In 1971, Rob Ellis made his debut with the Milwaukee Brewers. However this debut is a little different than anything the organization has seen.
Since 1965, there have been a total of 21 players with the similar path that Ellis took with the Milwaukee Brewers. It is not an easy path to make, especially this day in age. These select few debuted in the MLB without playing a single game in the minors.
This practice was a lot more common a long time ago, bringing players such as Al Kaline into the league and thrusting them into stardom. But it is not something that is seen anymore. The most recent player to achieve this is Mike Leake in 2010. Before that, Xavier Nady in 2000.
Ellis is the only Milwaukee Brewers player since the start of the free agent draft in 1965 to make the jump to the big club. He was the product of Michigan State University, splitting his time between third base and outfield.
His collegiate career was sparkling. Enough to be considered a top draft prospect. However, he fell to the third pick in 1971, allowing Milwaukee to select him.
The debut year for the 20 year old did not fare well, as he hit .198 through 36 games. He found himself in the Minors very quickly after that, where he improved his standing hitting an even .300. However, it was not until 1974 when he made it back to the Brewers.
He played parts of that season, and part of the 1975 season, then we was gone. Never to see the MLB again. He became a career minor leaguer in Milwaukee, followed by stints in Pittsburgh and Cleveland. Ellis ended his career with a .229 batting average and 10 RBIs.
He was out of American professional baseball altogether in 1980 at the age of 29. Two years later, he signed on with a team in the Mexican league for one season where no stats could be found.
At the conclusion of his playing days, Ellis got into coaching. He coached in the minors for the Chicago Cubs and in college for his alma mater. He co-wrote a book on hitting instruction with Mike Schmidt. His coaching career yielded better results than his playing days.
Now, Ellis and his playing career are considered a mere trivia answer. But still, he is forever a part of the chosen few to never play a game in the minors before debuting in the MLB. And that is something to be proud of.