In 1999 Baseball America named Rick Ankiel the number 1 pitching prospect in the minors.
He went 11-7 the following year here in Memphis as a rookie for the Cardinals in 2000.
And then he couldn't throw strikes.
Now he's tearing up the PCL as an outfielder.
He is THE story of the season in the baseball world.
Going from a washed up, one time pitching phenom in the Majors at age of 20....to making the majors a 2nd time as an outfielder.
Yes Rick Ankiel is on the verge of doing the seemingly impossible.
Action News 5's Dave Cera asked Ankiel if he's even a little surprised at how well the season has gone.
Ankiels' response,"I think the homers have come a little faster than I expected but that's obviously a good surprise. I'm feeling good about the way things are going but to just keep progressing."
Ah the home runs, a Pacific Coast League leading 26...that's along with a .271 average and his cannon of a left arm.
It's not IF it's WHEN will he return to the Cardinals.
Ankiel says, "You know obviously I'm hoping for a call-up in September or sooner. But for me its just about coming here and playing day in and day out and just trying to get better at everything I'm doing everyday."
Now that Ankiel has re-invented himself as home run hitting center fielder he's a lot more selective about who he talks to. In fac a couple weeks ago ESPN came to town wanting an interview and he turned them down.>
He says, "Well, I'm focused on the season and all that seems like a distraction right now. You know I'm just another minor league player having a pretty decent season. So for me at this time I just want to focus on playing and not so much the outside stuff."
It's that exact mind set that has gotten him through the horror of a failed career as a pitcher and back on the brink of the Big Leagues.