Thursday, January 24, 2008

Twins Top 10 - 1998 Retrospective

As Baseball America releases its top ten prospect list for 2008, its useful to look back and see who the top prospects were in the Minnesota system after the 1997 season. Not the guys everyone was excited about at the time, but who are the players who have been the most productive major leaguers. The Twins first round choices in the draft in 1997 were Michael Cuddyer and Matt LeCroy weren't officially signed until after the season so they didn't play. But I included them on the list because both made the Baseball America's list.

To start with, I looked at each level and found the players in the Twins system who became even marginal major leaguers for a very brief period. Michael Ryan and Brad Thomas are probably a stretch even at that low bar. And I used the level that they played at most. Some of these guys got brief promotions.

Todd Walker
Mark Redman
Travis Miller

At AA:
David Ortiz
Torii Hunter
Corey Koskie
Doug Mientkiewicz
Javier Valentine
Benj Sampson

At High- A Fort Myers
Chad Allen
Jacque Jones
AJ Pierzynski

Low A - Fort Wayne
Chad Moeller
Luis Rivas

Rookie - Elizabethton
Mike Ryan
JC(Juan) Romero
Brad Thomas

Gulf Coast
Grant Balfour
Juan Rincon

Didn't Play:

Based on their actual performances in the major leagues, here is a list of the Twins top ten future major league players after the 2007 season:

Torii Hunter
David Ortiz
AJ Pierzynski
Jacque Jones
Michael Cuddyer
Corey Koskie
Juan Rincon
Doug Mientkiewicz
Mark Redman
Luis Rivas

There are really only two other candidates to be on that list, Matt LeCroy and Travis Miller.

Here are the top ten prospects in the Twins system after the 1997 season accoring to Baseball America in 1998:

1.Luis Rivas, SS
2.David Ortiz, 1B
3.Michael Cuddyer, SS
4.Chad Allen, OF
5.Torii Hunter, OF
6.Dan Serafini, LHP
7.Jacque Jones, OF
8.Corey Koskie, 3B
9.Matthew LeCroy, C
10.Mike Lincoln, RHP

Missing: Rincon, Redman, Mientkiewicz, Pierzynski,
Misses: Allen, Serafini, Lincoln, LeCroy

That is a pretty good record, considering the uncertainties with prospects. But its also important to remember that while we call it Baseball America's list, it is more likely the list of one of their writers with some input from others. John Manuel did this year's list and I don't think he was around in 1998.

The other thing is that if you look at the order of that BBA list, you don't want to make much of the differences between the number one guy and all the rest. Occasionally there is a real "can't miss" guy like Joe Mauer at the top. But usually these are really lists of prospects with little real difference between the number one player and the number ten. So when John Manuel says Nick Blackburn is the best prospect in the Twins' system, take it with a grain of salt. It means Blackburn has about a 50-50 shot of having a major league career.

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