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 just another 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 I fear they’re doing with Tyler Pastornicky. Runner-ups: A.J. Zapp, Drew Denson, Ken 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. Alas, the 28-year-old’s career appears near its end after hitting .202 in Triple-A last season.
LF: George Lombard. Redneck Bulldog supporters used to harass Lombard for choosing baseball over football but what else would you expect from inbred college football fans? Lombard 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 (and minus the lethargic approach).
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.
We’ll leave the pitching busts to you guys. Nominate away.