The All-Bust Braves

A position-by-position list of the can’t-miss prospects who did:

C: Tyler Houston. The second overall pick in the country was selected ahead of Frank Thomas, John Olerud, Mo Vaughn, Chuck Knoblauch, Jeff Bagwell, Tim Salmon and Charles Johnson, among others. He turned out to be a poor man’s Eli Marrero.

1B: Not many high-profile busts at this position — Scott Thorman was a first-round pick but never really stood out as a prospect. The Braves oversold him, as is their wont. Runner-ups: A.J. ZappDrew DensonKen Smith.

2B: Glenn Williams was supposed to be Australia’s first baseball star, signed by the Braves when he was 16 for $1.3 million. It took him 12 years to reach the majors, with the Twins, for whom he hit .425 in 40 AB’s. He’s now managing in the Australian league.

SS: Yes, Andres Thomas didn’t quite pan out but he at least showed some flashes. Pat Rockett, selected 10th overall in the 1973 draft ahead of Fred Lynn and Eddie Murray, showed none. Hapless at the plate and in the field, Rockett batted .214 in 152 games as a Brave with 28 errors.

3B: Andy Marte. I was wary when the Braves dealt him for Edgar Renteria. The slick fielding third sacker had been ranked as the 9th best prospect in the game by Baseball America prior to the trade, showing solid plate discipline (.878 OPS) at Richmond in ’05. But he never could figure out major league pitching, hitting .218 in 838 career AB’s.

LF: George Lombard. The erstwhile Georgia Bulldog appeared on the verge of stardom following his Double-A debut in 1998 when he hit .308 with 22 homers, 35 steals and a .410 OPS. But he never could take that next step, striking out at an Adam Dunn pace without the power.

CF: Mike Kelly. It’s rare when pennant contenders hold the second overall pick in the draft, as the Braves did in 1991. Kelly was viewed as being close to major league-ready, which explains why the braintrust chose him ahead of Manny Ramirez, Shawn Green, Cliff Floyd and (brace yourself, stat geeks) Scott Hatteberg. The Braves finally admitted defeat in ’96, trading the free-swinging Kelly to Cincy for Chad Fox and the Burger, Ray King. Jordan Schafer ranks a close second.

RF: You say Francoeur, I say Brad Komminsk. Both were busts, but Komminsk has to rank as the biggest disappointment of them all. His lone highlight as a Brave came when he won a radio listener $100,000 with a grand slam during the Goody’s HR Jackpot inning.

P: Tim Cole. With the third pick in the first round of the 1977 draft, the Milwaukee Brewers selected Paul Molitor. The Braves followed with Cole, a lefty high school hurler from New York who never made it to the majors. He lasted nearly 10 years in the Braves system, walking 706 in 883 innings with a 1.748 WHIP. Cole was drafted ahead of Ozzie Smith, Tim Raines, Bob Welch and  Dave Henderson.

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3 Comments on The All-Bust Braves

  1. roadrunner48 // December 18, 2013 at 9:34 am //

    I nominate Hank Small for 1B.

    Tyler Houston was a real peach. I knew a guy who was a freshman in the same high school where Houston was a senior. This guy was a scrawny, nerdy kid. He didn’t know Houston. But Houston came up to him once, punched him in the face, and walked off with his baseball glove.

  2. pepefreeus // December 18, 2013 at 5:31 pm //

    He pissed and moaned when we released him to make room for TP in ’96, too. He looked perfect in the Cubs clown suit.

    I really thought Mike Kelly was going to be a stud. Turned out that his swing was way too long.

  3. love/eat this stuff up,,,your list is fantastic and thourgh,, i will add my 3 cents with the stipulation , they are a) braves draft picks and b) have had to play at least a game and c) they were some sort of hype on them

    starts with the 00
    thorman 30th overall wow (now plays indy ball about 30 mins from my house in about as beer league indy ball as ever their is
    devine 27th overall-what a train wreck/black cloud of mis management and terrible luck
    mcbride 24th overall-terrible control
    reyes-2nd round ( really set the sp back a few rungs by him being terrible)
    90’s
    houston- 2nd overall catcher/-bad all around as a brave in the minors ,,but decent MLB player (odd)
    kelly-2nd overall-could be one of the worst ever
    kremers-2nd round ( i liked him and wanted this to work) but hey we got otis
    lombard-2nd round,,,number 1 on my all hate list for nothing to do with on the field ( another story for another day)
    80’s
    densen-19th overall-typical draft a no field all hit player/raw–well cant hit-oops
    komminsk-4th overall-why did the team suck in 80’s for 6 years ( answer-brad freaking komminsk)
    macha-10th overall- his numbers are great and was going take horner 3b gig in one of his hold outs,,still surprised he did not have a MLB career
    smith-3rd overall- see densen
    70’s 60’s
    blanks-stunk could not hit
    breazeale-sad career ready to BOOM, then off season accident
    o brown-7th overall cant hit
    rockett-10th overall great name /worse player
    whistenten-2nd terrible hitter
    easterly-2nd rnd, given so many shots but bad and injuries killed his braves career
    hill-highly touted and out and in quick
    neibaur-could not keep the job on terrible pitching teams /yicks

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