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.
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.
Want some more hitters? Here are the Top 50 from 2004.
And there are the pitchers from 2004.
Hitters? More hitters, this time from 2005.
1) Delmon Young, OF, Rays, Grade A: Ugh.
2) Jeremy Hermida, OF, Marlins, Grade A: Ugh.
3) Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Nationals, Grade A: Hit .278/.343/.467 in 6040 PA, wRC+115, fWAR 33.4. Outstanding player in all respects until injuries stuck. Grade verified.
4) Brandon Wood, SS, Angels, Grade A: Hit .186/.225/.289 in 751 PA, wRC+36, fWAR -2.9. One of the greatest busts in recent history, undone by inability to make consistent contact.
5) Andy Marte, 3B, Red Sox, Grade A: Another huge bust.
6) Carlos Quentin, OF, Diamondbacks, Grade A: Grade verified when healthy.
7) Alex Gordon, 3B, Royals, Grade A: Hit .264/.345/.430 in 5324 PA, wRC+110, fWAR 30.7. Did not become George Brett. Instead became an outstanding defensive outfielder with a solid bat. Grade verified.
8) Stephen Drew, SS, Diamondbacks, Grade A-: Solid enough.
9) Prince Fielder, 1B, Brewers, Grade A-: Grade verified.
10) Howie Kendrick, 2B, Angels, Grade A-: Grade verified.
11) Chris Young, OF, Diamondbacks, Grade A-: Career .237/.316/.432 in 4912 PA, wRC+96, fWAR 18.5 Four solid seasons and a good glove. Grade verified.
12) Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C, Braves, Grade A-: Career .234/.309/.413 in 3157 PA, wRC+92, fWAR 9.5. Took some time but he figured it out enough to be a regular. Not a star, but has held his job.
13) Joel Guzman, SS-OF, Dodgers, Grade A-: Did not verify.
14) Justin Upton, SS, Diamondbacks, Grade A-: Hit .268/.347/.472 in 5560 PA, wRC+119, fWAR 27.8. Very potent bat. Grade verified.
15) Ian Stewart, 3B, Rockies, Grade A-: Did not verify.
16) Nick Markakis, OF, Orioles, Grade A-: Grade verified.
17) Lastings Milledge, OF, Mets, Grade A-: Career .269/.328/.395 in 1659 PA, WRC+92, fWAR 0.1. Great tools but undone by injuries and other issues. Did not verify.
18) Daric Barton, 1B, Athletics, Grade A-: Disappointing. Grade too high.
19) Jeff Clement, C, Mariners, Grade A-: Career .218/.277/.371 in 421 PA, wRC+ 73, fWAR -0.9. Effective Triple-A slugger but unable to transition it to the majors. Did not verify.
20) Conor Jackson, 1B, Dbacks, Grade A-: Good when healthy.
21) Andy LaRoche, 3B, Dodgers, Grade B+: Career .226/.304/.336 in 1336 PA, wRC+73, fWAR 0.2. One decent season in 2009 but otherwise disappointing, health issues. Did not verify.
22) Ryan Braun, 3B, Brewers, Grade B+: Career .304/.367/.544 in 5819 PA, wRC+141, fWAR 38.7, 181 steals too. Everybody hates him but those are the numbers. Grade verified.
23) Kendrys Morales, 1B, Angels, Grade B+: Grade verified.
24) Russell Martin, C, Dodgers, Grade B+: Hit .254/.350/.404 in 5682 PA, wRC+106, fWAR 34.7. Very effective player. Grade verified.
25) Felix Pie, OF, Cubs, Grade B+: Hit .246/.295/.369 in 1082 PA, wRC+72, fWAR -1.2. All the tools in the world but never learned how to use them. Did not verify.
26) Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Rockies, Grade B+: Hit .292/.364/.501 in 5142 PA, wRC+120, fWAR 38.3. Outstanding player in all respects. Grade verified.
27) Adam Jones, OF, Mariners, Grade B+: Hit .277/.318/.463 in 5740 PA, wRC+107, fWAR 26.9 Toolsy outfielder made good, developed power to go with glove. Grade verified.
28) Erick Aybar, SS, Angels, Grade B+: Grade verified.
29) Billy Butler, OF, Royals, Grade B+: Grade verified.
30) Blake DeWitt, 3B, Dodgers, Grade B+: Hit .257/.324/.381 in 1247 PA, wRC+87, fWAR 1.8. A few moments as an adequate role player but just didn’t hit enough. Did not verify.
31) Carlos Gonzalez, OF, Diamondbacks, Grade B+: Hit .291/.347/.521 in 4347 PA, wRC+118, fWAR 22.8. Home park helps but legitimate ability. Grade verified.
32) Marcus Sanders, 2B, Giants, Grade B+: Didn’t make majors, was never the same after 2006 shoulder injury. Health bust.
33) George Kottaras, C, Padres, Grade B+: Career .215/.326/.411 in 858 PA, wRC+100, fWAR 3.2. I think he could have done more with more opportunity. Didn’t justify the grade but he had some value.
34) Kevin Melillo, 2B, Athletics, Grade B+: Topped out as a good Triple-A player. Did not verify.
35) Hunter Pence, OF, Astros, Grade B+: Hit .284/.339/.470 in 5847 PA, wRC+120, fWAR 32.1. Impressive long-term regular. Grade verified.
36) Justin Huber, 1B, Royals, Grade B+: Did not verify. Don’t know why I liked him so long.
37) Eddy Martinez-Esteve, OF, Giants, Grade B+: Power disappeared after serious shoulder injuries, never got out of Double-A. Health bust.
38) Neil Walker, C, Pirates, Grade B+: Hit .273/.339/.436 in 3884 PA, wRC+115, fWAR 19.1. Took time but has developed into a solid player. Grade verified.
39) Brandon Snyder, C, Orioles, Grade B+: Hit .242/.279/.459 in 205 PA, wRC+94, fWAR -0.1. Bat topped out in Triple-A. Did not verify.
40) Jose Tabata, OF, Yankees, Grade B+: Hit .275/.336/.377 in 1765 PA, wRC+101, fWAR 2.0. Useable role player but power never developed as hoped. Disappointing.
41) Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pirates, Grade B+: Hit .292/.381/.487 in 5179 PA, wRC+139, fWAR 40.9, 160 steals. Outstanding player in all respects. Grade verified.
42) Dustin Pedroia, 2B, Red Sox, Grade B+: Hit .301/.366/.445 in 6280 PA, wRC+117, fWAR 46.2, 134 steals. Excellent player. Grade verified.
43) Stephen Head, 1B, Indians, Grade B+: Bat topped out in Double-A. Did not verify.
44) Cody Haerther, OF, Cardinals, Grade B+: Bat fizzled after 2007 due to injuries. Did not verify.
45) Colby Rasmus, OF, Cardinals, Grade B+: Hit .241/.311/.434 in 3941 PA, wRC+102, fWAR 18.5. Didn’t reach expectations but he’s had some good seasons. Grade verified.
46) Ryan Shealy, 1B, Rockies, Grade B+: Hit .268/.331/.424 in 598 PA, wRC+96, fWAR 1.4. Hit 19 homers in 169 career games. Didn’t justify the grade but I think he might have had a career under different circumstances.
47) Wes Bankston, 1B, Rays, Grade B: Did not verify.
48) Brent Clevlen, OF, Tigers, Grade B: Did not verify.
49) Josh Willingham, C-1B, Marlins, Grade B: Hit .253/.358/.465 in 4616 PA, wRC+122, fWAR 18.1, 195 homers. Solid slugger. Grade verified.
50) Javier Herrera, OF, Athletics, Grade B: Toolsy outfielder ruined by injuries. Did not verify.
COMMENTARY: And now we enter the Brandon Wood Era. Quite ugly to see Young, Wood, Hermida, and Marte clustered at the top. On the other hand some of the names lower on the list performed very well.