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Could we see another Revs alum in MLB soon?

Could Scott Rice become the second Revs alum to go from York to The Show?

There is a lengthy list of names of players who have gone from the Atlantic League to the major leagues since the league began play in 1998, but since the Revs’ inception in 2007, only one of those names, Tike Redman, has come through York. We may be closer than ever to seeing a second Revs alum use his time in York to make it to The Show, as LHP Scott Rice has been quite impressive for the L.A. Dodgers in major league spring camp.

Should it happen, it may be an even more special journey from Atlantic to Major, as any appearance in the majors for Rice would mark his big league debut.  A former first-round pick of the Orioles out of Royal High School in Simi Valley, CA way back in 1999, Rice reached the Triple-A level with the Orioles in 2006 and put up solid numbers with Ottawa (3.86 ERA in 52 appearances), but then had to overcome his share of adversity, most notably a misdiagnosed injury that cost him most of 2007 and 2008, just to continue his career.  Now at age 30, the 6’6 lefty is perhaps closer to realizing his dream than he’s ever been.

He’s appeared in just three games so far this spring, but has allowed only one hit in three innings, with no walks and four strikeouts.  He’s thrown 25 pitches, 20 for strikes, including all strikes in two of his three outings.  The strikes are particularly telling given that control was maybe his biggest question mark coming up through the ranks.

Revs pitching coach Mark Mason happened to tune in on MLB Network the other night in time to see Rice pitch the ninth inning against the Angels, in which he threw just four pitches, all strikes to set down the Halos.  He rolled two ground outs and also got a fly out, and Mase told me that the hit he gave up, a double down the third base line, should have been fielded.  Mase also said the cameras were showing Dodgers manager Don Mattingly watching closely many times throughout the quick inning, and that he looked just as good as the results in the boxscore would show. 

He’s been on the mound every couple of days, and if they start using him every other day, he should have a real chance at making it.  If he pitches on consecutive days before camp is over and is successful, he should have a great chance.

Mase watched the inning just like a pitching coach, and said everything was downhill which is even tougher on hitters coming from Rice given how tall he is.  The ground balls were beaten straight into the ground, “same old Scotty.”  Mase said the Dodgers didn’t change him, and that he was still doing everything they worked on together that helped him so much in York last year.  When Rice first arrived in York last year he had a tendency to “wrap” the ball, and the two worked on his sinker quite a bit which forced him to stay closed with his delivery and stay on top of the ball.  And the sinker is what he relied on in that last outing.

It’s a small sample size so far this spring, but judging from what he’s done results-wise, and from what Mase saw with his own eyes watching, it sounds very encouraging for Rice.

Rice was dominant for York last year, opening the season with a club-record 12 consecutive scoreless appearances, and going 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA in 15 games before the Dodgers came calling.  As good as he was here, he was even better at Double-A Chattanooga, with a 1.95 ERA in 34 appearances.  There’s no doubt that opened some eyes.

Here’s a previous blog entry from January when it was first known that Rice was going to big league camp, with some more info on the long and winding road of his pro baseball career.

It would be quite the story if Rice can make it, on many levels.  For one, how long it’s taken him (this will be his 14th pro season).  For two, his journey, which has taken him through five different organizations, and three separate Atlantic League stops.

More than a decade ago, he seemed like a can’t-miss guy, especially given his size, but also his sheer stuff.  Then just a few years ago, it seemed like he was further away than ever.  But here he is, perhaps on the doorstep.  And to top it all off, he’s trying to do it with the team that he grew up rooting for as a SoCal kid, the L.A. Dodgers.  Here’s hoping for a Hollywood ending to this story in Tinseltown.

-DH

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