Underrated Prospects from the 1999 Book
Kyle Farnsworth, RHP
Rated Grade C in '99 book after going 5-9, 6.93 in 18 starts for Triple-A Iowa at age 22. Showed off his mid-90s fastball, but his control was mediocre, and he had a lot of problems with his secondary pitches, tinkering with a slider, a curve, and a splitter, all of them below average at this point. A thrower, not a pitcher. Erratic during his major league career, alternating overpowering seasons with poor ones, but his control is improving and he is making progress.
Jon Garland, RHP
Rated Grade C in '99 book after going 5-11, 5.10 combined between Class A Rockford in the Cubs system and Class A Hickory in the White Sox system, having been traded for Matt Karchner down the stretch. His K/BB was unimpressive at 89/58. The Cubs were willing to trade him just one year after picking him in the first round of the draft because his velocity had dipped into the mid-80s, his breaking stuff had flattened out, and his command was disappointing. He regained his velocity in the White Sox system and improved his command, emerging as a decent major league starting pitcher. I'm not convinced that he will have another 18-win season anytime soon, but he's been better than one would expect based on his '99 numbers.
Tim Hudson, RHP
Rated Grade C in 1999 book after going 10-9, 4.54 in 22 starts for Double-A Huntsville, with 104/71 K/BB in 135 innings. Hudson's command was inconsistent in '98, as he had problems controlling his trademarked splitter, resulting in an excessive walk rate for a guy with just an average fastball. There was nothing in his numbers or scouting reports pointing to a quick breakthrough, but when it happened, it happened fast. Hudson pitched well in 11 starts in the minors in '99, earning a shot in the majors where he went 11-2, 3.23 in 21 starts. Improved command of his splitter was the key to his success.
Kyle Lohse, RHP
Rated Grade C in '99 book after going 13-8, 3.22 with 121/45 K/BB in 171 innings for Rockford in the Class A Midwest League at age 19. His K/IP wasn't that great and his stuff was only average according to scouts, but he showed good command and generally pitched very well. Given his performance and his youth, I should have rated him a Grade C+. Lohse isn't an outstanding pitcher, but he can fill out the back end of a rotation pretty well.
Mike Young, 2B
Rated Grade C+ in '99 book, after hitting .282/.354/.456 with 16 homers and 16 steals at Class A Hagerstown at age 21. We've talked a lot about Young lately. His performance at Hagerstown was solid across the board, but as a college-trained guy in the Sally League, he should be expected to do well. I gave Young a positive report, and saw him as a potential sleeper. Guys with this sort of age/performance profile often rate as Grade C+/B- prospects until they reach higher levels, but in Young's case he became a better player than even positive analysis at this stage predicted.