Mark William Prior
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 5", Weight 225 lb.
- School Vanderbilt University, University of Southern California
- High School University City High School (San Diego)
- Debut May 22, 2002
- Final Game August 10, 2006
- Born September 7, 1980 in San Diego, CA USA
"He was the second coming of Tom Seaver. . ." - from a Chicago Sun-Times article, August 4, 2009, about Prior never reaching the peaks expected of him
"The poor guy just couldn't seem to get over the hump." - Bud Black, about Prior's inability to overcome his injury problems
One of the most heralded young pitchers of the decade and the #2 pick in the 2002 amateur draft, Mark Prior won 18 games in his second year with the Chicago Cubs in 2003 as the ace of a team that just fell shy of reaching the World Series. He and Kerry Wood formed the best 1-2 punch in the major leagues, and the team's pitching staff was the best in the major leagues. Prior had excellent mechanics. Beset with arm problems, he gradually faded from the major league scene. In his five years in the majors, though, he won nearly 60% of his decisions.
He even had a major league batting average over .200, unusual for a pitcher. During four seasons in the minors, he had an ERA of 2.95 along with a batting average of .240. He continued to be under contract for 2007, 2008 and most of 2009, but had shoulder issues and hardly pitched at all.
He eventually finished his degree in business from USC. In August 2010, he began another comeback attempt with the Orange County Flyers of the independent Golden Baseball League. After not giving up an earned run in 11 innings and striking out 22 of the 44 batters he faced, he was signed by the Texas Rangers on September 4th, who assigned him to AAA Oklahoma City. He pitched one scoreless inning for the Redhawks, then in the off-season, signed a minor league contract with the New York Yankees. He pitched 11 games for three different teams the Yankees' organization in 2011, but in spite of making 6 starts, was limited to 12 innings, with no record and a 2.25 ERA. In 2012, he moved to the Boston Red Sox organization. He began the season working out in the Sox's extended spring training in Florida, then was assigned to the AAA Pawtucket Red Sox on June 2nd. He pitched 19 times, all in relief, for Pawtucket, going 1-0, 3.96, with a save. He was not easy to hit, as he gave up only 15 hits in 25 innings, but he also gave up 23 walks while striking out 38, a sign that he had electric stuff, albeit under very poor control.
Let go after the 2012 season, he asked his old manager, Dusty Baker, now with the Cincinnati Reds for another chance and was signed by the team for 2013. Ironically, Baker had often shouldered the blame for over-using Prior as a 22-year-old and causing his injury problems. Prior pitched only 7 times for the Louisville Bats in 2013, with no record and an ERA of 4.66 in 9 2/3 innings. He sustained a right shoulder strain in April, was placed on the disabled list and did not pitch again before being released in June. On December 9th, he told reporters who saw him at the winter meetings that he was retiring and was planning to take a front office job with the San Diego Padres. He was hired on as an assistant in the team's baseball operations department. In 2015, he moved into a coaching role as the Padres minor league pitching coordinator and remained there for three seasons.
- NL All-Star (2003)
- 15 Wins Seasons: 1 (2003)
- 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 1 (2003)
- 200 Strikeouts Seasons: 1 (2003)