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Saturday, March 28, 2020

Baseball Question of the Day: Who’d you think would be a star but wasn’t?

Today’s question is about those guys we thought would be the next big thing but, for whatever reason, weren’t. The players we thought would be stars but ended up average Joes. Or, perhaps, somewhat less-than-average Joes.

In this I’m not looking for the tragic cases of stars cut down in their youth by tragedy or sickness or, perhaps, even guys who had major injuries before they were able to make The Leap. I mean, sure, if you want to include those, that’s fine, but I’m thinking more here about guys who just never lived up to expectations, whether those expectations were informed and reasonable or not.

A lot of these might be guys who were just coming up when you were a kid. Back when you didn’t quite understand what made for a can’t-miss prospect and what didn’t. Or at least the people telling you that guy would be great didn’t understand it. That’s certainly the case for me. My guy: Kevin Coffman.

Kevin Coffman was an 11th round draft pick of the Atlanta Braves in 1983 out of Austin, Texas. Eleventh rounders aren’t exactly comers, but if you followed the Braves from, oh, 1985-87 — which is when I got into that team — things were pretty bad on the big club. The pitching was particularly bad. In 1986 club had the second-worst staff in the National League and the 1987 club was dead last in runs allowed. There was a kid down on the farm in 1986 and most most of 1987 named Glavine who turned out to be something — and the Braves traded for a fella named Smoltz in the middle of the ’87 campaign who might could be something — but if you watched WTBS broadcasts at the time they only wanted to talk about Kevin Coffman. He was referred to, often, as the Great Pitching Hope for the Atlanta Braves.

So, who’d you put on your list?

 

QLE Posted: March 28, 2020 at 12:44 AM | 154 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: stars

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   1. Doug Jones threw harder than me Posted: March 28, 2020 at 02:13 AM (#5934357)
The Dodgers had a string of "can't miss prospects who missed", sometimes even winning RoY before turning out to be nothing much, all through the early-to-mid 1980's. Most notably, everybody thought Greg Brock was going to be a star, or at least the Dodgers did. In retrospect, he seemed to have something I might later diagnose as Ben Grieve disease, but is most often called "Old Player Skills".

But the biggest "we think he's going to be a star" and he wasn't, not even close, was Jack Fimple. Of course, "real baseball people" probably realized it was just a flash-in-the-pan. But Fimplemania lasted for 2 months in the summer of 1983, and by early 1984 the shine was off, never to return.
   2. Dr. Vaux Posted: March 28, 2020 at 03:08 AM (#5934358)
He was good enough that he probably does qualify as a star; he made three all-star teams and had three seasons better than one of his all-star seasons. But when I saw Brandon Phillips play for Harrisburg in 2002, he looked like a hall-of-famer to me.

In general, I'm such a pessimist that I rarely think anyone is going to be any good. Back in 1990, I saw Scott Aldred pitch just about the only good game he ever pitched, so for a few days, I thought he might turn out to be useful. More recently, I remain a little surprised that Kevin Gausman melted away into nothing so quickly and completely.
   3. Jaack Posted: March 28, 2020 at 03:40 AM (#5934359)
The first name that pops in my head is Joel Zumaya, who I thought was going to be the next great relief pitcher for way longer than I should have. In 2010 I went to a Tigers-Twins game with a non-MLB knowledgeable friend, and spent a good chunk of the game talking up Joel Zumaya as one of the players he had to see. It's a good thing he saw him, because that was the game Zumaya's arm died for the last time. That friend still occasionally asks me how the guy whose arm exploded is doing, but I haven't had the heart to tell him he never pitched a game again.

Two other players I remember being irrationally convinced would become stars were Fred Lewis and Zach Duke. Duke has at least had a nice career as a very fungible reliever, but Lewis never put anything together for any sustained period of time.
   4. JJ1986 Posted: March 28, 2020 at 07:10 AM (#5934365)
I was all in on Lastings Milledge.
   5. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: March 28, 2020 at 08:49 AM (#5934373)
Bill James would tell you Jack Perconte. As an Indians fan in the early 60s I though Vic Davalillo and Max Alvis would be much better than they turned out to be (though each had decent careers). Same with Merv Rettenmund a decade later (though not with the Indians)
   6. SoSH U at work Posted: March 28, 2020 at 09:00 AM (#5934375)
Phil Plantier. He was a monster at the plate his rookie season.
   7. McCoy Posted: March 28, 2020 at 09:00 AM (#5934376)
Fortunately as a cub fan we don't have to worry about questions like this because so our prospects suck.


Anyway, I would think Corey Patterson and Mark prior would be the answer for the Cubs over the last 50 years.
   8. Lars6788 Posted: March 28, 2020 at 09:32 AM (#5934381)
Ichiro - people made it sound like the guy could hit 50 home runs in a season if he wanted to. Guess he was okay but never became that home run hitting threat.
   9. Gazizza, my Dilznoofuses! Posted: March 28, 2020 at 09:51 AM (#5934383)
Not counting those who were falsely hyped by the Phillies management: Domonic Brown.

I still believe that they ruined him by calling him up to majors just to sit him on the bench. He needed to play in order to progress but spent so long riding the pine that he regressed.
   10. Sweatpants Posted: March 28, 2020 at 10:00 AM (#5934386)
I'm sure that he has a nice WAR total, he's had plenty of success, and he got a big payday in free agency, but when Jason Heyward came on the scene I thought that he was going to be a truly dominant player. He was twenty years old and looked like he had total control of the strike zone, plus the obvious athleticism.

Just the season before, the Braves had debuted another super prospect in Tommy Hanson, but, even though he got his career off to a very good start as well, he didn't seem like as obvious a talent as Heyward. When Hanson declined and fell short of stardom I was disappointed. Heyward didn't decline as much (in fact, before the Cubs he was a consistently good offensive player, although what he would do well would vary from year to year) as he just never reached the levels that I'd foreseen for him, and I felt more surprised than anything.
   11. ckash Posted: March 28, 2020 at 10:14 AM (#5934392)
Drew Stubbs and Paul Householder come to mind for the Reds - Householder was going to be that first homegrown star in the post Big Red Machine era, and Stubbs was a 5 tool stud who would hold down CF for a decade.

For the Orioles it’s harder to say because the hyped guys generally did okay (Jeffrey Hammonds, Ben McDonald, Matt Wieters) but Larry Bigbie was hyped as basically a Nick Markakis clone who would hold down LF for a few years. He had one decent season then faded away.
   12. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: March 28, 2020 at 10:14 AM (#5934393)
Wes Gardner. He was a big strong guy and threw hard. I thought he was going to be a star reliever for years. He was not.

And I’d love to see Sparky Anderson’s answer to this question.
   13. Toby Posted: March 28, 2020 at 10:17 AM (#5934394)
Hanging around here as long as I have, I’d expect the answers to be Ben Grieve, Hank Blalock, and Matt Wieters.
   14. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: March 28, 2020 at 10:35 AM (#5934396)
Austin Kearns.

I thought Ryan Zimmerman was going to be equal to David Wright, although it’s hard to call Zimmerman a failure.

Back 20 years or so, when Yankee fans touted the top 20 Yankee prospects as though they were sure fire HOFers, Jackson Melian is a name that sticks in my memory banks.
   15. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: March 28, 2020 at 10:49 AM (#5934399)
Back 20 years or so, when Yankee fans touted the top 20 Yankee prospects as though they were sure fire HOFers, Jackson Melian is a name that sticks in my memory banks.

and 10 years before that it was Hensley Meulens (and no,no one really thought that Kevin Maas was THAT good)

and for the Mets it was Generation K
   16. Mefisto Posted: March 28, 2020 at 11:13 AM (#5934404)
Kal Daniels. Injuries may have caused a lot of his decline, so he may not be a case of simple failure to make it.
   17. Ziggy is done with Dominican discotheques Posted: March 28, 2020 at 11:14 AM (#5934405)
Oh man this is a long list. Circa 2008 I was sure that Chad Billingsley was going to be the next Pedro Martinez. In 2012 I all about Tony Cingrani. My current prospect crush is Tarik Skubal. I totally expect him to work out just like Cingrani.

And back in the day: Butch Husky. How an someone named 'Butch Husky' not be a huge star?
   18. gef, talking mongoose & vexatious litigant Posted: March 28, 2020 at 11:14 AM (#5934406)
Going way back to my kidhood, Hector Cruz looked can't-miss tearing up the Texas League for the Arkansas Travelers.
   19. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: March 28, 2020 at 11:29 AM (#5934408)
Ron Wright playing in single A hit the most titanic home run I have ever seen in person. I saw what the hype was about and was totally planning on travelling to see him hit his 500th home run in about 2014 or so. He impressed me more than any other single A Braves hitting prospect I saw (including Chipper, Andruw on the same team as Wright, Ron Gant, David Justice, Ryan Klesko, Jeff Blauser, a bunch of lesser lights, and Mark ####### Lemke).

Back injuries are a #####. See also Phil Plantier, mentioned above. And of course botched surgeries to repair back injuries are even worse.

Steve Avery was the best single-A Brave pitcher I saw in person, but he was an actual MLB star until his arm fell off.

Brad Komminsk will always be the greatest Braves superstar that wasn't.

Josh Hamilton was the best-looking low minors player I ever saw (in rookie league). He became a star but nothing like the player I and a lot of other people thought he'd be.
   20. gef, talking mongoose & vexatious litigant Posted: March 28, 2020 at 11:34 AM (#5934411)
Another former Trav, Garry Templeton, was on pace in San Diego to be genuinely great.

And then he wasn't.
   21. Howie Menckel Posted: March 28, 2020 at 11:37 AM (#5934413)
Alex Ochoa, because he was a "5-tool player."

The Mets gave him his first chance in 1995 after he arrived from the Orioles in a trade of Bobby Bonilla (!).

by 1998, it was on to the Twins, Brewers, Reds, Rockies, Brewers again, and Angels.

did I mention that he was a 5-tool player?

97 OPS+ in 2387 PA at corner OF. he was traded 7 times. this is the 6th one:

January 21, 2002: Traded as part of a 3-team trade by the Colorado Rockies to the Milwaukee Brewers. The New York Mets sent Lenny Harris and Glendon Rusch to the Milwaukee Brewers. The New York Mets sent Benny Agbayani, Todd Zeile and cash to the Colorado Rockies. The Colorado Rockies sent Ross Gload and Craig House to the New York Mets. The Milwaukee Brewers sent Jeromy Burnitz, Lou Collier, Jeff D'Amico, Mark Sweeney and cash to the New York Mets.

he finally became a free agent after winning a ring (!) with the Angels in 2002 at age 30 (0 for 5 in the postseason in 12 games).

Ochoa signed briefly with the Cardinals in Feb. 2003 but did not play for them, because instead he went to play in Tokyo for 4 years.

then he showed up with the Red Sox' AAA team in Pawtucket in 2007 for a .323 OPS (CQ!!!!) in 92 PA before being taken out back and.... released. then it was back to Tokyo for 2 more years.

in 2012, Alex Ochoa was Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine's first base coach because of course he was.

   22. McCoy Posted: March 28, 2020 at 11:37 AM (#5934414)
Cocaine's a helluva drug.
   23. gef, talking mongoose & vexatious litigant Posted: March 28, 2020 at 11:38 AM (#5934415)
Speaking of Bill James, he foresaw multiple Cy Youngs for Arthur Rhodes, IIRC, & at least one MVP for Patrick Lennon ... or maybe it was Marc Newfield. And I think a Hall of Fame berth for Jack Armstrong.
   24. Mike A Posted: March 28, 2020 at 11:44 AM (#5934416)
Andy Marte. Dug up my Baseball Prospectus 2005: "The best prospect in baseball and a future superstar...in his prime, expect a few seasons of Adrian Beltre, circa 2004." (Beltre had a 9.6 bWAR that year)

When the Braves traded Marte for Edgar Renteria, the Braves baseball boards went nuts. How could the front office do something so stupid? Chipper's heir-apparent was gone...

Renteria ended up having two excellent seasons for the Braves as Marte flamed out. Sadly, Marte was killed in a car crash a few years back. RIP.

   25. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: March 28, 2020 at 11:50 AM (#5934419)
and of course there was David Green who everyone seemed to agree was the best "athlete" in all of organized baseball. And maybe he was but it didn't do him much good
   26. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 28, 2020 at 11:56 AM (#5934420)
On behalf of every kid who collected baseball cards, Gregg Jefferies and Todd Van Poppel.
   27. Howie Menckel Posted: March 28, 2020 at 12:01 PM (#5934422)
bb-ref claims that Jefferies hit .342 for the CARDINALS in 1993 in 612 PA, finishing 3rd in the batting title race and 8th in OPS+ at 142 as a first baseman.

I have no memory of this, at all.
   28. The Mighty Quintana Posted: March 28, 2020 at 12:02 PM (#5934423)
Junior Felix, but then it turned out he was really Senior Felix.
   29. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 28, 2020 at 12:05 PM (#5934425)
Now that you mention it, Carlos Quintana too.

Jefferies did have some good years, in fairness.
   30. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: March 28, 2020 at 12:06 PM (#5934427)
James Loney. The guy hit .380 in AAA in 2006 and then put up a .331/.381/.538 in 375 PAs in 2007. Then was a below average player the rest of his career.
   31. CFBF's Overflowing Pathos Posted: March 28, 2020 at 12:06 PM (#5934428)
I was a huge Marcus Giles fan back in the early part of the millennium. One of the first things I wrote for wider consumption was a pre-2003 piece advocating for Giles as the Braves' second baseman of the future. Had one superstar season in 2003 and a couple nice years after that, and then he immediately fell to replacement level and was out of baseball.
   32. Ken Griffey Junior Bacon Cheeseburger Posted: March 28, 2020 at 12:09 PM (#5934431)
I thought Carlos Perez would be great; he was good for a couple of years, with an injury sandwiched in between, and then he wasn't.
   33. Ken Griffey Junior Bacon Cheeseburger Posted: March 28, 2020 at 12:10 PM (#5934432)
Sadly, Marte was killed in a car crash a few years back. RIP.


On the same day as Yordano Ventura, IIRC
   34. Rally Posted: March 28, 2020 at 12:12 PM (#5934433)
and of course there was David Green who everyone seemed to agree was the best "athlete" in all of organized baseball. And maybe he was but it didn't do him much good


Came up when the Cards had Willie McGee, Coleman, Lonnie, and Van Slyke. People said Green was the fastest of the bunch. Which makes it all the more weird that he was tried at 1B. Green was found to be a few years older than what was reported when he was a prospect.
   35. Rally Posted: March 28, 2020 at 12:13 PM (#5934434)
We sure thought Brandon Wood was going to be something. We as in Angels fans at least.
   36. Perry Posted: March 28, 2020 at 12:15 PM (#5934435)
Junior Felix, but then it turned out he was really Senior Felix.


Primey.
   37. Perry Posted: March 28, 2020 at 12:22 PM (#5934437)
Came up when the Cards had Willie McGee, Coleman, Lonnie, and Van Slyke. People said Green was the fastest of the bunch. Which makes it all the more weird that he was tried at 1B. Green was found to be a few years older than what was reported when he was a prospect.


According to Whitey Herzog, he also had a serious drinking problem.

Rockies have had a few recently -- Ian Stewart, Garrett Atkins, Brad Hawpe. As someone mentioned above, Hector Cruz tore up AA and AAA at a very young age but ended his major league career with negative WAR.

When Wayne Simpson came up at 21 with the Reds in 1970 and went 14-3, being big, tall, black, and wearing #45, everyone thought "Bob Gibson." (His peripherals didn't support it, but nobody knew what peripherals were then.) He was out of baseball 5 years later.
   38. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 28, 2020 at 12:29 PM (#5934439)
Cubs had a pitcher named Juan Cruz who had absolutely filthy stuff, but he never got his command together. It also wouldn’t surprise me if he was about 15 years older than he claimed to be.
   39. Mike Webber Posted: March 28, 2020 at 12:35 PM (#5934440)
When the Dos Carlos first came up, I thought Febles was the great one, and Beltran was the long term-regular.

Was kind of hoping that Febles would end up as manager of the Red Sox this spring, at 43 he's not really too old but he needs to get that first job soon.
   40. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 28, 2020 at 12:35 PM (#5934441)
Kal Daniels. Injuries may have caused a lot of his decline, so he may not be a case of simple failure to make it.
Good call on Daniels. I liked the Reds as a kid because Eric Davis was awesome, and I remember “investing” in Kal Daniels rookie cards because I though he, Davis and Tracy Jones would be a superstar outfield for years.
   41. Booey Posted: March 28, 2020 at 12:40 PM (#5934442)
Already mentioned, but I was super excited about Ben Grieve and Gregg Jefferies.

Also, I started following baseball in 1987, and based on his rookie year I thought Matt Nokes was going to be awesome. He also was the first player I ever met, when I got his autograph that offseason at a local card expo. Alas...
   42. McCoy Posted: March 28, 2020 at 12:40 PM (#5934443)
I thought Rosie Brown could become an everyday player but then Cubs signed Alou and he seemed to have given up. He then went to Jahan and lit it up the first year but again seemed to have lost his desire to excel. I guess in the end he just didn't have the desire to be a major league player. Certainly had the ability.
   43. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: March 28, 2020 at 12:56 PM (#5934447)
Cubs had a pitcher named Juan Cruz who had absolutely filthy stuff, but he never got his command together. It also wouldn’t surprise me if he was about 15 years older than he claimed to be.

If memory serves, Vine Line (the official Cubs magazine) listed Cruz ahead of both Mark Prior and Carlos Zambrano in their prospect rankings at one point. Which... has not held up well.

Several of the other names mentioned here are definitely good ones, but the player that came immediately to mind for me was BJ/Melvin Upton. I did a set of Hall of Fame predictions many years ago that I probably can't find any more (I assume it was around 2008), in which I listed Upton in the group of "young players with a really good chance to make it." He was a good player, of course, but never lived up to those age 22-23 seasons.
   44. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: March 28, 2020 at 12:56 PM (#5934448)
And back in the day: Butch Husky. How an someone named 'Butch Husky' not be a huge star?

This logic applies in reverse for "Larry Bigbie".
   45. Tom Nawrocki Posted: March 28, 2020 at 12:58 PM (#5934449)
Rockies have had a few recently -- Ian Stewart, Garrett Atkins, Brad Hawpe.


Ian Stewart, man, the ball just exploded off his bat. I thought he was going to be a superstar. Turns out it didn't explode off his bat nearly often enough.
   46. McCoy Posted: March 28, 2020 at 01:12 PM (#5934452)
I do recall Cruz aging something like 2.5 years during the post 9/11 passport scandal.

He probably would have been a good reliever but it seems teams always wanted to give it one more go as a starter with him.
   47. Ziggy is done with Dominican discotheques Posted: March 28, 2020 at 01:34 PM (#5934461)
And Matt LaPorta, aka Jim Thome v.2. He murdered AAA pitching, but couldn't cut it in the majors. He played a few games in Mexico in 2014. Surprised he never tried Japan, seems like the kind of player who does well there.
   48. catseyepub Posted: March 28, 2020 at 02:16 PM (#5934472)
3 names come to mind

Ty Griffin Wilton Veras and Sam Militello

   49. ckash Posted: March 28, 2020 at 02:20 PM (#5934475)
Josh Phelps. 3.2 career WAR and 1.5 of that in his first half-season. Probably would have had a career if he could have caught at least part-time.

I loved me some Francisco Cabrera when he was coming through the minors. I thought he was the next great hitting Catcher. Then he stopped hitting, then he stopped catching. Did well as Sid Bream's platoon partner for a couple of years but was done at 28.

As a kid in eastern KY who got most of my baseball news through Baseball America and The Sporting News whose favorite team was in Baltimore, I thought all the Orioles prospects were future stars. I really had a thing for Ken Gerhart, a CF who had 31 HR and 45 SB in A ball in 1983. Put up negative 0.6 WAR in MLB...



   50. BrianBrianson Posted: March 28, 2020 at 02:25 PM (#5934477)
Turns out Domingo Martinez had a good career in Japan, so maybe he was, of a sort.
   51. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: March 28, 2020 at 02:30 PM (#5934478)
Did well as Sid Bream's platoon partner for a couple of years but was done at 28.


Probably not the link to Bream most of us think of for Cabrera though.
   52. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: March 28, 2020 at 02:37 PM (#5934480)
the phillies had a couple at about the same time:

after an absurdly hot start by Jeff Stone, one of the Philly papers had a huge headline "Welcome to The Stone Age"

and Von Hayes--yeah he ended up with almost 30 WAR, but his career was kinda meh relative to what was expected
   53. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 28, 2020 at 02:39 PM (#5934481)
Well yeah, when you trade half your team for a guy...
   54. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: March 28, 2020 at 02:45 PM (#5934482)
Well yeah, when you trade half your team for a guy...


"December 9, 1982: Traded by the Cleveland Indians to the Philadelphia Phillies for Jay Baller, Julio Franco, Manny Trillo, George Vukovich and Jerry Willard."

funny thing is none of those guys did much for the Indians. Julio didn't hit his stride until about 10 year later. So it was a bad trade for both teams
   55. SoSH U at work Posted: March 28, 2020 at 02:51 PM (#5934483)
Julio didn't hit his stride until about 10 year later.


And then again 10 years after that.
   56. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: March 28, 2020 at 02:55 PM (#5934484)
you got that right
   57. base ball chick Posted: March 28, 2020 at 03:08 PM (#5934487)
for the astros - i remember andujar cedeno being pimped BIG time (with a name like that, how could he lose?)

jason lane - the astros kept him in the minors for a good 3 years after he was MORE than ready because the owner didn't want rookies, he wanted established major leaguers. the only use young players had was to get traded to some bad team for their good player like the yankees with the A's

of course, mark appel (BAD choice by the statgeeks)

but the guy i remember most of all who i was positive was gonna be a superace for years and years was taylor bucholz. got him from the phils for billy wags after he criticized the owner for not spending enough money at the deadline to actually WIN (he was dead right) the team, for some reason, was drooling more over brandon uck-worth

but anyway, i first saaw him pitch in an exhibition game right before the season and i was just seriously WOWed. 4 ML pitches, unhittable. and for the first couple of games, he was. and then, he hurt himself, but didn't tell the team because Men Don't Have Pain (or something) and he just rubbed some dirt on it. he pitched BP a couple of games before the team suddenly had some kind of feeling that maybe there just might could be something a leeeetle wrong, sent him down, THEN they find out he's hurt. he never really recovered. sigh. got traded somewheres, had a few years as a reliever if i remember rightly, but oh my GOD, when he first came up...
   58. Snowboy Posted: March 28, 2020 at 03:10 PM (#5934488)
Sean Burroughs
   59. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: March 28, 2020 at 03:14 PM (#5934489)
I could wallpaper my game room with the rookie cards of Ramon Martinez, Ty Griffin, Robin Ventura, and Dave West. But not Ken Griffey Jr because I was too savvy of a baseball card "investor" to spend a whole dollar on the cards of an overhyped teenager.

Gregg Jefferies had a fine career but it sure looked like it should have been more after that 1988 month of September.
   60. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: March 28, 2020 at 03:30 PM (#5934491)
it's kind of amazing that no one's mentioned Frenchy (so I won't, either)
   61. Snowboy Posted: March 28, 2020 at 03:35 PM (#5934492)
Tommy Hanson

See, pitchers are tougher to evaluate. My nickname for him was "Hamburger Hanson" because I think that's what his shoulder was.
But I'll put a pitcher name out there anyway: Ricky Romero
Three years of winning seasons, each year getting progressively better. First round pick, All-Star at age 26, AL pitcher of the month for August of that same year, ERA+ of 103, 112, 146, Cy Young votes...next year leads the AL in walks, following year less than 8IP. Finished career in Mexican League at age 32, cut by Tijuana.
   62. salvomania Posted: March 28, 2020 at 03:41 PM (#5934493)
The Cards have had two super-hyped prospect pitchers named "A Reyes": Anthony never did much (0.6 bWAR over parts of five seasons, but did have a nice start in the 2006 WS vs, the Tigers), and Alex, so far, only pitches about 4 innings between season-ending injuries.
   63. Booey Posted: March 28, 2020 at 03:45 PM (#5934494)
I remember when Hudson/Mulder/Zito were going to be the next Maddux/Glavine/Smoltz.

(Hudson of course did end up with a very good career, but of the 3 I thought he actually had the LEAST star potential)
   64. Mefisto Posted: March 28, 2020 at 03:45 PM (#5934495)
Salomon Torres. I thought he'd be the next great Giants pitcher. I guess a 5.47 ERA for the team didn't meet expectations.
   65. Ziggy is done with Dominican discotheques Posted: March 28, 2020 at 03:46 PM (#5934496)
Hey, Robin Ventura was really good! You did pick the wrong Martinez brother though.
   66. Howie Menckel Posted: March 28, 2020 at 03:49 PM (#5934498)
I could wallpaper my game room with the rookie cards of Ramon Martinez, Ty Griffin, Robin Ventura, and Dave West.

yep, my one year of "investing" in multiple rookie cards of the same player, my picks were Ramon Martinez, Robin Ventura, and Delino DeShields (Sr.).
   67. RJ in TO Posted: March 28, 2020 at 03:50 PM (#5934499)
Basically every Jays catching prospect since the early 90s - Knorr, Cash, Quiroz, Phelps, Werth, all the way up to Max Pentecost. The only one who became a star was Werth, but that wasn't as a catcher, was four years after the Jays had dumped him, and he was mostly an Orioles prospect anyway. Of the bunch, Kevin Cash was the most disappointing, as it was immediately apparent he had no idea how to hit at all, as soon as you saw him swing the bat once in the majors.

For non-catchers, it was Domingo Martinez, who put up a .409/.435/.682 in his brief time in the majors, but had the misfortune of playing first base at a time the Jays had Fred McGriff and John Olerud at the position (with Carlos Delgado on his way up in the minors), and Dave Winfield and Paul Molitor at DH. When he left the Jays after the 1993 season, he then ended up with the White Sox, and there was no way he was going to beat out Frank Thomas (or Franco and Baines) for playing time. Looking back, he probably wasn't going to be a star anyway, but he certainly looked like a guy who could help a team, and just had bad luck with constantly finding himself in situations where they didn't need that help.

Among people who started following the Jays a bit earlier than I did, it was Sil Campusano who was the guy that was going to be the next superstar.
   68. RJ in TO Posted: March 28, 2020 at 04:02 PM (#5934509)
But I'll put a pitcher name out there anyway: Ricky Romero
Three years of winning seasons, each year getting progressively better. First round pick, All-Star at age 26, AL pitcher of the month for August of that same year, ERA+ of 103, 112, 146, Cy Young votes...next year leads the AL in walks, following year less than 8IP. Finished career in Mexican League at age 32, cut by Tijuana.
Rather than his arm, it was his knees. The guy attempted to pitch through pain in them for far, far longer than was advisable, to the point where he had basically permanently wrecked them.
   69. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 28, 2020 at 04:04 PM (#5934510)
The only one who became a star was Werth, but that wasn't as a catcher,
Delgado was also a catcher in the minors, no?
   70. RJ in TO Posted: March 28, 2020 at 04:07 PM (#5934512)
Delgado was also a catcher in the minors, no?
Yes, but I keep forgetting he ever got a chance to play the position in the majors, and always think of him just as a first baseman.
   71. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: March 28, 2020 at 04:10 PM (#5934514)
Delgado was also a catcher in the minors, no?


Yes, but I keep forgetting he ever got a chance to play the position in the majors, and always think of him just as a first baseman.

he played exactly 1 game at catcher in each of his first 2 seasons and that was it
   72. vortex of dissipation Posted: March 28, 2020 at 04:11 PM (#5934515)
For non-catchers, it was Domingo Martinez, who put up a .409/.435/.682 in his brief time in the majors, but had the misfortune of playing first base at a time the Jays had Fred McGriff and John Olerud at the position (with Carlos Delgado on his way up in the minors), and Dave Winfield and Paul Molitor at DH. When he left the Jays after the 1993 season, he then ended up with the White Sox, and there was no way he was going to beat out Frank Thomas (or Franco and Baines) for playing time. Looking back, he probably wasn't going to be a star anyway, but he certainly looked like a guy who could help a team, and just had bad luck with constantly finding himself in situations where they didn't need that help.


As noted upthread, he had a couple of excellent seasons in Japan, twice hitting 30+ home runs and making the Best Nine (at DH) in 1997.
   73. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 28, 2020 at 04:15 PM (#5934516)
By the way, these daily questions and the discussions they generate are great and much appreciated.
   74. RJ in TO Posted: March 28, 2020 at 04:22 PM (#5934519)
he played exactly 1 game at catcher in each of his first 2 seasons and that was it
If I remember correctly, which is not always the case, he hurt his shoulder around that time, and the Jays just decided they'd rather stick him at first base, instead of risking losing his bat to injury. As I don't know how his defense was in the minors, I can't say if that was the real reason, or just the excuse.
   75. Ziggy is done with Dominican discotheques Posted: March 28, 2020 at 04:22 PM (#5934520)
I'll second Face. We've had some really good ones, and they're something nice to think about for a change.
   76. SoSH U at work Posted: March 28, 2020 at 04:48 PM (#5934530)

By the way, these daily questions and the discussions they generate are great and much appreciated.



I concur.
   77. Gazizza, my Dilznoofuses! Posted: March 28, 2020 at 05:05 PM (#5934537)
and Von Hayes--yeah he ended up with almost 30 WAR, but his career was kinda meh relative to what was expected


I remember hating him so much when I was a kid. When older, I lost a lot of respect for a manager at work who told me Hayes was his favorite player in his youth. I later looked back and found Hayes was a much better player than I remembered, but still not worth what the Phillies gave up for him.
   78. Perry Posted: March 28, 2020 at 05:57 PM (#5934549)
all the way up to Max Pentecost.


You're not going to convince me that's a real person, as opposed to a character in a baseball movie.
   79. Walt Davis Posted: March 28, 2020 at 06:02 PM (#5934552)
I'll throw some more Cubs out there.

Mel Hall -- we didn't know he was an ####### yet. He was one of those player types I always love -- speed, power, some attitude. I looked it up and from Aug 29-31, he went 7-13 with 5 HR and I think it was in the last game when I said to my brother: "We don't deserve him, he's too good." Not that I thought he was gonna be Mantle or anything .... and he was solid enough.

Dunston -- I still consider him possibly the most rawly/physically talented player I've ever seen (OK, he needed more power). It didn't really take that long to realize that he wasn't gonna be great but I still think there's an alternate universe where somebody actually taught Dunston how to play baseball and he became Barry Larkin.

Scot Thompson -- The Cubs hyped him a lot but I was too young to realize that. Still, seasons of 305 and 325 at AAA at 21-22, he was supposed to hit like Brett. Certainly looked like a LD machine in Sept 78. Early in 79, between the Reds and Tigers, Sparky Anderson was touring around broadcast booths (maybe trying out) and when he stopped by the Cubs, he raved about Thompson, confirming my opinion. How was I to know Sparky said that about everybody?

Jamie Moyer -- Hey, it only took 7 years but I got that one right. I always love soft-tossing lefties and had a habit then of believing in their good games while ignoring their bad ones. Moyer pitched beautifully at times in 86-87. I kept faith when he went to the Rangers, when he went to the Cards, when he went to the Tigers. Luckily for him, I had kinda accepted I was wrong by the time he landed on the O's.

Craig Lefferts -- sorta Moyer 1.0. Used almost exclusively as a reliever throughout his career, the Cubs did mix in 5 starts in 1983. In his first start, he went 7 giving up 1 UER; in his 2nd start 11 days later, he went 7.1 giving up 1 ER. Starts 3 and 4 didn't go well and it was back to the pen for 10 weeks then, in g2 of a DH, 5 IP, 1 ER. I didn't really account for the fact he was already 25 when he debuted. Anyway, he had a solid career and did finally get a full season of starting in 1992 and he put up a 97 ERA+.

There was also those two weeks when Steve Dillard was absolutely amazing but that only fooled me for about 2 months.
   80. Perry Posted: March 28, 2020 at 06:02 PM (#5934553)
Has Dontrelle Willis been mentioned yet?
   81. Howie Menckel Posted: March 28, 2020 at 06:03 PM (#5934554)
wow, Max Pentecost IS a real person!

but his bb-ref page doesn't even list a single nickname.

Jesus, it's like Blue Jays fans aren't even trying....
   82. Brian Posted: March 28, 2020 at 06:08 PM (#5934555)
Showing my age I'll throw Tony Solaita out there. He hit a ton of HRs in the minors (49 in 1968) but never got it done in MLB.
More recently (Again showing my age, as recently in this case was 20 years ago) Travis Lee. Lee came out of San Diego State and flew through the minors, from A+ to AAA, slashing .331/.431/.631. Great 1B as well. He had a decent rookie season and then was nothing special.

Gotta tip my cap to Nick Johnson but that was an injury thing. Sad.
   83. Snowboy Posted: March 28, 2020 at 06:21 PM (#5934559)
Dontrelle...I was thinking of him when I posted Ricky Romero, not mentioned until you did in #80. He was ROTY at 21, runner up Cy Young voting at 23, never the same after being traded from Florida. Had to be injuries though, only pitched 50IP twice after that.

Romero had knee problems, didn't know that.
   84. Jay Z Posted: March 28, 2020 at 06:48 PM (#5934566)
Scot Thompson -- The Cubs hyped him a lot but I was too young to realize that. Still, seasons of 305 and 325 at AAA at 21-22, he was supposed to hit like Brett. Certainly looked like a LD machine in Sept 78. Early in 79, between the Reds and Tigers, Sparky Anderson was touring around broadcast booths (maybe trying out) and when he stopped by the Cubs, he raved about Thompson, confirming my opinion. How was I to know Sparky said that about everybody?


Well, with the Reds, most of those guys panned out. He inherited three HOFers and they traded for a fourth. Foster, Griffey Sr., Concepcion all panned out. Even Geronimo hit for a while.

Sparky did hype Gullett, don't know if he was going into the HOF anyway, then he got hurt repeatedly. The rest of the pitchers I don't remember any hype. Dan Driessen was somewhat of a disappointment.
   85. FrankM Posted: March 28, 2020 at 06:49 PM (#5934567)
Brett Lawrie.
   86. caspian88 Posted: March 28, 2020 at 06:53 PM (#5934569)
Kurt Ainsworth, Jerome Williams, and Jesse Foppert. Only Williams had much of a career.
   87. Greg Pope Posted: March 28, 2020 at 06:56 PM (#5934570)
If memory serves, Vine Line (the official Cubs magazine) listed Cruz ahead of both Mark Prior and Carlos Zambrano in their prospect rankings at one point. Which... has not held up well.

I'll put in a third vote for Cruz. He had a tailing fastball that moved like Maddux's, but he threw it harder. His other pitches were pretty good, too. I really thought he'd harness his control at some point and be a complete stud.
   88. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: March 28, 2020 at 07:11 PM (#5934578)
it's hard to put someone with almost 53 lifetime WAR in this category, but Cesar Cedeno probably fits, considering his start
   89. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: March 28, 2020 at 07:32 PM (#5934585)
Greg Bird. But it's hard to be a star when you're walking around crippled.
   90. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: March 28, 2020 at 07:38 PM (#5934586)
Greg Bird. But it's hard to be a star when you're walking around crippled.

yeah, he was the white Nick Johnson (oh, wait...)
   91. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: March 28, 2020 at 07:44 PM (#5934589)
after the "year of the rookie", 1986 (Canseco, Joyner, Tartabull, Will Clark, Bonds)) Bill James confidently predicted that Ruben Sierra would be the best of the bunch
   92. salvomania Posted: March 28, 2020 at 07:46 PM (#5934593)
I'll put in a third vote for Cruz.

My first-ever game I watched on MLB TV (2001?) was a Juan Cruz start against the Cardinals in which he completely dominated with wicked, moving, unhittable stuff. I thought, Oh no, we gotta hit against this guy for the next 10 years...

EDIT: It was Cruz's second-ever MLB start, 8-26-2001, and he went 5-2/3 scoreless innings with 6 K's before being removed in a 6-1 win. The 65 Game Score matched that of his first career start... a score he exceeded only two other times in the rest his career.
   93. TJ Posted: March 28, 2020 at 07:47 PM (#5934595)
I was so sure Glenn Wilson was going to be the next great Detroit Tiger...
   94. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: March 28, 2020 at 07:55 PM (#5934599)
Mike Anderson. He came through the Phils system with Greg Luzinski. He was supposed to be the equal of Luzinski at the plate, with a cannon arm and could play CF or RF. The dude just never hit -- -0.8 bOWAR, 2.8 bDWAR.

   95. Sweatpants Posted: March 28, 2020 at 08:25 PM (#5934610)
it's kind of amazing that no one's mentioned Frenchy (so I won't, either)
Francoeur was rather plainly just a guy starting his career on a hot streak with some major flaws for pitchers to exploit. He did have the tools, so after his good year in 2007 I thought he might have figured things out a bit and that he'd become a consistently good regular, but in 2008 he was one of the worst players in baseball.
Had to be injuries though, only pitched 50IP twice after that.
Willis came down with Steve Blass disease. At one point he had to go on the DL for anxiety issues, too. I don't think that it was physical injuries with him.
   96. Doug Jones threw harder than me Posted: March 28, 2020 at 08:46 PM (#5934615)
Jerome Williams always seemed like he was on the verge of putting it together. He had all the pitches, just seemed psychological, he'd just blow up out there without warning.

Some recent Oakland A's:
Bobby Crosby. Started out pretty good. It just seemed like every year he got a little worse, till there was nothing left. What happened?

Daric Barton. He was one of those players that "Looked like he knew what he was doing", but he really didn't.

Until recently I would have said Kurt Suzuki. But after years in the wilderness he seemed to have figured things out with Washington.

Jemile Weeks had a half-season when he was 24 when he looked like a phenom in the making, then it all fell apart.

Jack Cust, when he finally got his chance, I thought he was going to crush it. I think the Oakland Coliseum took a lot out of him.

Justin Duchscherrer - he really seemed to know how to pitch. But I think his emotional issues combined with injuries caused his career to end a lot earlier than it should have.

Dan Johnson, had the same kind of dissapointing career, almost a duplicate in tone to Daric Barton. Whoever was in charge of developing left-handed hitting first basemen for the A's in the 2000's, well, I hope they've been re-assigned.



   97. Mefisto Posted: March 28, 2020 at 09:01 PM (#5934618)
I had really high hopes for Jesse Foppert. That was a shame.
   98. Jose Canusee Posted: March 28, 2020 at 09:38 PM (#5934628)
I was at Grieve's first game where he hit three doubles to different parts of the field (I think he walked and lined out the other 2 AB) and strangers were talking to each other after the game that they were lucky to have been there. Doug just took Crosby off my list, never heard that he was hampered by injuries. Maybe the KC fans aren't online but I would think someone would have said Balboni and Billy Butler.
   99. puck Posted: March 28, 2020 at 09:44 PM (#5934629)
Seems like there's a lot less of this than there used to be in the pre-saber days. When I was a kid, guys like Mitchell Page and Joe Charboneau really surprised me by not continuing to be good. (What was the deal with Charboneau, btw, he tore up the minors before his RoY.) Wonder how many players have had a 6 WAR rookie year and didn't get another WAR for the rest of their career? (Page, 6.1 WAR as as rookie, finished with 8.1. Among the stats from his amazing rookie year, 42 steals, 5 CS.)

I was surprised by Doug Frobel never making it, he seemed to hit pretty well in the minors. Rick Lancellotti never made it. He was kind of a Crash Davis, though he did get his cups of coffee, and hit 39 HR one year in Japan.

I really hoped Joey Meyer would make it. But he didn't, not even in Japan. His career highlight was probably a Bill James line from one of his "Baseball Books," something like: "Joey Meyer signed with the Taiyo Whales. Funny guys, those Japanese."

   100. Booey Posted: March 28, 2020 at 10:06 PM (#5934634)
Anyone mention Kevin Maas? That HR binge his rookie year got me pretty optimistic about his future.
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