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Primate Studies
— Where BTF's Members Investigate the Grand Old Game

Wednesday, November 06, 2002

Top 40 Prospects: A Year in Review

Aaron examines the fates of last year’s top minor leaguers.

 

Politics has pre-election polls.  College football and basketball have their pre-season top 25 rankings and their pre-season All-American teams.  Meteorologists have 7-day forecasts.

 

And baseball has “top prospect” lists.

 

Every year, before the season starts, lists full of names of 20 year-old guys playing in Tulsa, Oklahoma and Cedar Rapids, Iowa come out.  The makers of the lists try to predict which of the thousands of minor league baseball players across the country (and even in Canada) will have the most future success.  As Miss Cleo will tell you, predicting stuff can be a tough job.

 

I am a big fan of top prospect lists, so I thought it would be fun to take a look back at various lists from the beginning of the 2002 season and see how the rankings look a season later.

 

 

For the purposes of this completely unscientific study, I looked at 6 sources:

 

 

Two annual publications:

 

 

John Sickels? 2002 Minor League Scouting Handbook

 

Published by STATS Inc., this book is billed as “The authoritative prospect report” and it certainly is.  Sickels, also an ESPN.com writer, takes a look at every player in the minor leagues that is worth looking at.  He provides the players? stats from prior seasons, a paragraph or two of his own personal commentary on the player and an overall “grade” for each player.

 

 

Baseball Prospectus 2002

 

Prospectus is (in my opinion) the best of the baseball annuals.  It contains info on both major league and minor league players from each team, along with translated stats, according to the level the player played at.  Prospectus writer Rany Jazayerli (of Rob & Rany fame) also provides his own “Top 40 Prospects” list, along with stats and comments for each player.

 

 

Two web sites:

 

 

www.prospectreport.com:

 

This website, run by Chris Reed, is described as “Your source for prospect analysis and information” and is a tremendous source for all things prospect related.  The site has reports on the farm system of each team, including scouting reports on the top players.  It has position rankings for the entire minor leagues.  It has projected “peak” stats for all of the top prospects.  And, most importantly for the purpose of this article, it has its own ranking of the top prospects prior to the 2002 season.

 

 

www.topprospectalert.com:

 

This site is another great online resource for prospect related information.  The site currently features a lot of good material on the players involved in this year?s Arizona Fall League.  And during the season, the site does exactly what its name would have you believe; it alerts you to the performances of baseball?s top prospects.  Oh, and it also includes a pre-2002 season ranking of the top prospects in baseball.

 

 

Two weekly (or bi-weekly) print publications:

 

 

Baseball America:

 

BA is the ultimate source for minor league, college, high school, foreign leagues and major league baseball info.  The main subject that BA deals with is minor league prospects.  In every issue there are scouting reports, stats, interviews and stories about tons of the top minor league players.  And rankings, my God, do they have rankings!  It seems like every issue has a whole new set of rankings, whether they are the top prospects in each minor league or the top players at every age group, from 12-24, in the country.  One of their many rankings was their top prospects prior to this season.

 

 

The Sporting News:

 

The Sporting News is the only source of rankings that I looked at that is not completely devoted to baseball as TSN covers pretty much every sport out there.  Within their baseball coverage however, they did come out with their very own list of top prospects.

 

 

Okay, so now everyone has been introduced to the makers of the prospect rankings that I looked at. 

 

Before I get to the players, I just want to let everyone know how I did this.

 

 

I found the prospect rankings for each of the 6 sources I mentioned and focused on their top 40 players.  Then, I took the average ranking that each player received from the 6 sources and came up with a new, cumulative top 40 list.  For example, if a player was ranked 1st by Sickels and Baseball America, 3rd by prospectreport.com, 4th by topprospectalert.com and The Sporting News and 8th by Baseball Prospectus, their average ranking would be 3.5.  For the sake of simplicity, if a player did not appear on one of the top 40 lists, he was given a ranking of 50 for that source.

 

 

Simple enough, right?

 

 

Let?s see how the 2002 season treated our top 40?

#40 Casey Kotchman 1B Age: 19 Bats: Left Angels

 


Year   LG   AB   AVG   OBP   SLG HR 2B 3B   BB   SO SB CS

2002     A 288 .281 .390 .444   5 30   1   48   37   2   1

 

Kotchman was the 13th pick in the 2001 draft out of a Florida high school.  His professional debut was cut extremely short last season because he suffered a wrist injury while sliding into home during a game, which ended his season after only a few dozen at-bats.

 

 

This season, Kotchman did manage to get nearly 300 at-bats, but the injury bug bit him again as he missed almost 2 months with another wrist injury and it is very likely his performance before going on the DL was negatively affected by the injury for some time as well.

 

 

Lack of playing time and injuries aside, Kotchman had a very promising 2002.  He showed tremendous plate discipline, walking 48 times while striking out only 37 and his great doubles power is an extremely encouraging sign of home run power to come.  The batting average (.281) is not quite at the level many expected, but that might have been partially because of his wrist problems

 

 

The skills are all there - average, power, plate discipline and even a very good glove at first base.

 

At this point he just needs to stay healthy enough to put together 500 at-bats without a major injury.

 

Stock: Neutral


 

#39 Corwin Malone SP Age: 22 Throws: Left White Sox

 

Year   LG   IP   ERA   W   L   H   SO BB HR   K/9   W/9   H/9

2000     A   72 4.90   2   3   67   82 60   4 10.2   7.4   8.4

2001     A 112 2.00 11   4   83 119 44   2   9.6   3.5   6.7

2001   A+  37 1.72   0   1   25   38 10   1   9.2   2.4   6.1

2001   AA   19 2.33   2   0   8   20 12   2   9.5   5.7   3.8

2002   AA 124 4.71 10   7 116   89 89   6   6.5   6.5   8.4

 

Corwin Malone had a “breakout” season in 2001, breezing through 3 different minor league levels within the Chicago system. 

 

 

The number one reason for his success in 2001, improved control, completely abandoned him in 2002.

 

This year, Malone walked as many as he struck out (6.5/9 IP).

 

 

Looking at his minor league career, his 2001 jumps out, sort of like the answer to one of those “Which one of these doesn?t belong” questions on the SAT.

 

 

7.4 BB/9 IP in 2000.

 

3.7 BB/9 IP in 2001.

 

6.5 BB/9 IP in 2002.

 

 

Along with walking people in bunches in 2002, Malone?s strikeout rate, which had always been exceptional, dropped almost 3 per 9 innings.

 

 

Malone is still a very promising, young left hander, but the combination of a drop in strikeouts and a return of walks is not a good sign for the future.  At this point, his 2001 sticks out like a sore thumb.

 

Stock: Way Down


 

#38 Brandon Claussen SP Age: 23 Throws: Left Yankees

 

Year   LG   IP   ERA   W   L   H   SO BB HR   K/9   W/9   H/9

2000     A   98 4.05   8   5   91   98 44   9   9.0   4.0   8.4

      A+  52 3.10   2   5   49   44 17   1   7.6   2.9   8.5

2001   A+  56 2.73   5   2   47   69 13   2 11.1   2.1   7.6

      AA 131 2.13   9   2 101 151 55   6 10.4   3.8   6.9

2002   AAA   93 3.28   2   8   85   73 46   4   7.1   4.5   8.2

 

Claussen is pretty much Major League ready and has not been traded from the Yankees yet, which means they like him a whole lot. 

 

 

That?s the good news.  The bad news is that he underwent Tommy John surgery in June and might miss the entire 2003 season.

 

 

Before the surgery, his 2002 performance was down a bit from his great 2001.  He dropped over 3 strikeouts per 9 innings and he was walking quite a few more batters.  It is likely that the elbow problems, along with the upgrade in competition, had a lot to do with his performance dropoff.  Before the injury, Claussen was on the fast track to the Major Leagues and looked like a good bet to be one of the better left handed starters in the league.  After the injury?  Well, time will have to tell and that time probably won?t be until 2004.

 

Stock: Way Down


#37 Josh Phelps C/1B/DH Age: 24 Bats: Right Blue Jays

 


Year   LG   AB   AVG   OBP   SLG HR 2B 3B   BB   SO SB CS

2000   A+  113 .319 .386 .699 12   7   0   12   34   0   0

      AA 184 .228 .308 .435   9   9   1   15   66   1   0

2001   AA 486 .292 .406 .562 31 36   1   80 127   3   3

2002   AAA 257 .292 .380 .658 24 20   1   32   83   0   0

      ML 265 .309 .362 .562 15 20   1   19   82   0   0

 

Phelps? defense behind the plate has always been suspect, but there is no denying his ability to hit.  After tearing up the International League for 250 at-bats, the Blue Jays decided to call Phelps up and just let him worry about hitting, putting him at DH full-time.

 

 

And hit he did.

 

 

Phelps whacked 36 extra-base hits in 265 Major League at-bats.  The only downside to Phelps? 2002 is the lack of the plate discipline that he showed in 2001.  In 486 at-bats last year, Phelps had an 80/127 BB/K ratio.  This year, between Triple-A and the Majors, he totaled 522 at-bats and a 51/165 BB/K ratio.

 

 

So, in about 40 more at-bats, he had about 30 fewer walks and 40 more strikeouts.  His 2002 and 2000 plate discipline (or lack of) suggests that the 80 walks in 2001 was probably a slight fluke.

 

 

As long as he keeps his average near .300 and the extra-base hits keep coming in bunches, the lack of walks will not be a major concern, especially because he is in one of the best organizations in baseball for someone that needs to improve his plate discipline.

 

 

All Phelps? 2002 did was show that he can officially hit at every single level.  Phelps is in the Majors for good and the Jays have themselves a DH for the next decade or so.

 

Stock: Way Up


#36 Rafael Soriano SP Age: 23 Throws: Right Mariners

 

Year   LG   IP   ERA   W   L   H   SO BB HR   K/9   W/9   H/9

2000     A 122 2.87   8   4   97   90 50   3   6.6   3.7   7.2

2001   A+  89 2.53   6   3   49   98 39   4   9.9   3.9   5.0

      AA   48 3.35   2   2   34   53 14   5   9.9   2.6   6.4

2002   AA   47 2.31   2   3   32   52 15   6 10.0   2.9   6.1

      ML   47 4.56   0   3   45   32 16   8   6.1   3.1   8.6

 

Rafael Soriano looked like a pretty good bet to make the Mariners out of spring training in 2002, but, for whatever reason, he couldn?t get out of the Dominican Republic after having what the team called “Visa Problems.”  As a result, he missed almost the entire first month of Mariners camp and was among the first cuts once he finally arrived.  The whole situation would have been a little more understandable if Soriano, like so many other players this year, was found to have been older than his actual age.  That was not the case however, as once Soriano was finally able to travel to the United States, his age stayed exactly the same.

 

 

On the field, Soriano had a very nice season.  He started the year at Double-A San Antonio, where he pitched very well, and was called up to the Mariners when Jeff Nelson went on the DL in early May.  He made 8 starts and appeared twice in relief for the M?s, going 0-3 with some decent rate stats.  Then, he went on the DL in early July with a “strained right shoulder” and did not pitch for the Mariners again.

 

 

Soriano?s performance in his ML debut was decent enough and his pitching before being called up was excellent.  He continued to have a strikeout rate of around 10/9 IP and maintained pretty decent control for the second straight season.

 

 

Assuming he is completely healthy, Soriano is basically ready for the Major Leagues, although the Mariners may choose to start him in the minors in 2003.

 

Stock: Neutral


#35 Kelly Johnson SS Age: 20 Bats: Left Braves


Year     LG   AB   AVG   OBP   SLG  HR  2B  3B   BB   SO  SB  CS

2000      R  193  .269  .349  .425   4  12   3   24   45   6   1

2001      A  415  .289  .404  .513  23  22   1   71  111  25   6

2002     A+  482  .255  .325  .394  12  21   5   51  105  12  15

Kelly Johnson?s path to stardom took a little detour in 2002.  After a great 2001 that saw him hit for average and power with great plate discipline, especially for a 19 year old, he regressed terribly in 2002 in all three areas.

His batting average dropped 35 points, his home run total was cut in half and he walked 20 less times, despite getting almost 70 more at-bats this year.

Bad 2002 and all, Johnson is still very young and very talented.  He has a strong arm but may eventually have to be shifted from shortstop to third base.  While his batting average was horrible in 2002, his plate discipline remained more than acceptable and his power remained.  The sudden loss of base stealing ability is also a concern.

Johnson is certainly not the prospect he was after last season.  Now, instead of actual performance, age and potential are his biggest assets.

Stock: Way Down


#34 Gabe Gross OF Age: 23 Bats: Left Blue Jays

 


Year   LG   AB   AVG   OBP   SLG HR 2B 3B   BB   SO SB CS

2001   A+  126 .302 .426 .500   4   9   2   26   29   4   2

      AA   41 .244 .373 .488   3   1   0   6   12   0   1

2002   AA 403 .238 .333 .380 10 17   5   53   71   8   2

 

Oh what a difference a year makes.

 

 

Gross was the Blue Jays? #1 pick in the 2001 draft and did extremely well in his pro debut last season.

 

 

2002 started with an 8-72 slump that he never really recovered from.  His batting average remained below .200 for the better part of the year and it wasn?t until a late surge that it started crawling back to respectability.  Unfortunately for Gross, his late hot streak was cut short when he went down with an ankle injury.

 

 

Aside from the low batting average, everything else was at least decent for Gross in 2002.  He continued to show strong plate discipline, posting 53 walks to go along with 73 strikeouts in just over 400 at-bats.

 

Gross hit for acceptable power, stole a few bases and continued to show good defense in the outfield.

 

Certainly a disappointing season, but far from a complete collapse.

 

 

Gross is healthy and will probably start 2003 at Triple-A, where he needs to start hitting like 2001.

 

Stock: Way Down


#33 Jon Rauch SP Age: 24 Throws: Right White Sox

 

Year   LG   IP   ERA   W   L   H   SO BB HR   K/9   W/9   H/9

2000   A+  110 2.86 11   3 102 124 33 10 10.1   2.7   8.3

      AA   56 2.25   5   1   36   63 16   4 10.1   2.6   5.8

2001   AAA   28 5.79   1   3   28   27   7   8   8.7   2.2   9.0

2002   AAA 109 4.28   7   8   91   97 42 14   8.0   3.5   7.5

      ML   29 6.59   2   1   28   19 14   7   5.9   4.3   8.7

 

Jon Rauch was one of the top prospects in baseball after a wonderful 2000 season in which he went 16-4 between Single and Double-A.  He did all the things you look for in a young pitcher - struck out a ton of hitters (10.9/9 IP), didn?t walk very many (2.7/9 IP) and kept the ball in the ballpark (14 HRs in 166 IP).

 

 

After starting 2001 at Triple-A, Rauch was shut down early after complaining of some shoulder problems.  It turned out to be very serious and required surgery, which ended his season.  As with any pitcher who suffers a season ending arm/shoulder injury, what to expect the next season is never easy to figure out.

 

 

Because of that, Rauch?s 2002 season has to be considered a success.  While his strikeouts, walks and homers allowed were not as good as they were back in 2000, they were good enough to show that he is on his way back, although he may never completely be back to the pitcher he was.  Many pitchers perform better in their second season after a major arm surgery, which makes Rauch?s 2002 season look even better.

 

 

Look for him to start the year with the White Sox and look for that 8.0 K rate in 2002 to start creeping back up to his 2000 level.

 

Stock: Neutral


#32 Jose Reyes SS Age: 19 Bats: Switch Mets

 


Year   LG   AB   AVG   OBP   SLG HR 2B 3B   BB   SO SB CS

2000     R 132 .250 .359 .318   0   3   3   20   37 10   4

2001     A 407 .307 .337 .472   5 22 15   18   71 30 10

2002   A+  288 .288 .353 .462   6 10 11   30   35 31 13

      AA 275 .287 .331 .425   2 16   8   16   42 27 11

 

Jose Reyes probably jumped further up the top prospect charts than anyone else did in 2002.  He followed up his breakout 2001 with an even better 2002 and solidified himself as one of the best middle infield prospects in baseball, all at the tender age of 19.

 

 

Reyes hit for a very good average, showed great extra-base power and stole 58 bases in 2002.  He even improved his plate discipline from horrible to almost-passable, drawing 46 walks combined between A and AA.

 

 

Any 19-year old shortstop that has already played significant time at Double-A and totaled 53 extra-base hits and 58 steals in a season is officially a super prospect.  Add in the fact that he is a switch hitter and a solid defensive player and you have a future star.

 

 

Expect Reyes to start the year at either AA or AAA in 2003 and end up with the Mets before the season is over.  Also, expect to be hearing about Reyes for about the next 15 years.

 

Stock: Way Up


#31 Josh Hamilton OF Age: 21 Bats: Left Devil Rays

 


Year   LG   AB   AVG   OBP   SLG HR 2B 3B   BB   SO SB CS

2000     A 392 .301 .345 .474 13 23   3   26   72 14   6

2001   AA   89 .180 .221 .236   0   5   0   5   22   2   0

2002   A+  211 .303 .359 .507   9 14   1   20   46 10   1

 

Hamilton can?t quite get this whole thing off the ground.  Injuries have now wrecked large parts of two seasons for this former #1 pick and are primarily responsible for those ugly numbers you see listed for 2001.

 

 

Hamilton has all the tools and is a relative rarity among toolsy high school picks in that he has actually played pretty well at various times.  But those injuries will kill you and they are sapping Hamilton of his number one asset, youth.  Instead of moving his way up the D-Rays system gradually and perhaps being as far as AAA in 2002, Hamilton has simply been unable to stay on the field long enough to “conquer” a level and move on to the next.  He struggled badly after his promotion to Double-A in 2001 and was sent back down to Single-A this season.  While he hit very well there, he was only able to get 211 at-bats in before going down with shoulder and elbow injuries that required surgery.

 

 

Hamilton is still a very good prospect; he has all the tools and, when healthy, he has performed very well.

 

At some point though, he is going to have to stay on the field long enough to be promoted all the way to the majors and, the way he is going, that might take a while.

 

Stock: Down


#30 Chin-Feng Chen OF Age: 25 Bats: Right Dodgers

 


Year   LG   AB   AVG   OBP   SLG HR 2B 3B   BB   SO SB CS

2000   AA 516 .277 .355 .376   6 27   3   61 131 23 15

2001   A+  235 .268 .359 .421   5 15   3   28   56   2   0

      AA 224 .313 .422 .629 17 16   2   41   65   5   4

2002   AAA 511 .284 .352 .503 26 26   4   58 160   1   0

 

The Dodgers signed Chen in 1999 and he immediately made a huge splash on the prospect scene by hitting .316/.404/.580 with 31 homers, 22 doubles, 10 triples and 31 steals in his first minor league season.

 

 

The Dodgers promoted him to Double-A in 2000 and he struggled big time, hitting only 6 homers in 516 at-bats.  The poor performance can probably be attributed to a shoulder injury that didn?t come to everyone?s attention until after the season.

 

 

Chen started 2001 back at Single-A and, although he didn?t do very well there, was promoted to Double-A, where he tore the cover off the ball.

 

 

This season was a bit of a mixed bag for Chen.  He showed the good power that made him a top prospect and his batting average was fine.  Unfortunately, his plate discipline dropped off significantly, as he walked less and struck out more than he had in previous years.  His work on the basepaths became non-existent.

 

 

Chen had a very nice 2002 for sure, but it is not on the same level as his 1999 debut or the second half of his 2001.

 

Stock: Neutral


#29 Hee Seop Choi 1B Age: 23 Bats: Left Cubs

 


Year   LG   AB   AVG   OBP   SLG HR 2B 3B   BB   SO SB CS

2000   A+  345 .296 .369 .533 15 25   6   37   78   4   1

      AA 122 .303 .419 .623 10   9   0   25   38   3   1

2001   AAA 266 .229 .313 .417 13 11   0   34   67   5   1

2002   AAA 478 .287 .406 .513 26 24   3   95 119   3   2

      ML   50 .180 .281 .320   2   1   0   7   15   0   0

 

Choi?s bad 2001 was a result of a nagging hand injury and his great 2002 pretty much confirmed that.

 

 

Playing at Triple-A Iowa, Choi showed phenomenal plate discipline, drawing 95 walks, and flashed great power, smacking 26 homers and 24 doubles in under 500 at-bats.  He also maintained a solid batting average (.287) and kept hit strikeouts at a reasonable level for a power hitter.

 

 

Choi looks like the real deal and he hits like the real deal, and the Cubs are expected to make him their starting first baseman in 2003.

 

Stock: Up


#28 Angel Berroa SS Age: 24 Bats: Right Royals

 


Year   LG   AB   AVG   OBP   SLG HR 2B 3B   BB   SO SB CS

2000   A+  429 .277 .337 .434 10 25   6   30   70 11   9

2001   A+  199 .317 .382 .538   6 18   4   9   41 10   6

      AA 304 .296 .373 .467   8 20   4   17   55 15   6

      ML   53 .302 .339 .340   0   2   0   3   10   2   0

2002   AAA 297 .215 .277 .360   8 11   4   15   84   6   4

      ML   75 .227 .301 .347   0   7   1   7   10   3   0

 

Perhaps the most significant development during 2002 for Angel Berroa, more than anything he did on the field, was his age.  Berroa was one of many players involved in “AgeGate” and aged 2 entire years, going from a 22-year old prospect that has been young for every level he has been at to?well, a 24-year old shortstop whose minor league credentials suddenly don?t look so hot.

 

 

He started the season at Triple-A, but was only able to play for a week before injuring his knee and needing arthroscopic surgery to repair it.  After missing 6 weeks, Berroa returned to the field and suddenly forgot how to hit.  His 2nd half batting average was under .200 and he hit only .227 in his September call up with the Royals.

 

 

Berroa still has some skills.  He is a good defensive shortstop and has shown hitting ability in the past.

 

But anytime you combine aging two years and hitting .215 into one minor league season, your star isn?t going to be quite as bright as it was before.

 

 

Angel is no longer young and apparently no longer a very good hitter.  He can, of course, change the latter of those problems, but the amount of time he has to do so is shrinking.

 

Stock: Way Down


#27 Joe Mauer C Age: 19 Bats: Left Twins

 


Year   LG   AB   AVG   OBP   SLG HR 2B 3B   BB   SO SB CS

2001     R 110 .400 .492 .491   0   6   2   19   10   4   0

2002     A 411 .302 .393 .392   4 23   1   61   42   0   0

 

 

The #1 pick in the 2001 draft and the crown jewel of the Minnesota minor league system, Joe Mauer is showing every skill, except power.

 

 

He followed up his .400 hitting professional debut with a solid .302 average this season.  The most impressive part of Mauer?s offensive game is his tremendous walk/strikeout ratio.  In his minor league career Mauer has walked 80 times, while striking out only 52.

 

 

On defense, Mauer is generally considered a very good catcher that is still a little “raw.”  He has great size (6?4”) and mobility and he has an excellent arm.

 

 

So, the only thing stopping Mauer from being the total prospect package at the age of 19 is the power.

 

Despite hitting .400 in 2001, his extra-base hit total was low and his slugging % was less than 100 points more than his batting average.

 

 

His 2002 numbers are almost identical to his 2001 stats, except they are short about 100 points of batting average.

 

 

In 2001 he hit .400 with a .492 OBP and a .491 SLG.

 

In 2002 he hit .302 with a .393 OBP and a .392 SLG.

 

 

Those numbers are pretty close to identical, except all the 4?s in 2001 became 3?s this year.

 

 

Mauer showed very good power throughout his high school career and he has the big frame that would suggest future power development.  That said, the amount of doubles he hit this year, which is usually a good indicator of future home run power for someone in the low minor leagues, was not exceptional.

 

 

If he adds power to his resume in 2003, look out.  His 2002 season certainly did nothing to diminish his prospect status and if anything it established that he can hit over the course of a full season, which his .400 average in only 110 at-bats in 2001 did not.

 

Stock: Neutral


#26 Justin Morneau 1B Age: 21 Bats: Left Twins


Year   LG   AB   AVG   OBP   SLG HR 2B 3B   BB   SO SB CS

2000     R 194 .402 .478 .665 10 21   0   30   18   3   1

2001     A 236 .356 .420 .597 12 17   2   26   38   0   0

      A+  197 .294 .385 .437   4 10   3   24   41   0   0

2002   AA 494 .298 .356 .474 16 31   4   42   88   7   0

 

Originally a catcher, Morneau was switched to first base in the hopes that his full offensive potential would appear after not having to worry about catching duties.

 

 

He hit extremely well during his stint at Single-A Quad City in 2001, but since then, Morneau?s offense has been a bit of a disappointment.

 

 

That said, there is a big difference between being disappointing and not being good.  Morneau hit for a very good average this season (.298) and showed good power.  He continues to have a good K/BB ratio, but does not walk at a great rate, and his defense at first is improving, but still somewhat shaky.  Plus, he is still very young, particularly for the level he played at.

 

 

Morneau?s 2002 was very promising, even if it doesn?t compare to his even more promising 2000 and first half of 2001.  Doug Mientkiewicz can hear the footsteps.

 

Stock: Neutral


#25 Drew Henson 3B Age: 22 Bats: Right Yankees

 


Year   LG   AB   AVG   OBP   SLG HR 2B 3B   BB   SO SB CS

2000   AA 287 .261 .318 .418   8 17   2   24 100   2   5

2001   AAA 270 .222 .249 .367 11   6   0   10   85   2   1

2002   AAA 471 .240 .301 .435 18 30   4   37 151   2   1

 

Drew Henson has been one of the most talked about prospects in baseball for years now, partly because of his former job as the quarterback of the University of Michigan and partly because of his current job as the future third baseman of the New York Yankees.

 

 

At some point, for Henson to live up to the hype, he is going to have to start hitting, and right now that looks pretty far from happening.  Henson has always shown great power potential, but he has absolutely zero plate discipline and has a very tough time making his bat meet the baseball. 

 

 

In his minor league career, he has 434 strikeouts and only 104 walks.  That ratio is dreadful enough on its own, but it gets even worse when you only consider his numbers at Triple-A.  In 199 career Triple-A games Drew Henson has 236 strikeouts and 47 walks.  In those same 199 games, he has a .233 batting average and only 29 home runs. 

 

 

So, in addition to a terrible batting average, he’s striking out a ton and not walking at all and even his power, which is supposed to be his best asset, has not been anything special.

 

 

Henson is not particularly young anymore and he can no longer use the excuse that he hasn?t played that much professional baseball, as he has now totaled 368 career minor league games.  The Yankees called Henson up for a cup of coffee this September (he struck out in his only at bat) and there have been talks of him becoming the third baseman as early as next season.

 

 

I don?t think the Yankees would be stupid enough to do that, but if they do, they are going to have a huge problem at the hot corner.  Henson?s Major League Equivalency (MLE) for this year was an absolutely putrid .223/.280/.403 and even his defense gets mixed reviews.

 

 

Henson still has the necessary abilities to make good on the hype, but if he doesn?t do it soon he is going to be one colossal bust.  The only positives coming from his 2002 season are that he stayed healthy and he hit for decent power.  Other than that, Henson just continued to show that he has some massive flaws.

 

Stock: Way Down


#24 Boof Bonser SP Age: 21 Throws: Right Giants

 

Year   LG   IP   ERA   W   L   H   SO BB HR   K/9   W/9   H/9

2000     R   33 6.00   1   4   21   41 29   2 11.2   7.9   5.7

2001     A 134 2.49 16   4   91 178 61   7 12.0   4.1   6.1

2002   A+  128 2.88   8   6   89 139 70   9   9.8   4.9   6.3

      AA   24 5.55   1   2   30   23 14   3   8.6   5.2 11.3

 

The man with the great name and the large frame had himself a very nice 2002 season.  His strikeout rate dropped from jaw dropping to just great, but that was probably to be expected a little bit as he moved up to a higher level.

 

 

The strikeout rate is still pretty damn good and everything else looks nice too.  Bonser only gave up 9 homers in 130 California League innings and his walk rate didn?t skyrocket after the bump up in competition from 2001.

 

 

He still has some work to do in regard to his control, but most 21-year old fireballers do.

 

Stock: Neutral


#23 Brandon Phillips SS/2B Age: 21 Bats: Right Indians

 


Year   LG   AB   AVG   OBP   SLG HR 2B 3B   BB   SO SB CS

2000     A 484 .242 .306 .378 11 17   8   38   97 23   8

2001   A+  194 .284 .414 .428   4 12   2   38   45 17   3

      AA 265 .298 .337 .449   7 19   0   12   42 13   6

2002   AA 245 .327 .380 .506   9 13   2   16   33   6   3

      AAA 258 .279 .318 .453   9 18   0   16   45   8   2

      ML   31 .258 .343 .419   0   3   1   3   6   0   0

 

Phillips was traded from Montreal to Cleveland in the Bartolo Colon deal.  He came into the season as one of the top shortstop prospects in baseball and his performance in 2002 did nothing to change that. 

 

 

Well, he didn?t do anything to change that, but the Indians did.  After acquiring Phillips, Cleveland decided to have him split time between shortstop and second base in the minors and during his September call up with the Tribe, Phillips played exclusively at second base.

 

 

So, while his hitting was very good in 2002, he has now gone from one of the top shortstop prospects to one of the top middle infield prospects.  It is a minor distinction, but certainly significant.  Phillips? defense at shortstop is definitely more than passable, so it appears as though the sole reason for his move to second base is Omar Vizquel.  Whether you think Omar Vizquel is still a great defensive shortstop or not, or even if you think he never was a great defensive shortstop, it has to be fairly obvious that he will not be a great defensive shortstop by the time Cleveland is ready to seriously compete again.

 

 

Phillips? hitting has always been good, although his plate discipline is highly erratic.  He drew 38 walks in almost 500 Single-A at-bats in 2000 and then drew the same exact amount (38) in only 194 Single-A at-bats the next year.  He was then promoted to Double-A, where he only drew 12 walks in 265 at-bats.

 

This season Phillips was back to his hacktastic ways, walking only 35 times in over 500 at-bats, which makes it seem like his heavy walking stint at Single-A in 2001 was just a fluke. 

 

 

Mediocre plate discipline aside, Phillips looks like a nice hitter.  He hit for good power at both AA and AAA this year and after hitting .327 at Double-A, he was able to maintain a relatively high batting average after his promotion to Triple-A.

 

 

The drop in stolen bases is a little concerning, especially because he was pretty successful on the bases before this year.  Phillips was 23/31 in steals during the 2000 season and 30/39 in 2001.  This year, he only stole 14 bags.  Speedy middle infielders with good power have been known to lose a little speed on the basepaths as they advance up the minor leagues and I suspect that is a possibility with Phillips.

 

As long as he keeps hitting like he did in 2002, no one will notice the declining speed.

 

 

He was a top shortstop prospect coming into this season and he is a top middle infield prospect after this season.  Now, if the Indians would just switch him back to shortstop, everything would be back to normal again.

 

Stock: Neutral


#22 Jerome Williams SP Age: 21 Throws: Right Giants

 

Year   LG   IP   ERA   W   L   H   SO BB HR   K/9   W/9   H/9

2000   A+  126 2.94   7   6   89 115 48   6   8.2   3.4   6.4

2001   AA 130 3.95   9   7 116   84 34 14   5.8   2.4   8.0

2002   AAA 161 3.59   6 11 140 130 50 16   7.3   2.8   7.8

 

Williams had a big drop-off in strikeouts in 2001, but he managed to get his K rate back up quite a bit this season.  Even with the increase, his strikeouts don?t match his stuff, which is more overpowering than 7.3 Ks/9 IP would indicate.

 

 

Other than the good-but-not-great K rate, Williams? other stats are very promising.  His walk rate is consistently good, he didn?t allow a ton of homers and his work load has been fairly reasonable over his career.

 

 

At some point, if Williams? strikeout rate doesn?t catch up to his “stuff,” he is going to have to settle for being good/great and not incredible.  His 2002 was a very nice season for a 21 year-old at Triple-A and he is probably ready for a job with the Giants.

 

Stock: Neutral


#21 Marlon Byrd OF Age: 25 Bats: Right Phillies

 


Year   LG   AB   AVG   OBP   SLG HR 2B 3B   BB   SO SB CS

2000     A 515 .309 .379 .515 17 29 13   51 110 41   5

2001   AA 510 .316 .386 .555 28 22   8   52   93 32   5

2002   AAA 538 .297 .362 .476 15 37   7   46   98 15   1

      ML   35 .229 .250 .371   1   2   0   1   8   0   2

 

Marlon Byrd continued to do what he has done his entire minor league career in 2002, which is hit.  Byrd was drafted in the 10th round by the Phillies in 1999 and since then he has spent an entire season at every single level of the Philadelphia system.  He played rookie-ball in 1999 after being drafted, moved to Single-A in 2000, Double-A in 2001 and Triple-A this year.  He never played at more than 1 minor league level in a season.

 

 

That approach is certainly not a horrible one and is definitely better than rushing a player when he isn?t ready.  But Marlon Byrd has been ready and with Doug Glanville patrolling CF for the Phillies the last several years, it isn?t like they couldn?t have used Byrd.

 

 

So, now he is 25 years old already and has just now had a cup of coffee in the Majors.

 

 

Byrd?s plate discipline continued at its normal level in 2002, he has pretty much been a 50 walk/100 strikeout guy.  His batting average continued to hover around .300 and the power remained pretty much the same, although a few of his homers in 2001 turned into doubles in 2002.

 

 

The one area that was not consistent with the rest of his career was Byrd?s work on the base paths.

 

He continued to be an excellent base thief, but his stolen base totals have dropped from 41 in 2000 to 32 in 2001 and only 15 this year.  Any guy that goes 15/16 after going 73/83 the two previous years obviously still has the ability to steal bases and it is possible that Byrd just decided not to focus on that this year.

 

 

It looks like the Phillies will make Byrd the every day center fielder in 2002 and his 2002, just like his 2001 and 2000, is a pretty good sign that he is ready for the job.

 

Stock: Neutral


#20 Ryan Anderson SP Age: 22 Throws: Left Mariners

 

Year   LG   IP   ERA   W   L   H   SO BB HR   K/9   W/9   H/9

2000   AAA 104 3.98   5   8   83 146 55   8 12.6   4.8   7.1

2001   DNP

2002   DNP

 

Well, this just doesn?t look like it?s gonna happen, does it?  For the second straight year, Ryan Anderson missed the entire season with a severe shoulder injury.  Missing two entire seasons is bad enough on a developmental level, but missing them because of injuries to your shoulder is about as bad as it gets for a young pitching prospect.

 

 

That said, Anderson is still very young and that?s always a big key.

 

 

Odds are that he will probably never be the pitcher many people thought he would be a few years ago (he?s nicknamed “Little Unit” because of his likeness to Randy Johnson, not?well you know), but he is still 6?10”, he still (presumably) throws hard and if he can find a way to stay healthy for a relatively long period of time he can work at getting some semblance of control back and possibly make it to the big leagues within the next year or two.

 

 

Those are some pretty big ifs for a guy who hasn?t pitched in about 700 days, but with a talent this great, you can?t give up completely.  Anderson is yet another reminder about the cost of pitching injuries, especially when they rob of us of the chance to see what someone like Anderson can do at full strength.

 

Stock: Way Down


#19 Jack Cust OF/DH Age: 23 Bats: Left Rockies

 


Year   LG   AB   AVG   OBP   SLG HR 2B 3B   BB   SO SB CS

2000   AA 447 .293 .440 .526 20 32   6 117 160 12   9

2001   AAA 442 .278 .415 .525 27 24   2 102 160   6   3

2002   AAA 359 .265 .407 .524 23 24   0   83 121   6   3

      ML   65 .169 .295 .246   1   2   0   12   32   0   1

 

Cust?s 2002 looks almost identical to his 2001.  A dozen points less in batting average, a half dozen points lower in OBP and a matching slugging %. 

 

But, in reality, it was far from identical.

 

 

First of all, he was repeating the same level, which is always significant.  Secondly, he was doing it in the best park for hitters in minor league baseball.  Cust played his games at Colorado Springs in 2002, which is the next best thing to playing your games at Coors Field (which Cust eventually did too).

 

 

His MLE for his Triple-A performance in 2002 is .252/.363/.491, which is certainly a pretty good stat line for a 23 year-old.  However, they are not the kind of numbers that most people had in mind for Cust a year or two ago.

 

 

He is still a good prospect, but the batting average is falling rapidly, despite playing a hitter?s park.

 

His walk totals are still excellent and the good power is still there, but if he struggles to hit .250, and it looks as though he will, it is going to be very difficult for him to be a great hitter.

 

 

That said, if Cust gets a full-time job playing somewhere (left field?) for the Colorado Rockies, he almost can?t help but put up nice numbers.

 

Stock: Down


#18 Chris Snelling OF Age: 21 Bats: Left Mariners

 


Year   LG   AB   AVG   OBP   SLG HR 2B 3B   BB   SO SB CS

2000     A 259 .305 .386 .483   9   9   5   34   34   7   4

2001   A+  450 .336 .418 .491   7 29 10   45   63 12   5

2002   AA   89 .326 .429 .506   1   9   2   12   11   5   1

      ML   27 .148 .207 .259   1   0   0   2   4   0   0

 

Snelling was signed by the Mariners in 1999 out of Australia.  The young Aussie put together batting averages of .306, .305, .336 and .326, and an OBP nearing .400 at all 4 of his career minor league stops, before being called up to the Mariners this year.

 

 

Here is a quote from John Sickels on Snelling, before this season:

“Snelling tends to get hurt a lot, a by-product of his energy on the field.”

 

Now that I think about it, I?ve never seen John Sickels and Miss Cleo in the same place at the same time.

 

Hmmm.

 

 

In his 8th game with the Mariners, Snelling put the brakes on while rounding third base, tore his ACL and wound up being out for the rest of the season.  He had already been injured once in 2002 before the ACL when he fractured his thumb while making a diving catch in the outfield in late March.

 

 

So, unluckily for Snelling and Mariners fans, Sickels was about as right as he could have been, as Snelling had two injuries in 2002.  One of them was very serious and both of them occurred on a play that could definitely be described as a “product of his energy on the field.”

 

 

Before the injury, Snelling was putting up his typical numbers - .300 batting average, .400 on-base % and a slugging % hovering around .500.  Snelling isn?t much of a home run hitter, but he shows good extra-base power overall, has great plate discipline and is a good defender in the outfield.

 

 

A torn ACL is a very tough injury to come back from, particularly for a guy that bases his game on hustle.

 

But, if anyone can make a full recovery, it is Chris Snelling.

 

Stock: Down


#17 Carlos Hernandez SP Age: 22 Throws: Left Astros

 

Year   LG   IP   ERA   W   L   H   SO BB HR   K/9   W/9   H/9

2000     A 111 3.82   6   6   92 115 63   8   9.3   5.1   7.5

2001   AA 139 3.69 12   3 115 167 69 11 10.8   4.5   7.4

      ML   18 1.02   1   0   11   17   7   1   8.5   3.5   5.5

2002   ML 111 4.38   7   5 112   93 61 11   7.5   4.9   9.1

 

Hernandez had his Major League debut with the Astros last year, after a very solid 2001 at Double-A, and impressed, making 3 starts with a 1.02 ERA.  The Astros didn?t find his base running skills quite as impressive when he hurt his rotator cuff sliding into third base.  Hernandez made a semi-full recovery by spring training and made the Astros as the #5 starter.  He took his turn in the rotation for the first couple months and then had to be skipped because of a sore left shoulder (the same one he injured).  After missing two starts, Hernandez came back and gave up 6 runs in 1 1/3 innings against the Reds on July 1st and was put on the DL immediately after.

 

 

Carlos missed a month and, after a rehab stint, was reinstated into the Houston rotation.  After 6 more starts, Hernandez?s shoulder started acting up again and he did the thing that all pitchers have nightmares about, he had a visit with Dr. James Andrews (insert scary music).  Luckily for Hernandez, Dr. Andrews felt that he did not need surgery and instead opted for a summer full of rehab to repair the “impingement and rotator cuff tendinitis” in his shoulder.

 

 

When healthy, Hernandez pitched pretty well for the Astros in 2002, posting a nice K rate and a decent ERA.  But, the constant shoulder problems are definitely a huge concern for a guy that said, during spring training, he was “about 80% recovered” from a torn rotator cuff.  I am not sure why teams continue to put pitchers coming back from serious injuries into normal pitching usage situations.  Even if Hernandez was 100% recovered, would you really want him starting every 5th day coming off of surgery?  And, if he and the organization were not confident that he had made a full recovery, he had absolutely no business starting the season in the rotation.

 

 

Hopefully the summer will heal Hernandez and it won?t be a problem again, but the Astros certainly made the situation a lot tougher than they had to, and for what?  About 100 innings of league average pitching.

 

Stock: Neutral


#16 Adrian Gonzalez 1B Age: 20 Bats: Left Marlins

 


Year   LG   AB   AVG   OBP   SLG HR 2B 3B   BB   SO SB CS

2000     R 193 .295 .397 .358   0 10   1   32   35   0   0

2001     A 516 .312 .382 .486 17 37   1   57   83   5   5

2002   AA 508 .266 .344 .437 17 34   1   54 112   6   3

 

 

Gonzalez was the #1 pick in the 2000 draft and most scouts expected big things from him because of his sweet swing and projectable power.  After slugging .358 with a .295 batting average (not very much power) in his pro debut in 2000, Gonzalez took a big jump up in the power department in 2001, hitting 17 homers and 37 doubles at Single-A.

 

 

This year, Gonzalez took a bit of a step backward in all aspects, except for power.  His batting average dropped almost 50 points from last season and his plate discipline continued to move in the wrong direction, as he walked 54 times and struck out 112.  The power numbers were the only constant from his breakout 2001 season, as he hit 17 homers and 34 doubles in 2002.

 

 

Gonzalez is still very young and his talent is undeniable, plus his 2002 isn?t really that bad if you don?t compare it to his 2001.  If he can get the batting average back up to his 2000 and 2001 levels and keep the power as it is, Gonzalez will be right back on track for stardom.

 

Stock: Down


#15 Nick Neugebauer SP Age: 22 Throws: Right Brewers

 

Year   LG   IP   ERA   W   L   H   SO BB HR   K/9   W/9   H/9

2000   A+  77 4.19   4   4   43 117 87   0 13.7 10.2   5.0

      AA   51 3.73   1   3   35   57 47   2 10.1   8.3   6.2

2001   AA 107 3.46   5   6   94 149 52   6 12.5   4.4   7.9

      AAA   24 1.50   2   1   10   26   9   1   9.8   3.4   3.8

2002   AAA   19 5.12   0   3   20   18 12   4   8.5   5.7   9.5

      ML   55 4.72   1   7   56   47 44 10   7.7   7.2   9.2

 

Look up “raw pitching prospect” in the dictionary (if such a thing were in the dictionary) and you will see a big picture of Nick Neugebauer, probably along with that freakish stat line at Single-A in 2000 (13.7 Ks, 10.2 BBs, 5.0 Hits). 

 

 

He?s tall, he?s big, he throws pure gas and, of course, he has some serious control problems.

 

 

Neugebauer made great strides in the control department in 2001, cutting back from walking a batter an inning in 2000 to about 4 per 9 innings in 2001.  He pitched so well that he was a September call up with the Brewers, at which point he tore his rotator cuff/labrum and needed surgery.

 

 

A serious arm injury is tough for any young pitcher to come back from, but it has to be particularly difficult for a guy that had just overcome such massive control problems.

 

 

Neugebauer recovered well from his shoulder injury and was deemed ready to pitch in 2002.  The Brewers because, well, they are the Brewers, decided that they would stick Neugebauer, fresh off serious shoulder surgery and still trying to get his control straightened out, right into the big league rotation.  Neugebauer made 7 starts for the Brewers (throwing 100+ pitches in 3 of them and 90+ in 6) and then was put on the DL with a sore right shoulder on May 15th.  He sat out until August, made 3 mediocre rehab assignments and was back in the Majors when rosters expanded in September.

 

 

I think the Brewers handled Neugebauer very poorly this season.  If you have a guy that has just started to improve on his massive control problems when he goes down with a serious injury, why would you stick him in the Major Leagues, with a total of 24 innings of Triple-A experience, immediately after he recovers from the injury?

 

 

It isn?t even an issue of over-working a guy coming off an injury (although that point could be argued) as it is putting an inexperienced pitcher coming off an injury right into the Major Leagues.  Neugebauer was probably not a good bet to be Major League ready before the injury and he certainly had no business being there to start 2002 after it.

 

 

His 2002 trip to the DL aside, Neugeubauer pitched decently in his baptism by fire.  The strikeout rate remained very high, but walked over 7 batters per 9 innings of work.

 

 

He is still on the path to a successful career, but I just wish it weren?t with the Brewers.

 

Stock: Down


#14 Jake Peavy SP Age: 21 Throws: Right Padres

 

Year   LG   IP   ERA   W   L   H   SO BB HR   K/9   W/9   H/9

2000     A 134 2.90 13   8 107 164 53   6 11.0   3.6   7.2

2001   A+  105 3.08   7   5   76 144 33   6 12.3   2.8   6.5

      AA   28 2.57   2   1   19   44 12   3 14.1   3.9   6.1

2002   AA   80 2.80   4   5   65   89 30   4 10.0   3.4   7.3

      ML   98 4.52   6   7 106   90 33 11   8.3   3.0   9.7

 

A former 15th round pick by the Padres in 1999, Jake Peavy has dominated the competition every stop along the way.  He posted K rates of at least 10.0/9 innings at both San Diego Single-A levels and Double-A, before being called up the Majors this season.

 

 

His ML debut was very nice, as he struck out over 8 batters per 9 innings, didn?t walk very many and kept his ERA in the mid-4.00s.  The only real troubling part of his rookie season was the 11 homers he served up in less than 100 innings.  Peavy has a very good minor league record for keeping balls in the ballpark, so I wouldn?t be too worried about it.

 

 

Peavy is pretty much big league ready and should step into the Pads? rotation full-time in 2003.

 

Stock: Neutral


#13 Michael Cuddyer 3B/OF Age: 23 Bats: Right Twins

 

Year   LG   AB   AVG   OBP   SLG HR 2B 3B   BB   SO SB CS

2000   AA 490 .263 .351 .394   6 30   8   55   93   5   4

2001   AA 509 .301 .395 .560 30 36   3   75 106   5   9

2002   AAA 330 .309 .379 .594 20 16   9   36   79 12   7

      ML 112 .259 .311 .429   4   7   0   8   30   2   0

 

If Joe Mauer is the crown jewel of the Minnesota system, Michael Cuddyer is?well, whatever the next best thing to a crown jewel is.

 

 

Originally drafted as a shortstop, Cuddyer was quickly shifted to third base.  He struggled at times there and now appears to have a slightly better chance of being a major league outfielder than he does a third baseman.  More importantly, as his 2002 performance shows, wherever the Twins stick him in the field, he will hit.

 

 

Cuddyer dominated the Pacific Coast League for the first half of 2002, slugging 20 homers and 16 doubles in only 330 at-bats.  The Twins called him up in the middle of July and he played somewhat sporadically until about a week and a half before the end of the regular season.  It was at that point that Twins? manager Ron Gardenhire decided he wanted Cuddyer as his everyday right fielder in the playoffs, so he gave him playing time every day in the last 10 games or so to prepare.

 

 

The consistent playing time helped a lot and Cuddyer saw his batting average go from .198 to .259 in only 12 games.  His OBP jumped up almost 60 points and his slugging % did the same.  Whether that is a coincidence or not I have no idea, but I would guess that pinch hitting and spot starting is not the greatest way to break your top hitting prospect into the major leagues full-time.

 

 

So, Gardenhire?s plan to make him the everyday RF seemed to work.  Of course, after a few playoff games and some not-so-great routes to fly balls in RF against the A?s, Cuddyer ceased being the everyday RF in the playoffs and didn?t get an at bat in any of the final 3 games against Anaheim.

 

 

Cuddyer is ready to play everyday.  His MLE for his Triple-A time this year was .291/.356/.525 which would immediately make him the best hitter on the Twins.

 

 

After a bad 2000 and a good 2001, Cuddyer?s performance this season proved he is for real.  He is ready to hit at the major league level and the Twins can certainly use his right handed power in their lefty dominated lineup.

 

Stock: Up


#12 Joe Borchard OF Age: 24 Bats: Switch White Sox

 


Year   LG   AB   AVG   OBP   SLG HR 2B 3B   BB   SO SB CS

2001   AA 515 .295 .384 .509 27 27   1   67 158   5   4

2002   AAA 438 .272 .349 .498 20 35   2   49 139   2   4

      ML   36 .222 .243 .389   2   0   0   1   14   0   0

 

What?s not to like about Joe Borchard?  He?s athletic (he played QB at Stanford), big, switch-hits, can play center field and hit for power.  He even walks a little bit.

 

 

The only flaw in his game is the strikeouts, but they aren?t a huge, Russell Branyan type problem or anything like that.

 

 

Borchard had himself a pretty nice 2002 season.  The batting average dropped about 20 points, but the power was actually up a little bit from last year, as his slugging % only dropped about 10 points.  He continued to walk at a decent rate and despite moving up to a higher level, his strikeouts didn?t skyrocket.

 

His defense in CF is decent, although he may end up as a corner outfielder for the ChiSox.

 

Stock: Neutral


#11 Wilson Betemit SS Age: 21 Bats: Switch Braves

 


Year   LG   AB   AVG   OBP   SLG HR 2B 3B   BB   SO SB CS

2000     A 269 .331 .393 .457   5 15   2   30   37   3   4

2001   A+  318 .277 .324 .412   7 20   1   23   71   8   5

      AA 183 .355 .394 .514   5 14   0   12   36   6   2

2002   AAA 343 .245 .312 .370   8 17   1   34   82   8

 

Betemit was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 1996 and burst onto the scene with his strong 2000 performance.  He started 2001 at Single-A, did reasonably well and was promoted to Double-A where he hit .355 with good power.

 

 

His 2002 was a pretty big step back.  He only hit .245 and totaled only 26 extra-base hits in almost 350 at-bats.  His walk rate was decent, but he struck out 82 times, an average of 1 every 4.2 ABs.  Betemit also made 21 errors in only 92 games at shortstop and may eventually have to be moved, most likely to third base.

 

 

Wilson is still very young, but this season was a gigantic step back in almost every facet of his game and the expectations on him coming into this season were probably a little unrealistic, to say the least.

 

Stock: Way Down


#10 Mark Teixeira 3B Age: 22 Bats: Switch Rangers

 


Year   LG   AB   AVG   OBP   SLG HR 2B 3B   BB   SO SB CS5

2002   A+  150 .320 .411 .593   9 10   2   21   24   2   0

      AA 171 .316 .415 .591 10 11   3   25   36   3   2

 

This guy is a hitter.  Going into his senior year at Georgia Tech, Teixeira was considered the best player in college baseball and a likely #1 or #2 pick in the draft.  A broken ankle and a considerable amount of missed time dropped his draft stock to the point that he was available for the Texas Rangers to happily snatch up with the 5th pick in the draft.

 

 

He signed too late to play in 2001 and had some arm problems early in 2002, but once on the field, he picked up right where he left off, crushing baseballs.

 

 

Teixeira has the total hitting package - big, strong and a switch hitter.  He hits for a high average (.318 combined at A and AA), he hits for huge power (19 HRs and 21 doubles in only 321 ABs) and he has terrific plate discipline (46 walks and 60 strikeouts).  His defense at third base is less than great, but he should be able to handle the position and, if all else fails, his bat can certainly handle first base or designated hitter.

 

 

Teixeira is ready for the big leagues right now.  The Rangers might give him a few months at Triple-A in 2003 just to make sure, but expect to see him batting behind Alex Rodriguez in Arlington very soon.

 

Stock: Way Up


#9 Dennis Tankersley SP Age: 23 Throws: Right Padres

 

Year   LG   IP   ERA   W   L   H   SO BB HR   K/9   W/9   H/9

2000     A 142 3.49 10   5 121 161 57   9 10.2   3.6   7.7

2001   A+  52 0.52   5   1   29   68 12   1 11.8   2.1   5.0

      AA   70 2.07   4   1   44   89 24   6 11.4   3.1   5.7

      AAA   14 6.91   1   2   16   16   8   2 10.3   5.1 10.3

2002   AA   51 3.02   3   3   47   56 21   1   9.9   3.7   8.3

      AAA   51 3.88   3   4   43   51 30   6   9.0   5.3   7.6

      ML   51 8.06   1   4   59   39 40 10   6.9   7.1 10.4

 

As I sure most of you know by now, Tankersley was stolen from the Boston Red Sox for Ed Sprague in 2000.  I am not exactly sure how the Padres got him for Ed Sprague, considering he put up an 0.76 ERA with a 57/9 K/BB ratio in 36 rookie league innings for the Sox in 1999.  But, that?s old news now and I?ll let Red Sox fans ponder that trade.

 

 

Tankersley posted great strikeout numbers and decent walk rates throughout the minors, including stints at Double and Triple-A in 2002, before being called up to the Majors.  While looking at his stats for this year, I noticed something that I would call “interesting,” Tankersley pitched 51 innings at each of his 3 stops in 2002.

 

 

51 IP at AAA = 9.9 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9.

 

51 IP at AA = 9.0 K/9 and 5.3 BB/9

 

51 IP in MLB = 6.9 K/9 and 7.1 BB/9

 

 

I?m no math genius, but I think I detect a pattern there.

 

 

The control issues are definitely a concern, especially because Tankersley has had pretty low walk rates in other years.  Other than that though, the strikeout rates at AA and AAA were good and 6.9 Ks per 9 innings in your rookie year at the Major League level is certainly more than decent.  Tankersley is still on track to become a very good pitcher for the Padres.

 

Stock: Neutral


#8 Austin Kearns OF Age: 22 Bats: Right Reds

 


Year   LG   AB   AVG   OBP   SLG HR 2B 3B   BB   SO SB CS

2000     A 484 .306 .415 .558 27 37   2   90   93 18   5

2001   AA 205 .268 .364 .429   6 11   0   26   43   7   5

2002   AA   41 .268 .434 .683   5   2   0   9   9   1   0

      ML 372 .315 .407 .500 13 24   3   54   81   6   3

 

Austin Kearns? MLB debut wasn?t quite as impressive as his outfield mate Adam Dunn?s was in 2001, but it was pretty close.  Kearns started the year in Triple-A, but was quickly called up to the Reds in April when Sean Casey went down with an injury.

 

 

It was supposed to be a temporary stopgap, but Kearns ended up hitting .455 in his 33 April at-bats and he was in the Majors for the time being.  He came back down to earth in May, hitting .261/.377/.477, and then slumped horribly in June (.214/.295/.314).  There was some talk that a sore right thumb, an injury that was responsible for Kearns? sub-par 2001, was part of the reason for his offensive collapse in June.

 

 

Whatever the reason, the Reds sent Kearns down to Triple-A Louisville on June 23rd, but then recalled him 2 days later when Ken Griffey Jr. went on the DL.  Apparently the 2 day trip to Louisville did some good, as Kearns hit .333/.418/.478 in July and was hitting .374/.448/.604 in August before going down with a season-ending hamstring injury.

 

 

Kearns should be fully healthy for 2003 and is expected to play everyday as the Cincinnati right fielder.

 

 

Kearns has the complete package.  He hits for average, tremendous power, draws walks, can steal a base and plays very good defense in right field.

 

 

As strange as this sentence would have sounded 5 years ago?the Reds now have 2/3 of their starting outfield in place for the foreseeable future and all they need in order to have one of the best outfields in all of baseball is for Ken Griffey Jr. to step up his game and, more importantly, stay on the field.

 

Stock: Way Up


#7 Juan Cruz SP Age: 24 Throws: Right Cubs

 

Year   LG   IP   ERA   W   L   H   SO BB HR   K/9   W/9   H/9

2000     A   96 3.28   5   5   75 106 60   6   9.9   5.6   7.0

      A+  44 3.25   3   0   30   54 18   5 11.0   3.7   6.1

2001   AA 121 4.01   9   6 107 137 60   6 10.2   4.5   8.0

      ML   45 3.22   3   1   40   39 17   4   7.8   3.4   8.0

2002   ML   97 3.98   3 11   84   81 59 11   7.5   5.5   7.8

2002   AA   35 2.60   4   1   26   55 10   0 14.1   2.6   6.7

      AAA   16 1.65   1   1   13   24   8   1 13.5   4.5   7.3

      ML 117 3.32   6   6   98 147 38 14 11.3   2.9   7.5

 

Juan Cruz had a very unique 2002 season, one that saw him pitch much better than his record would indicate and worse than his ERA.

 

 

Cruz started the year in the Cubs? rotation and after 8 starts, he was 0-7.  Shortly after that, he was yanked from the rotation and put into a middle-relief role for the rest of the season.

 

 

He pitched much better as a reliever, upping his strikeouts and cutting way down on his walks allowed.

 

 

Here are his start/relieve splits for 2002:

 

Starter: Reliever:

 

45.2 IP 51.2 IP

 

6.0 K/9 8.7 K/9

 

6.0 BB/9 4.8 BB/9

 

3.75 ERA 4.18 ERA

 

5.87 RAA* 4.50 RAA

 

*RAA = All runs allowed, including unearned.

 

 

As you can see, Cruz had some bad luck as a starter, including 11 unearned runs in 45 innings pitched.

 

But, he didn?t pitch all that well either.  As a reliever, he was a different pitcher.  His strikeout rate jumped up almost 3 per 9 innings and his walks moved towards respectability.

 

 

Overall, Cruz?s 2002 wasn?t too bad, especially if you forget about the 0-7 start.  He pitched well after being moved to the pen and had a 2.32 second half ERA.

 

Stock: Neutral


#6 Nick Johnson 1B Age: 24 Bats: Left Yankees

 


Year   LG   AB   AVG   OBP   SLG HR 2B 3B   BB   SO SB CS

1999   AA 420 .345 .525 .548 14 33   5 123   88   8   6

2000   DNP

2001   AAA 359 .256 .407 .462 18 20   0   81 105   9   2

      ML   67 .194 .308 .313   2   2   0   7   15   0   0

2002   ML 378 .243 .347 .402 15 15   0   48   98   1   3

 

Nick Johnson?s 1999 stat line at Double-A is a Billy Beane wet dream.  He hit .345, slugged 52 extra base hits, drew a massive amount of walks and got plunked pretty frequently.  All that added up to a OBP in Barry Bonds? territory and a spot as one of the top hitting prospects in baseball.

 

 

Then Johnson missed all of 2000 with a mysterious wrist injury.  A year of lost development time is crucial and when Johnson came back in 2001 he was not the same hitter, whether from rust of something more significant.

 

 

His 2001 performance dropped him from the ranks of the “sure things” all the way down to one of the top handful of hitting prospects around.  He still had an OBP above .400 and some decent power, but the batting average dropped nearly 100 points and he didn?t walk nearly as often.  His 2001 numbers at Triple-A suggested a MLE of about .240/.375/.440, which isn?t that far off from what he did this year.

 

 

Johnson started the year as a full-time starter on the Yankees, splitting time at DH and 1B with Jason Giambi.  He struggle mightily at first, hitting only .214/.327/.345 in April.  He gradually improved during the next 3 months, watching his OPS climb from April?s .672 to .740 in May, .806 in J

Aaron Gleeman Posted: November 06, 2002 at 06:00 AM | 15 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. scruff Posted: November 07, 2002 at 02:01 AM (#607094)
Nice article Aaron. I'm in a keeper NL only league with 14 teams and deep farm systems (5 round farm draft every year). We also give our farm guys cheap 4-year contracts once they are activated, $1, $3, $5, $9. So building through these prospect lists is of major importance.

Unfortunately I had to trade away Jose Reyes and Hee Seop Choi this year. Fortunately they brought me enough current talent to win another pennant, but it's going to be rough watching those guys shine over the next few seasons.

Anyway, I'll be printing this article and bringing it along to the draft next year.
   2. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: November 07, 2002 at 02:01 AM (#607095)
Never would have guessed it was your ambition to be John Hart, Scruff...

In fairness to Darnell McDonald, he was pretty good at AAA this year, and if he maintains the gain he could turn into an acceptable starter. That's not a star, but it could be worse.
   3. tangotiger Posted: November 07, 2002 at 02:01 AM (#607096)
Yup, good job!

Question: how about a ranking of your sources? Was there a source that was not in-line with the group average, and their stock matched that?
   4. Aaron Gleeman Posted: November 07, 2002 at 02:01 AM (#607099)
Chaz said:
"A great article, but I'd just like to point out that Kelly Johnson did play all of last year in Myrtle Beach, which is a terrible park for hitters (one of the worst in any level of baseball, IIRC). This doesn't really explain the lack of walks, but it does help to explain why some of his other numbers dramatically dropped off."

The park may have had something to do with the dropoff in Johnson's performance, but, like you said, he walked way less in more playing time. And, while his BA "only" dropped 35 points, his SLG dropped over 100 points, which is significant no matter what kind of park he played in.

I don't think Johnson had as bad a year (relative to 2001) as Betemit did, which is why he isn't in the top 5 "decliners" list, but he still had a sub par year.

Vinay Kumar said:
"I was surprised by your stock rating of both Padres pitching prospects. Tankersley was considered a better prospect than Peavy coming into the season, primarily because he was more advanced. But Peavy is younger, and pitched better at each level this year. He looked much more polished in the big leagues than Tankersley. The organization has pencilled him into this year's rotation (and, indeed, the next five year's rotations). Meanwhile, they are considering moving Tankersley to the bullpen or even trading him.
I'd have rated Peavy's stock as up and Tankersley's as down."

I also think that Peavy is the better pitcher, however, I didn't have anything to do with their rankings. It was just the average of how the 6 sources ranked them.

As for their stock...
Peavy had a very good year and did pretty well in the Majors, but I don't think his performance was so extraordinary that it warranted his stock going up from where it was, which was already extremely high (14th overall).

Tankersley also had a very good season in the minors and, although he did struggle in the Majors, I don't think 51 bad innings for a rookie pitcher is enough to have his stock plummet.

So, basically I am saying that Peavy had a better year, but that his stock was already so high that it didn't really go up too much.
And Tankersley stuggled in the Majors, but did well in the minors, so I didn't drop him.

Tangotiger said:
"Question: how about a ranking of your sources? Was there a source that was not in-line with the group average, and their stock matched that?"

I started to write this stuff at the end of the article, but I decided to leave it out.

The Sporting News had, by far, the worst list.
They had Ryan Anderson #4, Drew Henson #12, Josh Hamilton #8, Wilson Betemit #17 and they didn't have Brandon Phillips, Justin Morneau, Joe Mauer or Jose Reyes in their top 40.

Baseball America had the highest opinions of any of the sources of Mark Prior, Casey Kotchamn and Joe Mauer.
But, they also had Betemit #8, Ryan Anderson #14, Henson #9 and Berroa #15.

Prospectus had Betemit #5, Jack Cust #20, Ryan Anderson #24, Corwin Malone #32 and Berroa #17.
They also gave Prior the worst ranking, 14th and left Mauer, Choi, Reyes, Jerome Williams, Kotchman and Boof Bonser off the top 40.
But, they also left Drew Henson and Kelly Johnson off their list and Phelps #25, Teixeira #10 and Byrd #9.

ProspectReport.com gets bonus points for being the only source to have Francisco Rodriguez in the top 40 (#40).
They also had Prior 4th, Jose Reyes 13th, Cuddyer 15th, Peavy 10th, and they left Betemit, Berroa and Henson off the top 40.
But, they also had Cust #7, Neugebauer #6 and Gross #20.

John Sickels had Betemit ranked #5, Berroa #13, Kelly Johnson #15, Gross #18, Malone #27 and Henson #32.
Sickels also left Byrd, Williams, Phelps, Kotchman and Reyes off his top 40.
But, he did give the best rankings to Cuddyer, Teixera and Choi, and left Cust and Ryan Anderson off his top 40.

TopProspectAlert.com had Carlos Pena ranked the worst of any of the six sources (#13) and they had Jose Reyes ranked, by far, the best (#9).
But, they also included Betemit 16th, Cust 11th, Henson 27th and Kelly Johnson 26th.

I am not really sure which list was the "best," but I know it wasn't the Sporting News'.

RMc said:
"So the Tigers have exactly one prospect among the Top 40...a first baseman, for whom they traded their franchise pitcher. Sigh.
Gonna be another long year."

Remember, this was the top 40 BEFORE the 2002 season, so it likely won't resemble the top 40 as of right now.
That said, the Tigers ARE in for another long year (or 20).
   5. scruff Posted: November 07, 2002 at 02:01 AM (#607100)
The difference between John Hart and myself Vlad, is two-fold:

1) I actually WON the championship, which makes dropping two kids worth it.

2) I still have $7 LoDuca, $10 Pujols, and I'll be fine.

This was Vlad's walk year, I had had him since 1997, extended him 3 years at the beginning of 1999. I also had Maddux, Glavine, and Nevin in walk years, so this was the year to make the run. The two netted me, Piazza, Shawn Green, Lowell and Clement (all in walk years, except Clement), so it was worth it.

May as well advertise, we'll have two openings next year, including the team that finished 2nd to me, if anyone is interested. Our stakes are about $65-$100 a team. Drop me an email if you'd like to join.
   6. bob mong Posted: November 07, 2002 at 02:01 AM (#607104)
November 7, 2002 - Chris Thomas (www)


So? Why not just rate the annals and be done with it? Do we really need YOUR opinion? Have you seen ANY of these players in the flesh? Can you describe the leg kick of one of the pitchers or the follow through on the swing of any of the hitters?


We don't "need" anyone's opinion. But I want it. Baseball season is over and it is fun to read someone's well-written opinion/criticism of various rankings and players. And you don't need to see anyone's leg kick or swing to know if they had a good year or not. I don't need to see Greg Vaughn's swing to know that he had a craptastic year.

There's something to be said for integrity. You have none.

There is also something to be said for a dictionary:

integrity

\In*teg"ri*ty\, n. [L. integritas: cf. F. int['e]grit['e]. See Integer, and cf. Entirety.] 1. The state or quality of being entire or complete; wholeness; entireness; unbroken state; as, the integrity of an empire or territory. --Sir T. More.

2. Moral soundness; honesty; freedom from corrupting influence or motive; -- used especially with reference to the fulfillment of contracts, the discharge of agencies, trusts, and the like; uprightness; rectitude.

I assume you are referring to definition #2. Did Aaron exhibit moral unsoundness in writing this article? I don't think so. Was he dishonest? Well, he was mostly giving stats, his opinions, and, indirectly, quoting from various baseball journals. Unless you were intending to assert that Aaron misrepresented his opinions, we can probably rule that out. You didn't directly claim that he gave false or incorrect stats, and no one has disputed the numbers he has presented, so we can rule that out as well. Finally, no one has disputed his interpretation or representation of the rankings of Baseball Prospectus, et al, so we can rule that out also. Which leaves....? It leaves me to conclude that Aaron's integrity, at least with regards to this article, remains unblemished, your wild accusations to the contrary.

You don't qualify as a paid 'anything' (scout, consultant, etc.). You're opinions carry zero weight.

Disregarding your strange sentence structure ("qualify as a paid anything"...?), and assuming that it is true (that Aaron is indeed not a paid scout or consultant in organized baseball), that hardly implies that his opinions carry zero weight. It merely implies that no one in a position to pay him has found his opinions worth paying for, yet.

You're trying to push your name as an "expert" despite the fact you didn't do anything but hold a few lists together with Scotch tape.

He never represented himself as an expert. And I think he did a bit more than hold a few lists together with Scotch tape. Tying the six rankings together (what he actually used to cause them to adhere to each other seems beside the point) was only the barest beginning of his study and his article. The real meat was his individual analysis of each prospect's 2002 season and what that means for each prospect's ranking going forward.

Baseball Primer is turning me off by having wasted my time reading this garbage.

I can't speak for Baseball Primer, I am not affiliated with it in any way, but I can't help but think that, with your attitude, they would be just as happy to see you go.

Go watch baseball and get your nose out of the numbers. There's more to the game than raw stats and you do not have the ability to suggest anything on individual player development.

I am pretty sure that Aaron did watch some baseball this year; if I am not mistaken he is an ardent Twins fan. He never suggested there was no more to the game than raw stats and he did not make "suggestions" on player development. He offered observations and a few predictions.

Chris Thomas (nice "homepage", by the way), your rant was rude, counterproductive, poorly written, badly reasoned, and not welcomed by me nor, I imagine, most of the other regular posters here. If your ardent desire is for the analysis of paid scouts and consultants, I don't really understand why you read anything on this website anyway - the whole darn thing is written, run, and read by amateurs.
   7. Aaron Gleeman Posted: November 07, 2002 at 02:01 AM (#607108)
"Do we really need YOUR opinion?"

Yes Chris, you do.
Didn't you get the memo?
Study this article because you will be tested on it first thing Monday.

"Have you seen ANY of these players in the flesh? Can you describe the leg kick of one of the pitchers or the follow through on the swing of any of the hitters?"

Actually yes, I have.
Adding together Twins games at the Metrodome, Arizona Fall League games in Arizona, various televised minor league games that I get on my DirecTV and the hundreds of games I have watched on MLB Extra Innings package on DirecTV, I would estimate that I have seen between 30-35 of these players play at least a couple of times.

Among the players I have seen A LOT would be Michael Cuddyer, Nick Johnson, Carlos Pena, Juan Cruz, Josh Phelps, Carlos Hernandez, Nick Neugebauer, Jake Peavy, Austin Kearns, Mark Prior, Sean Burroughs, Hank Blalock and Josh Beckett.

Heck, I even saw Joe Mauer play high school baseball games!

It is certainly true that I was not able to see all of Casey Kotchman's at bats this year at Single-A or all of Jerome Williams' strikeouts at Triple-A, but who has?

"There's something to be said for integrity. You have none. You don't qualify as a paid 'anything' (scout, consultant, etc.). You're opinions carry zero weight."

In what way am I not showing integrity? I am not sure I understand that part.
However, you are 100% correct that I do not qualify as a "paid anything."
And my opinions probably do carry pretty close to zero weight.

"You're trying to push your name as an "expert" despite the fact you didn't do anything but hold a few lists together with Scotch tape."

First of all, all lists were put together on this thing I have called a "computer." It is really an amazing piece of technology. You don't even need Scotch tape anymore!
Secondly, when did I push myself as an expert?

"Go watch baseball and get your nose out of the numbers. There's more to the game than raw stats and you do not have the ability to suggest anything on individual player development."

I would venture to guess that my time spent watching baseball in the last 2-3 years would rank up there at about the 90th percentile among American males and females between the age of 0 and 450.
I watched approximately 90% of all Minnesota Twins games over the past several seasons, either live or on TV.
And I don't think a day went by that I did not watch at least part of a MLB game or two on DirecTV (save for those miserable days when none are scheduled!).
Heck, I even made of habit of watching "Minor League Mondays" on the YES Network!

I am about as obsessed with the sport of baseball as a human being can reasonably be.
And, while it is true that I believe statistics are very valuable in determining a player's current performance and future value, I do like to watch some actual ball occasionally.

Bob Mong, thanks for "defending" me, I appreciate it.

Victor Martinez said:
"Did anyone have me on their list? As prospects go, it's tough to beat a catcher who was no question the best hitter at his entire level, even if I'm a tad old for AA. As gainers go, it's tough to beat me."

Sorry Vic, none of the 6 sources that I examined had you on their top 40 list, although with the season you had in 2002, I am 100% sure that is going to change when the new lists come out.
   8. Aaron Gleeman Posted: November 08, 2002 at 02:02 AM (#607118)
Hi Chris -

Well, maybe I should have explained this better in the actual article!
But...

The "stock" that I have for each player simply has to do with his long-term potential as a player.

For example, Beckett looked to be a stud before this year and, despite some problems in 2002, he looks about the same, long term.

On the other hand, guys like Betemit or Corwin Malone looked very good long term before this year, but right now their futures don't look so bright.

My point about Peavy is that his future is not really much brighter after 2002 than it was after 2001. He had a good year in 2002, but he was already thought to be a future star, so nothing really changed.

The "stock" is not compared to others on the list, it is simply the future outlook of the player and whether or not it is better or worse than it was this time last year.

Hope that answers some questions...
   9. Mike Emeigh Posted: November 08, 2002 at 02:02 AM (#607120)
I go to a few games a year at Myrtle Beach (which is a great experience, BTW; they promote the heck out of that team, the place is almost always packed, the fans are enthusiastic - and the Braves' connection probably doesn;t hurt) and Chaz is right; it's a gack-awful place in which to hit, especially for power. The ball doesn't carry at all in that ballpark; I have seen exactly 1 home run hit there in the dozen or so games that I've attended.

Greenville, the next stop up for Johnson, is exactly the opposite; it's a heck of a park for hitters (real ones, that is, not the ersatz bunch that passed for prospects that the Braves placed there this year). So when his numbers jump back up next year, remember that you heard it here first ;)

-- MWE
   10. Aaron Gleeman Posted: November 09, 2002 at 02:02 AM (#607128)
Alex Lewis said:
"What prospect (I mean any, not just top 40 guys) has gained the most stock this last major league season?
My guess would be Jesse Foppert. I've heard him called the best right-handed prospect out there by, for example, John Sickles. That's quite a jomp from being 'guy waiting behind Bonser.'"

Hmm...that is a good question.
I am starting to work on another article for Primer that will include my very own top 40 (or 50 maybe) ranking of prospects, so I will be able to answer your question better when I am done researching that, but...

I think, off the top of my head, I would say:

Jesse Foppert

Gavin Floyd

Francicsco Rodriguez

Victor Martinez

Rocco Baldelli

In no particular order.

All of those guys are probably in the top 10-15 prospects in baseball right now and I don't think any of them were in most people's top 50 before the season started.

John C said:
"I do have a question, based on a point raised in a thread on Clutch Hits. Is it possible that a slight production decline at AA is a correction of the market, so to speak? Suppose a team is working on shoring up flaws that will hurt him in the long term, so his performance suffers in the short term, but will rebound. Should we just ignore that possibility, because there is no way of knowing after looking at the numbers whether the player declined because he had a flaw that opponents exploited and will prevent his development, or whether he declined because he was working out kinks in his swing that would help him in the future? Or do you take it into consideration, like you mention a couple of times that a player started slowly but appeared to have adjusted by the end?"

Another great question! Man, I love these comment "chats" after I do an article...

I definintely think a player being asked to change his approach at the plate is a possibility when he struggles (or when he excels!).
Like you said, with a couple of the guys in the article I mentioned that they started slowly and finished strong, which is always better (in my opinion) than doing to exact opposite.

I guess the way I would look at someone that struggled would be this:
It is possible that they changed something that caused them to struggle.
So, if that is the case, I look for consistency in other areas, particularly plate discipline, as well as signs of improvement over the course of the season.

Also, one reason why I don't think the majority of struggles for top prospects can be attributed to changes in approach is that, basically, these guys are great players, so I don't think they are going to be tinkered with all that often.

But, like I said, I think you raise a good question and it is certainly a possibility when a guy sees his average drop 100 points of his power vanish.
   11. Aaron Gleeman Posted: November 09, 2002 at 02:02 AM (#607132)
Chris -

I would absolutely, without a doubt, take Peavy over Floyd.

I guess what you are saying is...Peavy was 14th and you'd rather have him than Floyd who will probably be between 10 and 15, doesn't that mean that Peavy actually moved up from 14th?

However, because Peavy was ranked 14th last year and (I think) Floyd will be ranked in the top 15 this year does not mean that Peavy's stock went up in order for me to want him more than Floyd.

I think Peavy's "group" is a much better one than Floyd's will be.

Beckett and Prior and Blalock and the like are much more impressive to me than Foppert and Reyes and the other guys on this year's list.
Basically, not all top 15 prospects are the same.

Plus, I really did not think about their actual ranking when I did the "stock" for each player.
I simply judged him against himself.
If a player's outlook was, in my opinion, a lot better or worse than it was this time last year, that's all I looked at.

With Peavy, he is no longer a "prospect" or at least eligible to be on these sort of lists.
His "league-average" debut with the Padres was a very good sign for his future.
But, the reason I did not put his "stock" as "UP" is because he did nothing in 2002 that I did not expect him to do.
He continued to pitch well in the minors and he had a very nice debut in the Majors, both things were not unexpected, at least to me.

If his AAA performance had been horrible and his MLB performance had been horrible, I certainly would have had his stock "DOWN."
At the same time, if he would have debuted in the Majors like Mark Prior did, I would have put his stock as UP.
But he had a debut right in line with what I would have expected, so his stock remained the same.

I guess, in a way, his long term outlook got better simply because he advanced to the major leagues and didn't embarass himself (or injure himself), I can see that definitely.

However, I think I could go by the feeling that a top 15 prospect should do what Peavy did.

And I guess it is here that the problem with his "stock" comes up.
Peavy performed as I expected him to this year, so I don't think his stock went up.
At the same time, he moved up the ladder and even held his own with the Padres, so in that regard I guess you could say long term stock went up, or at least became more likely to be fulfilled.

Basically, what am I saying is I don't know how to answer your question! :)

Peavy's likelihood of fulfilling his potential got better in 2002, but I don't think his actual potential got any higher.

I suppose I went with the second measure when thinking about the players' stocks...although maybe I shouldn't have.
I'm not sure.

Am I making any sense?
   12. Mike Emeigh Posted: November 10, 2002 at 02:02 AM (#607135)
You forgot to add, "unless they're in the Pittsburgh farm system."

That was true in the past, but the Pirates have cleaned out many of the coaches who were responsible for doing that tinkering since Bonifay left, and I don't think it's true now.

One other thing that the Pirates did this year, which they didn't do in the past, is leave most of their prospects at the same level all season. For example: Jose Castillo, who is a B-range shortstop prospect, and who probably would have been pushed to AA in mid-season had Bonifay still been in charge, stayed at Lynchburg all year. Unless you are an A-level prospect, I think being pushed a level higher in mid-season hurts more than it helps.

-- MWE
   13. Aaron Gleeman Posted: November 10, 2002 at 02:02 AM (#607138)
I agree with Mike completely.
The Pirates have really turned around their organization.
While it isn't exactly great yet, it is a far cry from the abysmal thing Cam Bonifay was in charge of.
   14. Devin has a deep burning passion for fuzzy socks Posted: November 11, 2002 at 02:02 AM (#607154)
Nice article, Aaron. One item about your analysis of the individual lists. Don't forget the possibility that some players who had "cups of coffee" in 2001 may have been left off of certain lists due to the rules set up by the person making the list. Okay, I'm too lazy to go back and check if this applies myself. But it could be a factor (or The Sporting News could just be lazy)
   15. Mike Green Posted: November 14, 2002 at 02:03 AM (#607220)
Terrific article. What is interesting about the 2002 class of prospects is how many absolutely topnotch pitching prospects there were, and how generally well they did. This is historically unusual, although not completely unprecedented, I think. The year that Clemens was a hot prospect, 1984, also saw the arrival of Saberhagen and Gooden, as I recall, and they all lived up to billing (at least for 5-6 years).

I'm looking forward to your article on the 2003 prospects.

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