Top 50 Hitting Prospects of 2004

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Every year I review the previous season's Top 50/50 list in the introduction of the book. Of course, it's impossible to fully assess a list on such short notice, so periodically I also go back and review lists from several years past. We reviewed lists from previous seasons this past summer, but we ended with 2003. Let's begin again and assess the 2004 list. Here is the Top 50 Hitting Prospects list from the 2004 Baseball Prospect Book. We'll do the pitchers tomorrow, then this weekend I will start posting book excerpts.

TOP 50 Hitting Prospects of 2004
1) Joe Mauer, C, Minnesota Twins, Grade A. I'd say this one turned out very well.
2) Bobby Crosby, SS, Oakland Athletics, Grade A. Started off decently, but injuries seem to have ruined him.
3) Rickie Weeks, 2B, Milwaukee Brewers, Grade A. Still has the tools and flashes the skills, speed, walks, some power, but hasn't lived up to expectations. Injuries have been a factor.
4) B.J. Upton, SS, Tampa Bay, Grade A. Just getting started. Results have been somewhat erratic, but 2007 was excellent.
5) Casey Kotchman, 1B, Anaheim Angels, Grade A: Aside from a good year in 2007, hasn't lived up to expectations. Injuries have not helped.
6) Justin Morneau, 1B, Minnesota Twins, Grade A: He's really good.
7) Andy Marte, 3B, Atlanta Braves, Grade A-: Huge bust it looks like. Just never grew from where he was.
8) Jeff Mathis, C, Anaheim Angels, Grade A- Bat never got going, textbook case of Young Catcher Stagnation Syndrome. The term is descriptive more than analytical, and I'm working a piece right now about the history of catching prospects.
9) David Wright, 3B, New York Mets, Grade A-: An outstanding player.
10) Jeremy Reed, OF, Chicago White Sox, Grade A- Couldn't sustain the high batting average. Didn't pay enough attention to BABIP.
11) Grady Sizemore, OF, Cleveland Indians, Grade A-: Outstanding player.
12) Prince Fielder, 1B, Milwaukee Brewers, Grade A-: Outstanding player.
13) Scott Hairston, 2B, Arizona Diamondbacks, Grade B+ Not great obviously, but he's had flashes of success.
14) Alexis Rios, OF, Toronto Blue Jays, Grade B+: Solid regular outfielder.
15) Josh Barfield, 2B, San Diego Padres, Grade B+: Quite disappointing. Second basemen sometimes seem to stagnate as well.
16) Delmon Young, OF, Tampa Bay, Grade B+: Still trying to put things together, but still very young.
17) Jason Bay, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates, Grade B+: Has had a very fine career.
18) David DeJesus, OF, Kansas City Royals, Grade B+:
Solid player, not a star.
19) Mike Aubrey, 1B, Cleveland Indians, Grade B+:
Ruined by back injuries. Bust.
20) Dallas McPherson, 3B, Anaheim Angels, Grade B+: Back injuries and strikeouts. Could still have a career as a role slugger, but don't expect a good average.
21) Dioner Navarro, C, New York Yankees, Grade B+. Good year in 2008 and still rather young.
22) Khalil Greene, SS, San Diego Padres, Grade B+: He's not great, but can't call a guy who holds a regular job for that long a 'bust."
23) Guillermo Quiroz, C, Toronto Blue Jays, Grade B+: Great in Double-A at age 21, but never hit after that and has had injury problems. Bust.
24) James Loney, 1B, Los Angeles Dodgers, Grade B+: A very fine young hitter.
25) Gabe Gross, OF, Toronto Blue Jays, Grade B+: A useful role player.
26) Jayson Nix, 2B, Colorado Rockies, Grade B+: Undone by poor strike zone judgment. Bust.
27) Brent Clevlen, OF, Detroit Tigers, Grade B+: Bad plate discipline has held him back. Probably a bust but still a slight chance.
28) Jeremy Hermida, OF, Florida Marlins, Grade B+: Excellent in 2007, not as good last year. Still young.
29) Jose Lopez, SS, Seattle Mariners, Grade B+: Solid regular.
30) Aaron Hill, SS, Toronto Blue Jays, Grade B+ Not  a bad player when healthy.
31) Sergio Santos, SS, Arizona Diamondbacks, Grade B+: Was always young for his leagues, but that wasn't enough in the end. Bust.
32) Hanley Ramirez, SS, Boston Red Sox, Grade B+ A terrific player.
33) Larry Broadway, 1B, Montreal Expos, Grade B+: Topped out as a minor league slugger. Bust.
34) Jason Lane, OF, Houston Astros, Grade B: Effective in 2004 and 2005, then tailed off fast.
35) Chad Tracy, 3B, Arizona Diamondbacks, Grade B: Very good 2004-2006, but has tailed off since then due to injury.
36) Chris Burke, 2B, Houston Astros, Grade B: Wasn't hanlded well, bat stagnated, injuries, didn't adjust his minor league numbers sufficiently. 
37) Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Texas Rangers, Grade B: Needed some adjustment time but a fine regular.
38) Justin Huber, C, New York Mets, Grade B: Traded to Royals, converted to first base, had some injuries, bat looks like it has topped out in Triple-A. Probable Bust.
39) Adam LaRoche, 1B, Atlanta Braves, Grade B: A solid regular.
40) Russ Adams, SS, Toronto Blue Jays, Grade B: Just didn't hit in the majors.
41) J.J. Hardy, SS, Milwaukee Brewers, Grade B: Solid regular.
42) Corey Hart, 3B, Milwaukee Brewers, Grade B: Solid player.
43) Ian Stewart, 3B, Colorado Rockies, Grade B: Too soon to know for sure, but I still think he will be a solid player, though not a star.
44) Shin-soo Choo, OF, Seattle Mariners, Grade B:
Career .291/.377/.493 hitter in 509 at-bats. Hard to call that a bust, even if he doesn't get playing time.
45) Jeff Francouer, OF, Atlanta Braves, Grade B: Lack of plate discipline is holding him back and may ruin him.
46) Aaron Baldiris, 3B, New York Mets, Grade B: Bust. Line drive guy just didn't develop enough.
47) Delwyn Young, 2B, Los Angeles Dodgers, Grade B: Looks like he is stuck as a role player.
48) Erick Aybar, SS, Anahiim Angels, Grade B: Still unclear how his career will develop.
49) Alberto Callaspo, 2B, Anaheim Angels, Grade B: He can hit a little, but perhaps not enough to be a full-time regular for a good team.
50) Cody Ross, OF, Detroit Tigers, Grade B: Career .261/.324/.493 line can't be called bust. Useful bat.

Biggest busts look like Marte, Mathis, Reed (in comparison to what was expected), Aubrey, Quiroz, Broadway, Santos, Burke, and Huber


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