Why, had to be a right-handed Boog Powell. That 1971 season, powerful Jim Fuller hit 33 homers and drove in 110 runs. He even hit .326. Those were triple crown numbers. And to prove it was no fluke, he hit 34 homers the next season. By 1973, he was in the top farm club of the Orioles in Rochester and he slammed 39 homers.
That’s a can’t miss prospect. Well, he did miss. And so did sure-fire prospects Mike Reinbach and Royle Stillman.
Some players have bad timing as the top team can’t use that that type of player. Or they can’t field Or they get hurt. Or they don’t behave. But it’s disappointing for the player and the team.
The slugger Fuller would hit 170 homers in his nine-year run in the minor leagues. He would hit 11 Major League homers. On September 25, 1973, veteran pitcher Jim Perry took the mound against the Orioles at Memorial Stadium. He had a short night for the Tigers. After two batters, it was 2-0 after a Rich Coggins homer. After four batters, it was 4-0 after Fuller cracked a two-run homer. In his second at-bat of the game, he led off the fourth with a solo blast. Yes, two homers in a game makes a nice impression.
Fuller would have another two-homer game in 1974. But he was a lifetime .194 hitter.
Reinbach’s credentials looked very good. He was the Southern League MVP in 1972. Look at the season in Ashville, North Carolina. He hit .346 with 30 homers and 109 RBIs. Make room for this star, please. They couldn’t hold him back and rushed him up to Rochester. In just five games for the top farm team, he hit .389 with three triples. Oh, gosh, he’s a star.
Reinbach’s Major League career consists of 20 at-bats and four singles and a double. That two bagger came off of an Angels pitcher named Nolan Ryan.
Reinbach is no longer living. His car went off a cliff when he was 39-years-old.
Stillman wasn’t a home-grown product. I can remember living in Florida when neighbor Dennis announced to me that the Orioles had traded Frank Robinson. Hey, that’s personal. So I asked who did we get for this superstar. And he couldn’t recall who was in the trade. What? The Dodgers didn’t send their entire team for Frank?
It was December 2, 1971. Us Orioles fans were just getting over the disappointment of the 71 Series loss to Pittsburgh. And then this bombshell hit. Robinson was dealt to LA with that excellent reliever Pete Richert. We did get a promising pitcher named Doyle Alexander. No wonder Dennis had trouble figuring out this deal. We got Bob O’Brien, Sergio Robles and Stillman. Who were those guys anyway?
By 1973, we knew who Stillman was. He was 23-years-old when he reached Rochester. He had no power to speak of but we had a future batting champion as he hit a startling .354.
Stillman has 36 career at-bats in an Orioles uniform. And again no power as his eight hits are all singles.
All those dreams of future stars just didn’t work out with these guys. But those minor league heroes were fun to watch.