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A photo of Andy LaRoche.

Andrew Christian LaRoche (born September 13, 1983 in Fort Scott, Kansas), is an infielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

LaRoche is the son of Dave LaRoche, a former Major League Baseball pitcher for the California Angels, and brother of teammate Adam LaRoche.

College and draft

LaRoche played shortstop for Grayson County College and became the top position-player prospect in the Cape Cod League. He was originally drafted in the 21st round by the San Diego Padres in 2002, but he turned down an offer estimated at $200,000 to remain in school and re-enter the draft the following year. Despite breaking a bone in his left leg in a collision while playing first base, his stock soared and scouts projected him as a first rounder.

But teams were concerned about their ability to sign him because he had turned down the Padres offer and was planning on transferring to Rice University.

Nevertheless he was drafted in the 39th round of the 2003 Major League Baseball Draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers, but still got supplemental money when the Dodgers signed him in August 2003. At the time, his bonus was the highest for a "non draft and follow" outside the first three rounds.[1]

Minor League Baseball

Concern about his range caused the Dodgers to move him from shortstop to third base prior to sending him to their rookie league team the Ogden Raptors for the last few games of the 2003 season.[2]

He started the 2004 season with the Dodgers Single-A team in Columbus, hitting .283 with 13 home runs and 42 RBI before being promoted to the higher Single-A team in Vero Beach where he struggled a bit, hitting only .237 with 10 HRs and 34 RBI.

In 2005, at Vero Beach, he hit .333 with 21 HRs and 51 RBI and received a call-up to the Double-A Jacksonville Suns. At Jacksonville, he hit .273 with 9 HRs and 43 RBI. He was voted the Dodgers Minor League Player of the Year.[3]

For the 2006 minor league season, he started at Jacksonville and hit .309 with 9 HRs and 46 RBI, gaining a call-up to the Triple-A Las Vegas 51s where he hit .322 with 10 HRs and 35 RBI.

Major League career

Los Angeles Dodgers

During LaRoche's second big league spring training in 2007, he noted that his last name should be spelled "La Roche" with a defined space. However, as reported by Steve Henson of the Los Angeles Times, he decided to revert to the previous spelling by the end of camp.

LaRoche made his major league debut on May 6, 2007, against the Atlanta Braves. He recorded his first major league hit (ground rule double) against Kyle Davies.

On May 7, 2007, LaRoche scored his first two RBI against the Florida Marlins. After being demoted to Triple-A Las Vegas, LaRoche was recalled September 1. LaRoche received a lot of playing time down the stretch of the season due to Nomar Garciaparra's injury problems. LaRoche played for Team USA during the off-season in the Olympic trials.

On September 20, 2007, LaRoche hit his first major league home run off Colorado Rockies pitcher Matt Herges.[4]

On March 7, 2008, in a freak accident during a spring training exhibition game against the St. Louis Cardinals, LaRoche tore the ulnar collateral ligament off the base of his right thumb. He was attempting to catch a pickoff throw from Dodgers catcher Danny Ardoin that deflected off St. Louis base runner D'Angelo Jimenez and struck him on his throwing hand. LaRoche was placed on the disabled list. Surgery involved the use of an anchor suture to reconnect the ligament and part of the metacarpal bone that chipped off.

LaRoche was injured in the fifth inning after taking over third base duties for Nomar Garciaparra, who was injured an inning earlier when he was struck on the right wrist with a pitch from Kyle McClellan. At the time, LaRoche and Garciaparra were in competition for the starting third base job. Both players could not begin the season, and minor league rookie Blake DeWitt assumed third base duties on opening day, 2008. [1]

On May 3, 2008, after completing a ten game rehab assignment with the Double-A Jacksonville Suns and the Triple-A Las Vegas 51s, LaRoche was reinstated from the disabled list and optioned to the Dodgers Triple-A club. This move was seen as an endorsement by Dodgers management for rookie Blake DeWitt, who had played well enough to keep his starting role while LaRoche was on the disabled list.

LaRoche was recalled from Las Vegas on June 10 and made his 2008 debut the next day at first base. He hit a home run against Padres starter Randy Wolf in the fourth inning.

Pittsburgh Pirates

On July 31, 2008, LaRoche was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates along with pitcher Bryan Morris in part of a three team deal that sent Manny Ramirez to the Los Angeles Dodgers and Jason Bay to the Boston Red Sox. He will join his brother Adam in Pittsburgh.[5]

Awards and honors


See also

  • List of second generation MLB players

External links