Matthew Pouliot

Strike Zone

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2004 Top 100 Prospects Review

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Below is a review of the preseason Top 100 Prospects column from 2004. I've left the players listed with their ages (as of Opening Day 2004), ETAs and 2003 stats from that column and added in where each player was listed on Baseball America's top 100 and Baseball Prospectus' top 50.

I'll begin the 2009 team top 10s next week, with the new Top 150 scheduled for late February

Top 100 Prospects

1. Joe Mauer - C Twins - Age 20 - ETA: Now
.335/.395/.412, 1 HR, 44 RBI, 24/24 K/BB, 3 SB in 233 AB for Single-A Fort Myers
.341/.400/.453, 4 HR, 41 RBI, 25/25 K/BB, 0 SB in 276 AB for Double-A New Britain

BA: #1, BP: #1

2004 quote: The Minnesota native does everything well except hit for power and that skill will come with time. He's flawless behind the plate.

The consensus No. 1 has proven to be the right choice, even though he trails Justin Morneau in MVP awards.

2. Chin-Hui Tsao - RHP Rockies - Age 22 - ETA: Now
11-4, 2.46 ERA, 88 H, 125/26 K/BB in 113 1/3 IP for Double-A Tulsa
3-3, 6.02 ERA, 48 H, 29/20 K/BB in 43 1/3 IP for Colorado

BA: #24, BP: #27

2004 quote: Tsao is back throwing 91-95 mph after making a full recovery from Tommy John surgery.

Tsao came down with a sore shoulder in April 2004, and he's never truly been healthy since. BA and BP had the better ideas here. The top 10 isn't a place for pitchers with injury questions like Tsao had.

3. Zack Greinke - RHP Royals - Age 20 - ETA: June 2004
11-1, 1.14 ERA, 56 H, 78/13 K/BB in 87 IP for Single-A Wilmington
4-3, 3.29 ERA, 58 H, 34/5 K/BB in 53 IP for Double-A Wichita

BA: #14, BP: #7

2004 quote: Comparisons to Greg Maddux have become common, since Greinke dominates without being overpowering. However, Greinke doesn't quite have the movement on his fastball that Maddux does. Bret Saberhagen might be a better match.

Greinke is a very different pitcher now from the one who dominated minor league competition at such a young age, but it looks like he's on his way to fulfilling expectations after finishing 10th in the AL in ERA as a 24-year-old.

4. Jeremy Reed - OF White Sox - Age 22 - ETA: July 2004
.333/.431/.477, 4 HR, 52 RBI, 17/41 K/BB, 27 SB in 222 AB for Single-A Winston-Salem
.409/.474/.591, 7 HR, 43 RBI, 19/29 K/BB, 18 SB in 242 AB for Double-A Birmingham

BA: #25, BP: #2

2004 quote: A left-handed line-drive hitter with 15-homer power and an outstanding eye at the plate, Reed looks like he could become baseball's best leadoff man someday.

We were all fooled by the outstanding .373 batting average. Baseball America had a better read on him, yet still rated him as the best prospect in the White Sox system. It's incredible that a player this good in the minors hasn't at least become a quality fourth outfielder in the majors.

5. Prince Fielder - 1B Brewers - Age 19 - ETA: 2006
.313/.409/.526, 27 HR, 112 RBI, 80/71 K/BB, 2 SB in 502 AB for Low Single-A Beloit

BA: #10, BP: #4

2004 quote: With his power, ability to make consistent contact and plate discipline, there's every reason to believe that Fielder will develop into an All-Star and maybe even the next Jason Giambi.

Fielder has struck out more in the majors than hoped, but he's still justifying this ranking.

6. Rickie Weeks - 2B Brewers - Age 21 - ETA: Aug. 2004
.500/.600/.500, 0 HR, 4 RBI, 2/0 K/BB, 1 SB in 4 AB for Rookie AZL Brewers
.349/.494/.556, 1 HR, 16 RBI, 9/15 K/BB, 2 SB in 63 AB for Low Single-A Beloit
.167/.286/.250, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 6/1 K/BB, 0 SB in 12 AB for Milwaukee
.319/.440/.431, 1 HR, 15 RBI, 19/12 K/BB, 9 SB in 72 AB for Peoria (AFL)

BA: #5, BP: #9

2004 quote: He projects as a .310-.320 hitter, and because he's patient at the plate and could develop 15-homer power, he should be one of baseball's better all-around second baseman. Weeks does lacks polish defensively…

Perhaps hopes about Weeks being a great hitter for average should have been dashed when he came in at .259 in Double-A in 2004. He was up for good in 2005, but in 1,615 major league at-bats, he's batted .245.

7. B.J. Upton - SS Devil Rays - Age 19 - ETA: July 2004
.302/.394/.445, 7 HR, 46 RBI, 80/57 K/BB, 38 SB in 384 AB for Single-A Charleston
.276/.376/.381, 1 HR, 16 RBI, 24/16 K/BB, 2 SB in 105 AB for Double-A Orlando
.214/.353/.214, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 4/6 K/BB, 2 SB in 28 AB for Mesa (AFL)

BA: #2, BP: #8

2004 quote: Although his 56 errors in the minors indicate that he isn't quite ready defensively, he projects as an above average shortstop.

We all thought Upton would make it at shortstop, and it surely played a big role in all of our rankings. He's likely to end up justifying this position anyway, but it's safe to say he wouldn't have been listed in the top 10 in my rankings had it been known he'd end up in the outfield. The Rays saved us all from difficult decisions by calling him up prior to his 20th birthday and giving him 159 at-bats in 2004, preventing us from having to try to rank him again in 2005 (when he never did play in the majors) and 2006.

8. Justin Morneau - 1B Twins - Age 22 - ETA: May 2004
.329/.384/.620, 6 HR, 13 RBI, 17/7 K/BB, 0 SB in 79 AB for Double-A New Britain
.268/.344/.498, 16 HR, 42 RBI, 56/28 K/BB, 0 SB in 265 AB for Triple-A Rochester
.226/.287/.377, 4 HR, 16 RBI, 30/9 K/BB, 0 SB in 106 AB for Minnesota

BA: #16, BP: #11

2004 quote: The Twins aren't thrilled with his defense and may end up making him their long-term DH, but they will have need of his bat this season, even though they'll go with Matthew LeCroy over him initially. Morneau is certain to have some .300-30-110 seasons in the majors.

Interestingly, Morneau was ranked 14th by BA the previous year, compared to 20th by me and 30th by BP. While BP and I moved him up pretty sharply based on him going from 16 to 26 homers, BA viewed the events of 2003 seemingly as a net negative. Morneau went on to be badly mishandled by the Twins in the first half of 2004 (Jose Offerman???), but things have worked out OK since.

9. Cole Hamels - LHP Phillies - Age 20 - ETA: June 2005
6-1, 0.84 ERA, 32 H, 115/25 K/BB in 74 2/3 IP for Low Single-A Lakewood
0-2, 2.73 ERA, 29 H, 32/14 K/BB in 26 1/3 IP for Single-A Clearwater

BA: #17, BP: #21

2004 quote: Armed with a low-90s fastball, a great changeup and a curveball that shows potential, he looks like a future ace.

One of the few times putting an injury-prone pitcher in the top 10 has worked out.

10. Alexis Rios - OF Blue Jays - Age 23 - ETA: June 2004
.352/.402/.521, 11 HR, 82 RBI, 85/39 K/BB, 11 SB in 514 AB for Double-A New Haven

BA: #6, BP: #15

2004 quote: It took four years, but Rios finally settled in as a top prospect in 2003, becoming the Eastern League MVP by posting an OPS 235 points higher than his career total entering the year.

Rios' breakthrough did prove to be legitimate, though he's still had just one 20-homer season in the majors. Considering that he's a career .288/.338/.455 hitter, he hasn't quite fulfilled expectations yet.

11. Bobby Crosby - SS Athletics - Age 24 - ETA: Now
.308/.395/.544, 22 HR, 90 RBI, 110/63 K/BB, 24 SB in 465 AB for Triple-A Sacramento
.000/.143/.000, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 5/1 K/BB, 0 SB in 12 AB for Oakland

BA: #32, BP: #13

2004 quote: He may not be an All-Star in the majors, but Crosby is as close to a sure thing as any prospect. … Crosby should be an improved version of Rich Aurilia.

Of course, an improved version of Aurilia sounded better in 2004 than it does now. Unfortunately, at this point, Crosby is looking like a barely improved version of Angel Berroa.

12. Scott Kazmir - LHP Mets - Age 20 - ETA: Aug. 2005
4-4, 2.36 ERA, 50 H, 105/28 K/BB in 76 1/3 IP for Low Single-A Capital City
1-2, 3.27 ERA, 29 H, 40/16 K/BB in 33 IP for Single-A St Lucie

BA: #12, BP: #12

2004 quote: Kazmir, a high school teammate of Expos No. 3 prospect Clint Everts, has about as much upside as any pitcher in the minors. The 2002 first-round pick has a mid-90s fastball, an excellent slider and a changeup that tends to come and go.

As varied as the opinions were, it's hard to blame the Mets for trading him or Victor Zambrano.

13. Delmon Young - OF Devil Rays - Age 18 - ETA: April 2005
.417/.451/.625, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 9/3 K/BB, 1 SB in 48 AB for Mesa (AFL)

BA: #3, BP: #31

2004 quote: Young has yet to play in the minors, but he's already one of the game's most talked about prospects. The first overall pick in the 2003 draft has outstanding offensive potential, drawing comparisons to Albert Belle…

That ETA sure was jumping the gun. We'd all have Young in the top three the following season.

14. Ervin Santana - RHP Angels - Age 21 - ETA: May 2005
10-2, 2.53 ERA, 98 H, 130/36 K/BB in 124 2/3 IP for Single-A Rancho Cucamonga
1-1, 3.94 ERA, 23 H, 23/12 K/BB in 29 2/3 IP for Double-A Arkansas

BA: #29, BP: #38

2004 quote: Santana spent much of last season looking like a future ace, throwing mid-90s heat past California League hitters. He also has a terrific slider and a changeup that is getting better.

This one is definitely looking better for me after the events of last season. Santana finished 11th in the AL in ERA, third in WHIP and second in strikeouts.

15. Edwin Jackson - RHP Dodgers - Age 20 - ETA: May 2004
7-7, 3.70 ERA, 121 H, 157/53 K/BB in 148 1/3 IP for Double-A Jacksonville
2-1, 2.45 ERA, 17 H, 19/11 K/BB in 22 IP for Los Angeles

BA: #4, BP: #6

2004 quote: When he has his control working, the 2001 sixth-round pick is capable of dominating with his mid-90s fastball. His slider and changeup still need refinement, so he's a few years away from reaching his full potential.

Everyone got a little too excited after watching Jackson outduel Randy Johnson on his 20th birthday on Sept. 9. His command simply wasn't as good as his tolerable Double-A walk rate suggested.

16. Andy Marte - 3B Braves - Age 20 - ETA: 2006
.285/.372/.469, 16 HR, 63 RBI, 109/67 K/BB, 5 SB in 463 AB for Single-A Myrtle Beach

BA: #11, BP: #3

2004 quote: Marte's 2003 numbers aren't especially impressive until one recognizes that they were amassed in one of the toughest places for hitters in the minors.

Marte isn't much better at 24 than he was at 19. He isn't hopeless yet, but nothing encouraging has come from the last two seasons.

17. Jeff Mathis - C Angels - Age 21 - ETA: July 2005
.323/.384/.500, 11 HR, 54 RBI, 74/35 K/BB, 5 SB in 378 AB for Single-A Rancho Cucamonga
.284/.364/.463, 2 HR, 14 RBI, 16/12 K/BB, 1 SB in 95 AB for Double-A Arkansas

BA: #22, BP: #18

2004 quote: Like Mauer, Mathis is the total package. He's been an excellent hitter as one of the youngest players in his leagues (he's just turning 21 on March 31), and despite the occasional miscue, he shows outstanding promise behind the plate.

Mathis' minor league numbers were inflated by playing in hitter's parks, but he still figured to be a lot better than this. He will have a long career because of his glove.

18. Greg Miller - LHP Dodgers - Age 19 - ETA: May 2005
11-4, 2.49 ERA, 103 H, 111/41 K/BB in 115 2/3 IP for Single-A Vero Beach
1-1, 1.01 ERA, 15 H, 40/7 K/BB in 26 2/3 IP for Double-A Jacksonville

BA: #8, BP: #33

2004 quote: Only the injury risk keeps Miller ranked below Edwin Jackson. … Durability is the main concern, since he did have some minor shoulder issues last season.

Miller may well have had the most potential of any pitcher on this list. However, given the extreme command problems he's dealt with since returning from shoulder problems, it doesn't look like he'll ever make an impact.

19. Gavin Floyd - RHP Phillies - Age 21 - ETA: April 2005
7-8, 3.00 ERA, 128 H, 115/45 K/BB in 138 IP for Single-A Clearwater

BA: #23, BP: #49

2004 quote: He has the 90-95 mph fastball and decent changeup to become a No. 2 starter. However, as he makes his way through the minors, he'll have trouble with hitters who lay off his curve, which typically breaks out of the strike zone.

Like Greinke, Floyd doesn't really resemble the pitcher he was in the minors. He won 17 games last season anyway, but he's a No. 3 at best.

20. Grady Sizemore - OF Indians - Age 21 - ETA: Sept. 2004
.304/.373/.480, 13 HR, 78 RBI, 73/46 K/BB, 10 SB in 496 AB for Double-A Akron

BA: #9, BP: #24

2004 quote: The 2000 third-round pick is a fine defensive center fielder with the potential to be a Shannon Stewart-like hitter from the left side.

BA wins this one. Sizemore hit 27 homers in 1,998 at-bats as a minor leaguer. He's beaten that total in two of his four full seasons in the majors.

21. Scott Hairston - 2B Diamondbacks - Age 23 - ETA: April 2005
.276/.345/.469, 10 HR, 47 RBI, 80/30 K/BB, 6 SB in 337 AB for Double-A El Paso
.000/.000/.000, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 0/0 K/BB, 0 SB in 0 AB for Triple-A Tucson
.360/.412/.539, 4 HR, 14 RBI, 19/7 K/BB, 3 SB in 89 AB for Scottsdale (AFL)

BA: #34, BP: #44

2004 quote: Jerry's little brother was limited by a back injury for much of the minor league season, but he's a terrific hitter who closely resembles Marcus Giles from three years ago. Since he probably won't improve his defense at second base like Giles did, Hairston could end up in an outfield corner.

It took longer than expected, but Hairston has demonstrated that he'd be at least an adequate regular in the outfield. Unfortunately, he's continued having problems staying healthy. I was too high on him.

22. J.J. Hardy - SS Brewers - Age 21 - ETA: July 2004
.279/.368/.428, 12 HR, 62 RBI, 54/58 K/BB, 6 SB in 416 AB for Double-A Huntsville

BA: #19, BP: #20

2004 quote: Already a quality defensive shortstop, the 2001 second-round pick dramatically increased his offensive production as a 20-year-old in Double-A.

The ranking seems about right, though with 50 homers the last two years, Hardy has demonstrated more power than expected.

23. Adam Wainwright - RHP Cardinals - Age 22 - ETA: Aug. 2004
10-8, 3.37 ERA, 133 H, 128/37 K/BB in 149 2/3 IP for Double-A Greenville

BA: #49, BP: #43

2004 quote: The Braves have a great reputation for keeping and dumping the right pitching prospects, but Wainwright remains very promising. The 2000 first-round pick's stock began to dip after a slow start at Greenville, but he turned things around in the second half and finished 10th in the Southern League in ERA.

Wainwright dropped 10 spots in my rankings from 2003, but 31 spots in BA's. BP had him abut the same.

24. Jason Stokes - 1B Marlins - Age 22 - ETA: 2006
.258/.312/.448, 17 HR, 89 RBI, 135/36 K/BB, 6 SB in 462 AB for Single-A Jupiter
.145/.169/.290, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 22/1 K/BB, 1 SB in 62 AB for Peoria (AFL)

BA: #51, BP: #NR

2004 quote: At least some of Stokes' problems in 2003 can be traced back to the wrist surgery he had following a breakthrough 2002 season in which he hit .341/.421/.645 in 97 games for low Single-A Kane County.

In 2003, it was #19 for me, #15 for BA and #11 for BP. I gave him a free pass, thinking that he just needed the full year to recover from wrist surgery. Stokes never did put the injury behind him, though.

25. Dustin McGowan - RHP Blue Jays - Age 22 - ETA: Sept. 2004
5-6, 2.85 ERA, 62 H, 66/25 K/BB in 75 2/3 IP for Single-A Dunedin
7-0, 3.17 ERA, 78 H, 72/19 K/BB in 76 2/3 IP for Double-A New Haven

BA: #18, BP: #23

2004 quote: McGowan, the 33rd overall pick in the 2000 draft, is steadily making the transition from thrower to pitcher. He still lacks consistency with his power curve and changeup, but he's getting better, and his mid-90s fastball is overpowering at times.

McGowan's promise survived Tommy John surgery. We'll find out in May or June whether he still has his arm strength following labrum surgery.

26. Khalil Greene - SS Padres - Age 24 - ETA: Now
.275/.327/.406, 3 HR, 20 RBI, 55/16 K/BB, 2 SB in 229 AB for Double-A Mobile
.288/.346/.442, 10 HR, 47 RBI, 55/16 K/BB, 5 SB in 319 AB for Triple-A Portland
.215/.271/.400, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 19/4 K/BB, 0 SB in 65 AB for San Diego

BA: #61, BP: #28

2004 quote: Greene should be a Shea Hillenbrand-type hitter in the majors, but because of his defensive value, he'll be a better player than the Arizona third baseman.

BA was considerably lower on Greene than most of the competition both years in which he qualified as a prospect. It may yet work out for them, though Greene has had two seasons in which he's been a well above average regular.

27. Clint Nageotte - RHP Mariners - Age 23 - ETA: Aug. 2004
11-7, 3.10 ERA, 127 H, 157/67 K/BB in 154 IP for Double-A San Antonio

BA: #45, BP: #37

2004 quote: Nageotte has a quality 91-95 mph fastball, but it's his vicious slider that has made him a top prospect and allowed him to strike out 617 batters in 520 career innings.

We'll never know whether Nageotte would have fulfilled his potential, but he did seem to be inviting injury by throwing so many sliders.

28. Josh Barfield - 2B Padres - Age 21 - ETA: 2006
.337/.389/.530, 16 HR, 128 RBI, 122/50 K/BB, 16 SB in 549 AB for Single-A Lake Elsinore

BA: #20, BP: #32

2004 quote: Barfield may not have the glove to play second base in the majors, but the Padres are going to leave him there and see if he can become Jeff Kent. … Barfield has Jose Vidro-like offensive upside, but he has some plate coverage issues.

Example No. 372 of why it's never a good idea to get too excited about a breakout season in the California League. That said, Barfield did put up an 820 OPS in the PCL as a 22-year-old and a 741 OPS in Petco as a 23-year-old. It's bizarre just how far he's fallen the last two years.

29. Chris Snelling - OF Mariners - Age 22 - ETA: April 2005
Previous rankings: 2001 #31, mid-2001 #26, 2002 #19, mid-2002 #21, 2003 #22, mid-2003 #23

.333/.371/.468, 3 HR, 25 RBI, 30/8 K/BB, 1 SB in 186 AB for Double-A San Antonio
.269/.333/.433, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 12/5 K/BB, 1 SB in 67 AB for Triple-A Tacoma

BA: NR, BP: #35

2004 quote: Snelling had a difficult time coming back from a torn ACL last season and further knee problems limited him to 253 at-bats. Because the Aussie is a reckless player center field, the injury troubles probably aren't going to go away.

BA wrote off Snelling as a top-notch prospect after his partial season in 2003. Since he was still so young, it was hard for the rest of us to do the same.

30. Justin Huber - C Mets - Age 21 - ETA: April 2005
.284/.370/.514, 9 HR, 36 RBI, 30/17 K/BB, 1 SB in 183 AB for Single-A St. Lucie
.264/.350/.425, 6 HR, 36 RBI, 54/19 K/BB, 0 SB in 103 AB for Double-A Binghamton


2004 quote: Defensively, he has trouble throwing out baserunners but is average elsewhere. If necessary, Huber's bat could allow him to become a decent first baseman. As a catcher, he's a potential All-Star.

Huber had another very promising offensive season in 2004, but he underwent left knee surgery and the Royals opted to move him to first base immediately upon acquiring him from the Mets. He never adjusted well to the position, and he's battled more injuries while trying to make it in the outfield the last couple of years. It's not looking good for one of my favorites.

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