In his tenth overall MLB season, Rick Ankiel is on his fourth MLB team after struggling to stay in the Majors since 2010, being designated as a back-up outfielder with the Royals, Braves, and finally the Nationals. As a non-roster invitee, Ankiel has found a home with the Houston Astros organization. It seems clear that with his explosion towards the end of Spring Training that he could potentially earn a spot on the Astros roster. More than likely we will see Ankiel be platooning with J.D Martinez in right field, with Ankiel taking the starting job, and having the young and inexperienced Martinez under him and learning from the ten year veteran, Ankiel.
At the tender age of 33, Ankiel is no spring chicken, and it makes me kind of scratch my head why he would be here with Houston during spring training, when the Astros are in an obvious rebuilding phase and a major youth movement. Obviously he could be a mentor, but with random trading, and anybody being available to trade during last year, it does not make sense to have Ankiel. The Astros’ unique situation is really unpredictable, because not even the higher ups know what to do, although, I feel that Ankiel could potentially have a positive impact on the Astros young organization. Whether or not Ankiel remains in Houston for the long term, he could have a lasting impact on the young players on the Astros team.
Which in many ways could be good because the Astros are currently are trying to set a foundation for the team to follow in the years to come. Ankiel, who has seen the ups and downs of the business of Major League Baseball, can be a major influence on the impressionable youth of the Houston Astros. Regardless the length of his with the Astros, along with Carlos Pena, the group of veterans on the Astros can be sort of leaders for the young squad. I feel that Ankiel is the personification of perseverance, he could have easily walked away from the game in 2002 when he fizzled out as a pitcher, but instead he fought back going through the entire Cardinals minor league system as an outfielder. The fact that he was able to overcome his adversity and fight his way back to do what he loves speaks to me, it affects me, imagine how it can affect the guys surrounding him everyday in the clubhouse.
I can see Ankiel as having a small, unnoticed resurgence in Houston, mainly going unnoticed due to the fact that the Astros are not necessarily the hottest ticket in baseball at the moment, but nonetheless, Ankiel is still able to do what he loves at the highest level possible.
With Spring Training winding down, the Astros will have some tough decisions to make coming out of camp. We here at ‘Stros Bros will try our best to keep you up to date. Follow us on Twitter, “like” us on Facebook, and leave us comments below!
– Richard Perez