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) Bryce Harper, OF, Nationals, Grade A: Career .279/.382/.501 in 2770 PA, wRC+139, fWAR 22.9. Some physical problems but has been excellent when healthy. Grade verified.
2) Domonic Brown, OF, Phillies, Grade A: Doesn’t look good.
3) Jesus Montero, C, Yankees, Grade A: Doesn’t look good.
4) Mike Trout, OF, Angels, Grade A: Grade verified. Looks terrible to have him behind Montero and Brown but it made some sense at the time, or so I tell myself.
5) Mike Moustakas, 3B, Royals, Grade A: Not a star but has had success.
6) Eric Hosmer, 1B, Royals, Grade A: Verified.
7) Wil Myers, C-OF, Royals, Grade A: Career .257/.331/.429 in 1663 PA, wRC+110, fWAR 6.7. Talent is obvious, effective when healthy.
8) Freddie Freeman, 1B, Braves, Grade A-: Grade verified.
9) Manny Machado, SS, Orioles, Grade A-: Career .284/.333/.477 in 2675 PA, wRC+118, fWAR 23.0. Excellent player. Verified.
10) Dustin Ackley, 2B, Mariners, Grade A-: Eh. Not verified.
11) Brandon Belt, 1B, Giants, Grade A-: Career .272/.359/.460 in 2698 PA, wRC+129, fWAR 16.1. Very effective player. Grade verified.
12) Brett Lawrie, 2B, Blue Jays, Grade B+: Verified when healthy.
13) Desmond Jennings, OF, Rays, Grade B+: Did well until he got hurt.
14) Brett Jackson, OF, Cubs, Grade B+: Career .169/.299/.331 in 147 PA, wRC+75, fWAR 0.1. Nice tools but strike zone and contact issues undid him. Did not verify.
15) Devon Mesoraco, C, Reds, Grade B+: Career .237/.308/.410 in 1135 PA, wRC+95, fWAR 4.0 Did well in 2014 but got hurt and has missed most of the last two years. Incomplete due to injury.
16) Yonder Alonso, 1B, Reds, Grade B+: Blah player.
17) Gary Sanchez, C, Yankees, Grade B+: Exploded in 2016 with .299/.376/.657 run through 229 at-bats, 3.2 fWAR. Obviously we need to see how this pans out, how durable he is, etc., but so far, so good.
18) Jonathan Singleton, 1B, Phillies, Grade B+: Career .171/.290/.331 in 420 PA, wRC+81, fWAr -0.8. Showed power but contact issues ate him up; he hit just .202 this year in Triple-A. Doesn’t look like he will verify.
19) Jurickson Profar, SS, Rangers, Grade B+: Career .235/.311/.341 in 648 PA, wRC+76, fWAR 0.0. Rushed, then got hurt, missed a year and a half. Role player this year and didn’t hit much. He is still just 23 years old, so we will call it incomplete.
20) Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B, Indians, Grade B+: Good role player.
21) Billy Hamilton, 2B-SS, Reds, Grade B+: Career .248/.297/.334 in 1547 PA, wRC+72, fWAR 9.3,184 steals. Converted to outfield, great with the glove so far, most of his value on defense. His glove is good enough that he can play regularly even with the questionable bat. I still think it possible he may hit more eventually.
22) Wilmer Flores, SS, Mets, Grade B+: Incomplete but trending positive.
23) Yasmani Grandal, C, Reds, Grade B+: Career .238/.348/.428 in 1660 PA, wRC+119, fWAR 9.1. Playing time initially shortened by injuries and PED suspension, but he’s been strong when on the field, solid bat with strong glove. Verified.
24) Jason Kipnis, 2B, Indians, Grade B+: Career .272/.345/.423 in 3364 PA, wRC+112, fWAR 19.1. Very strong across the board. Veriifed.
25) Derek Norris, C, Nationals, Grade B+: Has had some success.
26) Nick Franklin, SS, Mariners, Grade B: Career .219/.288/.371 in 802 PA, wRC+83, fWAR -0.2. Big disappointment but started making progress in 2016, still just 25. Incomplete.
27) Grant Green, SS, Athletics, Grade B: Role player.
28) Wilin Rosario, C, Rockies, Grade B: Career .268/.295/.416 in 1601 PA, wRC+94, fWAR 2.6. Three decent seasons then went to Korea and hit 33 homers this year. Seems verified to me.
29) Jean Segura, 2B, Angels, Grade B: Career .280/.319/.396 in 2624 PA, wRC+91, fWAR 8.5. Very strong 2016 season. Verified.
30) Jaff Decker, OF, Padres, Grade B: Incomplete but not likely to verify.
31) Chris Carter, 1B-OF, Athletics, Grade B: Believe!
32) Dee Gordon, SS, Dodgers, Grade B: Verified.
33) Brent Morel, 3B, White Sox, Grade B: Career .227/.273/.328 in 717 PA, wRC+60 ,fWAR -0.5. Did not verify.
34) Nick Castellanos, 3B, Tigers, Grade B: Career .265/.311/.430 in 1639 PA, wRC+101, fWAR 1.2. Two replacement value seasons then improved in 2016; still just 24; incomplete but trending well.
35) Tony Sanchez, C, Pirates, Grade B: Career .259/.303/.378 in 155 PA, wRC+93, fWAR 0.1. Stuck in Triple-A right now, not hitting; chances declining quickly at age 28.
36) Aaron Hicks, OF, Twins, Grade B: Incomplete but not looking good.
37) Miguel Sano, 3B, Twins, Grade B: Hitting .249/.346/.489 with 124 wRC+, 3.3 fWAR; defensive limits but huge power, I remain confident in his bat.
38) Danny Espinosa, SS-2B, Nationals, Grade B: Career .226/.302/.388 in 2972 PA, wRC+86, fWAR 11.3. Won’t hit for average but otherwise productive with power, defense; verified.
39) Jerry Sands, OF-1B, Dodgers, Grade B: Career .238/.303/.367 in 464 PA, wRC+87, fWAR 0.1. Older prospect has hit well in flashes but not quite enough to hold a job. Won’t verify.
40) Nolan Arenado, 3B, Rockies, Grade B: Career .285/.331/.520 in 2342 PA, wRC+110, fWAR 15.0. Excellent glove, very impressive bat boosted by Colorado. Verified.
41) Trayvon Robinson, OF, Dodgers, Grade B: Career .215/.272/.330 in 319 PA, wRC+7-, fWAR -0.7. Extremely disappointing, technically incomplete but very doubtful he verifies. Even when you think you’ve adjusted for
Albuquerque, you probably haven’t.
42) Josh Sale, OF, Rays, Grade B: Bust. Personal problems, drugs, and injuries.
43) Michael Choice, OF, Athletics, Grade B: Career .188/.253/.320 in 238 PA, wRC+58, fWAR -2.3. Not working out so far, incomplete but looking bad.
44) Jose Iglesias, SS, Red Sox, Grade B: Career .275/.325/.353 in 1432 PA, wRC+85, fWAR 5.6. Working out as expected: empty batting average with no power but an excellent glove.
45) Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Padres, Grade B: Career .267/.362/.483 in 3204 PA, wRC+131, fWAR 19.6 Blossomed in Chicago. Verified.
46) Brett Eibner, OF, Royals, Grade B: Incomplete, looked like a failure but turned bat around in 2015, hit .193/.266/.353 in 208 at-bats this year for Royals and Athletics; defense and power may buy him some time to get the batting average and OBP up.
47) Hak-Ju Lee, SS, Rays, Grade B: Incomplete but not likely to verify.
48) Matt Lipka, SS, Braves, Grade B: Incomplete but I doubt this goes anywhere, not hitting at the higher levels.
49) Christian Colon, SS-2B, Royals, Grade B: Career .268/.328/.338 in 329 PA, wRC+84, fWAR 0.9. I think he will have good moments as a role player.
50) Carlos Perez, C, Blue Jays, Grade B: Hitting .229/.271/.335 in 574 at-bats, wRC+ 67, fWAR 1.1; good glove but not much of a bat; role player.
COMMENTARY: Based only on what I knew at the time, the placement of Trout was logical. It also turned out to be wrong. At this point we are seeing an increasing number of incompletes or unknowns.