Jack Spradlin was a left-handed pitcher who played at just about every possible level of professional baseball except for the big leagues. By no means was that a failure, as he had a long and interesting career playing the game that he loves.
On the radar of major league teams since high school, Spradlin was a 50th-round selection of the New York Mets in 2002. He did not sign then, nor in 2004 when the San Francisco Giants took him in the 43rd round. Finally, after a strong season at USC (University of Southern California) he was taken in the eighth round in 2005 by the Washington Nationals and started his pro career.
He began as a starter with the Vermont Lake Monsters in Rookie ball, but quickly transitioned to the bullpen in the coming years. Despite making near-annual progress through the Washington system, he never broke through to the big leagues. He left the organization after the 2010 season and continued playing through 2012 in independent ball. Along the way, he also played in Venezuela and Puerto Rico.
In seven professional seasons, he was a combined 23-28 with a 4.39 ERA in 215 games. He saved eight games and struck out 317 batters in 391 innings. Keep reading for some of his recollections about his time in baseball.
Jack Spradlin Interview:
Who was your favorite player when you were growing up, and why?: My favorite baseball player growing up was Tony Gwynn I grew up in San Diego and as you know he’s not only a legend in San Diego but one of the greatest players to ever play the game!
Can you please describe what your draft experience was like, being taken in the 8th round by the Nationals in 2005?: My draft experience was great. I was playing for USC at the time and we were going to the super regionals. I snuck away the day before we traveled to Corvallis to be at home with my family in hopes to get a call that day! I had no idea I would be selected by the Nationals, but the phone call came in the eighth round and I was thrilled to get my pro career started and grateful to share the experience with my family.
What was your first professional experience like in Vermont?: My first pro experience wasn’t the greatest because a week after arriving to Vermont I found out I had a partial tear in my rotator cuff and needed to travel to Florida shortly after for rehab. Good news was I didn’t need surgery and was able to participate the following year in spring training.
What is your favorite moment from your baseball career?: One of my favorite moments in my baseball career was winning the Carolina league title in 2008. Another great experience was making the all-star team in short season A ball and receiving a jersey from Cal Ripken Jr. Also, him complimenting me on a great year. It doesn’t get much better than that, and I have the picture still which is awesome to have.
What was it like playing in Venezuela?: Playing in Venezuela was one of the best experiences of my life. I was living on an island called Margarita Island and it was beautiful. Not only did I have a good season and had the chance to play with and against some amazing players, but I also met my wife that year and we are happily married to this day with a beautiful son named Christian.
Who was your favorite coach or manager, and what made them your choice?: My favorite manager was Randy Knorr. He managed me for multiple seasons and he was very knowledgeable and taught me a lot about the game. Randy Tomlin was my pitching coach, and it was also a pleasure to learn and pick his brain as well.
What, if anything, would you have done differently in your baseball career?: If I could do something different it would have been to throw inside more often and really master a changeup.
What are you up to these days?: I work for a company called Inland Kenworth and am grateful to have such a great job but obviously nothing beats playing ball!
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