By: Noah Wright
The upcoming 2019 season is the last of the 2010 decade. With that, we have seen many players come and go on draft boards, and also appear, and disappear on top prospect boards. Some have turned out like Mike Trout, but some have turned out like Dylan Bundy. Today, I want to look at what I consider the top 10 prospects bust of this decade. I’m going to be taking everything into account. The player’s former prospect status, what they did in the minors, and their future outlook (if they still have one).
10.) Mike Olt 3B:
Back in 2013, the baseball landscape was much different than it is now. The Texas Rangers were a premier contender in the ALW. On the other hand, you had the Chicago Cubs who were about to enter a rebuild. With that, the 2 teams conversed and made a trade that sent Matt Garza to the Rangers, and then sent Mike Olt, Carl Edwards Jr., Justin Grimm, and Neil Ramirez to Chicago. Throughout the minors, Olt was considered one of the better young power hitters coming up through the system. He ranked within the top 30 prospects on multiple sites. However, Olt suffered vision issues in 2013, and this completely threw off his career trajectory. He was never the same batter again. That’s evident by his .160/.248/.356 slashline when the Cubs did give him a chance to take over 3B in 2014, and also evident by his minor league numbers slipping from the start of the 20113 season. Since being released by the Cubs, Olt has bounced around with the White Sox, Red Sox, and now Twins.
9.) Casey Kelly SP:
Casey Kelly was a fairly touted prospect. Boston’s former 1st round pick (30th overall),
Kelly consistently ranked among the top 100 of many baseball site’s top 100 lists. He and Anthony Rizzo were the headliners in the deal that sent Adrian Gonzalez from San Diego to Boston. Throughout the minors, he was a decent rhp. Kelly was good at giving up few home runs per season, and also was good at limiting walks. He would make his debut in 2012 when he was a good young age of 22. Kelly did struggle, but he was still finding his footing in the MLB. However, Kelly tore his UCL, which required him to have Tommy John surgery, and miss all of 2013 and nearly all of 2014. Kelly returned in 2015, but struggled mightily in the minors and majors. It was time for the Padres to move on from Kelly, so in the 2015-2016 off season, they shipped him off to Atlanta in exchange for former top catching prospect Christian Bethancourt, and he struggled a good amount there as well. After a stint with the Braves, Kelly has bounced around to the Cubs, and Giants. This November, Kelly signed a one year deal with the LG Twins in Korea at age 29 (entering age 29 season), so maybe in a few years, he can be the next Miles Mikolas. Only time will tell.
8.) Travis d’Arnaud C:
If you look back at the prospect rankings, you’ll see that d’Arnaud was once a highly touted prospect. He consistently ranked in the top 20 of prospect rankings all across the web. He even ranked #6 according to MLB.com. More interestingly enough, d’Arnaud has been part of 2 major trades in his career. One back in 2009 when he was sent from Philly (their 1st round pick in ‘07) to the Blue Jays with Kyle Drabek, and Michael Taylor for Roy Halladay. The second trade was when he headlined a deal that sent from the Jays to the Mets with Noah Syndergaard, Wuilmer Becerra, and John Buck for R.A. Dickey, Josh Thole, and Mike Nickeas. However even though he was a top 20 prospect, d’Arnaud has yet to become a true productive MLB player. He’s only had one productive season, 2015 when he batted .268/.340/.485, but that was even in an injury limited 268 plate appearances. d’Arnaud has greatly struggled with injuries and performance inconsistencies. Now with the Mets’ signing of Wilson Ramos, the soon to be 30 year old will serve as the 2nd backstop option for the Mets in 2019.
7.) Gary Brown OF:
Gary Brown was the future of the Giants outfield, and another one of their young talents to pair with Buster Posey in the line-up. Throughout the minors, Brown displayed power and speed, having multiple double digits seasons in both categories. Along with that, he could draw a walk and hit for some average. Plus, he was even good at fielding and throwing runners out. However after 2012, Brown just couldn’t hack it in the upper levels of the minors like he did in the lower levels. He did make his debut though, having only 7 MLB plate appearances under his belt in 2014. Ironically enough, Brown was on the team’s playoff roster, and owns a ring, though he played just 7 MLB games.
6.) Jon Singleton 1B:
Jon Singleton was the Astros slugging 1B prospect back in the early 2010’s, and was given a sizeable extension before he even made his MLB debut. However, there was reasonable hope he would turn into a successful MLB player. The former Philly 8th round pick who was sent to Houston for Hunter pence had put up very good numbers in the minors, consistently posting a good OPS, while showing some decent potential at first base. Singleton could also handle left field if need be. In 2013, Singleton was ranked as the 19th best prospect in the MLB, above many stars like George Springer, Trevor Bauer, and Kris Bryant. Singleton, when he made it to the majors in 2014 and given substantial playing time, struggled to a .662 OPS in 362 plate appearances. He struggled similarly again in 2015, this time in 58 plate appearances. His struggles in the majors did not translate to the minors, as for the next few seasons, Singleton kept putting up good minor league numbers, up until 2017 when he was released from that extension he signed before his debut.
5.) Kyle Zimmer SP:
Kyle Zimmer was the future of the Royals’ pitching staff. The 5th overall pick in the 2012 draft showed good promise in the minors, consistently pitching well, striking out batters, and not walking them. However Zimmer’s career trajectory was completely thrown off by injuries. He missed most of 2014, part of 2015, and only played 3 games in 2016 after having multiple shoulder surgeries. He finally pitched a decent amount of time in 2017, but struggled. Zimmer started the 2018 season with a DFA, and subsequent release. Although he did resign with the team a few days later, he did not play a single minor or major league game through the entire season. He currently is on a minor league deal with the Royals for 2019 for his age 27 season, so we’ll see how he performs since he does have a good shot of making the major league roster for the season.
4.) Jacob Turner SP:
Turner was one of the best prospects in the MLB in the early 2010’s, even ranking up in the top 10 with Trout and Harper. The Tigers’ 1st round pick (9th overall) in the 2009 draft flew through the minors. At only 20 years of age, Turner had already made his debut with the major league club. However, his tenure with Detroit did not go over well. But at just 21 years of age, he was shipped to the Marlins with 2 other minor leaguers for Anibal Sanchez in 2012 (hmm, sounds like another swap where the Tigers get a star player and the Marlins got a prospect who turned out to be a bust for them). Though his tenure with Miami was much better, his success was short lived. After his tenure with the Fish, he was traded again in 2014 to the Cubs for 2 minor league players at just 23 years old. Since then, Turner has bounced around with the White Sox, Nationals, and back to the Marlins and Tigers. Overall, Turner has a 5.37 career ERA, 4.83 FIP, and a career -2.7 bWAR. Pretty solid for a guy who was ranked higher than Manny Machado and Anthony Rizzo back in 2011.
3.) Mark Appel SP:
We all know the story of the right handed pitcher known as Mark Appel. A former first round pick of the Pirates (did not sign) and Astros (signed, 1st overall), Appel was one of the highest regarded prospects in the MLB. For the Stros, he, along with Carlos Correa, were to lead the charge of a youth movement in Houston. However Appel never really performed well. When he was given an opportunity to get consistent innings in, Appel never put up the numbers that screamed ace. Eventually, the Astros traded Appel along with Brett Oberholtzer and Vince Velasquez along with a few other minor leaguers to the Phillies for relief pitcher Ken Giles. However Appel never found his stuff that made him a first overall pick in 2013, and was subsequently released after the 2017 season. Appel is now retired, without even playing 1 MLB game.
2.) Danny Hultzen SP:
Danny Hultzen’s career is a true tragedy. The Mariners’ first round pick (2nd overall) in the 2011 draft looked to be a good one. Hultzen bursted onto the scene, producing ERA’s in the low to sub 3’s. He was improving every year of his career. MLB.com had ranked him with in the top 20 twice (‘12, ‘13). By 2013, Hultzen was a 23 year old in AAA, and ready to make his impact on the Mariners roster. However, that all changed when Hultzen missed the rest of 2013 with shoulder surgery. This also prompted him to missing the entire 2014 season. Hultzen in 2015 only played in 8 rough innings, as he gave up 5 walks, and 10 hits. In 2016, Hultzen suffered another setback, and had to undergo shoulder surgery again, and only got to pitch 2 innings in the Mariners’ rookie ball team. Hultzen, still rehabbing from his surgery, missed all of 2017. He went back to college to earn a degree (I assume he realized where his career was at this point, and wanted a back-up plan even though he did sign a $8.5 million deal with the M’s back in 2011). After 2017, Hultzen was released by the Mariners, and signed with the Cubs for the 2018 season. He pitched just 8 and two thirds innings in all of 2018, and he looks to be doing the same thing for the 2019 season, as he’s latched onto the Cubs again when he signed a deal back in November of 2018.
1.) Jesus Montero C/1B:
A 10 year old might describe Barry Bonds as a fat steroid user, but that just might sum up Jesus Montero’s MLB career. Montero’s career started when he was 17, and signed with the NY Yankees as an ameturne free agent in 2006. Montero quickly started to prove himself in the minors as a slugging catcher. He rose thought he minors, blasting off on every level’s pitching. By 2010, when Montero was only 20, he had already reached AAA, and was crushing pitching there as well. He turned in a .289/.353/.517 batting line with 21 home runs in 504 plate appearances. Multiple sites had Montero in the top 3 prospect lists. Even if his glove wasn’t good enough to stick at catcher, he was still young enough to be moved to 1st base, and had a bat to fit that position as well. In 2011, Montero was given a small sample size of plate appearances, but did not perform well. But he was just 21 years of age with plenty of time to prove himself. However during the 2011-2012 off season, Montero was traded to the Seattle Mariners with Hector Noesi for former top prospect himself and 2011 all star, Michael Pineda, along with Vicente Campos. Montero immediately slid into the M’s line-up as the team’s DH/back up catcher. In 553 plate appearances, Montero batted just .260/.298/.386 with 15 home runs, a far cry from what he was producing in Triple-A. After a slow start to 2013, Montero was optioned back to AAA to work on his defense, learn some first base, and try to get that offense back. However that all went awry when Montero suffered a torn meniscus in his left knee, and missed a good amount of time. But that’s when Montero was part of the biogenesis scandal, and suspended 50 games for his use and partake in performance enhancing drugs. In 2014, Montero came to spring training 40 pounds overweight. He was then optioned to AAA Tacoma, and batted well like he did in the past at the level. However the season wasn’t without it’s problems. Montero was involved in an altercation when the AquaSox (M’s single-A affiliate) team scout, Butch Baccala, teased Montero about his weight by sending him an ice cream sandwich. Montero then threw the treat at their coach, and cursed him out. This altercation caused the Mariners to not let Montero play any more games in the season after he played a total of 97. 2015 fell into the normal career of Montero, as he crushed AAA pitching but when he was introduced to MLB pitching, he struggled. This was the last time Montero saw any more MLB playing time. Since then, Montero has bounced around with the Blue Jays, and Baltimore Orioles.