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Top 50 Hitting Prospects of 2004

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David Wright
David Wright
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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.

This is 1999.

And 2000!

HAL wants you to check out 2001.

Don't miss 2002.

Here are the Top 50 hitters from 2003.

And the Top 50 Pitchers from 2003.

2004 Hitters

1) Joe Mauer , C, Twins, Grade A: Grade verified.

2) Bobby Crosby, SS, Athletics, Grade A:
Good until he got hurt.

3) Rickie Weeks, 2B, Brewers, Grade A:
Hit .247/.344/.422 in 5000 PA, wRC+107, fWAR 17.0, 131 steals. Health problems an issue here but he’s been a productive when healthy, if not quite as good as expected. Grade verified.

4) Melvin (B.J.) Upton , SS, Devil Rays, Grade A:
Hit .243/.321/.402 in 5858 PA, wRC+98, fWAR 24.7, 300 steals. Did not live up to early promise but as with Weeks we can’t call him a failure either. Grade verified.

5) Casey Kotchman, 1B, Angels, Grade A:
Did not fully verify.

6) Justin Morneau , 1B, Twins, Grade A:
Grade verified.

7) Andy Marte, 3B, Braves: Grade A:
Hit .218/.276/.358 in 940 PA, wRC+67, fWAR -2.3. One of the great prospect busts in recent history, effective in Triple-A but could never get over the hump, age relative to league did not pan out in this case.

8) Jeff Mathis, C, Angels, Grade A-:
Useful role player but grade too high.

9) David Wright, 3B, Mets, Grade A-:
Grade verified.

10) Jeremy Reed , OF, White Sox, Grade A-:
Hit .252/.309/.354 in 1376 PA, wRC+78, fWAR 2.0. Good glove but could not live up to gaudy minor league batting averages. Did not verify.

11) Grady Sizemore, OF, Indians, Grade A-:
Hit .265/.349/.457 in 4724 PA, wRC+115, fWAR 28.9. Outstanding for four seasons then evaporated due to injuries. Grade verified.

12) Prince Fielder , 1B, Brewers, Grade A-:
Hit .283/.382/.506 in 6853 PA, wRC+133, fWAR 27.1, 319 homers. Grade verified.

13) Scott Hairston, 2B, DBacks, Grade B+:
Role player.

14) Alexis Rios, OF, Blue Jays, Grade B+:
Hit .277/.321/.434 in 6929 PA, wRC+98, fWAR 25.8. Grade verified.

15) Josh Barfield, 2B, Padres, Grade B+:
Hit .264/.295/.375 in 1075 PA, wRC+75, fWAR 1.1. Had one good year then fizzled. Did not verify.

16) Delmon Young, OF, Devil Rays, Grade B+:
Hit .283/.316/.421 in 4371 PA, wRC+96, fWAR -1.8. Advanced metrics hate him due to terrible defense but he played regularly for seven years. A failure in terms of what was expected, but not a complete bust in the way the term is usually understood.

17) Jason Bay, OF, Pirates, Grade B+:
Hit .266/.360/.481 in 5258 PA, wRC+121, fWAR 20.2. Good solid player. Grade verified.

18) David DeJesus, OF, Royals, Grade B+:
Hit .275/.349/.412 in 5916 PA, wRC+105, fWAR 24.7. Good solid player. Grade verified.

19) Mike Aubrey , 1B, Indians, Grade B+:
Hit .259/.310/.444 in 145 PA, wRC+96, fWAR 0.1. Career was destroyed by injuries.

20) Dallas McPherson, 3B, Angels, Grade B+:
Hit .241/.292/.446 in 414 PA, wRC+92, fWAR 1.2. Effective minor league slugger with strike zone issues and frequent injuries. Did not verify. I did not adjust enough for park effects in this case.

21) Dioner Navarro, C, Yankees, Grade B+:
Hit .250/.309/.370 in 3551 PA, wRC+83, fWAR 6.4. Long career due to his defense.

22) Khalil Greene, SS, Padres, Grade B+:
Started off well, then faded.

23) Guillermo Quiroz , C, Blue Jays, Grade B+:
Hit .201/.258/.280 in 377 PA, wRC+43, fWAR -1.5. Good glove but bat was even worse than Navarro’s, confining Quiroz to Triple-A. Did not verify.

24) James Loney, 1B, Dodgers, Grade B+:
Hit .284/.336/.410 in 5487 PA, wRC+103, fWAR 7.3. Not a masher but started regularly for ten years. Grade verified.

25) Gabe Gross, OF, Blue Jays, Grade B+:
Some role player value but grade too high.

26) Jayson Nix, 2B, Rockies, Grade B+:
Hit .214/.285/.347 in 1454 PA, wRC+69, fWAR 1.2. Drifted between Triple-A and utility work and still doing so. Poor strike zone judgment a factor.

27) Brent Clevlen , OF, Tigers, Grade B+:
Hit .234/.280/.429 in 84 PA, wRC+80, fWAR 0.3. Bat topped out in Triple-A. Did not verify.

28) Jeremy Hermida, OF, Marlins, Grade B+: Hit .257/.334/.415 in 2261 PA, wRC+96, fWAR 1.7. Another mystery, started off well with fine rookie season and then his talent melted away. Now just a good Triple-A hitter.

29) Jose Lopez, SS,Mariners, Grade B+:
Not a big success, not a total bust.

30) Aaron Hill, SS, Blue Jays, Grade B+:
Hit .267/.324/.420 in 6137 PA, wRC+97, fWAR 21.2. Good solid regular player. Grade verified.

31) Sergio Santos, SS, Diamondbacks, Grade B+:
Couldn’t hit Triple-A pitching. Bust as a hitter, converted to mound work, 3.98 ERA in 194 innings, 3.41 FIP, fWAR 2.3. Nice way to rebuild a career.

32) Hanley Ramirez, SS, Red Sox, Grade B+
: Grade verified.

33) Larry Broadway, 1B, Expos, Grade B+:
Never reached the majors although he was a decent minor league slugger. Hit 104 homers in the minors but quit at age 28.

34) Jason Lane, OF, Astros, Grade B:
Role player, became a pitcher and threw 10 innings in the majors.

35) Chad Tracy, 3B, Diamondbacks, Grade B:
Good role player.

36) Chris Burke, 2B, Astros
: Did not verify.

37) Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Rangers, Grade B:
Grade verified.

38) Justin Huber, C, Mets, Grade B
. Did not verify.

39) Adam LaRoche, 1B, Braves, Grade B
: Hit .260/.336/.462 in 6329 PA, wRC+110, fWAR 11.3, 255 homers. Grade verified.

40) Russ Adams, SS, Blue Jays, Grade B:
Did not verify.

41) J.J. Hardy, SS, Brewers, Grade B:
Hit .258/.308/.412 in 6041 PA, wRC+91, fWAR 28.9, excellent defense. Grade verified.

42) Corey Hart, 3B, Brewers, Grade B:
Hit .271/.329/.478 in 4114 PA, wRC+113, fWAR 12.8. Solid hitter. Grade verified.

43) Ian Stewart, 3B, Rockies, Grade B:
Hit .229/.315/.415 in 1692 PA, wRC+83, fWAR 2.2. A huge disappointment, reminding us again of importance of park/league context. Did not verify.

44) Shin-Soo Choo, OF, Mariners, Grade B:
Hit .280/.381/.452 in 5069 PA, wRC+129, fWAR 28.8. Obviously very successful. Grade verified.

45) Jeff Francoeur, OF, Braves, Grade B:
Hit .261/.303/.416 in 5661 PA, wRC+88, fWAR 5.5. You know his story. Not very good but stayed employed a long time, can’t be considered a true bust.

46) Aaron Baldiris, INF, Mets, Grade B:
Bat fizzled out in Triple-A, went to Japan and played well for several years. Did not verify.

47) Delwyn Young, 2B, Dodgers, Grade B:
Hit .258/.317/.393 in 779 PA, wRC+91, fWAR 0.6. Bat topped out in Triple-A. Did not verify.

48) Erick Aybar, SS, Angels, Grade B:
Hit .273/.314/.373 in 5257 PA, wRC+90, fWAR 18.7. Good solid player. Grade verified.

49) Alberto Callaspo, 2B, Angels, Grade B:
Hit .265/.329/.364 in 3956 PA, wRC+91, fWAR 8.0. Some value as a role player.

50) Cody Ross, OF, Tigers, Grade B:
Hit .262/.322/.445 in 3806 PA, wRC+103, fWAR 12.9, 132 homers. Grade verified.

COMMENTARY: And now the disastrous Andy Marte Era begins. . .I find this list very disappointing.