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

Monday, January 27, 2003

2003’s Top 50 Prospects

Aaron takes his turn at the crystal ball.

pros?pect (pras pehkt) - noun - Something expected; a possibility.

At some point, for every single Major League Baseball team, the phrase "wait til next year" is uttered, sometimes quite often.  That saying is the mantra of some franchises, a constant wish for better things ahead that just never seem to actually arrive.

 

For other teams, it is a phrase that represents the hope of finding that missing piece for next year, the thing that can push a team over the top or give them that little something they lacked the year before.

 

And for one team every season, "wait til next year" is a warning to the rest of the league, a notification of reinforcements that will soon arrive and make last year?s World Series champions even stronger.

 

The 50 men discussed in this article are the "wait til next year" for their teams.  They are that middle-of-the-order hitter that a team has been lacking, that dominant starting pitcher they have never had, that slick fielding shortstop that will rejuvenate the whole team.

 

These men are the hopes, prayers and dreams of many and while several of them will succeed, some to extraordinary heights, others will fail miserably and become nothing more than a nightmare, a tease of something that "coulda been."

 

For every guy that was a "sure thing," there is another guy that was a "sure thing."

 

Before I get to the prospects, I want to say a few words about my rankings.

 

To be "eligible" for this prestigious list, a player must meet the Rookie-of-the-Year qualifications, which means he has a total of less than 150 at bats or 50 innings pitched at the Major League level (so no Hank Blalock, Sean Burroughs, Josh Beckett or Mark Prior).

 

In addition to that, I do not rank players that have yet to play professional baseball in America, which means no Hideki Matsui, Jose Contreras or B.J. Upton.  It is hard enough trying to rank players that play in the minor leagues, so I won?t even attempt to rank someone that has been playing against high school kids or in foreign leagues.  It is just too difficult.

 

There is definitely no set formula for how I rank players as it is an extremely inexact science.

Of course, there are several key things I tend to look at for each player (in no particular order):

 

1) Age and level of competition.

Quite simply, a 21 year old hitting .330 at Double-A is just more impressive than a 24 year old doing the same.  That?s not to say that every young player is a good prospect or every older player is a non-prospect, but it is a significant consideration for all players.

 

2) Plate discipline/control of the strike zone.

Despite what the old cliché might tell you, a walk is usually not as good as a hit.  However, for a player in the minor leagues to show some semblance of discipline at the plate is a very important factor in their development and is thus a very important factor in these rankings.  This is certainly not a must for every single prospect, but it is important.

 

3) Defense and the future position.

Accurately judging a player?s defensive abilities at the Major League level is a difficult task at best and tedious at worst, so doing the same for minor league players is like trying to come up with the perfect simile, it?s almost impossible.  In the minors, shortstops routinely make 40 errors in a season, many players are learning new positions on the job and it isn?t like there is a place to find defensive Win Shares for center fielders in the Florida State League.  But defense is a huge part of a player?s value and it is just as big a factor in how good a prospect is. 

 

Another important aspect of defense for prospects is trying to determine which position the player will end up playing in the Major Leagues.  Many players find themselves shifting down the defensive spectrum as they advance up through the minor leagues and a player?s overall status as a prospect must at least attempt to take into account their eventual position(s).  A minor league shortstop that is a great hitter is a wonderful thing, but less so if the player is unlikely to stick at shortstop in the Majors.

 

4) Offensive performance and the factors involved.

The performance part is pretty self-explanatory:  At some point, a "prospect" has to play like a prospect, because whether or not he was a first round pick or a highly touted foreign signing isn?t going to help him hit or pitch in the Major Leagues. 

 

In addition to that, there are many things in a player?s performance beyond the obvious, which is to say that not all .300 batting averages or 30 home run seasons are equal.  Just as in the Major Leagues, there are many different "park factors" throughout minor league baseball.  There are parks that favor pitching and parks that favor hitting, and there are entire leagues that do the same.

 

5) Strikeouts and walks for pitchers.

For pitchers, the first thing I always look at is the strikeout rate.  The more strikeouts the better, it?s as simple as that.  Okay, maybe it?s not quite that simple.  In general, the higher a pitcher?s K rate is, the better chance for long-term success he has.  There are definitely tons of exceptions, but it is a good general rule.  In addition to strikeouts, a pitcher?s control is also key.  Striking out 10 batters a game doesn?t do much good if you are walking just as many and, at the same time, a pitcher can be very successful with an unexceptional strike out rate if he doesn?t walk very many batters. 

 

There is a balance between the two that needs to exist at some point, although it is very tough to pin down in minor league pitchers.  In most cases, a pitcher?s K rate will decrease once he gets to the Majors and his walk rate will increase, which gives added importance to being able to strike out a lot of batters and to keep the walks to a minimum while in the minors. 

 

Finally, my rankings reflect my feeling about a player’s long-term chance for success at the Major League level and the degree of that success.  There are players on this list that will play in the Major Leagues next season and there are players that won?t sniff the bigs for another couple of years.  I look at every player the same way:  How good do I think this guy has a chance to be and how likely do I feel he is to reach that level?

Without further adieu, my top 50 prospects in all of baseball (and may your team?s "next year" be a good one)?

 

#50) Travis Blackley

Seattle Mariners

Age: 20

Pos: SP

Throws: Left

YEAR

LG

IP

ERA

SO/9

BB/9

H/9

HR/9

SO

BB

H

HR

2001

A

79

3.32

10.3

3.3

6.8

0.8

90

29

60

7

2002

A

121

3.49

11.3

3.3

7.6

0.8

152

44

102

11

 

The Mariners signed Travis Blackley out of Australia in 2000 and he did very well in his 2001 pro debut, striking out 90 batters in only 79 innings pitched.  He suffered a fractured elbow during the 2001 off-season while pitching in an instructional league and missed the start of the 2002 season.  Once healthy, Blackley continued to pitch extremely well and racked up huge strikeout numbers as the California League?s youngest pitcher.

 

Blackley is not a scout favorite because his fastball tops out at about 88 MPH.  However, he has a super changeup and a good curveball and his performance thus far has certainly been great.  Major League Baseball history is littered with successful lefties that had troubling reaching 90 with their heaters and Blackley?s command and secondary pitches should be more than enough for him to join that long list.

 

Blackley will likely start the year at Double-A San Antonio, which will be a real test to see if his performance continues to out-weigh his fastball.  He?ll have to continue to pitch well, because guys like him don?t get as many chances or as much leeway as someone that can dial it up to 95 MPH.

 

#49) Jonny Gomes

Tampa Bay Devil Rays

Age: 22

Pos: LF

Bats: Right

YEAR

LG

AB

AVG

OBP

SLG

HR

2B

3B

BB

SO

SB

CS

2001

R

206

.291

.442

.597

16

11

2

33

73

15

4

2002

A

446

.276

.431

.572

30

24

9

91

173

15

3

 

Fans of the "Three True Outcomes" (aka the Rob Deer fan club) that are reeling from the news that Russ Branyan will be out several months with an injury may have a new 3TO hero to latch on to.

 

Along with 173 whiffs and 91 walks, Jonny Gomes was also hit by a pitch an amazing 31 times last season.

 

When he wasn?t walking, whiffing and hitting the dirt, Gomes was crushing the ball.  He hit over .450 when he actually put the ball in play and finished second in the California League with 30 homers.

 

Striking out 173 times in less than 450 at bats is a bit disturbing, but Gomes still managed to hit for a good average (.276) and got on-base at a very good clip, thanks in large part to that combo of 122 walks and hit by pitches.

 

He isn?t much of a defender and will probably be limited to LF, 1B or DH.  Despite his subpar defensive skills, Gomes is actually a decent runner, further evidenced by his 9 triples in 2002 and 15 steals in each of the past 2 seasons.

 

2003 will be a huge year for Gomes as he makes the move to Double-A and we get to see if he can be the next Rob Deer or possibly something more.  He isn?t overly young and Tampa actually has quite a logjam of outfielders coming up through the system, so he?ll need to make good on any chance he is given.

 

#48) Wilson Betemit

Atlanta Braves

Age: 21

Pos: SS

Bats: Switch

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

5

 

Not many prospects saw their stock drop as far as Wilson Betemit?s did in 2002.  Despite that, Betemit still makes this list, but just barely.  Which tells you how high his stock was before 2002.

 

Betemit?s 2002 season is a perfect example of why you shouldn?t get overly excited about a player that shows absolutely no ability to control the strike zone.  Prior to 2002, Betemit walked a grand total of 121 times in 350 minor league games.  He still performed very well and his natural ability was reason for great optimism.  At Triple-A in 2002, his lack of plate discipline began to hurt him against the more experienced pitching and his offensive attack, which had been almost entirely based on batting average, completely disintegrated.  Betemit?s average was stuck below .200 for much of the season and he ended up hitting only .245 and walked 34 times in 93 AAA games.  Various injuries kept him from playing in more games and also probably affected his performance when he played.

 

He still has a ton of potential offensively.  He is a switch hitter, he?s still very young and he has a ton of natural skills.  Many scouts still think he has 25+ home run potential.

 

Defensively, Betemit has decent range and a very strong arm.  As he matures and gets bigger, he may move over to third base, which he should be able to handle with ease.

 

There is no doubt that Betemit still plays a big role in the Braves? long-term infield plans, but he?ll need to bounce back in a big way in 2003.  Expect him to have a good season, although he may never live up to the hype he was receiving in 2001.

 

#47) Kevin Cash

Toronto Blue Jays

Age: 25

Pos: C

Bats: Right

YEAR

LG

AB

AVG

OBP

SLG

HR

2B

3B

BB

SO

SB

CS

2000

A

196

.245

.323

.459

10

10

1

22

54

5

3

2001

A

371

.283

.369

.453

12

27

0

43

80

4

3

2002

AA

213

.277

.381

.469

8

15

1

36

44

5

2

 

AAA

236

.220

.299

.424

10

18

0

25

72

0

1

 

Ultimately, the quality of Kevin Cash?s career is going to depend on his batting average.

 

Cash is a phenomenal defensive catcher, he is going to take walks and he is going to hit for pretty good power.  Whether he hits .220 or .280 is going to determine what his legacy will be.

 

A Gold Glover catcher that hits .225 with 25 homers and a lot of walks is nice, but a GG catcher hitting .275 with 25 homers and a lot of walks is something special.

 

Cash was originally a third baseman at Florida State and went undrafted.  The Blue Jays saw him play as an emergency catcher in a summer league game and liked what they saw so they signed him and made him a full-time backstop. 

 

Because he is relatively new to the position, Cash is still somewhat raw behind the plate.  However, scouts rave about his cannon arm and athleticism and he definitely has the potential to be very special defensively.  Cash threw out 56% of base runners in 2001 and 40% in 2002.

 

Offensively, power has been the only constant from year to year, level to level.  Cash hit 10 homers and 10 doubles in only 196 at bats in 2000 and then followed that up with 12 homers and 27 doubles in 371 ABs in 2001.  Last season, between Double-A and Triple-A, Cash totaled 18 homers and 33 doubles in 449 at bats. 

 

The other parts of his offensively game are far less stable.  After drawing slightly more than 1 walk per 10 at bats in 2000 and 2001, Cash improved his plate discipline last season and drew 61 walks to go along with those 449 ABs.  I tend to think that the improved plate discipline is for real and will likely continue, particularly because it is something the Toronto organization feels is extremely important.

 

His batting average, on the other hand, is incredibly hard to predict.  Cash hit .245 in 2000 and then .285 in 2001.  Then he hit .277 last season in Double-A, but only .220 in Triple-A.  With a gun to my head, I?d guess he will hover around .250 in the Majors, but I would wonder why someone would threaten me with a gun over Kevin Cash?s batting average.

 

#46) Prince Fielder

Milwaukee Brewers

Age: 18

Pos: 1B

Bats: Right

YEAR

LG

AB

AVG

OBP

SLG

HR

2B

3B

BB

SO

SB

CS

2002

R

146

.390

.531

.678

10

12

0

37

27

3

4

 

A

112

.241

.320

.384

3

7

0

10

27

0

0

 

Cecil?s little boy is all grown up and he can mash just like his old man.

 

A lot has been made of what Prince Fielder isn?t - he isn?t a great athlete, he isn?t in very good shape, he isn?t much of a defensive player - but if Prince Fielder is anything, it is a hitter.

 

The Brewers picked Prince with the 7th pick in the 2002 draft and he started his professional career at Ogden of the Pioneer (rookie) league.  His stat line there looks more like something Barry Bonds? son would put up - a .390 average with 37 walks, 10 homers and 12 doubles in only 146 at bats.

 

Milwaukee promoted him to the Midwest (Single-A) League and Fielder struggled.  His average dipped below .250, but he continued to show good power and his walk rate remained decent.

 

Fielder will have to hit if he wants to play in Milwaukee, because he certainly isn?t doing anything else to help his cause.  He has arguably the most power potential of anyone in the minor leagues right now, but still has to prove he can hit in a full-season league.

 

#45) Brad Nelson

Milwaukee Brewers

Age: 20

Pos: 1B/LF

Bats: Left

YEAR

LG

AB

AVG

OBP

SLG

HR

2B

3B

BB

SO

SB

CS

2001

R

63

.302

.392

.429

0

6

1

8

18

0

0

 

R

42

.262

.298

.357

0

4

0

3

9

0

0

2002

A

417

.297

.353

.520

17

38

2

34

86

4

1

 

A

102

.255

.333

.451

3

11

0

12

28

0

0

 

I am a big believer in projecting future power for a player in the low minors based largely on his doubles totals.  So, since I do what I say and say what I do, I have to include Brad Nelson on this list, simply because his power potential looks awesome.  Nelson led all of minor league baseball with 49 doubles between 2 levels of Single-A in 2002 and he also managed to bang out 20 homers.  Plus, he was the minor league leader in runs batted in, with 116.

 

There is an incredible logjam of first basemen in the Milwaukee organization, starting at the top with Richie Sexson and working its way down to Nelson and Fielder in the low minors.  Because of that, Nelson may be tried in left field (you know Prince Fielder certainly isn?t going to be) or maybe even third base.

 

Nelson is your typical slow slugger, so he will never be a great left fielder, but he has enough athleticism that he probably wouldn?t be a complete disaster out there.  If he stays at first base, he has plenty of glove to handle the position.

 

49 doubles (and 20 homers) for a guy that doesn?t turn 21 until December of 2003 is extremely impressive and expect those doubles to start gradually turning into homers, starting with this year.

 

#44) Boof Bonser

San Francisco Giants

Age: 21

Pos: SP

Throws: Right

YEAR

LG

IP

ERA

SO/9

BB/9

H/9

HR/9

SO

BB

H

HR

2000

A

33

6.00

11.2

7.9

5.7

0.5

41

29

21

2

2001

A

134

2.49

12.0

4.1

6.1

0.5

178

61

91

7

2002

A

128

2.88

9.8

4.9

6.3

0.6

139

70

89

9

 

AA

24

5.55

8.6

5.3

11.3

1.1

23

14

30

3

 

First of all, "Boof" is not Bonser?s given name.  Wanna take a guess as to what it is?

 

If you guessed "Ezekiel"?well, you?d be incorrect.  His name at birth was John Bonser, but he earned the nickname "Boof" as a kid and decided to officially change his name to it before the 2001 season.

 

Besides having a really strange name, Bonser is a massive human being that throws very hard, striking out a lot of guys and walking his fair share too.

 

The Giants decided to start Bonser at Double-A last year and it turned out to be a mistake.  He struggled with his control and gave up 3 homers in 24 innings before he and his 5.55 ERA were demoted back to Single-A.  Once back in Single-A, he did very well, striking out nearly 10 batters a game and limiting opponents to a sub-.200 batting average.  There was some cause for concern even though he was pitching very well, because his velocity was down slightly from past years.  His fastball was still clocking in above 90, but not at the usual 94+ that he was capable of in the past.

 

Bonser did a lot of good work with his curveball and change up last season, possibly because he was less able to just blow people away with his fastball.  The loss in velocity is still a concern, as is the drop in his K rate.

 

After striking out 11.2/9 in 2000 and 12.0/9 in 2001, Bonser?s K rate dropped quite a bit in 2002, as he struck out 9.8/9 in Single-A and 8.6/9 in Double-A.  Drops in K rate as a player progresses through the minors is often to be expected and Bonser is still striking out a ton of batters.  He did not improve his control in 2002 and he walks too many batters right now.

 

Bonser has a ton of potential, but the Giants have lots of good arms in the system and he?ll have to cut down on the free passes at some point and work on finding that extra zip on his fastball again.

	

#43) Colby Lewis

Texas Rangers

Age: 23

Pos: SP

Throws: Right

YEAR

LG

IP

ERA

SO/9

BB/9

H/9

HR/9

SO

BB

H

HR

2000

A

164

4.07

8.4

2.5

9.3

0.6

153

45

169

11

2001

AA

156

4.50

9.3

3.6

8.7

0.9

162

62

150

15

2002

AAA

107

3.63

8.3

2.4

8.4

0.3

99

28

100

4

 

ML

34

6.29

7.4

6.9

11.1

1.1

28

26

42

4

 

The Rangers drafted Colby Lewis out of Junior College with their supplemental first round pick in the 1999 draft and he has progressed very nicely, posting good K rates and decent control at every stop along the way.

 

Lewis made the big league club out of spring training, but struggled and was sent down after only 34 innings.  He went to Triple-A and had another very nice season, improving his control and striking out 8.3 batters per 9 innings.  Lewis also limited the amount of long balls he gave up, which is what killed him in his stint with the Rangers.  After giving up 4 homers in his 34 big league innings, Lewis only surrendered 4 in 107 Triple-A frames.  He has been very good at keeping the ball in the ballpark throughout his minor league career, so I don?t think he will have a huge problem with that once he gets settled in the Majors.

 

Colby Lewis is a big power pitcher with a great fastball and a lack of secondary pitches, which is a familiar story.  He does work with a hard curve and changeup and he?ll need to be able to throw at least one of those for a strike consistently if he wants to stay in the Majors for more than 34 innings at a time.

 

The Rangers have acquired some pitching this off-season, but they still might have a place for Lewis, perhaps in the bullpen, to start the season.

 

#42) Chris Snelling

Seattle Mariners

Age: 21

Pos: LF/RF

Bats: Left

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

 

Seattle signed Chris Snelling out of Australia in 1999, at the age of 17.  Since then, Snelling has always been one of the youngest hitters in the leagues he has played in and has probably been described as "scrappy" by pretty much every person that has ever seen him play baseball.  He hustles like a madman on every play and that is always a good thing, but he also has a tendency to injure himself, which obviously is not so good.

 

He broke his left hand in 2000 and then hit .336 in 2001 while playing with a fracture in his ankle.  Last season, Snelling missed the first portion of the year because he broke his thumb in spring training and when he finally started playing in Double-A and then made it to the big leagues, tearing his knee in only his 8th game as a Mariner.

 

A torn ACL is a very serious injury and Snelling may miss the beginning of the season (once again) in 2003.  Even if he comes back healthy in spring training, he is likely to begin the year in Triple-A.

 

When he does come back, Snelling might want to tone it down just a little bit.  He might need to learn that it doesn?t always have to be "Go Time" and he could do well by not crashing into as many walls or sliding head first into as many bases.

 

Snelling projects as a solid leadoff or #2 hitter and perhaps a good #3 guy if he develops a little more power.  He may never hit 20+ homers, but he should be able to keep his average above .300 and hit lots of balls into the gaps.  He also has exceptional plate discipline for a player his age and is a plus defensive outfielder at all three spots, although he will almost certainly end up in one of the outfield corners, particularly if he loses any speed/mobility because of the knee injury.

 

#41) Josh Hamilton

Tampa Bay Devil Rays

Age: 21

Pos: CF

Bats: Left

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

 

Josh Hamilton is like that "Major Project" you had due at the end of a college course.

 

The expectation was that it was going to be really good and the potential for greatness was always there, but, for whatever reason, it never really got going quite the way it should have.

 

Hamilton isn?t quite up to the deadline yet, but he is going to be putting in some last minute work if this thing is going to turn out well.  Injuries have been a constant during Hamilton?s pro career, putting a very early end to two of his seasons and causing that disastrous .180/.221/.236 line you see for 2001.

 

A former #1 overall pick in 1999, Hamilton still has all the "tools" and, when healthy, he has actually been a very good player.  He just can?t seem to stay on the field for any length of time and that has stalled his development and taken away one of his biggest assets, his youth.

 

Another injury plagued season and Hamilton will probably drop off of the "Top Prospect" lists for good, but until then he still has too much potential and youth to ignore.

 

#40) Cliff Lee

Cleveland Indians

Age: 24

Pos: SP

Throws: Left

YEAR

LG

IP

ERA

SO/9

BB/9

H/9

HR/9

SO

BB

H

HR

2000

A

45

5.24

12.6

7.2

10.0

0.2

63

36

50

1

2001

A

110

2.79

10.6

3.8

6.4

1.1

129

46

78

13

2002

AA

103

3.58

10.7

2.9

6.3

1.1

123

33

72

13

 

AAA

43

3.77

6.3

4.6

7.5

1.5

30

22

36

7

 

Cliff Lee, who came over in the Bartolo Colon trade, is the best of seemingly thousands of left handed pitching prospects in the Cleveland system.

 

Originally drafted by Montreal in the 3rd round of the 2000 draft, out of the University of Arkansas, Lee has always shown incredible "stuff," but has had bouts with control problems.

 

Lee breezed through the Double-A, pitched effectively in Triple-A and even made his first 2 big league starts in 2002. 

 

He throws a low-90s heater - two-seam and four-seam, a great changeup and a big, slow curve, plus a slider that he often struggles to control.  After seemingly getting his wildness under control while in the Montreal system at the beginning of this year, Lee had a lot of trouble throwing strikes once he joined the Cleveland organization.  He walked over 5 batters per 9 innings in his brief stint with Akron (AA) and followed that up with 4.6 walks per 9 with Buffalo (AAA).

 

With Cleveland in full rebuilding mode, Lee has a good shot at pitching a lot of innings in the big leagues in 2003.  If he can?t get the walks under control, he?s going to struggle, but eventually he should be a very good front-of-the-rotation starter.

 

#39) Jeremy Bonderman

Detroit Tigers

Age: 20

Pos: SP

Throws: Right

YEAR

LG

IP

ERA

SO/9

BB/9

H/9

HR/9

SO

BB

H

HR

2002

A

157

3.79

9.7

3.4

8.0

1.0

170

59

140

18

 

Jeremy Bonderman was the first high school junior ever drafted when the A?s took him with a 1st round pick in the 2001 draft and he came to Detroit, along with Carlos Pena and Franklyn German, in the Jeff Weaver 3-way deal.  Pena looks to be Detroit?s first baseman for the foreseeable future, German should be closing out games in 2003 and Bonderman is right behind them - making that deal a very good one for Dave Dombrowski and the Tigers.

 

Bonderman is extremely young and has already had remarkable success against high S

Aaron Gleeman Posted: January 27, 2003 at 06:00 AM | 28 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Aaron Gleeman Posted: January 27, 2003 at 02:27 AM (#603641)
I have seen quite a few of these guys play, but there are several that I have never seen.
   2. Clemenza Posted: January 28, 2003 at 02:27 AM (#608569)
F-Rod wasn't unknown to Angels fans, who have been salivating over him for about three years, yet of course Angels fans salivate at the drop of a hat (anyone remember their 'hot catcher prospect' of the late 80s, John Orton?)...whoops, I can't pick on the Angels anymore.

Word also has it that they have an even BETTER young prospect similar to F-Rod: Johan Santana. He is supposedly similar to F-Rod but has endurance.
   3. Mikαεl Posted: January 28, 2003 at 02:27 AM (#608571)
Aaron,

Fun list.

One thing - I have to say I find it a bit unlikely that 10 of the top 50 prospects in baseball play first base. What is your rationale for choosing so many slow sluggers? Do you believe the minor leagues just happen to be chock full of 'em this year?
   4. Aaron Gleeman Posted: January 28, 2003 at 02:27 AM (#608568)
Mikael -

I do think that 2003 is a particularly good year for first base/DH-types.

Guys like Hafner, Choi, Harvey and possibly Overbay are going to get a chance to start their ML careers as full-time players in 2003. I think Hafner and Choi will be the best in the near future and Choi likely has the most long-term value potential, but they all have a chance to be valuable players as soon as this upcoming season. I would think that 4 rookie 1B/DH-starters breaking in at the same time is somewhat rare, although who knows if all of them will be starters or not (Dusty Baker, Eric Karros, Bob Brenley and Mark Grace may have something to say about it).

And, guys like Morneau, Kotchman, Stokes and Adrian Gonzalez, to me, have to be included on a list like this because they just have so much potential.

That leaves Nelson and Prince Fielder, the 2 lowest ranked 1B/DHs on my list. Nelson may not end up at 1B, depending on what happens with Fielder and Richie Sexson, etc. Anyone ranked in the 40s was a tough decision to include on the list (Nelson is #45, Fielder #46), but I think Nelson has incredible power potential and I felt he deserved a spot.
Fielder is obviously a "risky" pick for the list. He only has a few hundred pro at bats under his (large) belt and he has yet to play any advanced competition. As I said in the comment on him, he's got extraordinary power potential, I think he'll hit for a good average and he has a very mature approach at the plate, which will lead to good walk totals (and a lot of strike outs too). Any guy ranked #46 could just as easily be ranked #52 and not be included on the list, but I incluced Fielder because I think he has a good chance of being a special hitter. We'll find out a lot about whether or not that will come true this year.

I'm off to class now.
I'll be back later and will answer any and all questions that are asked in the meantime.
Thanks for reading and BE NICE! :)
   5. Joel Barrett Posted: January 28, 2003 at 02:27 AM (#608572)
"Betemit?s 2002 season is a perfect example of why you shouldn?t get overly excited about a player that shows absolutely no ability to control the strike zone."

With respect, Betemit's 2002 shows no such thing. If anything, it shows that if you rush a young player through 4 levels in a little over a year, and then let him play through injuries, he might struggle a bit.

First off, Betemit's strike zone judgement was fine prior to 2001. His walk rate did go down in 2001, but he was also a 19-year old who skipped Low-A, played part of the year in High-A (in arguably the toughest park for hitters among those in full-season leagues), and then was promoted again to AA. Some decline in his control of the strike zone was to be expected under those circumstances, so assuming he was clueless about the strike zone based on 2001 was a bit premature. His walk rate in 2002 improved back to a respectable level, especially for a player this young playing in such an advanced league. Including his rehab assignment in July and the Dominican League regular season, Betemit had 54 walks vs. 96 strikeouts in 471 at bats in 2002. That's far from terrible. Blaming his early 2002 struggles primarily on his strike zone judgement is completely missing the boat.

Betemit was the youngest player in the NY-Penn League in 2000 (where he hit .331). Jumping to High-A to start 2001, Betemit was the second youngest hitter in the Carolina League in the first half of 2001, and the second youngest hitter in the Southern League in the second half of 2001 (where he hit .355). Betemit then hit .308 in the Dominican League after the 2001 season (second highest average in the league).

Betemit opened the 2002 season on the 7-day disabled list because of a strained lower back, before being rushed back into the lineup. In May, Betemit fouled a ball off his foot, breaking a bone. After a visit to Dr. Andrews, he decided to try and play through the injury, which did not work out so well. Mercifully, in June Betemit was finally forced onto the DL for a month with a bad ankle sprain. When he returned in July, he appeared fully recovered from all his ailments.

Betemit's 2002 was a tale of 2 seasons. Prior to the All-Star break, Betemit hit .198/.271/.314. After his return from the DL in July, he hit .292/.363/.427 the rest of the way. Betemit then followed that up by hitting .312/.395/.422 in the Dominican League this winter (with 15 walks and only 14 strikeouts in 109 at bats).

Outside of his injury riddled first 2 months of 2002, Betemit has hit for a .313 average in 1200 at bats over the last 4 years (.320 in 1999, .331 in 2000, .305 in 2001, .292 in the second half of 2002). You are correct that batting average is currently the biggest part of his offense, but he's very good at it. He also has a good frame and a great swing, and his power is expected to emerge as his body matures and fills out.

So who do you think is the real Wilson Betemit? The player with a sore back and a broken foot who hit .198 in 171 at bats? Or the player who has hit .313 when healthy over the past 4 years, and who hit .292 the second half of the season?

Dropping your expectations for Betemit dramatically as a result of 2002 is a fundamental error, just as dropping expectations for Austin Kearns dramatically after 2001 would have been an error. The only reason for significantly downgrading Betemit as a prospect would be if his injuries appeared chronic, which so far they do not.

Just out of curiosity, how do you think Travis Hafner would do if we were able to time travel back to the spring of 1998 (when he was 5 months older than Betemit was last season), strain his lower back, promote him 3 levels to AAA, break his foot, and then ask him to play through it? Seeing as how he only hit .237 in Low-A that year, I'm E??sing not too well.
   6. Paul Posted: January 28, 2003 at 02:27 AM (#608577)
Cliff Lee was taken in the 4th Rd of the 00 draft, not the 3rd.
   7. Joel Barrett Posted: January 28, 2003 at 02:27 AM (#608579)
Hank Blalock played enough in 2002 that he is no longer considered a rookie. I assume that's why he's not on the list.
   8. Brian Posted: January 28, 2003 at 02:27 AM (#608580)
Aaron mistakenly quoted the eligibility guideline as 150 AB's, under which Blalock would still be a rookie (AB's , not PA). However, the rule is no more than 130 AB's and thus Hank is out.
   9. JimmyAAA Posted: January 28, 2003 at 02:27 AM (#608583)
On a related note, it may be a bias of prospect forecasting in general, but by focusing on low level (Rookie, A ball)/ high ceiling guys and high level (AAA)/ ready to help guys, I only counted a handful of guys (5 or 6) out of 50 who played most of 2002 in AA ball (like Machado). Where is the rookie class of 2004?

Its the nature of a top prospect list. They skip levels like AA or only have cups of coffee. For example, Reyes played 2001 in A ball, half of 2002 in A and half in AA. Next year, he'll be in AAA and then the majors. There are plenty of good prospects in AA, but not many GREAT prospects.

   10. John M. Perkins Posted: January 28, 2003 at 02:27 AM (#608586)
I've been split on Andy Marte all year. Yes, he has a good bat and huge power for an 18 year old. Yes, he plays smart defense; "smart" as in, never makes a throw he shouldn't and is where he supposed to be. Marte belongs high on a lot of lists. But on the team with the best rotation in Low A, Marte, in my eyes, was only the third best position player on the MBraves.

I don't have many knocks on Marte. Andy's range is adequate at 3B. I've sat on top of 3B for 12 minor league seasons, and I can mark the range of 3B. Andy Marte has the worst range of any home starter in those 12 years, with only part timer Cliff Brumbaugh with less range. Granted, I've had many excellent fielding 3B playing for the home team, with Tom Quinlan the best. Mike Lamb, is dinked by scouts on range, but covers all four directions better than Marte. [Admittedly, Mike liked to overthrow 2B often, and rush too many throws to 1B]. Anyway, Marte wasn't the best fielding 3B on the MBraves. That distinction belonged to Wes Timmons. Randall Shelley, and Victor Diaz were better Sally League defenders in the hot corner. Like Gold Gloves, Andy's defense kudos were due to his bat. Lynn Jones described Marte as not losing any games with his fielding. That's good enough for me, but it's less than he's been mistakenly touted.

As to his legit bat, Andy was pull happy, and slowed down a bit in the second half. When Marte was dropped in August from 3rd in the lineup to 5th, it signalled that the Braves were ahead of BA in the scouting curve.

Power, that would be another 1B for the list. True power, to all fields, if admittedly shy of LHP, Scott Thorman looks very good.

But overall, the best prospect on the MBraves was another 18 year old who had to bunt everything for two weeks having never seen stateside pitching. After tracking movement, he had two weeks of half swings, then punch an judy swings, then full. By the end of the season, Gregor Blanco was hitting HRs to all fields and moved from leadoff to batting third. Gregor Blanco was better than Marte the second half of the season. Gregor Blanco has more upside than Marte. That's not a knock on Marte. Gregor Blanco should be ahead of Marte on any prospect list.

Talking MBraves comparisons, Marte is no Chipper Jones, and Blanco is no Andruw Jones.

OTOH, Marte is better than Wes Helms and Blanco is better than Jermaine Dye. And Thorman is slightly better than Ryan Klesko.

[Meanwhile Zach Minor, Gonzalo Lopez and Macay McBride were the best the team had to offer.]
   11. Aaron Gleeman Posted: January 28, 2003 at 02:27 AM (#608588)
Joel -

Betemit had 54 walks vs. 96 strikeouts in 471 at bats in 2002. That's far from terrible. Blaming his early 2002 struggles primarily on his strike zone judgement is completely missing the boat.

I agree with you and I also want to respond that I did not blame his 2002 struggles on plate discipline.
I simply said that he is a perfect example of why getting overexcited about someone that doesn't have good plate discipline is not the greatest idea.
His offense was completely based on average and when that went down, the whole offensive ship went down with it.

And, I did not mean to imply that Wilson Betemit is the sole prospect for which bad plate discipline is a reason to avoid extreme hype.
The same goes for Baldelli and many other guys.
I made a sort of warning about Baldelli in my comment on him in this regard.
If they have a poor 2003, their stock will go down, just as Betemit's did.

Dropping your expectations for Betemit dramatically as a result of 2002 is a fundamental error, just as dropping expectations for Austin Kearns dramatically after 2001 would have been an error.

I'll grant you that his 2002 performance was affected by injuries.
However, to say that every prospect losing some of his luster because of injuries is a mistake just because Austin Kearns bounced back in a big way last year is just silly.
You chose a very good example of player that had a poor, injury riddled season and came back to have a great season the next year, restoring his status.
However, not every injured prospect does that and I will not assume that Betemit will do that.

Injuries are not a good thing for a baseball player, so to say "Don't count his 2002 because he was injured, he'll bounce back just like Kearns did" is, to me at least, a big mistake. I won't just write off an injury like it never happened, or excuse an entire season because of it.

Obviously, I am putting some words in your mouth here, but you get my general point, I hope.

Just out of curiosity, how do you think Travis Hafner would do if we were able to time travel back to the spring of 1998 (when he was 5 months older than Betemit was last season), strain his lower back, promote him 3 levels to AAA, break his foot, and then ask him to play through it? Seeing as how he only hit .237 in Low-A that year, I'm E??sing not too well.

I'm not sure I see the point here.
The reason Betemit is on this list at all is because of his youth, past performance and natural abilities.
Hafner is on this list because he has demolished pitchers for the last several seasons and is as Major League-ready as someone can be.
The fact that Hafner struggled 4-5 years ago at Betemit's age doesn't mean any more in Betemit's case than it does in the cases of 20 other young players that struggled last year.
The two players are on this list for completely different reasons, so comparing them loses me at some point.
   12. Aaron Gleeman Posted: January 28, 2003 at 02:27 AM (#608589)
Odd isn't it... -

I was wondering when I would see one Twins prospect, but finally I got the much added triple dosage in the top 11. Hmmmm, 3 in top 11 isn't good enough with the author holding a Twins website.

Are you saying Mauer, Cuddyer and Morneau don't deserve high rankings?

Also, my blog is far from a "Twins website," although I do cover Twins topics, as well as topics from the other 29 teams.
   13. Aaron Gleeman Posted: January 28, 2003 at 02:27 AM (#608590)
Has Hank Blalock dropped completely off the top 50, or does his April coffee remove him from consideration?

Hank Blalock played enough in 2002 that he is no longer considered a rookie. I assume that's why he's not on the list.

Aaron mistakenly quoted the eligibility guideline as 150 AB's, under which Blalock would still be a rookie (AB's , not PA). However, the rule is no more than 130 AB's and thus Hank is out.


First of all, sorry about the 150/130 at bat mistake. I am not sure how the 150 got stuck in my brain as the number, but it did. Sorry.

As for Blalock, here is what I wrote at the beginning of the article:

To be "eligible" for this prestigious list, a player must meet the Rookie-of-the-Year qualifications, which means he has a total of less than 150 at bats or 50 innings pitched at the Major League level (so no Hank Blalock, Sean Burroughs, Josh Beckett or Mark Prior).

(Sub 130 at bats for 150 at bats)
Blalock would certainly crack this list, very likely in the top 5 or 10, but he had 147 ABs last year.
Strangely enough, that falls under my mistake 150 AB limit, but over the actual limits for ROY eligibility.
   14. Ben Posted: January 28, 2003 at 02:27 AM (#608591)
Re: The Twins prospects,
Morneau and Cuddyer both seem a little high. Given context, an accusation of favoritism is not out of place.
   15. Aaron Gleeman Posted: January 28, 2003 at 02:27 AM (#608592)
Bambi's Bomber -

A minor correction in case anyone cares: Prince Fielder bats lefthanded.

Oops.
I actually know this, so at some point I must have just typed it wrong and never noticed to correct it.
Speaking of which, nice work Mr. Editor! :)
   16. Aaron Gleeman Posted: January 28, 2003 at 02:27 AM (#608594)
batpig -

Aaron, why no Mark Phillips? He is a consensus top-5 LHP prospect, and though he has control issues he improved greatly in the 2nd half of last season, struck out more than a batter per inning, and throws 93-95 mph (touching 97mph) with a power curve from the left side. And he did very well in the Cal League at the age of 20...

Phillips made my cut down from 200 to 100 and I ended up ranking him somewhere between 60-65 (I don't have my big list handy). I think he certainly has great stuff and a very high ceiling and could very easily have made the top 50. The difference between a #45 ranking and a #62 ranking is pretty small.

This time next year he could be very high on the list.
   17. The Kentucky Gentleman, Mark Edward Posted: January 28, 2003 at 02:27 AM (#608597)
Aaron,

Great list, but where is Kris Honel? 152 strikeouts in 153 innings, 2.82 ERA for Kannapolis.
   18. Aaron Gleeman Posted: January 29, 2003 at 02:28 AM (#608616)
What about Brandon Larson?

Great list, but where is Kris Honel? 152 strikeouts in 153 innings, 2.82 ERA for Kannapolis.


Anytime you make a list like this, you are always going to have a lot of guys "on the bubble."

Both Larson and Honel were definitely under consideration, but didn't make the final cut down to 50.

Larson turns 27 in May, so I don't think he can really be considered much of an elite prospect.
However, it sounds like he might get a chance to play a lot with the Reds this year and could have a very good rookie year.
He hit .340/.397/.667 with 25 homers and 20 doubles in only 80 Triple-A games last year and hit .275/.362/.549 in 51 at bats with the Reds.
Larson had laser eye surgery during the off-season and many believe that to be the biggest reason for his break out season in 2002.
Prior to 2002, he hit .255 with 14 homers in 2001 and .272 with 20 homers in 2000.
I think he's got a good shot at being an average to above-average third baseman for a few years.

Honel was Chicago's 1st round pick in 2001.
He pitched very well in rookie-league in 2001 and followed it up with a very nice season in the South Atlantic (A) league.
I think he's the best pitching prospect in the Chicago system and is probably the second best overall prospect, behind Borchard (although I'm still holding out some hope for Jon Rauch).
   19. Aaron Gleeman Posted: January 29, 2003 at 02:28 AM (#608618)
It's my understanding that Morneau suffered some sort of intestinal illness toward the beginning of the year, resulting in weight loss. To what extent did this skew Morneau's stats, if at all?

Yep, Morneau missed several weeks and reportedly lost about 20 LBS.
It is certainly very possible that the illness and weight loss resulted in less power or overall performance. As a Twins fan, I hope so.
Here is a link to an article about Morneau's situation:
http://www.rockcats.com/pr-morneau1.html

I see the KC Royals don't have a single pitcher in your top 50 despite drafting them like a drunken sailor on leave. Do they have any sign of promising pitchers and did any of them come close to making your list?

The Royals don't a pitcher in the top 50, although I did talk about Colt Griffin in my comment about Gavin Floyd. :)

They do have some good arms in the system, guys like Zach Greinke and Jimmy Gobble. Also, Jeremy Hill, although he is a reliever.
Griffin still has a lot of potential, but I'm not very optimistic about his long-term chances.
   20. Devin has a deep burning passion for fuzzy socks Posted: January 29, 2003 at 02:28 AM (#608622)
Aaron, nice job as usual. Now, as a Mets fan who cares not for these other teams (for the most part), one question: Any reason Aaron Heilman doesn't show up? Is he just in the "almost there" category? I know I shouldn't complain when there's 3 Mets in the top 25, but Heilman shows up on most other lists, so I'm just curious if there's something about him that you don't like.

I hope you're right about Kazmir, though. (I can just see the Prospectus guys performing an intervention on you. "Aaron, there's no such thing as a pitching prospect! If you really cared about your readers, you'd realize that. How many fans do you have to give false hope to?")
   21. Aaron Gleeman Posted: January 29, 2003 at 02:28 AM (#608624)
Devin -

Aaron, nice job as usual. Now, as a Mets fan who cares not for these other teams (for the most part), one question: Any reason Aaron Heilman doesn't show up? Is he just in the "almost there" category? I know I shouldn't complain when there's 3 Mets in the top 25, but Heilman shows up on most other lists, so I'm just curious if there's something about him that you don't like.

I like Heilman too and had him ranked in the low-50s.
It is just another case of having a lot more than 50 guys that are solid prospects.
I think he'll be a very nice middle-of-the-rotation starter and pretty soon too.

I hope you're right about Kazmir, though. (I can just see the Prospectus guys performing an intervention on you. "Aaron, there's no such thing as a pitching prospect! If you really cared about your readers, you'd realize that. How many fans do you have to give false hope to?")

I really generally do try to be very conservative with pitching rankings.
Which is why you see only 3 pitchers in my top 19; 4 in my top 23.

As I said in the article, I went back and forth about whether or not to include Kazmir in the article at all.
Once I made the choice to include him, I thought it was silly to rank him near the bottom of the top 50.
I think he has extraordinary potential and ranking him 48th or something would have been worse than not ranking him at all (in my opinion).
Pitching prospects are risky, high school pitching prospects are really risky and ranking one 20th after 18 pro innings is almost insane, but I think Kazmir is a special player.
It could very easily blow up in my face obviously, but I took a chance.
   22. User unknown in local recipient table (Craig B) Posted: January 29, 2003 at 02:28 AM (#608649)
Brad, you can make a case for a lot of Pirates prospects, but no one is eye-popping to me. The great record comes out of their A-ball teams, and almost all their prospects are from the A-ball level.

Van Benschoten is a great prospect who needs to cut his walks, but he's a good bet to do that (I think) as he gets used to starting. I'd be reluctant to include very many A-ball pitchers in a top 50 list, though. Chris Young is also in this category... A-ball guy with good K numbers; Young has better control but his stuff is not as good as Van Benschoten's... his fastball clocks 3-5 mph slower and doesn't have the same quality slider.

Walter Young almost won a triple crown in the Sally League. He's a 300-pound first baseman who came out of nowhere. He repeats that in high A, he has a chance at making some lists. Tony Alvarez was a AA guy, he was 24 though. He hit well, but didn't tear his league apart or anything. Castillo is a good prospect, he started to learn the strike zone but he was repeating a level. There are good reasons to leave him off a top 50. Jose Bautista showed good on-base skills, but struck out a lot at a low level. I wouldn't think of him as a "top 50" type, but he could still be very good.

I don't know who else is a top prospect for the Pirates. They have a lot of good guys, but 50 is a small group. There are easily 300 good prospects in the minor leagues; they can't all be top-50. Only about 60-100 of those "top 300" guys will go on to have much of a major league career.
   23. Joel Barrett Posted: January 30, 2003 at 02:28 AM (#608659)
"The two players are on this list for completely different reasons, so comparing them loses me at some point."

Well, that essentially was the point I was trying to make.
   24. Joel Barrett Posted: January 30, 2003 at 02:28 AM (#608660)
Aaron, it is a very nice article which I generally like. I'm trying to offer an alternative viewpoint, not criticize your rankings. If you think that Betemit is only the 48th best prospect in baseball, that's fine. I don't agree, but no two prospect lists agree on everyone (which is why Baseball America publishes 4 different Top 50 lists in their annual prospect book). Not everyone agreed that Betemit was a top 20 prospect before 2002 (though both John Sickels and Baseball Prospectus had him ranked 5th).

I do have a few responses to your comments:

"His offense was completely based on average and when that went down, the whole offensive ship went down with it."

Well, it's hard to be valuable offensively when you're batting .198 no matter how good you're secondary skills are. But point taken.

"However, to say that every prospect losing some of his luster because of injuries is a mistake just because Austin Kearns bounced back in a big way last year is just silly."

I'm not advocating that you ignore all prospect injuries. I'm suggesting that when an otherwise Grade-A prospect plays markedly worse for a few months, while playing through known injuries which do not appear to be chronic, and then recovers fully from his injuries and bounces back strongly on the field, you should probably not severely downgrade performance expectations based primarily on how the player hit while injured. This is a very narrow and heavily qualified statement, not a broad generalization about all injured prospects.

"You chose a very good example of player that had a poor, injury riddled season and came back to have a great season the next year, restoring his status."

I chose an example that I considered a similar case. In the eyes of many, Kearns didn't have much loss of status to restore.

I'll quote John Sickels on Austin Kearns, post-2001: "His 2001 numbers were ruined by a torn thumb ligament, but he returned late in the season and played very well. I saw him in the Arizona Fall League and he showed excellent bat speed and power."

Sound familiar?

Sickels ranked Kearns as the 12th best prospect in baseball after 2001, up 2 places from his ranking the prior year. Kearns' "recovery" in 2002 was hardly a stunning development, since he had already shown himself fully recovered by the end of 2001.

"However, not every injured prospect does that and I will not assume that Betemit will do that."

You don't have to assume anything - Betemit's already bounced back from his injuries, that's part of the point. His second half performance was completely in line with his performance prior to 2002 - slightly less power and batting average, and a somewhat improved walk rate, but overall pretty comparable to his aggregate 2001 numbers. He finished the season very strongly, and his hitting in the Dominican League this winter was even better than the year before. There is no reason to be guessing about whether or not Betemit will "bounce back".

"Injuries are not a good thing for a baseball player, so to say "Don't count his 2002 because he was injured, he'll bounce back just like Kearns did" is, to me at least, a big mistake. I won't just write off an injury like it never happened, or excuse an entire season because of it."

I'm not suggesting that you write off injuries like they never happened. On the contrary, I'm suggesting that you should take them into account when looking at raw numbers, and that you should try to distinguish between a player's ability when healthy and his injury risk. Depending on the nature of an injury, it may be perfectly appropriate to lower expectations on a prospect because of health concerns. Did the player fully recover? Are there likely to be lingering effects? Is there reason to believe the injury is chronic? Is the player injury prone? These are all legitimate issues in evaluating a prospect. In Betemit's case, that he played dramatically better in July and August and then had a strong winter are relevant facts to which you seem to be giving insufficient weight.

Betemit doesn't need anyone to excuse him for how he played from July on - so the only question is how much weight to put on his 172 very bad injury-impaired at bats to start the season (as opposed to the 1400+ at bats in the past 4 years where he has hit very well). Betemit was promoted 4 levels from the end of 2000 to the beginning of 2002, which is aggressive to point of being borderline reckless. Even if you don't discount the significance of his early season struggles because of the injuries, there is still an argument against weighing them too heavily.

I do think that your reaction to Betemit's season (in both this article and your prior article about last year's top 40 prospects) is a little inconsistent with your own statements about other prospects (such as Blaylock and Burroughs, for instance). Betemit's stock is "Way Down" while Burroughs and Blaylock's stocks are "Neutral"? I just don't see it.
   25. User unknown in local recipient table (Craig B) Posted: January 30, 2003 at 02:28 AM (#608662)
By the way, I'm a dummy. I forgot that Chris Young got traded to Montreal in the Matt Herges deal.
   26. Fog City Blues Posted: January 30, 2003 at 02:29 AM (#608679)
FJM,

For what its worth, Kurt Ainsworth also had Tommy John surgery. Granted, his surgery occured much earlier in his career than Patterson's, but I'm just sayin'. Also, I wouldn't put too much stock into evaluating Ainsworth's, or any player's for that matter, MLB stats when their MLB career consists of 25 IP. All in all, I think both Ainsworth and Patterson will develop into solid #3/#4 starters.

To Aaron,

Very nice job. I've always enjoyed reading prospect reports, but this season is especially nice, since for the first time in memory, a few Giants prospects are ranked very highly on everyone's lists.
   27. Mike Posted: March 03, 2003 at 02:36 AM (#609097)
Who the hell is this guy? And WHO cares what HE thinks.
   28. MO Posted: April 17, 2003 at 01:57 AM (#610405)
Great stuff Aaron. I also liked the Twins long-term plan articles that you wrote since I have a lot of them on my fantasy team. everyone is trying to get Santana from me, but the offers are laughable. If you think he'll be an ace I'll hang on to him for dear life. I've got a deal in the works and the guy is offering my choice of Restovich, HAmilton, R. Soriano, Werth, Kozlowski or A. Torres. I was thinking Hamilton but you have Restovich rated higher. I'm in no hurry for this player to get to the majors because I can keep 3 minor leaguers each year, but I want the one guy who you think has stud written on him 2-3 years from now. Also, I'd prefer a 5 tool guy if possible. And don't tell me Restovich just b/c he's a Twin. Thanks MO

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