Over the weekend I discovered Alec Zumwalt’s name. Zumwalt’s career is unspectacular and mostly unworthy of examination. The only interesting thing about his toils came as a last resort to change his outlook. Drafted as an outfielder, the Braves converted Zumwalt to the mound. His ability to throw hard translates to the mound to some extent, as he was able to pitch in the low-90s. His command lacked polish and, and he never reached the majors in any capacity – although the Devil Rays did take him in a Rule 5 draft.
Players already in the Major Leagues are unlikely to transition from the field to the mound (or vice-versa) as most of those transformations seem to occur in the minors. I wanted to throw the topic out as a thought experiment. Which players already established in the majors would make the most sense to move from their fielding positions to the mound? Not necessarily those players who would succeed on the mound, therefore marginalizing previous pitching experience, but the players who just make the most sense to try moving around.
In other words, focus on players who excel at almost nothing besides having a strong and accurate arm. Of course, an arm that doubles as a cannon with a scope is 1) awesome and 2) not a harbinger of pitching success. To set the mood, here are two players that fit the mold (Note: Please don’t take these names as serious suggestions):
Yuniesky Betancourt, SS, Kansas City
The one aspect of Betancourt’s game that evokes positive comments from everyone is his arm. The strength of his arm, however, remains his only real defensive skill anymore. His resistance to drawing walks and inability to hold a high average makes him an offensive liability at the plate. Betancourt is no longer a kid – he turns 29 in January – but his skill set makes him someone who could stand to benefit from trying to pick up the mound phase of the game. Whether his body would allow him to or not is up for debate.
Ronny Cedeno, SS, Pittsburgh
Like Betancourt, Cedeno’s defensive props only go so far. He’ll be 28 at the start of camp, and his offensive talent is woeful. Over the four big league seasons he has with 200 or more plate appearances, Cedeno’s on-base percentage has topped .300 once (and that came during his first full season in the bigs). His arm is still worthwhile though.