Rather than dwell on yet another uninteresting Sox loss to Oakland, today we’re instead going to salute a ghost of outfield prospects past.
After absolutely tearing it up at the collegiate level with a good mix of power and fundamental hitting, plus some flashy glove work, a certain player was drafted not once but twice by the Sox in hopes of rebuilding their increasingly unreliable outfield around him and two other future young outfielders. He spent only two years on the farm, putting together a minor career league average of .345.
Baseball America at one point ranked him as the #3 overall prospect in the game.
The Chicago Tribune went so far as saying his “dues [were] paid in full,” and later added that having this guy in the minors meant the Sox had “plenty of ammunition” to deal one or more of their star outfielders for pitching help.
He was called up sporadically for the next few seasons, starting off slowly but raising his numbers through some extremely long hot streaks, followed by equally lengthy cold streaks. Although his defense was beyond reproach, his bat was wildly inconsistent and he never did live up to the hype, finally being traded to the Marlins after three seasons on the South Side. The Fish would send him back to the minors after less than one full season, and he subsequently retired.
In all, he put up a career average of .263 in 596 at-bats with 18 homers and 83 RBI, and by the time all was said and done even his stellar glove could not make up for his bat.
No, it’s not Brian Anderson (yet). Not even the recently designated for assignment Joe Borchard, although Borchard took almost the exact same path. That can’t-miss prospect was none other than former Cal State superstar Jeff Abbott.
Abbott, Mike Cameron and Magglio Ordonez all came up around the same time, and one could argue those three were directly responsible for the Sox winning the 2005 World Series. Consider:
- Cameron was traded to Cincinnati for a young Paul Konerko.
- Magglio was replaced by eventual World Series MVP Jermaine Dye.
- Abbott was traded for OF Julio Ramirez, who was allowed to walk after the 2001 season so the Sox could give his roster spot to a young Aaron Rowand.
Is this a stretch of logic? Absolutely, but come on, Abbott turns 35 tomorrow, and he DID make solid contributions to the 2000 AL Central championship team. Here’s wishing him a happy South Side Baseball birthday.