This isn’t a Mets-related story, but I think it’s worth mentioning. After attempting to make a comeback to the Bigs and suffering major setbacks in the Minor Leagues, the San Diego Padres will release Mark Prior at some point this weekend, according to MLB.com. He never played for the Mets, but he was one of the most promising and feared pitchers in the Bigs when healthy with the Cubbies from 2002-2005 (he went 1-6 in 2006), last pitching in a Major League game in August of 2006.
His story is a sad one. He was a kid oozing with pure baseball talent. A dominant pitcher, but also a good enough hitter that he was used in pinch-hitting situations. I had the opportunity to attend Game 5 of the 2003 NLCS in Miami between the Cubs and Marlins, and during BP, he had one of the best swings on either club. It’s sad to think that a once-promising career may be over before he really had the chance to get it going, no matter what team he pitched for, but it would seem that that could be the case with Prior.
Over his Big League career (to-date), Prior averaged over 10 Ks per 9 innings every year but 2006, with a career average of 10.4 K/9. He made the All-Star Team in 2003, also finishing 3rd in the Cy Young voting (behind Jason Schmidt and winner Eric Gagne) and 9th in MVP voting that year. He had signed 2 Minor League contracts with his home-town Padres after leaving Chicago, never reaching the Majors with the team and undergoing two major surgeries on his pitching shoulder since 2007.
I do hope that Mark is able to return to his prior form and return to the Majors at some point with some team. To see this be the end of what should have been one of the game’s best pitchers in recent memory would be a shame. Best of luck, Mark, and I hope to be able to see you pitch one day at Citi Field, in a Mets uniform or otherwise.