Among the flurry of Minor League transactions by the Braves this week was the release of third baseman turned pitcher Van Pope. Originally drafted in the 5th round of the 2004 draft, his career started off well enough as he combined to hit .262 with a .728 OPS between 04 and 06.
But, once he reached AA, things quickly went down hill. Playing in his hometown of Jackson, MS, Pope managed to hit just .240 with a woeful .662 OPS in 2 seasons for the Mississippi Braves. The Braves liked his stellar defense at the hot corner enough to give him a chance at AAA, but he completely tanked at that level in 2009, hitting a weak .202 with a .565 OPS and lost the majority of his at bats late in the year to Wes Timmons.
Pope became a Minor League free agent at the end of last season and the Braves re-signed him with one caveat: he would have to become a pitcher. After getting a late start, he joined Myrtle Beach's bullpen near the end of April and his pitching career went about as well as his hitting career. In 9 appearances for the Pelicans he was 0-2 with a 6.35 ERA and a 2.12 WHIP. He was repeatedly undone by wildness, walking 12.7 per 9 innings, hitting 2 batters, and balking twice.
While he was willing to give pitching a try, Pope remained skeptical of it and now that he's been released he will look to continue his career with a different organization as a third baseman.