Sure, Japan may have won the first World Baseball Classic, but find me a bigger winner in the tournament than Peter Moylan, a 27-year-old pharmaceutical salesman from Australia who hasn't pitched professionally in seven years -- and promptly signed with the Braves for $30,000 after the WBC.
Moylan's story is made-for-Disney stuff. The guy signs with the Twins in 1996 but after two years in rookie ball is run out of baseball in 1999 with an 88-mph fastball and immaturity issues. He goes back home to Australia, gets a job, gets married, undergoes two back surgeries and plays for a local club team. Six months ago, while tossing a baseball in the outfield, he tries throwing sidearm and -- voila! -- suddenly he is throwing 96 mph, a development for which he has no possible explanation.
Fast forward to the WBC, and he whiffs Magglio Ordonez, Bobby Abreu and Ramon Hernandez of Venezuela and suddenly the scouts are scrambling to sign the guy. Fast forward to October and ... well, picture a guy with glasses, a goatee, sideburns and tattoos -- his Australian manager called him "Wild Thing" after the Charlie Sheen character in Major League -- on the mound in a tight playoff game for the Braves. At this cinematic rate, why not?
"He's got real good stuff,'' said former major leaguer Pat Kelly, a coach for Australia and a scout for the Seattle Mariners. "He's a real character, but the key is if this time he really works at it and stays focused. He's got a shot if he does.''
Tom Verducci SI.COM