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) Jason Heyward, OF, Braves, Grade A: Grade verified.
2) Jesus Montero, C, Yankees, Grade A: Technically incomplete but not looking good.
3) Buster Posey , C, Giants, Grade A: Grade verified.
4) Desmond Jennings, OF, Rays, Grade A: Grade verified when healthy.
5) Carlos Santana, C, Indians, Grade A: Grade verified.
6) Pedro Alvarez, 3B, Pirates, Grade A: Eh. Didn’t live up to this but not a total bust.
7) Mike (Giancarlo) Stanton, OF, Marlins, Grade A-: Grade verified.
8) Chris Carter, 1B-OF, Athletics, Grade A-: Didn’t live up to this but not a total bust
9) Justin Smoak, 1B, Rangers, Grade A-: Eh…umm….no.
10) Dustin Ackley, OF-2B, Mariners, Grade A-: Career .241/.304/.367 in 2347 PA, wRC+90, fWAR 6.7. I don’t know what the deal is with Mariners hitters. Very disappointing.
11) Domonic Brown, OF, Phillies, Grade B+: Career .246/.305/.405 in 1748 PA, wRC+94, fWAR -1.5. Looked like he’d figured everything out in 2013 but went back into the pits. Obviously a serious disappointment.
12) Michael Taylor, OF, Athletics, Grade B+: Career .167/.254/.216 in 114 PA, wRC+36, fWAR -1.2. Very effective Triple-A hitter who has struggled in three brief trials. Did not verify.
13) Logan Morrison, 1B, Marlins, Grade B+: Blah.
14) Brett Lawrie, 2B, Brewers, Grade B+: Career .261/.315/.419 in 2417 PA, wRC+100, fWAR 9.7. Main problems here are injuries and over-aggressive hitting approach. Bat not as good as hoped but not a bust overall.
15) Fernando Martinez, OF, Mets, Grade B+: Did not verify.
16) Alcides Escobar, SS, Brewers, Grade B+: Career .262/.297/.345 in 4542 PA, wRC+73, fWAR 11.0. Sharp glove work makes up for anemic bat. Grade verified.
17) Grant Green, SS, Athletics, Grade B+: Career .251/.286/.339 in 350 PA, wRC+75, fWAR -1.0. Effective in Triple-A but still trying to find a job. Not likely to verify.
18) Starlin Castro, SS, Cubs, Grade B+: Career .280/.318/.408 in 4374 PA, wRC+96, fWAR 12.5. Grade verified.
19) Dee Gordon, SS, Dodgers, Grade B+: Career .289/.325/.364 in 2317 PA, wRC+93, fWAR 8.2, 218 steals. Erratic but holding down a regular job. Grade verified.
20) Ryan Westmoreland, OF, Red Sox, Grade B+: Career ended by brain injury. Health bust.
21) Aaron Hicks OF Twins, Grade B+: Incomplete but not looking good right now.
22) Derek Norris, C, Nationals, Grade B+: Career .233/.309/.380 in 1997 PA, wRC+93, fWAR 7.2. Not a terrific player but looked pretty good until difficult 2016 season.
23) Freddie Freeman, 1B, Braves, Grade B+: Grade verified.
24) Wilmer Flores, SS, Mets, Grade B+: Incomplete but on a good path.
25) Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B, Indians, Grade B+: Career .263/.311/.424 in 1995 PA, wRC+98, fWAR 5.8. A decent role player.
26) Brett Wallace, 1B, Blue Jays, Grade B+: Triple-A bat.
27) Donavan Tate, OF, Padres, Grade B+: A failure due to injuries and drug use.
28) Mike Trout, OF, Angels, Grade B+: Career .306/.405/.557 in 3558 PA, wRC+168, fWAR 47.7, 143 steals and 168 homers. Amazing player, one of the best in history to this point in his career, first-ballot Hall of Famer if his durability holds up. Grade verified.
29) Todd Frazier, INF-OF, Reds, Grade B+: Grade verified.
30) Yonder Alonso, 1B, Reds, Grade B+: Blah.
31) Jason Castro, C, Astros, Grade B+: Career .232/.309/.390 in 2266 PA, wRC+94, fWAR 9.1. Erratic with the bat but good glove, solid career thus far. Grade verified.
32) Hank Conger, C, Angels, Grade B+: Role player.
33) Matt Dominguez, 3B, Marlins, Grade B: Blah.
34) Josh Vitters, 3B, Cubs, Grade B: Did not verify.
35) Ike Davis, 1B, Mets, Grade B: Career .239/.332/.414 in 2392 PA, wRC+108, fWAR 5.0. No great shakes but has been a slightly above-average hitter overall.
36) Michael Saunders, OF, Mariners, Grade B: Career .235/.309/.402 in 2513 PA, wRC+97, fWAR 7.2. A solid-enough role player.
37) Austin Jackson, OF, Tigers, Grade B: Grade verified.
38) Josh Bell, 3B, Orioles, Grade B: Career .195/.223/.265 in 282 PA, wRC+25, fWAR -1.8. Effective Triple-A player but didn’t take advantage of major league trials. Did not verify.
39) Ryan Kalish, OF, Red Sox, Grade B: Career .245/.297/.349 in 422 PA, wRC+74, fWAR -1.7. Hampered by series of injuries. Unlikely to verify at this point.
40) Josh Reddick, OF, Red Sox, Grade B: Grade verified.
41) Hak-Ju Lee, SS, Cubs, Grade B: Bat stalled in Triple-A, glove not good enough to compensate.
42) Jose Tabata, OF, Pirates, Grade B: Geez I really liked this guy didn’t I?
43) James Darnell, 3B, Padres, Grade B: Career .226/.300/.371 in 71 PA, wRC+91, fWAR -0.3. Effective minor league hitter but crippled by injuries. Did not verify.
44) Jared Mitchell, OF, White Sox, Grade B: Hampered by injuries and serious contact problems. Did not verify.
45) Jaff Decker, OF, Padres, Grade B: Incomplete but not looking good.
46) Jiovanni Mier, SS, Astros: Grade B: Couldn’t hit outside the Appalachian League. Did not verify.
47) Grant Desme, OF, Athletics, Grade B: Quit baseball to become a priest of the Norbitine Order. Verified his desire to serve God as more important than baseball.
48) Alex Avila, C, Tigers, Grade B: Career .240/.346/.395 in 2654 PA, wRC+105, fWAR 11.9. Successful regular catcher for four years.
49) Everett Williams, OF, Padres, Grade B: Toolsy outfielder scuffled with injuries and problems with strike zone judgment. Did not verify.
50) Michael Brantley, OF, Indians, Grade B: Career .292/.348/.421 in 3477 PA, wRC+113, fWAR 14.1. Has developed power to go with speed and on-base skills. Grade verified.
COMMENTARY: And now the Jesus Montero Era. . .some hits but some very big misses too, with a combination of tools failures and stat-based failures as well.