The most excited prospect in the history of the 30 MLB teams

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Of course, we love the outlook for Major League Baseball. Maybe it’s not fair that we pay so much attention and make stupid comments like comparing a young player to Ken Griffey Jr. or saying that this kid throws stronger than Nolan Ryan, which implies that ‘he could be the next Nolan Ryan. But we do it nonetheless, forgetting in our lustful eyes that baseball is difficult and that there is no guarantee of future celebrity, no matter how beautiful the swing or how fast fastball is.

Here is the most excited prospect for each team, sorted by levels focusing on when the player was drafted until he reached the big leagues. This looks back to the past two decades, mainly because we know a lot more about prospects than before – not to suggest that Mickey Mantle players were ignored at the time – and we can watch videos and read reports. screening and dreaming about what could happen.

Jump by level:
Level 1: the eight electric | Level 2: New York, New York
Level 3: they could be giants | Level 4: you never know

Switch to a franchise:

American League
BAL | BOS | CHW | CLE | DET
HOU | KC | LAA | MIN | NYY
OAK | SEA | TB | TEX | TOR

National League
ARI | ATL | CHC | CIN | COLLAR
LAD | MIA | | MIL | NYM | PHI
PIT | SD | SF | STL | WSH

LEVEL 1: THE EIGHT ELECTRICS

Washington Nationals: Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper (tie)

Also considered: Vladimir Guerrero (Expos)

Quote: “Harper has been compared to Justin Upton, Alex Rodriguez and Ken Griffey Jr., each an incredibly advanced high school player and each the top overall pick in his draft. But Harper, say the baseball men who are paid to do such assessments, has the sophomore ability that the aforementioned trio had as seniors. This is why Harper – to his own approval – is better compared to [LeBron] James. “- Tom Verducci, Sports Illustrated

AP Photo / David Goldman

It’s from the famous SI cover story that brought Harper into the national spotlight when he was only 16 years old. The title called him “Baseball’s Chosen One,” and the article compared Harper not only to James, but to Tiger Woods, Wayne Gretzky, and Alexander the Genial. Harper mentioned his goals as a baseball player: to make the Hall of Fame and “play in the pinstripes.” (Hey, the Phillies make wear fine stripes.)

You can argue that Strasbourg and Harper are the two hottest prospects in the draft era, two consecutive top picks in 2009 and 2010, Strasbourg being the best pitch prospect of all time and Harper maybe the best prospect position player, or at least the best from Rodriguez or Griffey. When Baseball America published its “Ultimate Draft Book” in 2016 (an invaluable resource for this article), it ranked Strasbourg as the most publicized choice of all time and Harper No. 2.

Strasbourg came out of San Diego as a generational talent, the best college pitcher of all time, perhaps the best pitching prospect of all time, perhaps the best perspective all time. He hit the three figures with a plus-plus brittle ball, a plus modification, excellent control and the size and construction you want in a pitcher. His major league debut against the Pirates in 2010 drew unprecedented attention, and he did not disappoint, with 14 strikeouts in seven innings. With Harper, because of this cover story, we had been following him for three years when he made his debut with the Nationals at 19 in 2012. I even remember listening to his first minor league game on Internet radio . These two are 1 and 1A on the hottest list, in the order you prefer.


Los Angeles Angels: Shohei Ohtani

Also considered: Rick Reichardt, Jim Abbott, Mike Trout

Spoiler alert: Wander Franco tops our list. Which MLB stars of tomorrow follow the best prospect since Mike Trout in this year’s rankings? Kiley McDaniel (ESPN +)

Quote: “Short baseball streaks are not conclusive in nature, but we can now say that Ohtani is certainly one of the top 50 pitchers in the world, probably one of the top 30, presumably one of the top 10, and it there is an outside chance, a ray of hope, a slight possibility that he is in fact the best pitcher in the world and we are just waiting to find out. And we can almost say the same for him as a hitter. – Sam Miller, ESPN.com

First, a word about Abbott. In my mind, the beginnings of a passionate pitch perspective are more fascinating than a strike perspective. For position players, a game means nothing to us. Trout went 0 for 3 and hit 0.157 in his first 16 games. Harper played 15 games before hitting his first homerun. Kris Bryant fanned three times during his debut. Alex Bregman started with five straight heats and went 2-for-38. Etc. But with a pitcher, you know, right? You can see the fastball. You can see the stuff. You can see the potential and sometimes, like in Strasbourg, you see the dominance in this first game.

Abbott was not the best launcher prospect in his project, but it was the ultimate human interest story of the project era, and you can argue that Abbott’s debut was as expected as anyone which of the highly touted launchers from this list. Born without a right hand, he played at the University of Michigan, beat Cuba at the Pan Am Games in front of 50,000 fans in Havana and led the United States to a gold medal at the 1988 Olympics. The Angels drafted him eighth overall in 1988 and went straight to the majors the following April. With 150 media representatives, four Japanese television crews and nearly 47,000 fans in attendance, Abbott’s debut was a celebration that intrigued even non-baseball fans. (It did not go well, as he allowed six points and did not strike out any batter.)

Then, two years ago, we saw Ohtani, inconceivably trying to make his way into the majors as a two-way player. One can quibble that he was not really a hope, since he had been a star in Japan, even if he was still only 23 years old for his rookie MLB season. Even as he played his last season in Japan, preparing to come to the United States, “60 Minutes” made a feature film about him, calling him Babe Ruth from Japan. Given what we quickly saw, it was not really an exaggeration. Ohtani was covered in spring training like no one before. He made his debut on opening day as a batter. A few days later, he made his debut as a pitcher and showed some amazing stuff. Then he had his first match. And his third game. And his fourth. Then he made his second start and pulled out of 12. Amazing.


Kansas City Royals: Bo Jackson

Also considered: Clint Hurdle, Alex Gordon

Quote: “Franchise player; can do everything; a complete type of player. The greatest pure athlete in America today. Can run, throw and strike with power in all areas. Has exceptional baseball tools to go with an exceptional body and athletic ability. – Royals scout recognition report Ken Gonzales

No one really expected Bo Jackson to play baseball. He won the Heisman Trophy in 1985 at Auburn University, and the Tampa Bay Bucs selected him first in the 1986 draft. He had to leave his senior baseball season when the NCAA judged him. ineligible because the Bucs brought him to Tampa for a physical exam. On top of that, the Bucs were offering a $ 7.5 million, five-year contract that baseball couldn’t match.

Courtesy of The Topps Company, Inc.

Gonzales, however, had watched Jackson from high school and had grown closer to him and his mother. He knew that Jackson was wary of playing for the Buccaneers. He knew that the Royals were one of the teams he would consider playing baseball for (they were the defending World Series champions). Above all, Gonzales loved Jackson’s potential on diamonds: he evaluated Jackson at 8 (or 80) in power, 8 in speed and 7 in the arm. Gonzales thought the Angels, with six choices in the first two rounds, would roll the dice. They did not do it. The Royals drafted him in the fourth round, signed him a few weeks later (for three years, $ 1.066 million) and he was in the majors in September.

Was Jackson a great baseball player? Not really. He was too unruly on the plate and scratched too much. Despite his world class speed, he was not an excellent defensive outfielder. However, the tools allowed for these occasional outrageous athletics, leaving one wondering what might have happened if Bo had played baseball full time. It should be noted that he was better before injuring his hip while playing football. With the Royals in 1990, he produced 142 OPS + in 111 games, eighth in the American League. What could have been.


Seattle Mariners: Ken Griffey Jr.

Also considered: Alex Rodriguez

Quote: “Has all the tools to be a superstar. “- Sailors’ reconnaissance report, 1987

2 Related

Griffey or A-Rod? At the level of pure scouting, Rodriguez is generally regarded as the best amateur prospect of the draft era. Indeed, he was in the majors at the age of 18, barely 10 months after the Mariners drafted him. Griffey, of course, would also make any team of all time. This Seattle screening report from his senior season at Moeller High School in Cincinnati gave Griffey future scores of 7 for strikes, 8 for power, 6 for speed, 6 for arm strength and 7 for range . The Mariners took him with the first pick in the draft, bypassing the wishes of owner George Argyros, who pushed for Cal State Fullerton pitcher Mike Harkey (thanks to baseball gods).

I do believe, however, that Griffey beats A-Rod in the hype of prospects. First, he had the famous name. He signed quickly and hit .313 with 14 homers in 54 games in the Northwest League, playing against youth four and five years older than him. In 1988, he hit .325 / .415 / .557 with 13 homers and 36 interceptions in 75 games for miners. He had that perfect swing. He had a smile. He had this Upper Deck rookie card that every kid had to have. Twenty years later, Sports Illustrated would call it the last iconic baseball card. The Griffey hype entering 1989 is closely linked to this map.

When Griffey went to spring training that year, still a teenager with only 17 games over the Class A ball, the Mariners wanted him to get a taste of the league camp and then return to the miners . He struck 0.397 with a 15-game hitting streak. He made the club. He overtook Dave Stewart during his first official batting presence. At the end of April, he had his own candy bar. He was The Natural.


Toronto Blue Jays: Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

Also considered: John Olerud, Carlos Delgado

Quote: “For the pure bat, Vlad Jr. is the best prospect among miners. If you could put an 80 on the typing tool from any perspective, it would be his, and he has the plus-plus power to go with it. Vlad’s hands are electric, and he has shown an advanced feel for the strike zone from his professional beginnings at age 17. – Keith Law, ESPN.com

Like Griffey three decades before him, Vlad Jr. had the famous name – and the game that went with it (he hit 0.381 in miners in 2018 at the age of 19). Like Griffey, he also had that panache that called him something special, like his home run-off in a spring training exhibition match in Montreal in 2018, in front of fans who had once applauded his father.

How big was the hype last season? When MLB.com named him his best hope, the headline asked, “Is Vlad Jr. the best hope of all time? “The consensus was that he did not have the full game to hold this honor, but as Jim Callis wrote,” It is difficult to find someone who offered a more aggressive promise at a younger age. “

Guerrero’s rookie season has been solid but unspectacular (.272 / .339 / .433, 106 OPS +), and Juan Soto has surpassed him as the top 20-year hitter in the majors. He’ll have to kick the ball more often to tap into that raw power we saw in the Home Run Derby, but he has time. He is only 21 years old.


Atlanta Braves: Andruw Jones

Also considered: Brad Komminsk, Steve Avery, Chipper Jones, Jason Heyward, Ronald Acuna Jr.

Quote: “What the quietest group of 56,365 souls in the history of Yankee Stadium saw on Sunday night is that Jones was the next element in baseball. A Ruth or a Gehrig, perhaps. Or maybe a Mantle, who was the youngest person to hit a home run in a World Series until Jones was the best of the Yankees. – Terence Moore, Atlanta Constitution

In the weeklong series dedicated to a different baseball theme every day, we asked our MLB journalists to tell us the stories of the best they have ever seen – with one rule: they should be there to testify in person.

Monday: Home Run
Tuesday: Games
Wednesday: Outlook
Thursday: Defensive games
Friday: Backstage moments

Jones was 19 when he raced off Andy Pettitte in the world’s first streak of his career in 1996, a two-field explosion in the left field. In his second stick attack, he turned again, this time a three-point shot in Monument Park, which seemed to be about the mythology that Jones was already building. The Braves had five No. 1 prospects from Baseball America. That doesn’t even include Komminsk, a rising star in the 1980s that Hank Aaron once said, “He will do things that Dale Murphy never dreamed of. “

These other players, however, did not complete two homeruns in a World Series game as a teenager. Jones was already the best hope of the game at the start of the 1996 season after hitting .277 with 25 home runs and 56 goals stolen from Low-A Macon. On three levels in 1996, he reached .339 with 34 circuits, one of the major minor league seasons of the repechage era, especially given his young age. He was still eligible for the rookie in 1997 and again topped the prospect lists. The comparisons with Mickey Mantle didn’t seem so stupid.

AMERICAN PRESSIER

Of course, that didn’t happen, although Jones had a remarkable career – 62.7 WAR, 434 homers, 10 Gold Gloves – which many believe is worthy of the Hall of Fame. But his last good season came when he was 29, so this career is also viewed with some disappointment. An old Macon screening report of his days provided a potential warning: “If a player ever decides he wants to give 100%, he has no cap! This effort – or the perceived lack of it – was to continue Jones throughout his career.

It may also be a little unfair. Jones had real faults. He pulled out too much, which is why he hit 0.300 just once and finished with a career average of 0.254 (0.267 at 29). The scouting report also pointed out that he had a hole in his upward swing against the fastball and that he was a traction hitter who rarely went to the opposite court. “Can cover a gap with anyone,” the report also said, and this part was true. There was little – if any – who played on the central court as well as a young Andruw Jones.


Chicago Cubs: Mark Prior

Also considered: Shawon Dunston, Kerry Wood, Corey Patterson, Kris Bryant

Quote: “At least when [Michael] Jordan was chased by worshiping audiences and media, he had a few NBA seasons under his belt and a few million Air Jordans at people’s feet. Before, nine minor league matches had started [his major league debut]. “- Rick Morrissey, Chicago Tribune

Bryant topped the list in Baseball America in 2015. Prior and Patterson reached # 2, and Wood was # 3 (as did Addison Russell). Dunston arrived before the first 100 official lists, but BA called him second best hope in 1984 – ahead of Dwight Gooden. So who to go with? I defer to Jim Callis, who recently named Prior to his team of prospects: “In my first year as a full-time BA employee, [Ben] McDonald’s was acclaimed as the best college pitcher ever, a Prior tag would ultimately win and that [Stephen] Strasbourg will claim later and may never give up. All three were tall, smart, polite and dominated in college and with the American team. “

Prior went 15-1 with a GPA of 1.69 in his junior season at USC, with 202 strikeouts and only 18 steps. He crossed the miners in these nine departures. It stoked 10 in its highly anticipated debut, with Cubs fans chanting “Pri-or! Pri-or! “Throughout the game.” He is as polite as any young man I have seen, “said Cubs wide receiver Joe Girardi after the game. “The other guy I think of who was very polite was Derek Jeter. “

AP Photo / Kathy Willens

Prior would go 18-6 with an ERA of 2.43 in his first full season, finishing third in Cy Young’s vote. Then come the injuries. I found a screening report from his college days, written by Buddy Pritchard for the Major League Scout Bureau. He hinted at a potential problem with Prior’s delivery: “The stride and defective arm angle is a problem with a self-described slurve. Pitch mechanic guru Chris O’Leary would call the Prior flaw a synchronization problem, causing “flat arm syndrome”.

Some point to a collision with the Braves Marcus Giles’ second goal as the turning point in Prior’s career. The only catch with this theory is that the collision occurred in July 2003, in the middle of Prior’s best season. Avant had left this game early and missed a few weeks, but when he returned he went 10-1 with an ERA of 1.52 in his last 11 starts. He has also scored an average of 121 shots per game in his last 10 outings (and 123 in three playoff starts). More likely, it was the workload in combination with its mechanics that led to its breakdown.

LEVEL 2: NEW YORK, NEW YORK

New York Yankees: Brien Taylor

Also considered: Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Jose Rijo, Derek Jeter, Ruben Rivera, Joba Chamberlain

Quote: “Bill Livesey is one of the greatest scouts of our time. He told me that the best amateur player he had ever seen was A-Rod. The best amateur pitcher he had ever seen was Brien Taylor. – Brian Cashman, general manager of the Yankees

You can certainly make an argument here for DiMaggio or Mantle. DiMaggio struck in a record 61 consecutive Pacific Coast League games in 1933, placing him in the national press as a teenager. The Yankees bought him for $ 50,000 after the 1934 season, which was a huge sum at the time, allowing him to play one more season in San Francisco before taking him to New York in 1936 with great fanfare. Mantle also received a lot of attention during his first spring training in the major leagues in 1951.

Courtesy of The Topps Company, Inc.

These were different times, however, and the hype machine was not the same in 1991. You had the perfect storm with Taylor. The Yankees drafted him first overall, just the second time they picked first and just the second time a high school pitcher was first overall. The story of Taylor, emerging this spring from Beaufort, North Carolina, a small town on the coast, was the kind of story you like to see emerging in the project. His selection also reached its peak when the baseball card industry included leads and draft cards, so fans followed leads like never before.

His agent was Scott Boras, who brokered a record bonus of $ 1.55 million, breaking the previous record of $ 575,000. “I’ve seen talent now in 35 drafts,” Boras told ESPN.com a few years ago. “Every year, I watch and I have never seen anyone like him. “

Taylor pitched well in the miners in 1992 and 1993, striking out 327 batters in 324 innings, but the tragedy then struck. This off-season, Taylor’s brother fought in a bar and Taylor went to protect him, raising his arm to fend off a punch. He completely tore off his rotator cuff from the bone. He never reached the majors.


New York Food: Gregg Jefferies

Also considered: Tom Seaver, Darryl Fraise, Dwight Gooden

Quote: “When I see Pete Rose on television and he is successful, advertisers always say how successful he is now in his career. I hope he will continue to build on it, because I will break this record. “- Jefferies

Strawberry was the No. 1 choice in 1980 and Gooden tore the miners apart with 300 strikeouts in 1983, but you can say that Jefferies spawned modern perspective coverage. In the early years of Baseball America, the first outlet with in-depth prospect coverage, Jefferies appeared on the cover five times. He was BA’s minor league player of the year in 1986 after hitting 0.353 with 16 homers and 57 interceptions at 18 and again in 1987 after hitting 0.367 with 20 double-A homeruns. He was an inside field player for sure and he was not lacking in confidence. The New York Times called him “arguably the best baseball player who is not on the major league list.” He looked like a future All-Star who would win batting titles, especially after hitting .321 in a 29-game cameo in 1988. “Some players are labeled ‘don’t miss’,” said the Mets manager, Davey Johnson. “It is” inevitable “. “

His Mets career never took off, reaching 0.272 in his three full seasons with the team. His teammates did not like him; some were jealous of the hype. During a pre-game training session, he was told to return to the clubhouse, where he found one of his bats broken into pieces. An anonymous teammate called him a “designated hitter playing third base.” Jefferies responded by saying, “I’m really tired of being slaughtered. I don’t want to look like a baby because I’ve been silent about it for three years. I just want to play baseball. I don’t take this anymore. He then went to WFAN and read a nine-paragraph letter, responding more to the criticism.

Courtesy of The Topps Company, Inc.

“It didn’t take long for players to understand that Gregg Jefferies was a losing player,” wrote Lenny Dykstra in his 2016 book. “He spent hours rubbing his bats with a special mix and specifically asked that they are stored separately from the other bats of the team so as not to chip them. “

You wonder how Jefferies’ career could have changed with another organization. The Mets were in disarray in the early 1990s. Jefferies landed in Saint Louis in 1993, the Cardinals transferred him to first base (he was a poor indoor player), and he hit 0.342 and .324 in 1994, which makes the all-star team two years. He signed with the Phillies and hit .300 several times, but without a lot of power, and then injured himself. He didn’t break Rose’s record.

One thing about Jefferies: He has rarely removed the ball (he has taken more walks than K’s in his career and has never removed the ball 50 times in a season). If I had to guess why he didn’t become a big star as predicted by his minor league numbers, it was because he was as well good to make contact. He could put any terrain into play, which likely resulted in oscillations on bad terrain and poor contact.

LEVEL 3: THEY COULD BE GIANTS

Tampa Bay Rays: Wander Franco

Also considered: Matt White, Josh Hamilton, B.J. Upton, Delmon Young, David Price, Matt Moore

Quote: “There are some who have an exceptional awareness of the strike zone. There are others who do a great job of identifying locations. There are those who have the gift of controlling the cannon and covering the whole plate. Franco has all of these attributes, plus the ability to drive the ball with power. – Baseball America Screening Report

The Wander Franco ray phenomenon will soon join Acuna, Vlad Jr. and Tatis among the new generation of MLB superstars. And it could be better than all. Jeff Passan

Hamilton, Young and Price finished first overall. Upton was the second overall choice. As he approaches his rookie season, many outlook experts have assessed Moore before Mike Trout. But Franco’s hype exceeds them all. He is the rare – perhaps the first, at least lately – to receive a score of 80 on his typing tool. He reached 0.327 / .398 / .487 at age 18 in class A last season, with more marches than strikeouts. Supposedly, at one point, he stayed for several weeks without swinging and missing out on a field.

What could go wrong? In some ways, he is very similar to Jefferies, a defensive player under 6 feet tall who rarely strikes. Franco has more raw power, Jefferies has probably run a little better. Franco has a chance to stay on shortstop, which Jefferies didn’t do. Like Jefferies, Franco does not lack confidence. Hopefully, none of his teammates will go behind his back to break his bats.


Boston Red Sox: Ted Williams

Also considered: Jim Rice, Hanley Ramirez, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Xander Bogaerts, Andrew Benintendi, Yoan Moncada

Quote: “My gracious kindness, how this boy can strike. It wouldn’t surprise me if he becomes another Babe Ruth. I’ve never seen anything like it. It doesn’t seem to make any difference where you launch it. We gave him all kinds of stuff – high balls, low balls, indoor courts, outdoor courts, fast balls, curved balls and slow balls. He hit them all. – Manager’s Connie Mack after seeing Williams in three training games in the spring in his rookie season

Williams was already a big deal when he showed up in Sarasota, Florida for spring training in 1939. The Red Sox acquired him from the San Diego from the Pacific Coast League in December 1937 and took him away in Minneapolis, where he hit .366 with 19 circuits at the age of 19. Williams had been in camp with the Red Sox in 1938, so the Boston media already knew the raging kid. After his big season in Minneapolis, anticipation got even stronger for 1939, and Williams provided many good copies to local writers.

A writer asked Williams, “Do you think you’re going to strike here? “

Response from Williams: “Who is going to arrest me? “

The team hadn’t even started their show season yet.

Mack wasn’t the only one comparing the young hitter to Ruth. “TED WILLIAMS REPLICA OF RUTH,” said a headline. Williams completed his first major league circuit in his fourth game, 430 feet further down the stands in the center right at Fenway Park. The Boston Herald called him “as hard hit a line reader as anyone who’s ever posted in this area, except Babe Ruth and Jimmie Foxx, who is always there.”

The next Babe Ruth? Yeah, not bad.


Baltimore Orioles: Ben McDonald

Also considered: Jeffrey Hammonds, Matt Wieters, Manny Machado

Citation: « C’est ma 28e année autour de ce match, et à ce stade, il est meilleur que [Roger] Clemens, [Frank] Viola, Greg Swindell, n’importe lequel de ces gars. Aucun de ces gars n’avait le contrôle de ce type. Il a également géré l’adversité. S’il est allumé et que 11 minicams arrivent, il peut s’en occuper. Il connaît les voies du monde. « – Skip Bertman, entraîneur des LSU

Zoom sur le sport / Getty Images

Un grand vieux garçon de la campagne de la Louisiane, McDonald a commencé sa carrière sportive à LSU en tant que joueur de deux sports, mais a abandonné le basket-ball après sa première année quand il est devenu l’une des meilleures perspectives de tangage au pays. Après avoir joué dans l’équipe olympique en 1988, McDonald est devenu le choix n ° 1 pour le repêchage de 1989, jetant 45 manches consécutives sans but à un moment donné. D’autres équipes ont finalement arrêté de le surveiller, sachant que les Orioles allaient le prendre.

Les deux parties ont entamé des négociations de contrat prolongées, avec Scott Boras menaçant d’amener McDonald dans une nouvelle ligue de baseball qui allait démarrer en 1990, soutenue par l’homme d’affaires de New York Donald Trump. Ils ont finalement convenu d’un contrat sans précédent de trois ans et d’une valeur de 800 000 $ pour la ligue majeure, et McDonald a fait six apparitions en relève pour les Orioles en septembre.

Une controverse, même à l’époque, était l’utilisation par Bertman de McDonald au LSU. Cinq fois, McDonald avait lancé un match complet, puis avait clôturé un match le lendemain. Au cours d’une période de 18 mois entre sa deuxième saison et les saisons juniors, y compris son temps avec l’équipe des États-Unis, McDonald a lancé 352 manches.

« On m’a posé cette question un million de fois », a déclaré McDonald à The Athletic l’année dernière. « ‘Avez-vous lancé trop d’emplacements au LSU? Avez-vous lancé trop d’emplacements au lycée?’ La réponse est probablement oui; nous ne savions pas alors ce que nous savons maintenant et comment prendre soin d’un bras. Et donc j’étais un produit de mon temps. J’étais un compétiteur. Je n’étais qu’un de ces enfants que si le l’entraîneur dit: «Pouvez-vous? Je dirais: « Yessir. Vous me donnez une chance et je le ferai. »  »

McDonald a lancé un blanchissage à quatre coups sûrs lors de son premier départ dans une ligue majeure et a terminé sa saison de recrue en 1990 avec une MPM de 2,43, mais il a terminé avec un dossier de carrière de 78-70, 3,91 de MPE et 20,8 de GUERRE. Il a pris sa retraite à 29 ans après avoir déchiré sa coiffe des rotateurs.


Cardinaux de Saint-Louis: J.D.Drew

Également considéré: Rick Ankiel

Citation: « Fait tout bien. Grande vitesse de chauve-souris et contact avec une puissance de type dominant sur tous les terrains. Approche mentale exceptionnelle pour frapper. Peut vraiment conduire le ballon. Plus de vitesse et cause des ravages sur les bases – peut voler des courses. Meilleur que j’ai vu sur jouer en ligne à CF. Bonnes mains, grande portée, sauts et routes. Joueur agressif et dangereux qui est excitant à regarder et fait bouger les choses.  » – Rapport de repérage des White Sox pendant le repêchage de Drew

Tout ce que voulait J.D.Drew était de défendre ses droits. Il est devenu un paria du baseball en conséquence, méprisé par les fans à travers le pays. Drew avait été le premier joueur 30-30-30 du baseball universitaire dans l’État de Floride en 1997, réussissant 0,455 avec 31 circuits et 32 ​​interceptions. Il a fixé sa valeur à 10 millions de dollars, ce que le pichet du lycée Matt White avait reçu en 1996, après qu’une technicité dans le projet de règlement en avait fait un joueur autonome. Drew, cependant, ne pouvait négocier qu’avec une seule équipe. Il avait peu d’options. Les Tigers l’ont contourné avec le premier choix. Les Phillies l’ont emmené avec le deuxième choix et ont offert 2 millions de dollars. Les négociations avec l’agent Scott Boras ont mal tourné. Drew n’a pas signé.

Nouvelles sportives / Getty Images

Drew a réintégré le repêchage en 1998 et les Cardinals l’ont pris avec le cinquième choix (Drew s’est contenté d’une garantie de 7 millions de dollars). Il était dans les majors en septembre. Drew a eu une carrière très réussie de 14 ans dans les ligues majeures, avec 44,9 WAR, bien qu’il n’ait formé qu’une seule équipe All-Star et ait reçu les votes MVP une seule fois (il a terminé sixième en 2004). Il a joué sans émotion et beaucoup – écrivains, fans, même coéquipiers – le considéraient comme doux parce qu’il avait manqué beaucoup de temps avec des blessures. Il a cependant joué dans de nombreuses bonnes équipes, effectuant huit déplacements en séries éliminatoires. Si quoi que ce soit, la perception de Drew remonte au rapport du scoutisme et à l’attrait – et aux avertissements – du battage médiatique des prospects: il a été le meilleur joueur amateur du pays pendant deux ans, créant des attentes exorbitantes. Quand il n’a pas atteint ceux-ci, il a été appelé surfait. À la fin, il est devenu sous-estimé.


Jumeaux du Minnesota: Joe Mauer

Également considéré: Byron Buxton

Citation: « Bien qu’il n’ait frappé que neuf circuits à domicile en trois saisons de ligue mineure, il a montré beaucoup plus de puissance au Minnesota, renforçant la confiance des Twins qu’il pourrait frapper jusqu’à 35-40 circuits sur une base annuelle. » – Baseball America

Les Twins ont eu un choix difficile avec le premier choix au repêchage de 2001. Mark Prior était le meilleur talent de consensus, mais il allait commander un gros bonus de signature. Mauer a grandi à 10 minutes des éclaireurs Metrodome et Twins l’avait vu jouer plus de 100 matchs en tant qu’amateur, mais il avait également été le joueur national de football du secondaire de l’année en 2000 et s’était engagé à jouer le quart-arrière à Florida State, alors il ce ne serait pas un signe facile non plus.

Qui a fait de notre équipe de baseball le meilleur de 2010 à 2019? David Schoenfield

• Doolittle & Miller: nos récompenses MLB de fin de décennie
• Kurkjian: 10 contes des années 2010
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Les jumeaux sont allés avec l’enfant local, affirmant qu’il était un choix légitime n ° 1. « Je sais qu’un certain nombre d’équipes pensaient qu’il pourrait être le meilleur gars du repêchage », a déclaré le directeur du dépistage des Twins, Mike Radcliff. Mauer a signé pour un bonus de 5,15 millions de dollars. Les Cubs ont signé avant un contrat de ligue majeure de 10,5 millions de dollars – qui a été le plus élevé jusqu’à l’accord de Strasbourg avec les Nationals huit ans plus tard.

Les jumeaux ont peut-être économisé de l’argent, mais ils se sont également retrouvés avec le bon joueur. Mauer ranked seventh on BA’s prospect list in 2002, fourth in 2003 and then first in 2004 and again in 2005 (he remained eligible since injuries limited him to just 35 games in the majors in 2004). That allowed the hype to build even more as he remained a prospect for an extra season. BA gave him 80-grade tools for his hit, arm and defense — with the belief he would eventually tap into more power.

That never happened other than the 28-homer season when he won the MVP award, but he won three batting titles, including in 2009, when he hit .365. He finished with a .306 career average and goes down as perhaps the greatest player in Twins history (only Rod Carew has more WAR, 63.8 to 55.3).


Oakland Athletics: Todd Van Poppel

Also considered: Reggie Jackson, Ben Grieve

Citation: « He’s one of the best high school pitchers I’ve ever seen and I’ve been scouting 30 years. He has a good curveball, he’s 6-foot-5, he throws hard — he just pitches. I scouted Nolan Ryan in high school and I never saw Nolan throw as hard as this kid. » — Cardinals scouting director Fred McAlister

Courtesy The Topps Company, Inc.

Van Poppel was a hard-throwing kid from Arlington, Texas — and thus the comparisons to fellow Texans Ryan and Roger Clemens were inevitable. He was the top talent in the 1990 draft but also firmly committed to the University of Texas, saying he wanted to go to school and pitch in the 1992 Olympics. The Braves passed on him with the top pick, settling instead for Chipper Jones (thank the baseball gods). Van Poppel fell to the A’s with the 14th pick and they signed him to a record $1.2 million major league contract that also put him on the fast track to the majors. He was Baseball America’s top prospect in 1991.

It didn’t work out. Van Poppel threw hard, but his fastball was straight. His control was wobbly — he had walked 90 in 132⅓ innings in Double-A in 1991 — but the A’s had to rush him to the majors because of the major league contract. It didn’t help that he came up in the heart of the offense-happy steroid era. In his rookie season in 1993, he walked 62 and struck out just 47 in 84 innings. In 1994, he led the AL in walks. In August 1996, still just 24 years old, the A’s waived him.


Miami Marlins: Josh Beckett

Also considered: Livan Hernandez, Jeremy Hermida, Giancarlo Stanton, Jose Fernandez

Citation: « I think I’m the best. That goes along with being arrogant out there. You’ve got to think you’re the best. I bet if you ask Roger Clemens if he thinks he’s the best he’d say yes. Randy Johnson would say the same thing. » — Josh Beckett as a high school senior

No high school right-hander has ever been selected first overall in the draft, but Beckett probably came closest, when the Marlins took him second overall in 1999, with the Rays deciding at the last juncture to take Josh Hamilton with the first pick. Many scouts called him the best high school pitcher they had ever seen — and like Van Poppel before him, he was compared to fellow Texans Ryan, Clemens and now Kerry Wood. Beckett signed a four-year, $7 million major league contract with the Marlins and declared that he wanted to be an All-Star in two years.

That didn’t quite happen, but perhaps only because a sore shoulder limited him in his first pro season in 2000. In 2001, he had one of the most dominant minor league seasons of the draft era, going 14-1 with 1.54 ERA across Class A and Double-A, with 203 strikeouts, 34 walks and just 82 hits in 140 innings. He debuted with the Marlins that September, posting a 1.50 ERA in four starts, and entered 2002 as the top prospect in baseball. In the fall of 2003, he pitched the Marlins to the World Series title with a five-hit shutout of the Yankees in the clinching Game 6.


Texas Rangers: David Clyde

Also considered: Bobby Witt, Juan Gonzalez, Mark Teixeira, Hank Blalock, Jurickson Profar

Citation: « At 18, he was as good as any kid I ever saw, including Nolan Ryan, Gary Gentry, Jon Matlack and Tug McGraw. He had a good fastball, a great curveball, a great delivery, poise and control. Boy, that kid had an arm on him in high school. Some of those kids went up to the plate shaking when he was pitching. » — Whitey Herzog, Rangers manager in 1973

In a sense, David Clyde never had a chance to be a prospect. The Rangers selected Clyde first overall in the 1973 draft, a hard-throwing lefty out of Houston’s Westchester High School, where he had gone 18-0 with a 0.18 ERA and 328 strikeouts in 148 innings as a senior. In five Texas 5-A playoff games, he threw five shutouts, including three no-hitters. Some scouts compared him to Sandy Koufax. Clyde wore No. 32, same as Koufax, his idol.

Nineteen days after completing his storied high school career, Wright was asked to make his pro debut in the majors with the Rangers. The team was in its second season in Arlington, and Rangers owner Bob Short saw Clyde as a financial windfall. The team had finished last in 1972, averaging just 8,840 fans per game. The Rangers were last again in 1973 and averaging even fewer fans per game when Clyde debuted on June 27. There were two bands on hand, Polynesian dancers, two lion cubs and a papier-mâché giraffe on wheels. It was the first sellout in Rangers history.

Clyde pitched five innings, allowed one hit (a two-run home run) and won the game. He fanned eight. He also walked seven and threw 112 pitches. When it was announced over the PA system in the top of the fifth inning that it would be Clyde’s final inning, the crowd gave him a minutes-long standing ovation when he emerged from the dugout.

You may know the rest of the story. Clyde struggled for a couple of seasons, finally went down to the minors in 1975, developing a drinking problem, went to Cleveland, got hurt. He won 18 games in the majors. What might have happened, we’ll never know. Before that first game, Herzog had told reporters: « I’ve got nothing to do with it, but if I was the director of player personnel here, as I was with the Mets, I tell you I’d be raising hell about this. A young pitcher in his first year should be out where he can dominate. “


Arizona Diamondbacks: Justin Upton

Also considered: Travis Lee

Citation: « He is a tremendously gifted player, both in terms of his athletic ability and his baseball ability. He has a maturity about him that is unbelievable for a player who is 17. » — Diamondbacks general manager Joe Garagiola Jr.

Three years after older brother B.J. Upton went second overall, the Diamondbacks selected Justin first overall in 2005 — the top pick in one of the most loaded drafts of all time (the first round included Alex Gordon, Ryan Zimmerman, Ryan Braun, Troy Tulowitzki, Cameron Maybin, Andrew McCutchen, Jay Bruce and Jacoby Ellsbury).

Scouts had eyed Upton since he was a 14-year-old freshman at Great Bridge High School in Chesapeake, Va. He showed up uninvited to the Area Code Games in California and impressed scouts with his tools and athletic ability. He starred on various U.S. national teams and was the easy No. 1 selection, still just 17 years old on draft day. He played 2006 in the Midwest League and then tore up High-A and Double-A in 2007, earning a promotion to the big leagues while still a teenager. He’s still hanging around, having made four All-Star team and sitting on 298 career home runs and 34.4 career WAR.


Los Angeles Dodgers: Corey Seager

Also considered: Bobby Valentine, Mike Marshall, Darren Dreifort, Paul Konerko, Adrian Beltre, Clayton Kershaw, Gavin Lux

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Citation: « Seager is the game’s best prospect, a superlative hitter who projects to do everything at the plate. [He] has electric hands at the plate and does everything very easily — his swing, hip rotation and power look effortless — but it’s his approach that makes him the best prospect in baseball. Seager’s pitch recognition is advanced way beyond his years, and you’ll see him make adjustments within at-bats that even veterans don’t make. … He has MVP upside even if he moves to third and would be even more valuable if he beats my expectations and hangs around at short. » — Keith Law, ESPN.com

I didn’t know exactly where to go with the Dodgers. I mean, if you go all the way back to the Brooklyn Dodgers, you have to go Jackie Robinson. Hard to top him. Sandy Koufax was a bonus baby who under the rules of the time had to go straight to the big leagues. Fernandomania didn’t really start until after Fernando Valenzuela started his dominant run out of the gate as a rookie in 1981.

So let’s default to Seager, the Dodgers’ only No. 1 overall prospect in the Baseball America era. Seager was a first-round pick in 2012, 18th overall, the younger brother of Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager — although taller and leaner than his older brother. Corey busted out in the minors in 2014, hitting .349 with 50 doubles and 20 home runs, and then hit .278 at Triple-A in 2015. What really got everyone excited, however, was his September call-up that year with the Dodgers: In 27 games, he hit .337/.425/.561 with four home runs and an impressive 14 walks against 19 strikeouts. That earned him top-prospect status heading into 2016.

Seager didn’t disappoint, winning Rookie of the Year honors and finishing third in the MVP voting. Tommy John surgery in 2018 created a bump along his path, and his return in 2019 was a little uneven, although he did lead the NL with 44 doubles. He’s also proved that he can remain at shortstop, despite the doubts related to his size that he could stick there. It will be interesting to see what happens moving forward, as his rookie season remains his best year, when he looked like he would become an annual MVP candidate and a player who could hit .300 with 30 home runs. His hard-hit rate is actually only middle of the pack and he’s become more fly-ball-happy, but that hasn’t translated into more home runs.


San Francisco Giants: Tim Lincecum

Also considered: Will Clark, Jesse Foppert, Buster Posey

Citation: « In my 13 years in the big leagues, this is the only guy I’ve seen who really is worth the hype. The first one. The real deal. And the reason I say that is not just the stuff. That’s obvious to everybody. But it’s the fact that he’s a great kid who is smart, who is willing to learn and who respects the game. I really mean that. He’s an easy kid to root for, and I don’t say that just because he’s my teammate. He’s going to be great for this game. » — Giants infielder Rich Aurilia

Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Teams didn’t know what to do with Lincecum in the 2006 draft. He was arguably the best pitcher in college baseball, striking out 199 in 125⅓ innings for the University of Washington, and he threw 98 mph with a knee-buckling curveball. He was also 5-foot-10, 165 pounds or so, with an unorthodox delivery. Some saw him as a reliever. Some saw a pitcher who would break down because of his size and mechanics.

While pre-draft reports suggested Lincecum could go first overall, the Royals instead selected Luke Hochevar. Six of the first seven players selected were pitchers. One was Clayton Kershaw, but Greg Reynolds? Brad Lincoln? Even the hometown Mariners bypassed Lincecum for Brandon Morrow. The Giants took him with the 10th pick.

He needed just 13 starts to reach the majors. In five starts in Triple-A in 2007, he allowed one run and 12 hits in 31 innings. His major league debut in May became must-watch TV. Who was this little guy with the huge fastball? Lincecum did eventually break down, but not before he won two Cy Young Awards, made four All-Star teams, won 110 games and helped the Giants win three World Series.


San Diego Padres: Fernando Tatis Jr.

Also considered: Mike Ivie, Dave Winfield, Kevin McReynolds, Andy Benes, Sandy Alomar Jr., Sean Burroughs

Citation: « Tatis looks like a younger Manny Machado, but he is stronger than Machado was at the same age, and there are similarities between their games across the board. Tatis has crazy strength for his age and has shown an advanced approach at the plate, leading the Midwest League in walks as an 18-year-old in 2017. » — Keith Law, ESPN.com

The Padres have had, shall we say, an interesting prospect history. Ivie was a power-hitting catcher, the first player selected in 1970, but he developed the yips and had to move to first base. Winfield went straight to the majors after he was drafted fourth overall in 1973. McReynolds, the first cover subject in Baseball America history (when he was at Arkansas), hit .377/.424/.735 at Triple-A Las Vegas in 1983. Benes was the first pick in 1988 and a very big deal. Alomar was traded to the Indians. Burroughs ranked as high as fourth on BA’s annual top 100 but never developed any power.

I’ll go with Tatis. While every other outlet had Vladimir Guerrero Jr. as the top prospect entering 2019, Keith had Tatis as his top player, with the obvious positional advantage and athleticism edge over Guerrero. He played so well in spring training that the Padres skipped him past Triple-A and onto the Opening Day roster, and he responded with a remarkable rookie season, hitting .317/.379/.590 in 84 games before his season ended early with a back injury. He also missed time during his Double-A season, so health appears to be the only thing preventing him from becoming a franchise cornerstone.


Milwaukee Brewers: Gary Sheffield

Also considered: Robin Yount, Ben Sheets

Citation: « Gary Sheffield has a chance to become a major league superstar. He can be the most exciting offensive player in the history of the organization. » — Dan Duquette, Brewers coordinator of scouting

Beyond the left-field fence of Kindrick Legion Field in Helena, Montana, there used to be a house with a giant bull’s-eye target painted on the roof. Or, I should say, there used to be a bull’s-eye. I think the house is still there, but the bull’s-eye is not. A new roof or something. Somebody had painted the bull’s-eye to commemorate the landing spot of a long home run Sheffield had hit back in the summer of 1986.

Courtesy The Topps Company, Inc.

Sheffield, 17, hit .364/.413/.640 with 15 home runs and 71 RBIs in 57 games for the Helena Gold Sox that summer. He struck out just 14 times. He had been the sixth pick in the draft, the nephew of Dwight Gooden, then perhaps the biggest name in the sport. The bat speed was incredible, the sky the limit. During the winter of 1986, Gooden, Sheffield and a couple of friends were arrested after a fight with Tampa police officers.

With that in mind, Duquette also alluded to something else in that story from February 1987: « Now we have to get him to develop the habits of a professional athlete. “

That didn’t happen in Milwaukee. Sheffield reached the majors in 1988, still just 19 years old. His fielding at shortstop was shaky. Sent back down to the minors in 1989 because of « indifferent fielding, » Sheffield said he had an injured foot; the Brewers didn’t believe him. Back in the minors, it was revealed that Sheffield did indeed have a fractured foot. He had lost all trust in his organization. Called back up, he moved to third base for Bill Spiers and claimed the decision was racially motivated. He later claimed he made errors on purpose in his frustration, although he later retracted that statement.

In the end, he did become a superstar, finishing with 509 home runs, more than 1,600 RBIs, a .292 career average, more walks than strikeouts and nine All-Star appearances. Mentioned in the Mitchell report, however, he still waits for a spot in Cooperstown.

TIER 4: YOU NEVER KNOW

Houston Astros: Carlos Correa

Also considered: J.R. Richard, Floyd Bannister, Eric Anthony

Citation: « Always younger and more advanced than his competition, Correa has baseball instincts and abilities that come naturally. His tremendous athletic ability results in smooth, seemingly effortless movements. His desire and passion are evident in his no-nonsense demeanor. His current strength and power are merely hints at what we may expect in the future. » — MLB.com scouting report on Correa as a minor leaguer

J.R. Richard fanned 15 batters in his major league debut in 1971, Bannister was the first pick in 1976 out of Arizona State and Anthony was Baseball America’s No. 8 prospect in 1990 after bashing 31 home runs in the minors in 1989, but I give the nod to Correa, another No. 1 overall pick, in 2012.

Sure, the baseball season is in limbo, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have Power Rankings. How does your team stack up? Power Rankings

Unlike many other first picks, Correa wasn’t the slam-dunk top choice. He wasn’t sold as the next Alex Rodriguez or Derek Jeter. He was actually a compromise pick of sorts. Heading into the draft, the Astros were expected to take Mark Appel or Byron Buxton. Instead, the Astros went with Correa — making him the first No. 1 overall pick from Puerto Rico — and signed him to a below-slot deal of $4.8 million (less than the $6 million Buxton received as the second pick), which allowed them to also draft and sign Lance McCullers Jr.

Correa quickly proved he merited the choice, hitting .320 in the minors in 2013 and .325 in 2014. He was the No. 4 prospect entering 2015, tore through Double-A and Triple-A early in 2015 and reached the majors, hitting 22 home runs in 99 games to win Rookie of the Year honors.


Cincinnati Reds: Billy Hamilton

Also considered: Jay Bruce, Aroldis Chapman

Citation: « Last year was Hamilton’s explosion, the season during which his status became ubiquitous and his speed became folklore. In 132 minor-league games, Hamilton stole an insane 155 bases, creating must-see moments in every game and pushing himself into the top tier of prospects in the minors. » — Baseball Prospectus

Bruce was Baseball America’s top prospect in 2008 and drew comparisons to Larry Walker, Jim Edmonds and Ken Griffey Jr. Chapman’s fastball was already legendary when the Reds called him up. Hamilton had obvious holes in his game, but few minor leaguers in recent years have received as much attention as Hamilton. Could somebody really steal 155 bases? Exactly how fast was this kid? He wasn’t the best prospect in the minors — he peaked at No. 20 in 2013 and MLB.com had him No. 11 that year — but he was absolutely the most fascinating.

Hamilton had followed his 155-steal season in 2012 with 75 steals in Triple-A and 13 more in 14 attempts in a September cameo with the Reds. When was the last time you tuned in to watch a pinch-running specialist? You could dream on Hamilton becoming the majors’ first 100-steal player since Vince Coleman in 1987 — if the bat came around. It did not. He has posted an OBP over .300 just once in his career, limiting his opportunities for thievery, and while he had four 50-steal seasons, he’s never led the league. His defense and speed made him a good player for a few seasons, but now he’s fighting to remain in the majors.


Pittsburgh Pirates: Kris Benson

Also considered: Paul Pettit, Bob Bailey, Barry Bonds, Jeff King, Gerrit Cole

Citation: « Kris hits his spots so well, you could catch him with a Styrofoam cup. » — James Beavers, Benson’s summer league coach in high school

No obvious top guy here for the Pirates. Pettit was baseball’s first $100,000 bonus baby when the Pirates signed him in 1950 (he got hurt and won just one game in the majors). Bonds was a heralded prospect coming out of Arizona State and reached the majors in less than a year. King and Cole were No. 1 overall picks, although Cole had hardly dominated in his junior season at UCLA with a 6-8 record and a 3.31 ERA.

Benson was also the No. 1 overall pick coming out of Clemson, and he did look like an absolute lock to become a star. He had Strasburg- and Prior-like stats, going 14-2 with a 2.02 ERA with 204 strikeouts and just 27 walks in 156 innings. He threw 93-96 mph and touched 98 with plus command. The Pirates zeroed in on him early as the top player in the draft. He was Baseball America’s No. 7 prospect in both 1997 and 1998, although he slid all the way down to 59 in 1999 after a rough go in Triple-A.

He had more success in the majors, posting 2.4 WAR as a rookie in 1999 and then 5.1 as a sophomore in 2000. Then came Tommy John surgery. He missed all of 2001, and when he returned he threw 90 instead of 95. He was traded to the Mets (Jose Bautista was in that deal) and then to the Orioles and got injured again. He finished 70-75 in his career.


Philadelphia Phillies: Domonic Brown

Also considered: Juan Samuel, Pat Burrell

Citation: « He has five-tool ability, with his bat getting the most attention. Brown creates incredible bat speed with his whip-like, uppercut swing and has eliminated previous questions about his power. » — Baseball America scouting report

The Phillies didn’t have an obvious guy either, so I asked Phillies fan Eric Karabell and he suggested Brown. Brown reached peak prospect hype after a breakout season in the minors in 2010, when he hit .327/.391/.589 across Double-A and Triple-A and was the consensus No. 4 prospect entering 2011.

I remember watching Brown early in his big league career and the first thing that stood out was that he was a terrible outfielder. Even though scouts described him as a five-tool player, his routes and instincts in the outfield were bad and awkward. Maybe I just saw a few bad plays, but he looked so clumsy out there that it seemed clear to me that while he had athletic tools, he lacked the natural base instincts that great players possess.

There may have been a couple of other issues. For some reason, the Phillies messed with his swing in spring training in 2011, having him lower his hands (he later abandoned that idea). He also had several hand injuries along the way. He had the monster first half in 2013, when he hit 23 home runs and made the All-Star team, but his last season in the majors came just two years later.


Cleveland Indians: Sandy Alomar Jr.

Also considered: Bob Feller, Von Hayes, Mark Lewis, Manny Ramirez, Francisco Lindor

Citation: « A sure thing? No way, not in baseball. But if Sandy Alomar Jr. isn’t a superstar waiting for the big bang to happen, it will be the most disappointing event in Cleveland Indians’ history since Joe Charboneau dyed his hair orange and pink. » — Sheldon Ocker, Akron Beacon Journal

Alomar is surprisingly the only Cleveland player to make the top five of Baseball America’s top-100 lists. Ramirez was certainly highly regarded but topped out at No. 7. Lindor climbed no higher than No. 9, as nobody foresaw the kind of power he would develop. You can certainly make a case for either of them or, going way back, for Feller.

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A quick word on Feller. The Indians brought him to the majors in 1936 at age 17 right off the Iowa farm, without any professional experience, and he soon made headlines when he struck out eight Cardinals over three innings in an exhibition game. After a few relief appearances, he struck out 15 in his first start, falling one short of Rube Waddell’s then-American League record of 16. That earned him headlines in every paper across the country, and a few starts later he fanned 17 to set the new mark. That made him one of the most famous players in the country — and he hadn’t even graduated from high school yet. In fact, when he finished up high school that winter, NBC Radio covered his graduation.

Anyway, back to Alomar. He had been The Sporting News’ minor league player of the year in both 1988 and 1989 and Baseball America’s minor league player of the year in 1989. Blocked in San Diego by Benito Santiago, however, the Padres traded Alomar (and Carlos Baerga) for Joe Carter. I never quite understood the Alomar hype. He had hit .306 with 13 home runs for Las Vegas in 1989 and was certainly already an excellent defender. Still, he wasn’t your typical flashy prospect with huge upside. But fans loved him (or bought into the hype). He was voted to start the All-Star Game as a rookie (he would go on to win Rookie of the Year), again in 1991 (even though he had four RBIs at the break) and again in 1992 (even though he was hitting .241 with two home runs). He would go on to have a long major league career, although he played 100 games just four times due to a string of injuries early on.


Chicago White Sox: Joe Borchard

Also considered: Robin Ventura, Frank Thomas, Alex Fernandez, Yoan Moncada, Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert

Citation: Borchard has « the best power from a college player since Mark McGwire. » — White Sox scouting director Duane Shaffer

I wasn’t sure where to go with the White Sox. It’s easy to default to Thomas, but my recollection is that the hype for him didn’t really kick into high gear until he was called up and hit .330 in 60 games as a rookie in 1990. Maybe it’s one of the recent guys, as you could easily make the case for Yoan Moncada, Eloy Jimenez or Luis Robert. I asked longtime White Sox fan Jonathan Hood, host of ESPN1000 in Chicago, and he suggested Borchard.

Borchard was a Stanford outfielder the White Sox selected 12th overall in 2000. Borchard was also the Stanford quarterback, with a chance to be a first-round pick in the 2001 NFL draft. The White Sox gave him a record $5.3 million to secure his full-time commitment to baseball. By comparison, Adrian Gonzalez, the first pick in the draft, received a $3 million bonus. Sandy Alderson, MLB’s VP of operations, was critical of the signing. « In my judgment, it isn’t a good signing, » he said. « It’s unfortunate when clubs that are usually at the forefront of industry criticism end up adopting the same practices themselves. “

Borchard hit .295 with 27 home runs at Double-A in 2001 and then .272 with 20 home runs at Triple-A in 2002, so the power was there. So were the strikeouts. He struck out 158 times in 2001 and 139 times in 2002. His only chance at regular playing time for the White Sox was after a midseason call-up in 2004, when he played the final three months. He hit .174. He was back in the minors in 2005 and traded to Seattle in 2006. His major league career would consist of just 800 plate appearances.


Detroit Tigers: Matt Anderson

Also considered: Al Kaline, Kirk Gibson, Justin Verlander, Cameron Maybin, Andrew Miller, Casey Mize

Citation: « We felt Matt had the best arm in the draft. He has a terrific arm and terrific makeup. » — Tigers general manager Randy Smith

The Tigers are the only team without a single player ranked in Baseball America’s top five overall prospects since those lists debuted in 1990. Maybin reached No. 6 in 2007 and Miller No. 10 the same year (both were later traded for Miguel Cabrera). Gibson was an All-American wide receiver at Michigan State when the Tigers drafted him in the first round and a ballyhooed prospect. Verlander, despite a 1.29 ERA in the minors in 2005, was just the No. 8 prospect in 2006.

Anderson was ranked 24th on the list in his one year of eligibility, but he was the first overall pick in 1997, a right-hander from Rice who clocked triple digits on the radar gun. The twist: He was a relief pitcher. Yes, an odd choice for the first pick, made in part because the Tigers perceived that Anderson would be easier to sign.

He actually didn’t sign until December but reached the majors quickly. He struggled with his control, however, walking 111 in 156⅓ innings in his first three seasons. A White Sox scouting report from his draft year helps explain his control problems: « Max effort delivery. Little bit of a long armer in back. Flies with frontside and spins off with lower half. Location of pitches will be a problem with this delivery. Needs to have a second or third pitch. Even with his arm strength the hitters take their cuts. » Anderson did have a bit of a breakthrough in 2001, when he saved 22 games in 24 opportunities (although with a 4.82 ERA). That got him a three-year, $9.3 million contract from Detroit, but he hurt his arm in 2002 and pitched just 44 more innings in the majors.


Colorado Rockies: Ian Stewart

Also considered: Todd Helton, Troy Tulowitzki, Dexter Fowler

Citation: « Farm director Bill Geivett wanted Stewart to finish 2004 where he began, just as Vladimir Guerrero spent all of 1995 in the SAL when Geivett was the farm director with the Expos. Geivett likens Stewart’s hitting ability to that of Guerrero, who finished his next season in the majors. » — Baseball America

Stewart is the only Rockies prospect to crack the overall top five of Baseball America’s top-100 lists, when he was ranked fourth heading into 2005. Helton was 11th in 1998 and Tulowitzki 15th in 2007. Arenado, for the curious, peaked at No. 42 in 2012 (although was higher on other lists). The Rockies had drafted Stewart 10th overall in 2003 and he had a big season at Low-A Asheville in 2004, hitting .319/.398/.594 with 30 home runs and vaulting into top-prospect status.

Stewart never hit as well in the upper levels of the minors — Asheville’s hitter-friendly environment certainly helped boost his numbers, although he did slug .568 on the road one season — and he would end up appearing on five Baseball America top-100 lists before the Rockies finally gave him a regular job in 2009. Actually, he still platooned that season and never batted 500 times in a major league season, finishing with a .229 career average.

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