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One of the great things about baseball is the idea of an exciting young prospect breaking into the Major League line-up and making an immediate impact by propelling their team into the Playoff hunt. Many baseball experts agree the way to sustain success in Major League Baseball is to develop a productive farm system which can churn out talent like an assembly line. However, before success is achieved there is often failure.
The Chicago Cubs have a renewed interest in rookie players this season with the emergence of Rookie of the Year candidate, Starlin Castro along with 20 HR outfielder, Tyler Colvin. The Cubs have had some success in recent years with their home-grown players, but for every Carlos Zambrano, Carlos Marmol, and Geovany Soto you have the "can't miss prospects" who in fact do miss like Corey Patterson, Felix Pie, and Rich Hill.
With that in mind, here are five former Chicago Cubs highly touted prospects who teased fans with their talents before fading away into baseball obscurity.
Lance Dickson - Starting Pitcher
Dickson was considered a phenom when the Cubs drafted him with their first round pick out of Arizona State in 1990. He made 11 starts in the Minors going 7-3 while posting a minuscule 0.94 ERA. The Cubs' front office was also dazzled by his 111 K's in only 761/3 innings. Thinking they had an Ace in the making, the team brought Dickson to the Big Leagues on August 9, 1990 to make his debut. Unfortunately Dickson never realized his full potential. He had trouble throwing strikes and went 0-3 with a robust 7.24 ERA.
Dickson was sent back to the Minors never to return to the Major League roster. At the minor league level he was voted the best pitching prospect as well as having the best breaking ball. Dickson continued to put up good numbers and it seemed inevitable he would find his way back to Wrigley Field. Instead he suffered a stress fracture in his foot which in turn led to arm trouble and eventual arm surgery. He officially retired from baseball in 1995.
Lance Dickson can be found these days back in Arizona where he owns and operates Lance and Company Nova Home Loans, a successful mortgage loan company.
Gary Scott - Third Base
Before Aramis Ramirez took over the hot corner in Chicago the Cubs had gone through a plethora of players trying to fill the void at third base left by the departure of Ron Santo. In 1991 however, the team thought they had found their 3B savior when Gary Scott lit up Spring Training. He was handed the Opening Day start at third in 1991, but faded quickly hitting only .165 before being demoted in early May. The following season was eerily similar as Scott again had a great spring and looked ready to become the Cubs everyday third baseman. He was once again given the Opening Day start only to hit a miserable .103 before being sent down at the end of April.
Eventually Scott was traded to the Florida Marlins in November of 1992. He was traded several more times before retiring from baseball in 1996 having never returned to the Major League level. His career stats of a .160 average with 3 homers and 16 RBI's are a far cry from what hopeful Cubs' fans had been expecting.
Last reports have Gary Scott being hired by TFS Energy in 2005 where he works as a global oil broker.
Dwight Smith - Outfield/Pinch Hitter
During the 1989 Playoff run the Cubs were ignited by two rookie outfielders, Jerome Walton who would go on to win the Rookie of the Year and the runner-up to that same award, Dwight Smith. Smith hit .324 that season while driving in 52 runs. The team thought they had a corner outfielder and solid left-handed hitter who would be a mainstay in the line-up for years to come. Instead Smith spent four up-and-down seasons with Cubs before leaving via free agency after the 1993 season.
Smith did resurface with the Atlanta Braves where he played on their 1995 World Series Championship team. He spent one more season in Atlanta where he played his last Major League game in September 1996.
After baseball Smith kept a low profile especially until his arrest for possession of cocaine in 2006. Lately he has shown up on You Tube in a series of instructional videos on how to coach.
Brant Brown - Outfield/First Base
Brown seemingly came from nowhere when he made his debut with the Cubs in 1996. He filled in as a spot starter in the outfield and as a pinch hitter. Brown's best statistical season in the Major's came in 1998 when he was part of the Cubs' Wild Card team. He always seemed to come up with the big hit that season and after smacking 14 homers while hitting .291 many of the Cubs' faithful were clamoring for Brown to become the everyday 1B. However, the Cubs had a different idea and used Brown's success to bait the Pittsburgh Pirates into trading one of their best pitchers, Jon Leiber.
Brown had a decent year in Pittsburgh hitting a career best 16 homeruns, but was traded in 2000 to the Florida Marlins. He briefly returned to the Cubs later in 2000 where he appeared in his last Major League game that August. He continued to bounce around the Minors for a number of organizations before retiring in 2003.
Brant Brown is probably best remembered by Cubs' fans for his dropped ball against the Brewers in 1998. A play which allowed Milwaukee to win the game 8-7 and caused Ron Santo, the Cubs' radio broadcaster to yell out his now famous, "NOOO!". Brown is currently the hitting coach for the Frisco Rough Riders who are the Double-A affiliate for the Texas Rangers.
Dave Martinez - Outfield
In June of 1986 little known outfield prospect Dave Martinez made his debut without much fanfare. However he became a quick fan favorite with his spectacular defensive play in the outfield, base-stealing ability and timely hitting. Martinez was on his way to what many fans thought was going to be a lengthy career as the Cubs starting center fielder and lead-off hitter. Instead he was inexplicably traded to the Montreal Expos midway through the 1988 season. Soon after, rumors began to surface that Martinez had been having an affair with the wife of Cubs All Start 2B, Ryne Sandberg and this was the reason for the move.
Out of all the players mentioned in this article Martinez has had the most successful career. He spent 15 years in the Majors playing for a number of teams. Martinez never became the everyday player, but was a valuable utility guy and defensive specialist. His last Major League game came with the Atlanta Braves in 2001. Martinez ended his career with a .276 average along with 91 homers, 580 RBI's and a respectable 183 stolen bases.
Dave Martinez is currently the bench coach for the Tampa Bay Rays, and is considered a future managerial candidate. His name has been linked to a number of MLB teams as a prospective manager including the Chicago Cubs.
"Lance Dickson", Wikipedia.org.
"Gary Scott (baseball)", Wikipedia.org.
PRNewswire, "TFS Energy Hires Erik Malecka and Gary Scott for Their U.S. Fuel Oil Desk", www.redorbit.com
"Dwight Smith (baseball)", Wikipedia.org.
Solair Wright, "Ex-Cub Dwight Smith arrested for cocaine possession",
"Brant Brown", Wikipedia.com.
"Dave Martinez", Wikipedia.org.
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