Austin Kearns Signs Minor League Deal With The Indians

Oh how the mighty have fallen.

Not that ever Austin Kearns was ever really mighty, but he was once one of the top prospects in the game. Now, 10 years later, he is barely hanging on.

Today, Kearns signed a minor league contract with the Cleveland Indians.

I have to admit, I was a big Kearns fan back in the day. I really was on the Kearns’ bandwagon in the early 2000’s.

Kearns never materialized in Cincinnati

I, along with the Cincinnati Reds organization, thought Kearns and Adam Dunn would be the cornerstones of great Reds’ teams for years to come.

Kearns was drafted with the seventh pick in the 1998 draft and made his debut in 2002. Kearns came out firing that season and it looked like all the hype surrounding Kearns was real.

Kearns hit .315/.407.500 with 13 home runs in 107 games and finished *third in the National League Rookie of the Year voting. Unfortunately, that was the last productive season for Kearns in a Reds’ uniform.

Injuries limited Kearns’ playing time and even when he was in the lineup, he failed to give the Reds anything like he did in 2002. The Reds dream outfield of Kearns, Dunn, and Ken Griffey Jr. never materialized.

In 2006, Kearns was sent to the Washington Nationals along with Felipe Lopez and Ryan Wagner for Gary Majewski, Bill Bray, Royce Clayton, Brendan Harris, and Daryl Thompson. Just after fours years after looking like a star, Kearns was no longer wanted in Cincinnati.

In his first full year in Washington in 2007, Kearns played in 161 games and hit .266 with 16 home runs and a .765 OPS. It appeared all Kearns needed was a change of scenery.

However, Kearns went back into the same injury habit in 2008 and 2009 that ruined his career in Cincinnati. Kearns in those two years played a total of 166 games and hit a stellar .209.

The Nationals even started Kearns at the beginning of the 2009 season in order to build up his trade value. That strategy didn’t work as Kearns hit just .230 in April and May.

Now at the age of 29, Kearns is nothing more than a fringe major league player hoping to get one more shot at the big leagues.

Kearns is yet another example of how top prospects are never a sure thing in baseball.

*2002 NL ROY – I took a look at the voting break down for this award and I couldn’t believe that none of the players who received votes that year had a lasting impact in the major leagues.

Jason Jennings, Kaz Ishii, Brad Wilkerson, Mark Prior, Josh Fogg, Damian Moss, Ryan Jensen, etc…all received votes and none of which accomplished much in the majors.

As a matter of fact, out of the 11 players who received votes, only Kearns, Fogg, and Jennings were on major league rosters in 2009. 2009 was only seven years after fact. Very surprising.

Prior had a superb 2003, but injuries ended his career before it even began. 2002 was just more proof that being considered for the ROY is not a spring-board into a successful career.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

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