Cautionary tale: Baseball's biggest busts

Jeff Passan

Over the past decade, baseball has seen some tremendous flameouts, most of whom could have been traded for a ransom at the peak of their hype. Here, in alphabetical order, are 10 of the biggest.

Ryan Anderson, SP, Seattle: The Little Unit was a Randy Johnson(notes) clone, 6-foot-10 and left-handed. Three shoulder surgeries ended his career, and he eventually enrolled in culinary school.

Wilson Betemit(notes), SS, Atlanta: Betemit has put up similar numbers in the major leagues as he did in the minors – both were poor – and yet he remained coveted. The Braves signed him as a 14-year-old and paid the six-figure penalty to keep him. After nearly 10 years with Atlanta, Betemit has hopscotched through three organizations and is in Triple-A with the White Sox, still overweight and struggling.

Sean Burroughs(notes), 3B, San Diego: Pedigreed kid found himself atop prospect lists as much because of his last name as his numbers, which never included a season with double-digit home runs despite playing a power position. Burroughs' most impressive feat: getting more than 1,500 major league at-bats despite a slugging percentage nearly as low as his .340 on-base average.

Joel Guzman(notes), SS, Los Angeles Dodgers: Always higher on tools – his $2.25 million signing bonus was a record for an international teenager – than production, Guzman bombed before the Dodgers finally gave up and traded him to Tampa Bay. Now 24, he's hitting .303 with Washington's Double-A affiliate – and still doesn't know how to take a walk.

Drew Henson, 3B, New York Yankees: For $2 million, the Yankees got one hit. Not the greatest return on an investment. Henson should've stuck with football. Oh. Wait. He couldn't play that, either.

Andy Marte(notes), 3B, Atlanta: Perhaps the only top prospect this decade to be traded twice, Marte landed in Cleveland and yo-yo'd between the major leagues and Triple-A. He's back for his final shot after mashing .327/.369/.593 – just a little better than his lifetime .211/.265/.337 line in the major leagues.

Ruben Mateo, OF, Texas: Even prospects that completely bite it in the major leagues still have some cachet attached to them at their next stop. The immortal 2004 Royals hit Mateo cleanup for a time despite three miserable major league seasons. He hasn't played in the majors since and at last check was stinking up the Mexican League. Not to be confused with Ruben Rivera, another failed prospect famous for stealing Derek Jeter's(notes) glove.

Greg Miller(notes), SP, Los Angeles Dodgers: Another caution case about what an injury can do to an arm. As an 18-year-old, he struck out 40 in 26 2/3 Double-A innings. Following shoulder surgery that offseason, he lost all semblance of command, walked 63 in 53 1/3 innings last season and now is stuck in Class A.

Corey Patterson(notes), OF, Chicago Cubs: In 2003, he was one of the most untouchable players in baseball. Now no one wants him – not even the on-pace-for-40-something-wins Washington Nationals, for whom he's toiling in Triple-A. Patterson's downfall was his plate discipline. It never developed, and neither did he.

Delmon Young(notes), OF, Tampa Bay: There's still time. He doesn't turn 24 until September. He drove in nearly 100 runs as a rookie. But Young – at least the current .264/.291/.346 version – doesn't deserve a spot on a roster, let alone the hype that goes with being the No. 1 pick. He's a fourth outfielder at best.