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) Byron Buxton, OF, Twins, Grade A: Incomplete.
2) Xander Bogaerts,3B, Red Sox, Grade A: Very successful.
3) Oscar Taveras, OF, Cardinals, Grade A: Passed away.
4) Addison Russell, SS, Athletics, Grade A: Successful.
5) Gregory Polanco, OF, Pirates, Grade A: Successful.
6) Javier Baez, SS, Cubs, Grade A: Incomplete but talent is clear.
7) Francisco Lindor, SS, Indians, Grade A: Very successful.
8) Kris Bryant, 3B, Cubs, Grade A: .284/.377/.522 in 1349 PA, wRC+143, fWAR 15.0. Superb player, even defense has been strong.
9) Carlos Correa, SS, Astros, Grade A: Very successful.
10) George Springer, OF, Astros, Grade A-: Very successful.
11) Jose Abreu, 1B, White Sox, Grade A-: .299/.360/.515, wRC+137 in 1985 PA, wFAR 10.0. Very successful slugger.
12) Miguel Sano, 3B, Twins, Grade A-: Incomplete but should work out.
13) Albert Almora, OF, Cubs, Grade A-: Incomplete, still a prospect.
14) Nick Castellanos, 3B, Tigers, Grade B+: Trending upward.
15) Maikel Franco, 3B, Phillies, Grade B+: .258/.314/.437 in 1023 PA, wRC+100, fWAR 2.8. Strong in ’15, weaker in ’16, should continue to improve.
16) Jonathan Singleton, 1B, Astros, Grade B+: Incomplete but unlikely to verify.
17) Rougned Odor, 2B, Rangers, Grade B+: .265/.304/.464 in 1519 PA, wRC+102, fWAR 4.9, 58 homers. Looks good.
18) Gary Sanchez, C, Yankees, Grade B+: Looks good so far.
19) Corey Seager, SS, Dodgers, Grade B+: Outstanding so far.
20) Joc Pederson, OF, Dodgers, Grade B+: .224/.349/.443 in 1099 PA, wRC+120, fWAR 6.6. Very solid regular at this point.
21) Jesse Winker, OF, Reds, Grade B+: Still a prospect.
22) Clint Frazier, OF, Indians, Grade B+: Still a prospect.
23) Austin Meadows, OF, Pirates, Grade B+: Still a prospect.
24) Jackie Bradley Jr, OF, Red Sox, Grade B+: Very good now after a rough beginning.
25) Austin Hedges, C, Padres, Grade B+: Not looking good with the bat.
26) Kolten Wong, 2B, Cardinals, Grade B+: Holding down a job.
27) J.P. Crawford, SS, Phillies, Grade B+: Still a prospect.
28) Raul Mondesi, SS, Royals, Grade B+: Hit just .185/.231/.281 in 149 PA, wRC+32, fWAR -0.5. Scouts still love the tools but skills remain a big question. Incomplete.
29) Jorge Soler, OF, Cubs, Grade B+: Has his moments.
30) Travis d’Arnaud, C, Mets, Grade B+: Good when healthy.
31) David Dahl, OF, Rockies, Grade B+: Impressive so far.
32) Colin Moran, 3B, Marlins, Grade B+: .130/.200/.174 in 25 PA; incomplete obviously but he did not hit well in Triple-A and I am increasingly skeptical.
33) Ryan McMahon, 3B, Rockies, Grade B+: Still a prospect.
34) Garin Cecchini, 3B, Red Sox, Grade B+: Won’t live up to this.
35) Stephen Piscotty, OF, Cardinals, Grade B+: Quite solid so far, .282/.348/.467 in 905 PA, wRC+120, fWAR 3.9; power has developed as predicted by scouts.
36) D.J. Peterson, 1B, Mariners, Grade B+: Erratic in the high minors, still a prospect but stock has declined.
37) Billy Hamilton, OF, Reds, Grade B+: Holding his job.
38) Phil Ervin, OF, Reds, Grade B+: Contact issues have cut into his stock but still a prospect with power/speed combination.
39) Blake Swihart, C, Red Sox, Grade B: .271/.328/.386 in 383 PA, wRC+92, fWAR 1.9. Moments of success but incomplete at this point.
40) Andrew Susac, C, Giants, Grade B: Hitting .238/.309/.412 in 262 PA, wRC+104, fWAR 1.0. They just need to let him play.
41) Jorge Alfaro, C, Rangers, Grade B: Just reached majors this year with 17 PA; defense has improved massively over the last year, bat remains promising but inconsistent. Still a prospect.
42) Hunter Dozier, 3B, Royals, Grade B: Just reached the majors this year with 21 PA; looked like a bust after poor 2014 and 2015 seasons but completely rebounded in ’16, still a prospect.
43) Mookie Betts, 2B, Red Sox, Grade B: Marvelous player, hitting .304/.355/.500 in 1597 PA, wRC+ 127, fWAR 14.4. Entering 2014 he was an interesting prospect with no experience above A-ball so the ranking was somewhat conservative but he surged to the majors a year ahead of schedule and turned into a superstar.
44) Chris Owings, SS, Diamondbacks, Grade B: .254/.294/.376 in 1411 PA, wRC+75, FWAR 1.3. Good rookie season in ’14 but ’15 and ’16 have been weaker.
45) Arismendy Alcantara, INF, Cubs, Grade B: Just .195/.249/.337 in 351 PA, wRC+63, fWAR -0.1. Weak debut but remains strong in Triple-A, still has time at age 24, incomplete.
46) Reese McGuire, C, Pirates, Grade B: Very good defender but has hit poorly in the high minors so far.
47) Mitch Nay, 3B, Blue Jays, Grade B: Power has not developed, injured in 2016, remains young at 23 but stock had declined.
48) Marcus Semien, INF, WhiteSox, Grade B: .246/.302/.412 in 1548 PA, wRC+97, fWAR 4.9, solid glove, has hit 43 homers last two seasons. Not a star but has value.
49) Tom Murphy, C, Rockies, Grade B: .266/.341/.608 in 88 PA, wRC+132, fWAR 0.9. Still a prospect, off to a good start in the majors.
50) Joey Gallo, 3B, Rangers, Grade B: .173/.281/.368 in 153 PA, wRC+70, fWAR 0.2. Incomplete.
COMMENTARY: Obviously it is too soon to know anything about many of these guys yet, but in general I am pleased with the early results. I wish I had Mookie higher but he arrived a year ahead of schedule.