Mark Prior was a first-round pick (2nd overall) by the Chicago Cubs in the 2001 draft. He made hsi MLB debut the following May, and boy did he look like he had all the makings of a true phenom.
He struck out 147 batters in 116 2/3 innings pitched that season, and finished seventh in the NL Rookie of the Year voting. But it was his 2003 season that could be looked at as the beginning of the end for this talented right hander.
In '03, Prior was an All-Star. He struck out 245 batters in over 200 innings pitched, and had an ERA of 2.45. He finshed third in the NL Cy Young Award voting, and ninth in the MVP voting. But perhaps most importantly, that season, thanks to some over usage by then manager Dusty Baker, his career took a downward spiral.
In a four-year span from '02-'05, Prior had already logged 613 innings, and struck out 719 batters. In 2004, his rash of injuries began. Woes to his Achilles', elbow, and shoulder prompted the flame thrower to shut things down mid-way through the 2006 season, and had surgery on a torn labrum in 2007 - his first of two such operations.
Prior, 29, became a free agent after the Cubs released him following the 2007 season and tried to latch on with the San Diego Padres. But the injuries have kept him from throwing a pitch since August of '06 - and perhaps for the rest of his life.