The second overall pick in the 2001 draft by the Chicago Cubs, right-hander Mark Prior came to the majors a year later with all of the promise in the world. Standing 6-foot-5 and weighing 23o pounds with thick legs and a pretty delivery, Prior looked like Hollywood had cast him to be the perfect pitcher in a movie.
And he was one of the best pitchers in the league in his second season, finishing third in Cy Young voting and ninth in MVP while also leading the Cubs to within five outs of the World Series. And yet, by the time Prior turned 23 years old, he was on the decline because of injuries to his shoulder and other body parts. He threw what would be his last big-league pitch about a month before his 26th birthday in 2006. — David Brown