Dustin Molleken is not a name that jumps out at most people when looking over the Rockies spring training roster. The Rockies come in with veteran depth in the bullpen there is little chance for a 27 year old reliever with one game of experience above Double A. But the fact that Molleken is even getting the chance is impressive enough.
Coming from the hockey crazed Canadian province of Saskatchewan and making the major leagues in not a common feat, there have only been six players in the history of major league baseball to come from Saskatchewan and none since Terry Puhl retired in 1991. Like most athletes from Canada, Molleken has ties to hockey, his uncle is Lorne Molleken coached the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks in the late 1990’s and would give Dustin the nickname “Probert” after former NHL enforcer Bob Probert.
Baseball was the road chosen by Dustin and it would not be an easy one, he would be drafted by the Pirates in the 15th round of the 2003 MLB amateur draft and would make his pro debut that year at the age of 18 in the Rookie level Gulf Coast League, but would miss all of 2004 with Tommy John surgery, pitching in only 12 games over his first three pro seasons. Once healthy Molleken would slowly climb the ladder, eventually jumping to Double A in 2009 and spending all of 2010 with the Pirates affiliate Altoona Curve of the Double AA Eastern League. He would also represent his country in the 2009 Baseball World Cup in Italy coming home with a Bronze for Team Canada.
Molleken would spend the 2011 season in the Rockies system, going 4-1 with a 4.76 ERA while striking out 41 batters over 45 1/3 innings and walking only 9, earning him a one game stop at AAA Colorado Springs, followed by joining Team Canada and winning Gold in the Pan American Games in October on a team that would be inducted to Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2012. He would re-sign with Colorado in November as a minor league agent and would be invited to his first major league spring training.
After pitching a scoreless inning in his 2012 spring training debut, Molleken still has a long road to make the majors, the Rockies bullpen has few spots open and there are players with more high level experience poised to take the precious few openings, but we all know that the 25 players leaving for Colorado in April will not stay with the team all year. If Molleken can pitch well enough in spring training for the Rockies brass to take notice and have success in AAA Colorado Springs, he will be only one move away from being the seventh Saskatchewanian to make the big leagues.