Jack Etkin/Forbes: RIP Angel Echevarria, an Original Rockie
By Jack Etkin/Forbes
In the fall of 2017, Rockies scout Mike Garlatti remembers Angel Echevarria “called me up right out of the blue.” Theirs had been a long history.
Garlatti, who is based in New Jersey, had been an assistant coach at Rutgers, when Echevarria played there. So Garlatti had “a strong connection” with Echevarria and knew he “absolutely had the right makeup” when Echevarria entered professional baseball. Garlatti left Rutgers to became one of the original Rockies scouts. They came into existence on the field until 1993.
But in 1992, they participated in the amateur draft for the first time. And in the 17thround that year, they selected outfielder Echevarria from Rutgers. He was the 487th overall.
Garlatti remembers Echevarria received a signing bonus of around $35,000. In other words, the Rockies had little money invested in Echevarria, who, in turn, would receive fewer chances to fail. That’s simply a hard truth of the minor leagues.
But Echevarria, who died Friday at the age of 48, went on to spend parts of seven seasons in the majors, including five with the Rockies before moving on to the Brewers for two seasons and the Cubs for one. All that came after he was ensnared in and survived the bruising labor war that led to replacement players beginning spring training in 1995 with the major leaguers still on strike.
It says something about Echevarria, who lived in Bridgeport, Conn., that he reached out to Garlatti in 2017, telling Garlatti he was coming to Rutgers and saying he hoped they could get together and go to lunch.