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Best Prospects of 2002

Frayed Knot
Jun 22 2005 12:49 PM

With all the 'Trade 'em for Prospects' talk, I thought I'd take a look at how the top of the prospects field looked 3 years ago.
The names below - shown in their original organization and position - were combined from several sources into a kind of consensus top 40 list prior to the 2002 season.
Comments and ages reflect their current status.

#1 Josh Beckett - RHP Marlins
Front of the rotation talent, though oft-injured and a .500 record (25 years old)

#2 Sean Burroughs - 3B Padres
Full-time ML starter though almost no power at a corner position (24)

#3 Hank Blalock - 3B Rangers
Legit emerging star

#4 Mark Prior - RHP Cubs
Shows signs of being a star, but can't stay healthy

#5 Carlos Pena - 1B Rangers
Now in his 3rd organization, recently demoted to minors (27)

#6 Nick Johnson - 1B Yankees
2nd organization - having his first breakout season (26)

#7 Juan Cruz - RHP Cubs
Middle inning reliever, now in his 3rd organization (26)

#8 Austin Kearns - OF Reds
Recently demoted to minors (26)

#9 Dennis Tankersley - RHP Padres
Starting and relieving in AAA in his 2nd organization (26)

#10 Mark Tiexiera - 3B Rangers
Moved to 1st base, legit emerging star

#11 Wilson Betemit - SS Braves
Reached ML this year, getting playing time as injury replacement/backup (23)

#12 Joe Borchard - OF White Sox
Struggling in his 3rd year in AAA (26)

#13 Michael Cuddyer - 3B Twins
Now in his 4th year with middling stats - .268/.335/.394 (26)

#14 Jake Peavy - RHP Padres
Emerging as a top of the rotation starter now in his 4th season (24)

#15 Nick Nuegebauer - RHP Brewers
Hasn't pitched in the ML since 2002, derailed by injuries

#16 Adrian Gonzalez - IB Marlins
2nd organization, hitting well in AAA after 2 brief stints in ML (23)

#17 Carlos Hernandez - LHP Astros
2-5, 7.11 ERA, 2.00+ WHiP in AAA following major elbow surgery (25)

#18 Chris Snelling - OF Seattle
Oft-injured, hitting well in AAA (23)

#19 Jack Cust - 1B/OF Rockies
In AAA in his 3rd or 4th organization (26)

#20 Ryan Anderson - LHP Mariners
Was #1 overall prospect in a previous year, was derailed by several injuries and released. Has pitched a handful of innings in A-ball this year (26)

#21 Marlon Byrd - OF Phillies
Playing part-time in 2nd organization (27)

#22 Jerome Williams - RHP Giants
Just called up to Cubs bullpen following trade and TJ surgury (23)

#23 Brandon Phillips - SS Indians
Back in AAA following 2 poor years (23)

#24 Boof Bosner - RHP Giants
Well traded by Giants, can't find his current location

#25 Drew Henson - 3B Yankees
Out of Baseball

#26 Justin Morneau - 1B Twins
Looks to be an emerging star (24)

#27 Joe Mauer - C Twins
Injured as rookie - still on pace to be a top player (22)

#28 Angel Berroa - SS Royals
AL ROY, but somewhat pedestrian player since (27)

#29 Hee Seop Choi - 1B Cubs
Now in 3rd organization - starts most of the time (26)

#30 Chin-Feng Chen - OF Dodgers
Playing in AAA (27)

#31 Josh Hamilton - OF Devil Rays
1st overall pick, now starting in A-ball following a string of physical and personal problems

#32 Jose Reyes

#33 Jon Rauch - RHP White Sox
Pitching out of the pen in a new organization after being picked up via Rule 5 (26)

#34 Gabe Gross - OF Blue Jays
Recent call-up/bench player (25)

#35 Kelly Johnson - SS Braves
Was moved to the OF and just called up for injury replacement (23)

#36 Raphael Soriano - RHP Mariners
Spot reliever for 2 years, now on long-term DL (elbow)

#37 Josh Phelps - C/1B Blue Jays
Part-time DH/1B, now with 3rd organization (27)

#38 Brandon Claussen - LHP Yankees
Back of the rotation guy for a new organization (26)

#39 Corey Malone - LHP Blue Jays
Starting & relieving in AA (25)

#40 Casey Kotchman - 1B Angels
Battled injuries in minors - limited ML ABs (22)

I don't really have a specific point here, except to point out how tough it is to pick future stars even from the supposed cream of the prospect crop. It's one thing to take a lesser prospect(s) for a player you WANT to get rid of for performance/salary reasons and hope that the replacements will eventually work out. But, if we're going to go about proposing deals for players who are currently playing well w/reasonable contracts attached, the hit-or-miss nature of career projections means we'd really want to shoot for someone where there's a reasonable chance that their ceiling will be at least that of the player you're dealing since there's no guarantee these hopefuls will ever reach the projected peak and it will likely be a few years for it to happen even if they do.

Jun 22 2005 01:07 PM

Looks like most of them have made it to the majors already, so whoever came up with that rating did a pretty good job.

The biggest question I have is, who names their kid Boof?


Jun 22 2005 01:11 PM

Wasn't Ryan Anderson the 6'10" kid that was being hailed as the next Unit?

Edgy DC
Jun 22 2005 01:16 PM

While I agree that it was more or less a good job, there's nothing remarkable about all of them making it to the majors "already." It's not like all of these guys were identified at 17. These rankings include all signed pre major-league talent at various stages of their professional career. Most had had at least two professional seasons at that point.

Frayed Knot
Jun 22 2005 01:51 PM

]Wasn't Ryan Anderson the 6'10" kid that was being hailed as the next Unit?

Yup. 2 or 3 shoulder surgeries later the M's finally released him.

]Looks like most of them have made it to the majors already, so whoever came up with that rating did a pretty good job.

Made the majors? Sure. My point wasn't to disparage the list-makers.

But look at things this way: Suppose we time-shift this list 3 years and say that this list is this year's list.
Now, if we were to deal either Floyd or Cameron for any one of the prospects listed above, which of them would make us NOT disappointed with the deal 3 years down the road?

* Teixiera & Blalock for sure, and Peavy.
* Prior & Beckett - even w/their up-and-down present.
* Plus Morneau & Mauer - even if still more for their projected promise than current production

But I'm not so sure there are any other slam-dunks.
Choi & Nick Johnson are just now getting there and certainly could be worthwhile depending on how things go.
And youngsters like Kotchman, Gonzalez, Johnson, Williams & maybe Kearns still have time to be real good.
But that's still just 14 names (7 yesses & 7 maybes by my count - your mileage may vary) out of 40, meaning that approx 2/3 of the list are players we'd feel weren't worth the wait for the good player we gave up.
And those guys are the BEST prospects.

That's part of what's driving me nuts about the Met fans who act as if a theoretical Cano/Cameron deal is such a knee-jerk 'YES'.
Now Cano is a bit different than the above list because the projection is less long-term since he's already made the big leagues. But the fact that he's never been considered anywhere near those guys means that his ceiling also isn't likely to be as high.

"Trade 'em for Prospects" always sounds good and certainly has it's place. I just think it's a lot more of a hit-and-miss (and more miss than hit) than most fans acknowledge.

On edit:
And, just as an addedum to the list of those 7+ guys you would want -- Those are exactly the ones you'd never get in a trade!!

Most of them - not sure about Peavy & Morneau - were very top of the draft / multi-million $ bonus / can't touch types. All of which makes the odds of a good deal for a current player to be even less of a sure thing.

Jun 22 2005 04:49 PM

Boof must have been named after the "Teen Wolf" character.

Edit: Story about Ryan "Little Unit" Anderson in Baseball Weekly this week. He's pitching for the Brewers organization now, having been cut by Seattle. He's with the Brevard County Manatees, and as of the article, he's pitched 9.2 innings and has a 3.72 ERA.

Vic Sage
Aug 31 2005 09:09 AM

i'm sorry i missed this thread the first time.

Frayed Knot is officially elected VP of the TiTTS.