Draft : : Rankings
Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Look Back at PG's 2002 Top 100 Prospect List

David Rawnsley        
Every once in a while it’s worthwhile to look back at past draft classes, past lists, past showcases, etc.   Especially at this time of the year when there isn’t much new going on in the baseball world, particularly at the high school/college level.
By happy coincidence, a member of the PG staff recently dug up and circulated the Perfect Game Top 100 list that was published before the 2002 draft.  Looking down the list was a fun exercise, especially remembering what those players were like back then as 17-18 year olds and what so many of them are today.
Of those 100 players listed back in 2002, the following has happened (keeping in mind that these numbers will grow significantly over the years).
95 players were eventually drafted
26 were first round picks
16 were second round picks
40 have played in the Major Leagues
10 have played in the Major League All-Star Game
Players have won the following awards:  Cy Young, World Series MVP, NLCS MVP, All-Star Game MVP
Here is a thumb nail on the top 20 players on the Perfect Game Top 100 list in 2002, plus some comments on other players on the list.
1.        LHP Scott Kazmir (1st/NYM):  How Kazmir fell to 15th overall in the draft is still anyone’s guess.  The two-time All-Star has struggled the past two years with consistency but is still 26 years with 66 big league wins under his belt, more than fellow 2002 drafts (see below) Jon Lester (61) Zach Greinke (60) and Cole Hamels (60) have won to this point in their careers.
2.       CF B.J. Upton (1st/TB):  Then shortstop Upton was drafted second overall behind the Pirates RHP Bryan Bullington.  Upton debuted at age 19 and has 67 career home runs and 165 stolen bases.
3.       LHP Adam Loewen (1st/Bal):  Loewen went to Chapola JC for a year before eventually signing.  He reached the big leagues quickly as a pitcher but is now back in the minors seeking to make a Rick Ankiel-type career switch and re-emerge as a power hitting outfielder.
4.       RHP Chris Gruler (1st/Cin):  Scouts still swear that Gruler was worthy of his 3rd slot in the 2002 draft but arm injuries quickly ruined his career, as he threw only 92 innings as a pro, 44 of those in 2002 immediately after signing.
5.       RHP Zach Greinke (1st/KC):  Greinke endured a 5-17 season as a 21 year old to win the 2009 Cy Young Award (16-8, 2.16, 229 IP/242 K’s).
6.       RHP Jason Neighborgall (3rd/2005/Ariz):  Neighborgall could throw 100 mph but his control problems grew worse from high school to college to pro ball to the extent he walked 128 hitters in only 48 minor league innings before calling it quits.
7.       RHP Mark McCormick (1st/2005/StL): McCormick went to Baylor for three years but his pro career was derailed by arm injuries.  He never threw more than 62 innings in any of his four seasons with the Cardinals.
8.       OF Jeff Francoeur (1st/Atl):  Francoeur looked like one of the game’s top young stars in 2006 when he hit .260-29-103 as a 22 year old.
9.       OF Denard Span (1st/Min):  Span can have a very long and productive big league career if he hits like he did in 2009 (.311-8-68/.807 OPS).
10.   SS Sergio Santos (1st/Ariz):  Santos switched to the mound in 2009 and amazingly made the big leagues (2-2, 2.98, 51 IP with the White Sox) after only 28 innings pitching experience in the minor leagues. 
11.   LHP Jon Lester (2nd/Bos):  2010 was the first of what might be many All-Star Game appearances for the Washington native, who was evidently much higher on PG’s list than on many big league teams.
12.   C Jeff Clement (1st/2005/Sea):  Iowa product Clement spent three years at USC before becoming the 3rd pick in the 2005 draft.  Now a first baseman, he has shown flashes of power in the big leagues (14 HR’s in 363 AB’s).
13.   3B Scott Moore (1st/Det):  Moore has developed into a prototypical 4-A player, having spent the last four years in AAA with a number of big league call-ups, including a 86 at-bat trial with the Orioles in 2010 (.209-3-10).
14.   1B James Loney (1st/LA):  Loney has been a dependable and durable (6 missed games in 3 years) first baseman (.267-10-88/.723 OPS in 2010).
15.   3B Matt Whitney (1st comp/Cle):  Whitney suffered a badly broken leg in a freak accident during his first off-season and missed the next 1 ½ years.  He was never really the same player afterwards, although he was still in the minors in 2010.
16.   RHP Micah Owings (3rd/2005/Ariz):  Baseball’s best hitting pitcher (.861 career OPS) first went to Georgia Tech, then to Tulane before signing.  He seems destined for a career as a middle reliever/pinch hitter.
17.   RHP Zach Hammes (2nd/LA):  The hard throwing Hammes spent seven years in the Dodgers system, getting as high as AAA, but never developed the command to take the final step.  He pitched in Hi A for Boston in 2010.
18.   RHP Mike Pelfrey (1st/2006/NYM):  Pelfrey attended Wichita State and after being the 9th pick in the 2006 draft has settled down as a solid big league starter (15-9, 3.66 in 2010)
19.   LHP Cole Hamels (1st/Phil):  The 2008 World Series MVP is now part of what is being called one of the best starting rotations in history. 
20.   2B Micah Schilling (1st comp/Cle):  Schilling, whose best tool in high school was his left handed bat as a middle infielder, failed to hit in six minor league seasons (.248 average with 13 career HR’s) and is now out of the game.
Other notable players from the Top 100 list include:
24.  C Brian McCann (2nd/Atl):  Does anyone really realize how good Brian McCann really is??  He’s 27 years old and has been a big league regular for five years.  He’s been named to five (5!) All-Star teams and has averaged .287-21-88 as a solid defensive catcher for those five years.  If you take Joe Mauer’s career numbers (1 more season) and take them over a 162 game schedule, they are .327-16-91/.888 OPS.  McCann’s are .289-24-100/.849 OPS.  Aside from Mauer’s freakish ability to line singles into left centerfield, is there really any difference between them offensively?
34.  RHP Jonathan Broxton (2nd/LA):  A two-time All-Star, Broxton was used as a starter in the minor leagues before being switched to the bullpen shortly before his big league debut in 2005 as a 21 year old.
43.  RHP Evan Meek (11th/Min):  2010’s most unlikely All-Star survived a 2-year stretch in the minor leagues where he walked 76 hitters in 46 innings and blossomed once moved to the bullpen with the Pirates, his third organization.
44.  RHP Josh Johnson (4th/FL):  The only thing keeping Johnson from being acknowledged as one of the top pitchers in baseball is injuries and pitching for the Marlins.  He’s 26-11 and has been named to the NL All-Star Team the past two seasons.
47.  1B Prince Fielder (1st/Mil):  Perfect Game consistently had Fielder underrated, but most observers were still a bit surprised when the Brewers picked him 7th overall.  Two All-Star Game appearances and 192 home runs by age 26 point to the wisdom of that decision.
51.  RHP Joel Zumaya (11th/Det):  Zumaya lasted until the 11th round but cruised through the minors as quickly, in relative terms, as his 100+ fastball gets to home plate.  He hasn’t been fully healthy since 2006, though.
61.  1B Gaby Sanchez (4th/2005/FL):  Sanchez’s 2010 season got him into the NL Rookie of the Year conversation.  Setting a career professional high in home runs (.273-19-83/.788 OPS) in his first ML season means that there might be more power there, too.
79.  SS Cliff Pennington (1st/2005/Oak):  Three years at Texas A&M made him a first round pick.
96.  3B Alex Gordon (1st/2005/KC):  Gordon’s career path after going to Nebraska and being drafted 2nd overall  started fast and has been slowed by injuries.
100.  RHP Matt Cain (1st/SF):  PG was the only list to recognize Cain, but the Giants knew more than anyone on this pick, as Cain has averaged more than 200 innings a season since 2006, has a World Series ring and a $15M contract for 2012 before potentially becoming a free agent at age 28.
2002 Perfect Game National Player Rankings
Rank Name Pos Hometown State Highest Level Draft Awards All Stars