Mooneyham - 40th Rounder Making Good

This past off-season, Jason Mooneyham well knew, was not a time for idleness. Not as far as he was concerned, anyway. As he puts it, "I was a 40th round draft choice and I knew I had to do something." That something, Mooneyham knew began in the middle of his 5-11 frame. "I weighed 250 when I reported to Ogden last year and that had to change because, you know, 40th rounders don't get much chance."

Guys drafted as low as he was don't get much more than a handshake and a smile either upon signing, so there was hardly any bonus money to spend on luxuries such as a personal trainer. But his brother worked for a concern that could help so he was able to get some sound advice on a plan that included exercise and a diet.

Plus the hard work that a goal to success can engender. As a result, Mooneyham was able to shed 40 pounds over the winter. When he reported this spring, he was more agile, his bat was quicker and he was able to make a positive impression on coaches.

Not that his debut season had been all that bad. He had played in 56 games for Ogden, alternating between first base and the designated hitter's role, compiling a .280-6-27 mark. But he hadn't become a fulltime regular, either and for a player from small college ranks- Chapman University- it was either move up or move out.

Move up Mooneyham did. That was helped by the fact that one of his first base rivals, Cory Dunlap, had done exactly the opposite from him, gaining weight rather than shedding it. So, while Dunlap was exiled to lose some poundage, Mooneyham moved past the previously more favored to win the regular's role at Vero Beach.

"I didn't really expect to be here," he says now. "I thought it would probably be Columbus." Instead, David Sutherland- the regular at Ogden ahead of Mooeyham in 2005- was assigned there and Dan Batz, who had held the Columbus job and who seemed the logical choice for the Vero job- was, instead, released.

Now, Mooneyham is not only here but he's continuing to make the most of his opportunity, hitting over .300. The only problem is home runs- or the lack of them. "I sure wish they'd start to come," he says with a sigh.

He's not alone in that wish. A lot of players used to putting up some impressive numbers in that department wonder who turned the power off. But, in the meantime, Mooneyham is playing every day, showing agility at first and a quick bat.

He's a 40th rounder who had something to prove. So, that's exactly what he's doing.