The Top 25 Pitchers in Baseball: How They Were Seen as Prospects

The Top 25 Pitchers in Baseball: How They Were Seen as Prospects

This is the season for prospect lists. I thought I would take a trip through the wayback machine and write a prospect list of a different sort, taking the Top 25 Pitchers in Baseball (in 2011 as measured by WAR) and looking at how I rated them as prospects. I will do a separate list for hitters, probably on Wednesday.


Grades are from the STATS Minor League Scouting Notebook (1996 through 2002) and the Baseball Prospect Book (2003 through 2011)


1) Roy Halladay, RHP, Phillies, 8.2 WAR.
1997: Grade B+; 1998: Grade B; 1999: Grade B+.
2) CC Sabathia, LHP, Yankees, 7.1 WAR:
2000: Grade B-; 2001: Grade A.
3) Justin Verlander, RHP, Tigers, 7.0 WAR: 2005: Grade B+; 2006: Grade A.
4) Clayton Kershaw, LHP, Dodgers, 6.8 WAR:
2007: Grade A-; 2008: Grade A.
5) Cliff Lee, LHP, Phillies, 6.7 WAR:
2001: Grade C; 2002: Grade B-; 2003: Grade B.

6) Dan Haren, RHP, Angels, 6.4 WAR:
2002: Grade B-; 2003: Grade B.
7) C.J. Wilson, LHP, Rangers, 5.9 WAR: 2002: Grade C; 2003: Grade C+; 2004: Grade C; 2005: Grade C; 2006: Grade C.
8) Jered Weaver, RHP, Angels, 5.6 WAR:
2005: Grade B+; 2006: Grade B+.
9) Doug Fister, RHP, Tigers, 5.6 WAR:
2007: Grade C; 2008: Grade C; 2009: Grade C. I never saw him as more than an organizational inning-eater and cut him for space each year.
10) Felix Hernandez, RHP, Mariners, 5.5 WAR:
2004: Grade B+; 2005: Grade A.

11) Madison Bumgarner, LHP, Giants, 5.5 WAR:
2008: Grade B-; 2009: Grade A; 2010: Grade A-.
12) Matt Cain, RHP, Giants, 5.2 WAR: 2003: Grade B-; 2004: Grade B; 2005: Grade A-; 2006: Grade A-.
13) Matt Garza, RHP, Cubs, 5.0 WAR:
2006: Grade B+; 2007: Grade A.
14) Ian Kennedy, RHP, Diamondbacks, 5.0 WAR: 2007: Grade B-; 2008: Grade B+.
15) Chris Carpenter, RHP, Cardinals, 5.0 WAR: 1996: Grade C+; 1997: Grade B.

16) Justin Masterson, RHP, Indians, 4.9 WAR:
2007, Grade B; 2008: Grade B.
17) Cole Hamels, LHP, Phillies, 4.9 WAR:
2003: Grade B; 2004: Grade A-; 2005: Grade B; 2006: Grade B+.
18) James Shields, RHP, Rays, 4.9 WAR: 2006: Grade B- (was rated as Sleeper Alert!).
19) Daniel Hudson, RHP, Diamondbacks, 4.9 WAR: 2009: Grade C+ (rated as Sleeper Alert! coming out of college); 2010: Grade B+.
20) Brandon McCarthy, RHP, Athletics, 4.7 WAR: 2003: Grade C; 2004: Grade C+; 2005: Grade A-.

21) David Price, LHP, Rays, 4.7 WAR:
2008: Grade A; 2009: Grade A.
22) Tim Lincecum, RHP, Giants, 4.4 WAR: 2007: Grade A- (highest A- in book, fifth-overall pitching prospect)
23) Josh Beckett, RHP, Red Sox, 4.3 WAR: 2000: Grade B+; 2001: Grade A; 2002: Grade A.
24) Matt Harrison, LHP, Rangers, 4.2 WAR: 2006: Grade C+; 2007: Grade B; 2008: Grade B+
25) Zack Greinke, RHP, Brewers: 3.9 WAR: 2003: Grade B+; 2004: Grade A.

My goal here is to see if the best pitchers in baseball were recognized as potentially excellent in the minors. For this snapshot in time, the answer is clearly yes, with a couple of exceptions.

The anomalies are C.J. Wilson and Doug Fister, who have been more effective in the majors than they were in the minors. They didn't have the scouting reports or the numbers to rate as strong prospects. I think taking a look at those two will be a good topic for a larger article.

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