One Hit Wonders - Part One
Topps has done a great job with their Bowman prospect cards especially in the past two years. Wander Franco and Jasson Dominguez have hobby lovers yanking Bowman out of the suppliers hands before it even gets on the shelves. Granted, most people are selling these cards right off because of the uncertainty of these top prospects. Here’s a couple of once thought of top prospects that didn’t exactly pan out.
Lastings Milledge: Milledge played 3B and pitcher most of his life before making it to the majors. Thanks to his electric bat, Milledge was a heart of the order hitter. Baseball America named him the best 16 year old in the US. He was drafted 12th overall by the Mets in 2003. In 2004, he broke his hand in Spring Training, but came back strong with 13HR 58RBI and 23 stolen bases to end the season. Going into 2005, Milledge was ranked the 11th best prospect in the league. He shot through AA and AAA and in May of 2006, he made his Major League debut. In 2007, Milledge suffered a foot injury and struggled to stay at the Major League level. In 2008, the Nationals traded for him, where he became the starting center fielder. In June of that season, Milledge suffered a groin strain and again went on the DL. In 2009, he was traded again, this time to the Pirates. Prior to the trade, he batted leadoff for the Nationals but started off slow only managing a .167 BA. He was sent down to AAA where he suffered another injury. After recovering, Milledge was called up and had a decent end of the season, mustering a .700 OPS. The Pirates opted not to bring Milledge back at the end of the 2010 season. He made the 25 man roster of the White Sox in 2011, but was designated for assignment in early April. He cleared waivers and chose to hit free agency where no team picked him up.
Will Middlebrooks: Drafted in the 5th round of the 2007 MLB Draft, Middlebrooks was touted as an above average fielder with a power bat out of high school. He smashed his way through the minors, which earned him Boston’s top prospect spot and 51st overall going into the 2012 season. Middlebrooks was called up after Kevin Youkils went to the DL and had a great rookie season. In 75 games, he had a .835 OPS and 15 HR with 54 RBIs. In 2013, Middlebrooks strained his back and saw his OPS dip to .696, where he would never surpass again. In 2014, he strained his calf and broke a finger, which landed him on the DL. With not being healthy, coupled with the signing of Pablo Sandoval, the Red Sox traded Middlebrooks to the Padres. Middlebrooks wasn’t afforded an opening spot due to Yangervius Solarte. After hitting .212, Middlebrooks was optioned and then non-tendered making him a free agent. The next year, Middlebroks had some success with the Brewers minor league team, hitting .282 with 10 HR and 47 RBIs, but when he was promoted to the big leagues, he got injured again. He bounced over to the Rangers and Phillies, but never materialized back into his rookie year level of production.
Delmon Young: Young was thought to be the next superstar in the Majors. Selected 1st overall by the Twins, scouts were blown away with his pure hitting skills. He moved quickly through the minors winning the AA MVP, and won the Minor League Player of the Year when he was in AAA. Once he hit the majors, he did finish second in the Rookie of the Year voting behind Dustin Pedrioa. He was traded to the Twins after his second year. He provided the Twins with an above average bat, but subpar defense, leading the league in RF errors. He had a 10 year career in the majors, but was an average hitter at best. Throughout his career, he had run ins with the law, public disagreements with his teams, and weight trouble. He ended his career with a .737 OPS which was a far cry from the “LeBron James of MLB” he was thought to be.
Jurickson Profar: Profar was regarded as the #1 prospect in baseball. He’s a switch hitting shortstop with power showing from the moment he was signed as a teenager by the Rangers. As a 19 year old, he even got called up for 9 games in 2012 where he did hit a home run. The following season in the minors, Profar posted a .807 OPS with only 24 K’s in 144 AB’s before he was called up to the majors later that year. He struggled, with a .644 OPS in 85 games, but his above average defense kept him up. In 2014, he tore his shoulder where he missed the whole season. Trying to come back in 2015, he again aggregated the injury and was shut down after 12 games. After losing his spot to Rougned Odor, Profar struggled to get consistent playing time. In his first full season in 2018, he broke out with a .793 OPS, 20 HR, and 77 RBIs. He was then traded to Oakland in a three team deal with a bunch of prospects, but took a step back with a .711 OPS. This offseason, he was traded again to the Padres for two more prospects. It’s still a bit early with him being 27 years old, but Profar hasn’t materialized into an above average player.
Jesus Montero: Picked up by the Yankees from Venezuela, Montero debuted on the prospects list in 2009 at #38 after posting a line of .326/.376/.491 as an 18 year old. The primary catcher zoomed through the minors and by 2011 he was the #3 prospect and ready to be called up. For 18 games with the Yankees in 2011, he posted a .996 OPS in 61 AB’s. Going into the 2012 season, Montero was traded for Michael Pineda, and his career spiraled. Montero was suspended 50 games for his involvement in the Biogenisis scandal. He also routinely showed up to Spring Training’s overweight. He never made it past a .661 OPS again, and flamed out after 5 years in the Majors.