Nick Adenhart Had a Promising MLB Career but His Life Was Taken Too Soon

Nick Adenhart got his dream fulfilled by playing in the MLB. He made his pitching debut with the Los Angeles Angels in 2008. The Angels were very high on Adenhart as a pitcher and believed that he would have success in the big leagues.

Adenhart’s career was cut short when he was involved in a fatal car crash that ended up killing him. His death had a huge impact on the Angels organization and across MLB.

Nick Adenhart turned down college to go pro

Nick Adenhart pitching
The Angels select Adenhart in the 14th round of the 2004 MLB draft. | Jeff Gross/Getty Images

In high school, Adenhart was one of the top pitchers in the state of Maryland and the country. After his junior year, he was named Gatorade Player of the Year in the state of Maryland. Professional scouts started to follow Adenhart going into his junior year. Going into his senior season, Baseball America had Adenhart as the top high school prospect in the country. He committed to play college baseball at the University of North Carolina.

Adenhart injured his elbow and needed Tommy John surgery late in his final high school season but continued to play as a designated hitter throughout the playoffs. He was projected to be a first-round pick, but the injury caused him to fall multiple rounds in the 2004 MLB draft. The Angeles selected him in the 14th round, and Adenhart decided to sign with them. He made his professional baseball debut in 2005 with the Pioneer League’s Orem Owlz, the Angels’ Rookie League affiliate.

Adenhart had success in the Angels’ minor league system, and in 2007 he became a top-ranked prospect in Angels organization. Baseball America had ranked as the 34th best prospect in baseball. He spent time playing for the Double-A and Triple-A team, and his success there allowed him to be called up to the big show.

Nick Adenhart’s MLB debut as a pitcher

Adenhart made his MLB debut as a starting pitcher on May 1, 2008, against the Oakland Athletics. In his first MLB game, he gave up five earned runs and walked five in two innings of work and earned a no-decision. He would earn a no-decision in his second start against the Kansas City Royals, allowing three earned runs and striking out three over 4.1 innings.

The right-handed pitcher earned his only career decision, which was a win against the Chicago White Sox. During that game, he gave up four earned runs in 5.2 innings as the Angels won 10-7. After that game, he was sent back down to the minors, where he spent the remainder of the season. Going into the 2009 season, he was the best prospect in the Angels organization and earned a spot on the Angels’ starting rotation in spring training. He was the third starter in the Angels’ rotation at the start of the season. In his season debut on April 8, 2009, he earned a no-decision, giving up no runs and striking out seven in three innings against the Athletics. That was his last game ever.

The tragic death of Nick Adenhart

A day after his game, Adenhart was involved in a car crash in Fullerton, California. Police reported that someone ran a red light and broadsided the car that Adenhart was in. Adenhart was rushed to the hospital, where he ended up dying from his injuries. He was 22-years-old.

Adenhart’s death came as a surprise to many people, especially the Angels’ organization. He just pitched in a game the day before and just like that he’s gone. There were multiple tributes that teams did across the MLB to honor Adenhart, and the Angels took his loss to heart. He had a promising career ahead of him.

[Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly indicated that Adenhart finished his high school career after suffering the injury that prompted Tommy John surgery.]