13. Tex Nelson
Signed to a staggering $50,000 bonus right out of high school in 1955, outfielder Bob “Tex” Nelson made his debut for the Orioles at the tender age of 18 and singled off future Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller in his second major league at-bat. He would have been better off quitting then.
Under the big-bonus rules of the time, Nelson was forced to stay on the big-league roster for two years, which stunted his development and prevented him from reaching his potential. Baltimore manager Paul Richards was intrigued with the tremendous power Nelson showed in high school — scouting him personally — and the bonus baby was said to have hit a ball harder and farther than anyone Hall of Fame pitcher Dizzy Dean had ever watched, but none of that mattered when pitchers quickly learned that Nelson’s swing was too slow for the majors.
He never made it back to the big leagues after he was finally eligible to be sent down to the minors in 1957, hitting just .205 in 139 career plate appearances, but he was arguably the Orioles’ first super prospect — and the first to fail — after being described as the “Babe Ruth of Texas.”
Continue to next page for No. 12