By: Noah Wright
Prospects turning out to be busts is always highly disappointing. Most of the time, they’re brought through the minors as highly touted players, but turn out to be nothing more than mediocre at the major league level. This year might be a make or break year for multiple former top prospects. These prospects aren’t like Blake Swihart who are clearly a bust. These are ones that have shown some promise in the MLB, but haven’t put it all together yet.
- Byron Buxton (CF):
Buxton was the Twins first round pick in 2012 (2nd overall). Through the minors, Buxton consistently ranked either #1 or #2 in prospect rankings. He was a commodity that brought speed, a bat that could reach a .300 average, and even had a little pop. His defense was beyond elite. So far in his major league career, Buxton has had only a half good season. That came in the second half of 2017 when he posted a .300/.347/.546. However, outside of that 228 plate appearances, he has been very underwhelming. He currently has a .230/.285/.387 line in the MLB across 1074 PA’s. He also struggled with injury in 2019. Though, his defense has translated to the MLB, as he has a 4.2 career dWAR, 33 DRS, and 17.1 UZR. Buxton will only be 25 for 2019. Will he be a bust? Well, I think he’ll always be a glove first centerfielder, but if he doesn’t show improvements with his bat in the coming years, I’d consider him a partial bust.
- Yoan Moncada (2B/3B):
Former Cuban prospect, Yoan Moncada was the centerpiece going to the Chi-Sox in the deal that sent Chris Sale to Boston. So far, he’s been fairly underwhelming for the White Sox. Moncada ranked in the top 5 prospects on multiple lists in 2016 and 2017. He even finished 2016 as the #1 prospect according to MLB.com. He was a second baseman with power, speed, and a glove. Last season was Moncada’s first full big league season, and he produced a .235/.315/.400 batting line with 97 wRC+ and 17 home runs in 650 plate appearances. Plus, he stole 12 bases and was worth 2.2 baserunning runs above average. Overall, that’s mostly average, but very disappointing for a player who was ranked as the best prospect in all of baseball not long ago. Defensively, he was around average this year with -5 DRS, -3.7 UZR but a .3 dWAR. Next year, Moncada will be 24. I think Moncada has a few years before you can consider him a bust. Afterall, his 2018 season was average, so at least he hasn’t been horrible like some. The biggest part of his game Yoan needs to work on is his swing and missing problem. He had a 33.4 K%, and led the league in strikeouts with 217. Though he did walk a fair amount with 67 walks and a 10.3 BB%, Moncada could improve it some. He already shown he has some pop as he hit 17 long balls, so maybe we’ll see the future Moncada this year.
- Dansby Swanson (SS):
Dansby Swanson was sent from the Diamondbacks to the Braves, along with Ender Inciarte for Shelby Miller and Gabe Speier. And that trade has aged well for the Diamondbacks. Jokes aside, Swanson was the D-backs first round pick in 2015 and was the first overall selection in that entire draft. In 2016, he hit the scene big, batting .302/.361/.442 with a 107 wRC+ in his first 145 plate appearances. Entering 2017, Swanson had high expectations, given his former #1 overall pick in 2015, and his impressive showing a year prior, but so far, he’s been a flop at the major league level. The past two years, he’s combined to hit just .235/.308/.359. Though, he does bring two things: speed and defense. Last season, Swanson was worth a 1.7 dWAR, and 10 DRS. Like with Buxton, he’ll likely be a glove first kind of player, but I’d consider him a partial bust if he can’t at least hit around .250/.320/.400 (Brandon Crawford like level) in the coming years.
- Lucas Giolito (SP):
Giolito was one of the prospects the White Sox got back during their fire sale in the 2016-2017 off season. He was one of the center pieces in the deal that sent Adam Eaton to Washington. The former Nationals first round pick (16th overall) in 2012 rose through the minors quickly, but has yet to perform consistently in the big leagues. Last season in 173 and a third innings, Giolito strugged, giving up 90 walks, and 27 home runs. In total, his ERA was 6.13, his FIP was 5.56, and his WHIP was 1.477. However, I wouldn’t call him a bust yet. It was only during 2017 when he put up a 2.38 ERA in a 45 and a third inning sample size.
- Tyler Glasnow (pitcher):
Glasnow was one of the Pirates best prospects at one point. In 2016, he was ranked as the 8th best prospect in the entire MLB. He was very impressive in the minors, but has yet to show impressive results in the majors. So far, Glasnow has a career 5.0 BB/9 rate, and 4.76 FIP to go with a 5.35 ERA. Though he showed a little improvement last year, it was still wasn’t anything close to his minor league numbers, as he finished with a 4.27 ERA, 4.00 ERA but a 1.2 HR/9 rate and 4.3 BB/9 rate. As a Pirate fan, I watched Glasnow a lot. He has a lot of potential. His fastball/curveball combo is very good. The change in speeds can be one of the best 1-2 pitches in the MLB, as his fastball can reach in the high 90’s and his curve not only has a lot of drop, but also is just under 84 MPH. However, also after watching Glasnow a lot, I’ve seen him struggle a lot as well. His main problem from what I’ve seen is that he has almost no confidence on the mound. Most of the time if he puts runners on base, he’s visibly worried. If he can improve his confidence, he can easily be a fine MLB pitcher. However until then, he will definitely be a bust.