With 20 years of prospect lists on the docket, I am going back and reviewing the top prospects from my books, the STATS Minor League Scouting Notebook (1996 through 2002) and the Baseball Prospect Book (2003-2016). The very brief comments provided include a statistical summary (through the 2016 season) and a marker on whether I considered the grade verified or not.
The lists from 1996 through 2002 were unified Top 50 lists with both hitters and pitchers.
There is a gray area of course, some players who were not as good as expected but not exactly failures, either. For me, a bust is a player that you get nothing out of.
Generally speaking, I am more interested in the players who didn’t make it than the ones who did.
4) Carlos Pena, 1B, Rangers, Grade A: Hit .232/.346/.462 in 5893 PA, wRC+117, fWAR 16.9, 286 homers. Although not quite as good as expected, he was a productive regular. Grade verified.
5) Sean Burroughs, 3B, Padres, Grade A-: Did not verify.
6) Jose Ortiz, 2B, Athletics, Grade A-: Hit .243/.305/.379 in 498 PA, wRC+63, fWAR -0.1. Went to Japan in 2003, very successful there and in the Mexican League. Might have verified under different conditions.
7) Austin Kearns, OF, Reds, Grade A-: Hit .253/.351/.413 in 4179 PA, wRC+104, fWAR 17.9. Didn’t live up to expectations but played for a decade and had some good years.
8) Kevin Mench, OF, Rangers, Grade A-: Hit .268/.324/.456 in 2597 PA, wRC+98, fWAR 8.1. Played regularly for three years, solid role player but didn’t meet expectations.
9) Marcus Giles, 2B, Braves, Grade A-: Hit .277/.353/.429 in 3340 PA, wRC+107, fWAR 18.0. Career was short but very productive. Grade verified.
10) Albert Pujols, 3B, Cardinals, Grade A-: Hit .309/.392/.573 in 10552 PA, wRC+153, fWAR 91.2. One of the best hitters in baseball history. Grade verified.
11) Vernon Wells, OF, Blue Jays, Grade B+: Grade verified.
12) Wilson Betemit, SS, Braves, Grade B+: Career .267/.332/.442 in 2335 PA, wRC+104, fWAR 2.7. He’s been a slightly above-average hitter in aggregate and a useful role player. Not a total bust.
13) Abraham Nunez, OF, Marlins, Grade B+: Did not verify.
14) D’Angelo Jimenez, SS, Yankees, Grade B+: Good role player but grade too high.
15) Nick Johnson, 1B, Yankees, Grade B+: Verified when healthy.
16) Joe Borchard, OF, White Sox, Grade B+: Career .205/.284/.352 in 800 PA, wRC+62, fWAR -1.25. Tools bust, could hit in Triple-A but unable to translate that to the majors. Did not verify.
17) Drew Henson, 3B, Yankees, Grade B+: Did not verify.
18) Adam Dunn, OF, Reds, Grade B+: Grade verified.
19) J.R. House, C, Pirates, Grade B+: Hit .167/.206/.367 in 63 PA, wRC+46, fWAR -0.3. Effective Triple-A hitter but never got over the hump, injuries in ’02-’03 were a factor.
20) Aubrey Huff, 3B, Devil Rays, Grade B+: Hit .278/.342/.464 in 6786 PA, wRC+111, fWAR 17.3. Very solid hitter. Grade verified.
21) Ben Broussard, 1B, Reds, Grade B+: Good role player.
22) Dee Brown, OF, Royals, Grade B+: Bust.
23) Pablo Ozuna, INF, Marlins, Grade B+: Did not verify. False age.
24) Keith Ginter, 2B, Astros, Grade B+: Hit .243/.329/.422 in 1118 PA, wRC+96, fWAR 2.1. Two years as a regular, had some moments of success. Grade too high but not a total bust.
25) Joe Crede, 3B, White Sox, Grade B+: Hit .254/.304/.444 in 3377 PA, wRC+90, fWAR 12.9. Solid player due to defense and occasional power. Grade verified.
26) Antonio Perez, SS, Mariners, Grade B+: Hit .244/.320/.347 in 557 PA, wRC+79, fWAR 0.0. Decent year for the Dodgers in 2005 but was otherwise unsuccessful, kept getting hurt.
27) Alex Escobar, OF, Met, Grade B+: Did not verify.
28) Milton Bradley, OF, Expos, Grade B+: Grade verified.
29) Luis Rivas, 2B, Twins, Grade B+: Hit .257/.303/.377 in 2290 PA, wRC+77, fWAR 0.3. Played regularly for four years but never blossomed as the Twins thought he would. Age-relative-to-league guy who didn’t improve.
30) Hank Blalock, 3B, Rangers, Grade B+: Hit .269/.329/.463 in 3928 PA, wRC+100, fWAR 9.6. Career got off to an excellent start, played like a star in ’03 and ’04 then collapsed. I think the talent level was correctly evaluated . Grade verified.
31) Jack Cust, 1B, Diamondbacks, Grade B+: Good role player.
COMMENTARY: Huge misses at the top with Patterson and Choi. Pujols at 10 was actually ranked quite highly in comparison to where he was on some other lists, but I wish I had been even more aggressive with him for obvious reasons. Spotty results otherwise with some holdover failures from past seasons. Rivas was an age-relative-to-league guy who did not develop.
1) Ryan Anderson, LHP, Mariners, Grade A: Injury bust.
2) Ben Sheets RHP, Brewers, Grade A: Career 3.78 ERA in 1597 innings, 3.6 FIP, fWAR 30.7. Excellent when healthy. Grade verified.
3) Josh Beckett, RHP, Marlins, Grade A: Grade verified.
4) Jon Rauch, RHP, White Sox, Grade A: Career 3.90 ERA in 595 innings, 4.00 FIP, fWAR 5.7, 62 saves. Got hurt in 2001, but built a career as a reliever. Effective when healthy. Partially verified.
5) Roy Oswalt, RHP, Astros, Grade A: Career 3.36 ERA in 2245 innings, 3.37 FIP, fWAR 49.8. One of the top starters of his generation. Grade verified.
6) C.C. Sabathia, LHP, Indians, Grade A-: Career 3.70 ERA in 3168 innings, 3.66 FIP, fWAR 63.4 One of the top pitchers of his generation. Grade verified.
7) Bobby Bradley, RHP, Pirates, Grade A-: Didn’t make the majors, Tommy John in 2001, out of baseball by age 25. Injury bust.
8) Chin-Hui Tsao, RHP, Rockies, Grade A-: Career 5.40 ERA in 88 innings, 5.89 FIP, fWAR -0.2. Wasn’t the same after Tommy John surgery in 2001. Bust.
9) Ben Christensen, RHP, Cubs, Grade B+: Had shoulder surgery then Tommy John surgery. Didn’t make majors. Karmic injury bust.
10) Jovanny Cedeno, RHP, Rangers, Grade B+: Shoulder surgery in 2001 ended his career. Injury bust.
11) Adam Johnson, RHP, Twins, Grade B+: 10.38 ERA in 26 innings. Lost both velocity and command on reaching Triple-A. Bust.
12) Matt Belisle, RHP, Braves, Grade B+: Career 4.40 ERA in 742 innings, 3.84 FIP, fWAR 9.6. Missed all of 2001 with ruptured disc, came back in ’02 but was never quite the same. Built a career as a decent reliever.
13) Juan Cruz, RHP, Cubs, Grade B+: Career 4.05 ERA in 655 innings, 4.19 FIP, fWAR 4.3. Failed as a starter but built a career as a decent reliever.
14) Nick Neugebauer, RHP, Brewers, Grade B+: Career 4.99 ERA in 61 innings, 5.86 FIP, fWAR -0.4. Started 14 games for the Brewers, but career ruined by rotator cuff surgery. Injury bust.
15) Matt Kinney, RHP Twins, Grade B+: Career 5.29 ERA in 390 innings, 4.94 FIP, fWAR 2.4. Showed flashes but never put his command together. Did not verify.
16) Chris George, LHP, Royals, Grade B+: Career 6.49 ERA in 237 innings, 5.59 FIP, fWAR 1.3. He just wasn’t very good. Did not verify.
17) Tim Redding, RHP, Astros. Grade B+: Career 4.95 ERA in 822 innings, 4.88 FIP, fWAR 4.0. Decent seasons with Houston in 2003 and Washington in 2008 but ultimately could not hold job due to command troubles.
18) Jesus Colome, RHP, Devil Rays, Grade B+: Fair reliever.
19) Bud Smith, LHP, Cardinals, Grade B+: Career 4.95 ERA in 133 innings, 4.50 FIP, fWAR 1.2. Threw a no-hitter as
a rookie in 2001. Arm fell off in 2003. Injury bust.
COMMENTARY: Again, most of the big busts were related to injury.