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) Stephen Strasburg, RHP, Nationals, Grade A: Career 3.17 ERA in 924 innings, 2.85 FIP, fWAR 22.7. Outstanding pitcher when healthy. Grade verified.
2) Neftali Feliz, RHP, Rangers, Grade A: Grade verified on a per inning basis.
3) Brian Matusz, LHP, Orioles, Grade A: Not a total bust but won’t live up to this grade.
4) Jeremy Hellickson, RHP, Rays, Grade A-: Grade verified.
5) Wade Davis, RHP, Rays, Grade A- : Grade verified at least as a reliever.
6) Aroldis Chapman, LHP, Reds, Grade A-: Career 2.08 ERA in 377 innings, 1.88 FIP, fWAR 14.1, 182 saves, 105 MPH fastball. Grade verified.
7) Martin Perez, LHP, Rangers, Grade A-: Career 4.29 ERA in 491 innings, 4.14 FIP, fWAR 5.8. Has been pretty good when healthy, have to see about durability.
8) Madison Bumgarner, LHP, Giants, Grade A-: Grade verified.
9) Christian Friedrich, LHP, Rockies, Grade B+: Incomplete but probably won’t live up to this grade.
10) Casey Crosby, LHP, Tigers, Grade B+: Career 9.49 ERA in 12 innings, 6.41 FIP, fWAR -0.1. Great stuff but held back by frequent injuries and troublesome control. Did not verify.
11) Tanner Scheppers, RHP, Rangers, Grade B+: Career 4.17 ERA in 179 innings, 4.63 FIP, fWAR -0.2. Held back by injuries, control issues, not likely to verify but might still have a bullpen career maybe.
12) Chris Withrow, RHP, Dodgers, Grade B+: Career 3.07 ERA in 94 innings, 4.15 FIP, fWAR -0.2. Has pitched well in brief action but lost time with Tommy John and control issues. Incomplete.
13) Jenrry Mejia, RHP, Mets, Grade B+: Career 3.68 ERA in 183 innings, 3.83 FIP, fWAR 1,3, 18 saves. Banned for life due to third positive PED test. Effective pitcher, but an idiot.
14) Matt Moore, LHP, Rays, Grade B+: Career 3.91 ERA in 608 innings, 4.09 FIP, fWAR 7.4 Effective until injury and hasn’t been quite the same since coming back. But verified overall.
15) Drew Storen, RHP, Nationals, Grade B+: Career 3.31 ERA in 386 innings, 3.24 FIP, fWAR 4.8. Solid relief pitcher, grade verified on a per-inning basis.
16) Mike Montgomery, LHP, Royals, Grade B+: Incomplete but trending positive.
17) Zach Stewart, RHP, Blue Jays, Grade B+: Career 6.82 ERA in 103 innings, 5.69 FIP, fWAR -0.4. Became a Triple-A inning-eater. Did not verify.
18) Kyle Drabek, RHP, Blue Jays, Grade B+: Career 5.26 ERA in 180 innings, 5.44 FIP, fWAR -0.4. Undone by command problems and injuries. Did not verify.
19) Jacob Turner, RHP, Tigers, Grade B+: Career 5.09 ERA in 323 innings, 4.62 FIP, fWAR 0.2. Rushed to majors; at this point he is a mediocre Triple-A starter. Still young at 25, incomplete but a long shot.
20) Tyler Matzek, LHP, Rockies, Grade B+: Career 4.06 ERA in 140 innings, 4.12 FIP, fWAR 1.6. Hampered by command and mechanical troubles at first, improved considerably and had some success then got hurt. Incomplete.
21) Jordan Lyles, RHP, Astros, Grade B+ Career 5.17 ERA in 611 innings, 4.42 FIP, fWAR 4,2. Some moments of success but mediocre overall; incomplete but unlikely to justify this grade.
22) Casey Kelly, RHP, Red Sox, Grade B+: Career 6.39 ERA in 62 innings, 4.51 FIP, fWAR 0.3. Kept getting hurt. Incomplete but I don’t see any particular reason for optimism.
23) Jhouyls Chacin, RHP, Rockies, Grade B+: Grade verified.
24) Dan Hudson, RHP, White Sox, Grade B+: Career 3.94 ERA in 512 innings, 3.59 FIP, fWAR 8.4. Very effective until blowing out his arm, now a fairly decent reliever.
25) Jake Arrieta, RHP, Orioles, Grade B+: Verified.
26) Simon Castro, RHP, Padres, Grade B+: Career 4.76 ERA in 17 innings, 3.87 FIP. Stalled in Triple-A and had a good year there in 2016. Incomplete but unlikely to verify.
27) Wilmer Font, RHP, Rangers, Grade B: Just three major league innings, got hurt, hanging around in the Blue Jays system. Unlikely to verify.
28) Julio Teheran, RHP, Braves, Grade B: Career 3.39 ERA in 821 innings, 3.85 FIP, fWAR 10.0. Grade verified.
29) Zach Britton, LHP, Orioles, Grade B: Career 3.24 ERA in 464 innings, 3.39 FIP, fWAR 8.3, 120 saves. Verified.
30) Ethan Martin, RHP, Dodgers, Grade B: Incomplete but unlikely to verify.
31) Alex White, RHP, Indians, Grade B: Career 6.03 ERA in 149 innings, 5.86 FIP, fWAR -0.3. Never recovered from injury issues. Did not verify.
32) Hector Rondon, RPH, Indians, Grade B: Career 2.97 ERA in 239 innings, 3.14 FIP, fWAR 3.6, 77 saves. Grade verified.
33) Jon Niese, LHP, Mets, Grade B: Grade verified.
34) Alexander Colome, RHP, Rays, Grade B: Career 3.10 ERA in 206 innings, 3.53 FIP, fWAR 3.1, 37 saves. Talent verified, will have to see about durability.
35) Arodys Vizcaino, RHP, Braves, Grade B: Career 3.52 ERA in 95 innings, 3.34 FIP, fWAR 1.1. Has pitched well when healthy, incomplete.
36) Jay Jackson, RHP, Cubs, Grade B: Looked like a bust, then remade himself as a reliever, got four innings in the majors in 2015, went to Japan in 2016 and had excellent year for Hiroshima. Grade was too high but he may yet have a relief career.
37) Andrew Cashner, RHP, Cubs, Grade B: Career 3.89 ERA in 726 innings, 3.85 FIP, fWAR 7.5. Three solid seasons.
38) Mike Leake, RHP, Reds, Grade B: Career 3.99 ERA in 1260 innings, 4.16 FIP, fWAR 12.3. Solid workhorse starter. Grade verified.
39) Aaron Miller, LHP, Dodgers, Grade B: Injuries ruined his fastball. Converted to outfield but didn’t get out of A-bal with the bat. Retired. Did not verify.
40) Michael Bowden, RHP, Red Sox, Grade B: Give it up already John.
41) Brandon Erbe, RHP, Orioles, Grade B: Injury bust.
42) Aaron Crow, RHP, Royals, Grade B: Career 3.43 ERA in 234 innings, 4.16 FIP, fWAR -0.2. Competent relief pitcher until he got hurt.
43) Wynn Pelzer, RHP, Padres, Grade B: Command vanished in the high minors, ended up in indy ball. Did not verify.
44) Tim Melville, RHP, Royals, Grade B: Pitched nine innings for the Reds in 2016. Incomplete but unlikely to verify.
45) Randall Delgado, RHP, Braves, Grade B: Career 4.15 ERA in 469 innings, 4.25 FIP, fWAR 2.1. Shown flashes but inconsistent. Incomplete.
46) Zack Wheeler, RHP, Giants, Grade B: Career 3.50 ERA in 285 innings, 3.77 FIP, fWAR 3.5. Talent has verified on per-inning basis but he blew out his elbow, will have to see about durability.
47) Shelby Miller, RHP, Cardinals, Grade B: Career 3.66 ERA in 676 innings, 3.98 FIP, fWAR 7.4. Talent has verified, will have to see about durability.
48) Chad James, LHP, Marlins, Grade B: Huge disappointment, lost both stuff and command in High-A. Did not verify.
49) Craig Kimbrel, RHP, Braves, Grade B: Career 1.86 ERA in 401 innings, 1.88 FIP, fWAR 14.3, 256 saves. Outstanding major league closer. Grade verified.
50) Trevor Reckling, LHP, Angels, Grade B: Command collapsed in Double-A. Did not verify.
COMMENTARY: More and more incompletes including several who have pitched well but got hurt and have yet to establish how well they can bounce back.