You remember when Eduardo Villacis pitched for the KC Royals, right?
And you recall his 2004 season, don’t you, with the one game he pitched to help the club out in a pinch and the three days he spent in the majors?
It’s forgivable if his career has slipped your mind, but let’s refresh your memory of the righthanded pitcher from Venezuela.
The KC Royals acquire Eduardo Villacis in a trade with the Colorado Rockies.
Villacis was signed in 1998 as an amateur free agent by Colorado. After he didn’t advance above A-ball in the Rockies’ system, they dealt him to Kansas City in May 2002 for veteran Bryan Rekar, who had made two starts with the Royals and posted a 15.43 ERA. Rekar, who started his career with the Rockies, didn’t make another big league appearance and was out of baseball after that season.
Villacis was assigned to Class A Wilmington and posted a 2.25 ERA before being sidelined with a shoulder injury in July.
Back with Wilmington in 2003, Villacis made four starts among his 42 appearances and posted a 2.82 ERA.
Things look up for Eduardo Villacis when the Royals start him at Wichita in 2004.
The 2004 season appeared to be the year Villacis would start moving up the ladder when he started the season with Double-A Wichita. He pitched well enough early in the early season that when the Royals needed an emergency starter in May against the Yankees in New York, they called him up. (The Yankees won 101 games and the American League East that season, but lost the American League Championship Series despite leading Boston three games to none).
A Juan Gonzalez RBI groundout gave Kansas City a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning at Yankee Stadium. Gonzalez is one of several players who were stars with other teams and had brief stints with the Royals.
The bottom of the inning started with singles by Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez to put runners at first and second with one out. In a sign of things to come, Villacis had Jeter picked off at second base with Jason Giambi at the plate, but his own throwing error sent Jeter to third. Giambi worked a walk to load the bases and an infield single by Gary Sheffield and a force-out by Hideki Matsui put the home team ahead 2-0 before Villacis settled down and escaped the inning despite surrendering another walk.
Despite a single by Jeter, Villacis was able to hold the Yankees scoreless in the second, but the Royals went down in order that inning and again in the third against New York starter Jon Lieber.
Wildness got the best of Villacis in the Yankee third. Giambi walked to lead off the inning before he was forced out on a grounder by Sheffield. A wild pitch moved Sheffield to second and Matsui followed with a walk. Ruben Sierra made Villacis pay with a home run that put the Yankees ahead 5-1 before a fly ball and a groundout ended the inning.
The Royals went down quietly in the fourth and Villacis came out to start the bottom of the inning. He retired Jeter on a fly to deep right, but after a single by Bernie Williams, Villacis was done for the day. Reliever Shawn Camp retired the Yankees in the fourth with no more damage. Villacis ended his big league debut with 3.1 innings, giving up five runs on six hits and four walks. He didn’t get any strikeouts and threw 66 pitches to 20 hitters. (The bullpen didn’t fare much better as Camp gave up two runs and Curtis Leskanic allowed five more. The Royals fell 12-4).
The short career of KC Royals pitcher Eduardo Villacis comes to an end.
Two days later, Villacis was sent back to Wichita. He compiled a 2-0 record with a 2.67 ERA in 30.1 innings with 21 strikeouts and just six walks into May. Nevertheless, Kansas City placed him on waivers and the Chicago White Sox claimed him late in the month. The Sox assigned him to Double-A Birmingham, where he went 6-4 with a 3.28 ERA.
Splitting time between Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte, Villacis went 3-7 with a 7.96 ERA in 2005 before the White Sox organization released him in late July. After a year of independent ball, Villacis was out of baseball for good with a major league career spanning three days and one memorable start at Yankee Stadium.
Eduardo Villacis had a short but interesting career with the Royals.