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) Philip Hughes, RHP, Yankees, Grade A: Grade verified.
2) Matt Garza, RHP, Twins, Grade A: Grade verified.
3) Yovani Gallardo, RHP, Brewers, Grade A: Career 3.79 ERA in 1592 innings, 3.84 FIP, fWAR 23.7. He may have peaked but he’s been very good. Grade verified.
4) Homer Bailey, RHP, Reds, Grade A: Grade verified.
5) Tim Lincecum, RHP, Giants, Grade A-: Career 3.75 ERA in 1676 innings, 3.45 FIP, fWAR 28.4. At his peak, one of the best pitchers I’ve ever seen in person. Grade verified.
6) Adam Miller, RHP, Indians, Grade A-: Did not verify, injury bust.
7) Andrew Miller, LHP, Tigers, Grade A-: Career 4.22 ERA in 629 innings, 3.64 FIP, fWAR 9.9. Weak as a starter but has emerged as an excellent reliever. Verified.
8) Mike Pelfrey, RHP, Mets, Grade A-: Not great but has had a career.
9) Clayton Kershaw, LHP, Dodgers, Grade A-: Career 2.37 ERA in 1760 innings, 2.55 FIP, fWAR 53.5. Hall of Fame ability. Grade verified.
10) Luke Hochevar, RHP, Royals, Grade A-: Blah.
11) Eric Hurley, RHP, Rangers, Grade A-: Injury bust.
12) Scott Elbert, LHP, Dodgers, Grade B+: Did not verify, injuries.
13) Chuck Lofgren, LHP, Indians, Grade B+: Command collapsed in Double-A. Did not verify.
14) John Danks, LHP, White Sox, Grade B+: Grade verified.
15) Jason Hirsh, RHP, Rockies, Grade B+: Did not verify, injuries.
16) Phil Humber, RHP, Mets, Grade B+: Career 5.31 ERA in 371 innings, 4.60 FIP, fWAR 2.7. Good season in 2011, injuries were a big issue here.
17) Franklin Morales, LHP, Rockies, Grade B+: Career 4.56 ERA in 490 innings, 4.70 FIP, fWAR 0.9. Flashes of success but held back by command problems. Disappointing.
18) Jacob McGee, LHP, Rays, Grade B+: Career 3.07 ERA in 305 innings, 2.98 FIP, fWAR 6.0. Highly successful reliever on a per-inning basis until 2016. Verified.
19) Michael Bowden, RHP, Red Sox, Grade B+: Career 4.51 ERA in 134 innings, 4.43 FIP, fWAR 0.2. Very good in Triple-A, couldn’t find a role in the majors. I thought he could be a Jeff Suppan-type but it didn’t happen. Did not verify.
20) Clay Buchholz, RHP, Red Sox, Grade B+: Career 3.96 ERA in 1168 innings, 4.04 FIP, fWAR 14.3. Outstanding at times but very erratic. Grade verified.
21) Matt Albers, RHP, Astros, Grade B+: Career 4.38 ERA in 604 innings, 4.49 FIP, fWAR 0.9. Adequate major league reliever when healthy. Not great but not a true bust.
22) Brandon Morrow, RHP, Mariners, Grade B+: Career 4.16 ERA in 785 innings, 3.92 FIP, fWAR 10.8. Erratic and problems with health but pitched well in 10-12 window. Grade verified.
23) Wade Davis, RHP, Rays, Grade B+: Grade verified.
24) Sean West, LHP, Marlins, Grade B+: Career 5.03 ERA in 113 innings, 4.57 FIP, fWAR 1.0. Some early success but fizzled quickly with injuries and command problems. Did not verify.
25) Humberto Sanchez, RHP, Yankees, Grade B+: Two big league innings. Constant injuries, ended up in Mexican League. Health bust.
26) Jeff Niemann, RHP, Rays, Grade B+: Verified when healthy.
27) Nick Adenhart, RHP, Angels, Grade B+: Murdered by drunk driver.
28) Craig Hansen, RHP, Red Sox, Grade B+: Did not verify.
29) Donald Veal, LHP, Cubs, Grade B+: Did not verify.
30) Troy Patton, LHP, Astros, Grade B+ : Good when healthy.
31) Carlos Carrasco, RHP, Phillies, Grade B+: Career 3.92 ERA in 702 innings, 3.50 FIP, fWAR 11.9. Took some time but figured things out. Verified.
32) Brandon Erbe, RHP, Orioles, Grade B+: Career crippled by shoulder problems. Did not verify.
33) Kevin Slowey, RHP, Twins, Grade B+: Career 4.62 ERA in 662 innings, 4.16 FIP, fWAR 8.7. Solid pitcher for three years until his arm blew up. Grade verified.
34) Brad Lincoln, RHP, Pirates, Grade B+: Career 4.74 ERA in 222 innings, 4.62 FIP, fWAR 0.1. Never the same after Tommy John surgery.
35) Tyler Clippard, RHP,Yankees, Grade B: Career 2.95 ERA in 625 innings, 3.77 FIP, fWAR 6.9. Excellent relief pitcher. Grade verified.
36) Mitch Talbot, RHP, Rays, Grade B: Career 5.30 ERA in 233 innings, 4.96 FIP, fWAR 0.5. One adequate season for the Indians before fading quickly.
37) Glen Perkins, LHP, Twins, Grade B: Grade verified.
38) Sean Gallagher, RHP, Cubs, Grade B: Career 5.64 ERA in 207 innings, 4.99 FIP, fWAR 0.2. Similar to Talbot, had some flashes but could not sustain it.
39) Gio Gonzalez, LHP, White Sox, Grade B: Grade verified.
40) Edinson Volquez, RHP, Rangers, Grade B: Grade verified.
41) Matt Harrison, LHP, Braves, Grade B: Career 4.21 ERA in 668 innings, 4.35 FIP, fWAR 7.5. Effective when healthy. Grade verified.
42) Chris Volstad, RHP, Marlins, Grade B: Career 4.92 ERA in 706 innings, 4.61 FIP, fWAR 3.1. Did not live up to early potential, scouting reports were always better than the numbers and the numbers proved more accurate.
43) Will Inman, RHP, Brewers, Grade B: Command problems and injuries sapped his potential. Did not verify.
44) Jon Meloan, RHP, Dodgers, Grade B: Career 4.58 ERA in 18 innings, 3.67 FIP, fWAR 0.1. Did not recover from Tommy John surgery. Injury bust.
45) Garrett Olson, LHP, Orioles, Grade B: Career 6.26 ERA in 288 innings, 5.50 FIP, fWAR 0.1. Sharp decline in command beginning in 2008. Did not verify.
46) Cesar Carrillo, RHP, Padres, Grade B: Injury bust.
47) Jimmy Barthmaier, RHP, Astros, Grade B: Injury bust.
48) Joey Devine, RHP, Braves, Grade B: Career 2.75 ERA in 88 innings, 3.27 FIP, fWAR 1.6. Did not recover from Tommy John surgery. Verified until he got hurt.
49) Pat Neshek, RHP, Twins, Grade B: Career 2.93 ERA in 383 innings, 3.77 FIP, fWAR 3.6. Injury problems but very good on per-inning basis.
50) Anthony Swarzak, RHP, Twins, Grade B: Role pitcher.
COMMENTARY: Once again the majority of pitching failures were directly or indirectly related to injuries.