SYDNEY, 24 November - Melbourne right-hander Peter Moylan has signed on for the next step in his Major League Baseball journey, inking a minor league contract with the Houston Astros this week according to reports. When official, the deal will make the Astros Moylan's third MLB organisation along with the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers.
Moylan, 34, has only pitched in 35 games at the major league level over the last three seasons after battling shoulder injuries that have led to surgery. The veteran was healthy throughout the 2013 campaign, though, pitching in 38 games for the Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes and posting an impressive 2.74 ERA in the offence-happy Pacific Coast League.
A story unlike any other, Moylan's circuitous route to the big leagues took a major detour. After pitching in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in 1996 and 1997 as a signee of the Minnesota Twins organisation, Moylan was released and returned home to Australia. Nearly ten years later, in the 2006 World Baseball Classic, he caught the eye of Atlanta Braves officials. Atlanta signed Moylan and assigned him to Triple-A Richmond. That season, he debuted in the big leagues with 15 appearances before becoming one of the most reliable and successful relievers in baseball.
In each of three of the next four seasons, Moylan made more than 80 appearances and never recorded an ERA over 2.97. Over his seven seasons in Atlanta, Moylan recorded a 2.59 ERA over 260 2/3 innings pitched as a member of the Atlanta relief corps from 2006-12.
After injuries put him out of action for much of 2011 and 2012, the former Blackburn Orioles star signed with the Dodgers ahead of the 2013 campaign. This year, the Dodgers summoned the righty for 14 outings from their big league bullpen amidst his terrific season with Albuquerque. Moylan elected free agency upon the completion of the 2013 campaign.
In Houston, Moylan will join former Sydney Blue Sox import Brandon Barnes, a regular in the Astros lineup. Fellow Victorian Travis Blackley was a member of the Astros last season before a late season trade to Texas Rangers.