Drafted: By the Marlins in 2001 (fourth round) out of Barron Collier High (Fla.)
Current stats: 4-1, 2.03 ERA, 56 Ks, 1.13 WHIP
MLB apperances: 2005 (2-0 in 15 games with Florida); 2006 (1-2 in 22 games with Florida); 2007 (four games with Anaheim); 2008 (0-1 with two holds in 16 games with Atlanta).
Notable: Named International League Pitcher of the Week on May 17 after allowing four hits, including one against Lehigh Valley, in two wins the week prior... Named Class 4A outfielder his senior year in high school... Played quarterback in high school... Played one game in left field for the Braves in 2008.
LAWRENCEVILLE — A separated shoulder altered Chris Resop’s path to playing in Major Leagues and a journey to Japan might have saved his career.
Drafted by the Florida Marlins as an outfielder in 2001, Resop, who is currently 4-1 for the Gwinnett Braves, injured his shoulder while playing for the Gulf Coast League Marlins in 2002 and found himself in a precarious position.
“I wasn’t cutting it as a hitter,” said Resop, who is second in the International League with a 2.03 ERA. “I had a good arm, and they said, ‘you know what? Let’s give him one shot on the mound and see if it works out.’ If it didn’t, then unfortunately I would have had to find something else to do.”
Luckily for Resop, who admitted he only pitched “sparingly in high school,” it did work out, and in just two years, he was called up by the Marlins.
“It all happened so quick,” Resop said. “I was kinda like ‘really? already?’ It takes some guys three or four years to get called up.
“Was I ready?” he added. “Probably not. I’m not going to lie, I was a thrower, I didn’t know how to pitch.”
He made just 15 appearances for the Marlins that year and was released by the club in 2006 after going 1-2 in 22 games.
Following short stints with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the Atlanta Braves, Resop was sold to the Hanshin Tigers of the Japanese Central League.
“I chose to go too,” said the 27-year-old right-hander. “It was nerve-wracking and a little exciting. It was an experience and I don’t regret it.”
He shouldn’t, because apparently that’s where he learned to pitch.
“I went there and I can say I did learn some things,” he said. “The players there are going to hit you to death and you have to change it up on those guys. It helps you because you have to throw off-speed in different counts and it allows you to gain confidence in your stuff.”
That confidence has shown through his first nine starts with Gwinnett, where he leads the team in wins and is third in the league in strikeouts with 56.
“I expected him to do well, but not this well,” said pitching coach Derek Botelho. “Him being a starting pitcher has really resurrected his career and made him more of a pitcher.
“He’s always been a guy with an outstanding arm,” Botelho added. “But now it’s made his other pitches better because he’s out there for more pitches.”
Botelho, who said that Resop has “opened some eyes in the Braves organization,” has first-hand knowledge of what it takes for pitchers to make it to the big leagues, as he coached current Braves Tommy Hanson and Kris Medlen last year.
“He’s got the arm strength and fastball of Tommy Hanson and Kris Medlen,” Botelho said. “Everything else is coming along.”
How soon everything arrives will determine whether or not Resop is called up any time soon, but a special “out” clause in his contract may factor in whether or not he ever takes the mound for the Atlanta Braves. According to his contract, the Braves have until June 15 to promote, trade or release him.
“I don’t really know the details, my agent worked that up,” said Resop, who gave no indication on whether or not he was going to exercise that option. “I would hope I’ve opened some eyes so far and shown some teams that I do have what it takes to succeed.”
Ideally, he would like to pitch for the Braves.
“I signed with Atlanta with all intents of pitching for Atlanta,” he said. “Hopefully it’s here, if it’s not, then hopefully it’ll be someplace.”
He also doesn’t care what role he plays whether it’s as a starter or reliever.
“I’ve always said that I don’t care if I’m the waterboy in the big leagues,” he said. “Whatever it takes to get there, I’ll do.”
And according to his current pitching coach, he’ll succeed.
“Who knows what it’ll be,” Botelho said. “But he’ll be ready for whatever role they want him to be in.”