The Success of Past Prospects


Ryan Anderson, Ryan Christianson, Chris Snelling, Antonio Perez, Clint Nageotte, Jose Lopez, Travis Blackley, Jeremy Reed, Jeff Clement, Phillippe Aumont, Greg Halman, and Adam Moore. I’m guessing that you have heard some of those names, and I’m guessing you have never heard quite a few of those names. Is this just a random list of players? NO. It’s a list of past Seattle Mariner prospects that made Baseball America’s top 100 Prospect list.

That’s right, these names were once thought to be the future stars of the Mariner organization, yet as we know, none of them really worked out. Sure, Lopez had a few good years before dropping off the face of the earth, and a few other guys have bounced around from team to team and from AAA to the majors for years, but none of them have actually had good major league careers.

As fans, we often look at promising young players and simply expect them to fulfill their potential. I know that I am quite guilty of this. In some of my past articles, I have discussed prospects as if they were sure things, while in reality they are a long ways from being major league caliber players.

In this article, I am going to look at the prospects that we have in our system that have made the 2012 Baseball America top 100 prospects list, and then give a list of past prospects of the same position that have been at similar ranks on past Baseball America lists. This will hopefully put in perspective just how unreliable prospects truly are.

I admit, this is not a perfect analysis of how likely our current prospects are to make the majors, but it will still give a broad comparison to past players that you can use.

The Mariners to make the 2012 list were Jesus Montero (6th), Taijuan Walker (20th), Danny Hultzen (21st), James Paxton (52nd), and Nick Franklin (77th).

Jesus Montero (6th)

We know that Jesus has already made the majors, but that doesn’t mean that he will have long-term success there. Here is a list of catchers who cracked the top 20 from 2010 to 2000.

  • Buster Posey (2010, 2009)
  • Carlos Santana (2010)
  • Matt Wieters (2009, 2008)
  • Jarrod Saltalamacchia (2006)
  • Joe Mauer (2005, 2004, 2003, 2002)
  • Victor Martinez (2003)

As you can see from this list, not many catchers have been ranked in the top 20, but the ones that have made it that high have experienced success. That’s pretty encouraging for the future of Jesus.

Taijuan Walker (20th)

I will include all right-handed prospects that ranked from 15th to 30th.

  • Jeremy Hellickson (2010)
  • Casey Kelly (2010)
  • Kyle Drabek (2010)
  • Jacob Turner (2010)
  • Rick Porcello (2009, 2008)
  • Chris Tillman (2009) Note: The Mariners sent Tillman along with Adam Jones to the Orioles in the Erik Bedard Trade.
  • Jerrod Parker (2009)
  • Wade Davis (2008)
  • Nick Adenhart (2008) Note: Adenhart was tragically killed in a car crash after just four major league appearances.

Adam Miller (2008, 2007, 2005)

Yovani Gallardo (2007)

Mike Pelfrey (2007)

Matt Garza (2007)

Bobby Jenks (2006)

Chad Billingsley (2005)

Jeff Niemann (2005)

Jose Capellan (2005)

Edwin Jackson (2005)

Dustin McGowan (2004)

Gavin Floyd (2004)

Chin-Hui Tsao (2004, 2001)

Angel Guzman (2004)

Ervin Santana (2004)

King Felix. Credit: Steven Bisig-US PRESSWIRE

Felix Hernandez (2004)

Jeremy Bonderman (2003)

Adam Wainwright (2003)

John VanBenschoten (2003)

Rafael Soriano (2003, 2002)

Rich Harden (2003)

Dennis Tankersley (2002)

Nick Neugebauer (2002)

Jerome Williams (2002, 2001)

Jon Rauch (2002)

Jake Peavy (2002)

Boof Bonser (2002)

Juan Cruz (2001)

Bobby Bradley (2001)

Donny Bridges (2001)

Matt Belisle (2001)

Kurt Ainsworth (2001)

Josh Becket (2000)

A.J. Burnett (2000)

Brad Penny (2000)

Tony Armas (2000)

Ramon Ortiz (2000)

Francisco Cordero (2000)

This is a very large and diverse list of pitchers. Some of these guys, such as Gallardo, King Felix, and Wainwright are some of the best pitchers in baseball. On the other hand, some of these guys never did anything in a major league uniform. Most of them, however, have had decent major league stints which is encouraging.

Danny Hultzen (21st)

Here are all of the lefty pitchers from 2010 to 2000 that ranged from 15th to 30th on the Baseball America list.

Martin Perez (2010)

Aroldis Chapman (2010)

Tyler Matzek  (2010)

Multiple exposure image of Clayton Kershaw. Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

Brian Matusz (2009)

Jake McGee (2008)

Gio Gonzalez (2008)

Clayton Kershaw (2007)

Franklin Morales (2007)

Jon Lester (2006)

Jeff Francis (2005)

Mike Hinckley (2005)

Cole Hamels (2004)

Sean Burnett (2003)

Cliff Lee (2003)

Carlos Hernandez (2002)

Ty Howington (2002)

Chris George (2001)

Matt Riley (2000)

Wilfredo Rodriguez (2000)  Note: Wilfredo may be the coolest name ever.

Wow, that is a very strange list. Nearly all of these guys fall into one of two categories: 1) stud 2) total bust. Honestly though, can anyone say that they have heard a baseball player with a cooler name than Wilfredo? If you have, please put it in the comment section below.

James Paxton (52nd)

All lefty pitchers that have placed between 45th and 60th on the Baseball America lists will be included in this list.

Casey Crosby (2010)

John Danks. Credit: Rob Grabowski-US PRESSWIRE

Ross Detwiler (2008)

Donald Veal (2007)

Chuck Lofgren (2007)

John Danks (2007, 2006, 2005)

Troy Patton (2007)

Jonathan Sanchez (2007)

Adam Loewen (2006)

Jeremy Sowers (2006)

Scott Elbert (2006)

Justin Jones (2004)

Mike Hinckley (2004)

Andy Sisco (2003)

Mike Gosling (2003)

Mario Ramos (2002)

Jimmy Gobble (2002)

Mark Phillips (2002)

Joe Torres (2001)

Wilfredo Rodriguez (2001)

Mike Bynum (2001)

Ed Yarnall (2001)

C.C. Sabathia (2001)

Well that list of players is downright disturbing, if not devastating. If you can honestly say that you have heard of over half of the names on this list, then I am impressed. Besides Sabathia who has had a great career, John Danks and Jonathan Sanchez who have had their ups and downs, and Wilfredo Rodriguez who has the best name in baseball history, there aren’t many bright spots on that list. This is not to say that James Paxton won’t be a good pitcher, but history certainly doesn’t seem to be in his favor.

Nick Franklin (77th)

I will include both shortstops and second baseman in this list, since it is unclear where Franklin will end up. All prospects that were place from 70th to 85th on past prospect rankings will be included in this list.

  • Jiovanni Mier (2010)
  • Adrian Cardenas (2009, 2008)
  • Reid Brignac (2009)
  • Jed Lowrie (2008)

Note: Carlos Triunfel was ranked 89th on the 2009 list and 62nd on the 2008 list.

  • Alberto Callaspo (2007, 2004)

Note: Current Pirates second baseman, Neil Walker was placed at 74th on the 2007 rankings, but he was listed as a third baseman. He was also listed as 81st in 2005, but his position was catcher that year.

Orlando Hudson who, like Nick Franklin, is a switch hitter. Credit: Denny Medley-US PRESSWIRE

Dustin Pedroia (2006)

Cliff Pennington (2006)

Joaquin Arias (2005)

Brandon Wood (2005)

Jose Lopez (2004)

Chase Utley (2003)

Jake Gautreau (2002)

Orlando Hudson (2002)

Luis Montanez (2001)

Marcus Giles (2000)

Adam Everett (2000)

Note: Carlos Guillen was ranked 73rd on the 2000 list, but was posted as a 3rd baseman. However, Guillen played every infield position throughout his career.

This list has a couple studs scattered across a sea of busts. A lot of these middle infielders that didn’t work out never really made the majors, but since Franklin is already knocking on the door, that’s seems to bode well for him avoiding the same fate.

Mike Zunino

Mike Zunino was not a Mariner when the 2012 top prospect list was released by Baseball America, but released an updated top prospect list in which Zunino ranked 44th. Therefore, I will list past catching prospects that ranked from 35th to 50th on Baseball America lists.

Derek Norris (2010)

J.P. Arencibia. Credit: Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE

Jason Castro (2010)

Jesus Montero (2009)

J.P. Arencibia (2009)

Jeff Clement (2008)

Geovany Soto (2008)

Jarrod Saltalamacchia (2007)

Russell Martin (2006)

Neil Walker (2006)

Brian McCann (2005)

Dioner Navarro (2004)

Guillermo Quiroz (2004) Note: Quiroz was in the Mariner organization, but not on the 40-man roster, until being traded for cash in September.

Jeff Mathis (2003)

Josh Phelps (2002)

J.R. House (2002)

Joe Buck (2002)

Ben Patrick (2000)

Matt LeCroy (2000)

  • Jayson Werth (2000) Note: This IS the same Jayson Werth that is now a star outfielder for the Nationals.
  • Steve Lomasney (2000)

    The recent prospect to made this list have experienced quite a bit of success while the members of older lists struggled more. Hopefully this trend will benefit Zunino.

    My purpose for this article was not to discourage your hope in our future, but to simply give some perspective of just how unpredictable these young prospects can be. As fans, we need to make sure we aren’t counting our eggs before they hatch and basing our future on kids that may or may not work out.