Part 4 of the 2003 BA Almanac Series takes a look at their 2002 Top 100 Prospects list. The list in the book is just that: A list, with each player listed, and the highest level that they reached in the 2002 season. It’s actually really interesting to me to look at it, as it can give further perspective on the level of risk involved with any prospect.
My Thoughts on the List
Out of the top 100, 32 were what I would consider to be solid Major Leaguers. These are, in my mind’s eye, players who started in the Major Leagues, and would have for a lot of teams had they been with them instead. The interesting thing to note is how many of them did this with teams they were not listed with. These include:
Looking at the top 5, all 5 of them had at least some large amount of playing time in the Majors, but they’ve all had some interesting paths in their careers:
1. Josh Beckett (FLA) – Beckett helped pitch the Marlins to a World Series victory in 2003, and provided solid seasons for the team through 2005 before being traded to the Red Sox in part to acquire future face-of-the-franchise Hanley Ramirez.
2. Mark Prior (CHC) – Prior burst onto the scene in 2002 with 147 strikeouts in only 116 innings pitched, and went even further in 2003 with an 18-6 record and 243 strikeouts in 211 innings pitched to help lead the Cubs to the NLCS. Sadly, the pitcher who supposedly had “the perfect mechanics” apparently still could get injured. Baseball Reference kind of puts the perfect line to it unfortunately, as it says that his last game was on August 10, 2006. He is still trying to comeback, but at this point it remains to be seen if he will ever be able to get on a team again.
3. Hank Blalock (TEX) – Blalock was an All-Star in his second and third seasons with the Rangers, and hit 25 or more homeruns in 3 straight seasons during that time. Unfortunately for him, injuries also derailed his career to some extent, as he has missed time in each of the last 4 seasons. He did rebound nicely in 2009 with 25 homeruns in only 123 games, but hit just .234 in that time. He was recently released by the Rays, and is still looking for a job.
4. Sean Burroughs (SD) – Burroughs was best known for playing in the Little League World Series coming into his Major League career, and unfortunately that accomplishment could still be his crowning baseball achievement. He did hit for a nice average a couple of times, but never really developed the power that it was thought he would. He was out of baseball by 2007.
5. Carlos Pena (OAK) – Pena was traded during the 2002 season by the Athletics after getting off to a slow start. He was with Detroit for a couple of seasons, who (along with the Boston Red Sox) both chose to release Pena at one point or another. These moves have been Tampa’s gain, as he went to Tampa and immediately became an MVP candidate (2 top 10 finishes in a row), and has hit 30 homeruns or more in each of the 3 full seasons there.
It is interesting to me to see how some of them were such colossal misses. With prospects, it’s bound to happen, and there are some pretty stunning examples of players who just never lived up to the hype:
- 9 – Drew Henson (NYY)
- 14 – Ryan Anderson (SEA)
- 16 – Nick Neugebauer (MIL)
- 25 – Ty Howington (CIN)
- 32 – Corwin Malone (CHW)
I have to be honest with you, I’ve never heard of either Howington or Malone. Looking at their profiles on Baseball Reference can help to explain that a bit – they never played a day in the Major Leagues.