Former 10-year MLB veteran CJ Nitkowski is an analyst for FOX Sports, appearing on AMERICA’S PREGAME and MLB WHIPAROUND. He also writes for FOXSports.com’s baseball blog, JABO: Just A Bit Outside.
Former 10-year Major League Baseball veteran CJ Nitkowski is now a FOX MLB analyst. Drawing on an extensive playing background that spans multiple levels of competition across all reaches of the globe, the former left-handed pitcher calls games on FS1.
After graduating high school, Nitkowski attended Florida Atlantic University for one year before transferring to St. John’s University in Queens, N.Y. Over the next two seasons, he posted a 2.17 earned run average over 153.1 innings pitched, notching 145 strikeouts and an 11-7 record, and earning first-team All-Big East Conference honors in both 1993 and 1994. Following the 1994 season, he was selected as the conference’s Pitcher of the Year and also received third-team All-America acclaim. In June of 1994, he was chosen by the Cincinnati Reds with the No. 9 overall pick in the first round of the Major League Baseball Draft, becoming the highest draft choice in the history of the St. John’s baseball program, a distinction he still holds more than 20 years later.
GOING PRO: DOMESTICALLY AND ABROAD
Nitkowski made his MLB debut with the Reds in 1995, but was dealt to the Detroit Tigers at that season’s trade deadline as part of a deal that yielded veteran starting pitcher David Wells. In total, Nitkowski would spend 10 combined seasons with eight different clubs in the major leagues. During that time, he appeared in 336 games with 44 starts, posting 479 innings pitched, 347 strikeouts and 18 wins. In 2005, he played his final MLB season and spent 2006 in the Pittsburgh Pirates minor league system. Nitkowski also became part of a unique group of players to have played professionally on multiple continents when in 2007, he accepted an offer from the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball League. After a two-year stint in Japan, Nitkowski stayed in eastern Asia, playing for a trio of teams in the Korea Professional Baseball league from 2009-10. Out of baseball in 2011, he attempted a comeback in 2012 after remaking himself into a sidearming relief specialist and earning a contract from the New York Mets, reaching the team’s Triple-A Buffalo affiliate that summer.
Given name Christopher John Nitkowski…Born in Suffern, N.Y. …Married, wife’s name is Megan, and the couple has two sons, Matthew and Luke, and a daughter, Brooke…Attended Don Bosco Preparatory High School in Ramsey, N.J., lettering three times in baseball…Held a jobs as a driving range attendant in high school and later as a maintenance worker at a summer camp in college…In 2012, he was cast to play an extra role as former MLB pitcher Dutch Leonard in the Jackie Robinson biopic, 42, appearing in an action scene that was coincidentally shot at Engel Stadium in Chattanooga, Tenn., where Nitkowski first played professional baseball in 1994…In his free time, enjoys playing tennis, coaching his kids’ youth sports teams and playing badminton, a game he developed an affinity for during his time playing in Japan…Residence: Atlanta.