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) Clay Buchholz, RHP, Red Sox, Grade A: Grade verified.
2) Joba Chamberlain, RHP, Yankees, Grade A: Career 3.81 ERA in 555 innings, 3.83 FIP, fWAR 6.8. I wouldn’t rate a reliever as highly nowadays. Erratic but can be dominant on a per-inning basis. Partially verified I’d think.
3) Clayton Kershaw, LHP, Dodgers, Grade A: Grade verified.
4) David Price, LHP, Rays, Grade A: Career 3.21 ERA in 1672 innings, 3.25 FIP, fWAR 36.4. Legitimate ace starter. Grade verified.
5) Jacob McGee, LHP, Grade A: Rays: Did well on per-inning basis.
6) Franklin Morales, LHP, Rockies, Grade A-: Role pitcher with command issues.
7) Johnny Cueto, RHP, Reds, Grade A-: Career 3.23 ERA in 1640 innings, 3.70 FIP, fWAR 28.2 Excellent when healthy. Grade verified.
8) Homer Bailey, RHP, Reds, Grade B+: Grade verified.
9) Wade Davis, RHP, Rays, Grade B+: Grade verified.
10) Ian Kennedy, RHP, Yankees, Grade B+: Career 3.94 ERA in 1430 innings, 4.09 FIP, fWAR 16.1. Solid starting pitcher. Grade verified.
11) Gio Gonzalez, LHP, Athletics, Grade B+: Grade verified.
12) Eric Hurley, RHP, Rangers, Grade B+: Injury bust.
13) James McDonald, RHP, Dodgers, Grade B+: Career 4.20 ERA in 512 innings, 4.23 FIP, fWAR 3.3. Pitched competently until hurting his shoulder.
14) Manny Parra, LHP, Brewers, Grade B+: Role pitcher.
15) Fautino De Los Santos, RHP, Athletics, Grade B+: Career 4.21 ERA in 36 innings, 3.58 FIP, fWAR 0.2. Looked good at times, but hampered by Tommy John, shoulder injury, and Biogenisis suspension.
16) Chris Tillman, RHP, Mariners, Grade B+: Career 4.13 ERA in 1025 innings, 4.45 FIP, fWAR 10.3. Took some time but eventually he figured things out. Grade verified.
17) Rick Porcello, RHP, Tigers, Grade B+: Career 4.20 ERA in 1468 innings, 3.94 FIP, fWAR 20.6. Good solid starter. Grade verified, will be interesting to see if he sustains big progress in 2016.
18) Jarrod Parker, RHP, Diamondbacks, Grade B+: Career 3.68 ERA in 384 innings, 3.93 FIP, fWAR 5.0. Effective until he got hurt. Grade verified.
19) Jeremy Hellickson, RHP, Rays, Grade B+: Career 3.90 ERA in 975 innings, 4.30 FIP, fWAR 9.3. Effective when healthy. Grade verified.
20) Nick Adenhart, RHP, Angels, Grade B+: Murdered.
21) Max Scherzer, RHP, Diamondbacks, Grade B+: Career 3.39 ERA in 1696 innings, 3.29 FIP, fWAR 37.7. Excellent pitcher. Grade verified.
22) Aaron Poreda, LHP, White Sox, Grade B+: Career 4.67 ERA in 35 innings, 3.87 FIP, fWAR 0.2. Control problems the big issue here along with health. Did not verify.
23) Deolis Guerra, RHP, Mets, Grade B+: Looks like he has finally found a niche in bullpen, 3.99 ERA in 70 innings, 4.23 FIP, 0.0 fAR. Incomplete, will have to see how long he lasts, won’t live up to the B+ but can still have a career.
24) Ross Detwiler, LHP, Nationals, Grade B+: Career 4.36 ERA in 578 innings, 4.34 FIP, fWAR 3.2. Some success, workable role pitcher, but won’t live up to grade.
25) Tyler Robertson, LHP, Twins, Grade B+: Career 5.54 ERA in 26 innings, 5.17 FIP, fWAR -0.5. Did not verify.
26) Brett Anderson, LHP, Athletics, Grade B+: Career 3.86 ERA in 686 innings, 3.70 FIP, fWAR 10.4. Very effective when healthy. Grade verified.
27) Casey Weathers, RHP, Rockies, Grade B+: Did not recover from Tommy John. Injury bust.
28) Matt Harrison, LHP, Rangers, Grade B+: Decent enough when healthy.
29) Brett Cecil, LHP, Blue Jays, Grade B+: Career 4.20 ERA in 656 innings, 4.11 FIP, fWAR 7.1. Nothing outstanding but a useful role pitcher.
30) Troy Patton, LHP, Orioles, Grade B+: Role pitcher.
31) Tommy Hanson, RHP, Braves, Grade B+: Career 3.80 ERA in 708 innings, 3.86 FIP, fWAR 9.5. Effective until his arm blew out. Grade verified.
32) Kevin Mulvey, RHP, Mets, Grade B: Career 7.90 ERA in 27 innings, 6.90 FIP, fWAR -0.3. Triple-A inning eater. Did not verify.
33) Adam Miller, RHP, Indians, Grade B: Injury bust.
34) Radhames Liz, RHP, Orioles, Grade B: Career 6.94 ERA in 134 innings, 6.03 FIP, fWAR -0.7. Command and injury problems. Did not verify although he had a fun short-term comeback season in 2015.
35) Jonathan Meloan, RHP, Dodgers, Grade B: Injury bust.
36) Alan Horne, RHP, Yankees, Grade B: Torn rotator cuff in 2008. Injury bust.
37) Gaby Hernandez, RHP, Marlins, Grade B: Lost his fastball in Triple-A. Did not verify.
38) Trevor Cahill, RHP, Athletics, Grade B: Career 4.05 ERA in 1149 innings, 4.27 FIP, fWAR 8.1. Decent starting pitcher until he got hurt, now a reliever. Grade verified.
39) Henry Sosa, RHP, Giants, Grade B: Career 5.23 ERA in 53 innings, 4.77 FIP, fWAR 0.1. A few flashes then got hurt. Did not verify.
40) Justin Masterson, RHP, Red Sox, Grade B: Career 4.31 ERA in 1201 innings, 3.94 FIP, fWAR 14.3. Good solid inning-eater until he wore out. Grade verified.
41) Sean Gallagher, RHP, Cubs, Grade B: Did not verify.
42) Chuck Lofgren, LHP, Indians, Grade B: Did not verify.
43) Jordan Walden, RHP, Angels, Grade B: Career 3.00 ERA in 222 innings, 2.76 FIP, fWAR 4.3, 39 saves. Effective when healthy but hasn’t stayed healthy.
44) Luke Hochevar, RHP, Royals, Grade B: Blah.
45) Eduardo Morlan, RHP, Rays, Grade B: Dominant through 2007, then his fastball vanished and he ended up in indy ball. Did not verify.
46) Matt Latos, RHP, Padres, Grade B: Career 3.60 ERA in 1138 innings, 3.56 FIP, fWAR 19.6. Very effective for four years when healthy. Grade verified.
47) Will Inman, RHP, Padres, Grade B: Did not verify, injuries.
48) Henry Alberto Rodriguez, RHP, Athletics, Grade B: Career 4.31 ERA in 150 innings, 4.10 FIP, fWAR -0.1. Hard-thrower with command troubles, had some moments but did not verify overall.
49) Kasey Kiker, LHP, Rangers, Grade B: Arm fell off, shoulder trouble. Did not verify. Health bust.
50) Michael Bowden, RHP, Red Sox, Grade B: Did not verify.
COMMENTARY: Obviously wish I had Kershaw at the top ahead of Joba but overall I think this turned out well given the usual injury caveats.