The 2002 film “The Rookie” was the story of Jim Morris, a pitcher who’d been the Brewers‘ first-round pick in 1983. After a few years in the minors his career ended due to injury and he became a high school teacher and baseball coach. One day Morris was throwing baseballs around with his team, showed good velocity and promised his players he’d go to a tryout if they won their district title. They did, and he got a tryout with the then Devil Rays, who signed him to a minor-league deal.
Morris pitched for Tampa Bay in 1999 and 2000, making 21 appearances and posting a 4.80 ERA, at age 35 and 36.
It was a great feel-good story and the movie, starring Dennis Quaid as Morris, was pretty good as well.
Now, this true story might be repeating itself. Luke Hagerty, a 6-7 lefthander, was the Cubs’ supplemental first-round pick in 2002 (32nd overall) out of Ball State. He pitched very well at Boise that summer, then blew out his elbow and had Tommy John surgery. Hagerty came back and pitched for the next few years in the minor leagues, and the results weren’t good. He was selected by the Orioles (who traded him to the Marlins) in the 2004 Rule 5 draft and later returned to the Cubs. He last pitched professionally for Schaumburg in the independent Northern League in 2008.
Hagerty now runs a facility called X2 Athletic Performance Training in Scottsdale, Arizona. Sunday, there were scouts watching some pitchers throw at Driveline in Seattle, including Hagerty:
The 3rd annual Driveline Baseball Scout Day (Sunday, January 13, 2019 @ 10:30 AM) will have scout representation from three countries (MEX, JPN, USA) with 35-40 total scouts present to see 20+ pitchers and 10 position players.— Kyle Boddy (@drivelinebases) January 10, 2019
We will have Trackman + HD video data for all orgs. pic.twitter.com/NLaDOqA5qM
You’ll notice a few other recognizable names there, former major leaguers Daniel Moskos, Joe Beimel and Tyler Matzek. (Beimel is even older than Hagerty; he’s 41.)
And in front of those scouts, Hagerty did this:
Since everyone wants to know, @X2Athletics was T97.6 on Stalker, T98.5 on Trackman in his bullpen.— Kyle Boddy (@drivelinebases) January 13, 2019
I mean... a lefthanded pitcher who can throw like that, why not sign him? I’m not the only one who feels that way:
Luke Hagerty posts some big numbers. Coolest story in sports today. @notthefakeSVP would dig it. Guy turns 38 on April 1. Hasn’t thrown a minor league pitch since 2006, a healthy pro pitch since 2002. And today drops 97/98 in front of a couple dozen scouts. Someone sign this man! https://t.co/wZzq1lu9mB— Cubs Prospects (@cubprospects) January 13, 2019
According to this, the Cubs did watch this throwing session:
Few Cubs connections here.— Cubs Prospects (@cubprospects) January 13, 2019
1) Cubs will be there.
2) Cubs signed @gknumber28 last Driveline pro day.
3) Cub ‘02 (!) 1st rd’er Luke Hagerty is throwing 95 in comeback attempt, 12 years since last pro pitch.
4) Daniel Moskos, in Cubs camp in ‘17, is there after stint in Mexico. https://t.co/TvBYpCqBNd
Here’s what Hagerty had to say on Twitter before the throwing session:
And, here’s some video of him throwing:
If you think the Cubs signing Hagerty would be crazy, I remind you that the Cubs recently signed 35-year-old Mike Zagurski to a minor-league deal and invited him to spring training. Hagerty is about two years older than Zagurski, but he’s lefthanded and if he can throw 95+, he can almost certainly get major-league lefthanded hitters out. Why not give him a minor-league deal with a NRI?
Hagerty pitching in the big leagues would be the coolest comeback story since “The Rookie.”