So far, we've looked at three prospects who have bombed as major-leaguers. This week, we'll take a look at someone who was quite more successful in Zane Smith.
The Braves selected Zane in the third round of the 1982 amateur draft out of Indiana State and debuted in the Majors in September 1984. He proved to be a durable lefty, throwing 204.2 innings in 1986, and then setting a career high the very next year with 242 innings pitched; a feat nigh unheard of in this day and age. In fact, he led the Braves with a 4.09 ERA and 15 wins; easily the most on a team that won just 69 games. Unfortunately, he suffered a bone spur in his elbow that limited him to 22 starts in 1988.
In 1989, Smith suffered a great deal of misfortune with a 1-12 record before he was traded to Montreal, where he served as an effective lefty reliever. The next year, he was part of the package that brought Moises Alou to Montreal from Pittsburgh, and it was here that Zane had his greatest success. He helped the Pirates hold off the Mets to win the NL East with a 1.30 ERA in 10 starts, and won 16 games while posting a 3.20 ERA in 1991 as the Pirates repeated as Division champs.
His last good season was in 1994 before electing free agency. Following a year in Boston, he returned to Pittsburgh for the 1996 season and didn't have the same success as before, but he tossed a complete-game shutout for his 100th (and final) major-league win. One month later on July 6, he was given the pink slip; a decision he says in a 2009 radio interview was unwarranted. The Dodgers showed interest, but he turned them down, not wanting to pitch in California. As it turned out, they were the only team interested.
His playing days over, Zane returned home to Atlanta to be a full-time dad to his three daughters.