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Odds of "The Next Knuckler" Winner Josh Booty Ever Throwing a Meaningful Pitch

Booty has reinvented himself as a knuckleballer. He'll attempt a comeback with the Arizona Diamondbacks.  Scott Halleran/Getty Images
Booty has reinvented himself as a knuckleballer. He'll attempt a comeback with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Scott Halleran/Getty Images
Ely SussmanCorrespondent IFebruary 22, 2013

MLB Network's reality series "The Next Knuckler" has given Josh Booty an opportunity to return to professional baseball with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

What are the odds of him ever pitching in the big leagues?

It helps that Booty has been in the majors before.

The Florida Marlins selected him as the No. 5 overall draft pick in 1994 out of Louisiana's Evangel Christian High School, where he pitched and "used to goof off" with the knuckleball during practices (via Adrian Martinez, But he played primarily third base in the minors and began hitting for power, so—despite a butt-ugly strikeout rate—the Fish made him a September call-up in 1996.

In three major league stints, Booty posted a modest .269/.367/.308 batting line (30 plate appearances). He enrolled at LSU in 1999 and spent part of two seasons as the Tigers' starting quarterback. Like Major League Baseball, the NFL didn't value him as an impact player.

This multi-sport athlete is still well-conditioned...for a 37-year-old! Only Nelson Figueroa, a fellow non-roster invitee, has an earlier birth date among pitchers in D-Backs camp.

Booty overwhelmed junior college hitters in a three-inning game, but MLB veterans certainly present more of a challenge. Yet the confident right-hander predicts he just needs repetition, according to "I'm ultra-competitive and I'd love to see what I can do...I think I could be a great knuckleballer in 30-40 sessions."

Forget about seeing him in the 2013 starting rotation. Arizona has already filled four spots, while Patrick Corbin, Randal Delgado and Tyler Skaggs will compete for the last opening. Moreover, Daniel Hudson should return from Tommy John surgery following the All-Star break.

Every member of the projected bullpen has at least 100 innings of MLB experience. ESPN's Keith Law believes that Andrew Chafin and Anthony Meo could be rushed through the farm system if the team needed extra relief.

"If I can throw one inning in a game then I'll know it was worth it," Booty said.

The likelihood of that happening increases if he spends the summer getting re-acclimated and continues to pursue his dream in 2014. Even then, completing a comeback after so many years away from baseball is tough to imagine.

Odds of pitching in the majors: Five percent.


Get acquainted with Booty in this clip.


Get acquainted with Ely and follow his eccentric activities on Twitter

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