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Blast from the Past: Prospects of 1997

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The Top Prospects of 1997.

I took an old copy of the 1997 Minor League Scouting Notebook off the shelf this afternoon, and opened it to the Top 50 Prospects list. Let's see what happened to these guys, and how they were rated at the time.

  1. Andruw Jones, Grade A: A fine player, if not quite as good as some of us hoped.
  2. Vlad Guerrero, Grade A: Superstar.
  3. Nomar Garciaparra, Grade A: Superstar when healthy.
  4. Scott Rolen, Grade A: Superstar.
  5. Paul Konerko, Grade A: A bit erratic, but when he's on he's great.
  6. Ruben Rivera, Grade A-: Bust, due to poor plate discipline.
  7. Edgard Velazquez, Grade A-: Bust, due to poor plate discipline.
  8. Todd Walker, Grade A-: Solid player, not as good as expected.
  9. Todd Helton, Grade A-: Superstar.
  10. Mike Sweeney, Grade A-: Great when healthy.
  11. Jaret Wright, Grade A-: Moments of success, health problems.
  12. Kerry Wood, Grade A-: The Andruw Jones of pitchers.
  13. Miguel Tejada, Grade A-: Power-hitting iron man.
  14. Adrian Beltre, Grade A-: Erratic, but has been great at times.
  15. Dmitri Young, Grade A-: Solid player.
  16. Karim Garcia, Grade A-: Semi-useful role player, poor plate discipline.
  17. Jose Cruz Jr, Grade A-: Consistently adequate.
  18. Ben Grieve, Grade A-: Did well at first, but a long-term bust.
  19. Ron Wright, Grade A-: Bust, hampered by injuries.
  20. Hiram Bocachica, Grade B+: Bust, just didn't develop.
  21. Jeff Suppan, Grade B+: decent inning-eater.
  22. Chad Hermansen, Grade B+: Bust, due to poor strike zone judgment.
  23. Bob Abreu, Grade B+: Superstar.
  24. Mike Cameron, Grade B+: Solid player.
  25. Enrique Wilson, Grade B+: Utility guy, not what was expected.
  26. Carl Pavano, Grade B+: Overcame injury problems to become a good pitcher.
  27. Sidney Ponson, Grade B+: Erratic, adequate.
  28. Tom Evans, Grade B+: Plagued with injuries and never developed.
  29. Shannon Stewart, Grade B+: Very good player.
  30. Neifi Perez, Grade B+: Some success, long career, but sucks now.
  31. Roy Halladay, Grade B+: 2003 Cy Young
  32. Wes Helms, Grade B+: Some success, not a great player.
  33. Matt Morris, Grade B+: Very good when healthy.
  34. Jose Guillen, Grade B+: Late-bloomer.
  35. Kelvim Escobar, Grade B+: Some success, best could still be ahead.
  36. Livan Hernandez, Grade B+: Incredible durability.
  37. Javier Valentin, Grade B+: Bust, Young Catcher Stagnation Syndrome.
  38. Donnie Sadler, Grade B+: Bust.
  39. Pat Cline, Grade B+: Bust, Young Catcher Stagnation Syndrome.
  40. Todd Dunwoody, Grade B+: Some success.
  41. Brett Tomko, Grade B+: Erratic, frustrating, but adequate.
  42. Wilton Guerrero, Grade B+: Very fast, no other skills.
  43. Rickey Ledee, Grade B+: Role player.
  44. Derrek Lee, Grade B+: Very consistent, solid.
  45. Richard Hidalgo, Grade B+: Erratic, excellent at times.
  46. Jimmy Anderson, Grade B+: Ruined by injuries.
  47. Bartolo Colon, Grade B+: Many moments of excellence.
  48. Eric Ludwick, Grade B+: Ruined by injuries.
  49. T.J. Staton, Grade B+: Bust.
  50. Billy McMillon, Grade B+: Stathead favorite, played well in '00 and '03.
As you can see, the biggest busts among the position players (Rivera, Velazquez, Hermansen) all suffered from poor plate discipline and never learned to use their tools. Big pitching busts like Anderson and Ludwick were injured. Guys like Ponson and Tomko may not have lived up to their potential, but they've made a lot of money and have had flashes of success.