Brian Bogusevic remembers his career crossroad meeting pretty vividly. He was planted in the visitor's clubhouse in Tulsa after a game in early July 2008 while with the Corpus Christi Hooks, one night after his 17th start on the mound of the season. The Astros brass was on a conference call proposing another option to make the most of his athleticism.
The flamethrower drafted in the first round of the 2005 draft out of Tulane was touted as the best pitching prospect in the Astros' organization. But after 77 minor league appearances and a career 5.05 ERA, Bogusevic was told he was moving to the outfield.
"The next day I went out and took batting practice," Bogusevic said. "It was a pretty quick turnover. Right away I had mixed feelings. I can't say I wasn't a bit disappointed. But at the same time I was pretty excited because playing in the outfield and hitting is something I have always enjoyed doing."
The switch was not entirely shocking, considering he pitched and played outfield while at Tulane.
Taking advantage of his athleticism is exactly what Bogusevic is doing this season, with a team-leading .342 average and 13-multiple hit games. Through Monday, he is hitting .463 (19-for-41) for the first 10 games in May. All that after taking nearly two-and-a-half years away from even thinking about swinging the bat.
"I didn't set foot in the batting cage from the time I was drafted," he said. "I bought into the program and I kind of had to make up for lost time."
Now the 6-foot-3, 210-pound Bogusevic is comfortable with the move and thinks it reflects his personality more.
"I definitely feel more comfortable now," he said. "I don't like to sit around and dwell on things because I will. As a starting pitcher if I didn't have a good game for four days I'd be mulling it over and getting down on myself. If I have a bad game now I can go out the next day and get a couple hits."
Adding to his comfort is another off-season in which he had to concentrate on a weight-lifting program to change his body type.
Although he says he has not gained any additional weight, Bogusevic concentrates now on running sprints and keeping a strong upper body as opposed to a pitcher's regimen of having strong legs with endurance in mind.
"It's different and I really do enjoy it," he said after a batting-cage session.
It is the same work ethic that brought him back to Tulane to finish his business law degree after leaving after his junior season.
Now the goals for the season are to get at bats and work on improving with the hopes of being a call away from roaming the outfield at Minute Maid Park at some point.
"I like the progress that I've made," Bogusevic said. "But everybody here needs to work on things, that's why we're in Triple-A."
Bogusevic is taking advantage of his second chance in his career and in 2009, playing mostly left field, he hit a respectable .271 in his first full season as a full-time professional position player.
"It's definitely a second chance," he said. "A lot of guys if they go in as a pitcher and they don't do well they're gone. Having the opportunity to start over and do something, I'm pretty lucky to do that."