Matthew Pouliot

Strike Zone

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2004 Top 100 Prospects Review

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

91. Matt Cain - RHP Giants - Age 19 - ETA: 2006
4-4, 2.55 ERA, 57 H, 90/24 K/BB in 74 IP for Low Single-A Hagerstown

BA: #91, BP: NR

2004 quote: The fractured elbow that cost Cain half of last season also dropped him behind Merkin Valdez on the Giants' top-10 list, but the 2002 first-round pick has at least as much upside as any pitcher in the team's farm system.

Cain went on to have an outstanding 2004 season and was universally regarded as one of the game's top pitching prospects entering 2005.

92. Blake Hawksworth - RHP Cardinals - Age 21 - ETA: July 2005
5-1, 2.30 ERA, 37 H, 57/12 K/BB in 54 2/3 IP for Low Single-A Peoria
1-3, 3.94 ERA, 28 H, 32/11 K/BB in 32 IP for Single-A Palm Beach

BA: #47, BP: NR

2004 quote: Hawksworth, who missed time last season with an ankle problem, throws in the low-90s and has a quality curveball. His changeup should develop into an effective third offering.

Hawksworth missed most of 2004 and 2005 with shoulder problems, and he never has made it to the majors.

93. Bobby Brownlie - RHP Cubs - Age 23 - ETA: June 2005
5-4, 3.00 ERA, 48 H, 59/24 K/BB in 66 IP for Single-A Daytona

BA: #92, BP: NR

2004 quote: Brownlie was a candidate to be the first pick in the 2002 draft before hurting his shoulder during his junior season at Rutgers. He ended up going 21st overall to the Cubs and held out for a while before signing in March. Brownlie pitched well in his first action as a pro, but he was shut down in July as a precaution because of more shoulder troubles.

Brownlie lost his best stuff to shoulder problems, and while he's still trying, it doesn't look like he'll ever reach the majors.

94. Kelly Shoppach - C Red Sox - Age 23 - ETA: April 2005
.282/.353/.488, 12 HR, 60 RBI, 83/35 K/BB, 0 SB in 340 AB for Double-A Portland
.281/.370/.516, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 19/8 K/BB, 0 SB in 64 AB for Mesa (AFL)

BA: #78, BP: NR

2004 quote: Although he doesn't do any one thing especially well, Shoppach could be similar in quality both offensively and defensively to the catcher he might replace in Boston in 2005, Jason Varitek.

That was certainly a bit strong. If Shoppach was really similar to Varitek, then he should have been ranked an awful lot higher. Shoppach wasn't given a chance to establish himself in Boston, but he's looking at a decent career as a regular now.

95. Seung Song - RHP Expos - Age 23 - ETA: June 2004
5-2, 2.35 ERA, 55 H, 44/24 K/BB in 72 2/3 IP for Double-A Harrisburg
7-2, 3.79 ERA, 69 H, 40/33 K/BB in 73 2/3 IP for Triple-A Edmonton


2004 quote: Song… probably doesn't deserve this ranking unless he regains the velocity he had back when he was a Red Sox prospect. The Korean right-hander rarely touched 90 mph last season, leading to the drop in his strikeout rate.

I should have listened to my own words. Song didn't regain his velocity and never did reach the majors. He's pitching in Korea now.

96. Corey Hart - 3B Brewers - Age 22 - ETA: May 2005
.302/.340/.467, 13 HR, 94 RBI, 101/28 K/BB, 25 SB in 493 AB for Double-A Huntsville


2004 quote: Hart… had a disappointing 2003, posting an OPS 50 points lower than his career total and making 32 errors at third base. Hart is really a first baseman and may never make the adjustment to third, which could lead to him being switched to left field.

Hart was viewed as more of a prospect after 2002, but even then, I was quite a bit higher on him than anyone else (I had him 54th, BA 91st, BP NR). In 2005, I had him 44th and he was again unranked by BA.

97. Dustin Nippert - RHP Diamondbacks - Age 22 - ETA: May 2005
6-4, 2.82 ERA, 66 H, 96/32 K/BB in 95 2/3 IP for Low Single-A South Bend
1-2, 3.60 ERA, 26 H, 30/12 K/BB in 30 IP for Scottsdale (AFL)

BA: #83, BP: NR

2004 quote: Nippert flashed a mid-90s fastball and a ferocious curveball while striking out a batter an inning for Scottsdale. His changeup is getting better, leaving his health as the only major question mark.

Nippert had Tommy John surgery in 2004 and missed the first third of 2005. He's looking like a fringe fifth starter these days.

98. Ian Stewart - 3B Rockies - Age 18 - ETA: 2007
.317/.401/.558, 10 HR, 43 RBI, 54/29 K/BB, 4 SB in 224 AB for Rookie Casper

BA: #57, BP: NR

2004 quote: The 10th overall pick in the 2003 draft, Stewart has the potential to be a top-notch offensive third baseman. His glove isn't so solid, but he has plenty of time to work on his defense and the Rockies are going to do everything in their power to keep him at third base.

After three straight uninspiring seasons, Stewart took a big step forward in 2008. Whether he's a third baseman is still in question.

99. Dave Krynzel - OF Brewers - Age 22 - ETA: April 2005
.267/.357/.357, 2 HR, 34 RBI, 119/60 K/BB, 43 SB in 457 AB for Double-A Huntsville
.233/.295/.314, 1 HR, 9 RBI, 14/3 K/BB, 3 SB in 86 AB for Peoria (AFL)


2004 quote: Krynzel's stock was as high as it's ever been after a strong first half in 2003 (he came in at No. 49 on the midseason top 100 list), but the 2000 first-round pick struggled in August and September, ruining what chance he had of making an impact in the majors in 2004.

I wasn't Krynzel's biggest fan, but I overrated him. He struck out way too much for the kind of player he was.

100. Kelly Johnson - SS Braves - Age 22 - ETA: 2006
.275/.340/.425, 6 HR, 45 RBI, 81/35 K/BB, 10 SB in 334 AB for Double-A Greenville
.303/.364/.573, 5 HR, 15 RBI, 13/6 K/BB, 1 SB in 89 AB for Mesa (AFL)


2004 quote: Johnson's defense at shortstop has improved quite a bit over the last couple of seasons, but it's still expected that he'll end up at third base or in the outfield. Look for an offensive breakthrough in 2004 or 2005.

Johnson moved to the outfield in 2004 and busted out in 2005. The surprise is that he's managed to make it as a second baseman, and even though the Braves were willing to move him back to the outfield to make room for Rafael Furcal, they do feel he's capable there.

In BA's top 100, not in mine:

Kaz Matsui - BA: #7, BP #10

I didn't and still don't rank veteran imports. Matsui and Akinori Otsuka were the notables to arrive over the previous winter.

Felix Hernandez - BA: #30, BP: NR, RW: #145
Justin Jones - BA: #56, BP: NR, RW: #107
Clint Everts - BA: #58, BP: NR, RW: #121
Travis Blackley - BA: #63, BP: NR, RW: #103
Ryan Harvey - BA: #65, BP: NR, RW: #115
Scott Olsen - BA: #67, BP: NR, RW: NR
Chris Lubanski - BA: #68, BP: NR, RW: #104
Alberto Callaspo - BA: #71, BP: NR, RW: NR
Adam LaRoche - BA: #73, BP: NR, RW: NR
Bubba Nelson - BA: #75, BP: NR, RW: #135
Fausto Carmona - BA: #76, BP: NR, RW: #111
Michael Aubrey - BA: #79, BP: NR, RW: #150
John Danks - BP: #80, BP: NR, RW: NR
Matt Moses - BP: #81, BP: NR, RW: NR
Dan Meyer - BP: #82, BP: NR, RW: NR
Lastings Milledge - BP: #86, BP: NR, RW: NR
Francisco Rosario - BP: #87, BP: NR, RW: NR
Matt Peterson - BP: #88, BP: NR, RW: #131
Jesse Crain - BP: #89, BP: NR, RW: #114
Nick Markakis - BP: #90, BP: NR, RW: NR
Jeff Francis - BP: #93, BP: NR, RW: NR
Jayson Nix - BP: #90, BP: NR, RW: NR
Joey Gathright - BP: #95, BP: NR, RW: #117
Aaron Hill - BP: #96, BP: NR, RW: NR
Brent Clevlen - BP: #98, BP: NR, RW: #110
Jake Dittler - BP: #99, BP: NR, RW: NR
Jason Lane - BP: #100, BP: NR, RW: #124

In BP's top 50, not in mine:

Edwin Encarnacion - BP: NR, BP: #34, RW: #128
David Bush - BP: NR, BP: #39, RW: NR
Russ Adams - BP: NR, BP: #42, RW: NR
J.J. Davis BP: NR, BP: #48, RW: NR
Charlie Zink BP: NR, BP: #50, RW: NR

Obviously, Baseball America was very aggressive with the 2003 first-round picks. Harvey, Lubanski, Aubrey, Danks, Moses, Milledge, Markakis, and Hill were all selected then, as were top 100 prospects Delmon Young, Rickie Weeks, Kyle Sleeth, Ian Stewart, Ryan Wagner and Jeff Allison. Chad Billingsley, Carlos Quentin and Conor Jackson were also first-rounders, but they didn't make any lists.

BA gets big points here for ranking King Felix so high after just 69 innings as a pro.

BP's gutsier picks have proven to be a mixed bag. I think Encarnacion will end up justifying that ranking, and it's good that they gave Bush some attention, even if placing him 39th was excessive.

Note that Ryan Howard is nowhere to be found on any lists. He hit .304/.374/.514 for Single-A Clearwater in 2003, but he was already 23 and he had a 151/50 K/BB ratio in the process.

In the end, it looks like Baseball America had the best list. They get points for placing Upton second, Sizemore in the top 10 and Felix No. 30. I had some victories (Youkilis, Bedard and Adrian Gonzalez among them), but also more ugly misses than BA did.

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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