2012- Bryce Harper and Jurickson Profar
Here’s a great example of the two polar opposites of this discussion, and it happened just six seasons ago.
Bryce Harper was a phenom who was already on the cover of Sports Illustrated as a high schooler, and someone who was talked about for a few years before he became draft eligible. He was as no-doubt as it gets as a teenager, and the Washington Nationals were very fortunate to land a franchise player in the draft, especially at a time when they were building something pretty special.
Harper was an All-Star, finishing 30th in MVP voting (hey, he got a vote as a rookie), and of course won Rookie of the Year. He finished the season slashing .270/.340/.477 with 22 home runs, 59 RBI, 18 stolen bases, and 5.2 bWAR earned… as a 19 year old. He’s battled some injuries throughout his young career, but I think it’s safe to say that calling him up to the highest level at 19 didn’t have a major hinderance on his development. When you’re ready, you’re ready.
Jurickson Profar was an entirely different story, unfortunately. He played in nine games as a 19 year old, and then was given another 85 in 2013 as a 20 year old. The now 25 year old struggled with injuries for a few seasons before making it back to the Texas Rangers, but his career has not gone according to plan at all. Granted, injuries have played a major part, but so far he has hit just .229/.308/.338 through 248 games in his young career, and has been worth -0.2 bWAR.
At 25 years old he has plenty of time to change the story, but I’ve often wondered if another year or two in development would have left the young man in a better position.