New York Mets: 10 Biggest Prospect Flops in Franchise History

Frank Gray@!/nyfaninsjerseyCorrespondent IFebruary 3, 2012

New York Mets: 10 Biggest Prospect Flops in Franchise History

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    The New York Mets have been in the league for 50 years this coming season. In all of that time, they have had a lot of chances to excel in the draft or blow it in the draft.

    Some years have brought great names like Tom Seaver and Dwight Gooden, while other years have brought us Billy Beane and Alex Ochoa.

    For every Darryl Strawberry and David Wright, this Mets franchise has drafted a Tim Leary and a Gregg Jefferies. Among the bad ones are many infamous names that may make even the most steady Mets fan cringe.

    These were all players that were selected and groomed with great fan fare, yet for one reason or another just didn't meet the expectations.

    Let's take a look at the worst of the most hyped prospects that never panned out. 

No. 10: Eddie Kunz

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    Eddie Kunz 

    2007 First-Round Pick (42 overall)

    Kunz was drafted in 2007 by the Mets in the first round out of Oregon State University. He spent his 2008 season with two minor league affiliates while posting a 3.33 ERA in 50 appearances and earned a September call up in only his second season.

    That September, however, MLB was not so kind. He was shelled in just 2.2 innings pitched. He gave up five hits, including one home run while posting a 13.50 ERA in just four games. He spent the next few seasons back in the minors trying to get back on track.

    Finally, he was traded last March to the San Diego Padres for Allen Dykstra, son of Lenny Dykstra. He posted a 4.30 ERA in their AA affiliate last season.

No. 9: Terrence Long

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    Terrence Long 

    1994 First-Round Draft Pick (20th overall)

    Terrence Long will not be remembered as a New York Mets player, but he was a prospect. He was drafted in 1994 by the Mets.

    He spent the first five seasons in the Mets farm system where he was not very good at getting on base but managed to have a high of 32 stolen bases in 1996. He finally earned a call up in 1999.

    During that time, he played three games and had three at-bats. In those three at-bats, he struck out twice and grounded into a double play. In July of that season, he was traded to Oakland for Kenny Rogers.

    Rogers ended up becoming a playoff goat for the Mets and Long became a fourth outfielder for a young A's team that reached the playoffs in four consecutive seasons. 

No. 8: Billy Traber

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    Billy Traber

    2000 First-Round Draft Pick (16th overall)

    Billy Traber was drafted by the Mets in 2000, expected to become the next lefty ace. In his first season in the minors, he posted a 10-9 record in 151 innings pitched to go with 124 strikeouts with all three minor league affiliates.

    He seemed on track to be in the show the following year in Queens. Instead, they traded him in a package with another name on this list (there's a clue) in an eight player deal with the Cleveland Indians that landed the Mets Roberto Alomar.

    Hindsight proved the entire deal was worthless, but at the time, expectations were extremely high for both teams. Just after the deal, Traber became a journeyman by playing with four teams (Cleveland, Washington, New York Yankees and Boston) in five seasons.

    He last pitched in 2010 for the Seattle Mariners.

No. 7: Al Shirley

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    Al Shirley 

    1991 Draft Pick (18th overall)

    Shirley was drafted as the 18th overall pick by the New York Mets in 1991. He was meant to be the next Darryl Strawberry, a power bat in the outfield. He ended up never taking form.

    In one good season, 1994, he had 23 home runs in 127 games for the Single A Mets affiliate at the time in Columbia, South Carolina. That was Single A.

    He never topped those numbers and was picked up by the Kansas City Royals organization. He never saw the majors there, either.

    Shirley played his last game in 1998. He finished with a career .213 AVG, 69 home runs and 226 RBI in the minor leagues. 

No. 6: Paul Wilson

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    Paul Wilson

    1994 Draft Pick (No.1 overall)

    The New York Mets had a version of the Atlanta Braves big three up and coming in the middle of the 90s. It was supposed to be the beginning of a return to glory for the Mets as an organization.

    Wilson, combined with Jason Isringhausen and the next player on the list (there's a clue) were dubbed "Generation K." Wilson was drafted first overall by the Mets in 1994 out of Florida State University.

    He had an injury-plagued Mets career. He only appeared in 37 games in his first two minor league seasons. In 1996, he finally started the season in Queens.

    He pitched in 26 games and posted a 5-12 record with a 5.38 ERA. He spent the next several seasons battling injuries and recovering from surgery.

    The team traded a clearly diminished Wilson and a fellow prospect flop, Jason Tyner, in 2000 to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for Bubba Trammell and Rick White.

    He pitched with two other teams and finished his career in 2005 with a 4.86 ERA. 

No. 5: Bill Pulsipher

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    Bill Pulsipher

    1991 Second-Round Draft Pick

    The final member of that Generation K pitching staff was Bill Pulsipher. After being drafted in 1991, he spent most of the first four years in the minors recovering from various injuries.

    He finally reached the Mets in 1995, where he pitched in 17 games. In that stretch, he posted a 5-7 record with a 3.98 ERA and two complete games.

    Instead of building on that season, Pulsipher suffered another string of injuries.and was unable to find the majors for another few years. He was traded in 1998 to the Milwaukee Brewers for Mike Kinkade (are you asking who as well?).

    A year and a half later, the Brewers traded him back to the Mets for Luis Lopez in January of 2000. Later that year, the Mets traded him a second time that year and a second time from their team, but this time to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Lenny Harris.

    He played his last game in 2005 with the St Louis Cardinals. He finished his career with 5.15 ERA and a 13-19 record in 106 games. 

No. 4: Steve Chilcott

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    Steve Chilcott

    1966 First-Round Draft Pick (1st overall)

    The New York Mets had the top pick in the 1966 draft. They chose a catcher named Steve Chilcott. He was the best catching prospect of that season's crop of prospects and he seemed like a good fit for a team with young pitching and little offense.

    There were two problems with this logic in hindsight, though. One, they skipped over a young outfielder named Reggie Jackson to choose Chilcott No. 1 overall.

    Two, Chilcott never played a single major league game. The highest level he reached was AAA with the Mets and the Montreal Expos. He finished with a career..248 batting AVG and 39 home runs. All in the minor leagues.

    Jackson, on the other hand, became a Hall of Fame inductee in 1993 with 563 home runs. Clearly, that's one the Mets whiffed on.

No. 3: Fernando Martinez

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    Fernando Martinez

    2005 Amateur Free Agent

    The Mets have had a few players considered to possess the five tools that a baseball player utilizes in his game. In recent years, the franchise has had three of note. two to be named later (there's a clue) and Fernando Martinez, also known as F-Mart.

    Martinez was signed as an amateur free agent in 2005 out of the Dominican Republic. He was heralded as one of the young Latino players that Omar Minaya was supposed to be so good at reaching out to.

    In his first few seasons in the minors, F-Mart was only able to hit 22 home runs in his first 229 games. He spent most of that time battling various injuries.

    He finally got his first crack at the majors in 2009. He hit for a .176 AVG with one home run and eight RBI in 29 games. Between the next few seasons, he fought arthritis in his knees—among other injuries—to play in 47 games over three seasons from 2009 to 2011.

    He only hit two home runs and 12 RBI in his 131 at bats. With injuries piling up and his trade value limited, the Mets placed him on waivers last month. He was picked up by the Houston Astros.

    In his time in Queens, he held a .183 AVG and showed little potential in the field or at the plate. While the rest of his career has yet to be determined, he has been a complete flop so far.

No. 2: Alex Escobar

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    Alex Escobar

    1995 Singed as an Amateur Free Agent

    The Mets became enamored with the five-tool star concept after watching players like Alex Rodriguez break onto the scene in the 90s. They tried to catch one for themselves when they signed Alex Escobar out of Venezuela in 1995 as an amateur free agent.

    He had his best season in Single A ball in 1998 when he hit 23 home runs. The Mets thought that would translate well and gave him his chance in 2001. He hit three home runs in 18 games during the 2001 season to go with his .200 batting AVG.

    The next offseason, he was traded in a package deal that included Billy Traber with the Cleveland Indians for Roberto Alomar. The rest is history. Escobar played three more seasons with two teams. He finished with a total of 13 home runs in 125 major league games.

    He was supposed to be the Mets version of A-Rod. Every five-tool player  after him is compared to him. Writers always ask if that player will "be the next Alex Escobar" or of they will pan out.

    In the end, he was hyped to lead the Mets to glory for the next generation of young players but came up well short of the hype. 

No. 1: Lastings Milledge

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    Lastings Milledge

    2003 First-Round Draft Pick (12th overall)

    Many players have come and gone in the Mets organization. Few of them have done so with as much fanfare and youthful bravado as Lastings Milledge.

    After spending a few descent seasons in the minors where he posted a personal best .318 AVG in 2005, he was given a chance to shine in Queens on the big stage.

    In 2006, he hit four home runs and 22 RBI with the Mets in 56 games. He followed that up with a 59 game 2007 campaign that saw him hit seven home runs and 29 RBI.

    He wore out his welcome with his brash talk and appearance in a rap song "Bend Ya Knees," by Manny D. When combined with low production on the field, the off field drama became a distraction.

    The Mets traded him at the end of the season to the Washington Nationals for Ryan Church and Brian Schneider. Neither player made a difference to the team.

    As for Milledge, he went to play for the Wshington Nationals, Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago White Sox. Last month it was announced that he will be playing in Japan next season.

    Maybe he will turn it into a Hollywood production of Mr Baseball II: Lasting in Tokyo.