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A decade-long journey to Coors Field is complete for former Colorado Rockies prospect

Patrick Lyons Avatar
July 30, 2023

When Sam Moll was taken in the third round of the 2013 MLB Draft by the Colorado Rockies, there were still 40 rounds. A total of 1,216 amateurs were selected that year, all on equal footing at that point and on the path to fulfilling their childhood dreams.

Though he wouldn’t make his first appearance at Coors Field until a decade later — and with the Oakland Athletics — it was a personal triumph for Moll. 

“It was a roundabout way of getting here. Maybe not the most ideal, but to finally get back here is cool,” Moll said following his appearance during the A’s 8-5 win on Friday night. “Not everybody’s road is A to B to C. I kind of jumped around through it, reinvented myself a little bit throughout the years and finally got back.”

Jul 28, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; Oakland Athletics relief pitcher Sam Moll (60) tosses the ball as he waits to be pulled in the seventh inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Drafted 77th overall from of the University of Memphis, he was a part of a draft class that has produced a total of eight players that would eventually find their way to the big leagues: RHP Jon Gray, 3B Ryan McMahon, 1B Jordan Patterson, C Dom Nuñez, RHP Konner Wade, IF Pat Valaika and OF Mike Tauchman.

Moll transitioned into a reliever after his first professional season with the Tri-City Dust Devils in 2013. He went through all the levels of Colorado’s farm system at the time — High-A Modesto, Double-A New Britain and Triple-A Albuquerque — before being placed on the 40-man roster in November of 2016.

The Rockies got back to the playoffs in that next season, but a fourth left-handed option in the bullpen simply wasn’t required. The club did need a bat in August and, to make room on the 40-man, Moll was designated for assignment while Ryan McMahon had his contract selected. 

“No hard feelings, obviously,” Moll said of the baseball transaction. “(McMahon’s) a great guy. I kind of came up with him. He was a little bit younger than me, but we crossed paths a little bit.”

The 31-year-old enjoyed “a little reunion” over the weekend catching up with a few familiar faces still with the organization from his time with Colorado, from coaches to trainers to former teammates like Kyle Freeland, Matt Carasiti and Germán Márquez.

Eventually debuting in 2017 with Oakland, he would find himself changing caps multiple times in a few years, sometimes within a matter of days. Moll was selected off waivers twice in three days by the Pittsburgh Pirates and Seattle Mariners after his debut year. Another waiver claim landed him with the Toronto Blue Jays. He was selected in the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 draft by the San Francisco Giants before a stint in the Arizona Diamondbacks system.

The Tennessee native took root in Oakland in 2021 and made it back to the Majors for the first time in four years. During that time, he’s been a valuable reliever for the Athletics, having thrown 90.2 innings to a 3.62 ERA in the past three seasons. 

Gesturing to the club level behind home plate, Moll reminisced about being a 21-year-old fresh out of college. “(I had) thoughts of when I got drafted in 2013 and then flying out here and signing papers up there. Some boxes or offices or wherever it may have been, looking out over the field and thinking, ‘Maybe one day I’ll pitch here.’”

The road to the big leagues is not promised to all those young and exuberant players signed to minor league deals. Though his return to Coors Field might best be described as bittersweet, at this point it’s been more than just a taste of the Majors or a cup of coffee for former Rockies prospect.

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