I don't know who said it first, or where I heard it, but I'm not sure there's a better way of describing the hugeness of Major League Baseball—the sheer unlikelihood of getting there yourself—than that line about every fill-in and AAAA veteran being his high school team's all-world shortstop. The big leagues are just a few hundred players at the top of a pyramid of little worlds, and there's a super-superstar trying desperately to climb out of each one. Ronny Cedeno, the St. Louis Cardinals' new fill-in, was the Chicago Cubs' all-world shortstop. [Joke here.] Since the Cardinals signed him on a day that they earned still more accolades for their farm system, he felt a little like a bad omen, in addition to an inexplicable pick-up.

Cedeno wasn't quite a super-prospect, after all, but he was a big deal; he slipped onto the edges of Baseball America's Top 100 prospects list in 2006, as a going-on-23-year-old. Luckily—if there's a luckily to be had, here—looking at his tenure as a top prospect in hindsight leaves us with more than just a nervous appreciation for random chance.

It leaves us with a list of all the ways in which top prospects can be misleading—and the particular ways in which Ronny Cedeno went from the shortstop-of-the-future he probably never was to the useable reserve infielder he is now.