Potential and high expectations, along with how well you perform in the minor leagues, will go a long way in determining when you are called up to the big club.
If a prospect is selected high in the first round, a lot of the time hope and money are invested in this player—and he may be sent up a tad bit early.
When a player is called up and doesn't perform up to the expectations, there are a few different scenarios that could shake out.
The player may be sent back down for more seasoning or the club might think that too much is on the line. If the respective team has nothing to lose they may leave him be to work things out as he continues his time in the bigs.
The following is a list of major league prospects who were called up and didn't quite live up to the expectations in their first year or so. Some would make the appropriate adjustments and go on to perform at a high level.
There is also a player or two on the list that weren't drafted very high and had lower expectations than most, but eventually found their way.
A majority of the players that I mention were first round draft picks. Unlike the NBA and the NFL top picks, in Major League Baseball they do not have the immediate pressure to live up to expectations—but they are expected to perform once they are are called up.
The time line used for this article is all over the place. Some players have been around for over 20 years and others are from the past 10 years. The statistics used in this article were taken from baseballreference.com.
Despite never winning more than seven games in a season, Van Poppel was able to hang around the bigs from 1991-2004. Van Poppel was drafted in the first round by the Oakland A's in the 1990 amateur draft.
In 1991 he was in an A's uniform. Van Poppel Started one game and it was a no decision.
After missing all of the 1992 season due to injury he returned in 1993 going 6-6, which was his best season percentage wise.
The young phenom was able to scratch out a some years as a relief pitcher, which definitely prolonged his career.
Justin Smoak was taken in the first round of the amateur draft by the Texas Rangers with the 11th overall pick.
The big first baseman is batting .229 with 25 home runs in his first season and a half.
Now with the Seattle Mariners, Smoak is a long way from where he should be, considering his size and ability.
Fans in San Francisco have been looking forward to seeing this guy in a Giant's uniform.
Before the start of the 2011 season, an injury to Cody Ross forced Belt into the Giant's lineup.
Belt played in 19 games, hitting .211 with one home run and four RBI.
The young first baseman is now back in the minors with the Giant's Triple A affiliate, the Fresno Grizzlies.
Something tells me Giant's fans have not seen the last of Brandon Belt. He has shown a great work ethic and has a lot of ability.
Jayson Nix was taken with the 44th overall pick by the Colorado Rockies.
In 2008, his first year with the big club, he played in 22 games hitting just .125.
Nix moved on to the Chicago White Sox in 2009, hitting 12 home runs with a . 224 average in 94 games.
Now with the Toronto Blue Jays, Nix has not quite settled in as a big league infielder. His current batting average is .169.
No one is saying that a guy taken with the 44th pick overall should be the next Derek Jeter, but he has to do better than this.
Standing at 6'5" 240 pounds, Jason Heyward was drafted in the first round by the Atlanta Braves.
In his first season with the Braves in 2010 Heyward hit .277 with 18 home runs.
If you change the home run numbers to 25 or 30, you have a legitimate power hitting outfielder.
As of July 8th, Heyward has a .233 average with nine home runs. Heyward has a huge upside and only time will tell how his career plays out.
Sometimes a change of scenery can make all the difference in the world.
Jones is another big specimen with a ton of upside, not unlike Jayson Heyward.
Jones was originally drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the first round of the amateur draft. In his first two season he played a total of 73 games, batting .216 in his first year and .246 in his second.
Jones now plays for the Baltimore Orioles and has settled in nicely, smacking 19 home runs twice. He carries a career batting average of .275.
Daric Barton was a first round pick of the St Louis Cardinals in 2003.
When Barton finally made it to the show in 2007, however, he was an Oakland Athletic.
In his first season of playing more than 100 games he hit .226 with nine home runs.
Barton has yet to live up to the expectations of a first baseman whose numbers should probably be somewhere around .285 with 20-25 home runs per year.
Barton is currently back down in the minor leagues with the A's Triple A affiliate, the Sacramento Rivercats.
I know this name doesn't quite fit the profile of most of the guys on this list, but Sammy did struggle in his early years.
There is no question that Sosa's situation is different. Some fans might argue that he was a steroid user and was able to build his career based on that.
Well the truth is, after Sammy struggled in his first few years with the Texas Rangers and the Chicago White Sox he turned himself into a very nice player. The red flags were not raised until his epic home run race with Mark McGwire in 1998.
In 1998 Sosa hit 66 home runs and followed that with 63 bombs in 1999. We've all all heard the skeptics argue that Sosa never hit over 40 home runs before the 1998 season.
Okay, enough about the obvious. Here are some statistics fans might not be aware of, and the reason he is on this list.
Before there even was an argument about whether Sammy was a star because of his use of performance enhancing drugs, some argued if he would ever be a star at all.
In his first two big league seasons with the Texas Rangers he hit .250 with 22 home runs in 139 games.
During three seasons with the Chicago White Sox he hit a blistering .227 and 28 home runs in 302 games played.
Jose Bautista also does not fit the profile of the guys on this list, but his story is definitley unique compared to all the players talked about—including Sammy Sosa.
Bautista was not a first round pick. In fact, he was selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 20th round.
Unlike some of the others, Bautista is a player that didn't have the high expectations of a first round pick—but eventually grew into a nice player.
This is what I mean by nice player. In 2010 he hit .260 with 54 home runs, and he is currently hitting .332 with 31 home runs.
These stats are a far cry from his first five years in the show with the Pirates, when he hit .241 with only 43 dingers.
Homer Bailey was taken in the first round with the seventh pick by the Cincinati Reds.
You would think a pitcher being the seventh overall pick would have posted better number in his first five years in the majors.
With Homer this is not the case. He has posted a record of 19-20 with a 4.96 ERA since joining the Reds.
In his first season he started nine games and went 4-2. His second season was a disaster going 0-6 with a 7.93 ERA.
These numbers are not quite what one would expect from what some called a "can't miss prospect."