White Sox Top-10 Bust Prospects of the Last 20 Years

Joe SlowikCorrespondent IJuly 16, 2009

CHICAGO - SEPTEMBER 10:  Joe Borchard #25 of the Chicago White Sox gets his first hit after being recalled from Class AAA Charlotte against the of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on September 10, 2005 at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Angels defeated the White Sox 10-5.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Every avid baseball fan has been a little too excited about a baseball prospect at some point in time. We embrace their solid performance at the lower levels or some flashes in spring training because it gives us hope for the future.

Eventually we are reminded that most young players never even make it to the big leagues, and even fewer become fixtures in a major league lineup.

The Sox have had some pretty major flame-outs since I started following the team. For some strange reason, I felt like bringing back some painful memories from the past before the second half begins.

For the purposes of these rankings, I've left out players that are still relatively young and still have some slim chance of being a regular in the majors. I don't really want to have people sending this link back to me if I prematurely declare Brian Anderson or Josh Fields to be done.

I also decided to leave Kip Wells off the list. Despite his lofty prospect rankings and relatively weak career production, he did have two strong years in Pittsburgh before going downhill and is still filling out the back end of major league rotations, albiet poorly.

All of the players on this list were considered to be top-75 prospects by Baseball America at some point in their careers. All rankings mentioned are in reference to their list.

10) Danny Wright - SP

Sox fans wish they could forget the years that Wright was their fifth starter. He struggled to be even average and the Sox had horrendous records when he was on the mound.

Much more was expected of Wright after he posted a 2.74 ERA in 27 starts in AA Birmingham. He entered 2001 as the 61st-ranked prospect in baseball and finished the year in the Sox rotation.

Wright posted a 5.65 career ERA in the major leagues in 70 appearances (64 of which were starts). He hasn't pitched since 2006.

9) Matt Ginter - SP

Despite making the majors quickly after being drafted in the first round in 1999, Ginter can still be considered a disappointment.

The young right-hander was rated the 44th best prospect entering the 2001 season after dominating in AA and making a brief appearance in the majors. However, he could never stay in the majors, making at least 10 appearances in the minors every year for the rest of his career.

Ginter has an ERA of 5.43 in only 232 major league innings to this point in his career. He's never started more than 14 games in any season.

8) James Baldwin- SP

Baldwin was the Sox highest rated pitching prospect from their vaunted group in the early 90's that produced Jack McDowell, Alex Fernandez, Wilson Alvarez, Jason Bere, and another member of this list that I will discuss later.

He was rated the No. 8 prospect in baseball in 1994 and 25th the following season.

His career wasn't a total failure, which is why I put him at number seven. He made 202 major league starts and even made the 2000 All-Star team thanks to a strong first half that was clearly a fluke.

However, he was never the front of the rotation starter that many projected him to become. His career ERA sits at 5.01 and he never had an ERA below 4.42 as a starter.

He was a consumate journeyman who was just productive enough to stay in the majors for parts of 11 seasons.

7) Jeremy Reed - OF

Jeremy's career isn't really that bad on paper, but high expectations landed him on this list.

He soared up the prospect rankings after he hit .357 in 475 at bats split between high-A and AA in 2003. He was rated the 25th best prospect in baseball in 2004 and the 33rd best prospect in 2005.

Many Sox fans were livid when he was dealt for Freddy Garcia in 2004 because they thought we were dealing a future top of the order stud. It didn't help that he hit .397 in a September callup for Seattle in 2004.

However, he didn't turn out to be nearly the contact hitter that many envisioned and his power and plate discipline were never particularly good.

He has yet to post an OPS (on base percentage plus slugging percentage) above .700 in the major leagues. The fact that he is still in the majors prevents him from being higher on this list.

6) Jon Rauch - SP

Jon was arguably the most well-regarded Sox prospect in recent history after his dominant 2000 season that was split between High-A and AA.

He was rated the No. 4 prospect in all of baseball entering the 2001 season and was still ranked 23rd after an off year.

However, like many pitching prospects, he developed shoulder problems and never really got a shot at being a major league starter. He would be higher on the list, but I gave him some credit for his solid work in relief.

He has a career major league ERA of 3.88 in 380 2/3 innings, but has only 11 starts to his name. While it could have been worse, the Sox and their fans expected considerably more from him.

5) Mike Caruso - SS

Mike was supposed to be the gem of the infamous "White Flag" trades in 1997. He had hit .333 for San Francisco's high-A affiliate and entered 1998 as the 34th rated prospect.

At first, it looked like he would deliver on that talent. He hit .306 as the starting shortstop for the 1998 White Sox, though with little power and few walks.

His carer went downhill after that. Caruso hit only .250 in 1999 and bounced around the minors for a few years before getting another cup of coffee in the majors.

His .272 career major league average looks respectable, but he played only 133 games after his strong opening season.

4) Chris Snopek - 3B/SS

The sixth-round pick from the University of Mississippi wasn't widely regarded when he first joined the White Sox organization.

That all changed after he hit .323 for the Sox AAA affliliate in 1995 as well as hitting .324 in a brief appearance in Chicago. He entered 1996 as the 52nd-rated prospect.

However, that year turned out to be a major fluke. He failed to hit even .260 in any league over the next three seasons and was out of the majors for good in 1999.

Apparently, he wasn't nearly as talented as his production that year suggested.

3) Kris Honel - SP

I remember Kris well, as he was a favorite of mine from the day he was drafted. The local high schooler was selected in the first round in 2001 and was rated the 55th-best prospect in 2004 after solid production in the lower levels.

That's when Kris started to have serious injury problems. After a couple of surgeries, his velocity was gone and his previously elite curveball were far less threatening.

Though he's still only 27, he has yet to pitch above AA and is nowhere near the player he once was.

2) Scott Ruffcorn - SP

The Sox had a ridiculous amount of pitching talent in the early 90's. Not only was their starting rotation among the best in baseball, the previously mentioned James Baldwin and Scott Ruffcorn were among the top prospects in all of baseball.

However, Ruffcorn wasn't nearly as productive as the quartet that made up their rotation in 1993 and 1994, and even James Baldwin had a much more productive major league career.

Scott peaked at No. 23 on the prospect rankings in 1995 after going 15-3 with a 2.72 ERA in AAA. However, that was the last time Scott did anything of significance.

He has only nine starts on his major league resume and an ERA of 8.57 in in 70 1/3 major league innings. Ruffcorn serves as yet another example of how quickly a promising young career can be derailed.

1) Joe Borchard - OF

I think everyone knew this one was coming. The Sox selected Borchard with the 12th overall pick in the 2000 amateur draft and gave him a then-record signing bonus to pass on a potential football career.

Borchard was considered a potential star because of his elite athleticism, strong arm (he was a quarterback and Stanford) and prodigious power. Over a three-year span starting in 2001, he was rated as the 23rd, 12th and 28th best prospect in baseball.

However, he never made enough contact to fufill that promise. Even in the minor leagues he didn't consistently dominate, and he was a non-factor at the major league level.

Joe hit only .205 in his 716 major league at-bats and hasn't played in the big leagues since 2007.

It would be difficult for future Sox prospects to fall further below expectations than Borchard did given how well-regarded he was at the beginning of his career. At least we were able to trade him for Matt Thornton, who has been a big part of our bullpen.


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