Well I’m sure many do, but one player stands out as one of the holiest players in the league.
Now I am not totally sure of Church’s religious background, it was just a lame attempt at a joke.
Anyway, getting back on track here, the Pirates have reportedly signed outfielder Ryan Church to a one year, 1.5million dollar deal.
The former 14th round pick of the Indians really made a name for himself when he was a National. During his four years with the organization, his numbers really never stood out.
His highest batting average was .287 in 2005. His
highest home run total was 15 in 2007. His OPS numbers range from the upper .700s to mid .800s. Nothing to brag about there, but Church is widely regarded as a reliable, yet solid player.
Church spent brief and injury prone years in New York and Atlanta. He gained national attention in a bigger market playing for the Mets. His power numbers digressed after leaving Washington and so did his playing time. He was used in 4th outfielder capacity for both teams but still did his best to strive in the position he was in.
Church was drafted by Cleveland in 2000. The Mahoning Valley Scrappers, short season A ball, usually recieve the top draft picks of the organization literally days after they are signed. It has been great watching former Indians stars such as C.C. Sabathia and Victor Martinez has been a real treat back in my hometown.
Church arrived on the scene in that summer and was a hot player destined for greatness right away. He was named New York Penn player of the week muliple times, a legaue leader in home runs and RBIs and just an exciting player to watch.
It is not very often a player in short season A ball makes a name for himself right out of the gate. Not only is there high turnover rates this low, the fans really do not look that much into these very young players.
As a pre-teen boy I was in awe of Church. Every Scrappers game I went to I would bug Ryan for his autograph. I never did get it though. The crowds were hyped full of tee-ball league players getting autographs as well. I was always too late. Now that he is a Pirate, I plan on earning his signature and explaining to him how he snubbed me some ten years ago.
Church’s role on the Pirates will be unique. He will probably be th 4th outfielder for Pittsburgh, a role he is already used to. With Lastings Milledge and Andrew McCutchen inked into the left and center field positions the right field spot is definitely up for grabs. Brandon Moss and Church will be in the running for the starting spot, however, more than likely Garrett Jones will be the guy the Pirates are most comfortable with manning the outfield grass.
I would rather put Jones at first to give Church the starting position in right. But Jeff Clement looks to be the starting first baseman. Clement came to the Bucs via the Mariners and is considered quite the hot prospect. He does not have very good game experience in the big show, but he is a minor league prodigy. I am skeptical though because I honestly have to see it to believe it.
With the addition of Church the Pirates have just one more bench spot to fill. Brandon Moss and Delwyn Young will be competing for that final spot. This is a tough spot for me personally. I enjoy the potential of Moss, but he has never came through or lived up to any expectations. I hate to give up on him seamingly quickly considering he was part of the Jason Bay deal.
Delwyn Young on the other hand has exceeded expectations, my personal ones and that of Pirate fans. In what was really his first full big league season Young was a clutch hitter who had a knack for finding the holes to get the ball through. He ran out of gas at the end of the year and was really in a deep funk. Delwyn is one of my favorite players. He is likeable and brings a “fresh” feeling to the club.
It’ll be an interesting race and a great storyline heading into Spring Training.
photo credits: homeruncards.com, lompoclockerroom.blogspot.com, wfan.com, brotherpeacemaker.com