These pitchers once looked like the next line of superstars, they instead turned out to be essentially never heard from again.
Lets take a look at 10 Pitchers That Went From SUPERSTAR To FORGETTABLE Overnight.
Prior was taken second overall in the 2001 Major League Baseball draft by the Chicago Cubs. Prior was the Golden Spikes award winner for 2001 and became an All-Star for the Cubs in just his second season in the big leagues and finished third in Cy Young voting for the National League.
Multiple injuries to Prior began to slow down his career keeping the right hander off the mound. Injuries such as tears in his labrum, anterior capsule, and rotator cuff eventually caused his release from the Cubs. Prior continued to pitch in the minors but was never able to get back into the big leagues.
Mark Fidrych who went by the nickname “The Bird” was AL Rookie of the Year in 1976 for the Detroit Tigers. Fidrych had a unique playing style which included talking to himself or/and sometimes the baseball, and throwing baseballs back that “had hits in them” back to the umpire.
In the 1976 season, Fidrych went 19-9 boasting a 2.34 ERA. Much like many other names on this list, injuries began to take a toll on Fidrych. He played only four more seasons and compiled a 10-10 record and played in only 27 more games during his career before deciding to retire.
In the early 2000s, if the Los Angeles Dodgers had the lead late, It was a guaranteed win. That’s because they had the most dominant closer in Eric Gagne. Gagne had a three season stretch where he closed 152 games and only allowed 6 blown saves. Gagne’s record of 84 consecutive saves has not been close to being beaten.
Injuries began to wear on the 2003 Cy Young Winner and after Gagne had stints with the Texas Rangers, Boston Red Sox, and Milwaukee Brewers where he blew more saves than his entire tenure with the Dodgers. Gagne eventually retired from baseball in 2010.
Keuchel was the 2015 American League Cy Young winner. He boasted a win/loss record of 20-8 with a 2.48 ERA for the Houston Astros. He was awarded for his impressive season with being the starting pitcher for the American League in the All-Star Game. The former Arkansas Razorback leftie was on pace to become a dominant pitcher.
However, since that time, Kuechel has bounced around the league playing for the Atlanta Braves, Chicago White Sox, Arizona Diamondbacks, Texas Rangers, and currently the Minnesota Twins failing to gain that dominant form he once showed.
Appel was the first overall pick in the 2013 Major League Draft by the Houston Astros. During his entire college career, Appel was the projected first overall pick and won National Pitcher of the year in his junior season at Stanford University. Scouts had labeled Appel as the next dominant pitcher in baseball.
However, Appel was never able to crack the major league roster for the Astros as he struggled in the minor league and was eventually traded to the Philadelphia Phillies. In the 2022 season, Appel was called up for the Phillies where he had some success before being placed on the injured list. Appel was released from the Phillies and currently remains a free agent.
Rocker was a closer for the Atlanta Braves in the late 90s. Rocker had some dominant moments for the Braves and finished his Braves career with a 2.65 ERA average.
Rocker’s career began to spiral after Rocker made controversial comments in an interview with Sports Illustrated. Rocker’s ethnic, homophobic, and racial slurs were not his only downfall. Rocker also admitted to steroid and PED usage. Rocker had stints with the Cleveland Indians, Texas Rangers, and Tampa Bay Rays with an average ERA of 7.03. Rocker eventually fell out of the league in 2003.
As a member of the Washington Senators, Cheney holds the major league record for strikeouts in a single game with 21 against the Baltimore Orioles. After that feat, Cheney was never able to establish that type of pitching dominance. Cheney even credited his pitching demise to that game. He finished his career with a record of 19-29 and a 3.77 ERA.
Once deemed ‘the most hyped pick in history”, the talented pitcher was drafted first overall in the 2009 Major League Draft by the Washington Nationals. Strausberg did not disappoint for them becoming a three time all star and eventually a World Series champion.
The 2014 season saw him finish 9th in Cy Young voting and led all pitchers in strikeouts. However, since 2020 injuries began to pile up on the promising pitcher. While missing the entire 2023 baseball season, Strausberg has managed to only pitch in 8 games and has finished with a record of 1-4 with an ERA of 9.62.
At one time, Ankiel was touted as the top prospect in Major League Baseball. The St. Louis Cardinal pitcher finished second in the 2000 National League Rookie of the year voting behind Rafael Furcal.
Ankiel gained the confidence of Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa to start Game 1 of the 2000 National League Divisional Series. In that game, Ankiel threw five wild pitches and finished with a stat line of 2 ⅔ innings walking four batters and throwing 5 wild pitches. His pitching woes continued in the NLCS where he had two more wild pitches, 3 passed balls, and was pulled after 20 pitches.
Ankiel’s 2001 season started the same as his 2000 season ended. Ankiel continued to have control issues, walking 25 batters and throwing five wild pitches in 24 innings. Ankiel later stated that he drank alcohol to help with his anxiety during the 2021 season. Ankiel transitioned to an outfielder where he had some success.
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