Rockies Convert Brian Rike to Pitcher
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo.--Twenty-six year old Brian Rike, the oldest player on the Grand Junction Rockies' roster, has been sent down from Tulsa (AA) to convert from outfielder to pitcher.
The Rockies made the decision at this year's spring training.
"They were like, 'You have a strong arm, you're left-handed, so we think you have a good chance of making it to the big leagues as a left-handed pitcher," Rike said.
The 2007 second-round selection made his start in Tri-City and spent the last four seasons working his way up through the minor league system.
"At first you're a little bummed," he said. "Just because you work so hard. Slowly but surely, you made the strides up higher and higher, but, you've got to start from scratch somewhere."
Grand Junction Rockies pitching coordinator Doug Linton has watched Rike's progress in the Rockies' minor league system. The former Major League right-handed pitcher was on the coaching staff when Rike played in Tri-City, Asheville and Modesto.
"It's been, basically, some ups and downs," Linton said. "Some peaks and valleys. A lot of growing pains. In those growing pains, some other prospects have passed him up, so this is the time that we had to switch over to him being a pitcher."
In order to give Rike some hope, Linton referenced Oakland A's Sean Doolittle, who switched from first-baseman to pitcher and recently made his major league debut.
"Hopefully this is just the beginning of the road for him," Linton said. "Yeah, he's starting out at the lowest level, but he shows what he can do, he's got a good arm. He can move fast."
Linton said the left-handed pitcher topped out at 93, but he expects that number to get higher.