Ep 116: PCL Pitcher of the Year Colin Rea
The Last Panther Standing
The Moonlight Graham Show is all about finding the unique stories that need to be told. We’ve had athletes that can be considered underdogs for a variety of reasons, but this week’s Moonlighter brings just about everything to the table. Colin Rea’s story includes being forced to switch colleges, finding success in pro ball and now a comeback after a major injury. Tim and Colin sat down recently to talk about all of the twists in Colin’s career and his current rise in the Chicago Cubs organization.
We loved playing baseball all day, every day.
Growing up in Dubuque County, baseball was more than just a game. Tim and Colin talk about the baseball tradition in Cascade and the ballplayers Rea and his friends looked up to. After a successful high school career, Rea took his only D-I offer and made the trip to the University of Northern Iowa. The fellow UNI Panthers reminisce about their time in the final years of the program and the now laughable conditions they practiced and played in. Unexpectedly, the UNI program shut down during Rea’s freshman season. The sudden ending to his time as a Panther set the stage for a career that had a few sudden moves. The end of the program in Cedar Falls opened a new opportunity for Rea and some of his teammates at St. Petersburg College in Florida which was an eye-opening experience.
Just stick it out
After his sophomore year playing against really talented Florida JUCO players, Rea transferred to Indiana State to reunite with former UNI Coach (and Moonlighter) Rick Heller. From the moment he became a Sycamore, he was named the Friday night starter and never looked back. A solid junior year garnered Rea enough attention and respect that he was taken in the 12th round of the 2011 draft by the San Diego Padres. After establishing himself at each level in the Padre system, Rea was called up in August of 2015.
You’re pitching against Cincinnati in two nights
A little reminiscent of his college career, Colin Rea spent one year with the Padres before being traded to Miami. However, this trip to Florida was shorter than his time with St. Petersburg. Rea’s career as a Marlin lasted just 4 and ⅓ innings before he was sent back to San Diego due to an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery.
It would kind of be like my debut again
After missing the entire 2017 season, it took all of 2018 and into 2019 before Rea started to feel like he was 100% again. And now, Colin Rea is the 2019 Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Year and has a very good chance of getting back into the big leagues as the Cubs make their post-season run. Returning to the big leagues would be the perfect ending to this Moonlighter’s story.