Matthew Pouliot

Strike Zone

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2004 Top 100 Prospects Review

Wednesday, January 14, 2009




31. Casey Kotchman - 1B Angels - Age 21 - ETA: 2006
.337/.379/.593, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 3/2 K/BB, 0 SB in 27 AB for Rookie AZL Angels
.350/.441/.524, 8 HR, 28 RBI, 16/30 K/BB, 2 SB in 206 AB for Single-A Rancho Cucamonga
.261/.370/.341, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 4/7 K/BB, 0 SB in 46 AB for Scottsdale (AFL)

BA: #15, BP: #14

2004 quote: Kotchman undoubtedly is one of the most skilled hitters in the minors. Unfortunately, the 2001 first-round pick collects injuries and home runs in equal numbers.

Kotchman was a disappointment last year, but at least he has played in 280 games over the last two years. He still figures to settle in as an above average first baseman


32. David Wright - 3B Mets - Age 21 - ETA: July 2005
.270/.369/.459, 15 HR, 75 RBI, 98/72 K/BB, 19 SB in 466 AB for Single-A St. Lucie
.341/.427/.489, 2 HR, 15 RBI, 10/13 K/BB, 4 SB in 88 AB for Peoria (AFL)

BA: #21, BP: #5

2004 quote: Comparisons to Travis Fryman have seemed apt in the past, but with his offensive and defensive potential, Wright could be a right-handed-hitting Robin Ventura.

BP's biggest victory. I did have Wright second behind Upton in the 2004 Midseason list, but that was a case of being late to the party.


33. Adrian Gonzalez - 1B Rangers - Age 21 - ETA: Sept. 2004
.307/.368/.409, 1 HR, 16 RBI, 25/14 K/BB, 1 SB in 137 AB for Double-A Carolina
.283/.326/.393, 3 HR, 17 RBI, 27/11 K/BB, 0 SB in 173 AB for Double-A Frisco
.216/.286/.288, 1 HR, 18 RBI, 25/14 K/BB, 1 SB in 139 AB for Triple-A Albuquerque
.260/.396/.455, 3 HR, 16 RBI, 9/17 K/BB, 1 SB in 77 AB for Peoria (AFL)

BA: #52, BP: NR

2004 quote: Gonzalez had his problems last year after undergoing offseason wrist surgery, but he bounced back in the AFL and should be 100 percent this year. In a best-case scenario, Gonzalez will have a John Olerud-type career.

Others soured on Gonzalez because he was so slow to show power. As it turned out, he developed more than anyone could have predicted.


34. Bobby Jenks - RHP Angels - Age 23 - ETA: Sept. 2004
0-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 H, 5/0 K/BB in 4 IP for Rookie AZL Angels
7-2, 2.17 ERA, 56 H, 103/51 K/BB in 83 IP for Double-A Arkansas

BA: #62, BP: #45

2004 quote: One of the hardest throwers in baseball, Jenks has about as much chance of developing into a true ace as anyone in the minors.

Or a shutdown closer. The ranking worked out just fine.


35. John Van Benschoten - RHP Pirates - Age 23 - ETA: May 2005
6-0, 2.22 ERA, 33 H, 49/18 K/BB in 48 2/3 IP for Single-A Lynchburg
7-6, 3.69 ERA, 95 H, 78/34 K/BB in 90 1/3 IP for Double-A Altoona

BA: #38, BP: NR

2004 quote: The 2001 first-round pick has a 90-94 mph fastball with movement and his curveball is another plus pitch. His slider and changeup aren't yet so useful, but he's still made remarkable progress for someone who was primarily an outfielder in college.

It's never going to happen. Van Benschoten has simply lost too much of his stuff due to shoulder problems.


36. James Loney - 1B Dodgers - Age 19 - ETA: 2006
.276/.337/.400, 7 HR, 46 RBI, 80/43 K/BB, 9 SB in 468 AB for Single-A Vero Beach
.247/.371/.407, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 17/16 K/BB, 1 SB in 81 AB for Scottsdale (AFL)

BA: #42, BP: #25

2004 quote: A broken wrist sustained at the end of 2002 limited his ability to hit for power last season…

Loney slipped even further in 2004, finishing with four homers and a 641 OPS in his first year in Double-A. Still, he has overcome the injuries to become a quality regular, if perhaps an overrated one.


37. Joe Blanton - RHP Athletics - Age 23 - ETA: April 2005
8-7, 2.57 ERA, 110 H, 144/19 K/BB in 133 IP for Single-A Kane County
3-1, 1.26 ERA, 21 H, 30/7 K/BB in 35 2/3 IP for Double-A Midland

BA: #43, BP: #41

2004 quote: The University of Kentucky product throws in the low-90s and has two first-rate breaking balls in his curve and slider. … He's a future No. 3 starter.

We were all in agreement here. Oddly, we all went in different directions after he posted a 4.19 ERA in Triple-A in 2004. I moved him up to #19, BP held him steady at #43 and BA dropped him all of the way out of its top 100.


38. Wilson Betemit - 3B Braves - Age 22 - ETA: April 2005
.262/.315/.414, 8 HR, 65 RBI, 115/38 K/BB, 8 SB in 478 AB for Triple-A Richmond

BA: NR, BP: NR

2004 quote: Betemit had his second straight rough season in 2003, but it has to be remembered that he was a 21-year-old playing in Triple-A.

Both BA and BP had soured on Betemit and bumped him from the rankings after including him in previous seasons. Call me crazy, but he's still young and talented enough to justify this position.


39. Brandon Claussen - LHP Reds - Age 24 - ETA: Now
2-0, 1.64 ERA, 16 H, 26/3 K/BB in 22 IP for Single-A Tampa
2-1, 2.75 ERA, 53 H, 39/18 K/BB in 84 1/3 IP for Triple-A Columbus
0-1, 7.47 ERA, 17 H, 16/6 K/BB in 15 2/3 IP for Triple-A Louisville
1-0, 1.42 ERA, 8 H, 5/1 K/BB in 6 1/3 IP for New York (AL)

BA: NR, BP: NR

2004 quote: His velocity was down slightly, but Claussen, acquired from the Yankees in the Aaron Boone trade, made a successful return from Tommy John surgery in 2003.

No one else hopped back on the Claussen train post-surgery. It looked like he was on his way to becoming a reliable middle-of-the-rotation starter when he went 11-11 with a 4.21 ERA for the Reds in 2005, but his shoulder gave out on him after that.


40. Jeff Francoeur - OF Braves - Age 20 - ETA: 2007
.281/.325/.445, 14 HR, 68 RBI, 68/30 K/BB, 14 SB in 524 AB for Low Single-A Rome

BA: #27, BP: NR

2004 quote: The 2002 first-round pick does need to work on his tendency to chase bad pitches, but he's hardly clueless at the plate and he shows excellent power potential.

On the other hand, maybe he is clueless. 2009 will be telling.


41. Kevin Youkilis - 3B Red Sox - Age 25 - ETA: August 2004
.327/.487/.465, 6 HR, 37 RBI, 40/86 K/BB, 7 SB in 312 AB for Double-A Portland
.165/.295/.248, 2 HR, 15 RBI, 21/18 K/BB, 0 SB in 109 AB for Triple-A Pawtucket

BA: NR, BP: NR

2004 quote: Because he's a below average defensive third baseman and probably won't hit more than 15 homers per season in the majors, Youkilis is going to have to get on base 38-40 percent of the time to be an asset. Expect him to do so.

I was a believer, but I certainly didn't see him ever hitting 29 homers in one season. For the record, his OBP has fallen between .380-.400 in each of his three full seasons.


42. Felix Pie - OF Cubs - Age 19 - ETA: 2007
.285/.346/.388, 4 HR, 47 RBI, 98/41 K/BB, 19 SB in 505 AB for Low Single-A Lansing

BA: #85, BP: NR

2004 quote: The native of the Dominican Republic is already an outstanding defensive center fielder and he has the ability to become a very good hitter. As of right now, he projects as a Johnny Damon-type player.

It looks like I'm the standout here, but in 2005, BA moved Pie up to No. 31 after an unexceptional year in high-A ball (.287/.358/.441, 116/39 K/BB ratio in 431 AB). I held him steady at No. 43.


43. Joe Borchard - OF White Sox - Age 25 - ETA: April 2005
.253/.307/.398, 13 HR, 53 RBI, 103/27 K/BB, 2 SB in 435 AB for Triple-A Charlotte
.186/.246/.265, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 18/5 K/BB, 0 SB in 49 AB for Chicago (AL)

BA: NR, BP: NR

2004 quote: It's time to start getting very concerned. Borchard handled Triple-A pitching fairly well in his go-round with Charlotte, putting up a .272/.349/.498 line in 2002. In 2003, he had the same numbers as the much-maligned Drew Henson, who is actually 16 months younger than Borchard.

Just another case of me not wanting to give up on a prospect. Borchard clearly deserved it at this point.


44. Kris Honel - RHP White Sox - Age 21 - ETA: May 2005
9-7, 3.11 ERA, 122 H, 122/42 K/BB in 133 IP for Single-A Winston-Salem
1-0, 3.75 ERA, 9 H, 13/6 K/BB in 12 IP for Double-A Birmingham

BA: #55, BP: NR

2004 quote: Honel projects as a third starter in the majors. He lacks the upside of Neal Cotts, but he's a better bet to have a long career.

Honel blew out his elbow in 2004 and never made it all of the way back.


45. Shin-Soo Choo - OF Mariners - Age 21 - ETA: 2006
.286/.365/.459, 9 HR, 55 RBI, 84/44 K/BB, 18 SB in 412 AB for Single-A Inland Empire

BA: NR, BP: NR

2004 quote: Choo, signed out Korea in 2000, resembles Snelling as a hitter. He's not quite so gifted, but since he does figure to be more durable, he could have the better career. … Choo could emerge as a Rusty Greer-type hitter.

BP was the highest on Choo in 2003, but I was the one who stuck with him after a mediocre season. That Greer comparison isn't looking so bad right now. Choo hit .309/.397/.549 in 317 at-bats as a 25-year-old last season. Greer hit .314/.410/.487 in 277 at-bats in his age-25 season.


46. Andy Sisco - LHP Cubs - Age 21 - ETA: 2006
6-8, 3.54 ERA, 76 H, 99/31 K/BB in 94 IP for Low Single-A Lansing

BA: #77, BP: NR

2004 quote: He also has some maturity issues -- he missed nearly two months of last season with a broken left hand sustained while punching a wall -- but since he doesn't turn 21 until January, that's not a major concern.

It turned into a major concern. Sisco's arm problems have done more to doom his career, but he certainly hasn't helped things with his attitude.


47. Macay McBride - LHP Braves - Age 21 - ETA: June 2005
9-8, 2.95 ERA, 164 H, 139/49 K/BB in 164 2/3 IP for Single-A Myrtle Beach

BA: NR, BP: NR

2004 quote: He's a future No. 3 starter who might be capable of jumping all the way to the majors this season if he were pitching for a weaker team.

A bad call on my part. The Braves shifted McBride to the pen after he struggled as a starter early on in 2004. He had a decent year for the team out of the pen in 2006, but he developed command problems in 2007 and missed last season following Tommy John surgery. He'll try to make the Tigers as a reliever this spring.


48. Hanley Ramirez - SS Red Sox - Age 20 - ETA: 2007
.275/.327/.403, 8 HR, 50 RBI, 73/32 K/BB, 36 SB in 422 AB for Low Single-A Augusta

BA: #39, BP: NR

2004 quote: Ramirez, who hit .352 between the Gulf Coast League and the New York-Penn League in 2002, had his OPS fall by more than 200 points last season. Just as much of a concern as the drop off in performance are his attitude and questionable work habits.

Both BA and I dropped Hanley about 20 spots after his rough 2003 season. BP probably did the same thing, but in that case, it meant he was off the list entirely. Oops.


49. Denny Bautista - RHP Orioles - Age 21 - ETA: April 2005
8-4, 3.21 ERA, 68 H, 77/35 K/BB in 85 IP for Single-A Jupiter
4-5, 3.71 ERA, 45 H, 61/35 K/BB in 53 1/3 IP for Double-A Carolina

BA: #59, BP: NR

2004 quote: He still needs to refine his changeup and improve his control before he'll be ready for the majors, but there aren't many pitchers in the minors with more upside.

Bautista turned out to be lying about his age. The stuff was certainly there for him to succeed, but I don't think he would have cracked the top 100 with 70 walks in 138 1/3 innings at age 22, rather than age 20.


50. Erik Bedard - LHP Orioles - Age 25 - ETA: July 2004
0-0, 1.13 ERA, 4 H, 11/2 K/BB in 8 IP for Rookie GCL Orioles
0-0, 2.35 ERA, 7 H, 13/1 K/BB in 7 2/3 IP for SS Single-A Aberdeen
0-1, 7.36 ERA, 5 H, 2/1 K/BB in 3 2/3 IP for Low Single-A Frederick

BA: NR, BP: NR

2004 quote: Bedard made a successful return from Tommy John surgery in August, pitching well in six minor league starts before being shut down.

Just like the year before, I was the only one to stick with Bedard following surgery. The patience does pay off once in a while.


51. Jeff Allison - RHP - Age 19 - ETA: 2006
0-2, 1.00 ERA, 7 H, 11/4 K/BB in 9 IP for Rookie GCL Marlins

BA: #44, BP: NR

2004 quote: Allison, who went his entire senior year without giving up an earned run, was viewed as the top high school pitcher available in last season's draft.

Substance abuse problems derailed Allison's career, though he did get back on the mound last season for the first time since 2005. He finished 9-8 with a 5.22 ERA for Single-A Jupiter.


52. David DeJesus - OF Royals - Age 24 - ETA: July 2004
.338/.422/.479, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 8/9 K/BB, 1 SB in 71 AB for Double-A Wichita
.298/.412/.470, 5 HR, 23 RBI, 30/34 K/BB, 8 SB in 215 AB for Triple-A Omaha
.289/.356/.600, 6 HR, 14 RBI, 13/7 K/BB, 6 SB in 90 AB for Peoria (AFL)

BA: NR, BP: #26

2004 quote: With excellent on-base skills and improving power, DeJesus projects as Carlos Beltran's replacement in center field and the Royals' leadoff hitter in 2005.

A big success for BP here. BA kept DeJesus out of the top 100 and ranked him behind 2003 first-round picks Chris Lubanski and Mitch Maier in the Royals system.


53. Adam Loewen - LHP Orioles - Age 19 - ETA: 2006
0-2, 2.70 ERA, 13 H, 25/9 K/BB in 23 1/3 IP for SS Single-A Aberdeen

BA: #13, BP: NR

2004 quote: Loewen has outstanding stuff for a lefty, reaching 95 mph with his fastball and flashing an excellent curve. He's an injury risk, but the Orioles are going to handle him very carefully, giving him every opportunity to become a top starter.

The Orioles did handle him as well as they could have, but Loewen's arm simply wasn't up to the task. He's now going to try to make it as an outfielder in the Jays system.


54. Angel Guzman - RHP Cubs - Age 22 - ETA: April 2005
3-3, 2.81 ERA, 83 H, 87/26 K/BB in 89 2/3 IP for Double-A West Tenn

BA: #26, BP: NR

2004 quote: The Cubs are very excited about Guzman and his hard, sinking fastball, but the shoulder surgery that ended his 2003 season was a significant setback.

BA ranking Guzman 26th even after he had labrum damage repaired illustrates just how much the scouty types liked the right-hander. I think Guzman was overrated right from the start, but who knows what would have happened had he remained healthy. He's still not hopeless now.


55. Dallas McPherson - 3B Angels - Age 23 - ETA: 2006
.308/.404/.606, 18 HR, 59 RBI, 79/41 K/BB, 12 SB in 292 AB for Single-A Rancho Cucamonga
.314/.426/.569, 5 HR, 27 RBI, 25/19 K/BB, 4 SB in 102 AB for Double-A Arkansas
.218/.256/.333, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 26/4 K/BB, 0 SB in 78 AB for Scottsdale (AFL)

BA: #33, BP: #19

2004 quote: There was never much question about McPherson's power potential, but it was still surprising to see him slug nearly .600 at age 22. He's also proven to be a better contact hitter than expected.

That didn't last. We all got too excited about McPherson in part because of the numbers he put up in hitter's parks. I come off as having him pegged better here, but I did have him in the top 15 with everyone else in the 2005 rankings.


56. J.D. Durbin - RHP Twins - Age 22 - ETA: July 2004
9-2, 3.09 ERA, 73 H, 69/22 K/BB in 87 1/3 IP for Single-A Fort Myers
6-3, 3.14 ERA, 102 H, 70/29 K/BB in 94 2/3 IP for Double-A New Britain

BA: #66, BP: NR

2004 quote: Durbin projects as a No. 3 starter or a quality closer. The Twins plan to give him a chance to succeed as a starting pitcher before they consider switching him to the bullpen.

Durbin's command never improved with maturity, and he's yet to succeed in either role. It doesn't look like he ever will.


57. Jose Lopez - SS Mariners - Age 20 - ETA: Aug. 2005
.258/.303/.403, 13 HR, 69 RBI, 56/27 K/BB, 18 SB in 538 AB for Double-A San Antonio

BA: #70, BP: NR

2004 quote: Lopez didn't come close to matching his California League numbers (.324/.360/.464) in his first season in Double-A, but since he was just 19, that was to be expected.

BA apparently didn't expect it, dropping him from 38th to 70th in their rankings. I had him 50th in 2003. BP didn't rank Lopez either year.


58. Taylor Buchholz - RHP Astros - Age 22 - ETA: Sept. 2004
9-11, 3.55 ERA, 136 H, 114/33 K/BB in 144 2/3 IP for Double-A Reading

BA: #50, BP: NR

2004 quote: A 2000 sixth-round pick, Buchholz managed to have a successful season in 2003 despite pitching with bone chips in his elbow. The right-hander has a 91-93 mph fastball with an excellent curveball.

Buchholz's elbow held up fine, but he began having shoulder problems in 2004. He's now a very good setup man for the Rockies.


59. Neal Cotts - LHP White Sox - Age 24 - ETA: Aug. 2004
9-7, 2.16 ERA, 67 H, 133/56 K/BB in 108 1/3 IP for Double-A Birmingham
1-1, 8.10 ERA, 15 H, 10/17 K/BB in 13 1/3 IP for Chicago (AL)
0-2, 4.64 ERA, 24 H, 19/8 K/BB in 21 1/3 IP for Peoria Javelinas (AFL)

BA: NR, BP: NR

2004 quote: Although he doesn't throw much over 90 mph, Cotts has proven to be very difficult to hit in the minors, limiting Southern League hitters to a .173 average last season. … He could be a No. 2 or No. 3 starter if he improves his control. However, walks might always be a problem for him.

The White Sox never gave Cotts another chance to show what he could do as a starter. He made their team as a reliever in 2004, and he had a great season in 2005. However, his command has held him back every other year of his career.


60. Jonny Gomes - OF Devil Rays - Age 23 - ERA: April 2005
.249/.348/.441, 17 HR, 56 RBI, 148/53 K/BB, 23 SB in 442 AB for Double-A Orlando
.316/.435/.526, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 5/2 K/BB, 0 SB in 19 AB for Triple-A Durham
.133/.188/.200, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 6/0 K/BB, 0 SB in 15 AB for Tampa Bay
.295/.441/.705, 8 HR, 22 RBI, 19/17 K/BB, 4 SB in 88 AB for Mesa (AFL)

BA: NR, BP: NR

2004 quote: Gomes, who had a 1017 OPS in his 1 ½ pro seasons, had some difficulty in his first year in Double-A before heading to Arizona and leading the AFL in OPS. … Offensively, he resembles Preston Wilson, though hopefully he'll be a little more consistent.

I was mostly alone in my fondness for Gomes. He bounced back to have an outstanding 2005 between Triple-A and the majors, but shoulder problems cooled him off after a quick start in 2006 and he was never able to reestablish himself in his last two years with the Rays. He's still looking for a team for 2009.


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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