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1998 Prospects I was Wrong About

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Chad Hermansen, 1998 Prospect Bust

It has been suggested that I change the paradigm with this feature and look at guys who turned out to be excellent players but who didn't get huge mentions from me as top prospects. That is a good idea and I will do that in the future, but I want to finish looking at the prospect busts from this angle first. Also, it's something both interesting and analytical that I can do without a gigantic gob of research that I don't have time for given the other events of this week. Today we'll continue with 1998.

  1. Adrian Beltre, 3B
  2. Ben Grieve, OF
  3. Paul Konerko, 1B
  4. Todd Helton, 1B
  5. Aramis Ramirez, 3B
  6. Travis Lee, 1B: Not as good as expected, but not exactly a bust. Lots of people think the problem with Lee is that he just doesn't work very hard.
  7. Carl Pavano, RHP: Has problems staying healthy, but an effective pitcher when he manages to stay on the mound.
  8. Miguel Tejada, SS
  9. Kerry Wood, RHP
  10. Mark Kotsay, OF
  11. Matt Clement, RHP
  12. Chad Hermansen, 2B: BZZT! Bustola. Tools Player who didn't develop. Was 19 years old, coming off a strong Double-A season, but his strikeout rate was rather high. He seemed to stagnate after being stalled by the Pirates in Triple-A for two years.
  13. Sean Casey, 1B
  14. Enrique Wilson, 2B: BZZT! Was coming off a strong Triple-A season at the reported age of 22, but was really 24. Age-Gate.
  15. Scott Elarton, RHP
  16. Fernando Tatis, 3B: Had an outstanding season in 1999 for the Cardinals, but got fat and lazy afterward. I don't think this should count as a true bust, as his '99 season confirmed what the minor league numbers said he was capable of. He failed for other reasons.
  17. Eric Chavez, 3B
  18. A.J. Hinch, C: BZZT. Bust. Hit 24 homers between Class A and Triple-A at the age of 23. Never hit well again. Injuries a problem, but a good case of Young Catcher Stagnation Syndrome. He was a bit old for a top prospect, although his Triple-A numbers were good enough that I overrode that concern in this rating.
  19. Ramon Hernandez, C
  20. Alex Gonzalez the Marlin, SS
  21. Ron Wright, 1B: BZZT. Holdover from '97 list. Ruined by injuries.
  22. Kris Benson, RHP
  23. Brad Fullmer, 1B
  24. Nerio Rodriguez, RHP: BZZT. Coming off strong Triple-A season at age 24. Had injury problems, was usually effective in Triple-A but never got a clear shot at a major league job, and pitched poorly when he did get a chance.
  25. Brent Butler, SS: BZZT. Hit .306 with 37 doubles, 15 homers, outstanding strike zone judgment in the Midwest League at age 19. Never developed beyond that point, his skills topping out in Triple-A.
  26. Eric Milton, LHP
  27. Juan Encarnacion, OF
  28. Ramon Ortiz, RHP
  29. D'Angelo Jimenez, SS
  30. Brian Rose, RHP: BZZT. Strong season in Triple-A at age 21, with excellent control, but a low strikeout rate. Career ruined by injuries.
  31. Russ Branyan, 3B: Erratic but not really a bust in the classic sense.
  32. Ruben Rivera, OF: Tools Player failure, holdover from previous lists.
  33. Ken Cloude, RHP: BZZT. Strong season in Double-A at age 22. Ruined by injuries.
  34. Mike Darr, OF: Killed in car wreck.
  35. Javier Vazquez, RHP
  36. Ben Petrick, C: BZZT. 15 homers, 30 steals, 62 walks in the Carolina League at age 19. Defensive problems and injuries dimmed his star, then his career ended early due to Parkinson's Disease. It seems likely that his skills faded early due to the Parkinson's, and I count this as an injury-caused bust.
  37. Cesar King, C: BZZT! Hit .296 in the Florida State League at age 19. Good defensive reputation. Career ruined by injuries and excessive weight gain.
  38. Mike Lowell, 3B
  39. Mike Coleman, OF: BZZT! Strong Double-A season at age 21, showing power and speed. Tools player bust, suffered from injuries, high strikeout rate. Never received a real chance in the majors, always seemed to get hurt at the wrong time.
  40. Bruce Chen, LHP
  41. Derrek Lee, 1B
  42. Donzell McDonald, OF: BZZT! Hit .296 with 39 steals and 48 walks in 77 games at age 22 in Class A. Was older than ideal for the league, but I was impressed with his leadoff potential. He was an effective Triple-A player but never received a real chance in the majors. Technically a bust, but could have had a career as a bench guy under different circumstances.
  43. Cliff Politte, RHP
  44. Ruben Mateo, OF: BZZT! Hit .314 with 12 homers, 20 steals in 99 games in the FSL at age 19. Outstanding tools prospect, his career was ruined by a broken leg that cost him his speed and seemed to shatter his self-confidence.
  45. Magglio Ordonez, OF
  46. Daryle Ward, 1B
  47. Mike Caruso, SS: A bust? He hit .306 as a rookie at age 21 in 1998, but he fell apart after that, never developing any power to go with his contact skills. I think he was mishandled by the White Sox, who rushed him way too quickly and then turned him into a scapegoat.
  48. Ricky Ledee, OF
  49. David Ortiz, 1B
  50. Gabe Kapler, OF
Key Bust Summary:
Chad Hermansen. PROBLEMS: Strike zone judgment, defense, organizational incompetence. Tools bust.
Enrique Wilson. PROBLEMS: Age-Gate.
A.J. Hinch. PROBLEMS: Stopped hitting. Also had injuries.
Ron Wright. PROBLEMS: Injuries. Old Player Skill Bust.
Nerio Rodriguez. PROBLEMS: Injuries. Failed several brief chances.
Brent Butler. PROBLEMS: Stopped hitting for no apparent reason.
Brian Rose. PROBLEMS: Injuries.
Ruben Rivera. PROBLEMS: Classic tools bust, bad work ethic.
Ken Cloude. PROBLEMS: Injuries.
Ben Petrick. PROBLEMS: Stopped hitting, probably due to Parkinson's.
Cesar King. PROBLEM. Injuries, got too fat, bad work ethic.
Mike Coleman: PROBLEM: Always got hurt at the wrong time. Tools bust.
Donzell McDonald. PROBLEM: Too old to be a real top prospect. Never got a chance.
Ruben Mateo. PROBLEM: Broken leg, loss of confidence, tools bust.
Mike Caruso. PROBLEM: Rushed too fast, organizational incompetence, stopped hitting.

Of 15 busts, I count at least nine where injuries were a major factor, one Age-Gate guy, at least three Tool Player busts, one Old Player Skill bust, and a couple of guys who just didn't get much of a chance. These lists aren't breaking down into easily definable categories, there is a lot of overlap. I think I will look at 1999 and 2000, then try to summarize the data. Your suggestions are welcome, I'd like your input in trying to define failure categories.