Matthew Pouliot

Strike Zone

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2003 Prospects Review

Monday, January 28, 2008


Below is a review of the preseason Top 150 Prospects column from 2003. I've left the players listed with their ages (as of Opening Day 2003), ETAs and 2002 stats from that column and added in where each player was listed on Baseball America's top 100 and Baseball Prospectus' top 40. This is back from an era when I used to post my prospects list before most of the others came out (the Top 150 was published on Jan. 6), but there are still plenty of similarities. I've also added brief writeups for the top 100.

I'll begin the 2008 team top 10s next week, with the new Top 150 scheduled for early March.


2003 Top 150 Prospects

1. Mark Teixeira - 3B Rangers - Age 22 - ETA: May 2003
Previous rankings: 2002 #10, mid-2002 #3

BA: #1, BP: #1

.320/.411/.593, 9 HR, 41 RBI, 24/21 K/BB, 2 SB in 150 AB for Single-A Charlotte
.316/.415/.591, 10 HR, 28 RBI, 36/25 K/BB, 3 SB in 171 AB for Double-A Tulsa
.333/.437/.616, 7 HR, 23 RBI, 24/17 K/BB, 1 SB in 99 AB for Peoria (AFL)

2003 quote: It's only a bit of an exaggeration to say that he's Mike Schmidt to Blalock's George Brett.

Interestingly, BA and Prospectus also had him ranked 10th in 2002. Teixeira was essentially the consensus No. 1 prospect after his first pro season, though one of the four Baseball America writers to list his picks (Josh Boyd) went with Rocco Baldelli over him.


2. Jose Reyes - SS Mets - Age 19 - ETA: July 2003
Previous rankings: mid-2002 #2

BA: #3, BP: #3

.288/.353/.462, 6 HR, 38 RBI, 35/30 K/BB, 31 SB in 288 AB for Single-A St. Lucie
.287/.331/.425, 2 HR, 24 RBI, 42/16 K/BB, 27 SB in 275 AB for Double-A Binghamton

2003 quote: Reyes could be the best shortstop in the National League by 2006.

My biggest oversight in 2002, as Baseball America was smart enough to rank him 34th after he hit .307/.337/.472 in low-A ball.


3. Joe Mauer - C Twins - Age 19 - ETA: 2005
Previous rankings: 2002 #17, mid-2002 #7

BA: #4, BP: #9

.302/.393/.392, 4 HR, 62 RBI, 42/61 K/BB, 0 SB in 411 AB for Single-A Quad City

2003 quote: By 2007, it's very possible he'll be the premier catcher in baseball.

Mauer ended up slugging just .426 -- .094 isolated -- in 1,055 at-bats as a minor leaguer. He hasn't quite met expectations in the power department yet in the majors, but he is at .459 and .146 isolated.


4. Brandon Phillips - 2B/SS Indians - Age 21 - ETA: Now
Previous rankings: 2002 #26, mid-2002 #4

BA: #7, BP: #6

.327/.380/.506, 9 HR, 35 RBI, 33/16 K/BB, 6 SB in 245 AB for Double-A Harrisburg
.257/.297/.457, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 6/2 K/BB, 0 SB in 35 AB for Triple-A Ottawa
.283/.321/.453, 8 HR, 27 RBI, 39/14 K/BB, 8 SB in 223 AB for Triple-A Buffalo
.258/.343/.419, 0 HR, 4 RBI, 6/3 K/BB, 0 SB in 31 AB for Cleveland

2003 quote: He'll hit .290-.300 with 20 homers per year once he reaches his prime.

It's been a bumpy road, but Phillips may yet justify this ranking. I still think it's a shame that he's spent his career as a second baseman when he's always had the range for short.


5. Hee Seop Choi - 1B Cubs - Age 24 - ETA: Now
Previous rankings: 2001 #12, mid-2001 #15, 2002 #20, mid-2002 #9

BA: #22, BP: #7

.287/.406/.513, 26 HR, 97 RBI, 119/95 K/BB, 3 SB in 478 AB for Triple-A Iowa
.180/.281/.320, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 15/7 K/BB, 0 SB in 50 AB for Chicago (NL)
.345/.456/.714, 8 HR, 17 RBI, 24/17 K/BB, 0 SB in 84 AB for Mesa (AFL)

2003 quote: The South Korean slugger should contend for Rookie of the Year honors…

Sure, the numbers guys always liked him more, but the scouty types thought he'd make it, too. Choi is playing in Korea now and probably won't be seen in the States again outside of the World Baseball Classic.


6. Joe Borchard - OF White Sox - Age 24 - ETA: June 2003
Previous rankings: mid-2001 #9, 2002 #9, mid-2002 #5

BA: #28, BP: #22

.000/.667/.000, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0/6 K/BB, 0 SB in 3 AB for Single-A Winston-Salem
.272/.349/.498, 20 HR, 59 RBI, 139/49 K/BB, 2 SB in 438 AB for Triple-A Charlotte
.222/.243/.389, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 14/1 K/BB, 0 SB in 36 AB for Chicago (AL)

2003 quote: … a potential 35-homer outfielder in the majors.

BA had him 12th in 2002, but downgraded him a bit, probably because of the lofty strikeout total. I should have done the same, but switch-hitters with his kind of power don't come around very often. Borchard hit just .196/.287/.313 in 179 at-bats for the Marlins last season and will be a long shot to make the Braves out of spring training.


7. Michael Cuddyer - OF Twins - Age 24 - ETA: Now
Previous rankings: mid-2001 #42, 2002 #38, mid-2002 #6

BA: #17, BP: #15

.309/.379/.594, 20 HR, 53 RBI, 79/36 K/BB, 12 SB in 330 AB for Triple-A Edmonton
.259/.311/.429, 4 HR, 13 RBI, 30/8 K/BB, 2 SB in 112 AB for Minnesota

2003 quote: Fantasy owners should look at him as the new Tim Salmon.

Cuddyer has turned into a nice player, but BA and BP gave him more appropriate rankings. I thought he'd be a better OBP guy after seasons of 76 and 75 walks at lower levels.


8. Rocco Baldelli - OF Devil Rays - Age 21 - ETA: Now
Previous rankings: mid-2002 #36

BA: #2, BP: #28

.333/.382/.535, 14 HR, 51 RBI, 63/18 K/BB, 21 SB in 312 AB for Single-A Bakersfield
.371/.413/.529, 2 HR, 13 RBI, 11/5 K/BB, 3 SB in 70 AB for Double-A Orlando
.292/.292/.469, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 23/0 K/BB, 2 SB in 96 AB for Triple-A Durham
.308/.352/.376, 1 HR, 18 RBI, 23/6 K/BB, 8 SB in 133 AB for Grand Canyon (AFL)

2003 quote: The Rhode Island native is right where Corey Patterson was two years ago, and Patterson still hasn't learned how to hit major league pitching.

BA looked at the athleticism and ranked him accordingly. BP looked at the 97/23 K/BB ratio. I was firmly in the middle in this case. I don't think it's necessarily fair to say that BP was right. They weren't downgrading him because of his durability issues, and it's anyone's guess what kind of player he'd be right now if he had stayed healthy.


9. Wilson Betemit - SS Braves - Age 21 - ETA: August 2003
Previous rankings: 2001 #42, mid-2001 #38, 2002 #6, mid-2002 #11

BA: #49, BP: #31

.364/.417/.474, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 2/3 K/BB, 0 SB in 11 AB for Rookie GCL Braves
.245/.312/.370, 8 HR, 34 RBI, 82/34 K/BB, 8 SB in 343 AB for Triple-A Richmond

2003 quote: Betemit's Triple-A numbers weren't pretty, but he was playing in the International League as a 20-year-old and he did raise his average from .198 to .245 by batting .292 after the All-Star break.

BA had him eighth and BP ranked him fifth in 2002. Both knocked him well down after his poor first season in Triple-A, but I looked at his strong second half and the fact that he was one the youngest players at the level and kept him in the top 10. It looks like he belonged more where BP ranked him, but he can play. He has a career .260/.332/.439 line, and he was a little better than that last season.


10. Francisco Rodriguez - RHP Angels - Age 21 - ETA: Now
Previous rankings: mid-2002 #65

BA: #10, BP: #21

3-3, 9 Sv, 1.96 ERA, 32 H, 61/15 K/BB in 41 1/3 IP for Double-A Arkansas
2-3, 6 Sv, 2.57 ERA, 30 H, 59/13 K/BB in 42 IP for Triple-A Salt Lake
0-0, 0 Sv, 0.00 ERA, 3 H, 13/2 K/BB in 5 2/3 IP for Anaheim

2003 quote: I hope that we'll someday see Rodriguez starting games for Anaheim, but spending the next two years as a multi-inning reliever would probably be for good for Francisco and his amazing right arm.

Even as good as he looked in the 2002 postseason, no one would rank a reliever any higher than 10th.


11. Jerome Williams - RHP Giants - Age 21 - ETA: June 2003
Previous rankings: 2001 #44, mid-2001 #31, 2002 #23

BA: #50, BP: #8

6-11, 3.59 ERA, 140 H, 130/50 K/BB in 160 2/3 IP for Triple-A Fresno
0-0, 2.05 ERA, 10 H, 25/7 K/BB in 22 IP for Grand Canyon (AFL)

2003 quote: Williams has always had a great deal of success in the minors despite being one of the youngest players at his level.

A lot of the prospect arguments in 2003 centered on whether Williams or Jesse Foppert was the better prospect. The statheads gave Williams the edge based on youth. Baseball America, though, actually downgraded him from 19th in 2002 to 50th. His velocity had dropped a bit, and he never did show the same kind of stuff in the majors that he did in the low minors. It seems doubtful that he'll have any further success.


12. Jesse Foppert - RHP Giants - Age 22 - ETA: April 2004
Previous rankings: mid-2002 #23

BA: #5, BP: #13

3-3, 2.79 ERA, 44 H, 74/21 K/BB in 61 1/3 IP for Double-A Shreveport
3-6, 3.99 ERA, 71 H, 109/35 K/BB in 79 IP for Triple-A Fresno

2003 quote: Foppert … has even more upside than Williams. The right-hander throws in the mid-90s and has a hard slider.

Baseball America and John Sickels rated Foppert as the game's top pitching prospect. They were both right that he was better than Williams, for all the good it did them. Foppert never truly made it back from Tommy John surgery in 2003 and probably never will.


13. Adam Wainwright - RHP Braves - Age 22 - ETA: July 2004
Previous rankings: 2002 #51, mid-2002 #13

BA: #18, BP: HM

9-6, 3.31 ERA, 149 H, 167/66 K/BB in 163 1/3 IP for Single-A Myrtle Beach

2003 quote: …good enough to make him a No. 2 starter in the majors once he tightens up his control. Expect great things after he reaches Atlanta.

Wainwright went to the Cardinals for J.D. Drew, became a postseason hero as a closer in 2006 and now seems to be settling in as a No. 3 starter, though he'll probably go on Opening Day for St. Louis.



14. Victor Martinez - C Indians - Age 24 - ETA: July 2003
Previous rankings: mid-2002 #89

BA: #16, BP: #4

.336/.417/.576, 22 HR, 85 RBI, 62/58 K/BB, 3 SB in 443 AB for Double-A Akron

2003 quote: Martinez will be an outstanding fantasy catcher, perhaps the best in the league someday.

The debate about whether Martinez would survive as a catcher played a definite role in this ranking. He should have been in the top 10 anyway.



15. Rich Harden - RHP Athletics - Age 21 - ETA: August 2003
Previous rankings: mid-2002 #19

BA: #29, BP: #12

4-3, 2.91 ERA, 49 H, 85/24 K/BB in 68 IP for Single-A Visalia
8-3, 2.95 ERA, 67 H, 102/52 K/BB in 85 1/3 IP for Double-A Midland

2003 quote: Signed in 2001 as a draft-and-follow, Harden has quickly pushed himself into the upper echelon of pitching prospects.

Harden topped the Midseason Top 150 before reaching the majors for the first time in the second half.


16. Josh Hamilton - OF Devil Rays - Age 21 - ETA: 2005
Previous rankings: 2001 #2, mid-2001 #5, 2002 #16, mid-2002 #8

BA: #33, BP: NR

.303/.359/.507, 9 HR, 44 RBI, 46/20 K/BB, 10 SB in 211 AB for Single-A Bakersfield

2003 quote: Hamilton is as talented as anyone in the minors, but there is reason to be concerned that he will never reach his full potential.

Even before the substance abuse problems, injuries were taking a toll on Hamilton's stock. They still are now. There's no way the Reds would have given up for Edinson Volquez if they thought he'd be good for 140 games per year.


17. Gavin Floyd - RHP Phillies - Age 20 - ETA: 2005
Previous rankings: 2002 #94, mid-2002 #26

BA: #9, BP: HM

11-10, 2.77 ERA, 119 H, 140/64 K/BB in 166 IP for Single-A Lakewood

2003 quote: If he stays healthy, he could be the top pitching prospect in baseball at this time next year.

Floyd's stuff isn't what it was five years ago, and consistency with his still fine curveball has never come. There were some positive signs late last year, but he's now a fifth starter at best.


18. Dewon Brazelton - RHP Devil Rays - Age 22 - ETA: Now
Previous rankings: 2002 #32, mid-2002 #15

BA: #74, BP: NR

5-9, 3.33 ERA, 129 H, 109/67 K/BB in 146 IP for Double-A Orlando
1-0, 0.00 ERA, 5 H, 6/1 K/BB in 5 IP for Triple-A Durham
0-1, 4.85 ERA, 12 H, 5/6 K/BB in 13 IP for Tampa Bay

2003 quote: His curveball will be the deciding factor on whether he becomes a top-notch starter or not.

Brazelton was the third overall pick in the 2001 draft and had just turned in a solid first pro season, so I ranked him accordingly. The truth is that he never should have been drafted that high, and I should have recognized it.


19. Jason Stokes - 1B Marlins - Age 21 - ETA: 2005
Previous rankings: mid-2002 #27

BA: #15, BP: #11

.341/.421/.645, 27 HR, 75 RBI, 96/47 K/BB, 1 SB in 349 AB for Single-A Kane County

2003 quote: He'll probably lose some points off his batting average as he climbs the ladder, but Stokes should be good for 30-40 homers per season in the majors.

Stokes fell to .272/.345/.513 in 394 at-bats in Double-A in 2004 and hasn't had close to a healthy season since. In fact, he's totaled 345 at-bats in three years.


20. Justin Morneau - 1B Twins - Age 21 - ETA: April 2004
Previous rankings: mid-2001 #24, 2002 #28, mid-2002 #25

BA: #14, BP: #30

.298/.356/.474, 16 HR, 80 RBI, 88/42 K/BB, 7 SB in 494 AB for Double-A New Britain
.282/.331/.423, 5 HR, 20 RBI, 31/11 K/BB, 0 SB in 142 AB for Phoenix (AFL)

2003 quote: Morneau has the potential to be one of the American League's better first basemen, batting over .300 and hitting 25 homers per year.

Morneau had a .319 average and 43 homers in 1,235 minor league at-bats up to this point. Given his build, it was obvious that more power would come. I undersold him at 25 homers per year.


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Matthew Pouliot is the Executive Editor of RotoWorld.com and has been doing the site's baseball projections for the last 10 years. Follow him on Twitter at matthewpouliot.
Email :Matthew Pouliot



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