The Continuing Saga of Nick BierbrodtPosted by Jeff Summers on Jan 8, 2011 in 2010 Off Season | 6 comments
Everyone loves the story of Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton. The fairy-tale like ending of a former first round draft pick who battles personal demons, overcomes them, and becomes a success on the baseball field sounds like something straight out of a Hollywood script.
Fans everywhere watched as Hamilton led his team into the 2010 play-offs and ultimately to the World Series. And while the story didn’t have as happy an ending as it could have with a World Series ring, it was still one of the great storylines of the season.
For every Josh Hamilton story there are literally hundreds who weren’t quite so lucky. I’ve recounted the story of Nick Bierbrodt on numerous occasions. Bierbrodt was the first draft pick in Arizona Diamondbacks history going in the first round (30th pick) out of Millikan High School.
Bierbrodt was a hard throwing left-hander who Diamondbacks scouts pegged as a top of the rotation starter. He made his way through the Diamondbacks minor leagues along with fellow pitchers John Patterson and Brad Penny. They were knows as the “three phenoms”, a title bestowed upon them by Diamondbacks reliever Gregg Olson.
The trio was broken up in 1999 when Penny was dealt to the Florida Marlins ironically for Matt Mantei who would take Olson’s place as the team’s closer. Bierbrodt would continue his path to the major leagues finally making his debut on June 7, 2001.
Bierbrodt struggled in his five starts for the Diamondbacks that season and was dealt to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in exchange for pitcher Albie Lopez and catcher Mike DiFelice. He would appear in 11 games for the Rays ending with a 3-4 record and a 4.55 ERA. When the Diamondbacks won the World Series that year, Bierbrodt earned a championship ring.
The following year Bierbrodt had control issues and the Rays sent him back to the minor leagues. After a game while sitting in a cab at a fast food restaurant he was shot by what police termed a random act of violence.
In the blink of an eye Bierbrodt went from high-ceiling baseball prospect to crime victim. He would go through surgery and lose approximately 30 pounds. After an extended recovery period he would return to the major leagues in 2003 and appear in one game for the Rays.
After the 2003 season Bierbrodt became a free agent and would sign with the Boston Red Sox. He was let go during Spring Training and signed with the Texas Rangers. Bierbrodt threw 17 innings in four games before being released by the Rangers in July 2004.
The dream of being a Major League Baseball player continued to burn within him and Bierbrodt took his talent overseas playing for the Brother Elephants team in the Chinese League in 2007. After that he decided his dream was likely going unfulfilled.
Baseball was still in his blood and he played for the Long Beach Armada of the independent Golden Baseball League. After the 2008 season he left baseball and took classes to become an EMT or firefighter in California.
Those plans were put on hold when the Colorado Rockies called and asked if he would be interested in a minor league contract. Bierbrodt signed and pitched for the Tulsa Diggers in the Texas League and the Colorado Springs Sky Sox of the Pacific Coast League.
While I was perusing the rosters for the winter baseball leagues I found Bierbrodt is currently pitching for the Algodoneros de Guasave in the Liga Mexicana del Pacifico. He has appeared in 38 games and has a 2-1 record with a 2.32 ERA.
Perhaps there are still a few miles left in the tank and maybe Bierbrodt will finally realize the dream that started so long ago as a promising 18 year-old from Tarzana California. And maybe, just maybe there will be a Hollywood ending for Bierbrodt too.