Sunday, February 21, 2016

Random Former Prospect Sunday - Tom Redington

During the season, Sundays are set aside to take a look at a prospect at random, but with the minor league season over, I wasn't sure what to do for my Sunday article until this nugget of an idea came my way. How about we look at players who ranked in Baseball America's Top 100 while part of the Braves' organization, yet never appeared for the Braves? Over the next few months, I'll take a look at the prospects that were traded or simply faded away and just to keep up with my theme, I randomized the players.

Only two players on my list of former Top 100 Braves prospects who never played for the Braves also played in the 80's. Two weeks ago, I looked at Dennis Burlingame, a right-handed pitcher who was expected to join his former minor league roommate Steve Avery in the majors but ultimately fell short. This Sunday, we look at the other player from the 80's. Ranked as the #58th best prospect in baseball in 1990, Tom Redington was expected to be a power bat that could join the Braves' lineup and become a star. Instead, his career would end before the second half of the 90's and he would never play AAA.

Before he was a third round pick in 1987, Redington was a star for Esperanza High School in Anaheim, California. The school has produced such stars like Mike Simms, Jonathan Pettibone, and David Newhan so you know it's a haven for baseball players. I kid, but Redington did fit the bill as a future big-time asset for the Braves. An University of Arizona recruit, his many accolades included the LA Times' 1987 Orange County Player of the Year for a season in which he hit .366 with 9 HR. His 22 career homers tied the Orange County record. He was considered a very advanced player with Bob Wadsworth, the Braves scout who signed Redington, commenting that his ability at the moment of signing was comparable to a "college junior." Then-Braves general manager Bobby Cox said that Redington's "bat will carry him to the major leagues."

After inking a contract that included a $100,000 bonus two months after the draft, Redington played about three weeks of ball for Sumter in which he was impressive. Still just 19 in 1988, the Braves wanted to see Redington do it over a full year so they returned him to Sumter, but this time, things just didn't go right. He hit just .196 with a .627 OPS. Now, it should be noted that he walked more than he struck out and still maintained a .320 OBP, but the Braves expected more. Redington blamed his swing for the problems and his manager, Ned Yost, also pointed out that he had to improve his attitude. "He had never experienced any adversity before. He has been used to his whole life being regular Tom Redington, not having to work hard and still being able to excel."

In 1989, Redington's work started to pay off. Beginning the year in Burlington, Redington slashed .299/.412/.517 with 17 homers and again, more walks than strikeouts. Named the Midwest League's MVP, the third baseman outclassed future major leaguers on the roster like Keith Mitchell and Mike Mordecai and it looked like Cox's premonition that Redington's bat would get him moving up the ladder finally was going to be realized. He would spend the last month in Greenville, though he would struggle there. Nevertheless, it was the kind of promising season that gets a player noticed and Baseball America gave him a Top 100 ranking before the 1990 season.

Unfortunately, 1990 was another year of stagnation and would also be Redington's final season with the organization. He would spend the entire year with Greenville, but slashed just .252/.354/.377. If he had been a second baseman, those numbers would have been acceptable, but he was a third baseman and not a terribly good one at that. In a system that was bursting with talent, Redington was losing steam and the Braves felt no need to protect themselves from losing him. In the minor league portion of the 1991 Rule 5 draft, the Padres grabbed him.

His numbers didn't improve much during a second season at AA with his average increasing, but his power dissipating. The next season, he jumped to the White Sox's AA squad in Birmingham and his numbers got even worse. He would miss 1993 likely because of injury before returning to organized ball with his hometown California Angels. Over the next two seasons where he played largely for A+ Lake Elsinore, he showed an excellent bat while hitting against pitchers younger than him. The Angels only gave him 38 PA above A+ during that time. After the 1995 season, his career was over.

Cox missed on Redington, but that's the nature of prospects. Even the ones you are convinced will one day be a major leaguer fail. It's what makes the success stories all the more sweet.

Previous Random Former Prospects...
Dennis Burlingame
J.R. Graham
Elvis Andrus
Bobby Smith
Bubba Nelson
Neftali Feliz
Gorkys Hernandez
Matt Belisle
Matt McClendon

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