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) Jay Bruce, OF, Reds, Grade A: Grade verified.
2) Evan Longoria, 3B, Rays, Grade A: Grade verified.
3) Colby Rasmus, OF, Cardinals, Grade A: Disappointing but has value.
4) Joey Votto, 1B, Reds, Grade A-: Grade verified.
5) Andy LaRoche, 3B, Dodgers, Grade A-: Did not verify.
6) Cameron Maybin, OF, Marlins, Grade A-: Disappointing but has value.
7) Matt Wieters, C, Orioles, Grade A-: Career .256/.318/.421 in 3468 PA, wRC+97, fWAR 17.8. Although he hasn’t been as good as expected he’s still been a solid player with particularly good defensive value. Grade verified.
8) Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, Red Sox, Grade A-: Grade verified.
9) Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pirates, Grade A-: Grade verified.
10) Jed Lowrie, SS, Red Sox, Grade A-: Career .258/.326/.400 in 3167 PA, wRC+99, fWAR 11.7. He’s been excellent at times. Although the A- proved too high, a healthy Lowrie was a very effective player at his peak.
11) Carlos Gonzalez, OF, Athletics, Grade B+: Grade verified.
12) Chase Headley, 3B, Padres, Grade B+: Career .263/.342/.401 hitter in 5115 PA, wRC+109, fWAR 27.2. A very
successful player. Grade verified.
13) Jeff Clement, C, Mariners, Grade B+: Did not verify.
14) Brandon Wood, 3B-SS, Angels, Grade B+: Did not verify.
15) Taylor Teagarden, C, Rangers, Grade B+: Career .202/.260/.376 in 563 PA, wRC+64, fWAR 0.4. 21 homers in 180 games looks nice and he has a solid glove, but overall hitting just wasn’t enough. Did not verify.
16) Reid Brignac, SS, Rays, Grade B+: Did not verify.
17) Daric Barton, 1B, Athletics, Grade B+: Blah.
18) Lars Anderson, 1B, Red Sox, Grade B+: Career .167/.268/.188 in 56 PA, wRC+28, fWAR -0.3. Could never unlock his raw power and was too hard on himself. Did not verify.
19) Matt LaPorta, OF, Brewers, Grade B+: Career .238/.301/.393 in 1068 PA, wRC+90, fWAR -1.4. Stabilized as a Triple-A slugger, could never make it work in the majors. Did not verify.
20) Geovany Soto, C, Cubs, Grade B+: Career .246/.331/.435 in 2828 PA, wRC+102, fWAR 13.7. Injury issues but was very effective at his peak. Grade verified.
21) Matt Antonelli, 2B, Padres, Grade B+ Career .193/.292/.281 in 65 PA, wRC+60, fWAR -0.4. Bat evaporated in Triple-A in 2008, then had injuries. Rebounded with good Triple-A season in ’11 then fizzled again. Did not verify, one of the more puzzling cases in recent years.
22) Elvis Andrus, SS, Rangers, Grade B+: Grade verified.
23) Travis Snider, OF, Blue Jays, Grade B+: Doesn’t look like he will verify.
24) Fernando Martinez, OF, Mets, Grade B+: Did not verify.
25) Jose Tabata, OF, Yankees, Grade B+: Role player.
26) Mike Moustakas, 3B, Royals, Grade B+: Career .247/.303/.404 in 2720 PA, wRC+92, fWAR 9.8. Not a bust but not nearly the player anticipated either, two very good seasons but otherwise mediocre.
27) Jason Heyward, OF, Braves, Grade B+ Career .262/.346/.415 in 4021 PA, wRC+111, fWAR 29.3. He’s not Hank Aaron but he’s a very productive player with a decent bat (until getting to Chicago) and outstanding glove. Grade verified.
28) Jordan Shafer, OF, Braves, Grade B+: Career .228/.308/.307 in 1472 PA, wRC+72, fWAR -0.3. Didn’t hit enough to be more than a fifth outfielder. Did not verify.
29) Steve Pearce, 1B-OF, Pirates, Grade B+: Career .254/.333/.441 in 1857 PA, wRC+111, fWAR 7.7. Erratic but overall has been an effective role player.
30) Wladimir Balentien, OF, Mariners, Grade B+: Career .221/.281/.374 in 559 PA, wRC+72, fWAR -0.2. Superstar in Japan with 60 homers in 2013.
31) Brandon Jones, OF, Braves, Grade B+: Career .257/.313/.365 in 166 PA, wRC+77, fWAR -0.7. Bat topped out in Triple-A. Did not verify.
32) J.R. Towles, C, Astros, Grade B+: Career .187/.267/.315 in 484 PA, wRC+55, fWAR 0.1. Bat stagnated in Triple-A, had injuries, faded quickly. Did not verify.
33) Hank Conger, C, Angels, Grade B+: Career .221/.294/.366 in 1134 PA, wRC+86, fWAr 1.7. Bat didn’t develop, settled into reserve catcher role.
34) Chris Marrero, 1B-OF, Nationals, Grade B+: Won’t verify, injuries.
35) Desmond Jennings, OF, Rays, Grade B+: Career .245/.322/.393 in 2351 PA, wRC+103, fWAR 11.7, 95 steals. Solid player until slowed down by injuries.
36) Angel Villalona, 3B, Giants, Grade B+: Less said the better. Did not verify.
37) Carlos Triunfel, SS, Mariners, Grade B+: Career .160/.188/.235 in 87 PA, wRC+14, fWAR -0.6. Age-relative-to-league and glowing early-career scouting reports proved chimerical. Did not verify.
38) Michael Burgess, OF, Nationals, Grade B+ Topped out as a minor league slugger. Did not verify.
39) Chris Carter, 1B, Athletics, Grade B+ Career .218/.314/.463 in 2645 PA, wRC+112, fWAR 3.4, 150 career homers. Not everyone’s cup of tea, very limited with the glove and a .220 hitter but huge power.
40) Josh Vitters, 3B, Cubs, Grade B+: Career .121/.193/.202 in 109 PA, wRC+5, fWAR -1.3. Hit well in Triple-A for awhile but faded quickly. Did not verify.
41) Christopher Davis, 3B, Rangers, Grade B+: Career .250/.330/.499 in 4177 PA, wRC+120, fWAR 17.3, 241 homers. Oscillating batting average but verified with power.
42) Bill Rowell, 3B, Orioles, Grade B: Did not verify.
43) Chin-Lung Hu, SS, Dodgers, Grade B: Did not verify.
44) Justin Maxwell, OF, Nationals, Grade B: Career .220/.303/.399 in 1193 PA, wRC+92, fWAR 3.5. Useful role player at times but didn’t live up to the grade.
45) Mat Gamel, 3B, Brewers, Grade B: Career .229/.305/.367 in 269 PA, wRC+78, fWAR -0.2. Proven Triple-A player but career destroyed by injuries. Health bust.
46) Ben Revere, OF, Twins, Grade B: Career .285/.320/.342 in 3035 PA, wRC+83, fWAR 7.8, 190 steals. Grade verified.
47) Austin Jackson, OF, Yankees, Grade B: Career .272/.332/.396 in 3960 PA, wRC+101, fWAR 18.0. Solid regular at his peak. Verified.
48) Christopher Nelson, SS, Rockies, Grade B: Did not verify.
49) Carlos Gomez, OF, Mets, Grade B: Grade verified.
50) Brent Lillibridge, SS, Braves, Grade B: Career .205/.267/.332 in 784 PA, wRC+60, fWAR -1.9, 37 steals. Some moments as a role player but held back by poor plate discipline. Did not verify.
COMMENTARY: Lowrie was the big gamble. He’s been good when healthy but has problems staying that way. Several disappointments here and a lot of role players in the middle ranks, but Votto, Longoria, and McCutchen turned out particularly well.