MLB Rankings: 25 Player Names You Are Most Likely to Mispronounce
How many of you can pronounce Kila Ka’aihue at first glance? How about Kanekoa Texeira or Jarrod Saltalamacchia?
Baseball is littered with players who have interesting names, from the majors down to their minor league affiliates, so today I thought I would pick out a few from a long, long list available.
Now, there are a bevy of players who fit this bill, but I only chose 25. So if you have a player who you don't see here, go ahead and leave it at the bottom.
Here we go!
25. Jon Rauch – Blue Jays:
A sizable reliever at 6’11”, Rauch has been dominate at time, but has also been the victim of inconsistency which is partly why he hasn’t found a secure home just yet.
Currently he is 2-2 with a 2.70 ERA.
Originally Rauch was the closer in Toronto until they yanked the chord after just one blown save, but he is deadly in any role so long as he is on.
24. Michael Garciaparra – Phillies:
You are probably also remembering Nomar Garciaparra who played for the Dodgers, Cubs, and Red Sox, but this version is a utility minor leaguer for the Phillies.
What’s interesting is back in March, GM Pat Gillick claimed him off of waivers from Seattle—the place where he first drafted him in 2001.
He settles an issue that Philadelphia had in terms of finding more quality utility players to send to the minors and develop.
23. Jair Jurrjens – Braves:
Pronounced [Jair (just as it appears) GER-GENS]
Jurrjens was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Detroit Tigers back in 2003.
He began pitching for the GCL Tigers in 2003, where he accumulated a 2–1 record with 20 strikeouts and just three walks.
Jurrjens’s breakout season didn’t come until 2005 while with the West Michigan Whitecaps, the Tigers' single-A affiliate.
In just around 26 games started, Jurrjens went 12–6 with 108 whiffs and 36 walks. In the 2006 season, he went 5–0, with a 2.08 ERA.
Jurrjens is better known for his time with the Braves where he has seemingly blossomed.
Currently he is 5-0 with a 1.66 ERA.
22. Wilson Betemit – Royals:
Betemit began his career with the Braves, or more specifically with the Danville Braves., In 1999, he was the Player of the Year in the Rookie League, and the Appalachian League All-Star shortstop after batting .320 in 67 games.
In 2000, Betemit played with the Jamestown Jammers where he hit .331 and was named the Braves' # 1 Minor League Prospect by Baseball America, as well as the Short-Season A Player of the Year and All-Star shortstop.
Today, he plays third for the Royals and continues to impressively hit ( .318 in 107 AB).
21. Cory Luebke – Padres:
Luebke is an interesting player with a deceiving name which is why he is on this list.
Lubke has mainly been used as a long-man in San Diego’s otherwise dominate pen, but the team still views him as a strong candidate for a future starter within the organization.
He is a pitcher who has very good command so early in his career, but he will have to work on finding a true strikeout pitch if he is to elevate to starting status down the road.
20. Joel Hanrahan – Pirates:
Another name listed on here mostly because of the tricky nature behind his name, Hanrahan is currently enjoying some serious success in Pittsburgh right now with a 1.42 ERA and a 14/5 K:BB ratio.
He has yet to blow a save at 11.
This isn’t much of a surprise as his first two years in the bigs were impressive as he sported an 11-6 record.
Here’s a fun little fact about his last name:
Hanrahan is a surname with Irish origins shared among Irish people and descendants of Irish immigrants.
It’s original appeared in Gaelic as O’hAnrachain which is a derivative of the root word anradh which means warrior.
19. Emilio Bonifacio – Marlins
His entire name is actually Emilio Bonifacio del Rosario and was originally drafted by the Diamnodbacks in 2007.
Bonifacio was later traded to the Nationals for pitcher Jon Rauch (also on this list) only to then again be traded to the Florida Marlins for left fielder Josh Willingham and pitcher Scott Olsen.
Bonifacio has never really been able to rise above the mediocre level, and isn’t known to be anything other than a solid option for the depth chart in his short career.
Currently he is hitting .329 in place of Logan Morrison who is on the DL.
18. Edinson Volquez –Reds:
I put Volquez on this list, along with a few others, because of the tricky nature behind his name more than anything else.
Most people at first glance pronounce Volquez’s first name EDISON failing to recognize the sneaky little “N” thrown in there.
Volquez is mostly known for his rare ability to throw the heat, but injuries and command issues have limited his overall effectiveness through six years at the major league level.
His best season was in 2008 where he went 17-6 with a 3.21 ERA and 206 strikeouts.
17. Junichi Tazawa: Red Sox:
Pronounced [Goo-NEE-Chee , Ta-ZAWA]
Shortly after his high school career in Yokohama, Tazawa went on to play on the company team of Nippon Oil in the corporate league, instead of being draft by the NPB.
In 2008, Tazawa went 10-1 with Nippon Oil, with a 1.02 ERA and 95 strikeouts in 88 1/3 innings.
Later that year in December, Tazawa was signed by the Boston Red Sox where he currently plays today.
Recently Tazawa underwent Tommy john Surgery, and is expected to make his first rehab start in High-A Salem. sometime this week or next.
16. Kosuke Fukudome – Cubs:
Pronounced [KOHS-kay, FOO-KOO-DOH-may]
Prior to joining the Chicago Cubs in 2007, Fukudome was known for his very accomplished career in Japan:
- A member of the Japanese national baseball team
- Won the silver medal in the 1996 Summer Olympics and the bronze medal in the 2004 Summer Olympics.
- Placed first in the 2006 World Baseball Classic and 2009 World Baseball Classic.
- Was the Central League MVP in 2006.
The Cubs believed Kosuke was the next big thinking which was the reason behind their $48 million dollar contract, but many would say he has seriously declined since inking the deal.
15. Daisuke Matsuzaka – Red Sox
Pronounced [ DIE-SOO-KAY, MAHT-SUEZ-AKA]
Every baseball fan gave up on this name within the first week, and viola, Dice-K was born.
But it wasn’t just his name that gave him his fame, it was also his ‘gyro ball” that many fans were originally awestruck over.
Interestingly enough, in Japanese, there is a word very similar to Dice-K’s first name (Daisuki) which means “very likable”.
14. Kanekoa Texeira – Royals
Pronounced [KAN-IH-KOH-AH, TEX-EERA] – Yes you do pronounce the “X”
Texeira has bounced around a bit (Seattle showing him the most love it seemed) but don’t underestimate his ability to throw off the mound.
Today he plays for the Royals who have now optioned him down to Triple-A Omaha, to make room for Louis Coleman.
In his first six appearances Texeira had a nice 2.84 ERA, but it was overshadowed by 13 allowed hits and zero strikes.
He still has some work to do if he is to solidify himself I the majors.
13. Mark Grudzielanek – Recently Retired:
Just recently retired, but I thought it was a worthy mention none-the-less.
During his 15 year career “G-Man” played for six different teams accumulating a .289 average who also averaged 8 home runs, 58 RBI and 12 stolen bases during his career.
He was also an All-Star in 1996 with the Expoes, an MVP dominee while playing for the Cubs in 2003 and a Golden Glover for the Royals in 2006.
12. Doug Mientkiewicz – Recently released from Florida:
At one time Mientkiewicz was one of the most well known players in the league. But after six strong years in Minnesota, he never truly found a new home, bouncing around from six different teams.
Some of his more popular highlights are hitting the game winning home run against South Korea at the 2000 games in Sidney as a member of the U.S. Olympic Team and the Golden Glove Award in his 2001 season with the Twins.
11.Daniel Schlereth: Tigers
Pronounced [ SH-LERE-RETH ]
Schlereth was drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the 8th round of the 2007 Draft, but never signed. He then was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks —26th overall—in the 2008 Draft.
He made his major league debut in a relief appearance against the Atlanta Braves on May 29, 2009, throwing a perfect inning.
He is now a middle reliever for the Tigers who has been pretty steady sporting a current 2.57 ERA and 1.29 WHIP in 14 total innings.
10. Jason Isringhausen – Mets:
Pronounced [IZ-ring-hou-zuhn] – German:
A show of hands: how many remember this mid-rounder from the 1991 amateur draft?
Isringhausen began his career with the Mets before bouncing around to Oakland, St. Louis and Tampa before coming full circle and returning to the Mets this year.
He has a lifetime 45-50record with a 3.58 ERA and a lifetime save percentage of 84% which is considered elite status.
Isringhausen has had some up and down season, but when he’s on the boy is on:
- 1955 rookie season – 9-2, 2.81 ERA – RoY-4
- 2000 season (A’s) – 6-4, 3.78 ERA – All-Star
- All-Star season in 2005 with the Cardinals
- 2007 season (Cardinals) 4-0, 2.48 ERA
9. Ryota Igarashi –Mets:
Pronounced [EEG-GAH-RAH-SEEH, rye-OH-toh}
The Kanji meaning for this name appears as “Big and plain” which is half right.
Igarashi is only 5’10’ but his first stint in the majors was as plain as plain can be (arguably disappointing) as he produced a 7.12 ERA with a 25/18 K:BB ratio in just over 30 innings.
Maybe the scouts should brush up on their Kanji understanding.
8. Jeff Samardzija – Cubs:
You wouldn’t believe how many times I heard this name mis-pronounced during Notre Dame games.
“Sammy” was technically known for his stand out play as a wide receiver for the fighting Irish, but his love for baseball steered him towards the majors; currently playing as a Cub.
In the early goings, Samardzija struggled with his command and had difficulties finding a solid out pitch he could compliment his fastball with. This has prevented his aspirations of becoming a full-time starter at the big league level.
But his bull pen work, and spotty outing haven’t been all that bad either, but time is definitely closing in on him.
7. Marc Rzepczynski – Blue Jays
Pronounced [ zep-CHIN-skee]
Thanks to a rash of injuries to other pitchers within the Blue Jays organization, Rzepczynski was able to find his way into the majors—his minor league performance also helped just a bit which looked a little something like this:
- Made his professional debut in 2007season for the short-season Jays' Class A affiliate Auburn Doubledays of the New York-Penn League posting a 5-0 record and a 2.76 ERA in 11 games (7 starts), with 49 strikeouts and 17 walks in 45.2 innings pitched.
- In 2008, Rzepczynski advanced to the Class-A Lansing Lugnuts finishing strong with a 7-6 record and a 2.83 ERA in 22 starts, with 124 strikeouts and 42 walks over 121 innings pitched.
- In 2009, Rzepczynski split his season between the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, the Jays' AA team, and the Las Vegas 51s (cool name for a team), the Jays' AAA team in the Pacific Coast League. His 2009 statistics between AA and AAA combined for 16 games (all starts), with a 9-5 record, a 2.66 ERA, 104 strikeouts, and 40 walks, in 88 innings pitched.
Manager John Farrell believe “Scrabble” is "on a steady pace to become one of the better relievers in the game."
He is called Scrabble because of how many points one would receive if they spelled out his name.
6. Justin Duchscherer – Orioles:
Justin’s name is more misleading to the sight than anything.
Duchscherer was originally selected by Boston in 1996 but really didn’t begin playing until he wound up in Oakland via a 2002 trade from Texas for Luis Vizcaino.
He’s played both out of the bull pen and as a starter, but injuries and personal issues have really prevented his career from leaving the mediocrity realm.
5. Tsuyoshi Nishioka – Twins:
Pronounced [Sue-YO-shee, Nee-shee-OH-caw]
As quickly as he came in the majors, his temporary exodus (fractured fibula) was just as surprising.
Here’s a few fun fact about Nishioka:
- Before joining the Twins, Nishioka was one of the few active switch hitters in Japanese professional baseball.
- He played in the 2006 World Baseball Classic
- He Played in the 2008 Beijing Olympics as a member of the Japanese national team.
- In 2003 (his rookie year) he was assigned to ichigun [ichi-gun] which refers to the top level of Japanese baseball, or their equivalent of “ the majors”.
Currently, he is coming along nicely in regard to the healing process form that fractured fibula, and manager Ron Gardenhire hopes to have him back in the lineup by June.
4. Jonathan Albaladejo: Yankees
Albaladejo has an interesting name, and an interesting situation to say the least.
Through 57 relief appearances, he compiled an awesome1.42 ERA, 0.88 WHIP and 82/18 K/BB ratio, but was never really part of the Yankees future.
The Yanks then received $1.3 million dollars from the Yomiuri Giants where Albaladejo then signed a contract worth $950,000 dollars in expectation of becoming a starter.
Such a strange game sometimes, eh?
3. Jarrod Saltalamacchia – Red Sox:
Pronounced [ SALT-TA-LA-MA-CHIA ]
Many people feel this is the hardest name in baseball to pronounce, and at one time it perhaps was.
But there are a few other names we haven’t touched on just yet; names that should make “Salty’s” name look like a breeze to pronounce.
He is currently at the backstop for the Red Sox, but only hitting .217 with 9 RBI and a single homer through 83 at bats.
2. Bronson Kiheimahanaomauiakeo Sardinha – Rockies
Pronounced [KEE-HAY-MAH-ANAO-MOW-EE-KAY-OH, SAR-DEENHA]
Go ahead, say it 10 times as fast as you can, I dare ya.
I was really thinking about putting Sardinha first, but considering it is his middle name that is funky, he lost a few placement points.
The Rockies’ prospect is coming along slowly but surely as a .264 hitter for the Tri-City Dust Devils, but will need to increase some sort of overall threat to separate him from the average joe.
He is a modest threat on the paths, can get on base rather easily, but doesn’t offer much in the way of power.
1. Kila Ka’aihue – Royals
Pronounced [KEY-luh Kuh-eye-HOO-a]
Even with the little pronunciation key it's still a bit difficult, isn't it?
K2 was drafted by the Royals in the 15th round (438th overall) of the 2002 MLB draft and has been a Royal ever since.
He has had some up and downs over his career, and is currently in a funk as he was hitting .195/.295/.317 over his first 23 games before being sent back to the minors for more cooking time.
The Royals still have high hopes for Ka’aihue and ironically enough, there is another player in the league with a name incredibly similar (Isaiah "Kala" Ka'aihue) who plays for the Braves at first base as well.