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Blast from the Past

Top Prospects of 1998

  1. Adrian Beltre, Grade A: Erratic, great at times.
  2. Ben Grieve, Grade A: Did well at first, but long-term bust.
  3. Paul Konerko, Grade A: Erratic, but usually effective.
  4. Todd Helton, Grade A: Superstar.
  5. Aramis Ramirez, Grade A: The Pirates didn't know what they had.
  6. Travis Lee, Grade A: Some success, but not as good as expected.
  7. Carl Pavano, Grade A-: Overcame injury problems, a good pitcher.
  8. Miguel Tejada, Grade A-: Power-hitting iron man.
  9. Kerry Wood, Grade A-: Dominating when on.
  10. Mark Kotsay, Grade A-: Solid player, one of my favorites.
  11. Matt Clement, Grade A-: Best may still be ahead for him.
  12. Chad Hermansen, Grade A-: Bust.
  13. Sean Casey, Grade A-: A fine player when healthy.
  14. Enrique Wilson, Grade A-: Utility guy. Was caught in Age-Gate.
  15. Scott Elarton, Grade A-: Success at first, hurt his arm.
  16. Fernando Tatis, Grade A-: Excellent 1999 season, sucked afterward.
  17. Eric Chavez, Grade A-: Excellent player with his best years ahead.
  18. A.J. Hinch,Grade B+: Young Catcher Stagnation Syndrome.
  19. Ramon Hernandez, Grade B+: A good player.
  20. Alex Gonzalez the Marlin, Grade B+: Erratic but sometimes good.
  21. Ron Wright, Grade B+: Ruined by injuries.
  22. Kris Benson, Grade B+: Decent rotation starter.
  23. Brad Fullmer, Grade B+: Good production at times, often injured.
  24. Nerio Rodriguez, Grade B+: Effective Triple-A starter, didn't adjust to the Majors.
  25. Brent Butler, Grade B+: Stopped developing at age 22. AAAA player.
  26. Eric Milton, Grade B+: Wins games, great K/BB, ERA remains high due to excess HR.
  27. Juan Encarnacion, Grade B+: Adequate player, frequent trade bait.
  28. Ramon Ortiz, Grade B+: Inconsistent, sometimes very good, average overall.
  29. D'Angelo Jimenez, Grade B+: Has played well last two years. Solid guy.
  30. Brian Rose, Grade B+: Ruined by injuries.
  31. Russ Branyan, Grade B+: Power bat, can't do anything else. Role player.
  32. Ruben Rivera, Grade B+: Bust. Bad plate discipline.
  33. Ken Cloude, Grade B+: Ruined by injuries.
  34. Mike Darr, Grade B+: Killed in car wreck.
  35. Javier Vazquez, Grade B+: Very good pitcher, outstanding at times.
  36. Ben Petrick, Grade B+: Developed Parkinson's Disease.
  37. Cesar King, Grade B+: Bust. Young Catcher Syndrome.
  38. Mike Lowell, Grade B+: Consistent, solid power bat.
  39. Mike Coleman, Grade B+: Bust. Tools guy who didn't develop.
  40. Bruce Chen, Grade B+: Career 4.44 ERA, an enigma wrapped in a riddle.
  41. Derrek Lee, Grade B+: Consistent, solid power bat.
  42. Donzell McDonald, Grade B+: Effective Triple-A player, didn't develop as expected.
  43. Cliff Politte, Grade B+: Turned into adequate relief pitcher.
  44. Ruben Mateo, Grade B+: Broken leg, plate discipline problems ruined him.
  45. Magglio Ordonez, Grade B+: Outstanding hitter.
  46. Daryle Ward, Grade B+: Played well at times, hampered by injuries and poor defense.
  47. Mike Caruso, Grade B+: Rushed to majors, played well in 1998, then faded. Now in independent ball, still just 27.
  48. Ricky Ledee, Grade B+: Role player.
  49. David Ortiz, Grade B+: Cult hero and excellent power hitter.
  50. Gabe Kapler, Grade B+: Effective at times, hampered by injuries. Now in Japan.
As you can see, there are some repeat names from the '97 list. Overall this is a less impressive group. As usual, injuries claimed several, as did poor plate discipline and Young Catcher Stagnation Syndrome. Petrick's Parkinson's Disease likely prevented him from becoming the player we expected. Some guys with "old player's skills" like Grieve and Daryle Ward did not last very long. Enrique Wilson would not have been rated a top prospect if we'd known his true birthday.