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) Masahiro Tanaka, RHP, Yankees, Grade A: 3.12 ERA in 490 innings, 3.53 FIP, fWAR 10.0. Very successful, verified.
2) Archie Bradley, RHP, Diamondbacks, Grade A: Incomplete.
3) Robert Stephenson, RHP, Reds, Grade A: Still a prospect.
4) Jon Gray, RHP, Rockies, Grade A: Successful so far, 4.79 ERA in 209 innings, 3.61 FIP, fWAR 4.5; Colorado is a hassle but he’s a fine pitcher.
5) Kevin Gausman, RHP, Orioles, Grade A: Solid and can still be an ace eventually.
6) Carlos Martinez, RHP, Cardinals, Grade A-: Really good.
7) Noah Syndergaard, RHP, Mets, Grade A-: Really good.
8) Eddie Butler, RHP, Rockies, Grade A-: Rushed to majors and suffered, 6.50 ERA in 159 innings, 5.69 FIP, fWAR -0.5. I think he needs a change of scenery. Incomplete.
9) Andrew Heaney, LHP, Mralins, Grade A-: 4.09 ERA in 141 innings, 4.15 FIP, fWAR 1.3. Off to a good start until going down with Tommy John. Incomplete.
10) Taijuan Walker, RHP, Mariners, Grade A-: Should work out.
11) James Paxton, LHP, Mariners, Grade A-: Good when healthy.
12) Lucas Giolito, RHP, Nationals, Grade A-: 21 major league innings so far with 6.75 ERA, 8.21 FIP; command issues apparent but was strong in minors, still a prospect.
13) Yordano Ventura, RHP, Royals, Grade A-: Solid.
14) Kyle Crick, RHP, Giants, Grade A-: Looks like a bust.
15) Aaron Sanchez, RHP, Blue Jays, Grade A-: Very impressive so far.
16) Kyle Zimmer, RHP, Royals, Grade A-: Hurt.
17) Dylan Bundy, RHP, Orioles,Grade A-: Incomplete but trending positive.
18) Trevor Bauer, RHP, Indians, Grade B+: Erratic but should work out.
19) Henry Owens, LHP, Red Sox, Grade B+: 5.19 ERA in 85 innings, 5.00 FIP, 0.4 wFAR; successful in minors, still looking for his footing in the majors, incomplete.
20) Julio Urias, LHP, Dodgers, Grade B+ 3.39 ERA in 77 innings, 3.17 FIP, fWAR 1.8. A unique talent, clearly his ability has verified but we’ll have to see about durability.
21) C.J. Edwards, RHP, Cubs, Grade B+: Now known as Carl Edwards Jr., transitioned to bullpen and has been solid, 3.76 ERA in 41 innings, 2.92 FIP, 0.6 fWAR; should have a nice career in relief.
22) Mark Appel, RHP, Astros, Grade B+: Still a prospect of sorts but trends are negative.
23) Alex Meyer, RHP, Twins, Grade B+: Incomplete. Trends negative.
24) Sean Manaea, LHP, Royals, Grade B+: 3.86 ERA in 145 innings, 4.08 FIP, fWAR 1.8; solid enough rookie season. Incomplete for now but looks good.
25) Marcus Stroman, RHP, Blue Jays, Grade B+: 3.91 ERA in 362 innings, 3.38 FIP, fWAR 7.1; a very fine pitcher overall.
26) Rafael Montero, RHP, Grade B+: Incomplete, 5.15 ERA in 73 innings, 5.02 FIP, fWAR 0.0; replacement level at this point, needs a change of scenery.
27) Matt Wisler, RHP, Padres, Grade B+: Incomplete.
28) Lance McCullers, RHP, Astros, Grade B+: 3.22 ERA in 207 innings, 3.16 FIP, fWAR 4.8; very successful when healthy. Incomplete pending read on durability.
29) Miguel Almonte, RHP, Royals, Grade B+: Just 8.2 innings and has stalled out in Triple-A; young enough to rebound at age 23 but trends are negative.
30) Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Pirates, Grade B+: 4.24 ERA in 23 innings, 4.26 FIP; blows away Triple-A, still a top prospect.
31) Braden Shipley, RHP, Diamondbacks, Grade B+: 5.27 ERA in 70 innings, 5.76 FIP, -0.4 fWAR; incomplete, mediocre in his debut but deserves more chances.
32) Mike Foltynewicz, RHP, Astros, Grade B+: 229 innings, 4.92 ERA, 4.60 FIP, fWAR 1.2; showed improvement in 2016, incomplete but heading in the right direction.
33) A.J. Cole, RHP,Nationals, Grade B+: Incomplete, still a prospect.
34) Kohl Stewart, RHP, Twins, Grade B+: Still a prospect though projects as more of a workhorse than an ace at this point.
35) Max Fried, LHP, Padres, Grade B+: Still a prospect.
36) Erik Johnson, RHP, White Sox, Grade B+: 118 innings, 5.28 ERA, 6.21 FIP, -0.9 fWAR; unsuccessful so far and just had Tommy John; incomplete.
37) Jake Odorizzi, RHP, Rays, Grade B+: Solid and successful.
38) Lucas Sims, RHP, Braves, Grade B+: Great in Double-A, struggled in Triple-A, just 22, still a prospect.
39) Jesse Biddle, LHP, Phillies, Grade B+: Hurt.
40) Edwin Escobar, LHP, Giants, Grade B+: 7.01 ERA in 26 innings, 5.68 FIP, fWAR -0.4; ineffective so far and erratic in Triple-A, still a prospect but trending down.
41) Hunter Harvey, RHP, Orioles, Grade B: Still a prospect, effective when healthy but hasn’t stayed healthy.
42) Alex Reyes, RHP, Cardinals, Grade B: 1.57 ERA in 46 innings, 2.67 FIP, 1.4 fWAR; excellent debut, incomplete given small sample but looks great right now.
43) Jimmy Nelson, RHP, Brewers, Grade B: 4.38 ERA in 436 innings, 4.44 FIP, fWAr 4.1; has his moments but still looking for consistency; incomplete.
44) Vince Velasquez, RHP, Astros, Grade B: 4.19 ERA in 187 innings, 3.81 FIP, fWAR 3.1; looks excellent at times, not sure he will ever be durable.
45) Aaron Blair,RHP, Diamondbacks, Grade B: 7.59 ERA in 70 innings, 6.15 FIP, fWAR -0.6; pitched poorly in MLB debut but should get more chances, incomplete.
46) Zach Lee, RHP, Dodgers, Grade B: A Grade C type prospect at this stage.
47) Clayton Blackburn, RHP, Giants, Grade B: Still a prospect.
48) Daniel Norris, LHP, Blue Jays, Grade B: Incomplete but promising.
49) Jameson Taillon, RHP, Pirates, Grade B: Good debut in ’16, incomplete.
50) Nick Kingham, RHP, Pirates, Grade B: Recovering from Tommy John, still a prospect.
COMMENTARY: Too soon to know for a lot of guys but there are some impressive successes so far at the top.