Six Indians Players Who Fell Short of Their Potential and Failed to Meet the Mark

Matt Loede

From “5-tool” players that were expected to be stars as high draft picks, to players that were acquired from various trades, the Cleveland Indians have had plenty of players over the years that never quite reached their potential.

Baseball is never an exact science when it comes to scouting. You can see a high school or a young 19 or 20-year-old play 50-100 times, and feel he could be the next Jim Thome or Corey Kluber, but sometimes that just doesn’t happen.

Such is the case with our list today of players who were touted as potential stars with lots of hope, but at the end of the day just didn’t work out.

Of course just making the Majors is a task in itself, but with the hype and energy the Indians put on these players, for them to not work out is a shame in itself.

So here’s a list of some of those players over the years, some you may remember, some you likely have forgotten, but no matter the case, here are six players that failed to reach their heights that all Indians fans had hoped for.

Steve Dunning Pitcher

Dunning was the Indians first-round pick (2 overall) in 1970 out of Stanford. He never spent anytime in the minors, which likely was mistake number one. He went 18-29 with a 4.37 ERA for the Indians in three seasons before being dealt to the Texas Rangers in May of 1973.

One sidebar on Dunning is he hit a grand slam of Oakland pitcher Diego Segui in 1971. It was a feat that was not repeated by a pitcher until 2008.

Mike Poehl Pitcher

The 9 overall pick by the Indians in the 1985 MLB Amateur Draft, Poehl came to the Tribe from the University of Texas. He was the only college player drafted by the Indians never to make it to the Major League team.

The highest Poehl made it was Double A, and he started three games in 1989 for Akron-Canton, going 2-1 with a 0.53 ERA. His MLB career ended with a stint with the Kansas City Royals.

David Miller Outfielder/First Base

Miller was expected to be a quality pitcher when the Indians snagged him 23 overall in the 1985 MLB Draft, but again just never panned out. His career started out well, hitting .254 with seven homers in Kenston, and then hit .301 with four homers in AA Akron.

In 1998 Miller started with AAA Buffalo, hitting .267 with nine homers and 54 runs batted in. The team didn’t add him to their 40-man roster and he was selected by the Phillies in the 1998 Rule 5 draft, ending his Tribe career.

Jeremy Guthrie Pitcher

Guthrie played for five teams in his time in the Majors, starting with the Tribe as a first-round pick (22 overall) in the 2002 MLB Amateur Draft. It took a couple seasons in the minors but he got to the Majors and in 2004 he appeared in six games for the Indians.

He spent most of 2005 back in the minors, pitching in just one game for the Indians that year, allowing four runs in six innings. He shifted to relief in 2006, and was called up twice to the Indians roster. He was designated for assignment in January of 2007.

The pitcher went on to throw also for the Orioles, Rockies, Royals and Nationals, with a career mark of 91-109 with a 4.42 ERA, twice leading the American League in losses with 17 (2009 and 2011).

Matt LaPorta First Basemen

The Indians were hopeful of getting a star when they acquired LaPorta from the Milwaukee Brewers as part of the C.C. Sabathia deal in July 2008. He was expected to be the jewel of the deal that wound up including Michael Brantley as a ‘Player to be Named Later.’

LaPorta played for the Tribe during the Manny Acta years from 2009 to 2012, with his best season coming in 09 when he hit .254 with seven homers and 21 RBI. In four seasons, 291 games, he hit just 31 homers driving in 120 runs.

The Tribe felt they waited as long as they could with LaPorta, who never played again after the 2012 season in which he hit .241 in 22 games.

David Huff Pitcher

The Indians were hopeful they had a future starter in their rotation when they took Huff 39 overall in the 2006 MLB Amateur Draft, but again he scuffled his way to a career 18-26 record with a 5.40 ERA in five seasons with the Tribe.

After going 11-8 in 2009 showing promise, Huff bottomed out in 2010, going 2-11 with a 6.21 ERA as the Indians won just 69 games. Injuries derailed Huff as well as he went 5-7 over the next two seasons with the Indians combined before eventually being dealt to the New York Yankees.