One of the ancillary questions around the recent wave of roster moves/decisions has been, 'Who the h*ll is Scott Rice?' You know, that seemingly random guy with literally no major league experience who just iced the second lefty role?
With familiar names like Pedro Feliciano and Robert Carson in the running, the minor league journeyman was a distant third—or even fourth—option, at least in terms of public perception. So in light of his relatively unknown status—as well as his interesting road to the show—I thought it prudent to dig up the brief primer I put together on Rice back in December after he was signed to a minor league deal last fall:
"On [November 20th] the club also announced the signing of 31-year old left-handed pitcher Scott Rice. However, unlike (Greg) Burke and (Carlos) Torres before him, Rice has yet to log any time in the majors, despite nearly 800 innings over 14 seasons in the minors. In fact, Rice's journey makes for a very interesting story:
The 6'6" lefty was initially drafted way back in 1999 by the Orioles in the sandwich round (44th overall), garnering a $700,000 bonus at the ripe old age of 17. After a few seasons plagued by middling command he was shifted to the bullpen where he quickly found a home; in his first full season in relief he posted a 0.94 ERA with well over a strikeout an inning at age 21 in A-ball.
However, it still proved a slow climb up the chain and by 2007 he was shipped to the Rangers. The turning point came when he began feeling discomfort in his pitching elbow during one of his first outings with Texas. Strangely, Rangers doctors couldn't find any signs of structural damage and he was advised to continue pitching. In hindsight, from his descriptions of the pain it was clear something was wrong; however soon after Texas decided to cut bait.
Possessing a shadow of the stuff that made him a former first round selection, Rice found himself pitching in the independent Atlantic League where he'd make stops with the Long Island Ducks as well as the Newark Bears. However, after continuing arm pain, someone with the Ducks was able to get him in front of Mets' team physician David Altcheck, who immediately diagnosed a torn flexor tendon and recommended Tommy John surgery.
Just over a year later Rice was at the Rockies spring training facility pitching in open tryouts along with undrafted amateurs. Fortunately, having healed from the surgery his stuff rebounded and not only did he get a deal, he was a Texas League All-Star in 2010. Since then Rice has floated around the periphery of the majors, but still hasn't been able to seal the deal.
In 2011, he posted a sub-par 4.40 ERA in Triple-A Albuquerque and was DFA'd by the Dodgers. Regardless, the Rice signing makes as much sense as any so far this winter, thanks to his overwhelming career success against lefties. Looking at his last two seasons, Rice has allowed lefties to bat .184/.263/.253 against him while posting an impressive 11.32 strikeouts per nine against them. The guy clearly has the ability to get lefties out and should at least get the opportunity to audition in a LOOGY role this spring."
What a weird, wild journey. And imagine all the crazy stuff along the way that we didn't hear about.
(Note to self: Interview Scott Rice this summer.)
For the record, Rice has played for the following teams (in chronological order):
- GCL Orioles (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
- Bluefield Orioles
- Aberdeen Ironbirds
- Delmarva Shorebirds
- Frederick Keys
- Bowie Baysox
- Ottawa Lynx
- AZL Rangers (Surprise, AZ)
- Clinton LumberKings
- Frisco RoughRiders
- Long Island Ducks (non-affiliated)
- Newark Bears (non-affiliated)
- San Antonio Missions
- Tulsa Drillers
- Colorado Springs Sky Sox
- York Revolution (non-affiliated)
- Chattanooga Lookouts
- Albuquerque Isotopes