Three cheers for Troy
And I don’t mean the god-awful movie with Brad Pitt. Troy Percival became the first pitcher to be enshrined in the AFL Hall of Fame on Tuesday night. Kind of funny, isn’t it, that the first pitcher to go into the AFL Hall — which includes such superstars as Derek Jeter and Mike Piazza — is a guy who didn’t start pitching until the year he went to the Fall League. Percival was a converted catcher who began the transformation in 1992. That fall he pitched for Scottsdale and struck out 23 in 17 innings. Think his time in the league helped him prepare? 324 saves say yes.
The ceremony led to a thought: Which of this year’s AFL relievers — a group that hasn’t gotten much attention on this blog at least — look like they may at least have a shot at being the next Percival. Despite his hefty ERA, it’s hard not to like Travis Bowyer, who’s got 17 K’s and just 2 walks in 12 1/3 IP this fall after saving 23 and striking out 96 in Triple-A this season. Jim Miller saved 34 games this year and struck out a total of 87 in 62 2/3 IP, though he too has struggled in the AFL. Brian Wilson hasn’t pitched all that well this fall — including in a rare start — but the AFL journal writer went from Low-A all the way to Triple-A this year, saving 21 games and whiffing 65 in 60 IP. You’ve got former starter Casey Daigle, who moved to the pen this year with dramatically good results. He’s pitched pretty well this fall and could sneak into the D-Backs pen in 2006.
OK, so maybe there aren’t any future Troy Percivals out there. But, truth be told, did anyone think Troy Percival would be Troy Percival back in 1992?