Matthew Pouliot

Strike Zone

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2003 Prospects Review

Monday, January 28, 2008




46. Juan Rivera - OF Yankees - Age 24 - ETA: Now
Previous rankings: 2002 #56, mid-2002 #46

BA: #55, BP: #36

.308/.438/.462, 0 HR, 4 RBI, 3/2 K/BB, 0 SB in 13 AB for Rookie GCL Yankees
.325/.355/.502, 8 HR, 47 RBI, 39/13 K/BB, 5 SB in 265 AB for Triple-A Columbus
.265/.311/.361, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 10/6 K/BB, 1 SB in 83 AB for New York (AL)

2003 quote: As a .290 hitter with 20-homer power, Rivera should be an adequate regular in right field. Whether or not he goes beyond that will be determined by how well he masters the strike zone.

Rivera has a .291 average and 60 homers in 1,492 career at-bats, so I had him pegged pretty well. Still, he hasn't had a 500 at-bat season in his career, and it doesn't look like that will change in 2008.


47. Khalil Greene - SS Padres - Age 23 - ETA: April 2004
Previous rankings: None

BA: #57, BP: #37

.270/.400/.297, 0 HR, 6 RBI, 6/5 K/BB, 0 SB in 37 AB for short-season Single-A Eugene
.317/.368/.525, 9 HR, 32 RBI, 33/12 K/BB, 0 SB in 183 AB for Single-A Lake Elsinore

2003 quote: Greene was probably the most polished player available in the 2002 draft and the Padres took him with the 14th overall pick.

Greene drew the second-highest ranking among 2002 draft picks (Upton was higher). I underrated his defense or I probably would have him higher.


48. Jimmy Journell - RHP Cardinals - Age 25 - ETA: July 2003
Previous rankings: 2002 #95, mid-2002 #35

BA: NR, BP: NR

3-3, 2.70 ERA, 50 H, 66/18 K/BB in 66 2/3 IP for Double-A New Haven
2-4, 3.68 ERA, 38 H, 32/18 K/BB in 36 2/3 IP for Triple-A Memphis

2003 quote: When healthy, Journell showed why he's repeating as the Cardinals' top prospect. The right-hander touches 95 mph with his fastball and has a hard slider.

BP had Journell 44th in 2002, but dropped him after he missed time with elbow and shoulder problems, even though he was quite effective when he was on the mound. They were right to do so, as more arm woes were on the way.


49. Michael Restovich - OF Twins - Age 24 - ETA: April 2004
Previous rankings: 2002 #66, mid-2002 #32

BA: #37, BP: NR

.286/.353/.542, 29 HR, 98 RBI, 151/53 K/BB, 11 SB in 518 AB for Triple-A Edmonton
.308/.357/.538, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 4/1 K/BB, 1 SB in 13 AB for Minnesota
.231/.309/.342, 2 HR, 22 RBI, 35/14 K/BB, 2 SB in 117AB for Phoenix (AFL)

2003 quote: Restovich isn't an elite prospect, but he does project as a solid left fielder in the majors. The Twins would like to see him cut down on the strikeouts before giving him a job, so Restovich is due to spend another season in Triple-A.

Restovich never did cut back on the strikeouts and won't have a career in the majors as a result.


50. Jose Lopez - SS Mariners - Age 19 - ETA: 2006
Previous rankings: mid-2002 #79

BA: #38, BP: NR

.324/.360/.464, 8 HR, 60 RBI, 45/27 K/BB, 31 SB in 522 AB for Single-A San Bernadino

2003 quote: 18-year-old players who hit .324 in full-season ball tend to attract notice. That Lopez is also a slick-fielding shortstop makes him a pretty special prospect.

Lopez couldn't last at shortstop. Despite last year's setback, he still figures to justify this ranking by turning in a fine career as a second baseman.


51. Bobby Bradley - RHP Pirates - Age 22 - ETA: Sept. 2004
Previous rankings: 2001 #20, mid-2001 #30, 2002 #52, mid-2002 #55

BA: NR, BP: NR

2003 quote: Bradley spent all of last season recovering from Tommy John surgery. … If he regains his stuff, he has the fastball and the curveball to be an excellent starter.

Bradley never made it all the way back. He did experience modest success in 34 minor league starts in 2003 and 2004, but he completely lost it in 2005, walking 30 and throwing 10 wild pitches in 12 1/3 innings, and he hasn't been heard from since.


52. Chin-Hui Tsao - RHP Rockies - Age 21 - ETA: 2005
Previous rankings: 2001 #21, mid-2001 NR, 2002 #57, mid-2002 #44

BA: #93, BP: NR

0-0, 0.00 ERA, 6 H, 16/2 K/BB in 11 IP for Rookie Tri City
4-2, 2.09 ERA, 34 H, 45/12 K/BB in 47 1/3 IP for Single-A Salem

2003 quote: Tsao made a very impressive comeback from ligament replacement surgery in 2002. Most pitchers who undergo the Tommy John procedure struggle with their command when the first return, but Tsao walked just 14 in his 12 starts.

I don't feel bad about this one at all. Tsao seemed to recapture most of his potential when he went 11-4 with a 2.46 ERA, 88 H and 125/26 K/BB in 113 1/3 IP in Double-A in 2003, but he got hurt again in 2004 and hasn't had a healthy season since. It happens.


53. John Buck - C Astros - Age 22 - ETA: April 2004
Previous rankings: 2002 #68, mid-2002 #43

BA: #67, BP: NR

.263/.312/.422, 12 HR, 89 RBI, 93/31 K/BB, 2 SB in 448 AB for Double-A Round Rock
.256/.292/.354, 1 HR, 15 RBI, 10/3 K/BB, 0 SB in 82 AB for Mesa (AFL)

2003 quote: Buck isn't quite on Brad Ausmus' level with the glove, but he will be better than average. Offensively, he should be able hit .260-.270 with 20 homers per season while playing half his games in Minute Maid.

An inability to hit for average has kept Buck in the lower-tier of regular catchers, but since he doesn't turn 27 until July, he has time left to get a little better.


54. Corey Hart - 3B/1B Brewers - Age 21 - ETA: 2005
Previous rankings: mid-2002 #54

BA: #91, BP: NR

.288/.356/.573, 22 HR, 84 RBI, 101/37 K/BB, 24 SB in 393 AB for Single-A High Desert
.266/.340/.362, 2 HR, 15 RBI, 16/7 K/BB, 3 SB in 94 AB for Double-A Huntsville
.275/.327/.443, 3 HR, 20 RBI, 46/11 K/BB, 5 SB in 149 AB for Maryvale (AFL)

2003 quote: If he can become an adequate third baseman over the next two years, then he has All-Star potential. It's more likely that he eventually has to move back to first base, and since he doesn't have any more offensive upside than Brad Nelson or Prince Fielder, he could become trade bait.

A nice victory for me. Looking back now, the bizarre thing is that the Brewers had Hart at first base in the first place. He was quick enough to handle center and probably should have been groomed as an outfielder right from the start.


55. Kelly Johnson - SS Braves - Age 21 - ETA: 2005
Previous rankings: 2002 #46, mid-2002 #74

BA: NR, BP: NR

.255/.324/.394, 12 HR, 49 RBI, 105/51 K/BB, 12 SB in 482 AB for Single-A Myrtle Beach

2003 quote: It's about time that the Braves move the 2000 supplemental first-round pick off of shortstop. Whether he ends up at third base or in the outfield could depend on Betemit. Johnson is going to hit enough to be able to play an outfield corner in the majors.

BP dropped Johnson from No. 47 to out of the top 100 based on a poor year at a very tough place for hitters. Johnson was one of my favorite prospects, so I was perfectly willing to look past that.


56. Kris Honel - RHP White Sox - Age 20 - ETA: Sept. 2004
Previous rankings: mid-2002 #80

BA: #73, BP: NR

9-8, 2.82 ERA, 128 H, 152/52 K/BB in 153 1/3 IP for Single-A Kannapolis
0-0, 1.69 ERA, 3 H, 8/3 K/BB in 5 1/3 IP for Single-A Winston Salem

2003 quote: Honel has No. 2-starter potential if he can avoid arm problems.

Honel's arm blew up in 2004, and he's posted ERAs over 5.00 when he's been able to pitch the last three years.


57. Alex Escobar - OF Indians - Age 24 - ETA: Sept. 2003
Previous rankings: 2001 #8, mid-2001 #13, 2002 #31, mid-2002 #53

BA: NR, BP: NR

2003 quote: Escobar missed last season after tearing an ACL in the spring. The Indians don't expect him back at full speed in 2003, and plan to have him play a corner instead of his usual center field.

Another case of me being too patient with an injured prospect. Maybe Escobar would have learned to kick some of his bad habits had he been able to stay healthy. It doesn't look like we'll ever know.


58. Macay McBride - LHP Braves - Age 20 - ETA: 2005
Previous rankings: mid-2002 #78

BA: #68, BP: NR

12-8, 2.12 ERA, 119 H, 138/48 K/BB in 157 1/3 IP for Single-A Macon

2003 quote: Like Adam Wainwright, McBride could be a No. 2 starter if he stays healthy. He is a fairly big injury risk.

The Braves didn't think McBride was big enough to hold up as a starter, but he hasn't been able to find any consistency as a reliever. In 103 1/3 innings as a major league reliever, he's walked 64, an average of 5.6 per nine innings. In the minors, he walked 3.3 per nine innings.


59. Chad Tracy - 3B Diamondbacks - Age 22 - ETA: April 2004
Previous rankings: mid-2002 #33

BA: NR, BP: NR

.344/.389/.486, 8 HR, 74 RBI, 51/38 K/BB, 2 SB in 514 AB for Double-A El Paso
.143/.208/.143, 0 HR, 5 RBI, 4/2 K/BB, 0 SB in 21 AB for Scottsdale (AFL)

2003 quote: Tracy is a line-drive hitter who rarely strikes out. He should be an average regular in the majors, one capable of batting .300 and hitting 15-20 homers per season.

Surprisingly, Tracy didn't get a lot of love despite the outstanding average in Double-A. He's showed better power than expected in the majors, but he's hit .300 just once in four years.


60. Sean Burnett - LHP Pirates - Age 20 - ETA: May 2004
Previous rankings: mid-2002 #70

BA: #25, BP: NR

13-4, 1.80 ERA, 118 H, 96/33 K/BB in 155 1/3 IP for Single-A Lynchburg

2003 quote: Burnett had some of the best numbers in the minors last season and now has a 2.38 ERA since being selected in the first round of the 2000 draft. Still, he's not an elite pitching prospect.

BA was very high on Burnett despite his lack of stuff. He probably wouldn't have justified their faith even if he didn't get hurt.


61. Jimmy Gobble - LHP Royals - Age 21 - ETA: July 2003
Previous rankings: 2002 #62, mid-2002 #41

BA: NR, BP: NR

5-7, 3.38 ERA, 71 H, 52/19 K/BB in 69 1/3 IP for Double-A Wichita

2003 quote: Gobble got in just a half season last year because of a groin injury and a minor shoulder problem. … He projects as a No. 3 starter in the majors.

BA had Gobble ranked 50th in 2002, but dropped him after he missed half of the season. Gobble has remained healthy since, but he was massive bust as a starter before seemingly finding his niche as a reliever.


62. Felix Pie - OF Cubs - Age 18 - ETA: 2007
Previous rankings: None

BA: #72, BP: NR

.321/.385/.569, 4 HR, 37 RBI, 47/21 K/BB, 17 SB in 218 AB for Rookie AZL Cubs
.125/.222/.250, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 1/1/ K/BB, 0 SB in 8 AB for short-season Single-A Boise

2003 quote: Pie could be a star someday, but because he is four or five years away from the majors, fantasy leaguers shouldn't start drooling yet.

It looks like we're about to finally see whether this aggressive ranking pans out.


63. Kevin Youkilis - 3B Red Sox - Age 24 - ETA: April 2004
Previous rankings: None

BA: NR, BP: HM

.283/.433/.377, 0 HR, 6 RBI, 8/13 K/BB, 0 SB in 53 AB for Single-A Augusta
.295/.422/.388, 3 HR, 48 RBI, 37/49 K/BB, 0 SB in 268 AB for Single-A Sarasota
.344/.462/.500, 5 HR, 26 RBI, 18/31 K/BB, 5 SB in 160 AB for Double-A Trenton
.216/.341/.304, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 21/19 K/BB, 1 SB in 102 AB for Scottsdale (AFL)

2003 quote: With 166 walks in 676 career at-bats, Youkilis is one of the most intriguing prospects in the minors. … He doesn't have much home run power, but there's reason to think that he'll manage 30 doubles and 12 homers per season as a major leaguer.

One gamble that paid off. I still went a little too far in ranking him ahead of Hanley Ramirez in 2004.


64. Boof Bonser - RHP Giants - Age 21 - ETA: 2005
Previous rankings: 2002 #53, mid-2002 #68

BA: NR, BP: NR

8-6, 2.88 ERA, 89 H, 139/70 K/BB in 128 1/3 IP for Single-A San Jose
1-2, 5.55 ERA, 30 H, 22/14 K/BB in 24 1/3 IP for Double-A Shreveport

2003 quote: Obviously, control is a problem, but Bonser throws in the mid-90s and has a quality curve and changeup. He could emerge as a No. 2 starter if he tames his wild streak.

Bonser's stuff fell off before he was traded to Minnesota in the A.J. Pierzynski deal. He'll probably collect six to eight years of service time anyway, but he might belong in the bullpen.


65. Jonny Gomes - OF Devil Rays - Age 22 - ETA: 2005
Previous rankings: mid-2002 #60

BA: NR, BP: NR

.278/.432/.574, 30 HR, 72 RBI, 173/91 K/BB, 15 SB in 446 AB for Single-A Bakersfield

2003 quote: Scouts don't think much of him, but Gomes has been one of the best hitters in the minors since being selected in the 18th round of the 2001 draft.

Held back by poor management and a badly timed shoulder injury in 2006, Gomes could still end up justifying this ranking or he could find himself playing in Japan in a couple of years. I don't know what's going to happen.


66. Erik Bedard - LHP Orioles - Age 24 - ETA: July 2004
Previous rankings: mid-2002 #56

BA: NR, BP: NR

6-3, 1.97 ERA, 43 H, 66/30 K/BB in 68 2/3 IP for Double-A Bowie
0-0, 13.50 ERA, 2 H, 1/0 K/BB in 2/3 IP for Baltimore

2003 quote: Even though he underwent Tommy John surgery in September, Bedard is Baltimore's No. 1 prospect and the only player in the system in the Top 100.

BP had the better approach with injured starters, but this one paid off for me.


67. Josh Karp - RHP Expos - Age 23 - ETA: August 2003
Previous rankings: mid-2002 #30

BA: #71, BP: NR

4-1, 1.59 ERA, 31 H, 43/11 K/BB in 45 1/3 IP for Single-A Brevard County
7-5, 3.84 ERA, 83 H, 69/34 K/BB in 86 2/3 IP for Double-A Harrisburg
0-5, 5.79 ERA, 31 H, 27/16 K/BB in 28 IP for Maryvale (AFL)

2003 quote: Karp, the sixth overall pick in 2001, had a strong pro debut in 2002, dominating Florida State League competition before looking solid in Double-A. … Karp has No. 3 starter written all over him.

One of the biggest draft busts of the decade, Karp never had a decent season after 2002. He's been out of baseball since 2005.


continue story »
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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