Disappointments of the Year

Here's the thing with disappointments. They have to give you a reason to be disappointed. If they're just no good, then we just don't care. So don't worry too much about these guys, they were disappointing, but like our kids, we love 'em anyway, and we're pretty sure they'll be back.

Missoula - Jason Neighborgall

It's awfully hard to disappoint when in the previous season you walk 45 batters in less than 23 innings, but that is exactly what Jason Neighborgall has done.  Continuing the control problems that he exhibited at Georgia Tech, the third round pick walked 46 batters in just 13 innings this year, ballooning his ERA to 20.77.  He now has a professional ERA of 14.83, and has averaged nearly three walks per inning pitched.  The problem is, the kid throws 100mph, consistently.  If he knew where the ball was going, if he had any idea where the ball was going, he'd be a stud.  With all due respect to Mitch Williams and Charlie Sheen, Jason Neighborgall is truly the Wild Thing.

Yakima - Chad Beck

Beck did show some promise this season, but when your 14th round pick goes 1-5 with a 6.25 ERA at rookie ball, it can get a little frustrating.  Beck's main problem was the long ball; he allowed 8 dingers in just over 40 innings pitched.  That really hurt the team because the defense behind Beck allowed so many runners on via errors.  The good news is that Beck did not allow an inherited runner to score al year, and that his final relief outing featured six innings in which he allowed just one unearned run.

South Bend - Ryan Schreppel

This 8th round pick of 2005 was extremely inconsistent in 2006.  It was good start/bad start with unfortunately a few more of the bad variety. He finished 6-13 with a 5.00 ERA on a good Silverhawks team after looking excellent last year on a so-so Yakima ballclub.   Oddly enough, left handed batters hit .317 against this southpaw last season.  Schreppel only struck out lefties once out of every ten at bats while he fanned righties once every seven at bats.  If he can sharpen his breaking ball to fool left handers, Schreppel should be a little more consistent against any lineup that he faces.

Lancaster - Richard Mercado

Richard Mercado knows what he's doing behind the dish.  He got promoted to Lancaster in part due to that knowledge, and in part because South Bend carried three catchers, and were having trouble getting everyone enough playing time.  But Mercado wasn't really hitting at Lo-A, and he hit even worse at Hi-A, despite playing in perhaps the greatest hitter's park in professional baseball.  Everyone who played for the JetHawks in 2006 hit .265 or better... everyone except Mercado, that is.  He batted .179 at Hi-A, and managed just four extra base hits in 72 at bats in Lancaster.

Tennessee - Steve Garrabrants

Once one of the top defensive second basemen in the organization, Steve Garrabrants is now an afterthought in a system full of excellent center field prospects.  The position switch made sense at the time, but backfired with the trade for Chris Young, conversion of Justin Upton, and emergence of Chris Rahl.  Garrabrants turns 25 in November, and could only manage to hit .220.  He displayed neither the speed nor the power that he had boasted earlier in his career.  He can play just about any position on the diamond and do most of the little things well, but unless he shows that he can do the big things well in a big way next season, Garrabrants will be spoken about as a thing of the past.

Tucson - Dustin Nippert

Awww, do I have to choose a disappointment on a team that one 98 games when you include the playoffs?  Fact is, the 2006 Tucson Sidewinders were a phenomenal team.  They might have finished with a better record than the Cubs if they played in the NL Central.  They did so by getting contributions from everyone on their roster, and even as their best players continued to see time in the majors, others stepped up to pick up the slack.

So I'm going to go with Dustin Nippert.  Clearly, he was a productive pitcher, but after posting a 2.36 ERA in AA last year, everyone expected more.  He had numerous opportunities to come to the majors and grab a spot in a ramshackle rotation, but never made the most of those opportunities.  Here's a guy who disappointed somewhat this year, but could have everything click and compete for the NL Rookie of the Year Award next year. 

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