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Luckily for Rangers, Moreland launched their pitch to switch

David Brown
Big League Stew

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Back when Mitch Moreland(notes) toiled in the low minors, the Texas Rangers imagined him as something other than a slugger capable of hitting a huge home run in the World Series

Even after Moreland put up great numbers — .324/.400/.536 — at Class A Clinton during his first full pro season in 2008, Rangers general manager Jon Daniels seemed to think Moreland's future might be on the mound.

Sure, one can never have enough pitching but, jeez...

Moreland pitched and hit in college at Mississippi State, and during a brief mop-up performance for Clinton in 2008, he reached 92 mph with his fastball.

A team guy, Moreland followed orders and headed that fall to the Instructional League, where all he did was pitch.

From the New York Times:

He honed his fastball, slider and changeup for the Rangers, and at times felt the old rush return.

"It's a lot of fun, toeing it up," Moreland said. "You get to compete and the game's in your hands when you're on the mound. You get to control everything. I don't know if you ever get it out of your system."

Moreland was so impressive that the Rangers devised an unusual plan the next spring. [...] Moreland [was] to pitch in relief twice a week, throwing a bullpen session between appearances, while still playing first base or the outfield five days a week.

"We started to script what that might look like, but we didn't force it on him," Daniels said.

Something wasn't right, Moreland said to himself.

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Moreland told USA Today:

"They asked me, 'What do you think?' I said, 'Well, there's nothing wrong with my bat. Let me prove to you I can hit.' They stuck by me on that."

A player with a .936 OPS gave himself an ultimatum to prove to the Rangers that he could hit? What do they do with the underachievers in the Texas farm system?

Anyway, Moreland kept on hitting at two stops in '09 and finished at .331/.391/.527 to be named the organization's minor league player of the year.

As Yahoo! Sports' own Steve Henson points out, Moreland overcame a few more obstacles to become the Rangers starting first baseman late in 2010. And now he has a World Series home run — capping a nine-pitch at-bat and keying Texas' victory in Game 3 — to his credit.

For the Rangers' sake, it's a good thing Moreland believed in his bat.

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