Bernie Carbo, The Reds first draft and Austin Kearns
In 1965 the first amateur draft was held in New York. The Reds first round draft choice was Bernie Carbo a High School star in Michigan, their second round choice was Oklahoma's Johnny Bench.
Thirty three years later in 1998 the Reds first round draft choice was Kentucky High School Star Austin Kearns, in the second round the Reds chose Texan Adam Dunn.
Unlike Kearns, Carbo was a left handed hitter, but a pure hitter who hit the scene in 1970 with a bang.
How big of a bang? Platooning with RH hitter Hal McRae, Carbo came to the plate 476 times that year, seeing less than 30 at bats against a left handed pitcher. He had an ungodly .310/.454/.551/1.004 line with an ungodly RISP lione of .325/.532/.566, 3 months with a slg% above .. .620 and 5 months with an OB% over .410. For players with 300 plate apperances or more Carbo was 3rd in the league in runs created per game, a hair behind McCovey and Carbo with a impressive 9.95.
All this wasn't new to Carbo his 1969 season in Indy saw him lead the league in hitting with a .358 BA, he also knocked 60 EBH, he also wasn't all batting average drawing an impresive 91 walks in Asheville in 1968, also delivering 47 EBH.
The future for Carbo looked incredible....even despite his attempt to score in the World Series in the "Hendricks Play" he even won the Rookie of the year award that season... the man picked by the Reds after him in the 1965 draft won the MVP that year.
A year and a half later after a miserable 330 at bats, a 1971 benching and a horrible spring in 1972 Bernie had a pitiful .215/.339/.325/.666 line.
And was flipped to the Cardnials in may of 1972, soon to be a thorn in the Reds side during the 1975 World Series and a charactor who finds his way into "this dumb ballplayer" stories around MLB in the mid 70's.
Kearns arrived with a bang in the wake of fellow draftee Aadm Dunn in the spring of 2002. Though and injury cut his season short, Kearns turned in a fine season and produced the 2nd highest RC/27 for a Reds player 22 or younger in post war major league ball.
RUNS CREATED/GAME YEAR RC/G OBA SLG OPS AVG EBH
1 Bernie Carbo 1970 9.95 .454 .551 1.004 .310 43
2 Austin Kearns 2002 7.54 .407 .500 .907 .315 40
3 Frank Robinson 1957 7.44 .376 .529 .905 .322 63
4 Frank Robinson 1956 7.43 .379 .558 .936 .290 71
5 Vada Pinson 1961 7.28 .379 .504 .883 .343 58
6 Vada Pinson 1959 7.22 .371 .509 .880 .316 76
7 Johnny Bench 1970 7.14 .345 .587 .932 .293 84
8 Adam Dunn 2002 6.70 .400 .454 .854 .249 56
9 Frank Robinson 1958 6.32 .350 .504 .854 .269 62
10 Johnny Bench 1969 6.20 .353 .487 .840 .293 50
A 2003 game of Buck-Buck with Ray King curtailed Kearns 2003 season, a season that was clipping along with a robust BA driven line and 13 pre injury home runs. Pain found Kearns again last year when a persistant hand injury stunted his development even more. After these two unproductive seasons he had a line of .250/.346/.440/.786 a pale shadow of the 2002 player who electrified the scene like Bernie Carbo in 1970.
Leaving the mess of a player that is playing these past 2 months swinging at ball in an off balanced manner, a man who has 169 at bats this season and only a .225/.307/.396/.704
Is Kearns going down like Carbo?
Ray Shore former scout with the Reds felt that Carbo folded under the expectations created by his initial burst in 1970. Also Gammons paints Carbo as not the brightest man in his book "Beyond the Sixth Game" I'm not sure *what happened to Carbo's game, but from where I sit it looks like Kearns is experiencing alot of the same problems.
The ironic thing is it is all happening in the shadow of the southwestern player chosen number two in the same draft.
Just like it did to Bernie.