By In Stuff

Prospects 2006

Bill James wrote a piece the other day about the possible difference between pitching and hitting prospects … and it reminded me of this project I’ve wanted to do for some time. I wanted to go back through Baseball America‘s excellent prospect handbooks and see how the best prospects turned out. How often do they succeed? How often do they fail? What is the biggest reason for failure? (I’d guess injury). What is the most promising sign for success? How often do “toolsy” players make it? How about “skilled” players?

Well, I haven’t had time to dive into that the way I would like. But I did try something. I have all the Baseball America Prospect Handbooks going back to 2003 (with 2001 and 2002 on order). I picked a year at random — I chose 2006 — and decided to look at BA’s top prospects for each team, who in retrospect was the team’s best prospect, what BA said about the player and, finally, what happened.

One thing I’d like to say here — this is NOT about how good Baseball America is at predicting success and failure. No, I see BA as sort of the control factor, if that make sense. I’d say they do the best job in the sport of gathering information and viewpoints from scouts and player development people and general managers and so on. I don’t look at these top prospects as Baseball America‘s opinion. I look at it as the best bet we can find in terms of the CONSENSUS opinion in baseball about these players.

And so, what I’m trying to do here is determine how often these prospects hit or miss. The “hitting” and “missing” designation is pointed entirely at the player, not at the people who made the predictions.

OK, here we go:

* * *

Arizona Diamondbacks

No. 1 prospect: Justin Upton (No. 2 overall).

Best actual prospect: Probably Upton, though No. 4 Carlos Gonzalez is in the running.

What BA said: “While some scouts have said they would move Upton to center field and envision him becoming the next Ken Griffey, the Diamondbacks have no plans [to move him from short] yet.”

What happened: Upton is one of those players who is judged against incredibly high expectations — Baseball America wasn’t the only one to compare him to Ken Griffey. One scout told me he had Willie Mays talent. Willie Mays! So, sure, against that backdrop, a .278/.357/.475 career line with a 117 OPS+, a couple of All-Star appearances and annual trade rumors seems drastically disappointing. But, you cannot have a fair conversation about Justin Upton without also mentioning that he just turned 25 in August. He’s younger than Pedro Alvarez. He’s younger than Cameron Maybin. He’s younger than Jay Bruce and Buster Posey and Austin Jackson. His 108 home runs are as many as Cal Ripken had at the same age, more than Reggie Jackson and Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds.

You know who is not a bad comparison? Gary Sheffield. Huge prospect. Was called up at 19. Had one excellent year when he was 23:

Sheffield at 23: .330/.385/.580 with 33 homers, 100 RBIs, 87 runs.
Upton at 23: .289/.369/.529 with 31 homers, 21 steals, 88 RBIs, 105 runs.

But Sheffield was also wildly inconsistent until he turned 25 (.285/.346/.451 with a 120 OPS+). From 25 to 30, he posted a 156 OPS+, might have been the best offensive player in the league when he was 27 and so on. This is not to say that Upton WILL emerge into that kind of player, only that he could, that there is a precedent.

At the end of each of these prospects, I put what I call the “Final analysis.” I’m basically calling that prospect a “Hit” or a “Miss” — again, the title refers to the player himself and not Baseball America‘s prediction. This is tough to do because (1) Some of these players, like Upton, are still open-ended stories and (2) Not all prospects are created alike. By that I mean, there were much higher expectations for Justin Upton than for, say, Neil Walker. So, don’t you have to judge them differently? Is the bar for Neil Walker set in the same place as the bar for Justin Upton? I kind of doubt it.

But to get a count at the end, I need to put a final “Hit” or “Miss” on each prospect. Upton has not become the superstar many expected. But he’s a good player with the potential still to step up in class, and I don’t think you can call that a miss.

Final analysis: Hit.

* * *

Atlanta Braves

No. 1 prospect: Jarrod Saltalamacchia (No. 18 overall).

Best actual prospect: No. 10 Matt Harrison.

What BA said: “Saltalamacchia made a case for being the best catching prospect in the minors.”

What happened: The Braves packaged him in a big July pennant run deal to Texas for Mark Teixeira. Tex crushed the ball the second half of the season, but the Braves missed the playoffs. Other players in the deal — particularly Elvis Andrus (No. 2 prospect) and Harrison (No. 10), ended up being much more valuable than Salty, who got 400 plate appearances last season for the first time in his career and hit .222/.288/.454 with 25 homers.

Final analysis: Miss (so far).

* * *
Baltimore Orioles

No. 1 prospect: Nick Markakis (No. 21 overall).

Best actual prospect: Markakis.

What BA said: “His aptitude as a hitter and rapid development leave no doubt that he’ll reach the major leagues as an outfielder, and he should be an All-Star once he gets there.”

What happened: Markakis has not yet been an All-Star, but he should have been. He was one of the game’s best players in 2008, and he’s hitting .295/.365/.455 with a 118 OPS+ for his career. What’s striking is not that Markakis has turned out more or less as predicated but that there was not another legitimate Baltimore Orioles prospect in 2006.

Final analysis: Hit.

* * *
Boston Red Sox

No. 1 prospect: Andy Marte (14 overall).

Best actual prospect: No. 6 Dustin Pedroia.

What BA said: “Marte has everything teams want in a third baseman, starting with tape-measure power.”

What happened: He busted, plain and simple. The Red Sox must have had some sense of this, because in January of 2006 they packaged him in a deal to Cleveland to get Coco Crisp and Josh Bard. Marte’s extreme power never translated, he hit .218 in 924 plate appearances before disappearing from view. Fortunately for the Red Sox, their No. 2 prospect was Jon Lester, No. 3 was Jonathan Papelbon, No. 5 was Pedroia and No. 6 was Jacoby Ellsbury, and all four played roles — some, key roles — in the Red Sox 2007 World Series championship.

Final analysis: Miss.

* * *

Chicago Cubs

No. 1 prospect: Felie Pie (No. 27 overall).

Best actual prospect: No. 10 Carlos Marmol.

What BA said: “His tools are similar to those of Carlos Beltran.”

What happened: He also busted, and the Cubs shipped him to Baltimore. One of the great rules of reading about prospects: Be wary of guys who have great “tools.” The Cubs system was pretty barren in 2006 [Marmol was the best I could find) and Theo Epstein and company are still trying to overcome that.

Final analysis: Miss.

* * *

Chicago White Sox

No. 1 prospect: Bobby Jenks (No. 24 overall).

Best actual prospect: No. 2 Chris Young, though it’s close with Jenks.

What BA said: “No pitcher takes the mound with two more powerful pitches.”

What happened: In a way, Jenks was not really a “prospect” … He had pitched in 32 games for the White Sox in 2005 and made six postseason appearances, so he was something of a known commodity. Still, he had been a troubled guy who seemed to find something in 2005 … and he was a very good pitcher for the White Sox in 2007 and 2008.

Final analysis: Hit.

* * *

Cincinnati Reds

No. 1 prospect: Homer Bailey (No. 38 overall).

Best actual prospect: No. 9 Joey Votto.

What BA said: “Bailey has front-of-the rotation stuff … To achieve his potential as an ace, he’ll have to stay focused as he moves up the ladder.”

What happened: Bailey last year emerged as a good pitcher (13-10, 2.68 ERA, 168-52 strikeout-to-walk). It’s tempting to say he FINALLY emerged because it seems he’s been around forever. But he will still be 26 years old on Opening Day. BA put him as the Reds No. 1 prospect when he was just in Low-A ball, and while he hasn’t achieved ace potential, he’s getting a lot closer.

Final analysis: Hit.

* * *

Cleveland Indians

No. 1 prospect: Adam Miller (No. 29 overall).

Best actual prospect: No. 6 Franklin Gutierrez.

What BA said: “The health of Miller’s elbow is a major concern … when he’s healthy, Miller has all the components of a frontline major league starter, gathering comparisons to Kevin Brown and Bret Saberhagen.”

What happened: It wasn’t just Miller’s elbow. He had major trouble with the middle finger of his pitching hand. He had all sorts of injury problems. There are people who say there is no such thing as a pitching prospect because pitchers are always one twinge away from disappearing. As you will see on this list, there ARE pitching prospects — in fact the best prospect of 2006 was a pitcher — but, yes, some do get hurt and never recover. Miller has kept trying to get back — last year pitching with the Yankees minor league system — but he has yet to throw a pitch in the big leagues.

Final analysis: Miss.

* * *

Colorado Rockies

No. 1 prospect: Ian Stewart (No. 16 overall).

Best actual prospect: No. 2 Troy Tulowitzki.

What BA said: “Stewart should be a quality run producer in the middle of a big league lineup.”
What happened: He just didn’t hit. He showed some promise as a 24-year-old, hitting 25 homers (though he hit just .228), and he was a touch better in 2010. But between injuries and slumps he has yet to get 500 plate appearances in the big leagues. He has since been traded to the Cubs, where he hit .201 in 202 plate appearances.

Final analysis: Miss (so far).

* * *

Detroit Tigers

No. 1 prospect: Justin Verlander (No. 8 overall).

Best actual prospect: Yeah, Verlander.

What BA said: “Stuff-wise, Verlander has no weaknesses … if Verlander learns the nuances of pitching to go with his electric stuff, he could supplant Bonderfman as Detroit’s No. 1 starter.”

What happened: Well, you know what happened.

Final analysis: Mega hit.

* * *

Florida Marlins

No. 1 prospect: Jeremy Hermida (No. 4 overall).

Best actual prospect: No. 2 Hanley Ramirez.

What BA said: “Everything has gone according to plan so far … If given 500 at-bats as expected, he should challenge to become the Marlins’ second NL Rookie of the Year in four seasons.”
What happened: The Marlins did get the Rookie of the Year, but it was Hanley. Hermida had a nice 2007 season, hitting .296/.369/.501. But over time, he has become a “have bat, will travel” guy who has played for five teams and will give you a professional at-bat but will not give you more than a few of them a year. It’s considerably less than the Marlins and many others hoped.

Final analysis: Miss.

* * *

Houston Astros

No. 1 prospect: Jason Hirsh (No. 52 overall).

Best actual prospect: No. 16 Ben Zobrist.

What BA said: “Hirsch’s metamorphosis from 2004 to 2005 was astounding … his long-term future is as a No. 2 or No. 3 starter.”

What happened: Hirsh is, by all accounts, a fascinating guy. He wrote a blog for a while while he dominated in the minors. I’ve read somewhere that he’s something of an expert about the history of Jewish Major League players (no idea if it’s true, but I hope it is). Scouts constantly raved about his makeup. Then he had problems with his rotator cuff, various other issues, and he made only 29 starts in the big leagues, going 8-11 with a 5.32 ERA. He has tried numerous times to overcome the injury, but he has been unable to do so.

Final analysis: Miss.

* * *

Kansas City Royals

No. 1 prospect: Alex Gordon (No. 13 overall).

Best actual prospect: Alex Gordon.

What BA said: “He should develop into a potent middle-of-the-order bat.”

What happened: He did develop into that potent bat, but it took some time. Gordon was the Royals’ No. 1 prospect before he faced a single pitch in professional baseball … BA’s ranking was based entirely on his college career and the promise he had shown at Nebraska and in summer-league ball.

Gordon is a great example of how prospects sometimes work. Gordon came up at 23 with overwhelming hype, and hit sub-.200 for half the season. He had a nice second-half, though, and a promising second season (.260/.351/.432) that was largely overlooked because he wasn’t the instant superstar so many had expected. He then had two injury-prone seasons. So, four years into his big league career, he looked like a complete bust. In 2011, though, he had a great season — even garnering a little bit of MVP love, and he was terrific again in 2012. He’s now a star even if many people don’t fully realize it. So, in his relatively short career, he was a can’t-miss who missed, got hurt and then quietly became a star.

Final analysis: Hit.

* * *

Los Angeles Angels

No. 1 prospect: Brandon Wood (No. 3 overall).

Best actual prospect: No. 5 Jered Weaver (though No. 2 Howie Kendrick, No. 3 Erick Aybar, No. 7 Kendrys Morales, No. 8 Alberto Callaspo, No. 9 Joe Saunders, No. 11 Mike Napoli and No. 12 Mark Trumbo have all been big league contributors).

What BA said: “Wood’s package of power, hitting, all-around defensive skills and championship-calliber makeup prompted one high Class A California League manager to dub him the next Cal Ripken Jr. … Wood should develop into a perennial All-Star.”

What happened: No idea. He busted. He didn’t hit. The Royals signed him in November — he’s not yet 28 years old.

Final analysis: Miss.

* * *

Los Angeles Dodgers

No. 1 prospect: Chad Billingsley (No. 7 overall).

Best actual prospect: No. 8 Matt Kemp.

What BA said: “Billingsley profiles as a No. 1 or No. 2 starter, something Los Angeles desperately needs.”

What happened: Billingsley has been a consistent 150-200 innings starter for the Dodgers since he was 22 years old, and he has won 80 big league games and made an All-Star team. The hope was obviously stardom, something that has eluded him so far, but he’s a good pitcher, and all teams would love for the prospects to work out as well.

Final analysis: Hit.

* * *

Milwaukee Brewers

No. 1 prospect: Prince Fielder (No. 11 overall).

Best actual prospect: Either Fielder or No. 3 Ryan Braun.

What BA said: “He has as much raw power as any hitter in the minors … he’s an instant favorite to be National League Rookie of the Year.”

What happened: Fielder hit .271/.347/.483 with 28 homers as a rookie but was so bad defensively that he actually had a negative WAR. Amazingly, he finished seventh in the Rookie of the Year balloting despite those 28 homers. In the following years he became one of the best hitters in baseball.

Final analysis: Big hit.

* * *

Minnesota Twins

No. 1 prospect: Francisco Liriano (No. 6 overall).

Best actual prospect: No. 6 Denard Span.

What BA said: “Liriano’s history of shoulder woes means his durability must be mentioned … he should be on his way to becoming a No. 1 starter.”

What happened: Liriano was utterly electrifying when he pitched as a rookie in 2006. He went 12-3 with a 2.16 ERA, struck out 144 in 121 innings, he was absurdly good. And then, he blew out his elbow, had Tommy John, missed the next season and has gone 40-49 with an 88 ERA+ since returning. There are reasons to believe he can be a better pitcher than the numbers — he strikes out a lot of hitters. The Pirates just took the chance on him. It’s hard to call him a Hit or Miss because he has pitched a lot of innings in a very inconsistent manner. Still …

Final analysis: Miss.

* * *

New York Mets

No. 1 prospect: Lastings Milledge (No. 9 overall).

Best actual prospect: No. 3 Carlos Gomez, maybe? Pretty slim pickings.

What BA said: “With his package of five tools, Milledge has few peers in the minors … the heart of New York’s lineup should be in good shape for years to come.”

What happened: A mix of off-the-field distractions and on-the-field troubles led the Mets to trade him to Washington and Washington to trade him to Pittsburgh. The White Sox signed him. At last check, he was playing in Japan.

Final analysis: Miss.

* * *

New York Yankees

No. 1 prospect: Phillip Hughes (No. 39 overall).

Best actual prospect: Probably No. 5 Austin Jackson, though Hughes, No. 13 Brett Gardner and No. 15 Melky Cabrera are in the mix.

What BA said: “He should become a starter with well-above average control and above average command who throws three plus pitches for strikes.”

What happened: Hughes is indeed a strike thrower and he has been an All-Star and twice won 16 games or more. Of course, the Yankees would like him to step up and become a better pitcher … but I would say all in all at this age the Yankees have to feel like he’s been a key part of their team.

Final analysis: Hit.

* * *

Oakland A’s

No. 1 prospect: Daric Barton (No. 28 overall).

Best actual prospect: No. 4 Andre Ethier.

What BA said: “Hitting comes easy for Barton … his pitch recognition is off the charts.”
What happened: Barton’s pitch recognition WAS off the charts in 2010, when he led the American League with 110 walks. Add in 12 sac hits and five sac flies, he dropped his 686 plate appearances to 556 and managed to hit .273. Since then, he has hit .209 in 113 big league games and has spent much of the time in the minors, where his bat has been silent as well.

Final analysis: Miss.

* * *

Philadelphia Phillies

No. 1 prospect: Cole Hamels (No. 68 overall).

Best actual prospect: Cole Hamels.

What BA said: Durability is a major concern with Hamels … Despite the setbacks, the Phillies still envision Hamels as a top of the rotation starter.

What happened: It wasn’t easy for Hamels — he was the 17th overall prospect in 2004, the 71st in 2005 and the 68th in 2006. But he made 23 big league starts in 2006 and showed promise. Since then he’s 82-52 with a 128 ERA+, three All-Star Game appearances and both a NLCS and World Series MVP award.

One interesting thing is that the Phillies system was viewed as pretty barren in 2006 — as you can see, Hamels was the Phillies’ No. 1-ranked prospect, but he was ranked SIXTY-EIGHTH overall in baseball. Baseball America ranked the Phillies’ system 22nd in baseball. But the system had Hamels, Gio Gonzalez (who finished third in Cy Young voting last year), Michael Bourn (a two-time All-Star and Gold Glove winner), Shane Victorino (two-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner), Carlos Ruiz (All-Star who has received MVP votes each of the last three years), J.A. Happ (who has faded but did win 12 games and finish second in the Rookie of the Year balloting in 2009) and Kyle Kendrick (four times a double-digit winner). That’s a haul.

Final analysis: Hit.

* * *

Pittsburgh Pirates

No. 1 prospect: Neil Walker (No. 43 overall).

Best actual prospect: Andrew McCutchen.

What BA said: “Walker is a rare commodity, a switch-hitter who can produce for both average and power. … The win-starved fans [of Pittsburgh] would relish having one of their own to cheer.”

What happened: Walker is from Pittsburgh, and he’s a fine player. He’s hitting .280/.339/.424 for his career, which is pretty solid. I kind of think he’s one of those good players who is about to become a very good player … not unlike the way Ian Kinsler or Brian Roberts or even Chase Utley did as they got into their primes.

Final analysis: Hit.

* * *

St. Louis Cardinals

No. 1 prospect: Anthony Reyes (No. 41 overall).

Best actual prospect: No. 6 Adam Wainwright.

What BA said: “While he’s probably not a No. 1 starter, Reyes has the frame, stuff and command to pitch toward the front of a major league rotation.”

What happened: He did have one wonderful World Series start. Other than that, he busted. He went 2-14 with a 6.04 ERA the one year he got 20 starts in the big leagues and he kicked around after that dealing with injuries and ineffectiveness. His last big league pitch was in 2009.

Final analysis: Miss.

* * *

San Diego Padres

No. 1 prospect: Cesar Carrillo (No. 88 overall).

Best actual prospect: No. 5 Chase Headley.

What BA said: “Some scouts believe Carrillo could get major leaguers out right now … he should be a fixture in San Diego’s rotation for years to come, possibly as a No. 2 starter.”

What happened: He made three big league starts in 2009. He gave up 15 runs in 10 1/3 innings. Injuries … ineffectiveness … the sad story of the failed pitching prospect.

Final analysis: Miss.

As a bonus, here are the Padres’ first picks between 1999 and 2007:

1999: Vince Faison
2000: Mark Phillips (9th overall)
2001: Jake Gautreau
2002: Khalil Greene
2003: Tim Stauffer (4th overall)
2004: Matt Bush (1st overall)
2005: Cesar Carrillo
2006: Matt Antonelli
2007: Nick Schmidt
2008: Jaff Decker

Total, so far, they have contributed 9.2 WAR. That’s TOTAL in the big leagues — and 7.4 of it is Khalil Greene. That’s a tough way to make a living.

* * *

San Francisco Giants

No. 1 prospect: Matt Cain (No. 10 overall).

Best actual prospect: Matt Cain, but No. 15 Pablo Sandoval is worth mentioning.

What BA said: “He should front the Giants rotation for years to come. He’s the player most likely to be the face of the franchise after Barry Bonds retirement.”

What happened: It’s just like Baseball America said. The last four years, Cain is 55-35 with a 2.93 ERA, he’s 4-2 with a 2.10 ERA in the postseason as the Giants have won two World Series. He’s still getting better.

Final analysis: Hit.

* * *

Seattle Mariners

No. 1 prospect: Jeff Clement (No. 33 overall).

Best actual prospect: No. 2 Adam Jones, No. 6 Asdrubal Cabrera, No. 7 Shin Soo-Choo (none for the Mariners).

What BA said: “Very few catchers in baseball history can match his left-handed pop … he won’t be a Gold Glover (as a catcher), though he should be more than adequate defensively.”

What happened: He has hit 14 home runs in 421 big league plate appearances and hasn’t been behind the plate in a big league game since 2008.

Final analysis: Miss.

* * *

Tampa Bay Devil Rays

No. 1 prospect: Delmon Young (No. 1 overall).

Best actual prospect: No. 12 Jamie Shields (as James Shields was known then).

What BA said: “Young has all the tools to be an All-Star for years to come. Though there are no questions about his makeup, he crossed the line twice in 2005. He drew a three-game suspension after chest-bumping umpire Jeff Latter … when the Devil Rays declined to promote him in September he ripped the organization (though he later recanted).”

What happened: I’m actually curious why Baseball America was so determined to say there was no makeup questions when both of those line-crossings hint at pretty severe makeup problems. As it turned out Young has SERIOUS makeup issues. There was the whole anti-semitic slur controversy. There was another umpire issue in the minor leagues. Young has a career 0.6 WAR because he’s been so dreadful defensively and because even with pretty good batting averages (he has a career .284 average) he doesn’t get on base or hit with enough power. He did have his moment in the postseason last year. He’s played on three teams and will probably play for his fourth in 2013.

Final analysis: Miss.

* * *

Texas Rangers

No. 1 prospect: Edinson Volquez (No. 56 overall).

Best actual prospect: No. 6 Ian Kinsler or No. 14 C.J. Wilson.

What BA said: “Volquez draws Pedro Martinez comparisons as much for his electric personality as his electric arm … questions remain about Volquez’ ability to reach his considerable potential.”

What happened: He was traded for Josh Hamilton in 2007, and he had a marvelous rookie season, throwing 196 innings, striking out 206 and winning 17 games for the Reds. The next year he had Tommy John surgery, in 2010 he got the 50-game suspension for testing positive for PEDs, and last year for the Padres he led the league in walks and posted an 88 ERA+ as he tries to make it back.

Final analysis: Miss (so far).

* * *

Toronto Blue Jays

No. 1 prospect: Dustin McGowan (No. 48 overall).

Best actual prospect: No. 11 Shaun Marcum.

What BA said: “Like many young power pitchers, McGowan struggles to command his fastball … he’ll need to refine his fastball command if he’s to become the front-of-the-rotation starter the Blue Jays envision.”

What happened: He did win 12 games and throw 170 or so innings in 2007. But he could not refine his fastball command and he had all sorts of injury problems. Second verse, same as the first.

Final analysis: Miss.

* * *

Washington Nationals

No. 1 prospect: Ryan Zimmerman (No. 15 overall).

Best actual prospect: Zimmerman, though No. 4 Ian Desmond has emerged as well.

What BA said: “He’s a perennial Gold Glover winner and an All-Star in the making.”

What happened: He’s been an All-Star and he’s won a Gold Glove. Healthy, he’s an MVP candidate pretty much every year. One thing that’s interesting is that his defensive numbers have dipped the last couple of years. I’m not sure what happened — there were scouts who said that Zimmerman his senior year in college was ALREADY the best defensive third baseman in the game.

And look at his Dewan Plus/Minus numbers:

2007: plus-24
2008: plus-10
2009: plus-31
2010: plus-16
2011: minus-12
2012: minus-6

What happened? Don’t know. His UZR and defensive WAR numbers similarly collapsed in 2011. Just wondering.

Final analysis: Hit.

* * *

Final results

Total: 13 hits, 17 misses.
Hitters: 6 hits, 10 misses.
Pitchers: 7 hits, 7 misses.

Obviously, this could be manipulated a bit — I’m not sure I’m writing in calling Volquez and Liriano misses. If they are hits, we have a 15-15 split … and you will notice that in this preposterously small sample size of BA’s top prospects from 2006, pitchers actually succeed at a higher rate than every day players.

This off-season, we have seen a couple of major prospects traded away, most prominently the Royals dealt their No. 1 prospect, Wil Myers, to Tampa Bay. The 2006 prospects give a good range of what might happen. Myers could bust like Brandon Wood or semi-bust like Delmon Young — the No. 3 and No. 1 overall prospects of 2006. He also could become a mega star like Prince Fielder or Ryan Zimmerman, leaving the Royals  feeling a lot like the Red Sox did after dealing away the young Jeff Bagwell or the Phillies did after dealing a prospect named Ryne Sandberg. Prospects don’t pan out of most of the time. But when they do, they sometimes hit bit.

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21 Responses to Prospects 2006

  1. Zach says:

    Just that brief glimpse at the Mariners’ section is yet another reminder of how bad a GM Bill Bavasi was.

  2. Carl says:

    Re Ryan Zimmerman–he’s had a lot of trouble with his throwing, particularly on seemingly routine plays. I don’t want to say it’s “Steve Blass disease,” it’s not nearly that bad, but when he has time to think about the play he has a tendency to air-mail his throws. Still great with the glove, and on the do-or-die plays he’s still amazing. He had nagging injuries this year and they likely didn’t help his throwing. There’s speculation that when 3B prospect Anthony Rendon is ready in a couple years, they’ll move Zim to first.

  3. One correction — Volquez’s rookie year was actually before he was traded to the Reds. This made it a lot funnier when he got ROY votes anyway.

  4. maxlsamis says:

    Also with Zimmerman, he had a pretty severe shoulder injury this year that really affected his range. He was struggling with it pretty badly the first few months of the season, had to take cortisone shots at least once a month, and had surgery in late October. I’d agree that his future probably lies at first base in the next couple of years, but the Nats are hoping he’ll be back to his usual defense next season.

  5. Vidor says:

    Think it’s a mistake to take defensive numbers as seriously as Posnanski does. Otherwise, excellent article. Good luck, Anthony Reyes, you’ll always have that ring.

  6. apf says:

    I love retrospectives like these. Feel free to do this every year!

  7. Harry B says:

    Indians picks as bad as the Padres
    98 CC Sabathia – then disaster
    99 no pick
    2000 Corey Smith
    2001 Dan Denahm
    2002 Jeremy Gutherie
    2003 Michael Aubrey
    2004 – Jeremy Sowers
    2005- – Trevor Croww
    2006- Beau Mills

    Thank you Mark Shapiro and your fiine organization.

    • Rob Smith says:

      I don’t think you can go by first round picks to judge a GM since first rounders are so iffy. Sometimes lower round picks (and other pickukps) end up making up for it…. obviously not with the Indians however. Take the Braves, for example, who have a very good minor league system (lots of good prospects). Here are their picks during the same time:
      1998-no pick
      1999-no pick
      2000-Scott Thorman, Adam Wainwright, Kelly Johnson, Aaron Herr (two hits, none still with the team)
      2001-Josh Burrus, Richard Lewis (busts)
      2002-Dan Meyer, Jeff Francoeur (busts)
      2003-Luis Atilano, Jarrod Saltalamachia (busts)
      2004-No pick
      2005-Joey Devine, Beau Johnson (busts)
      2006- Cody Johnson, Cory Rasmus, Steven Evarts (no hits, though Rasmus (Colby’s brother) was recently added to the 40 man roster)

      The Braves did pick Heyward first in 2007, Freddie Freeman second 2007 and Mike Minor first in 2009, plus Brian McCann in the 2nd round (2002), Craig Kimbrel 3rd round 2008, Kris Medlen 10th round (2006), Andrelton Simmons 2nd round 2008. Most of the rest of the team was pieced together by trade (Dan Uggla), undrafted free agents (including Martin Prado, Brandon Beachy, Randall Delgado and Julio Teheran or professional free agents (BJ Upton).

      The point being that a GM can’t be judged by the first round picks, but how they piece together a team through the entire draft, trades, undrafted FAs and professional FAs.

      Joe’s point was that first round picks, the top 32 players that year, are no better than 50/50 as to whether they’ll even be starters in the league.

    • Don’t tell Dayton Moore Frenchy is a bust…

  8. Yo says:

    Victorino was a rule V signing and not a 2006 minor leaguer for the Phils.

    • Victorino was selected with the Rule V, offered back to the Dodgers, and refused. He then spent the 2005 season playing in AAA for the Phillies organization, where he won the International League MVP award. So he was a Phillies prospect when the book was published.

      I love these prospect retrospectives, Joe. It would be interesting to me to see how traded top prospects fare in a similar retrospective, as they’re a staple of the Phillies blogs I read, given Ruben Amaro’s penchant for throwing around prospects…as of yet, no one he has traded has made any significant impact in the major leagues, though Anthony Gose and Travis D’Arnaud seem set to change that in 2013.

  9. Josh says:

    Liriano is a hard call. The injuries and inconsistency suggest he’s a miss, but at the same time he’s also a guy who made it to the majors and had 2 excellent seasons. He’s still on the good side of 30.

    Hit or a miss just doesn’t fit Liriano well.

    Injury is always a tough call for these sorts of prospect evaluations anyways. If the guy is a dominating player, on the fast track and gets derailed through injury issues he’s a “miss”, but at the same time the organization maybe did have his talent level properly assessed.

    • Rob Smith says:

      Injuries are a big factor though. One of the reason it’s so 50/50 with prospects is health issues. You have to factor it in. Some of the guys mentioned had health issues in the minors, and possibly before, so it’s not a huge surprise when they continue. I wonder how GMs factor in health. How do you predict whether a player is an injury risk? I think a huge factor these days is the number of games players play in travel ball. It was reported, for example, that Jason Heyward was playing about 200 games a year in youth/teen travel ball + HS season. He had some early on health issues…. then last year, consciously dropped 20 pounds and had his first injury free season…. and looks to be a huge “hit” for a first round pick. Many weekend tournaments have a “max pitcher innings” at around 12 innings. Imagine letting a young pitcher throw 12 innings over a long weekend. I’d personally start looking at late bloomers and multi sports athletes who didn’t have this kind of stress put on them at young ages.

  10. As a Pirate fan I find it interesting that the Pirates have signed or traded for the following players to contracts in the hopes of getting lucky: Clement, Marte, Pie, Wood, Liriano, and Milledge. Is it any wonder that they have had 20 straight losing seasons?

    • ugen64 says:

      I’d think it’s the other way around. A team like the Pirates with a lack of championship caliber talent might as well go for low probability, high-reward signings with the FA money they have. I’d rather try those players in the hopes that one of them unexpectedly breaks out. After all, there are quite a few “busts” who have resurrected their careers later on (from an Orioles perspective, Jayson Werth comes to mind – extremely mediocre hitting catcher in our system, released, and turned into one of the more valuable all-around outfielders in baseball).

  11. Noah The Kid says:

    Impressive post, the Padres have had some terrible 1st rounders but seem to have amazing non first rounders like 2010 2nd rounder Jedd Gyorko.

  12. DRAY5150 says:

    It seems that of most of the players who busted BA had some reluctancy in either attitude or injury setbacks. Great article!

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