By Dave Wischnowsky-
(CBS)The 2012 MLB Draft is over and done with.
And with the 2012 Cubs pretty much done, too – even with more than 100 games left on their schedule – expect a good deal of focus over the next few weeks to be on whether Theo Epstein & Co. can convince their top pick, prep outfielder Albert Almora, to sign with Chicago rather than take his talents to South Beach.
By playing baseball for the University of Miami.
It’s the Cubs’ hope that Almora will ultimately become a superstar in center at Wrigley Field. But as any longtime Cubs observer knows, the hope that accompanies the franchise’s high draft picks is often exceeded only by their hype.
And then, unfortunately, reality crashes the party.
The same can be said, of course, for some White Sox draft picks, which have included first-round disappointments such as Joe Borchard and Kris Honel. But in all of baseball, perhaps no organization has quite the history of draft failures as Chicago’s North Side team, which could just about field an entire team with them.
And as we bask in the hopeful afterglow provided by this week’s draft, I thought it would be wise to also look back at some of the Cubs’ biggest disappointments throughout the years.
It’s a reminder to keep us from getting too badly burned, just in case Almora never catches fire.
Perhaps the biggest Cubs bust of all-time, Griffin was an amateur superstar in the late 1980s for Georgia Tech and the USA National Team, a squad that he headlined even with future MLB standouts Robin Ventura and Tino Martinez on its roster.
Selected by the Cubs with the ninth overall pick of the 1988 MLB Draft, Griffin was considered so good he was expected to eventually force Ryne Sandberg to third base. Instead, he never made it past Class AA, and by 1992 was out of baseball.
A multi-talented shortstop out of Miami’s Coral Park High School, Montanez was the third player picked in the 2000 MLB Draft and signed for a $2.75M bonus. But after seven lackluster seasons in the Cubs’ minor league system, he was released in 2007.
Montanez, though, did go on to win a Triple Crown in ’08 – for the Bowie Baysox of the Class AA Eastern League.
The Cubs’ Opening Day starter at third in both 1991 and ’92, Scott – a second-round pick in the 1989 Draft – was supposed to be the next Ron Santo. He wasn’t.
In ’91, Scott batted .165 through May 14, when the Cubs sent him to the minors. Then, on April 20, 1992, Scott was batting a sickly .103 when he managed to crack a grand slam at Wrigley Field. The success didn’t stick, though. Three games later, he was demoted again.
Selected No. 8 overall in the 1989 MLB Draft – one pick behind Frank Thomas – the 6-foot-2, 225-pound Cunningham hit .419 with 12 homers and 15 steals in just 86 at-bats as a high school senior in Lancaster, S.C.
Then, in seven seasons with the Cubs, he never made it out of Class A ball.
With the third pick of the 1998 MLB Draft, the Cubs took Patterson, a supposed can’t-miss, All-Everything out of Harrison High School in Kennesaw, Ga.
Turned out, he missed.
By 2002, Patterson was a full-time starter with the Cubs and then was back in the minors by 2005.
In 2003, the Cubs plucked the strapping 6-foot-5, 240-pound Harvey – a slugging revelation from Dunedin High School in Clearwater, Fla. – with the sixth pick of the MLB Draft. He signed for a $2.4M bonus and then promptly spent five seasons compiling a .246 career average in the Cubs’ farm system, never rising above Class AA before his release in 2008.
All right, I think that’s enough.
If nothing else, Dave Wischnowsky is an Illinois boy. Raised in Bourbonnais, educated at the University of Illinois and bred on sports in the Land of Lincoln, he now resides on Chicago’s North Side, just blocks from Wrigley Field. Formerly a reporter and blogger for the Chicago Tribune, Dave currently writes a syndicated column, The Wisch List, which you can check out via his blog at http://www.wischlist.com. Follow him on Twitter @wischlist and read more of his CBS Chicago blog entries here.