LOWELL — It can be a 400-foot home run or a lucky bloop over the third baseman’s head. Aaron King isn’t picky.
“After five years of not swinging the bat, every hit feels pretty good,” said King. “Any success is pretty exciting. I want to show myself and everyone else I can do this.”
For the first five seasons of his professional baseball career, King’s batting gloves appeared to be in permanent retirement as he fought for a career as a pitcher in the San Francisco Giants system.
But after struggles brought an end to his time on the mound, King decided drastic change was necessary to attempt to save his baseball career.
This season, King made the move to outfielder full-time, and after five years without a single at-bat, the start is better than he ever could have hoped, hitting .282 with a team-high two home runs in 21 games for the Lowell Spinners.
“So far the move has gone better than I ever could have expected,” said King. “It’s really been about getting back on the bike and seeing live pitching for the first time in a long time. But I can still read a pitch and still play a ball off the bat.”
King was a two-way star first at Fred T. Foard High School (N.C.), then at Surry Community College (N.C.). In his final college season, the lefty struck out 98 batters in just 66 innings and hit .329 with five homers in 68 at-bats.
But when the Giants drafted King in the seventh round of the 2008 MLB Draft, there was no question what the plan was for him.
“When I was drafted I was a pitcher for sure,” he said. “That was 100 percent, and my No. 1 goal to pursue was making the major leagues as a pitcher. That’s where the organization wanted me and that was my focus.”