JUPITER -- Brian Bogusevic’s locker inside the Marlins’ spring training clubhouse is located on the north wall, between two pitchers — Carlos Marmol and Chris Hatcher — who were once projected to be hitters.
For Bogusevic, who is a top candidate to make the Marlins as a backup outfielder, it was just the opposite. He was drafted as a pitcher before switching to the outfield.
It was a decision that got him to the majors.
“It was disappointing to more or less give up on something,” Bogusevic said of his pitching career. “But it was exciting to start something else.”
Bogusevic was drafted by the Houston Astros as a left-handed pitcher out of Tulane with the 24th pick in the 2005 draft.
That bountiful draft also produced a handful of future stars, including Ryan Braun, Troy Tulowitzki, Justin Upton and Andrew McCutchen, among others.
It was the same draft in which the Marlins had five first-round picks and used them all on pitchers. Chris Volstad was drafted by the Marlins eight spots in front of Bogusevic.
Though that draft class of pitchers didn’t pan out as the Marlins would have hoped, with one after the other eventually dropping by the wayside and out of the system, Bogusevic survived when the Astros decided in 2008 to convert him into a position player.
“I think the main thing that prompted it was the results were not happening on the field,” Bogusevic said. “I was not pitching well.”
Bogusevic was at Double A Corpus Christi (Texas) at the time, and he was struggling on the mound.
“It was the middle of the season,” he recalled. “I had pitched the day before, came in the next day to do my running and working out, and they called me into the office. They said, ‘We’re going to make this switch.’ ”
Bogusevic, who had pitched and played the outfield at Tulane, was only mildly disappointed.
“I had the background playing the outfield, and they knew that,” he said. “There were teams that thought I could be drafted as an outfielder just as much as a pitcher. I was kind of ready for it. They came to me with the idea, and I was all for it.”
Bogusevic described the transition process as “hard, a difficult thing to do.”
“But it’s not like it wasn’t fun,” he said.
He eventually reached the majors with the Astros in 2010 and joined the Cubs last season as a free agent. The Marlins obtained him in a trade with Chicago for Justin Ruggiano.
A left-handed hitter, he has had significantly better success against righties (a career .250 hitter with 16 home runs) than he has facing left-handers (.147 with one home run).
But he is out of options and can’t be sent to the minors without first clearing waivers, a fact that gives him a foot up in the Marlins’ roster decision-making.
Veteran infielder Ty Wigginton, a non-roster player, has a number of obstacles to overcome in order to win an Opening Day roster spot with the Marlins. But manager Mike Redmond said a violent home-plate collision he had with Wigginton in 2003 won’t be one of them.
“Absolutely not,” Redmond said.
If anything, Redmond admires the fact that Wigginton is “a hard-nosed player” who “respects the game and knows how to play the game right.”
The play in question occurred at Shea Stadium on April 18, 2003, when Redmond was a catcher for the Marlins and Wigginton was with the Mets.
The helmet-to-helmet collision in which Redmond tagged Wigginton and held on to the ball for the out dazed both players. Redmond said he injured his shoulder on the play and was forced to leave the game a couple of innings later.
Redmond called it “probably the hardest collision at home plate I’ve ever had.”
A few years later, when Redmond was with the Twins and Wigginton had moved on to Tampa Bay, the two discussed their home-plate run-in.
“I went up to him and said, ‘Hey, I got to know,’ ” Redmond recalled. “I said, ‘When we had that collision, that really hurt me. I just want to make sure it hurt you, too. I want to make sure you felt a little pain, too.’ He said, ‘Oh yeah, Red. I threw up for hours after the game.’ So I felt good. At least he didn’t just hurt me. He felt a little bit of pain, too. We had a good laugh about it.”
Wigginton said he not only remembers the play but has a framed photo of the collision hanging in his weight room at home.