Cody Bellinger with the breaking ball, CC Sabathia smashing stand-up doubles, Joey Gallo lighting up radar guns, Andrelton Simmons on the mound -- can you imagine? Fortunately, you don’t have to, because we’ve rooted around the scouting archives for video of these phenomena, and more.
Before the rise of Shohei Ohtani, Brendan McKay and the true two-way player, the last time we get to see baseball stars playing all over the diamond is when they’re in high school or college ahead of the MLB Draft. But most Major League-caliber players are capable at multiple positions before they specialize, and here are a few of the game’s stars like perhaps you’ve never seen them before:
Mike Trout (Millville [NJ] Senior HS)
So you’re telling me there’s a chance? Just look at that curveball! Who doesn’t want to imagine Trout and Ohtani mashing back-to-back in the lineup and taking turns on the mound? Oh, to dream.
Nolan Arenado (El Toro HS, Lake Forest, Calif.)
OK Arenado, we see you getting rid of that ball and offering up some arm strength. Scouts had mixed reviews of the high school shortstop's defensive home in the pros, so he took his incredible arm behind the plate ... but eventually settled in nicely at the hot corner.
Cody Bellinger (Hamilton HS, Chandler, Ariz.)
A lefty with some decent breaking stuff and a high 80s fastball with plenty of room to grow? Who doesn’t want to give it a shot? Oh, the Dodgers, fair enough. The 111 homers in his first three big league seasons are a good indicator that the right choice was made here, but let’s not count out any position-player-pitching moments in his future.
Gerrit Cole (Orange [Calif.] Lutheran HS)
There’s some bat speed there, and barrels aplenty. The two-time first-rounder’s arm has always been his most impressive attribute on the field, but those bat-to-ball skills have been on display a few times throughout his definitely-better-on-the-mound career.
Jack Flaherty (Harvard-Westlake HS, Los Angeles)
Swing it, young Flaherty. Not a bad right-handed stroke for the kid, though those throws across the diamond do give a little more to get excited about. It didn’t take long for scouts to see where his biggest return would come from, and with a couple Major League seasons under his belt, it’s easy to see why.
Joey Gallo (Bishop Gorman HS, Las Vegas)
Light it up! Gallo was up to 98 mph before being selected as a third baseman in the 2012 Draft, and the Rangers truly have the best of both worlds now, benefiting from his power at the plate and seeing that cannon in play from the outfield. We can’t say we won’t be looking for any late-inning mound opportunities in his future though.
Matt Olson (Parkview HS, Lilburn, Ga.)
Let it eat, Olson. Maybe he wasn’t lighting up the radar guns in high school, but he was almost as impressive on the mound for scouts as he was with the bat before the Athletics took him as a first baseman in the 2012 Draft. He led Parkview to back-to-back state championships and went 12-1 with a 1.64 ERA, 85 strikeouts and only six walks as a senior.
Buster Posey (Lee County HS, Leesburg, Ga.)
This guy looks a little familiar, but then again, does he actually? Four pitches strike-thrower, and one scout called him a high school version of Greg Maddux when he was on. Who are we to argue?
CC Sabathia (Vallejo [Calif.] HS)
Look at this guy, just ripping doubles and standing up at second base. Could Sabathia have had a career spanning two decades with the bat? We won’t pretend to know, but in his 127 career MLB plate appearances, he did hit above the Mendoza Line and offered some flashbacks to his hitting days.
Andrelton Simmons (Western Oklahoma State College)
How many infield highlight reels would we have been robbed of if Simmons had kept that incredible right arm on the mound? Thankfully, we will never know, and we also have this gift of seeing Simba on the hill, where he ran his fastball up to 95 mph and flashed a mid-80s slider that had some teams tempted to draft him as a pitcher.
Marcus Stroman (Patchogue-Medford [NY] HS)
Who’s surprised? Stroman has shown off his defensive prowess from the mound throughout his career, nabbing his first Gold Glove Award in 2017, the same season he went yard with a nonchalant oppo taco for the Blue Jays in Interleague Play.
Christian Yelich (Westlake [Calif.] HS)
The arm action, the athleticism -- he was destined for a position change, and we think everyone is happy with how things turned out for the California prep star.