Bierbrodt's star-crossed legacy

Bierbrodt's star-crossed legacy

PHOENIX -- He was the expansion Arizona Diamondbacks' first-ever amateur draft pick, selected 30th overall in 1996, straight out of high school.

He pitched -- a starter at one point -- for an eventual World Series champion, and spent the better part of a decade playing professional ball, including parts of four seasons at the Major League level.

But it's arguable that none of that is Southern California native Nick Bierbrodt's biggest claim to fame.

Bierbrodt made nationwide headlines after an incident occurred away from the diamond that not only could have threatened his baseball career, but his life as well.

On June 5, 2002, the southpaw was shot twice -- once in the right arm and once in the chest -- while in the backseat of a taxi at a fast food restaurant in Charleston, S.C. Bierbrodt was in Charleston playing for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays' Class A squad at the time of the incident.

Bierbrodt made his way to the Devil Rays in 2001, midway through his first Major League season.

Five years after he was initially selected by the Diamondbacks, Bierbrodt made his Major League debut with the D-Backs on June 7, 2001, at the age of 23. He started five games with Arizona, going 2-2 with an 8.22 ERA, before he was dealt to the Devil Rays in late July for pitcher Albie Lopez and catcher Mike DiFelice.

Although he wasn't with the team to celebrate Arizona's 2001 World Series win, he did earn himself a ring for his contributions in the beginning of the season.

Bierbrodt started 11 games with the Devil Rays in the second part of the 2001 season and lowered his ERA to 4.55.

The Devil Rays were hoping Bierbrodt would serve as their No. 4 starter in 2002, but after Bierbrodt exhibited very little control on the mound during Spring Training, the Tampa Bay pitching staff tried to rework his mechanics.

It was then that Bierbrodt was sent to Charleston for extended Spring Training, ultimately staying with the Rays' Class A club.

After his recovery from the shooting, Bierbrodt returned to baseball in 2003 and the Devil Rays re-signed him to a one-year contract. Following a strong spring, he earned the No. 5 spot in the rotation but was later designated for assignment and claimed off waivers by the Indians.

Since then, Bierbrodt has bounced between for the big leagues and farm systems for several organizations, and his lack of control and mechanical problems have continued to follow him as well. He saw time at the Major League level with Indians and Rangers in 2003 and 2004, respectively.

In 2005 and the early part of this season, Bierbrodt pitched for the Somerset Patriots of the Independent League. In 2005, he was used mainly as a reliever and after a rough start to the season, Bierbrodt posted a 4-2 record and 4.48 ERA over 66 1/3 innings.

Bierbrodt, now 28, was released by the Patriots on May 22 after going 0-1 with an ERA over 10 in 4 1/3 innings.

Lindsey Frazier is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.