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.
We looked at 1996 here. Players who first appeared on the list in 1996 have their stats in that article.
We looked at 1997 here. Players who first appeared on the list in '97 have their stats there.
Here's 1998. Players who first appeared on the list in '98 have their stats there.
HAL wants you to check out 2001.
1) Hank Blalock, 3B, Rangers, Grade A: Didn’t live up to this spot but had good seasons.
2) Sean Burroughs, 3B,Padres, Grade A: Did not verify.
3) Carlos Pena, 1B, Rangers, Grade A: Grade verified.
4) Wilson Betemit, SS, Braves, Grade A-: Good role player but grade too high.
5) Mark Teixeira, 3B, Rangers, Grade A-: Hit .268/.360/.509 in 6992 PA, wRC+127, fWAR 45.0. Excellent career. Grade verified.
6) Nick Johnson, 1B, Yankees, Grade A-: Grade verified when healthy.
7) Mike Cuddyer, 3B, Twins, Grade A-: Grade verified.
8) Austin Kearns, OF, Reds, Grade A-: Grade verified.
9) Angel Berroa, SS, Royals, Grade A-: Hit .258/.303/.374 in 2807 PA, wRC+73, fWAR 0.4. Rookie of the Year in 2003 then faded very quickly. Was using a false age and was two years older than claimed. Would not have rated this highly if the true birthday had been known.
10) Kelly Johnson, SS, Braves, Grade A-: Hit .247/.330/.422 in 5139 PA, wRC+102, fWAR 18.5. Good solid player. Grade verified.
11) Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Marlins, Grade A-: Career .290/.362/.492 in 7607 PA, wRC+130, fWAR 39.0. Excellent career. Grade verified.
12) Hee Seop Choi, 1B, Cubs, Grade B+: Did not verify.
13) Gabe Gross, OF, Blue Jays, Grade B+: Hit .239/.330/.385 in 1682 PA, wRC+91, fWAR 5.0. Had some value as a role player 2006-2009 but didn’t live up to the grade.
14) Joe Borchard, OF, White Sox, Grade B+: Did not verify.
15) Jayson Werth, C, Blue Jays, Grade B+: Career .269/.362/.458 in 6077 PA, wRC+121, fWAR 35.4. A very productive long-term regular. Grade verified.
16) Ben Broussard, 1B, Reds, Grade B+: Good role player.
17) Joe Mauer, C, Twins, Grade B+: Career .308/.391/.446 in 6820 PA, 125 wRC+, fWAR 45.9. Another star and one of the best catchers in history, grade verified.
18) Brandon Phillips, SS, Expos, Grade B+: Career .275/.320/.421 in 7361 PA, 95 wRC+, fWAR 30.6. Struggled early in his career but grade eventually verified.
19) Miguel Cabrera, 3B, Marlins, Grade B+: Career .321/.399/.562 in 9001 PA, 153 wRC+, fWAR 68.0. One of the best hitters of his generation, a genuine superstar. Grade verified.
20) Chin Feng Chen, OF, Dodgers, Grade B+: Did not verify.
21) Drew Henson, 3B, Yankees, Grade B+: Did not verify.
22) Justin Morneau, 1B, Twins, Grade B+: Career .281/.348/.481 in 6392 PA, 116 wRC+, 247 homers, fWAR 22.5. Excellent hitter until injuries took their toll. Grade verified.
23) John Buck, C, Astros, Grade B+: Career .234/.301/.398 in 4004 PA, wRC+ 84, fWAR 10.6. Another guy who was not a star but has had some useful seasons.
24) Chris Burke, SS, Astros, Grade B+: Hit .239/.315/.359 in 1443 PA, wRC+76, fWAR 0.7. Good Triple-A player but never hit well enough to hold a big league job permanently. Did not verify.
25) Xavier Nady, 1B, Padres, Grade B+: Career .268/.323/.432 in 3241 PA, wRC+99 but hit 104 homers, fWAR 4.4. Had some useful moments due to his power but didn’t live up to expectations.
26) Chris Snelling, OF, Mariners, Grade B+: Career .244/.360/.400 in 273 PA, wRC+107, fWAR 0.2. One of the great recent what-ifs: I think Snelling would have been a fine player but he could not stay healthy.
27) Morgan Ensberg, 3B, Astros, Grade B+: Hit .263/.362/.468 in 2580 PA, wRC+116, fWAR 14.3. Played regularly for four years, career didn’t last long but he was productive. Grade verified.
28) Jose Reyes, SS, Mets, Grade B+: Career .289/.338/.431 in 7528 PA, 105 wRC+, fWAR 42.3. Grade verified, another successful long-term regular.
29) Marlon Byrd, OF, Phillies, Grade B+: Career .275/.329/.430 in 6123 PA, wRC+ 102, fWAR 22.4. A long and productive career overall despite some ups-and-downs. Grade verified.
30) John Ford Griffin, OF, Yankees, Grade B+: Career .304/.370/.696 in 27 PA, wRC+ 168, fWAR 0.2. An effective Triple-A slugger who hit well in very limited major league action. A bust since he never established himself in the majors, but under different circumstances he may have been valuable.
31) Abraham Nunez, OF, Marlins, Grade B+: Did not verify.
COMMENTARY: For a few years this looked very good with Blalock at the top, but he faded too quickly. Berroa was an Age-Gate player who would not have been ranked that high if his true birthday had been known at the time.
1) Josh Beckett, RHP, Marlins, Grade A: Grade verified.
2) Dennis Tankersley, RHP, Padres, Grade A-: Career 7.61 ERA in 86 innings, 5.6 FIP, fWAR -0.7. Decent Triple-A pitcher but command wasn’t good enough in the majors. Did not verify.
3) Juan Cruz, RHP, Cubs, Grade A-: Decent reliever.
4) Mark Prior, RHP, Cubs, Grade A-: Career 3.51 ERA in 657 innings, 3.41 FIP, fWAR 15.4. Excellent until his arm fell off. Grade verified in talent terms.
5) Jake Peavy, RHP, Padres, Grade A-: Career 3.63 ERA in 2377 innings, 3.65 FIP, fWAR 44.5. Very effective pitcher. Grade verified.
6) Brandon Claussen, LHP, Yankees, Grade B+: Career 5.04 ERA in 316 innings, 4.88 FIP, fWAR 2.7. Decent year for the Reds in 2005, then his arm fell off.
7) Boof Bonser, RHP, Giants, Grade B+: Career 5.18 ERA, 4.55 FIP in 417 innings, fWAR 4.0. Had some flashes of success with the Twins until his arm fell off.
8) Rafael Soriano, RHP, Mariners, Grade B+: Career 2.89 ERA, 3.35 FIP in 636 innings, fWAR 10.6, 207 saves. Grade verified.
9) Jeff Heaverlo, RHP, Mariners, Grade B+: Never reached majors, career ruined by shoulder injury.
10) Corwin Malone, LHP, White Sox, Grade B+: Never reached majors, command collapsed in Double-A.
11) Dewon Brazelton, RHP, Devil Rays, Grade B+: Career 6.38 ERA, 5.88 FIP in 271 innings, fWAR -0.6. Inability to develop secondary pitches made him a bust.
12) Kenny Baugh, RHP, Tigers, Grade B+: Never reached majors, lost his stuff after shoulder injury.
13) Jim Journell, RHP, Cardinals, Grade B+: 13 innings in majors. Career ruined by shoulder injury.
14) Adam Wainwright, RHP, Braves, Grade B+: Career 3.17 ERA, 3.21 FIP in 1768 innings, fWAR 38.2. One of the best of his generation. Grade verified.
15) Carlos Hernandez, LHP, Astros, Grade B+: Career 4.54 ERA in 171 innings, 4.89 FIP, fWAR 1.2. Got off to a decent start in the majors but hurt his shoulder and was never the same.
16) Brad Thomas, LHP, Twins, Grade B+: Career 5.80 ERA in 104 innings, 5.40 FIP, fWAR -0.6. Got hurt, went to Japan, back to US and emerged in Tigers bullpen in 2010 until getting hurt again.
17) Aaron Heilman, RHP, Mets, Grade B+: Career 4.40 ERA, 4.22 FIP in 630 innings, fWAR 3.3. Had a couple of decent bullpen seasons. Not a total bust but quite disappointing.
18) Seung Song, RHP, Expos, Grade B+: Did not make majors. Never the same after ‘04 shoulder injury.
19) Kurt Ainsworth, RHP, Giants, Grade B+: Career 5.19 ERA, 4.88 FIP in 127 innings, fWAR 0.6. Injury bust due to broken bone in shoulder and torn rotator cuff.
COMMENTARY: More injury busts. Beckett looks great at the top, but Tankersley was an arm strength guy who didn’t pan out. Note conglomeration of shoulder injuries.