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: Grade verified.
2) Mike Trout, OF, Angels, Grade A: Grade verified.
3) Jurickson Profar, SS, Rangers, Grade A: Incomplete.
4) Manny Machado, SS, Orioles, Grade A: Grade verified.
5) Jesus Montero, C, Mariners, Grade A: Doesn’t look good.
6) Devin Mesoraco, C, Reds, Grade A-: Incomplete due to injury.
7) Nolan Arenado, 3B, Rockies, Grade A-: Verified.
8) Wil Myers, OF, Royals, Grade A-: Good when healthy.
9) Anthony Rendon, 3B, Nationals, Grade A-: Career .274/.345/.433 in 2079 PA, wRC+113, fWAR 13.6. A very fine player, grade verified.
10) Travis D’Arnaud, C, Blue Jays, Grade B+: Career .245/.311/.393 in 1077 PA, wRC+98, fWAR 3.4. Very effective at times but has trouble staying healthy.
11) Brett Jackson, OF, Cubs, Grade B+: Bust.
12) Yonder Alonso, 1B, Padres, Grade B+: Ehhh….
13) Xander Bogaerts, SS, Red Sox, Grade B+: Career .286/.337/.411 in 2017 PA, wRC+102, fWAR 9.4. Rough rookie season but then blossomed; verified.
14) Miguel Sano, 3B, Twins, Grade B+. Incomplete but should verify.
15) Christian Yelich, OF, Marlins, Grade B+: Career .293/.368/.430 in 2117 PA, wRC+122, fWAR 12.5. A very fine player and the power is developing; grade verified.
16) Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Cubs, Grade B+: Grade verified.
17) Bubba Starling, OF, Royals, Grade B+: This is why I usually don’t like to grade players solely on scouting reports without any objective input. When I do it, as in this case, I often regret it.
18) Cheslor Cuthbert, 3B, Royals, Grade B+: Stagnated for awhile but took step forward eventually, .269/.315/.409 in 560 PA, wRC+92, fWAR 0.5. Incomplete.
19) Yasmani Grandal, C, Padres, Grade B+: Verified.
20) Gary Brown, OF, Giants, Grade B+: Lost the strike zone in the high minors. Bust.
21) Francisco Lindor, SS, Indians, Grade B+: Verified.
22) Jonathan Singleton,1B, Astros, Grade B+: Incomplete but unlikely to verify.
23) Jake Marisnick, OF, Blue Jays, Grade B+: Career .225/.268/.339 in 1038 PA, wRC+66, fWAR 2.4. Very good glove but can’t hit a lick. Could last for a decade in reserve role but won’t verify this grade.
24) Josh Bell, 1B-OF, Pirates, Grade B+: Made debut in 2016, hitting .273/.368/.406 in 152 PA, wRC+113, fWAR -0.4. Questionable defense but bat looks very good. Incomplete but I think he verifies.
25) Jedd Gyorko, 3B, Padres, Grade B+: Career .238/.296/.418 in 1864 PA, wRC+98, fWAR 5.2. Erratic, looked like a possible bust at one point but now has 79 homers including 30 in 2016; hard to call that a failure.
26) Anthony Gose, OF, Blue Jays, Grade B+: Career .240/.309/.348 in 1252 PA, wRC+81, fWAR 2.0, 57 steals. Workable role player with glove and speed, won’t hit enough to justify this grade.
27) Michael Choice, OF, Athletics, Grade B+: Incomplete but likely busts.
28) Rymer Liriano, OF, Padres, Grade B+: Hit .220/.289/.266 in 121 PA, wRC+61, fWAR -0.7. Good year in Triple-A in 2016 but didn’t get promoted to majors when season ended early due to concussion. Incomplete.
29) George Springer, OF, Astros, Grade B+: Career .258/.356/.460 in 1540 PA, wRC+128, fWAR 10.0. Excellent player. Verified.
30) Kolten Wong, 2B, Cardinals, Grade B+: Career .248/.309/.370 in 1469 PA, wRC+87, fWAR 5.1. Not a star but not a bust either.
31) Billy Hamilton, SS, Reds, Grade B+: Glove, speed will kee him employed.
32) Gary Sanchez, C, Yankees, Grade B+: Broke out in 2016.
33) Hak-Ju Lee, SS, Rays, Grade B+: Unlikely to verify.
34) Nick Castellanos, 3B, Tigers, Grade B+: Trending positive.
35) Oscar Taveras, OF, Cardinals, Grade B+: Career .239/.278/.312 in 248 PA, wRC+67, fWAR -1.2. Killed in car accident.
36) Nick Franklin, SS, Mariners, Grade B+: Incomplete.
37) Starling Marte, OF, Pirates, Grade B: Career .289/.345/.447 in 2455 PA, wRC+121, fWAR 17.7. Tools player made good. Verified.
38) Will Middlebrooks, 3B, Red Sox, Grade B: Career .228/.273/.392 in 1195 PA, wRC+77, fWAR 0.7. Bat stagnant after a fast start, looks like a huge disappointment at this point.
39) Andrelton Simmons, SS, Braves, Grade B: Career .261/.308/.363 in 2482 PA, wRC+85, fWAR 14.8. Outstanding defensive player who sometimes hits. Grade verified.
40) Jonathan Schoop, SS, Orioles, Grade B: Career .251/.283/.428 in 1464 PA, wRC+90, fWAR 3.3. Real problems with patience but power has surged, still only 24 years old.
41) Mike Olt, 3B, Rangers, Grade B: Career .168/.250/.330 in 400 PA, wRC+61, fWAR -1.8. Contact was always the question here, but I have to think that the concussion he suffered had permanent effects. Even his defense, previously his best asset, collapsed after the concussion.
42) Jean Segura, INF, Angels, Grade B: Looks good.
43) Mikie Mahtook, OF, Rays, Grade B: Hitting .231/.275/.410, wRC+87, fWAR 1.0 in 311 PA; excellent Triple-A hitter but very erratic in majors so far, incomplete.
44) Ryan Lavarnway, C, Red Sox, Grade B: Career .198/.258/.316 in 407 PA, wRC+53, fWAR -1.2. Bat stagnated in high minors and majors, injuries may have been a contributing factor.
45) Derek Norris, C, Athletics, Grade B: Useful player.
46) Brandon Nimmo, OF, Mets, Grade B: Reached majors in 2016, hitting .274/.338/.329 in 80 PA so far, wRC+87, fWAR 0.2. Incomplete but should be a very good role player or sometimes regular.
47) Eddie Rosario, 2B-OF, Twins, Grade B: Hitting .268/.292/.443 in 828 PA, wRC+ 92, fWAR 3.1. Erratic so far, incomplete, young enough to turn out well if he can lock down the strike zone.
48) Trevor Story, SS, Rockies, Grade B: Made debut in 2016, .272/.341/.567 iin 415 PA, wRC+120, fWAR 2.8. Very effective until he got hurt despite issues with contact. Incomplete but talent is clear.
49) Oswaldo Arcia, OF, Twins, Grade B: Career .235/.298/.422 in 1075 PA, wRC+96, fWAR -1.0, 44 homers in 288 games. Injury issues, bad defense, problems with contact cost him job in Minnesota despite viable 2013 and 2014 seasons. Still only 25, so incomplete.
50) Tim Wheeler, OF, Rockies, Grade B: Bat stalled in Triple-A. Did not verify.
COMMENTARY: By this point the failure of the top of the 2005 list and problems with guys like Andy Marte, Lars Anderson, and Brandon Wood forced me to re-evaluate my hitting analysis. There are still enough incompletes here that it is too soon to know how it worked out, but the upcoming ’14 and ’15 lists look better at this point.