Last year we looked at the Top 50 Hittting Prospects from the 2004 book. Today we will look at the Top 50 Hitting Prospects from 2005, to see how things turned out. Tomorrow we will do the pitchers.
Top 50 Hitting Prospects of 2005
1) Andy Marte, 3B, Braves: Hit 23 homers in Double-A at age 20. But he never grew from that basis, stalling out as a Triple-A slugger so far. It's not impossible that he could still have a career, but it's doubtful at this point. The normal age/development curve didn't apply in his case, but we didn't know that at the time.
2) Joel Guzman, SS, Dodgers: Slugged .522 in Double-A at age 19. Like Marte, stalled out in Triple-A, with bad plate discipline a big problem. Another age-curve bust.
3) Ian Stewart, 3B, Rockies: Monster season at Asheville at age 19, but couldn't completely replicate this at higher levels. Hit 25 homers in the majors at age 24, but hit just .228 last year. I still expect him to have a productive career though not likely to be a star.
4) Delmon Young, OF, Rays: Hasn't put everything together yet, but he's a career .290/.322/.416 hitter and is still just 24. OPS has been flat for three years but not yet in his prime.
5) Daric Barton, C, Athletics: Has hit just .249/.348/.394 in the majors, but plate discipline remains excellent and at 24 he still has time to figure things out.
6) Prince Fielder, 1B, Brewers: Career .284/.381/.550 hitter with 160 homers already.
7) Casey Kotchman, 1B, Angels: Career .269/.337/.406 hitter, injuries have been a hassle, power hasn't developed. Disappointing.
8) Dallas McPherson, 3B, Angels: Injuries and problems with strikeouts/plate discipline kept him from fulfilling potential. Career .245/.298/.458 hitter, with 18 homers in 371 at-bats.
9) Carlos Quentin, OF, Diamondbacks: Excellent 2008 season shows what he can do when healthy. He just can't stay healthy.
10) Jeremy Reed, OF, Mariners: Career .255/.312/.357 hitter. Just not very good; I was seduced by gaudy batting averages, though in fairness he did show excellent plate discipline in the minors.
11) Hanley Ramirez, SS, Red Sox: .316/.386/.531 hitter as a shortstop, outstanding player.
12) Chris Nelson, SS, Rockies: All the tools are here, but he remains injury-prone and stuck in Double-A. Still just 24.
13) Erick Aybar, SS, Angels: .285/.324/.383 in the majors, including .312/.353/.423 last year. Likely to have a very long career.
14) Rickie Weeks, 2B, Brewers: Injuries are the main problem here; although not a superstar, he's a solid player when he can stay on the field.
15) Jason Kubel, OF, Twins: Very impressive in 2009, career. 278/.339/.474 hitter, now entering his prime seasons.
16) Kendry Morales, 1B, Angels: Took some time to adjust, but now a career .283/.334/.505 hitter.
17) Grady Sizemore, OF, Indians: Career .275/.367/.485 hitter; I'm not worried about '09 slippage.
18) Nick Swisher, OF, Athletics: Career .245/.357/.460 hitter, plenty of power and patience.
19) Ryan Howard, 1B, Phillies: Career .279/.376/.586 hitter, loads of power, patience, strikeouts.
20) Stephen Drew, SS, Diamondbacks: .270/.326/.445 hitter with a shortstop's glove.
21) Conor Jackson, OF, Diamondbacks: .281/.361/.431, has been a decent hitter when healthy but not spectacular.
22) Michael Aubrey, 1B, Indians: Just now getting some major league time after years of injuries. .294/.350/.467 hitter in the minors; could have been really good if not for the back problems.
23) Omar Quintanilla, INF, Athletics: Highly over-rated after a great season in the California and Texas Leagues, further evidence not to be too impressed by performances in those venues. .220/.277/.290 hitter in the maojrs.
24) Eric Duncan, 3B, Yankees: Skills remained flat for awhile then declined starting in '07. Just didn't develop.
25) Shin-Soo Choo, OF, Mariners: Injuries and lack of opportunity stalled him for awhile, but he's been excellent the last two seasons. Career .296/.386/.491 hitter.
26) Wes Bankston, 1B, Rays: Impressive seasons in '04 and '05, but leveled off after that, had some injuries, another bat that stalled out.
27) Brian Dopirak, 1B, Cubs: Looked like he was finished after injuries and strikeout problems struck, but has rebounded with strong '08 and '09 seasons in the Blue Jays system. Could still have a career.
28) Edwin Encarnacion, 3B, Reds: Career .260/.341/.448 player, not a star but has performed well at times.
29) Jon Zeringue, OF, Diamondbacks: Strike zone judgment failed at higher levels, career .263/.332/.435 hitter in the minors.
30) Jeremy Hermida, OF, Marlins: Career .265//.344/.425 hitter. Was stalled in Florida, perhaps change of scenery in Boston will help.
31) Chris Burke, 2B, Astros: Showed some flashes but it never came together all the way. Career .239/.315/.359 hitter.
32) Franklin Gutierrez, OF, Indians: Held back for awhile by poor strike zone judgment, but started to put things together last year. Career .268/.321/.415 thus far, great glove.
33) Brad Snyder, OF, Indians: Bat stalled out in Triple-A, has some power, will take a walk, but strikeouts eat him up.
34) Joey Votto, 1B, Reds: Career .310/.388/.536 hitter. I'd say that's pretty damn good.
35) Richie Robnett, OF, Athletics: Terrific tools but never developed the skills to go with them.
36) Howie Kendrick, 2B, Angels: Career .302/.333/.434 hitter, with injury problems.
37) Nick Markakis, OF, Orioles: Career .298/.367/.470 hitter, and not yet in his prime.
38) Val Majewski, OF, Orioles: Missed all of 2005 with injury and was never the same after that.
39) Ian Kinsler, SS, Rangers: Career .279/.350/.477 hitter with unusual power for a middle infielder, lots of speed too.
40) Ryan Garko, 1B, Indians: Career .279/.351/.441 hitter, a decent usable player but not a star.
41) Jeff Francoeur, OF, Braves: Flashes star potential but inability/unwillingness to work the strike zone holds him back. Career .271/.311/.432 hitter.
42) Brian McCann, C, Braves: Career .293/.356/.497.
43) Billy Butler, 1B, Royals: Career .291/.346/.451, power started to develop in '09, still just 23.
44) Brandon Moss, OF, Red Sox: .241/.307/.393 so far in 646 at-bats. If he can hold a job long enough, seems like a good candidate for one of those age 27/28 performance spikes.
45) Mitch Einertson, OF, Astros: Hit 25 homers in his first 64 pro games out of high school, which may have been the worst thing to happen to him. Other than a good year in the Carolina League in '07, he hasn't done anything since.
46) Hernan Iribarren, 2B, Brewers: Career .314/.371/.418 hitter in the minors, but has never received more than a brief major league trial.
47) Curtis Granderson, OF, Tigers: Career .272/.344/.484 hitter, can swipe a base, terrific makeup. Be interesting to see how he does in New York.
48) Justin Huber, C, Royals: Lost much of his luster when he moved to 1B, injuries also seemed to slow down his bat, and the opportunity to play vanished.
49) Russ Adams, SS, Blue Jays: Played regularly in 2005 but didn't thrive, has bounced between Triple-A and the majors since then, career .247/.313/.372 hitter.
50) Reid Brignac, SS, Rays: Still waiting for a chance. Bat has gotten worse, glove much better.
It will be another three years before we can judge the list completely. There are a lot of good players on this list, and there are still several players that we don't have enough information about yet, but I'm not happy with the top ten at all.
Although both are still young enough to carve out a career, Marte and Guzman were huge busts as top prospects. Marte just stopped developing, while Guzman's problems with plate discipline overrode his age-relative-to-league. Stewart and Young have significant flaws, though both are still young and have a chance to be very good. Same with Barton. Kotchman has been eaten up by injuries and lack of power development, McPherson by injuries and too many whiffs. Quentin has been really good when healthy but can't stay that way. Reed was just a bad call. The only unqualified success has been Fielder.
In contrast, picks 11-20 have just one guy (Nelson) who looks like a bust, and even he is young enough to still turn things around.