Anyone who was around for the Chicago Cubs of the early 2000s undauntedly remembers the promise Ke rry Wood and M ark Prior once held for the organization.
With ESPN airing Kerry Wood‘s iconic 20-strikeout effort recently, Chicago Cubs fans have undoubtedly had their former flamethrowing ace on the brain. For me personally, when I think of Wood, I reflexively recall his former rotation mate Mark Prior, as well.
A pair of first-round picks, Prior and Wood shouldered the expectations and hopes of generations of Cubs fans in the late 1990s and into the new century. The latter, a Texas native, turned in that 20-strikeout start in just his fifth big league outing – immediately offering a glimpse of what may have come to be.
The right-hander was masterful en route to NL Rookie of the Year honors that season, limiting opponents to an MLB-best 6.3 hits per nine with a league-leading 12.6 punchouts. But late that year, his elbow started to give him issues. He wound up, of course, missing the 1999 season after going under the knife for Tommy John surgery.