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Prospect Failures from 1999

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Calvin Pickering, prototype Old Player Skill guy

As I wrote yesterday, I'm going to carry this forward with the 1999 and 2000 lists, then I will alter the approach and look for guys who turned out good but were underrated. That will come this weekend.

One point about my definition of "bust": For purposes of this exercise, I'm saying that a Top Prospect Bust is a guy who does nothing at all, or very little, in the majors. A more in-depth way to do it would be to use something like Win Shares and look at broader aggregate career value. But, like so many things right now, between writing the book and the baby, my ability to do in-depth research is rather limited. . .research time has to be spent on the book. Please look at this "prospects who didn't make it" series as just a brief snapshot, and a preliminary look at a topic that deserves (and eventually will receive) a much more detailed examination.

Top 1999 Prospects

  1. J.D. Drew, OF
  2. Eric Chavez, 3B
  3. Rick Ankiel, LHP: Well, he pitched well in the majors at first, then collapsed physically and psychologically.
  4. Troy Glaus, 3B
  5. Brad Penny, RHP
  6. Michael Barrett, 3B-C
  7. Nick Johnson, 1B: Effective when healthy.
  8. Ruben Mateo, OF: BZZT! Holdover from '98 list. Ruined by injuries.
  9. Calvin Pickering, 1B: BZZT! Although Pickering has killed Triple-A and flashed potential in the majors, I think you have to count him as a bust, granted there is still an outside chance that he can have a good year or two. Old Player Skill guy: slow, bad glove, lots of power, lots of walks, lots of strikeouts. Injuries were also a factor. Was on the list due to outstanding season in Double-A at age 21.
  10. Bruce Chen, LHP
  11. Carlos Beltran, OF
  12. Gabe Kapler, OF
  13. Matt Clement, RHP
  14. Lance Berkman, OF
  15. Pablo Ozuna, SS: AGE-GATE bust. Looks like an OK bench guy based on 2005 performance, but I thought he would be better than this. Injuries and defense were issues, but much of his prospect status was based on his age. Wouldn't have rated nearly as good of a prospect if we'd known his true birthday. Hit .357 in the Midwest League, but he did this at age 23, not age 20 as we thought at the time.
  16. Juan Encarnacion, OF
  17. Jeremy Giambi, OF: A bust by many criteria, but he did have some decent major league performance when he wasn't injured and/or acting weird.
  18. Alex Escobar, OF: Injury-related tools bust thus far, still might come around.
  19. Ryan Anderson, LHP: BZZT! Ruined by injuries. On the list due to strong season in the Midwest League at age 19.
  20. Matt Riley, LHP: 5.99 ERA in his major league career. Like Escobar, there's a chance he might come around, but it is a small chance. Injuries and control problems were major factors. Made the prospect list following excellent year in the Sally League at age 18.
  21. Joe Lawrence, SS: BZZT!!! Hit .308 with 11 homers and 105 walks in the Florida State League at age 21. Was converted to catcher, then had serious injury problems and stopped hitting at the higher levels. Failure related to injuries and weird organizational decisions.
  22. Octavio Dotel, RHP
  23. John Patterson, RHP
  24. Russ Branyan, 3B
  25. Carlos Febles, 2B: BZZT!!! On the list after hitting .326 with 14 homers and 51 steals in Double-A at age 22. Had an OK rookie season in 1999, then fell apart. Nagging injuries were a factor, but every aspect of his game simply collapsed without obvious cause.
  26. Alex Gonzalez the Marlin, SS
  27. Dernell Stenson, OF: Murdered.
  28. Braden Looper, RHP
  29. Roy Halladay, RHP
  30. Freddy Garcia, RHP
  31. Pat Burrell, 1B
  32. George Lombard, OF: BZZT!! On the list after hitting .308 with 22 homers and 35 steals in Double-A at age 22. Outstanding set of physical tools, but his bat has topped out in Triple-A due to excessive strikeout rate.
  33. Pete Bergeron, OF: BZZT!!! Strong Double-A campaign in 1998 at age 20, showing on-base ability and good speed. Went into a tailspin in 2001. Does OK in Triple-A but looks like a bust overall.
  34. Jason Grilli, RHP: BZZT! Adequate season in Double-A in '98 at age 21, but his scouting reports were very positive and I put a lot of weight into that for some reason. Serious injury problems prevented his development into anything more than a Quadruple-A pitcher.
  35. A.J. Burnett, RHP
  36. Richie Sexson, OF
  37. Enrique Wilson, SS: Age-Gate holdover from previous lists.
  38. Angel Pena, C: BZZT!!!!! Hit .335 with 22 homers, decent plate discipline in Double-A at age 23. I likely overrated him after seeing him slug some balls in person. Ruined by excess weight, defensive issues, and injuries.
  39. Ramon Hernandez, C
  40. Ryan Bradley, RHP: BZZT!!! On the list after pitching at three minor league levels then flashing some ability in major league action, just one year after being drafted out of Arizona State. Career fell apart due to control problems and injuries.
  41. Gil Meche, RHP
  42. Carlos Lee, OF
  43. Milton Bradley, OF
  44. Mitch Meluskey, C: Hit .353 in Triple-A at age 24, with power and exceptional strike zone judgment. Hit .300 as a rookie in 2000, then career collapsed due to injury. A bust in that sense, but his career major league line was .283/.386/.449, so he wasn't a bust in the sense of failing to hit in the majors. He did, just not for very long.
  45. Mike Cuddyer, 3B: Not as good as he should be, but not really a bust.
  46. Chad Hermansen, OF: Bust from previous lists.
  47. Daryle Ward, 1B
  48. Odalis Perez, LHP
  49. Trot Nixon, OF
  50. Ricky Ledee, OF
Just looking at the new guys not on other lists, we summarize

Rick Ankiel. PROBLEMS: Head case, injuries.
Calvin Pickering. PROBLEMS: injuries, too fat, too many strikeouts, scouts hate him.
Pablo Ozuna. PROBLEMS: Age-Gate, injuries.
Alex Escobar. PROBLEMS: Injuries. Bad plate discipline.
Ryan Anderson. PROBLEMS: Injuries.
Matt Riley. PROBLEMS: Injuries, control problems.
Joe Lawrence. PROBLEMS: Injuries. Dumb organization decisions.
Carlos Febles. PROBLEMS: Injuries. Stopped hitting. Curse of the Royals.
George Lombard. PROBLEMS: Too many strikeouts.
Pete Bergeron. PROBLEMS: Stopped hitting, lost confidence.
Jason Grilli. PROBLEMS: Injuries.
Angel Pena. PROBLEMS: Injuries, too fat.
Ryan Bradley. PROBLEMS: Injuries, control problems.