One of the things that Baseball America does every year as a part of their Almanac is release a pair of minor league All-Stars, regardless of level. I thought it was interesting to see who some of the top players from the 2002 minor league season were, and which ones have established themselves as regulars in the Major leagues. I am only looking at the 1st Team members from 2002.
Major League All-Stars
C Victor Martinez – Martinez has clearly become one of the top hitting catchers in the Major Leagues, with his most recent All-Star appearance this season. In 2002, he hit .336 with 22 homeruns and 85 runs batted in for the Indians’ AA team in the Eastern League.
3B Mark Teixeira – It’s hard to remember sometimes that Teixeira was actually a 3B while in college and in the minors. Teixeira split the 2002 season between the Florida State League and the Texas League, but hit .318 with 19 HR in only 321 plate appearances between the two levels.
SS Jose Reyes – Reyes was only 19 years old in 2002, but still stole 58 bases and scored 104 runs in his time between the Florida State League and the Eastern League. He would be in the Majors the following season, and has been the catalyst in the Mets’ lineup ever since.
Major League Regulars
1B Lyle Overbay – While Overbay has not necessarily had an amazing career, he has remained a solid first baseman wherever he has played. In 2002, he drove in 109 runs and hit .343 for Tucson in the PCL. He is currently with the Blue Jays, although it remains to be seen if he will be traded before the July 31st deadline.
2B Scott Hairston – Hairston has only just recently started receiving regular playing time, as a member of the Padres. In 2002, he hit .345 with 22 HR, 98 RBI, and 10 SB.
OF Rocco Baldelli – Baldelli was BA’s minor league player of the year for 2002, as he vaulted through 3 levels of the minors from High-A all the way to the International League in AAA. Sadly, his career has been derailed by mitochondrial myopathy, a rare disease which there is no cure for. From Baldelli himself:
“Literally my muscles fatigue to the point where they’re burning, then severe burning, then they cramp up. They can seize up just after what I would call minimal exercise.
He currently works in the Rays’ front office, and it sounds like he hopes one day to play again.
DH Brad Hawpe – Hawpe has been out in the Rockies’ outfield for the majority of the last 7 seasons, hitting 22 or more homers in each of his last 4 seasons. He has made 1 All-Star Appearance as well, but is currently in a bit of a platoon for the Rockies. In 2002 he hit 22 HR and 97 RBI to go with his .347 batting average in the Carolina League.
Cups of Coffee
OF Robb Quinlan – Quinlan has been up and down between the Angels and AAA Salt Lake City every year since 2003, but has never been able to establish himself as an everyday player for the team. The most games he has appeared in with the team is 86, which he did in 2006.
OF Michael Restovich – Restovich never really caught on with any of the 4 teams he played for in his 6 year Major League career, never playing in more than 66 games in any one season. I think he was probably a bit of a casualty of not getting a chance, as he had Torii Hunter, Jacque Jones, and Shannon Stewart all playing in the OF for the Twins in that 2003 season.
SP Sean Burnett – Burnett did not make his debut with the Pirates until the 2004 season, and then proceeded to run into all sorts of arm problems. He missed all of the 2005 season, and parts of the 2006 through 2008 seasons as well. He is now with the Nationals working out of their bullpen. It is interesting to note that Burnett is only 27 years old in 2010, and went 13-4 with a 1.80 ERA in the Carolina League in 2002 as a 19 year old.
SP Joe Roa – Roa is a bit of an unusual case, as he had been in the majors for parts of 3 different seasons when he went 14-0 for the Phillies’ AAA affiliate. He did end up being called up during the 2002 season, making 11 starts and having reasonable success. 2002 unfortunately was pretty easily his best season in his career, and was out of baseball after the 2005 season.
SP Kirk Saarloos – Saarloos went 12-1 with a 1.54 ERA between the Astros’ AA and AAA affiliates in 2002, and even made 17 starts for the Astros in 2002. His best season in his career probably came in 2005 when he went 10-9 with a 4.17 ERA for the Athletics. He last appeared in the Majors in 2008, and spent the 2009 season with the Indians’ AAA team.
SP Billy Traber – Traber went 17-5 with a 2.94 ERA between AA and AAA for the Indians in 2002, and made his major league debut with the club in 2003. He missed all of the 2004 season due to injuries, and pitched parts of the 2006-2009 seasons in the Majors with 3 clubs. He is currently pitching for the AAA affiliate of the Seattle Mariners.
RP Joe Valentine – I remember Valentine being included in the trade that acquired Jose Guillen for the Athletics in 2003. The Athletics had acquired him as a part of the Keith Foulke trade after the 2002 season where Valentine had saved 36 games for the White Sox AA affiliate. Valentine appeared in games in 2003, 2004 and 2005 for the Reds, and has been pitching in either independent ball or the Mexican League since 2007.
Overall, this group of prospects is kind of what you would expect: a mixed bag. You have some clearly top tier players in Martinez, Teixeira and Reyes. But you also have quite a few players who had a very minimal impact in their time at the Majors.