Former Nats outfielder Rick Ankiel is officially retiring, as the 34-year-old converted pitcher will now look to join a MLB front office in the near future.
Ankiel came up in the big leagues as a starting pitcher with the St. Louis Cardinals, but became an outfielder at the age of 27 after losing complete command of the strike zone. As a pitcher he entered the majors as a top prospect, able to hit high-90s as a lefty.
Ankiel had one very good season in the Cardinals' rotation, going 11-7 with a 3.50 ERA in 31 games in 2000. After that his pitching career unraveled with a well-documented case of the yips.
He was out of the majors for two seasons (2005-06) before returning as a position player. He then had two solid years with St. Louis, most notably a 25-homer campaign in 2008. After that, however, he was relegated to the bench as he had trouble maintaining a high batting average.
Ankiel played with the Nationals in 2011 and 2012 and hit .236 with 14 home runs and 52 RBI in 190 games. The Nats released him in July of 2012.
After leaving Washington, Ankiel had brief stints with both the Houston Astros and New York Mets. He last played in May of 2013.
Ankiel never lived up to the expectations he carried into the league as a top prospect, but he'll likely always be remembered for both converting positions, and for having one of the strongest and most accurate outfield arms in baseball. For years he practically stood alone as the most feared outfielder to run on.
Ankiel played a total of 11 seasons in the major leagues. The St. Louis Cardinals broadcast team first reported the news.