003, and has been a minor league wanderer ever since. He's hitting .230/.318/.494 for the Rays' AAA affiliate this year.

Will he ever get another big league look? He's been better than this in Triple-A before, and that didn't get him a look, and at 34, he won't get any better than this. A team desperate for a veteran lefty power bat could do worse, but Richard really needs to be in the NL, where he could carve out a pinch-hitter/occasional 1B/OF role, sort of like Daryle Ward had for his 11-year career.

Adam Melhuse

As an A's fan, I was particularly amused that our former backup catcher is still kicking around. He's not very good defensively and only hit .234/.290/.389 in his career, yet Melhuse managed to get 799 PAs over eight big league seasons. 

This year, he's hitting .176/.295/.216 with the Pirates' AAA team.

Will he ever get another big league look? He's a switch-hitting catcher, so you can never say never. You can, however, say his production certainly doesn't warrant it.

Chris Snelling

The oft-injured former top prospect went to Mexico (of all places) to start the year. He stayed healthy in Mexican ball and hit well, so the Pirates signed him and put him in Triple-A. He's hitting .136/.235/.136. Yikes. To be fair, it's only 13 games.

Will he ever get another big league look? He's still just 27, but he hasn't hit well since 2005 and it looks unlikely that he'll get his old ability back. 

Steve Torrealba

The former Braves backstop hasn't played in the majors since 2002. He washed out of pro ball in 2004, played two years in the indie leagues, and was terrible in Double-A in 2007.

That didn't stop Torrealba. Cut by Detroit and signed by Baltimore, Torrealba hit .283/.358/.550 in Double-A last year, and was assigned to Triple-A this year. He's hit .250/.326/.363 so far.

Will he ever get another big league look? Torrealba is a nice insurance guy to have around in case both your catchers get hurt. He doesn't kill you at the plate or behind it. He's also only 31, and as Melhuse proves, catchers can stick around seemingly forever.

John Rodriguez

Rodriguez was last seen hitting .301/.374/.432 with the 2006 Cardinals, which makes you wonder why he was sent down in the first place.

Rodriguez has drifted through the Cardinals, Mets, and Rays AAA teams before ending up with the Yankees top farm club this year. He's still got the bat, hitting .283/.368/.505.

Will he ever get another big league look? See Restovich, Michael.

Mike Vento

Vento played briefly for the Yankees and Nationals. Last seen in the majors in 2006, Vento spent 2007 in the Blue Jays organization before playing in Taiwan in 2008. Back stateside, the outfielder is currently back with the Nationals, in Triple-A. He's hitting .281/.294/.456.

Will he ever get another big league look? Probably not. He didn't get much of one to begin with. Vento's 31, he's a righty-hitting corner outfielder, and while he's an above-average Triple-A hitter, he's not up there with guys like Restovich and Rodriguez. There are worse bench guys than Vento, but he'll need some luck and some plate discipline to come back up.

 

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