It’s time for another edition of our filler posts that we’ve desperately needed for two widely different stoppages of play/business in MLB. Somehow this is already the seventeenth post I’ve done like this now covering 45ish players depending on how you count it.
Selected in the fourth round of the 2003 MLB Draft, Paul joined the Dodgers’ organization out of high school in Louisiana. Soon ranked as a Top 10 prospect for Los Angeles, Paul spent a long time working his way to the majors.
Slashing .307/.384/.489/.872 across 69 games in Ogden to begin his professional career in 2003, Paul moved to Single-A Columbus in 2004 and then High-A Vero Beach for 2005 and 2006, when Baseball America named him the best defensive outfielder in Class A. Steadily slipping down the Dodgers’ list of prospects by Baseball America, Paul finally reached Triple-A Las Vegas in 2008 where he hit .316/.378/.463/.841. Opening the 2009 season in Triple-A Albuquerque, Paul finally made his major league debut on May 7, 2009 nearly six years after being drafted.
How Paul finally reached the majors is somewhat funny in hindsight, as Manny Ramirez was suspended for 50 games after testing positive for HCG. Paul went on to play in nearly every game across a 14-day stretch. Hitting a double and a homer in 14 at-bats, Paul landed on the DL with a staph infection that ended his run in the majors for 2009.
Back up in 2010 as Ramirez spent time on the DL in three separate stints, Paul slashed .231/.277/.314/.591 in 121 at-bats across 44 games. Opening the 2011 season with the Dodgers, Paul compiled three singles in 11 a-bats across seven games before being designated for assignment with Jerry Sands making his major league debut.
Pittsburgh claimed Paul off waivers a week later, ending his nearly nine-year run with the franchise. From there, Paul spent 2012 with the Nationals organization and the Reds before moving on to Baltimore and Arizona in 2014. Last playing for the D-backs in 2014, Paul’s last major league plate appearance came against the Dodgers in August 2014.
Playing in Mexico in 2016, the Rangers briefly brought Paul into Triple-A during the 2017 season and a stint in indy ball capped off his career in 2018.
Picked in the third round of the 1995 MLB Draft, Masaoka’s professional career began at 17 years old directly out of Waiakea High School in Hilo, Hawai’i. Striking out 75 batters in 49 1/3 innings for Low-A Yakima, Masaoka proceeded to jump up a level each season through 1998.
Ranked No. 95 by Baseball America in its Top 100 prospects ahead of the 1997 season, the left-handed Masaoka had struck out 80 in 65 innings for Single-A Savannah (the Sand Gnats?) while starting all 13 of his appearances. Masaoka finished with another 132 strikeouts and 55 walks in 148 2/3 innings (24 starts in 28 games) for High-A Vero Beach, and started to rein in his control a bit having finished his first two seasons with an 8.6 and 4.8 BB/9 innings. Ranked behind Paul Konerko, Adrian Beltre, Mike Judd, Dennys Reyes and Ted Lilly in Baseball America’s 1998 organization rankings, Masaoka started another 20 games across 27 appearances for Double-A San Antonio before making the leap to Los Angeles as a 21-year-old.
Becoming the first player from the island of Hawai’i to reach the majors, Masaoka debuted on April 5, 1999 against the D-backs and soon became one of Davey Johnson’s primary relievers after starting for most of his professional career. Pitching in 54 games, fourth on the team behind Pedro Borbon, Alan Mills and Jeff Shaw, Masaoka struck out 61 batters in 66 2/3 innings.
However, 47 walks and eight homers allowed led to a 4.32 ERA and a 5.07 FIP in a whole season with the Dodgers. Starting 2000 in the bullpen as the team’s primarily lefty in the bullpen, Masaoka appeared in another 29 games with 27 strikeouts in 27 innings while walking 15.
Unlike the previous season, Masaoka bounced between Triple-A Albuquerque and Los Angeles with another 37 1/3 innings in the minors with 22 strikeouts to 36 walks. A drop in homers allowed, with just two in the majors (and one in Triple-A) led to a 4.00 ERA and a 3.87 FIP, but Masaoka wouldn’t start the 2001 season in Los Angeles.
Now in Las Vegas, Masaoka continued a slight move back to starting at times with five starts in the minors after starting five for Albuquerque in 2000.
Appearing in 14 games for Triple-A Charlotte, Masaoka’s professional career effectively came to an end at just 24 years old. Stepping away from baseball when Chicago released him in March 2002, Masaoka earned a degree from Hawaii-Hilo before he finally returned to independent ball in 2009 with the Gary SouthShore RailCats.
After starting 11 games, Masaoka then departed the sport again until 2013 when he spent time with the Hawaii Stars of the Pacific Association of Baseball Clubs.