Thursday, May 03, 2007

Where have you gone, D'Angelo Jimenez?

Doesn't have the same ring to it, does it? Too many syllables, I guess.

Although DJ is in the minors now and the lights are about to go dark on his career, it wasn't always so. As a prospect in the Yankees organization, he was highly coveted in the same way we all covet an upcoming season of American Idol. After climbing up the organizational ladder, Jimenez was rated higher than Alfonso Soriano by some analysts and was regarded as the future Yankee second baseman.

Then something awful happened. In January 2000, Jimenez was in an automobile accident and literally broke his neck. Although he was back on the field in July, he was never the same player. He was on six teams in the next six years, and he now may never again be on a major league roster.

Nick Neugebauer thought he had it made in 1998--he had just been drafted in the first round by the Milwaukee Brewers and could throw a baseball 100 mph. When he arrived at the big club in August 2001, his future seemed certain, as did the multi-million dollar contract. Then he felt something in his shoulder, and his career was effectively over. Two major shoulder surgeries followed, and he appeared in only 12 more games before the Brewers released him in 2004.

Jimenez and Neugebauer are cautionary tales for all those youngsters with a one-in-a-million talent and for Jim Bowden and the Washington Nationals, who are trying (correctly) to build a future on young prospects. You never know what you have until a player is established. For every Ryan Zimmerman, there are dozens of talented players who never make it. And for every Chipper Jones, there are dozens of guys who look like they were established, but flame out. Who knows, Ryan Zimmerman may prove to be one of those flame outs.

I don't think he will, but the point is you never know. This is a very tough business, and while success depends on a lot of skill, it also depends on a lot of luck.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

American Idol is SOOOO last year.

Leiv & Erik said...

Maybe SOOOO, but I'm still hooked!

Harper said...

Sad story. It does make me wonder what kind of horrible accident Cristian Guzman had as a kid.

Leiv & Erik said...

That's VERY funny!

Mighty Funny said...

*Ahem*

It's "mighty". That's "MIGHTY" funny.

Leiv & Erik said...

Apologies. Mighty sorry about that!

3RunHomer said...

Did you see that Jimenez made the 2007 Ken Phelps All-Star team? Certainly is a good fit.