Matthew Pouliot

Strike Zone

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2004 Top 100 Prospects Review

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

61. Ryan Wagner - RHP Reds - Age 21 - ETA: Now
1-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 H, 6/2 K/BB in 5 IP for Double-A Chattanooga
0-1, 4.50 ERA, 5 H, 4/0 K/BB in 4 IP for Triple-A Louisville
2-0, 1.66 ERA, 13 H, 25/12 K/BB in 21 2/3 IP for Cincinnati

BA: #46, BP: #16

2004 quote: Wagner became the first 2003 draft pick to reach the majors when the Reds called him up on July 19. … Because of his low-90s fastball and terrific slider, he's the team's closer of the future.

Wagner wasn't Craig Hansen, and he really would have been an excellent major league reliever had he stayed healthy. That terrific slider didn't stick around for long, though.

62. Jason Bay - OF Pirates - Age 25 - ETA: Now
.303/.410/.541, 20 HR, 59 RBI, 71/55 K/BB, 23 SB in 307 AB for Triple-A Portland
.250/.400/.750, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1/1 K/BB, 0 SB in 8 AB for San Diego
.291/.423/.506, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 28/18 K/BB, 3 SB in 79 AB for Pittsburgh

BA: #74, BP: #36

2004 quote: He somewhat resembles a young Rondell White, though he's quite a bit more patient at the plate. He also should be more durable. The broken wrist that caused Bay to miss six weeks last season was a fluke. A bigger concern was the torn labrum he had surgically repaired in December.

The injuries did drop Bay's ranking a bit, but he obviously should have been higher than this. BP gets some points for this one.

63. Gabe Gross - OF Blue Jays - Age 24 - ETA: Aug. 2004
.319/.423/.481, 7 HR, 51 RBI, 53/52 K/BB, 3 SB in 310 AB for Double-A New Haven
.264/.380/.456, 5 HR, 23 RBI, 56/31 K/BB, 1 SB in 182 AB for Triple-A Syracuse

BA: #72, BP: #40

2004 quote: He does a great job of getting on base and is developing into a quality defensive right fielder. The next step is for him to turn some doubles into home runs.

Gross has added power in his prime, but he hasn't turned out to be anything more than a .240 hitter.

64. Matt Riley - LHP Orioles - Age 24 - ETA: Now
5-2, 3.11 ERA, 56 H, 73/23 K/BB in 72 1/3 IP for Double-A Bowie
4-2, 3.58 ERA, 70 H, 77/28 K/BB in 70 1/3 IP for Triple-A Ottawa
1-0, 1.80 ERA, 7 H, 8/5 K/BB in 10 IP for Baltimore

BA: NR, BP: #29

2004 quote: Riley, one of the game's elite pitching prospects back in 1999, finally made it all the way back from Tommy John surgery last season, going 10-4 with a 3.24 ERA and 158 strikeouts in 152 2/3 innings between three levels.

Riley spent about half of 2004 in the majors with the Orioles. He went on to have his second Tommy John surgery in 2005 and his third in 2006.

65. Franklin Gutierrez - OF Dodgers - Age 21 - ETA: 2006
.282/.345/.513, 20 HR, 68 RBI, 111/39 K/BB, 17 SB in 425 AB for Single-A Vero Beach
.313/.387/.597, 4 HR, 12 RBI, 20/7 K/BB, 3 SB in 67 AB for Double-A Jacksonville

BA: #31, BP: #22

2004 quote: Whether he'll do so well against advanced pitching remains to be seen -- he may need a shorter swing -- but since Gutierrez is a fine defender in center field, he has a great deal of potential.

Gutierrez did need his swing reworked, but the change has yet to result in him becoming a quality major league hitter. He still made a lot of sense for Seattle in the J.J. Putz trade.

66. Sean Burnett - LHP Pirates - Age 21 - ETA: Aug. 2004
14-6, 3.21 ERA, 158 H, 86/29 K/BB in 159 2/3 IP for Double-A Altoona

BA: #64, BP: #47

2004 quote: Burnett throws in the high-80s and has a terrific changeup. It might take him a year or so to adjust to the majors, but he should settle in as a solid No. 3 starter by 2006.

Burnett seemed like a good bet to stay healthy at least, but he blew out his elbow in 2004 and then needed labrum surgery in 2005. His failed to come all of the way back.

67. Sergio Santos - SS Diamondbacks - Age 20 - ETA: 2006
.287/.368/.408, 8 HR, 49 RBI, 64/41 K/BB, 5 SB in 341 AB for Single-A Lancaster
.255/.293/.365, 2 HR, 16 RBI, 25/8 K/BB, 0 SB in 137 AB for Double-A El Paso
.250/.308/.427, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 22/9 K/BB, 0 SB in 96 AB for Scottsdale (AFL)

BA: #37, BP: NR

2004 quote: Santos, a 2002 first-round pick out of a California high school, started his first full pro season in high Single-A and ended it in Double-A. The Diamondbacks have probably been overaggressive with him, resulting in the mediocre numbers, but the fact that he's managed to hold his own is a point in his favor.

Santos never did more than hold his own. He hasn't posted an 800 OPS since Rookie ball in 2002.

68. John Maine - RHP Orioles - Age 22 - ETA: July 2005
7-3, 1.53 ERA, 43 H, 108/18 K/BB in 76 1/3 IP for Low Single-A Delmarva
6-1, 3.07 ERA, 48 H, 77/20 K/BB in 70 1/3 IP for Single-A Frederick

BA: #54, BP: NR

2004 quote: A sixth-round pick in 2002, Maine has been perhaps the most effective pitcher in the minors over the last year and a half. … With his low-90s fastball, four-pitch arsenal and fine command, Maine projects as a No. 3 starter.

Maine was something of a disappointment in his first year in Triple-A, so he didn't make any of the lists in 2005. By the time the Mets got him in the Kris Benson deal, he looked like a fringe fifth starter at best.

69. Jeremy Guthrie - RHP Indians - Age 24 - ETA: July 2004
6-2, 1.44 ERA, 44 H, 35/14 K/BB in 62 2/3 IP for Double-A Akron
4-9, 6.52 ERA, 129 H, 62/30 K/BB in 96 2/3 IP for Triple-A Buffalo

BA: #53, BP: NR

2004 quote: Guthrie, a 2002 first-round pick out of Stanford, didn't make his pro debut until 2003. He overwhelmed Double-A hitters right from the start, leading to speculation that he could join the Indians in June or July. That never happened, of course, as Triple-A proved to be one massive speed bump.

Guthrie never did master Triple-A, and I really didn't see him helping the Orioles after the Indians let him go prior to the start of 2007. He's pulled off quite a turnaround.

70. Kyle Sleeth - RHP Tigers - Age 22 - ETA: April 2005

BA: #36, BP: NR

2004 quote: Sleeth, a product of Wake Forest, was the third overall pick in the 2003 draft. He signed for $3.35 million in August, but the Tigers elected to have him rest rather than get him some time in the minors.

Sleeth, who showed promise in 2004 before requiring Tommy John surgery, went 12-21 with a 6.32 ERA in three minor league seasons before retiring after 2007.

71. Jason Arnold - RHP Blue Jays - Age 24 - ETA: June 2004
3-1, 1.53 ERA, 18 H, 33/11 K/BB in 35 1/3 IP for Double-A New Haven
4-8, 4.33 ERA, 121 H, 82/46 K/BB in 120 2/3 IP for Triple-A Syracuse


2004 quote: The former second-round pick complements an average fastball and slider with a palmball that he can use against both righties and lefties. Many think he'll end up in the bullpen, but he deserves a chance to establish himself as a third or fourth starter.

BP had Arnold ranked 24th in 2003, and BA had him at the bottom of its top 100. However, people began to sour on him as his velocity dropped. I was just a year too late.

72. Michael Restovich - OF Twins - Age 25 - ETA: June 2004
.275/.346/.465, 16 HR, 72 RBI, 117/47 K/BB, 10 SB in 454 AB for Triple-A Rochester
.283/.406/.415, 0 HR, 4 RBI, 12/10 K/BB, 0 SB in 53 AB for Minnesota


2004 quote: Because of the strikeouts, Restovich doesn't figure to be anything more than a .260-.270 hitter in the majors. However, with his 35-homer power, the 1997 second-round pick still looks like he should become an average regular in left field despite a disappointing 2003 season in Triple-A.

I dropped Restovich from 49th to 72nd after his rough year. BA had him 39th the year before, only to erase him entirely. Restovich spent last year in Japan, but after struggling there, it looks like he'll be a part of the White Sox's Triple-A lineup this season.

73. Merkin Valdez - RHP Giants - Age 22 - ETA: Aug. 2005

9-5, 2.25 ERA, 119 H, 166/49 K/BB in 156 IP for Low Single-A Hagerstown
0-0, 3.38 ERA, 6 H, 4/0 K/BB in 5/1 IP for Grand Canyon (AFL)

BA: #40, BP: NR

2004 quote: Valdez … used a mid-90s fastball and a quality slider to limit South Atlantic League hitters to a .213 average. His changeup is below average right now, but Valdez has No. 2 starter potential.

Valdez made it all of the way from A-ball to the majors in 2004, but he's been injured as often as not since. If he makes it now, it will be as a reliever.

74. Joel Zumaya - RHP Tigers - Age 19 - ETA: 2006
7-5, 2.79 ERA, 69 H, 126/38 K/BB in 90 1/3 IP for Low Single-A West Michigan


2004 quote: Zumaya overpowered Midwest League hitters with a mid-90s fastball last season. The 2002 11th-round pick is still quite raw, but his curveball and changeup both have the potential to become plus pitches.

It's surprising that Zumaya didn't crack the BA list given his stuff. They did have him ranked third in the Detroit system, but the Tigers placed just two in the top 100 that year.

75. Guillermo Quiroz - C Blue Jays - Age 22 - ETA: April 2005
.282/.372/.518, 20 HR, 79 RBI, 83/45 K/BB, 0 SB in 369 AB for Double-A New Haven

BA: #35, BP: #17

2004 quote: The 22-year-old doesn't quite have (Kevin) Cash's defensive skills, but he is very good with the glove and he has far more offensive ability. He could hit .260 with 20 homers per year in the majors.

I had forgotten just how high everyone was on Quiroz. His 2003 season stands out as a major fluke now. Throw out the 890 mark then and his career minor league OPS is right around 700. He's hit .201/.266/.269 in 234 at-bats as a major leaguer.

76. Mike Hinckley - LHP Expos - Age 21 - ETA: July 2005
9-5, 3.64 ERA, 124 H, 111/41 K/BB in 121 IP for Low Single-A Savannah
4-0, 0.72 ERA, 14 H, 23/1 K/BB in 25 IP for Single-A Brevard County

BA: #60, BP: NR

2004 quote: Hinckley throws in the low 90s and had an excellent curveball. His changeup is well behind his other pitches, but he still could turn it into an average offering.

Hinckley hurt his shoulder in 2005 and never regained his former promise, though he does have a shot of becoming a useful reliever.

77. Todd Wellemeyer - RHP Cubs - Age 25 - ETA: Now
1-1, 5.48 ERA, 19 H, 34/10 K/BB in 21 1/3 IP for Double-A West Tenn
5-5, 5.18 ERA, 68 H, 56/33 K/BB in 66 IP for Triple-A Iowa
1-1, 6.51 ERA, 25 H, 30/19 K/BB in 27 2/3 IP for Chicago (NL)


2004 quote: The numbers aren't pretty, but Wellemeyer has a major league arm and he was dominant in his early appearances for the Cubs, striking out 12 in 7 2/3 scoreless innings during May. … With a mid-90s fastball and plus changeup, Wellemeyer is talented enough to succeed as a starter or a reliever.

It looks like this one is going to turn out just fine after all. Wellemeyer was a personal favorite of mine. BA had him ranked 13th in a Cubs system that placed six in the top 100.

78. Chad Tracy - 3B Diamondbacks - Age 23 - ETA: April 2005
.324/.372/.456, 10 HR, 80 RBI, 52/41 K/BB, 0 SB in 522 AB for Triple-A Tucson


2004 quote: He doesn't hit for the power one wants to see from a third baseman, but Tracy has batted well over .300 each year since being drafted in the seventh round in 2001. There's no reason to think he won't keep it up in the majors, and he'll belt out enough doubles to make himself a solid regular if he stays at the hot corner.

Tracy wasn't especially highly regarded by the scouting community because of his mediocre defense and lack of home run ability, but the power did come, as he hit 27 homers in his second big-league season in 2005. Unfortunately, knee problems struck in 2007 and prematurely forced him to first base last season. He should stick around for several more years, but he may be more of a role player.

79. Nick Swisher - OF Athletics - Age 23 - ETA: June 2005
.296/.418/.550, 10 HR, 43 RBI, 49/41 K/BB, 0 SB in 189 AB for Single-A Modesto
.230/.324/.380, 5 HR, 43 RBI, 76/37 K/BB, 0 SB in 287 AB for Double-A Midland


2004 quote: A borderline defender in center, Swisher figures to move to a corner now that Mark Kotsay is ahead of him in Oakland. His bat won't be so intriguing in right or left, but he still figures to become a solid .280/.370/.460 regular.

I was ahead of the curve here. BA ranked Swisher sixth in an Oakland system that placed just two in the top 100. However, by 2005, we all had Swisher in the 15-30 range.

80. Jon Rauch - RHP White Sox - Age 25 - ETA: Now
7-1, 4.11 ERA, 121 H, 94/35 K/BB in 124 2/3 IP for Triple-A Charlotte


2004 quote: Rauch, one of the top prospects in all of baseball following a brilliant 2000 season, isn't yet back to where he was before hurting his shoulder in 2001. … He remains a good bet to make it as a fourth or fifth starter and he could be something more.

This was another case of me standing by a prospect long after everyone else. Rauch hasn't quite justified this ranking, but of the 13 guys in the White Sox chain that BA ranked ahead of him, Chris Young is the only one especially likely to have a better career (Ryan Sweeney and maybe Brian Anderson are also possibilities).

81. Bryan Bullington - RHP Pirates - Age 23 - ETA: July 2005
5-1, 1.39 ERA, 25 H, 46/11 K/BB in 45 1/3 IP for Low Single-A Hickory
8-4, 3.05 ERA, 101 H, 67/27 K/BB in 97 1/3 IP for Single-A Lynchburg

BA: #97, BP: NR

2004 quote: The No. 1 overall pick in the 2002 draft, Bullington put up quality numbers in his pro debut but was something of a disappointment. He lost three mph off his fastball, which was typically in the 91-94 mph range while he was at Ball State…

Bullington never bounced back, and he probably wasn't going to be anything spectacular either way.

82. Brad Nelson - OF/1B Brewers - Age 21 - ETA: July 2005
.311/.363/.395, 1 HR, 18 RBI, 22/12 K/BB, 2 SB in 167 AB for Single-A High Desert
.210/.274/.315, 1 HR, 14 RBI, 34/11 K/BB, 2 SB in 143 AB for Double-A Huntsville
.220/.304/.232, 0 HR, 8 RBI, 23/9 K/BB, 0 SB in 82 AB for Peoria (AFL)

BA: #48, BP: NR

2004 quote: Ignore his 2003 numbers. Nelson, who hit .289 with 20 HR and 116 RBI in 2002, suffered a broken hamate bone at the end of April and never recovered his power.

BA dropped Nelson from 23rd in 2003 to 48th after his poor season. I ignored the numbers and actually moved him up slightly from 88th to 82nd. Nelson's power did come back in 2004, but he also started striking out more than ever before 2008 was the first season since 2002 in which he finished with an 800 OPS in the minors (.286/.380/.480 for Triple-A Nashville).

83. Mike Jones - RHP Brewers - Age 20 - ETA: June 2005
7-2, 2.40 ERA, 87 H, 63/47 K/BB in 97 2/3 IP for Double-A Huntsville

BA: #84, BP: NR

2004 quote: Despite a disappointing strikeout rate, he was very successful for Huntsville until an elbow injury shut him down. It's possible that he'll end up needing Tommy John surgery, but the Brewers hope it can be avoided.

Jones pulled off the trifecta: labrum surgery in 2004, rotator cuff surgery in 2005 and Tommy John surgery in 2007. He did return to the mound last year and go 1-6 with a 5.71 ERA in the minors.

84. Juan Dominguez - RHP Rangers - Age 23 - ETA: July 2004
4-0, 2.84 ERA, 55 H, 72/16 K/BB in 63 1/3 IP for Single-A Stockton
5-0, 2.60 ERA, 35 H, 54/21 K/BB in 55 1/3 IP for Double-A Frisco
1-0, 3.50 ERA, 15 H, 14/3 K/BB in 18 IP for Triple-A Oklahoma
0-2, 7.16 ERA, 16 H, 13/12 K/BB in 16 1/3 IP for Texas


2004 quote: The Rangers have him focusing on improving his slider. If he comes up with a decent one, he'll be a No. 3 starter.

A really odd case. Dominguez went 5-7 with a 4.15 ERA for the Rangers between 2005 and 2006 -- which is quite good for a Texas pitcher -- but the team was really disappointed by his attitude and shipped him off to Oakland prior to the 2006 season. He went on to have a very disappointing year for the Athletics' Triple-A club, and he hasn't been heard from since.

85. Freddy Sanchez - 2B/SS Pirates - Age 26 - ETA: Now
.341/.430/.493, 5 HR, 25 RBI, 36/31 K/BB, 8 SB in 211 AB for Triple-A Pawtucket
.400/.400/.600, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 1/0 K/BB, 0 SB in 5 AB for Triple-A Nashville
.235/.235/.294, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 8/0 K/BB, 0 SB in 34 AB for Boston


2004 quote: While he probably won't ever be an All-Star, Sanchez should be a .300 hitter and an effective regular in the majors.

One of my better calls.

86. Manny Parra - LHP Brewers - Age 21 - ETA: 2006
11-2, 2.73 ERA, 127 H, 117/24 K/BB in 138 2/3 IP for Low Single-A Beloit

BA: #69, BP: NR

2004 quote: Featuring a junkballer's mentality along with legit stuff, Parra was one of the Midwest League's top pitchers until hurting a pectoral muscle in August.

Five years later, Parra could still stand to be more aggressive in attacking hitters.

87. Dioner Navarro - C Yankees - Age 20 - ETA: 2006
.299/.364/.467, 3 HR, 28 RBI, 27/17 K/BB, 1 SB in 197 AB for Single-A Tampa
.341/.388/.471, 4 HR, 38 RBI, 26/18 K/BB, 2 SB in 208 AB for Double-A Trenton

BA: #41, BP: #30

2004 quote: Signed out of Venezuela in 2000, Navarro is a switch-hitter with a line-drive swing and doubles power. Defensively, he projects as a slightly above average regular.

Navarro still has a pretty good chance of justifying the more aggressive rankings. He was just 24 while hitting .295/.349/.407 last season.

88. Ramon Nivar - OF Rangers - Age 24 - ETA: June 2004
.347/.387/.464, 4 HR, 37 RBI, 23/20 K/BB, 9 SB in 317 AB for Double-A Frisco
.337/.368/.472, 2 HR, 12 RBI, 5/5 K/BB, 6 SB in 89 AB for Triple-A Oklahoma
.211/.253/.267, 0 HR, 7 RBI, 10/4 K/BB, 4 SB in 90 AB for Texas
.381/.400/.540, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 6/2 K/BB, 6 SB in 63 AB for Peoria (AFL)


2004 quote: Nivar is primarily a singles hitter right now, but he is a very good one and he should add more doubles.

I really wish I didn't fall for this one. Nivar did nothing but hit for average in nice environments for hitters. BA ranked him third in the Texas system, one spot ahead of Dominguez, but neither cracked the top 100.

89. Ryan Madson - RHP Phillies - Age 23 - ETA: Now
0-0, 5.63 ERA, 11 H, 9/2 K/BB in 8 IP for Single-A Clearwater
12-8, 3.50 ERA, 157 H, 138/42 K/BB in 157 IP for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre


2004 quote: After recovering from elbow tendinitis, Madson continued his steady climb up the ladder in 2003, finishing with very solid numbers for the fourth straight season.

An appropriate ranking. I also had him in the 80s on the 2003 list.

90. Jeremy Hermida - OF Marlins - Age 20 - ETA: 2006
.284/.387/.393, 6 HR, 49 RBI, 100/80 K/BB, 28 SB in 468 AB for Low Single-A Greensboro
.000/.000/.000, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 3/0 K/BB, 0 SB in 3 AB for Triple-A Albuquerque

BA: #28, BP: #46

2004 quote: The 11th overall pick in the 2002 draft showed impressive on-base ability in his first full professional season and he should have 20-25 home run power as he gets stronger.

I got a late start on Hermida. I followed suit the next couple of years by placing him in the 20 in 2005 and top five in 2006.

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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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