Veteran Infielder/Outfielder Making Transition To Pitcher With Braves

An 11-year veteran who has played every single position on the diamond aside from catcher and centerfield, has now decided that “position player” isn’t where it’s at for him anymore. Former Atlanta Braves infielder/outfielder Charlie Culberson is now working to make the switch to pitching. 

MLB insider John Heyman reports that Culberson will be at Braves minor-league camp in the spring, trying out as a reliever. He reads off the scouting report of Culberson’s pitching acumen as, “Great guy, super athletic, throws strikes, and has arm strength… He has a shot.” 

And there actually is a bit of history to go by, if you count mop-up work, that is: Culberson has tossed 7 1/3 innings in the majors, and actually has a 1.23 ERA. He wasn’t exactly mowing them down, though, with just 1.2 strikeouts per nine innings.

Culberson, 34, has had 1,312 plate appearances in the majors over his 11-year career, notching a .248 average, .294 on-base percentage, and a .680 OPS, which translates to an OPS+ of 81 — nearly 20% below major league average.

This will be his third stint with the Braves organization, having played for them in 2018 through 2020, and then making a return for just one plate appearance in 2023.

Not many players have made the conversion from regular position player to pitcher over the years, but the latest to do it was Anthony Gose, who went from a light-hitting, speedy outfielder, to a 100 mph throwing reliever. He's only pitched a total of 27.2 innings off the mound, and not since 2022. 

Rick Ankiel went in the opposite direction in the earlier part of this century, going from a pitcher who lost his ability to find the plate, to an outfielder. 

And then of course there's Shohei Ohtani, who you might have heard, does both the hitting and pitching thing pretty well. 

Photo: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports