This the story of Jeff Cindrich (whose last name in some baseball references is also spelled as “Ciendrich”).
He was drafted by the New York Yankees in 1990 – the Yanks’ selection in the 54th round that year – out of Edison Community College. (The same school that later produced Joel Pineiro.)
Cindrich, from Cape Coral, Florida, was a pitcher – and a big one, at 6 feet, 6 inches, and 230 pounds.
While I cannot tell you how he did in the minors prior to 1992, I can tell you that he was near unhittable in ’92.
That season, as a 21-year old, pitching for the Gulf Coast League and Oneonta Yankees, Cindrich pitched in 14 games, making 11 starts, and threw 72 innings – allowing only 45 hits and 20 walks in the process. He also struck out 90 batters in those 72 innings and had an ERA of 1.25 – and, that ERA was the 8th best in all of the minor leagues (for pitchers with at least 50 IP).
The next season, 1993, he pitched for the Greensboro Hornets in the South Atlantic League (A-Ball) – mostly out of the pen for the Yankees affiliate. And, Cindrich struggled – in 111 innings he allowed 97 hits and 62 walks, and fashioned an ERA of 3.81 (on the year). He did strikeout 88 batters that season.
In 1994, it was somewhat the same for Cindrich. Then, he was 23 and pitching for the Tampa Yankees. In 42 games, all out of the pen, he threw 54 innings – allowing 57 hits and 30 walks, while fanning 59 batters.
The following season, 1995, the Yankees invited him to their major league Spring Training camp. After that, Cindrich found himself pitching for Tampa, again, in the Florida State League. Appearing in just 24 games, all in relief, he logged 39 innings – giving up 50 hits, 17 walks, and an ERA of 4.38 (with 32 strikeouts).
That was the end of his affiliated professional baseball career – at the tender age of twenty-four.
Based on his stats in 1992, Jeff Cindrich looked like he was a prospect – despite the fact of where he was drafted in 1990. But, it all turned on a dime for him the next season and, just three years later, he was off the map.
I cannot say what happened after 1992 – or just even in 1995. Maybe he was injured? Maybe it was something else? I can’t find out what from my research. But, something happened – for sure.
Still, you just can’t tell sometimes, based on one season in the minors, if a guy is a legit prospect or not, can you? Just use Cindrich as an example.
Update: I just remembered that I had Baseball America’s 1992 Almanac – and was able to find Cindrich’s stats from 1991: With Tampa, in the GCL, he pitched in 13 games (9 starts), threw 57 innings, allowed 61 hits and 21 walks – and fanned 55. Not terrible – but, no where near his awesome 1992.