Oakland A's Prospects Who Never Lived Up to the Hype
The Oakland A's designated Daric Barton for assignment on May 15, eventually shifting him back to Triple-A. This made many fans happy. Why? Because the first baseman of the future back in 2004 never lived up to that status.
But he's not alone.
Like any team, the A's have had some letdowns when it comes to promising prospects who failed to live up to the hype. Going back through rosters and stat sheets, there are quite a few names that could be included. For these purposes, we'll stick with the first handful or two dating back to the turn of this century.
So what's the definition of "disappoint" here?
You'll notice these are guys who were supposed to be that "next big thing" and never came close. These aren't guys who were supposed to be superstars, got to the big leagues, did OK and stopped there. This will be made more clear in the next slide.
How else did I come to pinpoint disappointments?
First, I went year by year to see who was listed as a top-10 prospect according to various sources. For example, Player X is named within the top 10 for 2007 but never did much of anything for Oakland or any MLB team for that matter. So he makes the preliminary list. Then, I double-checked stats. Finally, I asked the question on Twitter to narrow down the list.
It also helps if there was buzz about a guy, and he was in the system for awhile. A guy is disqualified if he was here a short time and not many casual A's fans would recognize the name.
Without further ado, here is a list of some of the most disappointing prospects since 2000.
Honorable Mentions: Bobby Crosby, Jeremy Brown and More
I didn't feel it was appropriate to label a guy a disappointment when he won Rookie of the Year honors in 2004 and had a decent year the following season. That said, you could make the argument based on his career .236 average or an inability to consistently play in 100-plus games a season.
In the end, Crosby doesn't seem terrible. He just seems about average after two great years.
Now, Brown may very well be a victim of the Moneyball book. Because he was featured, there was an expectation that he should be, would be or at least could be general manager Billy Beane's crowning achievement. But he only made it to five big league appearances. He did hit .300 in those games, but that would be the end of that adventure.
All in all, his minor league career was fairly average, and he ultimately got skipped over by Kurt Suzuki.
Sure, he was highly touted. But he was neck and neck with Suzuki, so when he suffered a season-long injury and Suzuki jumped out in front, the rest was history. It's not that Powell disappointed; it's that Suzuki overachieved.
He set himself up for disappointment after an amazing 2011. In each of the next two seasons, he'd drop almost 100 points in batting average. But he's hit very well in the minors and hasn't done poorly this year with the Baltimore Orioles. Like Crosby, he had something going and then lost it.
Ranked the 20th-best prospect in MLB by Baseball Prospectus (via Baseball-Reference) in 2009 and the second-best prospect in the organization by MLB.com in 2013, Michael Ynoa hasn't advanced as fast as initially expected.
Now granted, he signed as a 16-year-old, and he's still only 22. But expectations were that he'd be beyond Single-A, especially after signing a $4.25 million signing bonus. That amount is over $1 million more than Mark Mulder got in 1998, then the highest signing bonus paid by the A's.
In four seasons of minor league ball, Ynoa averages a 4.68 ERA and has per-nine-inning averages of 8.1 hits, 0.8 home runs, five walks and 8.7 strikeouts.
And he's already had Tommy John surgery once.
The injury is a concern. The lack of shooting through the system faster is a concern. The lack of more effective production is a concern. The fact that he was the second-best prospect in Oakland a season ago and is now 11th is a concern.
It may be too early to call this one, but so far, he's been a $4.25 million disappointment.
Daric Barton arrived in Oakland as the centerpiece for Mark Mulder, who at the time was part of the Big Three. The thought then was that he had better be a darned good prospect to break up the Big Three.
Turns out, Dan Haren would be the best of the acquired players.
A former first-round draft pick, Barton was ranked as high as No. 28 by Baseball America and No. 22 by Baseball Prospectus (both via Baseball-Reference.com). He demolished Low-A in his first season with the organization in 2005. After a down year in 2006, he bounced back in '07, earning his first taste of the big leagues.
In a successful stint, Barton hit .347 in 18 games.
So in 2008, he became the starter for the A's at 22 years old. His .226 batting average was quite low, but overall, it wasn't a terrible season. What followed, however, were six seasons of an up-and-down roller coaster ride in which he could never hang on to his status as a starter.
In all but one season—2010—he's been frustrating to watch.
Fans who watch closely may point specifically to clutch hitting. One particular stat stands out: "late and close." Barton hits .225 in those situations.
Michael Taylor was once rated as the 20th-best prospect by Baseball Prospectus (via Baseball-Reference). He used to be such a promising prospect that he was one of the players involved in the trade that sent Roy Halladay to the Philadelphia Phillies. The Blue Jays then flipped him to the A's for another top prospect, Brett Wallace.
So far, that trade hasn't work out for the A's.
Taylor has appeared in 26 games over the course of three years with Oakland. He's accumulated a .135 batting average and struck out 26 times.
He hasn't really been that minor league superstar who forces his way onto the roster either. Between 2010 and 2013, he's hovered between a .270 and .285 average. At 28 years old today, he's hitting just .228 in Sacramento.
He's never made an Opening Day roster. This season, the A's designated him for assignment. He cleared waivers.
It seems all but clear that Taylor's time has come and gone.
Grant Green was the heir apparent to Mark Ellis. He was the second baseman of the future before Eric Sogard and before Jemile Weeks. Perhaps not expected to do too much by major prospect-ranking organizations, Green was more of a fan-favorite kind of player.
Many couldn't wait to see him in action at the big league level.
A prospect who came through the system, he dominated at every level. But position-wise, he continued to get skipped over and moved around. From shortstop to second, second to the outfield, outfield to third base. Around and around he went, looking for a home.
In his one opportunity with Oakland, he went hitless in five games.
The A's traded Green to the Los Angeles Angels. He started the 2014 season in Triple-A again, but in May, he received a call-up. He's since hit .357 in 15 games, so maybe it's not the last we see of Green, but it's disappointing that he never matched the hype.
Oakland drafted Green with the 13th pick of the first round in 2009.
Travis Buck was supposed to be next in the lineage of homegrown outfielders after Eric Byrnes, Nick Swisher and others.
He tore up the minor leagues with a .347 average in Low-A and a .320 average splitting time between Single- and Double-A in 2006. It was pretty awesome when this goofy character was out there running hard, hitting .288 in his first stint in the majors. But that was the last time he'd ever hit above .228.
Buck is a minor league superstar, consistently hitting well. But now at 30 years old, he's still in the minors. Buck even struggled to keep a spot on the 2012 Houston Astros.
This slide should be fairly short and sweet because there isn't much to list.
Danny Putnam was taken 36th in the first round of the 2004 draft. The former Stanford Cardinal was extremely streaky in the minor leagues. For example, he hit .237 in his first year in the organization but followed that up by hitting .307. In the following two years, he regressed to .268 and .250, respectively.
As a former top prospect, he appeared in just 11 games with Oakland.
He hit .214, struck out 14 times and only knocked in two runs. Guys like Yovani Gallardo, Dustin Pedroia and Seth Smith were taken shortly after Putnam in the 2004 draft.
Pitcher Mike Wood was an absolute stud in the minor leagues. Check out these stats.
2001: 6-3, 2.59 ERA
2002: 14-6, 3.24 ERA
2003: 9-3, 3.05 ERA
2004: 11-3, 2.80 ERA
His major league stat line, however, is not great.
2003 with the A's: 2-1, 10.54 ERA
And it all went downhill from there. His ERA hovered in the 5.00 neighborhood, and he never secured a winning record in the majors (four seasons). From 2009-2010, his minor league ERA finished at 9.49 and 5.53, respectively.
Wood was once compared to Tim Hudson and said to be in competition for a front-of-the-rotation spot by Baseball America.
Between 1998 and 1999, Adam Piatt hit 59 home runs and knocked in 245 runs in the minor leagues. The guy was an absolute beast.
It's no surprise that in 2000, he made the Oakland A's. That year, he hit an impressive .299 with five doubles, five triples and five home runs in 60 games.
In the years following, though he continued to hit well in the minors, he couldn't string anything together at the major league level.
Piatt received a bit of a hard shake, though.
His ability likely dwindled due to a bout with viral meningitis in 2001. Ultimately, he ended up being named in the Mitchell Report for taking human growth hormone in hopes it would help him combat the illness and return him to the field faster. Instead, he ended up as a once-upon-a-time prospect who's viewed by many as a cheater.