Nick Adenhart

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Nicholas James Adenhart

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Biographical Information[edit]

Adenhart pitching in the Minors.

Pitcher Nick Adenhart made his major league debut with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in 2008 and was tragically killed in a car crash after making his first start of the 2009 season.

Adenhart was considered by some the top high school pitching prospect entering 2004 due to a fastball in the low 90s and a curveball called devastating by Baseball America. Unfortunately, he injured his arm and needed Tommy John surgery. As a result, he fell to the 14th round of the draft and signed with scout Dan Radcliff for a $710,000 bonus, more than most second-rounders that year and more than any 14th rounder prior to 2004 - it wasn't the most that year, as fellow 14th-round pick Dexter Fowler got a higher bonus.

Adenhart debuted professionally with the 2005 AZL Angels (2-3, 3.68, 52 strikeouts in 44 innings) and Orem Owlz (1-0, 0.00 in 6 innings). Baseball America rated him the 2nd best prospect in the Arizona League behind Mark Pawelek. In 2006, the teenager starred for the Cedar Rapids Kernels, going 10-2 with a 1.95 ERA as opponents hit a mere .215 against him. He went 5-2 with a 3.78 ERA in 9 games with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes and led Angels minor league pitchers in wins. He made the US roster for the 2006 Futures Game but did not get into the game. Had he qualified, he would have led the Midwest League in ERA, but still made the MWL All-Star team as the top right-handed pitcher. Baseball America picked him the best pitching prospect in the loop and the 5th overall MWL prospect, between Colby Rasmus and Jake McGee. Adenhart joined Team USA for the Americas Qualifying Tournament for the 2008 Olympics. He pitched in one game (the only man on the staff to appear just once), starting against the Brazilian national team in a surprisingly close 8-7 win. In 4 2/3 innings, he allowed five hits (two homers) and four runs but struck out six. He was yanked in favor of Nick Ungs.

In 2007, Adenhart was 10-8 with a 3.65 ERA for the Arkansas Travelers. He finished third in the Texas League with 116 strikeouts and was third in ERA. He made his major league debut as the Angels' starting pitcher on May 1, 2008, but was rocked for 5 runs on 3 hits and 5 walks in 2 innings. He made three starts in the majors that season, earning a win. He allowed 18 hits, 13 walks and 12 runs in 12 innings in the majors. He had a 9-13, 5.76 record in the minors that year with the Salt Lake Bees, leading Angels farmhands in ignominious categories like walks (75) and losses, tying for the most defeats in the Pacific Coast League. His five balks tied Franklin Morales for the PCL lead.

On April 8, 2009 Adenhart made his season debut for the Angels against the Oakland A's. It was the best start of his career, as he went six scoreless innings, striking out five while giving up seven hits. After the game, Adenhart was involved in a major car accident in Fullerton, CA. He and two others, Courtney Stewart and Henry Pearson, were killed, as well as one injured, when a van ran a red light slamming into the car Adenhart was riding in; the car then slammed into a light pole. The fourth passenger, Jon Wilhite, a former college catcher, was not expected to survive given the extent of his injuries, but made a miraculous recovery. The driver of the van, 22-year-old Andrew Thomas Gallo, was charged with three counts of murder, driving under the influence and leaving the scene of a crime. Both the Angels and the Salt Lake Bees (where he pitched much of 2008) cancelled their games on April 9 as a result. Adenhart's body was flown to his hometown of Williamsport, MD for burial. On December 22, 2010, Gallo was sentenced to 51 years in jail for the deaths of Adenhart and his two friends; evidence showed his blood-alcohol level was at three times the legal limit at the time of the crash.

Ten years after his death, the sudden death of Tyler Skaggs, another Angels starter, caused people to remember Nick, and various articles appeared about Adenhart.

Sources: 2004-2007 Baseball Almanacs, 2007 Angels Media Guide,, IBAF site

Further Reading[edit]

  • Alden Gonzalez: "Six years after crash, Wilhite happy to be around baseball: Lone survivor of car accident that killed Adenhart, two others is a testament to perseverance",, March 24, 2015. [1]

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