At some point in the off-season I like to look back at the prospect lists I have made for the amateur drafts the past couple years, just to see how the players I listed are doing. Tonight I look at my first list, the one I put together in 2006. It was my first attempt to look at college baseball players, and all things considered, the list still looks okay. All of my original write-up are available here, and below are quick snapshots of how everyone is doing now:
15. Whit Robbins, 1B/OF, Twins (A) - The letter(s) in parentheses are the level the player spent the most time at in 2008. By far, Robbins' best attribute is his plate discipline, as evidenced by all his walks. However, he does not have much power, and he is a little old for the league he is in right now. Still, he repeated this league and posted an OPS about 200 points higher this year. Robbins has clearly progressed, but not enough to warrant a look in the majors any time soon.
14. Evan Longoria, 3B, Rays (MLB) - 2008 American League Rookie of the Year, and arguably the face of the Rays franchise. I would say he is on track to make an impact in the majors.
13. Chad Huffman, OF, Padres (AA) - Chad is worth watching closely right now. He spent all of last season in AA, where he hit for good average and showed good plate discipline. However, he did not have much power. If Huffman develops some power, he may get an extended look in the majors soon (especially considering San Diego's current urge to purge salaries).
12. Luke Hopkins, INF, Blue Jays - I'm assuming he is out of baseball, because he has not played in two years. He never really got a chance to a play, and I'm not sure what ever happened with him.
11. Ryan Strieby, 1B, Tigers (A) - Strieby has a big, strong frame that suggests a ton of power potential. He found his power stroke in a big way, to the tune of 29 home runs despite missing the last month of the season. Strieby got especially hot at the end of the year, posting OPSs well over 1.100 in both July and limited time in August. Next year he will prove whether he has taken a big step forward, or was simply hot for a couple months.
10. Brad Lincoln, P, Pirates (A) - It is hard to be too critical of Lincoln thus far. He missed all of 2007 with an arm injury, and he just began to work his way back last season. The upcoming year will be much more indicative of Lincoln's ability than anything he did this season.
9. Steven Wright, P, Indians (AA) - Wright made the jump from A to AA with mixed results. He maintained his strikeout and ground ball rates fairly well, but he was clearly hit harder. Wright took a huge step forward this past season though, and if he takes a similar step forward in 2009 he may get called up to the majors. It was an awfully big step forward though, and it's probably too much to expect.
8. Wade LeBlanc, P, Padres (AAA) - LeBlanc had an interesting year in AAA, and his stats do not tell the whole story. He got off to a horrific start, but steadily got better as the season wore on. He got lit up as a September call-up for the Padres, but he is probably the guy that will take Jake Peavy's rotation spot once Peavy is traded. Wade's biggest downfall is that he is a fly ball pitcher, and when he's off, he tends to give up lots of home runs. He's got great stuff though, and if/when he learns to control it better, he will be a good pitcher.
7. Jon Jay, OF, Cardinals (AA) - After having a significant portion of 2007 robbed by injuries, Jay rebounded with a quality 2008. By August, he was promoted to AAA, where he kept peforming at a very high level. I expect to see him start the year in AAA, but if he hits like he did last year, a promotion to the majors may come soon.
6. Cole Gillespie, OF, Brewers (AA) - Milwaukee is loaded with prospects right now, so it easy to overlook Gillespie. He had a real nice year in AA. Part of the reason he gets so little attention is because no one skill really stands out with him, but he also has no big weaknesses. Gillespie's power numbers dropped off significantly in the second half of the season, so it will be interesting to see whether the powerful first half or the weaker second half was the exception to the norm for Cole.
5. Max Scherzer, P, Diamondbacks (MLB) - Max split his time almost evenly between AAA and the majors last year, but that will not be the case in 2009. He is going to be on Arizona's opening day roster, and he will likely be the number four starter unless the D'Backs sign someone. He's got wicked stuff, and he should establish himself as the third starter in the rotation behind Webb and Haren by the end of the year. In fact, it would not surprise me if those three are the best starting trio in the majors next year.
4. Eddie Degerman, P, Cardinals (A) - It looks like I missed on this one. Degerman is already 25, and his numbers suggest a bad case of nibbling around the plate and not getting away with it all that well. Still, his strikeout numbers and rather low home run rates suggest that he has some good stuff. Degerman needs a big year in 2009 to have a chance at the majors.
3. Craig Cooper, OF, Padres (AA) - Cooper continues to show pretty good ability to make contact, but a little more plate discipline and some more power would go a long way towards getting him to the big leagues. Without either (especially the power), Cooper looks destined to be a bench bat at best.
2. Andrew Miller, SP, Marlins (MLB) - Miller has as good of stuff as anyone in baseball, but he lacks command of it. He should learn how to control his pitches as he matures, but how much he does will determine how good he becomes. It does not help that he was rushed to the majors, but he has the potential to develop quickly because he needs just a little more command.
1. Tim Lincecum, SP, Giants (MLB) - He is the 2008 National League Cy Young award winner; I rest my case. It's hard to say Lincecum was not the best player available in this draft, though a strong case can be made for Evan Longoria.
I have learned a ton the past couple years that I hope has made me a much better evaluator of college prospects. However, especially for a first try, this list is not bad at all. I don't know of many people that though Lincecum was the best pitcher available in the 2006 draft, but to this point he has made an extremely convincing argument that he was. The hitters on this list have not failed, but the way I ranked them certainly has room for improvement. In the end though, a team drafting according to my list would have ended up with some solid ballplayers.