Where Are They Now?: Brad Komminsk

When Brad Komminsk reflects on a major league career that never lived up to its billing, he has only one regret. He came along a few decades too soon to realize the abundant money associated with being a big-time prospect today.

As the fourth player selected in the 1979 draft, Komminsk signed with the Braves for a $70,000 bonus. In the seventh of eight big league seasons, he earned $170,000 as a .238-hitting outfielder for the Orioles.

His bonus and earning power would easily reach into the millions of dollars in today’s market.

These days, Komminsk is a wholesale car purchaser for Bobb Automotive in Columbus, Ohio, continuing a family tradition started by his father, who once owned a Pontiac dealership in Lima, Ohio.

Coming out of Shawnee High in Lima, Komminsk was billed by the Braves as the organization’s next Dale Murphy.

“He will do things Dale Murphy hasn’t dreamed of,” said Atlanta’s farm director at the time, Hank Aaron. The Braves reportedly turned down a trade offer from the Red Sox that would have sent future Hall of Fame outfielder Jim Rice to the Braves. Rice turned 30 years old in 1983, the year Komminsk made his big league debut that August.

By the time he reached Atlanta, Komminsk had backed up the hype. He had appeared on the cover of Baseball America in 1981 as a potential “Triple Crown Winner” in a season in which he hit .322/.458/.606 with 33 home runs and 35 stolen bases in 132 games at high Class A Durham.

Komminsk made the cover again in 1983 in the Best Tools issue. That year he hit .334/.433/.596 with 24 homers and 26 steals in 117 games at Triple-A Richmond.

Then Komminsk stopped hitting.

In parts of eight seasons with the Braves, Brewers, Indians, Giants, Orioles and Athletics, Komminsk hit a mere .218 with 23 homers in nearly 1,000 at-bats. Prior to his callup to Atlanta, he hit .291 and slugged .534 in the minors. Afterward, he hit .269 and slugged .454 in 2,788 minor league at-bats.

Pinpointing what went wrong is difficult for Komminsk.

“I don’t know. That’s a tough one,” Komminsk says today. “When I got to the big leagues, a lot of guys tried to change everything I was doing. They did a lot of different things. I think everybody wanted to be part of the Brad Komminsk project, meaning well, but it didn’t go so well.

“I played four (full) years in the big leagues. It’s nothing to complain about. I would like to have played 17, but four wasn’t all bad. I appreciate the four years. I wish it had been more, but I can live with that. I don’t wake up every day thinking I got screwed.”

After playing professionally in independent leagues and in Italy, Komminsk in 1999 embarked on a 17-year career as a minor league manager and coach. His managerial career included six seasons at the Double-A.

“Probably the biggest thing was, I tried to remind the players how hard it was to play the game,” Komminsk says. “It looks really easy from the stands. When you’re out there day to day, it’s really hard. I never forgot that … It’s a really tough game.”

Rest assured, Komminsk never attempted to rework a player’s game in the minor leagues.

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