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. 2003 was the first year with Top 50 Hitters and Top 50 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.
1) Mark Teixeira, 3B, Rangers, Grade A: Grade verified.
2) Joe Mauer, C, Twins, Grade A: Grade verified.
3) Victor Martinez, C, Indians , Grade A: Career .301/.366/.467 in 7223 PA, 122 wRC+, fWAR 30.8. Very successful career, grade verified.
4) Brandon Phillips, 2B, Indians, Grade A: Grade verified.
5) Mike Cuddyer, OF, Twins, Grade A: Grade verified.
6) Jose Reyes , SS, Mets, Grade A: Grade verified.
7) Hee Seop Choi , 1B, Cubs, Grade A: Did not verify.
8) Scott Hairston, 2B, DBacks, Grade A-: Career .243/.296/.442 in 2660 PA, 96 wRC+, fWAR 5.2. He had long career as a spare part, hit 106 homers, but did not live up to his full potential. Not a total bust, but the grade was too high.
9) Miguel Cabrera, 3B, Marlins, Grade A-: Grade verified. Wish I'd had him higher.
10) Travis Hafner , 1B, Indians, Grade A-: Career .273/.376/.498 in 4782 PA, 132 wRC+, fWAR 20.8. 213 career home runs and a long, productive career. Grade verified.
11) Jason Stokes , 1B, Marlins, Grade A-: Never reached the majors. Hit 92 homers in the minor leagues but fizzled out due to strikeout problems and a serious back injury. Injury bust.
12) Justin Morneau, 1B, Twins, Grade A-: Grade verified.
13) Casey Kotchman, 1B, Angels, Grade A-: Career .260/.326/.385 in 3412 PA, wRC+93, fWAR 2.5. Had a couple of good years but never put everything together. Not a total bust but certainly a significant disappointment.
14) Adrian Gonzalez , 1B, Marlins, Grade A-: Grade verified.
15) Marlon Byrd, OF, Phillies, Grade B+: Grade verified.
16) Jose Lopez, SS, Mariners, Grade B+: Career .262/.292/.395 in 4089 PA, wRC+ 82, fWAR 5.2. Not a star but held a job for several years, not a huge success but not a bust either.
17) Jeff Mathis, C, Angels:, Grade B+: Career .197/.254/.308 in 2273 PA, wRC+ 49, fWAR -0.7. Hung around due to his defense but never developed as a hitter. Grade was too high.
18) Lyle Overbay, 1B, Diamondbacks, Grade B+: Career .266/.347/.429 in 5801 PA, wRC+ 105, fWAR 10.3. Not a star but had a long career. Verified.
19) Juan Rivera, OF, Yankees, Grade B+: Career .274/.323/.443 in 3787 PA, wRC+102, fWAR 7.4. Did not reach his ceiling but he had some good seasons.
20) Jose Castillo, SS, Pirates, Grade B+: Career .254/.296/.379 in 2059 PA, wRC+ 72, fWAR -2.0. Held a job for three years but never developed and ended up as a star in Mexico. Serious disappointment
21) John Buck, C, Astros, Grade B+: Useful role player.
22) Laynce Nix , OF, Rangers, Grade B+: Career .240/.286/.417 in 2063 PA, wRC+ 79, fWAR 2.9. Saw some time as a role player but never emerged as a regular. Disappointing. Contact troubles a big issue.
23) Shin-Soo Choo, OF, Mariners, Grade B+: Career .280/.381/.452 in 5069 PA, wRC+ 129, fWAR 28.8 A very productive player with strong across-the-board skills. Grade verified.
24) Jayson Werth , OF, Blue Jays, Grade B+: Grade verified.
25) Rocco Baldelli , OF, Devil Rays, Grade B+: Career .278/.323/.443 in 2065 PA, wRC+ 98, fWAR 7.6. This one is an injury bust as his career was ruined by health problems.
26) David Wright , 3B, Mets, Grade B+: Career .296/.376/.491 in 6869 PA, wRC+ 133, fWAR 53.2. A genuine superstar, grade verified.
27) Khalil Greene, SS, Padres, Grade B+: Career .245/.302/.411 in 2835 PA, wRC+ 91, fWAR 7.8. Career got off to a good start, but foundered due to physical problems and social anxiety. I think this should count as a health bust.
28) Bobby Crosby, SS, Athletics, Grade B+: Career .236/.304/.372 in 2846 PA, wRC+ 80, fWAR 6.7. Like Greene he got off to a good start but was never the same after a series of injuries. Does a guy who won Rookie of the Year count as a bust? I’d say injury bust.
29) Justin Huber , C, Mets, Grade B+: Career .224/.276/.304 in 175 PA, wRC+ 55, fWAR -1.1. Topped out as a Triple-A hitter. Bust.
30) John-Ford Griffin OF, Blue Jays , Grade B+: Did not verify.
31) Hanley Ramirez, SS, Red Sox, Grade B+: Career .295/.366/.495 in 6322 PA, wRC+ 129, fWAR 41.1. An obvious superstar, grade verified.
32) Brendan Harris , INF, Cubs, Grade B+: Career .256/.314/.381 in 1876 PA, wRC+85, fWAR 1.5. Played regularly for three years but otherwise a bench asset. Not a total bust but not as good as expected.
33) Chris Snelling , OF, Mariners, Grade B+: Injury bust.
34) Xavier Nady, OF, Padres, Grade B+: Useful role player.
35) Ken Harvey, 1B, Royals, Grade B+: Career .274/.322/.411 in 1078 PA, wRC+86, fWAR -2.1. Might have improved with better health but overall a big bust.
36) Todd Linden , OF, Giants, Grade B+: Career .231/.303/.336 in 559 PA, wRC+68, fWAR 0.3. Toolsy type topped out as a Triple-A player. Bust.
37) Jeremy Brown, C, Athletics, Grade B+: Career .300/.364/.500 in 11 PA,wRC+125, fWAR 0.0. Made famous by Moneyball, Brown topped out in Triple-A, though he played well there and hit well in miniscule big league trial. Retired early. Bust.
38) Brad Nelson , 1B, Brewers, Grade B+: Career .071/.161/.143 in 31 PA, wRC+-22, fWAR -0.4. Topped out as a productive Triple-A slugger. Bust.
39) Kevin Youkilis, 3B, Red Sox, Grade B+: Career .281/.382/.478 in 4436 PA, wRC+127, fWAR 28.5. A big sabermetric success story. Grade verified.
40) Jason Pridie, OF, Devil Rays, Grade B+: Career .216/.290/.351 in 276 PA, wRC+78, fWAR 0.0. Good defensive outfielder and a decent Triple-A hitter but not enough bat to stick in the majors.
41) Jake Gautreau, 2B, Padres, Grade B+: Never reached the majors. Hit .254/.326/.425 with 81 homers in minor league career, topping out in Triple-A. Bust.
42) Michael Restovich, OF, Twins, Grade B+ Did not verify.
43) Joe Thurston, 2B, Dodgers, Grade B: Career .226/.303/.323 in 384 PA, wRC+67, fWAR -0.2. Couldn’t hit well enough to hold big league job but became a long-term regular in Triple-A and Mexico.
44) Tony Alvarez, OF, Pirates, Grade B: Career .250/.324/.406 in 75 PA, wRC+ 90, fWAR 0.0. Good AAA season in ’04, injured in ’05, disappeared in ‘06, I’m not sure why. Bust.
45) Chad Tracy, 3B, DBAcks, Grade B: Career .277/.333/.439 in 2988 PA, wRC+95, fWAR 6.6. Didn’t live up to full potential due to injuries, but he had some good seasons and I consider this grade verified.
46) Wilson Betemit , SS, Braves, Grade B: Useful role player.
47) Josh Hamilton, OF, Devil Rays, Grade B: Grade verified.
48) Joe Borchard, OF, White Sox, Grade B: Did not verify.
49) Jason Lane, OF, Astros, Grade B: Career .241/.314/.457 in 1364 PA, wRC+98, fWAR 1.8. Hit decently in the majors in ’03, ’04, and ’05 but lost job quickly and ended up as a Triple-A slugger. Now pitching.
50) Russ Adams, INF, Blue Jays, Grade B: Career .247/.313/.372 in 993 PA, wRC+78, fWAR -1.0. A little early success but couldn’t hold the job, wound up as good Triple-A player.
COMMENTARY: This was the first 50/50 list, 50 hitters and 50 pitchers. As you would expect, the outcomes weaken as you go further down the list, but it looked very good at the top with Teixeira and Mauer living up to expectations. Indeed, eight of the top ten fully verified, with only Choi and a disappointing Hairston standing out as mistakes. I wish I had put Cabrera higher.