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Guys I Was Wrong About, Part One

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Prospects I Was Wrong About


Ruben Rivera, the Enron of Prospects

I learned a long time ago that the best thing to do when you are wrong about something is to admit it. You can't learn otherwise. So once a year or so I go back and review players that I was wrong about.

Today I want to go back and review the very first Top 50 prospects list I ever did, back in the 1996 Minor League Scouting Notebook. Here is the list, with commentary on guys I was wrong about and why.

  1. Johnny Damon, OF
  2. Paul Wilson, RHP: Didn't turn into an ace of course, so in that sense I was wrong about him. But this is mostly because the Mets burned him out early.
  3. Andruw Jones, OF
  4. Derek Jeter, SS
  5. Ruben Rivera, OF: BZZT! Wrong! Ruben Rivera, the Enron of prospects. I thought he could be another Bobby Bonds, but he let the strike zone get away from him, and never showed he had the work ethic needed to succeed in the majors.
  6. Billy Wagner, LHP
  7. Jason Schmidt, RHP
  8. Karim Garcia, OF: Turned into an OK journeyman, but not a star. A guy with old-player skills.
  9. Scott Rolen, 3B
  10. Bobby Abreu, OF
  11. Jimmy Haynes, RHP: Showed excellent command in the minors, but wasn't able to throw strikes consistently at the major league level. Had a few decent years, but not nearly as good as I expected.
  12. Jose Valentin the catcher: changed name to Javier. Has turned into a decent journeyman catcher, but I thought he could be a star.
  13. Steve Gibralter, OF: BZZT!! Super Wrong! Career ruined by injuries.
  14. Todd Walker, 2B
  15. Shannon Stewart, OF
  16. Mike Sweeney, C
  17. Jeff Suppan, RHP
  18. Jason Kendall, C
  19. Vlad Guerrero, OF
  20. George Arias, 3B: BZZT! Wrong! Old player skill guy, topped out in Triple-A, although he did have some productive seasons in Japan. Shaky plate discipline the main culprit.
  21. Alan Benes, RHP
  22. Darin Erstad, OF
  23. Nomar Garciaparra, SS
  24. Rocky Coppinger, RHP: BZZT! Wrong! Undone by injuries and control problems.
  25. Gabe Alvarez, 3B: BZZT! Wrong! Topped out in Triple-A and was hampered by injuries.
  26. Jay Payton, OF
  27. Jose Malave, OF: BZZT! Wrong! Injuries, bad defense, showed poor strike zone judgment in the majors.
  28. Jermaine Dye, OF
  29. Matt Lawton, OF
  30. Arquimedez Pozo, 2B: BZZT! Wrong! Played well in Triple-A, but never received legitimate chance in the majors. Injuries and defense were problems.
  31. Chris Snopek, 3B: BZZT! Topped out in Triple-A, and didn't seize job as a utilityman.
  32. Richard Hidalgo, OF
  33. Trey Beamon, OF: BZZT Wrong! Power didn't develop, lost his speed, had injuries.
  34. Uggy Urbina, RHP
  35. Derrick Gibson, OF: BZZT! Wrong! Strike zone judgment never came around.
  36. Bartolo Colon, RHP
  37. Ryan McGuire, 1B: BZZT! Topped out in Triple-A, was unable to bring his line-drive hitting skills up to par in the majors, never developed the power of a first baseman.
  38. Terrell Wade, LHP: Had some major league success but blew his arm out quickly.
  39. Matt Drews, RHP: BZZT!! WRONG! Was rushed to Triple-A, lost his control, blew out his arm.
  40. Donnie Sadler, OF-2B: BZZT! Couldn't hit major league pitching.
  41. Derrek Lee, 1B
  42. Ed Renteria, SS
  43. Wilton Guerrero, 2B: Not as good as expected but did OK at times.
  44. Chan Ho Park, RHP
  45. Todd Greene, OF: Not as good as expected but did OK at times. Decision to make him a catcher likely inhibited his development as a hitter.
  46. Eric Ludwick, RHP: BZZT! Ruined by injuries and control problems.
  47. Amaury Telemaco, RHP:
  48. Jim Bonnici, 1B: BZZT!!!! Old player skill guy, topped out as Triple-A slugger.
  49. Luis Andujar, RHP: BZZT! Blew his arm out.
  50. Roger Cedeno, OF
In my mind, the biggest busts were Ruben Rivera, Steve Gibralter, George Arias, Rocky Coppinger, Gabe Alvarez, Jose Malave, Arqui Pozo, Chris Snopek, Trey Beamon, Derrick Gibson, Ryan McGuire, Matt Drews, Eric Ludwick, Donnie Sadler, Jim Bonnici, and Luis Andujar. Let's break this down by category of failure.

Career Ruined by Injuries:
Rocky Coppinger, RHP
Matt Drews, RHP
Luis Andujar, RHP
Eric Ludwick, RHP
Steve Gibralter, OF
Old Player Skill Bust:
Jim Bonnici, 1B
Jose Malave, OF
George Arias, 3B
Tool Player Bust
Ruben Rivera, OF
Derrick Gibson, OF
Trey Beamon, OF
Just Didn't Hit
Donnie Sadler, 2B-OF
Ryan McGuire, 1B
Chris Snopek, 3B
Miscellaneous (Got hurt at the wrong time, never got a chance, bad timing, etc.)
Arqui Pozo, 2B
Gabe Alvarez, 3B

LESSONS LEARNED:
A) Beware of guys with extreme old player skills.
B) Beware of guys with great tools but poor plate discipline.
C) Beware of guys who haven't hit yet but who scouts think will hit in the future.
D) Injuries will bite pitchers in the butt.

We will look at other seasons later this week.