Within the Jonathon Singleton Trade Target article, reader kstoff posted an interesting question. The basis of which was if there have been any:
- former top 100 prospects
- given a legit chance in the big leagues (300 PA or 100 IP)
- Returned and succeeded
- Limiting the single season search from 1990-2015 since 1990 is as far back as Baseball America posts their season top 100 prospect lists.
- Considering this legitimate chance to be only the season where the batter (or pitcher) still had their rookie eligibility. I also lowered the PA threshold to 250 as there were only four seasons that qualified for this list if it was set at 300.
- Failed...well this is somewhat subjective but I looked at those who had failed spectacularly, less than a .200 BA and higher than a 6.00 ERA.
With this criteria, here are the single season lists that appeared. First the batters:
Apparently 2014 was the year of the struggling rookie. The six guys on this list from 2013 and 2014, I would say the juries still out as to what kind of a career they can have. Singleton has been well documented on this site. Bradley and Hicks had nice bounce back years in 2015 and there is still considerable hope there. Mike Olt is on his third team. Michael Choice disappeared into the minors last season.
LaRoache hung around for several seasons and even appeared in more than 150 games once in 2009 when he put up a triple slash line of .258/.330/.401. Its pretty hard to call him a success though.
JR Phillips had several shots as the man to replace Will Clark in San Francisco but has a career BA less than .200.
Eric Anthony actually carved out a decent 9 year career. His career line is .231/.305/.397 but while he never hit for a good average, he had a few decent seasons as a bench bat.
Dean Palmer is the clear winner on this list hitting 275 HR's over a 14 year career that included an All Star appearance and two Silver Slugger Awards.
Javier Baez (just under 250 PA his rookie year) and Mike Zunino (hit over .200 his rookie season, followed that up with a .199 BA his second which was his first season with over 250 PA) are two other recent examples that both still have time to turn it around.
To kstoff's point, actually Hicks and Bradley are probably the two best examples of this working out as they spent considerable time in the minors the following season.
Now on to the pitchers...as noted above the qualifications were more than 100 IP with an ERA over 6.00.
There were 8 other players/seasons that met the ERA/IP requirements but were completely by players who never were in the top 100. Of these 8 others, Ryan Drese was the most successful (3.6 career WAR). Of note, one of the seasons was turned in by a Brewer hurler (Allen Levrault in 2001).
Of the pitchers above, obviously Vazquez and Cook were the most successful. Holland and Lewis have turned into workhorse type pitchers for the Rangers. None of the pitchers on this list spent any considerable time in the minors the following season. Quite a few of them had pitched with various success as a September call-up the season before.
I was a little surprised by what I found. I think some success stories that have happened over the years were eliminated by setting the bar so low for failure. But that's how bad Singleton's first season really was.
Off hand, I had thought of several players who rebounded after some additional seasoning. Carlos Gomez came to mind. Mike Schmidt would have actually met the requirements above except that his sub .200 rookie season came in 1980. Here's to Singleton becoming the next Schmidt or Palmer.