Who’s on first?

Curtis Thigpen currently finds himself in a unique situation. The Blue Jays believe that the 24-year-old prospect will be ready for a full-time role with the big club in 2009. However, the same can be said of Robinzon Diaz, another 24-year-old catcher in the Jays’ minor league system. Because of this, J.P. Ricciardi & Co. are discussing moving the athletic Thigpen to another position.

“The most important thing is we like the way Thigpen hits and we have to try to find a way to get him in the lineup,” said Ricciardi in a recent interview with MLB.com. The youngster has already played 14 games at first base for Toronto, doing so last year for the injury-riddled ball club. There is also talk of trying the youngster at third base. Though it is rare, this won’t be the first time a Toronto player has made a position change. Consider these …

Dave Stieb — Prior to being drafted by the Blue Jays in the 5th round in 1978, Stieb played centre field for Southern Illinois University. The following comes courtesy of ‘Diamond Dreams: 20 Years of Blue Jays Baseball’, written by Stephen Brunt.

“Stieb was a pretty good centre fielder,” said scout Al LaMacchia. “He could run, throw. Go get the ball. But we didn’t particularly like the way he hit.” LaMacchia did, however, like the way he pitched. The problem was, Stieb saw himself as an outfielder only. “I’m a centre fielder,” Stieb told LaMacchia. “I’m going to be selected as an All American centre fielder in the NCAA.” Knowing full well that Stieb was better suited as a pitcher, LaMacchia told Bobby Mattick, “To get him, we have to give him a chance to play centre. But I think he’ll fail. There’s not any doubt in my mind that he’ll fail. And then we will make a pitcher out of him.” Of course, the plan worked, and Stieb quickly realized that his future lay on the mound.

In 15 seasons, Stieb, the winningest pitcher in franchise history, posted a career record of 175-134 along with a 3.42 ERA. He also remains the lone Toronto pitcher to toss a no-hitter, doing so on Sept. 2, 1990 against the Cleveland Indians.

Carlos Delgado — Signed as a catcher by the Blue Jays in 1988 (as a 16-year-old), Delgado was blocked at the big league level by Pat Borders. Eager to get his bat in the lineup, the Jays tried Delgado in the outfield in 1994. After another short stint in the outfield in ’95, Delgado was given a full-time role as the designated hitter in ’96. With the departure of John Olerud at the end of that season, Delgado was moved to first base, a position he would play for the remainder of his career with the Blue Jays.

In 11 seasons, Delgado amassed 336 home runs and 1,058 RBIs. He remains the franchise leader in those categories, as well as runs scored (889), doubles (343), walks (827), total bases (2,786) and slugging percentage (.556).

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One Response to “Who’s on first?”

  1. Dave Rouleau Says:

    Todd,

    You have no idea how good it is to have you back. Keep up the great work, man. I am addicted to Blue Jays history and I’m counting on you to get my fix!!

    The Stieb story shows how great some scouts can be. To draft a guy as a CF , predict his demise and then see him become the winningest pitcher in BJ history is quite simply remarkable.

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