4 Cubs first-round draft picks you might have forgotten about

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Jim Frey, Chicago Cubs (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) /

Forgotten Cubs first-rounders: Earl Cunningham – 8th overall pick in 1989

Just after the White Sox picked Frank Thomas seventh overall in 1989, Jim Frey and the Cubs took outfielder Earl Cunningham out of Lancaster HS, South Carolina. Cunningham was listed at 6-2, 250lb and was initially ranked as the #44 prospect by Baseball America going into 1990.

The kid had power, and he displayed that right away in the minors. From 1989-1991 between Rookie Ball and low-A, Cunningham hit 31 home runs in 228 games. In 1991 alone with the Peoria Chiefs, he hit 19 home runs and 17 doubles in 101 games. Seems promising right? Well, the problem was he struggled to hit consistently and struck out a lot. Over those first three years, he struck out 293 times and hit .236. He also only walked 35 times over that span.

In 1992 he made it to High-A ball, but hit just .108/.174/.217 in 25 games. In 1993 he went back to Low-A and hit .194/.268/.360 in 43 games. He left the Cubs organization to play with the Angels and Rockies organizations from 1994-1996, never playing above High-A ball. In 1998 he played some independent ball in the Northeast League, but that was the last of his recorded professional career.