Trey Ball: Second Chance as Two-Way Player

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With the 7th pick of the 2013 MLB Amateur Draft the Boston Red Sox selected Trey Ball, a tall lefty from New Castle Chrysler High School (New Castle, IN).  In his senior season for the Trojans, the southpaw posted a 0.76 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 46 inning pitched.  In games he wasn’t toeing the rubber, Ball was manning either corner outfield spot.  Batting from the left side Ball’s pretty swing led him to some equally impressive statistics, including an absurd 18 extra base hits in only 88 at bats.  Ending his final year with the Trojans, Ball went on to win Gatorade Indiana Baseball Player of the Year Award and committed to the University of Texas to play baseball for the Longhorns.  In the end, the $2.75 million signing bonus from the Red Sox was too much to pass up.

Photo courtesy of milb.com
Proving to have a high ceiling as a pitching or hitting prospect, it seemed as if Ball’s career was in the hands of whichever team drafted him.  From the start the Sox had a plan to develop his skills as a starting pitcher.  Needless to say things didn’t go as planned.  Six seasons in, despite moving the lefty to the pen to see if his skills would better translate, it began to seem as if things were coming to an end for the former top 10 pick.  

Boston Red Sox 2018 World Series ChampsAs the magical 2018 season was cruising along for the Boston Red Sox, the failed pitcher began to take batting practice with the Portland Sea Dogs.  After some work in the cages, Ball got a start at DH in a game against the Binghamton Rumble Ponies.  Not surprisingly, each of his first two at bats ended in strikeouts.  With a tie game in the seventh inning, the lefty entered the batter’s box.  In his final at bat, Ball ripped an RBI double, which ended up being the game winner.  In the season finale Ball went 0-for-5.  

As the 2018 season came to a close, there was growing chatter of the 24 year old starting the 2019 season as a twowo-way player.  With players like Shohei Ohtani and Brandon McKay paving the way for the 2-way player in recent years, Ball was given a second chance to make his big league dreams a reality.


Coming into 2019 it is unclear for which Red Sox affiliate Ball will be suiting up.  Understandably though, he seems grateful for the second chance given to him by the Sox.  In a piece from MiLB.com Ball was quoted as saying “I think just [the Red Sox] opening up the opportunity for me to swing a bat again and get to the outfield, that’s big.  Obviously, my struggles with pitching the last few years have been there.  I think them coming to me and allowing me to do this and try this is really an opportunity for me, and I’m going to take advantage of it.”.  

There are only a handful of stories that come to mind when thinking of players that made the switch from pitcher to position player or vice versa. Most notably, as a Red Sox fan Tim Wakefield’s career stands out among them.  Wakefield went on to break the Red Sox career starts record as a knuckle-baller after starting his career with the Pirates as a corner infielder.  I’m sure there are countless other stories of players switching positions only to prolong the inevitable.

While the odds are stacked against Ball ever wearing a Red Sox uniform, there was one quote I read that provided a glimmer of hope for his future.  After seeing Ball’s first game as a DH for the Sea Dogs an NL Scout was quoted as saying “His timing isn’t there yet, but it is a really good swing.  Hopefully he can get more swings and see if it works.  He’s got a chance, and he looks relieved.”  Following Ball’s transformation this year into a two-way player is one of the more intriguing stories to me outside of Fenway Park.


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Boston Sports Syndicate: Trey Ball: Second Chance as Two-Way Player
Trey Ball: Second Chance as Two-Way Player
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