21. Jon Rauch
- RHP White Sox - Age 24 - ETA: May 2003
Previous rankings: 2001 #10, mid-2001 #10, 2002 #13, mid-2002 #48
BA: #92, BP: NR
7-8, 4.28 ERA, 91 H, 97/42 K/BB in 109 1/3 IP for Triple-A Charlotte
2-1, 6.59 ERA, 28 H, 19/14 K/BB in 28 2/3 IP for Chicago (AL)
2003 quote: The 6-foot-11 right-hander has a low-90s fastball and fine control of his breaking pitches. He still has the potential to be a front-of-the-rotation starter.
No, not really. Rauch was a unanimous elite prospect after a 2000 season in which he struck out 187 and walked 49 in 166 innings, and he still needed to be taken seriously after a nice comeback from his shoulder problems. However, he was no future top-of-the-rotation guy. He has turned into a valuable setup man while throwing 178 2/3 innings the last two years.
22. Chris Snelling
- OF Mariners - Age 21 - ETA: April 2004
Previous rankings: 2001 #31, mid-2001 #26, 2002 #19, mid-2002 #21
BA: #39, BP: #10
.326/.429/.506, 1 HR, 12 RBI, 11/12 K/BB, 5 SB in 89 AB for Double-A San Antonio
.148/.207/.259, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 4/2 K/BB, 0 SB in 27 AB for Seattle
2003 quote: Injuries have been a problem throughout Snelling's career, and because of his ultra-aggressive style of play, it's possible that he'll continue to get hurt rather frequently.
I'm about through holding out hope at this point.
23. Scott Kazmir
- LHP Mets - Age 19 - ETA: 2006
Previous rankings: None
BA: #11, BP: NR
0-1, 0.50 ERA, 5 H, 34/7 K/BB in 18 IP for Rookie Brooklyn
2003 quote: Maybe Kazmir will get hurt and never amount to anything, but he looks like a future ace right now. … The sky is the limit.
Kazmir ranked as the No. 14 prospect in the mid-2004 update before being shipped to the Rays.
24. Kurt Ainsworth
- RHP Giants - Age 24 - ETA: Now
Previous rankings: 2001 #14, mid-2001 #23, 2002 #33, mid-2002 #23
BA: #64, BP: #19
8-6, 3.41 ERA, 101 H, 119/43 K/BB in 116 IP for Triple-A Fresno
1-2, 2.10 ERA, 22 H, 15/12 K/BB in 25 2/3 IP for San Francisco
2003 quote: Ainsworth throws 92-94 mph and has four pitches. He projects as a quality No. 3 starter.
Ainsworth made the Giants in 2003 and went 5-4 with a 3.82 ERA in 11 starts before going down with a stress fracture in his shoulder blade. He was traded to the Orioles while still on the disabled list and gave up 36 earned runs in 33 innings over the rest of his career. Due to multiple shoulder surgeries, he hasn't pitched since 2004.
25. Marlon Byrd
- OF Phillies - Age 25 - ETA: Now
Previous rankings: 2002 #22, mid-2002 #24
BA: #63, BP: #14
.297/.362/.476, 15 HR, 63 RBI, 98/46 K/BB, 15 SB in 538 AB for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre
.229/.250/.371, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 8/1 K/BB, 0 SB in 35 AB for Philadelphia
2003 quote: Expect him to hit .280 and post an 800 OPS in a typical season.
Byrd hit .303/.366/.418 in 495 at-bats as a rookie in 2003, but he never came close to doing it again until last season with the Rangers. It looks like he'll be a solid fourth outfielder going forward.
26. Miguel Cabrera
- 3B Marlins - Age 19 - ETA: August 2004
Previous rankings: mid-2001 #45, 2002 #41, mid-2002 #31
BA: #12, BP: #29
.274/.333/.421, 9 HR, 75 RBI, 85/38 K/BB, 10 SB in 489 AB for Single-A Jupiter
2003 quote: Cabrera still hasn't had his breakthrough season, but 2002 was another step forward, as he lined 43 doubles for Jupiter. … He has the tools to develop into an All-Star.
BA's aggressive approach worked out very well here. Cabrera ended up playing just 69 more games in the minors.
27. Hanley Ramirez
- SS Red Sox - Age 19 - ETA: 2006
Previous rankings: None
BA: #19, BP: #33
.341/.402/.555, 6 HR, 26 RBI, 15/16 K/BB, 8 SB in 164 AB for Rookie GCL Red Sox
.371/.400/.536, 1 HR, 19 RBI, 14/4 K/BB, 4 SB in 97 AB for short-season Single-A Lowell
2003 quote: Since he's a 19-year-old who has yet to play full-season ball, he can't be considered one of the game's top 20 prospects just yet, but it's entirely possible that he'll be in the top 10 next year.
Ramirez had already gotten a reputation for attitude problems by this time, but those have been pretty much forgotten about now. Certainly he'd still be a terrific player now if not traded by the Red Sox, but I wonder if he'd still have the same relatively pristine reputation under the microscope in Boston.
28. Jack Cust
- OF/1B Rockies - Age 24 - ETA: Now
Previous rankings: 2001 #22, mid-2001 #18, 2002 #25, mid-2002 #14
BA: NR, BP: HM
.265/.407/.524, 23 HR, 55 RBI, 121/83 K/BB, 6 SB in 359 AB for Triple-A Colorado Springs
.169/.295/.264, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 32/12 K/BB, 0 SB in 65 AB for Colorado
2003 quote: If Cust gets to an American League team, he'll immediately become an above average designated hitter.
By immediately, I meant in four years or so. Cust was ranked 38th by BA in 2001 and 100th in 2002, but they had given up on him by now, placing him 21st among Rockies prospects alone. Prospectus ranked him 37th in 2001 and 20th in 2002. If he didn't lose rookie eligibility with the Orioles in 2003, I would have gone ahead and kept ranking him.
29. Casey Kotchman
- 1B Angels - Age 20 - ETA: 2005
Previous rankings: 2002 #75, mid-2002 #34
BA: #13, BP: #27
.281/.390/.444, 5 HR, 50 RBI, 37/48 K/BB, 2 SB in 288 AB for Single-A Cedar Rapids
2003 quote: Kotchman has star potential, but a wrist injury limited him for the season straight season in 2002.
Kotchman still figures to justify the lofty rankings after hitting .296/.372/.467 as a 24-year-old in 2007.
30. Scott Hairston
- 2B Diamondbacks - Age 22 - ETA: 2005
Previous rankings: mid-2002 #51
BA: #26, BP: #23
.332/.426/.563, 16 HR, 72 RBI, 74/58 K/BB, 9 SB in 394 AB for Single-A South Bend
.405/.442/.797, 6 HR, 26 RBI, 16/6 K/BB, 1 SB in 79 AB for Single-A Lancaster
.255/.333/.457, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 27/9 K/BB, 0 SB in 94 AB for Scottsdale (AFL)
2003 quote: The 2001 third-round pick could end up being an adequate left fielder in the majors, but if he can stay at second base, he'd do a nifty Jeff Kent
Hairston couldn't stay at second base, and he's yet to establish himself as much of a left fielder, though there's still time left. He hit .287/.337/.644 in 87 at-bats after joining the Padres last season.
31. Bobby Jenks
- RHP Angels - Age 22 - ETA: August 2003
Previous rankings: None
BA: #60, BP: #40
3-5, 4.82 ERA, 50 H, 64/14 K/BB in 65 1/3 IP for Single-A Rancho Cucamonga
3-6, 4.66 ERA, 49 H, 58/44 K/BB in 58 IP for Double-A Arkansas
1-1, 1.08 ERA, 33 H, 54/17 K/BB in 41 2/3 IP for Scottsdale (AFL)
2003 quote: Of course, of the top 30 or so pitching prospects in the minors, Jenks is one of the most likely not to have any kind of career at all in the majors. He's also one of the two or three pitchers most likely to develop into a real ace.
Jenks' arm wasn't going to hold up as a starter, but it looks like he'll last as a closer, especially after trading in some strikeouts for quicker outs in 2007.
32. Adrian Gonzalez
- 1B Marlins - Age 20 - ETA: April 2004
Previous rankings: mid-2001 #34, 2002 #34, mid-2002 #39
BA: #31, BP: #24
.266/.344/.437, 17 HR, 96 RBI, 112/54 K/BB, 6 SB in 508 AB for Double-A Portland
2003 quote: Gonzalez was the first player picked in the 2000 draft, but he's never been looked at as a future superstar. What he's going to be is a nice regular at first base.
Everyone seemed to be in agreement on Gonzalez after 2002. However, by the time 2004 rolled around, I still had him at No. 33, while BA put him at No. 52 and BP left him out of their top 50. By that time, people seemed pessimistic that he'd show even 15-homer power in the majors. However, he was always so young for his leagues that I remained encouraged. I think a similar thing is happening with Ryan Sweeney
33. John Patterson
- RHP Diamondbacks - Age 25 - ETA: Now
Previous rankings: None
BA: #79, BP: #26
10-5, 4.23 ERA, 117 H, 104/45 K/BB in 112 2/3 IP for Triple-A Tucson
2-0, 3.23 ERA, 27 H, 31/7 K/BB in 30 2/3 IP for Arizona
2003 quote: Patterson, who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2000, throws in the mid-90s and has a very good curve. If he can stay healthy, he might be Arizona's ace someday.
Or he could be traded for Randy Choate
. Because he was out of options, the Diamondbacks dumped Patterson after he went 1-4 with a 6.05 ERA in eight starts and eight relief appearances in 2003.
34. Aaron Cook
- RHP Rockies - Age 24 - ETA: Now
Previous rankings: mid-2002 #37
BA: #41, BP: NR
7-2, 1.42 ERA, 73 H, 58/19 K/BB in 95 IP for Double-A Carolina
4-4, 3.78 ERA, 67 H, 32/18 K/BB in 64 1/3 IP for Triple-A Colorado Springs
2-1, 4.54 ERA, 41 H, 14/13 K/BB in 35 2/3 IP for Colorado
2003 quote: He did an outstanding job of keeping the ball on the ground while with the Rockies, and if that continues, he's going to have a lot of success.
This is one case where BP should have placed a lot less weight on a pitcher's strikeout rate.
35. B.J. Upton
- SS Devil Rays - Age 18 - ETA: 2007
Previous rankings: None
BA: #21, BP: NR
2003 quote: Upton is a quality defensive shortstop with plenty of offensive ability. He could start for Tampa Bay as soon as 2006.
BP wasn't ready to give a spot to a player who had yet to play a pro game. Upton was the second overall pick in the 2002 draft. The Pirates passed him over in favor of Bryan Bullington
36. Aaron Heilman
- RHP Mets - Age 24 - ETA: June 2003
Previous rankings: 2002 #77, mid-2002 #47
BA: #45, BP: #17
4-4, 3.82 ERA, 85 H, 97/28 K/BB in 96 2/3 IP for Double-A Binghamton
2-3, 3.28 ERA, 42 H, 35/16 K/BB in 49 1/3 IP for Triple-A Norfolk
2003 quote: Heilman, a Notre Dame product, nearly reached the majors in his first full season. It won't be much longer before he's the Mets' fifth starter.
Heilman still wishes he was in the rotation, but he's come close to justifying this ranking by settling in as one of the game's most valuable setup men.
37. Dontrelle Willis
- LHP Marlins - Age 21 - ETA: 2005
Previous rankings: mid-2002 #98
BA: #43, BP: NR
10-2, 1.83 ERA, 91 H, 101/21 K/BB in 127 2/3 IP for Single-A Kane County
2-0, 1.80 ERA, 24 H, 27/3 K/BB in 30 IP for Single-A Jupiter
2003 quote: Willis' emergence as one of top pitchers in the minors last season has saved the Matt Clement
deal for the Marlins.
An ETA of 2005? Willis made just six more starts in the minors before debuting on May 9, 2003.
38. Justin Huber
- C Mets - Age 20 - ETA: 2005
Previous rankings: mid-2002 #28
BA: #66, BP: #34
.291/.408/.470, 11 HR, 78 RBI, 81/45 K/BB, 1 SB in 330 AB for Single-A Capital City
.270/.370/.400, 3 HR, 15 RBI, 18/11 K/BB, 0 SB in 100 AB for Single-A St. Lucie
2003 quote: He's still two or three years away from the majors and catching prospects do have a tendency to regress offensively as they climb the ladder, but I'm optimistic.
Huber was always iffy behind the plate, and it turned out that he probably wasn't going to hold up physically as a catcher anyway. His career has stalled since the day the Royals acquired him for Jose Bautista
, but he did hit 18 homers in 286 at-bats in Triple-A last season. If he can stay healthy, he still figures to contribute.
39. Ryan Anderson
- LHP Mariners - Age 23 - ETA: April 2004
Previous rankings: 2001 #3, mid-2001 #7, 2002 #8, mid-2002 #29
BA: NR, BP: NR
2003 quote: Anderson has missed each of the last two seasons with torn labrums. Although that type of thing will knock him off a lot of prospects lists, he had no trouble making my top 100. … Randy Johnson
established himself as a major leaguer at age 25 and Anderson could do the same.
I'm not very bright sometimes.
40. Ricardo Rodriguez
- RHP Indians - Age 24 - ETA: Now
Previous rankings: 2002 #80, mid-2002 #50
BA: NR, BP: NR
5-4, 1.99 ERA, 56 H, 44/13 K/BB in 68 IP for Double-A Jacksonville
1-0, 3.86 ERA, 13 H, 14/7 K/BB in 11 2/3 IP for Triple-A Las Vegas
3-1, 3.60 ERA, 26 H, 14/7 K/BB in 25 IP for Triple-A Buffalo
2-2, 5.66 ERA, 40 H, 24/18 K/BB in 41 1/3 IP for Cleveland
2003 quote: Rodriguez doesn't have the most upside of Cleveland's outstanding group of pitching prospects, but he looks like a solid No. 3 starter to me.
BA ranked Rodriguez 69th in 2002, but he was a near miss this year. He never posted the same kind of strikeout rate at higher levels that he did in 2000 and 2001. It still looked like he might be useful in a limited role as later as 2005, but he's been a bust in the minors each of the last two years.
41. Ken Harvey
- 1B/DH Royals - Age 25 - ETA: Now
Previous rankings: mid-2001 #48, 2002 #47, mid-2002 #61
BA: NR, BP: HM
.277/.342/.465, 20 HR, 75 RBI, 87/42 K/BB, 8 SB in 488 AB for Triple-A Omaha
.479/.537/.752, 7 HR, 34 RBI, 23/14 K/BB, 0 SB in 117 AB for Scottsdale (AFL)
2003 quote: Harvey's stock had been on the way down because of his mediocre season in Triple-A, but he changed things in a big way by putting together the greatest Arizona Fall League season ever.
On the one hand, I wouldn't have ranked Jenks nearly as highly if not for his stellar AFL season. But the same can be said about Harvey. After three years ruined by injuries, he's not even going to have the decent career as a role player that it looked like he would.
42. Andy Sisco - LHP Cubs - Age 20 - ETA: 2006
Previous rankings: None
BA: #53, BP: NR
7-2, 2.43 ERA, 51 H, 101/39 K/BB in 77 2/3 IP for short-season Single-A Boise
2003 quote: A second-round pick in 2001, Sisco is a 6'9", 260-pound left-hander with a 91-95 mph fastball and a filthy split-fingered offering. He's a pretty big injury risk at this point, but he has ace ability.
Sisco has remained healthier than expected, so he really should have made it. There's still time left for him to turn his career around, but he'd have to show an entirely new level of commitment.
43. Cliff Lee
- LHP Indians - Age 24 - ETA: June 2003
Previous rankings: mid-2002 #71
BA: #30, BP: #32
7-2, 3.23 ERA, 61 H, 105/23 K/BB in 86 1/3 IP for Double-A Harrisburg
2-1, 5.40 ERA, 11 H, 18/10 K/BB in 16 2/3 IP for Double-A Akron
3-2, 3.77 ERA, 36 H, 30/22 K/BB in 43 IP for Triple-A Buffalo
0-1, 1.74 ERA, 6 H, 6/8 K/BB in 10 1/3 IP for Cleveland
2003 quote: I'm not certain Lee will stay healthy, but if he does, he could be Cleveland's No. 2 starter in 2005.
It sure did seem like a good call for a couple of years.
44. Shin-Soo Choo
- OF Mariners - Age 20 - ETA: 2006
Previous rankings: mid-2002 #64
BA: #61, BP: #16
.300/.417/.440, 6 HR, 48 RBI, 98/70 K/BB, 34 SB in 420 AB for Single-A Wisconsin
.308/.460/.564, 1 HR, 9 RBI, 9/9 K/BB, 3 SB in 39 AB for Single-A San Bernadino
2003 quote: He is getting on base nearly 43 percent of the time since making his debut in the second half of 2001, and he's starting to show power. As a result, he's quickly emerging as one of the game's elite outfield prospects.
I was right in the middle on this one. Choo couldn't last in center field, hurting his stock considerably. He still projects as a useful player, though he be might more of a fourth outfielder than a regular against right-handers.
45. Xavier Nady
- OF Padres - Age 24 - ETA: April 2004
Previous rankings: mid-2001 #50, 2002 #58, mid-2002 #49
BA: #44, BP: HM
.278/.382/.583, 13 HR, 37 RBI, 40/28 K/BB, 2 SB in 169 AB for Single-A Lake Elsinore
.283/.329/.422, 10 HR, 43 RBI, 60/20 K/BB, 0 SB in 321 AB for Triple-A Portland
.323/.364/.516, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 6/2 K/BB, 1 SB in 31 AB for Peoria (AFL)
2003 quote: Nady won't be an All-Star as an outfielder, but he should be a very solid .280 hitter with 30-homer power.
Nady hit .278 with 20 homers in 431 at-bats last season, but since he's mediocre against right-handers and he's not an asset defensively, he should spend most of his career as a fourth outfielder.