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) David Price, LHP, Rays, Grade A: Grade verified.
2) Neftali Feliz, RHP, Rangers, Grade A: Career 3.22 ERA in 343 innings, 3.82 FIP, fWAR 4.6, 99 saves. He was a starter when the grade was given. Verified on a per-inning basis when healthy, but not durable.
3) Madison Bumgarner, LHP, Giants, Grade A-: Career 2.99 ERA in 1398 innings, 3.12 FIP, fWAR 27.6. Outstanding top-of-the-rotation arm.
4) Trevor Cahill, RHP, Athletics, Grade A-: Grade verified.
5) Rick Porcello, RHP, Tigers, Grade A-: Grade verified.
6) Brett Anderson, LHP, Athletics, Grade A-: Grade verified.
7) Thomas Hanson, RHP, Braves, Grade B+: Grade verified
8) Brian Matusz, LHP, Orioles, Grade B+: Career 4.92 ERA in 529 innings, 4.53 FIP, fWAR 4.7. Started off well then crashed, wound up in bullpen and was useful for three years. Not a total bust but not a success story either.
9) Michael Bowden, RHP, Red Sox, Grade B+: Man I really liked this guy. I guess I was stubborn but I thought his control would be good enough to carry him forward.
10) Jeremy Hellickson, RHP, Rays, Grade B+: Grade verified.
11) Jhoulys Chacin, RHP, Rockies, Grade B+: Career 3.94 ERA in 843 innings, 4.04 FIP, fWAR 10.8. Effective when healthy. Grade verified.
12) Derek Holland, LHP, Rangers, Grade B+: Career 4.35 ERA in 985 innings, 4.25 FIP, fWAR 12.0. effective when healthy. Grade verified.
13) Wade Davis, RHP, Rays, Grade B+: Grade verified.
14) Chris Tillman, RHP, Orioles, Grade B+: Grade verified.
15) Tim Alderson, RHP, Giants, Grade B+: Stuff evaporated though there was never an official injury. Did not verify.
16) Aaron Poreda, LHP, White Sox, Grade B+: Did not verify.
17) Jarrod Parker, RHP, Diamondbacks, Grade B+: Grade verified.
18) Jake Arrieta, RHP, Orioles, Grade B+: Career 3.58 ERA in 993 innings, 3.56 FIP, fWAR 18.7. Scuffled at first but figured things out. Grade verified.
19) Brett Cecil, LHP, Blue Jays, Grade B+: Role pitcher.
20) Chris Perez, RHP, Cardinals, Grade B+: Career 3.51 ERA in 379 innings, 4.23 FIP, fWAR 0.5, 133 saves. WAR doesn’t like him but he was a successful closer. Grade verified.
21) Jordan Zimmerman, RHP, Nationals, Grade B+: Career 3.45 ERA in 1199 innings, 3.49 FIP, fWAR 21.7. Very successful starting pitcher. Grade verified.
22) Jordan Walden, RHP, Angels, Grade B+: Grade verified when healthy.
23) James McDonald, RHP, Dodgers, Grade B+: Some success until he got hurt.
24) Carlos Carrasco, RHP, Phillies, Grade B: Verified eventually.
25) Gio Gonzalez, LHP, Athletics Grade B: Grade verified.
26) Dan Cortes, RHP, Royals, Grade B: Career 5.06 ERA in 16 innings, 4.61 FIP, fWAR 0.0. Threw hard but couldn’t throw strikes or stay healthy. Did not verify.
27) Jeremy Jeffress, RHP, Brewers, Grade B: Career 2.91 ERA in 207 innings, 3.33 FIP, fWAR 2.2. Slowed by control, injuries, and off-field issues but saved 27 games this year.
28) Phillipe Aumont, RHP, Mariners, Grade B: Career 6.80 ERA in 44 innings, 5.26 FIP, fWAR -0.4. Doesn’t look like this one will pan out.
29) Jon Niese, LHP, Mets, Grade B: Career 4.07 ERA in 1189 innings, 4.02 FIP, fWAR 12.2. A decent starter when kept within his limits. Grade verified.
30) Daniel Bard, RHP, Red Sox, Grade B: Career 3.67 ERA in 257 innings, 3.96 FIP, fWAR 2.6. Was doing well until the Red Sox tried to make him a starter. Not sure how to classify this one, he did have two strong years before collapsing.
31) J.C. Ramirez, RHP, Mariners, Grade B: Career 5.36 ERA in 50 innings, 4.89 FIP, fWAR -0.2. Command troubles, had a fair 2016 season in Braves bullpen. Incomplete.
32) Michael Main, RHP, Rangers, Grade B: Command problems and injuries ruined him on the mound, moved to outfield but that didn’t work either. Did not verify.
33) Sean West, LHP, Marlins, Grade B: Did not verify, injuries.
34) Mat Latos, RHP, Padres, Grade B: Grade verified.
35) Adam Miller, RHP, Indians Grade B: Injury bust.
36) David Huff, LHP, Indians, Grade B: Career 5.17 ERA in 393 innings, 4.91 FIP, fWAR 0.9. Good Triple-A pitcher but has not verified in the majors as anything more than a 12th man.
37) Jeff Samardzija, RHP, Cubs, Grade B: Career 4.04 ERA in 1195 innings, 3.84 FIP, fWAR 14.9. Took time but he verified as a solid starting pitcher.
38) Ryan Tucker, RHP, Marlins, Grade B: Career 8.14 ERA in 42 innings, 6.45 FIP, fWAR -0.5. Did not verify due to command problems and injuries.
39) Jose Ceda, RHP, Marlins, Grade B: Career 4.66 ERA in 29 innings, 4.35 FIP, fWAR 0.0. Outstanding in Triple-A but arm fell apart. Injury bust.
40) Christian Friedrich, LHP, Rockies, Grade B: Career 5.37 ERA in 297 innings, 4.26 FIP, fWAR 2.9. Hasn’t been the same since back problems in 2012. Incomplete.
41) Michael Pineda, RHP, Mariners, Grade B: Career 3.99 ERA in 584 innings, 3.42 FIP, fWAR 12.1. Very effective at times but erratic; overall this verified.
42) Carlos Rosa, RHP, Royals, Grade B: Career 3.97 ERA in 34 innings, 4.24 FIP, fWAR 0.2. Went to Japan. Did not verify.
43) Brad Holt, RHP, Mets, Grade B: Serious command problems stalled him out in Double-A. Did not verify.
44) Junichi Tazawa, RHP, Red Sox, Grade B: Career 3.58 ERA in 312 innings, 3.31 FIP, fWAR 4.1. Effective relief pitcher, grade verified on a per-inning basis.
45) Ethan Martin, RHP, Dodgers, Grade B: Career 5.93 ERA in 44 innings, 5.74 FIP, fWAR -0.5. Command issues and injuries did him in. Not likely to verify.
46) Michael Montgomery, LHP, Royals, Grade B: 3.51 ERA in 190 innings, 4.20 FIP, 1.2 fWAR. Looked like a bust for awhile but has turned things around the last two years.
47) Dan Schlereth, LHP, Diamondbacks, Grade B: Career 4.35 ERA in 93 innings, 4.97 FIP, fWAR -0.6. Pushed rapidly but command issues prevented long-term success. Did not verify.
48) Ryan Perry, RHP, Tigers, Grade B: Career 4.36 ERA in 169 innings, 4.37 FIP, fWAR 0.4. Some early pen success but was pushed fast and his command wasn’t good enough to sustain success when his velocity slipped.
49) Cole Rohrbaugh, LHP, Braves, Grade B: Suffered serious shoulder, elbow, and ankle injuries, ruining his career. Injury bust.
50) Brandon Erbe, RHP, Orioles, Grade B: Injury bust.
COMMENTARY: Obviously I liked Bowden too much but this holds up well otherwise.