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Boof Bonser (born John Paul Bonser on October 14, 1981 in St. Petersburg, Florida) is a right-handed reliever for the Boston Red Sox. He legally changed his name to Boof after the 2001 season. listed Boof as the best current nickname in baseball[1].

High school career[]

Bonser attended Gibbs High School in St. Petersburg, Florida. In four years he compiled a record of 24-9 and a 1.99 ERA. In his senior year, he went 7-3, 1.88 and hit .523 with 11 home runs. He was named the 2000 Pinellas County (FL) High School Player of the Year and played in the 2000 Florida State All-Star game[2].

Minor league career[]

Bonser was selected out of high school by the San Francisco Giants in the first round (21st overall) of the 2000 Amateur Draft. Bonser made his professional baseball debut at age 18 for the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes. In 2001 he had a breakout season for the Hagerstown Suns, leading the South Atlantic League in wins (16), and finishing second in the league in strikeouts (178). This stellar performance earned Bonser South Atlantic League Most Valuable Pitcher and Post-Season All-Star honors, as well as the distinction of being one of baseball's best prospects. It was after this season that Bonser legally changed his name from John Paul to Boof, a nickname he had had since childhood.

From 2002 to 2003 Bonser cooled down, but nonetheless progressed steadily through the Giants' system, reaching the AAA level at the end of the 2003 season with the Fresno Grizzlies. On November 14, 2003, Bonser was traded to the Minnesota Twins organization along with pitchers Joe Nathan and Francisco Liriano for catcher A.J. Pierzynski, and cash. Bonser was assigned to AA New Britain for 2004, and was promoted to AAA Rochester for a spot start at the end of the season, where he would spend the entire 2005 season as well.

As Bonser continued to pitch in the minors without any further breakout seasons, his status as an elite prospect faded. But after a fast start at Rochester in 2006 in which he posted an ERA of 2.01, Bonser was promoted to the majors.

Major league career[]

Rookie season[]

On May 17, 2006, Boof Bonser was called up to the Twins to replace struggling starter Kyle Lohse in the rotation, with Lohse going to AAA. Bonser made his major league debut on May 21, 2006, as the starting pitcher for the Twins against the Milwaukee Brewers. In six innings, Bonser allowed one run and struck out eight. On May 27, 2006, his second start, Bonser earned his first Major League victory, getting the win in a 9-5 Minnesota Twins victory. Bonser pitched just five innings, giving up eight hits and four runs, including a home run.

His second win came against the Chicago Cubs on June 24, 2006. He pitched 6⅓ scoreless innings, allowing six hits and no walks, with one strikeout.

After a disappointing start against the Kansas City Royals on July 4, 2006, Bonser was demoted back to AAA Rochester. He had made seven MLB starts and gone 2-2 with a 5.30 ERA. After spending a month at Rochester, Bonser was called up to make an emergency start on August 2, 2006 in place of the injured Francisco Liriano. He was sent back down to Rochester after the game, in which he gave up seven runs in four innings.

By August 12, 2006 Liriano had been placed on the DL, and Bonser was back in Minneapolis to face the Toronto Blue Jays. Although he lost the game, allowing seven hits and three runs over 5⅔ innings, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire decided to keep him in the starting rotation. As the Twins pushed for a playoff spot in 2006, Bonser solidified the fifth starter's job. Then, a string of injuries and ineffective pitching by the other Twins pitchers and Bonser's commanding recent performances earned him the #2 spot in the Twins postseason rotation. In his postseason start, he pitched 6 innings of 2-run ball to pick up a no-decision as the Twins lost to the Oakland A's.

Bonser was named the AL Rookie of the Month for September, 2006 for his performances in the final month of the season.

2007: First full season[]

Bonser began the season as the second pitcher in the Twins rotation, behind top starter Johan Santana and followed by Ramón Ortiz, Sidney Ponson, and Carlos Silva. Bonser's first two starts were dramatically different, as he followed his 6 IP, 2 ER debut with a 4 ⅓ IP, 6 ER debacle to put his season record at 0-1. He then responded with a string of quality starts but dropped all but two of eleven decisions after Memorial Day. He finished the season with an 8-12 record with an earned run average of 5.10 and had 136 strikeouts in 173 innings pitched.

2008 Season[]

After the 2007 season, the Twins organization became worried about Boof Bonser’s weight. He had struggled with stamina and pitching late into ball games during the 2007 season so the Twins encourage him to lose weight. He lost weight by eating healthier and doing more intense exercise. [3] He lost 30 pounds by the start of the 2008 regular season and he currently weighs 245 pounds. [4] [5] Boof Bonser pitched the second game in the 2008 Twins season, the only returning starter on the team with at least 12 games of experience from the previous season.

Unfortunately, Boof Bonser’s weight loss did not help his starting pitching performances through May 31, 2008, where he went 2-6 with a 6.16 ERA and was demoted to the bullpen to make room for teammate Scott Baker. [6] [7]

After being demoted to the bullpen, Boof pitched his first relief appearance for the Minnesota Twins on June 4, 2008, against the Baltimore Orioles. In that game he pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings, striking out four, and picking up the win. [8]

On February 25, 2009, Bonser underwent surgery to repair tears in his labrum and rotator cuff, and missed the entire 2009 season.

Boston Red Sox[]

Bonser was designated for assignment by the Twins on December 8, 2009. On December 10, Bonser was traded to the Boston Red Sox for a player to be named later.

Pitching style[]

Bonser's pitching repertoire includes a live fastball with a fair amount of movement in the 91-94 mph range. He offsets it with a 78-80 mph curveball, which often breaks sharply downwards, and also occasionally throws a changeup. He often establishes his fastball to get ahead of hitters, and then throws the curveball down and in to left-handers or down and away to right-handers, forcing them to chase it. While none of his pitches can be considered overpowering, Bonser has shown an ability to record strikeouts in critical situations, once pitching his way out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam by striking out three Seattle Mariners' hitters in a row in his second Major League start on May 27, 2006.


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