Before there was Mike Trout, there was Peter Bourjos.
Before Trout lit up centerfield at Angel Stadium with highlight plays, Bourjos was the exciting center fielder for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Going into the 2010 season, he was ranked by Baseball America as the #2 prospect in the Angels system. He made his major league debut in August that year. His career really took off in 2011. He hit .271 with 12 HR and 22 stolen bases. He also tied Austin Jackson for the American League lead in triples with 11. He appeared to have a bright future ahead of him, plaBeying for the Angels. The 2012 Baseball Prospectus said of his spectacular defense; “Bourjos covered so much ground as a center fielder that is sometimes backfired early in the season. His corner outfielders, unaccustomed to flanking a player with such range, sometimes weren’t giving way to Bourjos, while other times they flinched or back away at his mere approach. The turf war ended around June, when Torii Hunter and Vernon Wells learned what we all learned; When Peter Bourjos is chasing a ball, it’s more fun to just watch.”
In 2012, the outfield in the Big A was getting full. The Angels had All-Stars Vernon Wells and Torii Hunter manning the corners, super prospect Mike Trout slated for centerfield, and Kendrys Morales taking more of the bats at DH. Suddenly, playing time was difficult to come by. To make matters worse, in September, Bourjos was hit by a pitch, and suffered wrist soreness.
In 2013, Bourjos had another opportunity. Hunter had signed with the Tigers and Morales had been traded to the Seattle Mariners for pitcher Jason Vargas, leaving the Angels outfield a lot less crowded. Through June 29, Bourjos was batting .333, Trout was moved mostly to left field, and Bourjos was receiving regular playing time in center again. He then, however, was hit by a pitch in his wrist again, this time breaking it. That season would be his last in an Angel’s uniform. In November, he was traded, along with Randal Grichuk, to the St. Louis Cardinals for third baseman David Freese and pitcher Fernando Salas.
While Bourjos may have planned on being an Angel, God had other plans. Bourjos explained to Rob Maaddi in Baseball Faith: 52 MLB Stars Reflect on their Faith; “I grew up Catholic. It’s not that I didn’t take it seriously, but I don’t think a lot of kids enjoy going to church. When I got to St. Louis and met a lot of Christian players on the team, we would have Bible study once a week. That kind of got me going again and following Christ, and that changed my life. Things happen for a reason. When I got traded to the Cardinals, I didn’t understand what that reason was; but when I left, I realized it was to bring me closer to Christ and get me back going to church and believing again.”
One of Bourjos’ favorite Bible verses is Proverbs 3:5; Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. He says that “this verse helps me calm down. There’s so much going on in baseball and in life that you can’t control, so when I read this verse, it puts me at peace. It puts everything in perspective for me.”
After the 2015 season, Bourjos’ time with the Cardinals came to an end. He was claimed off of waivers by the Phillies, with whom he spent the 2016 season. Prior to the 2017 season, he signed a minor league deal with the Chicago White Sox, who traded him before the season began to the Tampa Bay Rays.