It takes at least four or five years to validly assess the success or failure of a prospect list. Four years ago the Kansas City Royals were widely considered to have an extremely strong farm system. It took a few years for everything to shake out, but the club now has two consecutive World Series appearances to their credit.
Here is the Royals prospect list from the fall of 2010, the Top 20 Royals prospects entering 2011 in other words. You can find the original article by clicking this, but we will post the list, the original comments, and the current outcome right here.
Kansas City Royals Top 20 Prospects for 2011 (published October 2010). Original comment in italics.
1) Mike Moustakas, 3B, Grade A: This guy is really damn good. I believe he can stick at third base, so he ranks ahead of Hosmer just barely. RESULT: Took time to get the bat going, but the glove was always sharp. Mainstay.
2) Eric Hosmer, 1B, Grade A: This guy is really damn good. RESULT: Mainstay.
3) Wil Myers, C, Grade A: If I trusted his defense a bit more, he would rank number one. As it is, even if he ends up in right field I have no hesitation giving him a Grade A rating. The bat should be outstanding. RESULT: Converted to outfield, traded to Rays in the big James Shields deal, dogged by injuries but has played well when healthy.
4) Danny Duffy, LHP, Grade B+-: Originally a Grade A-, dropped one notch at book press time but still highest-rated in system. RESULT: Up and down with injuries but generally good when healthy.
5) Michael Montgomery, LHP, Grade B+: Worried a bit about future of his elbow, but I moved him ahead of Lamb because I do think his ultimate upside is a bit higher. RESULT: Traded to Rays, struggled, moved on to Mariners and made progress harnessing his ability this year.
6) John Lamb, LHP, Grade B+: Slippage in Double-A keeps him from A- at this time, but an outstanding prospect. RESULT: Got hurt, long rehab process, recovered then traded to the Reds this summer in critical Johnny Cueto deal.
7) Jake Odorizzi, RHP, Grade B+: A personal favorite since he was in high school. I love his combination of command and stuff. RESULT: Traded to Rays in the Shields deal, has emerged as a very good major league starter, out-pitched Shields this year.
8) Jeremy Jeffress, RHP, Grade B+: Grade is a bit risky due to command issues, but this is an upside call. RESULT: This grade was too aggressive, although Jeffress eventually progressed into being a decent middle reliever.
9) Chris Dwyer, LHP, Grade B: Almost went with a B+, but something holds me back a bit on him. Great stuff, but I'm not totally sold on his command yet. RESULT: Unable to overcome command problems and stalled in Triple-A.
10) Brett Eibner, OF, Grade B: I love the power bat; will have to see if contact is an issue and if he can stick in center. RESULT: Struggled with contact issues for years but has made some progress and played well in Triple-A this year.
11) Christian Colon, SS, Grade B: I doubt he'll be a star, but I expect he can have a long career as a regular. RESULT: Hasn't gotten much major league time but has hit .303/.361/.382 in 168 plate appearances.
12) Johnny Giavotella, 2B, Grade B-: Love the bat, defense still needs some work but has improved a bit. RESULT: Never got on track with the Royals but played regularly with the Angels this year.
13) Louis Coleman, RHP, Grade B-: I know he's a reliever, but he will be ready to help soon and I think there is a chance he could end up closing some games eventually. I think he is underrated and thus his grade is aggressive for a reliever. RESULT: Pitched regularly in Royals bullpen 2011-2013 with decent results, but pushed aside by guys who throw harder.
14) Aaron Crow, RHP, Grade C+: Ranking him behind Coleman may look weird, but I am more confident that Coleman will be a good major league pitcher than I am in Crow right now, although Crow has a higher ceiling. RESULT: Pitched regularly in Royals bullpen 2011-2014.
15) Tim Melville, RHP, Grade C+ Not a good year, but not as bad as it looked. Talent is still there. RESULT: Injuries, then stalled out in high minors as an inning-eater, now in Tigers system.
16) Tim Collins, LHP, Grade C+: Can help in bullpen in 2011. Numbers are no fluke. Would rank ahead of Melville and even Crow if you are looking for immediate impact. RESULT: Pitched regularly in Royals pen 2011-2014 until getting hurt.
17) Patrick Keating, RHP, Grade C+: Overlooked arm with above average stuff. Royals have makings of a great pen with Coleman, Collins, and Keating all close to the majors. RESULT: Command failed in the high minors, out of baseball.
18) Salvador Perez, C, Grade C+: I think he's a breakthrough candidate. RESULT: He broke through in 2011 taking over as the regular catcher.
19) Cheslor Cuthbert, 3B, Grade C+: Hard to rank. Scouts like him, he's young, but the early numbers are weak. Would rank higher if you go by nothing but tools, wouldn't be on the top 20 at all if you go by numbers, so this is a compromise. RESULT: Still a prospect, only 22 years old.
20) Clint Robinson, 1B, Grade C+: I've seen enough of him to believe he can mash for power, but finding a place to play is tough. RESULT: Crushed Triple-A pitching for four seasons, finally got a chance with the Nationals this year and did pretty well with wRC+ of 115.
21) Jeff Bianchi, INF, Grade C+: Hard to rank due to health record. He could end up being very good as soon as 2011 under the right circumstances. RESULT: Health problems held him back but he eventually worked his way into a utility infield job with the Brewers.
22) David Lough, OF, Grade C+: Could be a nice fourth outfielder. RESULT: Defense-oriented fourth outfielder.
23) Kevin Chapman, LHP, Grade C+: Another guy who can be a solid major league reliever pretty quickly. RESULT: Bouncing between Triple-A and the majors in Astros system.
24) Buddy Baumann, LHP, Grade C+: Overshadowed by the younger lefties, but should not be ignored. RESULT: Has pitched well in Triple-A for three seasons but has yet to receive an opportunity in the majors.
25) Will Smith, LHP, Grade C+: I think he has a better chance to thrive here than he did with the Angels. RESULT: Solid bullpen contributor with the Brewers.
26) Robinson Yambati, RHP, Grade C+: Rookie ball guy could break through in '11. RESULT: Slowed by injuries and command problems, Class A roster arm at this point.
27) Yordano Ventura, RHP, Grade C+: Rookie ball guy could break through in ‘11: RESULT: Broke through, reached majors in 2013 and now one of the mainstays of the staff.
28) Jason Adam, RHP, Grade C+: Just scouting reports so far on this one, but a local kid with a live arm that I have a good intuitive feeling about. RESULT: Intuitive feeling did not pan out, stuff sagged in Double-A, then traded to Twins last year for Josh Willingham.
OTHERS: Noel Arguelles, LHP; Mike Antonio, SS; Willian Avinazar, RHP; Jarrod Dyson, OF; Yowill Espinal, 2B; Nick Francis, OF; Blaine Hardy, LHP; Greg Holland, RHP; Lucas May, C; Paulo Orlando, OF; Edgar Osuna, LHP; Manny Pina, C; Derrick Robinson, OF; Leonel Santiago, RHP; Crawford Simmons, LHP; Tim Smith, OF; Everett Teaford, LHP
RESULT: In the "others" section, Greg Holland turned into an excellent closer while Jarrod Dyson and Paulo Orlando are workable reserve players.
Overall, this list turned out pretty well, with the top prospects either becoming mainstays or being involved in crucial trades, plus breakout candidates like Ventura and Perez actually broke through.