A hundred years ago – well actually only back in 2000 – a baseball organization then called the Anaheim Angels drafted one Christopher Brandon Bootcheck in the first round, and deemed it a good investment to give the Auburn U student the tidy sum of $1.8 M to give up his studies and throw a baseball for a living. Oy.
If there is one thing that can be said for the past 13 years of the pitching career of Bootcheck, it is that he has truly seen the world.
The Indiana native began his professional career in 2001 in the Angels’ organization by pitching for the Class A team that calls nearby Rancho Cucamonga home. He did reasonably well, striking out four for every batter he walked, kept his ERA under 4.00, and earned a trip to AA Arkansas. The rest of the 2001 and the start of the 2002 seasons did
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|not go so well, with higher ERAs, less Ks per inning, and a won-lost record right about at .500. He did get to go to Triple-A Salt Lake City in late 2002, where he also spent most of 2003. His 4+ ERA and bad strikeout-per-inning ratio (about 4/9 innings) still got him his first taste of the bigs, where he was terrible.
2004 saw his return to SLC, where his ERA exceeded 5.00, and he spent 2005 there as well, will similar stats. 2006 saw his SLC ERA rocket past the 6.00 mark, but lo and behold, the Angels beckoned, and he pitched 10 major league innings, giving up a
predictable 12 earned runs. He made the major league team the following spring and spent all of 2007 in Angelsland, which to this day is his only extended major league time. Becoming a reliever in 2007, he got into 51 games, and compiled a 4.77 ERA and a 3-3 record.
2008 saw him pitch only 16 innings for the Angels, with an ERA over 10, and he returned to Rancho Cucamonga and then SLC, and ultimately the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. But not for too long. While he did see Pittsburgh long enough to pitch 14 innings, giving up 18 runs, over the next four years he also saw Indianapolis, Durham, and Toledo, belonged to the Tampa Bay and Detroit organizations, and played in both the Japanese league and the Korean league.
Until last night, his major league stats included a 3-7 won-lost record, with a 6.54 ERA and a WHIP of 1.643, and his one and only major league highlight was once injuring himself, seriously enough to go on the disabled list, while running onto the field from the bullpen.
The name Chris Bootcheck was a distant memory, one I never expected to hear again in the context of major league baseball. I was thus astounded to see the the mighty scumstripes of Bronx, NY are now employing his services, and last night he entered their game in Anaheim against the Angels, and made his first major league appearance in four years. He did not disappoint, pitching one inning, allowing two hits, walking two, and allowing one run, for a 2013 ERA of 9.00, which raised his lifetime ERA to 6.55.
It is a shame that Art Fowler has passed on. I’m sure the yankees could have found a spot for him as well.