If there was a category for the saddest among sad cases, Angels starting pitcher Nick Adenhart would most certainly fall into that small category. He is a clear-cut example of having it all come to you at once, and losing it just as quickly. The worst part of it was, Nick did nothing wrong. The world was against him and life can be unfair and cruel at times.
With news of a very promising pitcher, the Angels drafted Nick Adenhart in the 14th round out of high school in 2004. The team would’ve drafted him much sooner but, as luck would have it, he injured his elbow in front of scouts, forcing Tommy John Surgery. After he recovered, he cruised through the minors proving his prowess and establishing himself as a super decent starting pitcher. In 2008, the Angels called up Adenhart, only appearing in 12 innings. The team expected him to be a part of rotation moving forward in company with Jered Weaver and Ervin Santana.
In his first start of the 2009 season on April 8th, Nick Adenhart was stellar. He went seven scoreless, striking out five, and earning a no-decision versus the Oakland Athletics. After the game, Nick went for a drive with a group of people including a Cal State Fullerton cheerleader. Shortly after midnight, a drunk driver ran a red light and hit Adenhart’s car. As a result, Adenhart died from his injuries a few hours later in the hospital. He was 22 years old.
To put into words how heart-wrenching this is incredibly difficult. I recall Los Angeles grieving in shock, even those who weren’t Angel fans. The only silver lining is the drunk driver’s currently serving a 51-year prison sentence for his actions. Like Thurman Munson or Lyman Bostock, it really makes you wonder what would’ve come of this player, and what his progression would’ve been like.