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.
Don't skip the moundsmen from 2006.
1) Alex Gordon, 3B, Royals, Grade A: Grade verified.
2) Delmon Young, OF, Rays, Grade A: Ugh.
3) Brandon Wood, SS, Angels, Grade A: Ugh Ugh Ugh.
4) Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Rockies, Grade A-: Grade verified.
5) Andy LaRoche, 3B, Dodgers, Grade A-: Did not verify.
6) Ryan Braun, 3B, Brewers, Grade A-: Grade verified.
7) Billy Butler, OF, Royals, Grade A-: Grade verified.
8) Chris Young, OF, Diamondbacks, Grade A-: Grade verified.
9) Jay Bruce, OF, Reds, Grade A-: Career .248/.318/.467 in 5189 PA, wRC+107, fWAR 17.5, 241 homers. Has his limitations but a very consistent power source. Grade verified.
10) Justin Upton, OF, Diamondbacks, Grade A-: Grade verified.
11) Hunter Pence, OF, Astros, Grade A-: Grade verified.
12) Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pirates, Grade A-: Grade verified.
13) Reid Brignac, SS, Rays, Grade A-: Career .219/.264/.309 in 951 PA, wRC+56, fWAR -1.3. Strange case. Early rep was as a good-bat/weak-glove guy. Defense turned out solid but bat fizzled. Did not verify.
14) Evan Longoria, 3B, Rays, Grade A-: Career .271/.344/.490 in 5474 PA, wRC+126, fWAR 47.1. Outstanding player. Grade verified.
15) Adam Lind, OF, Blue Jays, Grade A-: Career .271/.328/.462 in 4728 PA, wRC+110, fWAR 8.2. Not a great player
due to defensive limits but has had some good years with the bat.
16) Cameron Maybin, OF, Tigers, Grade A-: Career .259/.322/.373 in 3014 PA, wRC+93, fWAR 11.0. Disappointing bat but stellar defense gives him value.
17) Fernando Martinez, OF, Mets, Grade B+: Career .206/.269/.362 in 310 PA, wRC+70, fWAR -0.7. Handled badly by the Mets, rushed, had injuries. Did not verify.
18) Jose Tabata, OF, Yankees, Grade B+: Role player.
19) James Loney, 1B, Dodgers, Grade B+: Grade verified.
20) Travis Snider, OF, Blue Jays, Grade B+: Career .244/.311/.399 in 1971 PA, wRC+93, fWAR 3.0. Some moments as a role player but did not verify overall.
21) Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, Red Sox, Grade B+: Career .286/.342/.419 in 4966 PA, wRC+104, fWAR 30.4, 321 steals. Grade verified.
22) Felix Pie, OF, Cubs, Grade B+: Did not verify.
23) Carlos Gonzalez, OF, Diamondbacks, Grade B+: Grade verified.
24) Colby Rasmus, OF, Cardinals, Grade B+: Grade verified.
25) Chris Iannetta, C, Rockies, Grade B+: Career .229/.346/.397 in 3413 PA, wRC+101, fWAR 15.6. Solid player due to defense. Grade verified.
26) Ian Stewart, 3B, Rockies, Grade B+: Did not verify.
27) Elvis Andrus, SS, Braves, Grade B+: Career .274/.335/.357 in 5203 PA, wRC+86, fWAR 21.0, 241 steals. Defensive value. Grade verified.
28) Adam Jones, OF, Mariners, Grade B+: Grade verified.
29) Miguel Montero, C, Diamondbacks, Grade B+: Career .259/.342/.416 in 4117 PA, wRC+101, fWAR 16.0. Scouts didn’t like him that much at first but he blossomed and proved the stats were correct. Grade verified.
30) Eric Campbell, 3B-2B, Braves, Grade B+: Didn’t make the majors due to Injuries and off-field problems. Did not verify.
31) Bill Rowell, 3B, Orioles, Grade B+: Scouting reports were always better than the numbers. The scouting reports were wrong, the numbers were right. Did not verify.
32) Brian Barton, OF, Indians, Grade B+: Hit .268/.354/.392 in 179 PA, wRC+103, fWAR 1.0. Older prospect I took a gamble on, played well in the minors and played well during major league trial but ended up in indy ball anyway. Did not verify but I think he could have under different conditions.
33) Travis Buck, OF, Athletics, Grade B+: Career .243/.316/.399 in 910 PA, wRC+93, fWAR 2.8. Good rookie season in 2007 then saw his career wiped out by injuries.
34) Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C, Braves, Grade B+: Grade verified.
35) Joey Votto, 1B, Reds, Grade B+: Grade verified.
36) Eric Patterson, 2B, Cubs, Grade B+: Career .217/.294/.343 in 575 PA, wRC+74, fWAR -1.0, 35 steals. He could run but his bat was even worse than his brother’s. Did not verify.
37) Sean Rodriguez, SS-2B, Angels, Grade B+: Career .234/.303/.390 in 2435 PA, wRC+92, fWAR 7.6. A workable role player despite low batting averages, didn’t live up to the grade but not a bust either.
38) Chris Parmelee, OF, Twins, Grade B+: Career .248/.313/.405 in 1011 PA, wRC+98, fWAR 0.5. Hasn’t lived up to the grade but still playing. Role bat but overall a disappointment.
39) Chris Marrero, OF, Nationals, Grade B+: Career .232/.256/.272 in 133 PA, wRC+42, fWAR -0.9. Solid Triple-A hitter but has struggled with injuries. Incomplete but probably won’t verify.
40) Kevin Kouzmanoff, 3B, Padres, Grade B: Career .257/.302/.424 in 2730 PA, wRC+95, fWAR 10.0. Not a star but had a four-year run of success. Grade verified.
41) Carlos Gomez, OF, Mets, Grade B: Career .257/.312/.415 in 4294 PA, wRC+96, fWAR 26.2, 239 steals. Outstanding defense and the bat eventually came around. Grade verified.
42) Elijah Dukes, OF, Rays, Grade B: Career .242/.349/.421 in 970 PA, wRC+105, fWAR 2.2. Played well until being destroyed by his own criminality. What a waste of talent.
43) Josh Fields, 3B-OF, White Sox, Grade B: Career .234/.303/.421 in 796 PA, wRC+86, fWAR -0.1. Hit 34 homers in 796 PA so the power was there, but held back by defense and badly-timed injuries.
44) Ryan Sweeney, OF, White Sox, Grade B: Career .257/.307/.347 in 2332 PA, wRC+94, fWAR 8.1. Bat was unsatisfactory as the power never developed, but defense kept him employed. Not a true bust but disappointing.
45) Daric Barton, 1B, Athletics, Grade B: Blah.
46) Dustin Pedroia, 2B, Red Sox, Grade B: Grade verified.
47) Nolan Reimold, OF, Orioles, Grade B: Career .246/.323/.422 in 556 PA, wRC+98, fWAR 1.3. Hit well in ’09 and ’11 but injuries crippled his career. Some moments as a role player.
48) Jeff Clement, C, Mariners, Grade B: Did not verify.
49) Brad Snyder, OF, Indians, Grade B: Did not verify.
50) Chin-Lung Hu, SS, Dodgers, Grade B: Career .176/.225/.259 in 214 PA, wRC+20, fWAR -1.0. Good defensive player but couldn’t hit outside the Pacific Coast League. Did not verify.
COMMENTARY: This list was better than the last few hitting groups, with the big top slot failures being holdovers from previous lists.