Atlanta Braves: Top 5 busts as former no. 1 prospects
By Seth Carter
We take a gander at the top five Atlanta Braves’ former-number one prospects who did not live up to the hype over the last 30 years.
The Baseball Cube has a list of the Atlanta Braves‘ top prospects for each year since 1983, according to Baseball America. I used it as a resource in compiling this list.
What do you think of when you hear the phrase “number one prospect?” If you are like most baseball fans then you think 10 to 15 years of above-average play with a few all-stars sprinkled in hither and thither. Unfortunately, that is not always the way things work out.
I’m not ignorant enough to ever look at a player that earned the title of being an organization’s top prospect as a “bad” player. Please understand that I’m only using career WAR and other stats to essentially pinpoint the five biggest busts in Braves’ prospects history.
I respect every one of these men for reaching the heights they were able to reach in their careers and have nothing but appreciation for the talent and work ethic it takes to get to the majors, let alone be regarded as the best prospect in a system.
That being said, there are usually lofty expectations for players that earn the title of top prospect and they can’t all work out the way we want them to. So, without further adieu and with all due respect, let’s take a look at the biggest prospect busts since 1984.
I’d like to start with an honorable mention. Lucas Sims was the top prospect of a weak 2014 group. It was a year in which Baseball America estimated the Braves’ best future major leaguer was only the 57th best in baseball. Sims is currently with the Reds and has only logged 116 major-league innings. Considering that he is only 26-years-old, I refrain from adding him to the list, just in case something crazy happens and he becomes a legend of the game.
5.9 rWAR (12 seasons)
“Salty” reigned as the Braves’ top prospect for two-consecutive years in 2006 and 2007 according to Baseball Prospectus. Andy Marte, who once dominated the rankings and was considered one of the best prospects in all of baseball, had been traded. Brian McCann and Jeff Francoeur had already established themselves as major leaguers. Jarrod Saltalamacchia was basically the best they had left.
In 2007 he was rated as Baseball America’s 36th best overall prospect. Brian McCann was blocking the plate at Turner Field from both opposing runners and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. His name value allowed the Braves to move him as one of the key pieces in the trade that acquired superstar slugger Mark Texiera from the Rangers.
Saltalamacchia would go on to play in 12 major-league seasons and won a World Championship with the Red Sox in 2013. Overall, it was a very good career for him, but he didn’t quite live up the expectations that can follow a player as a top prospect.
His best season came in 2013 with the World Series Champion Boston Red Sox. Salty played in 121 games and smashed a career-high 40 doubles to go with 14 homers. He also set career highs in RBI (65), SB (4), batting average (.273), OPS (.804), and total bases (198).
And he got a ring.