Off day today, so while we muse about the HOF chances of Mike Aviles, it got me thinking about other players I was quite certain were on their way to HOF careers, only to have serendipity intervene and cock-block the careers of these young players before they could learn the meaning of the word "major league room service."
Here are a few guys I was just certain would be the shiz.
1B Luis de los Santos 1988 - 1989
Royals career - 39 games .220/.280/.294
I remember my dad and I were in the car listening to Brad Doolittle on 980 field questions with GM John Schuerholz. Someone asked about de los Santos and why he wasn't in the big leagues. Schuerholz said he was a good RBI guy, but not the kind of bat they were looking for. My dad screamed "we need an RBI guy at first base!"
I was just a kid, and didn't have access to any more stats than the minor league numbers for that year that the Star printed every once in awhile. So I only knew that de los Santos hit for a high average and drove in lots of runs. What I didn't know was that de los Santos had a history of pretty much no power for a first baseman, a fatal flaw. Not surprisingly, he spent virtually his entire career in the minors, before heading to Taiwan.
3B Phil Hiatt 1993-1995
Royals career: 133 games .214/.278/.365
Who didn't like Hiatt? He hit 27 bombs in AA Memphis in 1992, while striking out an amazing 157 times. He was like Balboni redux! Phil got a tryout at third in 1993, but after sucking, the Royals turned to Gaetti. The born again G-Man had a resurrection of his career, and that spelled the end of Phil's Royals career. Phil would become a AAA All-Star, five times hitting 30 home runs, and twice hitting 40 bombs in AAA, but never getting more than a cup of coffee in "The Show."
OF Jon Nunnally 1995-1997
Royals career: 167 games .237/.346/.464
Before there was Joakim Soria, there was Jon Nunnally. "The Flying Nun" was taken as a Rule 5 pick from Cleveland after hitting 22 home runs in A ball. He homered in his very first MLB at-bat, and Nunnally-fever came alive in Kansas City. He smacked fourteen home runs his rookie season, slugging .472 and garnering Rookie of the Year votes. His power was sorely needed for a team that was dead last in slugging and home runs.
Nun put up a .957 OPS in Omaha the next season at age 24. The next season the Royals shipped him and Chris Stynes to Cincy for relievers Hector Carrasco and Scott Service. Jon was sensational in Cincy, posting a 157 OPS+, but he would never be the same.
Who was the player you thought would just be awesome for sure but ended up being a huge bust? Clint Hurdle? Gary Thurman? Jeff Austin? Joe Vitiello? Michael Tucker? Dan Reichert? Feel free to list non-Royals, we don't need to read about our misery all the time.