The future is either here or on the way, or so the White Sox and Cubs are telling us.
Home run champions. Batting champions. Most Valuable Players. World Series MVPs. Hall of Famers.
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Let's see, there are Javier Baez, Jose Abreu, Kris Bryant, Matt Davidson, Albert Almora, Avi Garcia …
Omigod, I just lapsed from a dream into a nightmare.
Actually, it isn't so much a nightmare as a flashback to a harsh reality.
Lately when hearing about all the great young prospects the Cubs and Sox have, the memory of Ricky Seilheimer keeps bobbing and weaving through my head.
Seilheimer was a catcher whom the Sox were expecting to be the next big thing. In 1980, he was promoted the major leagues as much for a little peek as for the expectation that he would be up to stay.
Before a night game in old Comiskey Park, the Sox were taking batting practice with most eyes on Seilheimer.
Oh, so this is the young man we heard so much about. Some day he is going to help lead the Sox to championships, right?
Orlando Cepeda, a Sox coach that season, was among those watching Seilheimer take his cuts in the cage.
Cepeda knew a little something about hitting, having done it well enough to be inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame. Before long Cepeda glanced over to another Sox coach and gave one of those, you know, knowing nods of approval.
Yes, folks, Ricky Seilheimer was the real deal: 19 years old, 19th overall draft choice in 1979, pretty left-handed swing and Texas tough.
Never mind that Seilheimer batted .212 in 52 at-bats with 1 homer and 3 RBI during that call-up. He certainly would be back next year … or the year after … or the year after.
Except that next year never came.
Ricky Seilheimer spent six more seasons in organized baseball, all in the minor leagues where he never hit better than .259.
Seilheimer didn't make it back to Comiskey Park, to the Sox or to anywhere in the majors.
Current Cubs and Sox prospects are what Seilheimer was 34 years ago, gaudy chunks of hope that will or won't be realized.
You never know, do you?
Still, it's easy to dream that the so-called latest phenom is the one to lead the Sox or Cubs to so-called sustained success.
Corey Patterson was one of the latest Cubs to fool the world. Gordon Beckham continues trying to fulfill his promise for the Sox.
Decades after Ricky Seilheimer, you'd watch those two in spring training, listen to people rave about them and fall in love with the possibilities that never quite materialized.
This spring training the most hyped newcomers were Baez with the Cubs and Abreu with the Sox.
Who knows what they'll become in the long term?
Baez is compared to Gary Sheffield but has so much movement in his swing it's remarkable that the bat ever gets to the ball.
Abreu is compared to every big guy with big power but some scouts wonder whether he'll consistently catch up to the fastball.
No player comes to the major leagues with a guarantee of superstardom. He might begin hot in the majors like Abreu did last week and cool off or cold in the minors like Baez did and heat up.
Or the hot one might stay hot and the cold one might stay cold.
Skepticism is the best policy until there are enough snapshots to judge the player's overall value.
All of which makes me wonder what Ricky Seilheimer is doing these days with that unlimited future of his.