Thursday, July 9, 2020

Bursts of Potential

Going through my Reds binder the other day, one of the things I noticed was that the Reds world, probably like most of the rest of baseball, is littered with prospects that never made it or players that showed signs of potential for a year or two and then fizzled out. Some of these players I remember, some I've honestly never heard of in my life.

I thought it would be fun to look at a few random cards I pulled out of my Reds binder just for this occasion.

The card you see at the top is of Scott Williamson, one time Reds fireballing reliever who was crucial to the surprise Wild Card run the team had in 1999 that culminated with them losing 6-0 in a play-in game against the Mets. Williamson had probably his best season in the bigs that year too. He made his only All-Star Game and also won the NL Rookie of the Year Award, besting players like Preston Wilson and Warren Morris (who?). After that season, he had a few more seasons with the Reds, nothing like that rookie season, and then bounced around to the Red Sox, Cubs, Padres, and Orioles.

Ben Broussard never appeared in a game with the Reds (would this then count as a "zero-year" card?) as was swapped to Cleveland for Russell Branyan in the summer of 2002. Broussard had a good run at the Cleveland first baseman from 2003-2006 as was a decent bat for some of those early 2000s Indians clubs that were just right on the verge of making the playoffs. 

When the Reds picked Ty Howington out of high school in the first round of the 1999 Draft, everyone at the time was predicting he would be anchoring the Reds pitching staff by the mid part of the 2000s. Ultimately, that never happened. He debuted at age 19 for Low-A Dayton in 2000, went 5-15 over 26 starts and pitched 141 innings. He spent the next few seasons battling arm and elbow injuries in the lower minors of the Reds system, never advancing as high as Double-A Chattanooga as was out of organized baseball entirely by 2005. 

Brandon Larson was touted as the Reds third baseman of the future in the early 2000s. He tore up minor league pitching and was a late season call-up for a struggling Reds team in 2001. In 35 plate appearances, he hit a paltry .121/.171/.182. Compare that to the .255/.312/.415 line he had in Louisville. He bounced between the Reds and Triple-A Louisville over the next few seasons and in 109 total MLB games between 2001-2004 with the Reds ended up with a career .179 average. Meanwhile, third base would be held down by a rotating door of players like Ryan Freel, Joe Randa, and Edwin Encarnacion to name a few.


  1. I don't doubt the Reds had a lot of these kinds of dudes, but I'm not sure if any team can rival the sheer amount of failed Cubs prospects from this era. (Corey Patterson, Hee Seop Choi, etc., etc.)

  2. Wow, Scott Williamson was the only name I recognized from this group, and even then only because I remembered his stint with Boston.

  3. I was organizing my Oakland A's autograph & memorabilia card collection a few months ago when I realized there a bunch of guys I had never even heard of or barely even knew. I now have them in their own gallery called "Men of Mystery". On the bright side... it motivated me to look them up on Google.