Submitted for your approval, in no particular order, are ten reasons why a box of chocolates is more predictable than prospects simmering in the minor leagues. Some ruin their careers by stupidity, some might not have had the guts, and others just flat out weren’t who we thought they where.
So here are ten Yankee potentials that made us a little more cynical.
10. Brien Taylor – Lets go ahead and get the most obvious one out of the way. Taylor was the ‘can’t miss’ first overall pick of the Yanks in the 1991 Amateur Draft. Not a failure for his shortcomings on the field as much as off the field, he ruined his arm in a street fight, and never moved higher than AA. Since then, Taylor won just three games between 1995 and 2000. Playing alongside modern Yankee greats Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter, and Mariano Rivera, he could have helped make the late 90’s teams much more dominant than they already were. Last we heard from Taylor he was being indicted in June 2012 for distribution of crack cocaine.
9. Kevin Maas – An immediate legend began to grow around Maas in 1990 when he blasted 10 home runs in his first 72 at-bats while posting a 150 OPS+. Finishing the season with 21 homers in 79 games, it was clear that Don Mattingly’s understudy had a swing built for Yankee stadium. After slugging 23 homers (500 at-bats) in 1991, a sharp drop off came in 1992 and Maas never came close to the potential so many saw in him. After playing 59 games with New York in 1993, he appeared in 1995 with the Minnesota Twins for 22 games, hitting just 10 home runs in a three-year span.
8. Hensley Meulens – Hensley Filemon Acasio ‘Bam-Bam’ Meulens, was the touted MLB home run engine that couldn’t. Playing with those awful early 90’s teams must have rubbed off on Bam-Bam as he only managed to slug .319 with a measly .222 batting average. After being shipped back to Columbus, in 1992 he reestablished his potential and was brought back to the big leagues only to falter once again. By 1994, after hitting just 12 home runs, the Yankees were done with Meulens and he spent the next three years playing in Japan. Meulens is now the hitting coach for the San Francisco Giants.
7. Ruben Rivera – Debuting at #4 on the Yankees Top 10 prospect list in 1994, Rivera was listed as the #1 prospect from 1995 (above Jeter, Pettitte, Posada, and Mo Rivera) to 1997. Rivera appeared briefly in 1995 and played a minor role with 1996 team. In 1997, the Yankees sent Rivera to San Diego where he had minimal success. By 2003 his career in the Majors was over and he spent the next six years in the Mexican league.
6. Andy Stankiewicz – Stankiewicz was never considered a top prospect but based on the sudden buzz around him, was one of the quickest hypes to burn out. In 1992 Stanky looked like the second coming of Phil Rizzuto. A year later, he was an afterthought. Playing in just 16 games in ’92, he moved on to the Astros playing just over 100 games the next two seasons. By 1999, he was out of the majors finishing with a career .980 fielding percentage.
5. Sam Militello – Militello might have had a shorter stint in the Majors than any other player on this list. He quickly progressed through the Minors going 12-2 in 1991 with a 1.22 ERA and 119 strikeouts in 103 innings at High A. In 1992 with Columbus, he again went 12-2 with 152 strikeouts in 141.1 innings. That year the Yanks promoted Militello and he finished the year with a 3.45 ERA in nine starts with a much lower strikeout rate than in the Minors (6 vs 10 K/9). Injuries cut him down after ’92 and by the mid-nineties he was never heard from again.
4. Drew Henson – In 2002 Drew Henson was considered the #1 prospect in the Yankees organization, and 2003 he was even more highly thought of than Robinson Cano. But Henson just wasn’t cut out for the Bigs and had moved on to football by 2004. Henson was traded in 2000 to the Reds as part of the Denny Neagle deal only to be sent back the next year. After a so-so career in the Minors, Henson finally debuted with the Yankees in 2002 playing in just eight overall games (‘02-’03) with nine at-bats and only one hit. His move to the NFL would prove to be even less productive.
3. Russ Davis – Russ Davis was a dynamic fielder who could play just about anywhere. From 1993 to 1995 Davis was a Top 5 prospect, right in the mix with Jeter and Pettitte. Never given a full-time shot with the Bombers, he was traded along with Sterling Hitchcock to Seattle for Tino Martinez (a move that clearly benefitting NY). Davis had modest success with the M’s hitting 20-plus home runs from 1997 to 1999. By 2000, Davis was a role player and finished his career with the San Francisco Giants.
2. Eric Duncan – In 2005, Eric Duncan was the number one Yankee prospect ahead of both Robinson Cano and Phil Hughes (#2 in 04 and 06). Picked in the first round (#27 overall) of the 2003 draft, Duncan progressed quickly but toiled for three and a half years in AAA never hitting better than .241. Duncan was released in 2009 and had stints with the Braves, Cardinals, and Royals minor league organizations never reaching higher than AA. He is still playing baseball for the Royals in the Texas League.
1. *Dellin Betances – Going with prediction as opposed to a proven ‘failure’ I going to guess Betances will not be a factor in Major League Baseball. The guy has major control issues (5.51 career BB/9) and a 4.91 ERA after 7 seasons in the minors. As the first member of the ‘Killer B’s’, Bentances debuted at #3 in 2007, fell off in 2008, reappeared at #5 in 2009, disappeared in 2010, and has stuck at #3 in ’11 and ’12. Regardless if he’s moved into the Yankees pitching staff, I doubt he will be considered a top-10 prospect by spring 2013.