Ranking MLB's 25 Most Overhyped Players Age 25 and Under Entering 2019

Jacob Shafer@@jacobshaferFeatured ColumnistFebruary 19, 2019

Ranking MLB's 25 Most Overhyped Players Age 25 and Under Entering 2019

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    Expectations weigh heavily when you arrive in The Show. Even the mightiest frequently fall.

    With that in mind, let's examine the 25 most overhyped players age 25 and under heading into the 2019 MLB season.

    To be eligible, a player must have already made his MLB debut and be 25 years old or younger on Opening Day (March 28).

    Obviously, "overhyped" is a nebulous concept, and our rankings are largely subjective. Players were ranked based on the level of hype and expectations surrounding them to date. Several have produced at the highest level but suffered significant regression, while others have offered little in the way of big league output.

    Some may turn into perennial superstars. However, all of their once-bright futures are in question.

Nos. 25-21: Fulmer, Martes, Newcomb, Smith, Hays

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    No. 25: RHP Carson Fulmer, Chicago White Sox

    A first-round pick in 2015, right-hander Carson Fulmer teased ace-level potential. In 67.1 innings over three seasons with the White Sox, he's posted a 6.68 ERA and 5.9 walks per nine innings.

    He turned 25 in December, meaning this could be a make-or-break season. His best path might be as a reliever, but even in that lane he'll have to prove himself.


    No. 24: RHP Francis Martes, Houston Astros

    A highly touted international signee by the Miami Marlins in 2012, Francis Martes rose through the ranks after a trade to the Houston Astros and was MLB.com's No. 20 prospect prior to the 2017 season.

    He debuted that year but posted a 5.80 ERA in 54.1 innings and underwent Tommy John surgery in August 2018. A comeback is possible, but the climb will be steep.


    No. 23: LHP Sean Newcomb, Atlanta Braves

    The Atlanta Braves system is stacked with high-ceiling arms. Sean Newcomb was among the first to arrive with a 4.32 ERA in 100 innings in 2017. He followed that with a 3.90 ERA in 2018 and carried a no-hitter into the ninth inning of a July 29 game against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

    That said, the 25-year-old's ERA ballooned to 4.58 after the All-Star break, while his walks per nine innings finished at a so-so 4.4.


    No. 22: 1B Dominic Smith, New York Mets

    The 11th overall pick in the 2013 draft, Dominic Smith played 105 games for the New York Mets in 2017 and 2018. He slashed .210/.259/.406.

    We're in small-sample land, but there's a reason he's buried on the depth chart behind fading veterans such as Todd Frazier.


    No. 21: OF Austin Hays, Baltimore Orioles

    On a rebuilding club desperate for warm, cost-controlled bodies, the 23-year-old Austin Hays has a path to playing time.

    The formerly fast-rising prospect has to earn it, however, after hitting .217 in a 20-game MLB audition in 2017, slashing .235/.266/.410 in 75 games in Low-A and Double-A in 2018 and undergoing ankle surgery in September.

Nos. 20-16: Beede, Stephenson, Glasnow, Dahl, Giolito

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    No. 20: RHP Tyler Beede, San Francisco Giants

    The San Francisco Giants are in a transitional phase between their trio of even-year titles and an inevitable rebuild and could use a crop of homegrown pitchers to bridge the gap.

    But 2014 first-round pick Tyler Beede looks like a bottom-of-the-rotation option at best.

    He posted a 6.64 ERA in 80 minor league innings last season and coughed up seven earned runs in 7.2 big league innings. He'll have to battle for a spot in spring training.


    No. 19: RHP Robert Stephenson, Cincinnati Reds

    A first-round pick in 2011, Robert Stephenson debuted with the Cincinnati Reds in 2016 but has accumulated a 5.47 ERA with 5.7 walks per nine innings over 133.1 big league frames.

    Now, he's dealing with inflammation in the right shoulder that hindered him last season, per MLB.com's Mark Sheldon, suggesting he could go from presumed star to outright bust.


    No. 18: RHP Tyler Glasnow, Tampa Bay Rays

    The Pittsburgh Pirates sent Tyler Glasnow to the Tampa Bay Rays last season in the Chris Archer trade. He changed uniforms, but his output remained largely mediocre.

    In 11 starts with the Rays, Glasnow posted a 4.20 ERA. The once-heralded hurler owns a 5.35 ERA in 197 MLB frames.

    The small-market Rays will exercise patience with the hard-throwing 6'8" right-hander...but only so much.


    No. 17: OF David Dahl, Colorado Rockies

    The key for David Dahl is health. When he's on the field, he flashes the tools of an All-Star.

    But since his MLB debut in 2016, the outfielder has never played more than 77 games because of a litany of injuries.

    Perhaps he can put it together and deliver on his promise. But we've yet to see that.


    No. 16: RHP Lucas Giolito, Chicago White Sox

    Lucas Giolito graduated to the big leagues for real in 2018, making 32 starts.

    Now, the bad news: The 2012 first-round pick surrendered an American League-high 90 walks and MLB-leading 118 earned runs en route to a 6.13 ERA.

    Needless to say, his command and stat line must improve.

Nos. 15-11: Rosario, Crawford, Weaver, Kingery, Brinson

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    No. 15: SS Amed Rosario, New York Mets

    Once a top international signee and the Mets' top prospect, Amed Rosario owns a .255/.290/.384 slash line in 200 MLB games. The promise of stardom has not materialized for the 23-year-old.

    He projects as the Mets' starting shortstop in 2019, meaning he'll get another crack at it. He said he was "very confident" heading into spring training, per Newsday's Tim Healey.

    Whether the Queens faithful agree is another matter.


    No. 14: SS J.P. Crawford, Seattle Mariners

    Speaking of shortstops trying to prove themselves, J.P. Crawford slashed .214/.319/.393 in 49 games for the Philadelphia Phillies last season.

    The 2013 first-round pick was supposed to be ticketed for greatness in the City of Brotherly Love. He's getting a fresh start with the Seattle Mariners this season. 


    No. 13: RHP Luke Weaver, Arizona Diamondbacks

    Being the featured piece in a trade package for Paul Goldschmidt places hefty expectations on your back, shoulders and other parts.

    Just ask Luke Weaver, a 2014 first-rounder who owns a 4.79 ERA in 233 MLB innings (all with the St. Louis Cardinals) and who is now tasked with proving he was worth making Goldschmidt a former member of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

    Goldy's only the best first baseman in the game. No pressure, kid.


    No. 12: INF Scott Kingery, Philadelphia Phillies

    Scott Kingery flew out of the gate with the Phillies in 2018 but soon returned to earth and finished with a .226 average and .605 OPS.

    The Phils played the 24-year-old at shortstop, third base, every outfield position and second base and even let him pitch 1.1 innings.

    That may have hampered his development, and Philadelphia ought to recalibrate accordingly.


    No. 11: OF Lewis Brinson, Miami Marlins

    Lewis Brinson was a glitzy chip in the trade that sent Christian Yelich from the Miami Marlins to the Milwaukee Brewers.

    Yelich won National League MVP honors in 2018. Brinson slashed .199/.240/.338 in 109 games.

    It's unfair to judge a prospect for what he does immediately after a game-changing deal. But it wasn't a good look for a youngster trying to prove he was worth the sacrifice.


    Editor’s note: This slide previously identified J.P. Crawford as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies. This has been corrected.

Nos. 10-6: Gallo, Mazara, Margot, Anderson, Urias

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    No. 10: OF/1B Joey Gallo, Texas Rangers

    Ah, Joey Gallo. How you confound.

    On the one hand, Gallo cracked 40 homers in 2018 one season after swatting 41 for the Texas Rangers. Why is he in this conversation?

    Well, because he posted an anemic .206 average and equally abysmal .312 on-base percentage last year. His power makes him a viable big league hitter, but his peripherals make the 25-year-old a one-dimensional masher whose visions of stardom are likely over.


    No. 9: OF Nomar Mazara, Texas Rangers

    Speaking of overhyped Rangers: Nomar Mazara posted a career-worst .317 on-base percentage and minus-4 defensive runs saved in the outfield last season.

    Yes, he hit 20 home runs. But it's time to acknowledge the 23-year-old can and should be better.

    Don't ask us. Ask Texas manager Chris Woodward, who said Mazara (ahem) "can be better," per the Dallas Morning News' Evan Grant.


    No. 8: OF Manuel Margot, San Diego Padres

    Manuel Margot rescued his value with nine defensive runs saved in center field last season, but he dropped the ball (metaphorically speaking) on offense.

    After finishing sixth in Rookie of the Year voting in 2017, the hyped San Diego Padres youngster's batting average dipped from .263 to .245, and his on-base percentage tumbled from .313 to .292.

    Not positive trajectories, to state the obvious.


    No. 7: SS Tim Anderson, Chicago White Sox

    A first-round pick in 2013, Tim Anderson is a key piece of the ChiSox's future. Or is he?

    The 25-year-old hit 20 homers and stole 26 bases in 2018 but posted an unacceptable .281 on-base percentage while playing barely average defense at shortstop.

    The White Sox will give him every opportunity to succeed, but if they sign Machado, Anderson could soon be an afterthought.


    No. 6: LHP Julio Urias, Los Angeles Dodgers

    The Los Angeles Dodgers kept their franchise southpaw when they signed Clayton Kershaw to a three-year, $93 million extension this offseason.

    Now, they're hoping another, unproven left-hander comes around.

    We're talking about Julio Urias, who has flashed mesmerizing potential since debuting in 2016 but is working his way back from a serious shoulder injury. Yes, he pitched in the 2018 World Series. He was also limited to four innings in the regular season.

Nos. 5-1: Sano, Buxton, Swanson, Russell, Moncada

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    Jim Mone/Associated Press

    No. 5: 3B Miguel Sano, Minnesota Twins

    After making the AL All-Star team in 2017, Miguel Sano took a steep, steep tumble in 2018.

    The 25-year-old slugger posted a .199 average and .281 on-base percentage in 71 games while dealing with injuries. A heel ailment this spring doesn't bode well, as Dan Hayes of The Athletic reported, though Hayes added Sano is "as fit and flexible as he's been in quite a while."

    We'll see.


    No. 4: OF Byron Buxton, Minnesota Twins

    While we're talking about Twins who went into free falls: What's up, Byron Buxton?

    The 25-year-old won a Gold Glove for his play in center field in 2017 and hit 16 home runs while stealing 29 bases.

    Last season, he slashed .156/.183/.200 in 28 major league games. What a vertigo-inducing about-face.

    Buxton has five-tool talent. Of all the players on this list, he's arguably the most likely to make us look bad for doubting him. But those 2018 numbers...ouch.


    No. 3: SS Dansby Swanson, Atlanta Braves

    The first overall pick in 2015, Dansby Swanson debuted with the Braves in 2016 after a trade from the Diamondbacks.

    Since then, he's slashed .243/.314/.369 in 1,229 plate appearances. That's a decent sample size, and those are utility infielder numbers.

    Swanson should be the Braves' starting shortstop in 2019 as they defend their NL East title. But if he doesn't make a meaningful jump, he'll soon be relegated to the heap of No. 1 overall busts.


    No. 2: SS Addison Russell, Chicago Cubs

    In 2016, Addison Russell was an All-Star. Now, he has to prove himself.

    He displayed remorse for his actions when addressing his 40-game suspension under MLB's domestic-violence policy. That's on the personal side, and time will tell if he's reformed.

    On the baseball side, he posted a career-low .657 OPS last season and appears to be backpedaling from budding star to marginal middle infielder.


    No. 1: INF Yoan Moncada, Chicago White Sox

    In 2018, Yoan Moncada led MLB in one ignoble category: strikeouts, with 217. Oh, wait, make that two ignoble categories, as he also paced all second basemen and ranked fourth overall with 21 errors.

    Moncada boasts five-tool potential, but he's trending in the wrong direction for the White Sox, who gave up ace Chris Sale to acquire him from the Boston Red Sox in December 2016.

    "I think sometimes you talk and you create a bigger expectation, and that can create something that is not accurate," White Sox first baseman and fellow Cuban Jose Abreu said, per Steve Greenberg of the Chicago Sun-Times.

    Truer words were never spoken.


    All statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs.