Former First Round Draft Pick Could Transition From Pitcher to Outfield
Photo Credit: Kelly O'Connor
Red Sox prospect and former first round draft pick Trey Ball is transitioning from a reliever to an outfielder.
The Red Sox drafted Ball as the seventh overall pick of the 2013 MLB Draft. While attending New Castle High School, Ball was an impressive two-way player in his senior year, hitting .330/.504/.795 with 10 home runs and three triples. The southpaw sported a 0.76 ERA while throwing four complete games and two shutouts in his seven starts.
After being drafted, Ball struggled in the Gulf Coast League. Over five starts he gave up five runs and only threw seven innings. Despite this, Ball was sent to the A-Ball Greenville Drive in 2014. Ball started 22 games in Greenville, posting a 4.68 ERA alongside a 5-10 record.
The next year Ball played for the High-A-Ball Salem Red Sox, having a similar season to 2014 with a 4.73 ERA and 9-13 record. However, Ball shined during his second season in Salem, with a 3.84 ERA and 8-6 record, making it his first professional season with a winning record.
While Ball pitched well in 2016, he began struggling again when he was promoted to Double-A Portland. In 24 starts Ball allowed a career-high 93 runs, 20 of which were unearned. During the 2018 season Ball was moved into the bullpen, where he had the worst season of his career. Despite posting a 7.58 ERA and 1.883 WHIP, he managed to maintain a .500 season with a 4-4 record.
Ball had been taking batting practice since mid-August and on Sept. 2 and 3, Ball started as the designated hitter for the Sea Dogs in their last two games of the season. While Ball went 1-for-4 in his first game, he drove in the winning run with an RBI-double. Ball went 0-for-5 the next day.
While nothing has been confirmed, it is likely that Ball will transition into a designated hitter or outfielder in order to prolong his professional career. If Ball does transition, he will most likely be demoted to properly adjust to hitting again.