Former Royals outfielder Jeremy Giambi has died at the age of 47, according to his agent, Joel Wolfe. No cause of death was given. Jeremy was the younger brother of slugger Jason Giambi and was a sixth-round pick by the Royals in the 1996 draft out of Cal-State Fullerton.
Giambi hit like his brother in the minors, and was in Triple-A by his third minor league season, hitting .372/.469/.634 with 20 home runs in 96 games for Omaha. That performance earned a spot on Baseball America’s top 100 prospects list that off-season, where he was ranked #64. He destroyed Triple-A pitching with 12 home runs in 35 games to start the 1999 season, but was blocked by veteran Jeff King at first base. King would retire in late May once he qualified for his pension, and according to Mike Sweeney, Giambi was supposed to get the call up. But Giambi had injured himself in an ATV accident, so the Royals turned to Sweeney and Larry Sutton at first base.
Sutton would get injured a few weeks later, and Giambi got the call up with the Royals in June. He hit well, staying over .300 most of the year with a patient eye, all while learning to play first base.
“The first 10 days,’’ he said, “it was tough. But I wasn’t in the dark because I had played it in high school, played it in college and play it some in the fall league.
“So, it wasn’t like I’d never been over there. It was just getting the rust off more than anything. The last three or four days, I’ve felt real relaxed and real comfortable over there.’’
But his power didn’t develop as expected, and with Sweeney really taking off at first base, and a crowded outfield with Johnny Damon, Carlos Beltran, and Jermaine Dye, the Royals didn’t have room for Giambi. That off-season they traded him to Oakland for pitcher Brett Laxton, reuniting him with older brother Jason.
Jeremy would spend two and a half seasons in Oakland as a role player, with 22 home runs and 98 walks in 745 plate appearances combined over 2000-01. He was the player that was tagged by Derek Jeter in his infamous flip play in the 2001 American League Divisional Series.
Giambi got off to a solid start in 2002, but was surprisingly shipped in a mid-season deal to Philadelphia for light-hitting veteran John Mabry in a trade that was depicted in the movie Moneyball. He would spend one year with the Red Sox in 2003 before bouncing around in the minors in the Dodgers and White Sox organizations and calling it quits after the 2005 season. That year he would also admit that he used steroids during his career.
“Getting back to the big leagues ... when you get there, you don’t want it to get taken away,”
Giambi played 502 major league games with 52 home runs.
Update: Officials believe it was suicide.