For most professional baseball players, failing to make it back to Major League Baseball for a number of years after debuting at the age of 26 can be taken as a sign that it's time to move on to something else. Pitching careers, especially, have a short life span if the player can't stick in the Majors. However, one former promising SF Giants minor league pitcher is defying the odds.
Just before last weekend, it was announced that Henry Sosa had signed a contract to continue his pitching career - over a decade after his last pitch in the big show.
Under the current MLB lockout, players currently or recently (last season) on any team's 40-man roster can't be signed, cut or traded. Those rules don't apply to most minor league free agents or international teams.
Sosa, at age 36, agreed to pitch in 2022 for the Rakuten Monkeys in the Chinese Professional Baseball League in Taiwan. It will be the fourth straight season for Sosa in the CPBL, where he migrated after six years in the Korean Baseball Organization.
Originally a Giants international signing in 2004, Sosa showed off a live arm but took his time working through the farm system: his first two seasons were in the Dominican Summer League, and stateside success in the Arizona League in 2006 earned him a full-season assignment in 2007.
Sosa could run his fastball up to 97 MPH
It was with Low-A Augusta in 2007 that the 6-foot-1 righthander broke out, with a 0.73 ERA in 13 games (10 starts) and a Futures Game invite before a promotion to San Jose, where he allowed more runs but struck out 11 batters per nine innings. The performance as a whole earned Sosa the #5 spot in Baseball America's rankings for the Giants organization before the 2008 campaign - just two spots behind Madison Bumgarner.
The next few years saw Sosa pitch decently, but he dropped in BA's eyes: #13 in 2009, #16 in 2010 and #29 in 2011 as he advanced a level each season. Stuck behind the newly-minted World Champions' gaggle of talented pitching, the Giants send him to the Houston Astros in a July trade for second baseman Jeff Keppinger.
Sosa saw brief time for the Astros' Double-A and Triple-A affiliates before being called up for 10 starts to finish the season; a 3-5 record and 5.23 ERA followed, and he was released early in the 2012 season. The Kia Tigers of the KBO signed Sosa for the rest of 2012 and 2013, and after a seven-game experiment with the Dodgers' Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes in 2014 he was released and went back to the KBO until 2019, when his contract was purchased by the Fubon Guardians of the CPBL.