Burden of hype weighs heavy
For most elite prospects, success is a more complex proposition, filled with setbacks, self doubt and the obligatory growth pains. Aspiring big leaguers routinely get worn down by injuries, sliders on the black, or the extraordinary length of the baseball season. Sometimes the scouts or statistical projections are wrong and the enthusiasm is unwarranted. Or a team will go to great lengths to hype a player just for the sake of enhancing his trade value. It happens all the time.
The following eight players, all 26 or younger, have encountered numerous obstacles and are still trying to fulfill their early promise. Some have a chance to attain big things, while the star has gradually faded for others. They'll all merit watching upon arrival in Florida and Arizona next month:
Ankiel pitched well in winter ball in Puerto Rico, striking out 31 batters and walking only seven in 27 2/3 innings. Although he felt a twinge in his elbow and shut it down early, it was just a precautionary measure and he's already resumed throwing off a mound in Florida.
"I'm sure they'll put the accent on the positive early, then feed him more as he starts getting over hurdles," said a scout. Last year Tony La Russa and Dave Duncan coaxed a 30-12 record out of Carpenter and Marquis after they had failed to win a big-league game the previous season. A resurgent Ankiel could be a major weapon for the Cards in the rotation or as a long or middle man in the 'pen.
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