For every Dave Winfield, there have been a dozen Pete Brobergs -- young players who had great promise but flamed out quickly, usually with losing teams.
So it is this spring that some of the brightest rookie prospects are in camp with the worst teams. For instance, the San Francisco Giants.
"We're going to be better than people think," Giants General Manager Al Rosen said. "We've got some young kids who can play and, at the very least, we're going to be interesting."
The Giants are so excited about 22-year-old first baseman Will Clark that they're saying he's better than the more heralded phenom across the bay, Oakland's Jose Canseco.
Clark, trying to make the jump from Class A, was given Jack Clark's No. 22 and has worn it well, hitting .317 with four homers and 11 RBI in the Giants' first 11 exhibition games.
Hitting instructor Willie McCovey said that Clark can hit with power and that he has "no holes in his swing," which isn't a bad combination. He also said Clark is already a major league first baseman defensively, and that Manager Roger Craig is almost certain to start Clark on opening day.
Craig apparently also is toying with giving his second base job to rookie Rob Thompson, 23, who is hitting .250 this spring and has excellent range, according to scouts.
The A's are particularly excited about Canseco, 21, who hit 41 homers and drove in 140 runs at three levels last season. When people talk about Canseco, they don't simply talk about homers, they talk about monstrous homers.
In 20 years of Pacific Coast League play in Phoenix, there have been three balls hit over a 45-foot center-field fence. Canseco has already done it four times in batting practice, including twice in one four-swing round.
"I don't think any player in the last 50 years has had his kind of bat speed," A's hitting coach Bob Watson said. "I hit behind Cesar Cedeno, Jim Rice, Fred Lynn, Reggie Jackson and Dale Murphy, and all those guys had fantastic bat speed. His is quicker."
Surely, there will be flops, but for now, here are other rookies that have baseball people excited:
*Danny Tartabull, Seattle, 23 -- He has been given the Mariners' second base job after hitting 43 homers for Calgary, but scouts wonder if his power was tailored to the ballpark (he had only 14 doubles). He is above-average defensively, however, and is another reason why the Mariners should contend for the AL West pennant.
*Pete Incaviglia, Texas, 21 -- He is trying to become the third player to skip the minors (Winfield and Bob Horner are the other two, but Incaviglia played three years at Oklahoma State). Scouts compare him to Kansas City's Steve Balboni, although the Rangers believe he'll hit for a higher average.
*Juan Nieves, Milwaukee, 21 -- He may be the best of a dozen excellent young players the Brewers have, and appears ready to step into the rotation. Outstanding fast ball.
*Doug Drabek (23)/Bob Tewksbury (25), New York Yankees -- Both throw hard, and although scouts thought Tewksbury was closer to being ready, Drabek has been the most impressive this spring.
*Kurt Stillwell, Cincinnati, 20 -- He has spent only one year in pro ball, but Manager Pete Rose is considering giving him the shortstop job that once belonged to Dave Concepcion. Stillwell hit .264 in Denver last summer.
*Andres Galarraga, Montreal, 24 -- He was the American Association's rookie of the year last season and has 54 homers and 178 RBI the past two years.