At this time a year
ago the major leagues seemed like a far off fantasyland to Dustan Mohr. A lot
can happen in a year. Right now Mohr is tearing the cover off the ball in spring
training, playing all three outfield positions, and cementing his place on the Minnesota Twins roster. So much for the far off fantasyland.
The Mississippi native was
originally drafted by Cleveland in the ninth round in 1997. After hitting .280
at in A ball and .167 in AA in the Indians organization, Mohr decided he did not fit into their plans and asked for his release
during spring training 2000. The Indians granted his wish.
"It was a situation where they
could afford to get rid of some outfielders," he said. " I went in and talked to the player development director and
we made an agreement that he would release me and give me a chance to catch on somewhere else."
He didn't have to wait long
for a chance. Twins GM quickly called Mohr and assigned him to Class A Fort Myers
for the 2000 season. Mohr responded by hitting .265 with 11 HR and 75 RBI for
the Miracle. Solid, but hardly eye opening numbers.
After off-season back surgery
to repair a herniated disk, Mohr reported to spring training stronger than ever. He
responded with a monster season at AA New Britain hitting .336 with 24 HR and 91 RBI in 135 games. This caught the attention of the Twins brass.
"I had a whole new mental approach,"
Mohr said of his breakout season. "Earlier in my career I was worried about things
that were not in my control and that added a lot of unnecessary stress."
Mohr's play earned him a shot
in the big leagues, "It was a pleasant surprise," he said of his call up, "I didn't expect it, I was totally caught off guard."
On August 29, 2001 a dream
came true for Dustan Mohr. He made his major league debut. Mohr's first night in the bigs was a memorable one; he went 1 for 3 with a sacrifice fly and made a highlight
reel diving catch in right field. That, however, was the highlight of Mohr's
trial run in the majors.
"I had a pretty good game on
my first night," he said, "then after that I started trying to do more than I was capable of."
Life in the major leagues as
a rookie has its down side, namely the hazing. "I had to wear a dress on the plane from Anaheim to Detroit," Mohr explained.
"Guardado, Hocking, and (the veterans) tried to embarrass (the rookies) as much as possible."
After outplaying more highly
regarded prospects like Bobby Kielty, Michael Cuddyer, and Michael Restovich, Dustan Mohr looks to be headed north with a
big league club for the first time. The 25-year-old outfielder seems primed to
build on his success of 2001.
photo by Sebastian Vannavong