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) Jeremy Hellickson, RHP, Rays, Grade A: A good pitcher overall but I wish I’d had him several slots lower.
2) Aroldis Chapman, LHP, Reds, Grade A: Grade verified.
3) Julio Teheran, RHP, Braves, Grade A: Grade verified.
4) Matt Moore, LHP, Rays, Grade A: Grade verified.
5) Michael Pineda, RHP, Mariners, Grade A: Verified when healthy.
6) Chris Sale, LHP, White Sox, Grade A: Career 3.00 ERA in 1110 innings, 3.06 FIP, fWAR 27.9. Outstanding starting pitcher. Grade verified.
7) Kyle Drabek, RHP, Blue Jays, Grade A-: Won’t verify.
8) Shelby Miller, RHP, Cardinals, Grade A-: Grade verified.
9) Jacob Turner, RHP, Tigers, Grade A-: Incomplete but doesn’t look good.
10) Zach Britton, LHP, Orioles, Grade A-: Grade verified.
11) Jake McGee, LHP, Rays, Grade B+: Grade verified on per-inning basis.
12) Danny Duffy, LHP, Royals, Grade B+: Career 3.71 ERA in 623 innings, 4.10 FIP, fWAR 7.3. Excellent at times but erratic, overall a success however. Verified.
13) Jameson Taillon, RHP, Pirates, Grade B+: 3.38 ERA in 104 innings, 3.71 FIP, 1.7 FIP; lost two years to injuries but came back successfully this year. Incomplete but looks good right now.
14) Mike Montgomery, LHP, Royals, Grade B+: Incomplete but trending positive.
15) Mike Minor, LHP, Braves, Grade B+: Career 4.10 ERA in 653 innings, 3.90 FIP, fWAR 6.9. Solid starter for two years until he got hurt.
16) Dellin Betances, RHP, Yankees, Grade B+: Career 2.16 ERA in 255 innings, 2.06 FIP, fWAR 8.5. Found niche in bullpen. Verified.
17) Jordan Lyles, RHP, Astros, Grade B+: Eh. Not great but not total bust.
18) Kyle Gibson, RHP ,Twins, Grade B+: Career 4.59 ERA in 572 innings, 4.21 FIP, fWAR 5.8. Nothing approaching an ace but can eat some innings; neither a bust nor a big success.
19) John Lamb, LHP, Royals, Grade B+: 6.17 ERA in 120 innings, 4.92 ERA, 0.7 fWAR; plagued with health issues. Incomplete but looking negative.
20) Trey McNutt, RHP, Cubs, Grade B+: Went from intriguing sleeper prospect to ineffective and injury-plagued. Did not verify.
21) Brody Colvin, RHP, Phillies, Grade B+: Undone by command problems and injuries. Did not verify.
22) Chris Archer, RHP, Rays, Grade B+: Career 3.51 ERA in 766 innings, 3.48 FIP, fWAR 13.3. Impressive starting pitcher. Verified.
23) Jake Odorizzi, RHP, Royals, Grade B+: Career 3.75 ERA in 562 innings, 3.93 FIP, fWAR 7.2. Consistent strike-thrower. Verified.
24) Tyler Matzek, LHP, Rockies, Grade B+: Incomplete on durability terms but has performed well.
25) Alex White, RHP, Indians, Grade B+: Did not verify.
26) Randall Delgado, RHP, Braves, Grade B+: Incomplete.
27) Martin Perez, LHP, Rangers, Grade B+: Solid pitcher when healthy.
28) Craig Kimbrel, RHP, Braves, Grade B+: Grade verified.
29) Jeremy Jeffress, RHP, Royals, Grade B+: Incomplete. Won’t live up to this grade but could still have a very nice bullpen career based on 2016.
30) Drew Pomeranz, LHP, Indians, Grade B+: Career 3.80 ERA in 462 innings, 4.05 FIP, fWAR 5.9. Successful for three years now. Verified.
31) Deck McGuire, RHP, Blue Jays, Grade B+: Unable to adapt to the high minors. Bust.
32) Alex Wimmers, RHP, Twins, Grade B+: Command vanished, then he had Tommy John, re-emerged this year as middle reliever, 4.15 ERA in 17 innings, 4.94 FIP, fWAR -0.1. Won’t live up to this grade but could still contribute.
33) Zach Stewart, RHP, Blue Jays, Grade B+: Did not verify.
34) Manny Banuelos, LHP, Yankees, Grade B: Incomplete due to injuries, 5.13 ERA in 26 innings, 5.37 FIP, fWAR -0.2. Could rebound in theory but seems unlikely.
35) Simon Castro, RHP, Padres, Grade B: Incomplete but very unlikely to verify.
36) Tyler Chatwood, RHP, Angels, Grade B: Career 4.19 ERA in 500 innings, 4.47 FIP, fWAR 4.0. Fought injuries but has been okay when healthy.
37) Kenley Jansen, RHP, Dodgers, Grade B: Career 2.20 ERA in 409 innings, 1.93 FIP, fWAR 13.7, 189 saves. Excellent closer. Grade verified.
38) Jordan Walden, RHP, Angels, Grade B: Grade verified per-inning but not durable.
39) Jenrry Mejia, RHP, Mets, Grade B: Banned for life.
40) Casey Kelly, RHP, Padres, Grade B: Incomplete and injured.
41) Jarrod Parker, RHP, Diamondbacks, Grade B: Grade verified.
42) Jarred Cosart, RHP, Phillies, Grade B: Career 3.92 ERA in 367 innings, 4.29 FIP, fWAR 2.1. Incomplete but has
done well at times, talent is obviously here but not durable.
43) Stetson Allie, RHP, Pirates, Grade B: Abysmal command made him a first baseman/outfielder, where he is a marginal prospect due to his power. Will not verify on the mound obviously.
44) Chris Dwyer, LHP, Royals, Grade B: Three major league innings. Stalled in Triple-A due to command problems. Did not verify.
45) Zach Lee, RHP, Dodgers, Grade B: Still a prospect but in the Grade C range now. Won’t live up to this grade.
46) Anthony Ranaudo, RHP, Red Sox, Grade B: 7.01 ERA in 86 innings, 7.01 FIP, fWAR -1.5. Proven success in Triple-A but unable to transition into majors. Incomplete but negative trend.
47) Alex Colome, RHP, Rays, Grade B: Verified.
48) Andy Oliver, LHP, Tigers, Grade B: Career 7.11 ERA in 32 innings, 6.44 FIP, fWAR -0.3. Throws hard but poor command and questionable secondary pitches prevented success as a starter. Has been in Triple-A since 2012. Won’t verify this grade.
49) Garrett Richards, RHP, Angels, Grade B: Career 3.58 ERA in 641 innings, 3.61 FIP, fWAR 9.0. Very effective when healthy. Verified.
50) Robbie Erlin, LHP, Rangers, Grade B: Career 4.54 ERA in 149 innings, 3.78 FIP, fWAR 1.9. Has been decent enough when healthy but incomplete.
COMMENTARY: Drabek the big miss here, although I commented at the time that his numbers weren’t as good as the scouting reports. I went with the scouting reports but the numbers turned out to be a better indicator in his case. For the most part this list has held up.