Written by Michael MacIsaac (Contact & Archive) on June 03, 2008
Ladies, and gentlemen… Albert Puj…
Huh?! Ryan Ludwick?! Who in the name of… Ryan Ludwick?!
Ryan Ludwick’s rise to the top of the MLB crop has been the most unlikely event in baseball since… well, the Colorado Rockies made it to the 2007 World Series, I guess. Just goes to show you America’s greatest game knows no consistency. As far as great baseball history goes, Ryan Ludwick doesn’t have it. Drafted by Oakland in 1999, he never saw big league action until he was traded to Texas in 2002, and even then he didn’t stick in the Majors. Now, at age 29, he has turned into one of baseball’s biggest threats. Where did it all come from?
After playing with the AAA Memphis Redbirds (Cardinals) for all of a month, he may have Preston Wilson to unfortunately thank for his new star role: isn’t it amazing the players that have emerged thanks to injuries? Seems oddly similar to the man I started to introduce at the beginning of this article.
Honestly though, Ludwick, wasn’t always an obscure face in the mind of scouts. Early in his career, he was pegged to be a Major League star, yet injuries sidelined him time and time again. He has been a minor league All-Star Game at every level which he’s played and was once touted at Texas’ number seven prospect. He does come from a baseball family, being the brother of former Blue Jays prospect Eric Ludwick, yet still the question persists… just who is he?
You’ll be glad to know that he’s down-to-earth, honest, and a straight shooter, while still the respectful type of player that baseball so desperately needs. During his stint in Oakland he couldn’t say enough about the Athletics coaching staff and everyone throughout the organization. Everything from Oakland about Ryan has been positive and reflects that – especially his willingness to adapt. At one point, when they asked him to cut down on strikeouts and learn how to steal bases better, Ryan outright admitted that he had never learned to steal bases, yet he focused the bulk of his training to learn all he could. He acknowledged that his athletic ability used to be enough to get by on, but with his dream on the line he just worked harder than ever before.
To management there, he admitted that a September call-up would be great, yet he’d keep working hard either way: striking the perfect balance for the organization being neither too humble, nor too demanding.
He was there during the “Strike Zone Reformation” of a few years ago, and when asked about it, he gave his full honest opinion: “It’s kind of erratic, we’ve been taught to hold off on that pitch our entire lives, yet I think the zone is going to evolve back where it was eventually.” Finally, answers for reporters!
As to family life, Ludwick's father, Dale, was a Captain in the military when Ryan was born, and he traveled all over during his childhood. He credits his brother as his inspiration to play baseball. He thanks his parents for his upbringing, and never faltered with the hardships of living in a military family. He met his wife in fourth grade, although he never realized this until they actually met again after college. He loves pranks, and he is afraid of trying to judge how good he is.
At the risk of becoming too much like golf, and digging up all the dirt that they can when a “nobody” emerges to win the Masters, Ryan Ludwick is baseball.
Now, in 2008, Ryan is looking to add yet another All-Star Game appearance to his resume: MLB. He’s currently out hitting household names such as Alfonso Soriano, Adam Dunn, and Carlos Lee in terms of power, and has the defense to boot. He dominated the scene when St. Louis gave him a chance in the minor-leagues in 2007, hitting 14 HRs and driving in 52 runs over half a Triple A season, yet his average was quite “average” at .267. Not so much anymore, standing at over .300 so far this season. He still strikes out a fair amount and may need to keep working at that and accepts the role the Cards have for him, despite the fact that Manager Tony La Russa has been consistently sitting him against right-handed pitching.
Ludwick has provided stability to a Cardinals outfield that was anything but stable in April. Given the chance to shine, there is no question that Ryan Ludwick’s dreams seem to be finally coming true.
I was the 5642nd visitor to Ryan Ludwick’s unofficial fan website. He was wearing a Cleveland Indians jersey in his picture. Woe is Cleveland.