Philadelphia Phillies Prospects Who Never Lived Up to the Hype
The Philadelphia Phillies have not been the most successful franchise. They were the first team in MLB history to reach 10,000 losses, their all-time record is below .500 and as one of the oldest teams in baseball, they only have two World Series titles to their name.
On top of that, the Phillies don't have too many homegrown All-Stars throughout their history. The recent run of success has been a large exception—in fact, of the team's five players with retired numbers (six including Jackie Robinson), two of them were acquired in trades: Jim Bunning and Steve Carlton.
Consequently, the Phillies have had plenty of prospect busts. While it would be impossible to name them all, some stick out like sore thumbs.
Here are five of the many Phillies prospects who never lived up to the hype.
Arguably the Phillies' biggest prospect bust of all time, Jeff Jackson was an outfielder who the Phillies selected with their fourth pick in the 1989 draft. He was a five-tool player and seemed primed to be a star in the majors.
The only problem is that he never reached the big leagues. He batted .234 lifetime in the minors with a .665 OPS while spending six years with the Phillies and three with the Chicago Cubs.
It's worth mentioning that Hall of Famer Frank Thomas, among many notable names, went off the board after Jackson. While the Phillies were fortunate not to have lost him to something like injury concerns, Jackson's lack of success while healthy isn't any more comforting.
No, Cole Hamels is not the intended focus of the photo. The man on the right is.
Former Phillies assistant general manager and farm director Mike Arbuckle was known for his innate ability to find talent. Many of the Phillies' current and recent stars, such as Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and Cole Hamels, were drafted during Arbuckle's tenure with the team.
One of Arbuckle's few blunders was his interest in South Korean pitcher Seung Lee. Signed to a $1.2 million bonus that represented the team's largest-ever international signing at the time, Lee had everything going for him until a back injury set him back in his first season with the Phillies organization, according to Baseball America.
Long story short, Lee never made the majors, and the Phillies were hesitant to spend exorbitant amounts of money in the international market until their signing of Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez in 2013. However, the Phillies have not signed a Japanese or South Korean baseball player out of Asia since the Lee debacle.
Another case of a first-round blunder is now-Oakland Athletics reliever Joe Savery. Drafted with the 19th pick out of Rice University in 2007, Savery's versatility as both a flame-throwing pitcher and a hot-hitting first baseman made him a seemingly easy choice for the Phillies.
He never panned out. After what seemed like a countless number of instances of switching between hitting and pitching, Savery appeared to have found his niche in the bullpen. However, in 41 games with the Phillies over the span of three years, Savery's ERA was 4.15 and his WHIP was 1.28. And with a 1.68 K/BB rate, control was a recurring issue for Savery.
This past spring training, the Phillies finally severed ties with Savery, designating him for assignment and placing him on waivers. The A's claimed him, and while they recently promoted him, it'll take a lot for them to be able to milk success out of his arm.
The Phillies' trade of Cliff Lee to the Seattle Mariners for prospects Phillippe Aumont, Tyson Gillies and J.C. Ramirez has become infamous as one of the team's worst trades of all time. What saves it from being included with the best of the worst is that the Phillies re-signed Lee a year later, but it doesn't change the prospects they obtained in the deal.
The headliner of the deal was Aumont, the Mariners' 6'7" first-round draft pick in 2007. While he had some slight control issues, Aumont's future was as a starter, and the Phillies had every intention of recouping an ace in the trade that sent one away.
After one year flopping as a starter, Aumont was converted into a reliever. While he was successful in the minors, Aumont never could get it together in the majors. Although he remains in the Phillies system and is likely one of a few options should more relievers get hurt or flounder, he's far from a dependable asset and nothing close to a top prospect.
Simply put, Aumont's failure at the major league level is the icing on the cake in the Lee trade.
It's too early to deem Domonic Brown a bust. It isn't too early to say that he failed to live up to the hype and expectations placed on him.
Brown was supposed to be the Phillies' next superstar. While they got lucky with reclamation project Jayson Werth and found a diamond in the rough in Shane Victorino, their World Series runs and playoff berths came without much homegrown outfield success. The team's core of Utley, Howard, Rollins, Hamels and Carlos Ruiz all came from within the organization, but they're not outfielders.
He made his major league debut on July 28, 2010, with a double off the right field wall that immediately endeared him to Phillies fans. Ranked as the fourth-best prospect in the minors by Baseball America heading into the 2011 season, the right field job was his to lose, and lose it he did. Hunter Pence ended up taking it from Brown later in the season, and since then, Brown has moved to left field.
Brown had his breakout year in 2013, but it was really a few breakout weeks. 2014 has shown more of the same that preceded 2013, and there are no signs of Brown's inadequacy slowing down.
Fortunately for Brown, the Phillies have no outfield prospects waiting in the wings to take his job away. But it's safe to say that Brown is far from the kind of player who was expected to be a perennial All-Star.