Matthew Pouliot

Strike Zone

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2003 Prospects Review

Monday, January 28, 2008




68. James Loney - 1B Dodgers - Age 18 - ETA: 2006
Previous rankings: None

BA: #34, BP: HM

.371/.457/.624, 5 HR, 30 RBI, 18/25 K/BB, 5 SB in 170 AB for Rookie Great Falls
.299/.356/.388, 0 HR, 5 RBI, 10/6 K/BB, 0 SB in 67 AB for Single-A Vero Beach

2003 quote: Loney was the Dodgers' first-round pick in 2002. Many teams liked him more as a pitcher, but the Dodgers used him at first base and the results were eye catching. …Since he's got a great glove in addition to his bat, he should already be considered one of the top first base prospects in baseball.

BA ranked him 34th even though he suffered a broken wrist towards the end of the season. The wrist problems ended up lingering, but he overcame them eventually and seems set to turn in an excellent career.


69. Drew Henson - 3B Yankees - Age 23 - ETA: 2005
Previous rankings: 2001 #40, mid-2001 #17, 2002 #15, mid-2002 #17

BA: NR, BP: NR

.240/.301/.435, 18 HR, 65 RBI, 151/37 K/BB, 2 SB in 471 AB for Triple-A Columbus
.000/.000/.000, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0/0 K/BB, 0 SB in 1 AB for New York (AL)
.211/.304/.401, 6 HR, 23 RBI, 40/19 K/BB, 1 SB in 147 AB for Maryvale (AFL)

2003 quote: However, the positives still outweigh the negatives at this point. Henson has ability and intelligence, and even though the NFL has to be in the back of his mind, he seems dedicated to baseball.

Henson gave up on baseball after hitting .234/.291/.412 in Triple-A in 2003. If the Yankees hadn't been so aggressive with him -- he had his first extended trial in Triple-A during his age-21 season -- things might have turned out differently.


70. Jeremy Bonderman - RHP Tigers - Age 20 - ETA: 2005
Previous rankings: None

BA: #20, BP: HM

9-8, 3.61 ERA, 129 H, 160/55 K/BB in 144 2/3 IP for Single-A Modesto
0-1, 6.00 ERA, 11 H, 10/4 K/BB in 12 IP for Single-A Lakeland

2003 quote: He has tons of potential, but his control is rather shaky and he's a pretty big injury risk. Still, he has the 93-mph fastball, slider and changeup to develop into another Weaver-type ace for Detroit.

Yeah, I should have him a lot closer to where BA did, even if he has been the game's most overrated pitcher up to this point in his career (56-62, 4.78 ERA).


71. Clint Nageotte - RHP Mariners - Age 22 - ETA: 2005
Previous rankings: None

BA: #76, BP: #35

9-6, 4.54 ERA, 153 H, 214/68 K/BB in 164 2/3 IP for Single-A San Bernadino
1-0, 4.00 ERA, 10 H, 10/2 K/BB in 9 IP for Peoria (AFL)

2003 quote: The 1999 fifth-round pick doesn't throw particularly hard, usually keeping his fastball in the low-90s, but his slider is already a proven out pitch, one that should hold up at higher levels.

Nageotte got hurt after a nice season in Double-A in 2003 and was essentially done as a promising pitcher. He's 1-6 with a 7.78 ERA and a 26/30 K/BB ratio in 41 2/3 major league innings.


72. Brandon Claussen - LHP Yankees - Age 23 - ERA: July 2004
Previous rankings: 2002 #63, mid-2002 #58

BA: NR, BP: NR

2-8, 3.28 ERA, 85 H, 73/46 K/BB in 93 1/3 IP for Triple-A Columbus

2003 quote: Claussen underwent Tommy John surgery last June, so he won't be pitching in the minors for the first two or three months of 2003. Before getting hurt, Claussen had a 90-93 mph fastball and a quality slider.

Another case of me being too aggressive with an injured pitcher.


73. Mike Jones - RHP Brewers - Age 19 - ETA: 2006
Previous rankings: 2002 #90, mid-2002 #59

BA: #56, BP: NR

7-7, 3.12 ERA, 135 H, 132/62 K/BB in 138 2/3 IP for Single-A Beloit

2003 quote: Jones throws in the mid-90s and could get more strikeouts as his secondary pitches develop. Assuming he doesn't get hurt, he's three years away from the majors.

Arm problems have limited Jones to 110 innings in four seasons. It's doubtful he'll develop now.


74. Franklyn German - RHP Tigers - Age 23 - ETA: Now
Previous rankings: None

BA: #42, BP: NR

1-1, 16 Sv, 3.05 ERA, 28 H, 59/27 K/BB in 41 1/3 IP for Double-A Midland
1-1, 13 Sv, 1.59 ERA, 15 H, 31/7 K/BB in 22 2/3 IP for Triple-A Toledo
0-0, 1 Sv, 0.00 ERA, 3 H, 6/2 K/BB in 6 2/3 IP for Detroit

2003 quote: It's not any kind of a secret that the Tigers view German as their closer of the near future. … His split-fingered fastball is turning into a legitimate out pitch.

German's command failed to improve with age. He has a 99/106 K/BB ratio in 137 innings as a major leaguer.


75. Andy Marte - 3B Braves - Age 19 - ETA: 2006
Previous rankings: None

BA: #40, BP: NR

.281/.339/.492, 21 HR, 105 RBI, 114/41 K/BB, 2 SB in 488 AB for Single-A Macon

2003 quote: If Marte, a native of the Dominican Republic, is the age he says he is, then he's another one of Atlanta's tremendous prospects.

Marte's age never came into question. I had him 16th and BA placed him 11th on the 2004 list.


76. Seung Song - RHP Expos - Age 22 - ETA: April 2004
Previous rankings: mid-2001 #49, 2002 #61, mid-2002 #69

BA: NR, BP: NR

7-7, 4.39 ERA, 106 H, 116/37 K/BB in 108 2/3 IP for Double-A Trenton
0-0, 0.00 ERA, 5 H, 5/0 K/BB in 5 IP for Double-A Harrisburg

2003 quote: He's not a future ace, but I like his upside better than Josh Karp's.

After 3 ½ seasons of striking out at least a batter an inning, Song's K rate fell well off in 2003 and his stock was already well down by the time he broke his arm in 2004. He decided to try his luck in Asia after going 5-10 with a 5.37 ERA for Double-A Wichita in 2006.


77. Lyle Overbay - 1B Diamondbacks - Age 26 - ETA: Now
Previous rankings: mid-2002 #81

BA: #65, BP: NR

.343/.396/.528, 19 HR, 109 RBI, 86/42 K/BB, 0 SB in 525 AB for Triple-A Tucson
.100/.100/.100, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 5/0 K/BB, 0 SB in 10 AB for Arizona

2003 quote: If he gets 500 at-bats next season, he should hit .300 with 20 homers.

The Diamondbacks blew it with Overbay in 2003 and sent him to the Brewers in the Richie Sexson deal that winter. He's hit .300 in two of the subsequent four seasons, but he's still reached 20 homers and 90 RBI just once.


78. Travis Hafner - 1B Indians - Age 25 - ETA: Now
Previous rankings: mid-2002 #114

BA: #46, BP: #20

.342/.463/.559, 21 HR, 77 RBI, 76/79 K/BB, 2 SB in 401 AB for Triple-A Oklahoma
.242/.329/.387, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 15/8 K/BB, 0 SB in 62 AB for Texas

2003 quote: He's traveled a long road to get there, but Hafner is finally getting taken seriously as a prospect. He entered last season with a minor league OPS of 907 in five years, but because he's not very good defensively and he's usually been too old for his leagues, the Rangers weren't including him in their plans.

I thought they seemed liked perfectly good reasons to not go overboard with Hafner's ranking. Hafner had 41 homers, one triple and 47 doubles in 724 at-bats in his last two years in the minors. Now, that's quite good, but it's hardly overwhelming and he was both old for his leagues and playing in very good situations for hitters. Jason Botts had 49 homers, 10 triples and 56 doubles in 991 at-bats for the same two clubs at the same ages. Hafner did have superior on-base skills, so it looked like he'd a nice solution in the middle of Cleveland's lineup for a few years when they stole him for Einar Diaz. He certainly never figured to have any 40-homer seasons. He had better slugging percentages each season from 2004-06 than he did at any level in the minors.


79. Billy Traber - LHP Indians - Age 23 - ETA: July 2003
Previous rankings: 2002 #96, mid-2002 #85

BA: NR, BP: NR

13-2, 2.76 ERA, 99 H, 82/20 K/BB in 107 2/3 IP for Double-A Akron
4-3, 3.29 ERA, 58 H, 33/12 K/BB in 54 2/3 IP for Triple-A Buffalo

2003 quote: Traber, a 2000 first-round pick, rarely touches 90 mph with his fastball, but he has the breaking stuff to become a solid No. 3 starter.

Traber underwent Tommy John surgery after going 6-9 with a 5.24 ERA for the Indians in 2003 and never returned at peak form, though he did pitch in the majors for the Nationals each of the last two years. He'll be in Yankees camp this spring.


80. Jason Arnold - RHP Blue Jays - Age 23 - ETA: Sept. 2003
Previous rankings: mid-2002 #84

BA: #97, BP: #25

7-1, 2.48 ERA, 64 H, 83/22 K/BB in 80 IP for Single-A Tampa
1-2, 4.15 ERA, 17 H, 18/5 K/BB in 17 1/3 IP for Double-A Norwich
5-1, 2.33 ERA, 42 H, 53/24 K/BB in 58 IP for Double-A Midland

2003 quote: Arnold throws in the low-90s and has the slider and changeup to become a No. 3 starter in the majors.

Arnold's 228/68 K/BB ratio in his first 1 ½ pro seasons made him a stathead favorite, but his velocity slipped and he never got over the Triple-A hump.


81. Jeff Mathis - C Angels - Age 20 - ETA: 2006
Previous rankings: mid-2002 #94

BA: #48, BP: NR

.287/.346/.444, 10 HR, 73 RBI, 75/40 K/BB, 7 SB in 491 AB for Single-A Cedar Rapids

2003 quote: Mathis was one of the top hitters in the Midwest League in the early going, but he ended up fading as last season progressed.

Mathis ranked 17th on my list and 22nd on BP's in 2004. His stock has gone downhill every year since, but he's still going to have a long career, even if it's just as a backup.


82. Bobby Crosby - SS Athletics - Age 23 - ETA: 2005
Previous rankings: mid-2002 #93

BA: NR, BP: NR

.307/.393/.404, 2 HR, 38 RBI, 43/33 K/BB, 5 SB in 280 AB for Single-A Modesto
.281/.335/.443, 7 HR, 31 RBI, 41/19 K/BB, 9 SB in 228 AB for Double-A Midland
.250/.368/.438, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 9/5 K/BB, 1 SB in 32 AB for Phoenix (AFL)

2003 quote: Crosby is the top prospect among Oakland's outstanding group of middle infielders. The 2001 first-round pick isn't an elite talent, but he's an adequate defensive shortstop with on-base skills and improving power.

Also included in that group of outstanding middle infielders were Esteban German, Freddie Bynum and Adam Morrissey. Not so impressive now.


83. Kenny Baugh - RHP Tigers - Age 24 - ETA: August 2004
Previous rankings: 2002 #24, mid-2002 #52

BA: NR, BP: NR

2003 quote: Baugh missed 2002 with a torn labrum.

That's basically all you need to know. Baugh, the 11th overall pick in the 2001 draft, came back to post solid numbers in the minors with the Tigers, but his stuff was no longer major league quality. He went 7-9 with an 8.19 ERA for Triple-A Albuqerque last season.


84. David Wright - 3B Mets - Age 20 - ETA 2006
Previous rankings: None

BA: #75, BP: HM

.266/.367/.401, 11 HR, 93 RBI, 114/76 K/BB, 21 SB in 496 AB for Single-A Capital City

2003 quote: Wright has solid regular written all over him. ... In a best-case scenario, he will turn into Robin Ventura, though a Travis Fryman comparison may be more appropriate.

Ventura is one of the game's most underrated players of the last 20 years. Still, that clearly wasn't the best-case scenario.


85. Grady Sizemore - OF Indians - Age 20 - ETA: 2005
Previous rankings: 2002 #88, mid-2002 #108

BA: NR, BP: NR

.258/.351/.348, 0 HR, 26 RBI, 41/36 K/BB, 9 SB in 256 AB for Single-A Brevard County
.343/.451/.483, 3 HR, 20 RBI, 30/33 K/BB, 14 SB in 172 AB for Single-A Kinston

2003 quote: Sizemore was a borderline top-100 prospect before getting shipped to the Indians in the Bartolo Colon deal, and he seemed to blossom after joining the Cleveland organization. He hasn't developed any power yet, but he projects as a .300-15 HR- 30 SB center fielder.

Oddly, BA was late to the party on Sizemore, not including him in their 2002 list either. They had him ninth in 2004, while I placed him 20th.


86. Ryan Madson - RHP Phillies - Age 22 - ETA: June 2004
Previous rankings: None

BA: NR, BP: NR

16-4, 3.20 ERA, 150 H, 132/52 K/BB in 171 1/3 IP for Double-A Reading

2003 quote: Madson baffled Eastern League hitters with his outstanding changeup in 2002. The 1998 ninth-round pick has a low-90s fastball and a quality curveball, but it's the changeup that makes him a potential starting pitcher for the Phillies.

Madson bombed as a starter in 2006, but he's been a very good setup man when healthy. This was right about where he should have been.


87. Todd Wellemeyer - RHP Cubs - Age 24 - ETA: May 2004
Previous rankings: None

BA: NR, BP: NR

2-4, 3.79 ERA, 63 H, 87/19 K/BB in 73 2/3 IP for Single-A Daytona
3-3, 4.70 ERA, 33 H, 37/18 K/BB in 46 IP for Double-A West Tenn
1-2, 3.12 ERA, 24 H, 40/12 K/BB in 34 2/3 IP for Mesa (AFL)

2003 quote: Wellemeyer has become one of my favorite prospects. The 2000 fourth-round pick throws 93-94 mph, has an excellent changeup and his curveball is an improving third pitch.

Wellemeyer never really improved his command with his age, though he did manage to post a 3.65 ERA in first 11 major league starts with the Cardinals last season. He might be better off all along as a starter.


88. Brad Nelson - 1B Brewers - Age 20 - ETA: 2006
Previous rankings: None

BA: #23, BP: NR

.297/.353/.520, 17 HR, 99 RBI, 86/34 K/BB, 4 SB in 417 AB for Single-A Beloit
.255/.333/.451, 3 HR, 17 RBI, 28/12 K/BB, 0 SB in 102 AB for Single-A High Desert

2003 quote: The Brewers certainly aren't hurting for first baseman. Nelson might get overshadowed by Prince Fielder, but he has some of the best power potential in the minor leagues.

Nelson hit just two homers in 310 at-bats after returning from a broken hamate bone in 2003 and hasn't had a big power season since. The Brewers put him back on their 40-man roster after he hit .263/.317/.470 with 20 homers in 411 at-bats for Triple-A Nashville last season, but he's a long shot to ever make an impact.


89. Jose Castillo - SS Pirates - Age 22 - ETA: 2005
Previous rankings: None

BA: #86, BP: NR

.300/.373/.453, 16 HR, 81 RBI, 95/49 K/BB, 27 SB in 503 AB for Single-A Lynchburg

2003 quote: Improved strike-zone judgment has Castillo looking like a real prospect. His .373 OBP last season was a dramatic increase over his .318 career total entering the year.

It didn't last. Castillo's OBP fell off to .339 in Double-A in 2003, and he never recovered from the Pirates' misguided decision to rush him to the majors to begin 2004. He's a career .256/.297/.380 hitter in 1,492 at-bats.

Part 2



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 @matthewpouliot.
Email :Matthew Pouliot



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