The Oakland A’s were hoping that Ka’ai Tom could make an impact upon their roster when he was selected in the Rule V Draft. On Sunday, he did so in a way that no one could have predicted.
With the A’s facing a 9-2 deficit heading into the top of the ninth, manager Bob Melvin decided that it was time to save the bullpen. He summoned Tom from left field to finish out the game, making him the first position player to pitch this year.
Ka’ai Tom makes professional pitching debut
Tom had not pitched at any level as a professional, making his call to the mound all the more interesting. Throwing a fastball that sat in the upper 60s and touched 72 MPH, as well as a slow curve, he did his best to stem the bleeding.
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As it turned out, Tom was one of the more effective pitchers for the A’s on the afternoon. He threw 13 strikes out of his 20 pitches, showing respectable command of his Bartolo Colon-esque arsenal. Tom allowed just one hit, an infield single to Robel Garcia, as none of the batters he faced got a ball past the infield.
It is worth noting that he had a better day on the mound than at the plate. Tom was 0-3 with a strikeout on the day, and has yet to collect a hit in his six major league at bats. He has struck out twice in that time as he has not brought his spring training success over to the regular season.
Chances are, this will be Tom’s last visit to the mound this year. Despite his success, he is better suited to be the A’s fourth outfielder, depending on how one views the likes of Tony Kemp and Chad Pinder. Eventually, the bat will get going and he will be a useful piece in the lineup.
Ka’ai Tom made his mark on the 2021 season, but not in the way anyone would expect. The Oakland A’s outfielder was the first position player pitching of the year.