What To Know About Bobblehead #8
As an outfielder, Rick Ankiel appeared in 102 games for Memphis and hit .267 (104×389) with 32 homers and 89 RBI. In 2007, Ankiel was named to the PCL All-Star game and finished the season with an organization-leading 43 home runs. But Ankiel’s history with the team wasn’t always as a left-handed slugger, but instead the Florida-native spent many nights on the hill as a starting pitcher.
Ankiel was originally drafted in 1997 with the intent of becoming one of St. Louis’ long-time starters. In 1999, the southpaw earned Cardinals Minor League Pitcher of the Year honors and was ranked as St. Louis’ and MLB’s No. 1 prospect entering the 2000 season.
Year 2000 marked the then 20-year-old’s rookie season, where he went 11-7 with a 3.50 ERA in 30 starts and finished second in National League Rookie of the Year balloting. The following season, however, began Ankiel’s descent as a pitcher. He went 1-2 with a 7.13 ERA in six starts for the Cards before being optioned to Memphis. Ankiel didn’t touch a baseball in 2002 due to injuries and his need for Tommy John surgery resulted in the lefty pitching in only 31 more games by the end of 2004.
Ankiel began the 2005 season by announcing his retirement as a Major League pitcher on March 9 and turned his eyes to the outfield. He made his debut in Memphis as an outfielder in 2007 as a part of the Redbirds Opening Day roster and got the call to St. Louis on August 9.
The Rick Ankiel bobblehead is the eighth of the All AutoZone Park Series and will be given to the first 1,500 fans at Tuesday night’s Memphis Redbirds game against the Omaha Royals. Gates open at 6:00 P.M. for the 7:05 game.