Cards top 10 prospect list misses: 2006-10

Not every top 10 prospect made the major leagues and many who did, did not stay around long. We look back at some of the misses from our earlier prospect rankings. Hey, no one is right all the time, even the big guys!

Once again, I am presenting the third installment in a series originally intended to be just two articles in length. I had been challenged to flip the ledger from our earlier articles about the top players we identified as prospects early on.

The subject this time is a look back at our prior ranking of prospects that did not go on to meet our lofty expectations.

As always, we need some ground rules. To keep this meaningful, I selected any prospects named among the top 10 Cardinals prospects from either The Cardinal Nation or Baseball America during the five-year span from 2006 through 2010. Using lists any more recent leads to an inability to draw firm major league conclusions about some of the prospects.

Speaking of conclusions, I excluded those players who seem to be performing well at the major league level compared to their potential, so players like Jaime Garcia, Jon Jay and Allen Craig are not listed.

Still, not misses all are equal. After some trial and error, I settled on three categories. The easiest to identify are those top 10 prospects who never reached the majors. Next is the group who made the bigs, but did not stay very long. Finally, we have a group for whom the jury is still out. Each player in this latter group still remains on his club's 40-man roster, so some hope remains to realize full potential.

The tables below are oriented by year, starting with 2006. The highest-ranked prospects each year are listed first.

The "Jury still out" players are on the left, with their top prospect list ranking from The Cardinal Nation and from BA that year. Next is the career MLB at-bats or innings-pitched accrued by that player.

The same information is repeated in the center columns for those one-time top 10 prospects who later made the majors ("Made MLB"), but are no longer on a 40-man roster. The once high-ranking prospects that did not spend even one day in the bigs are at the right ("No MLB"). Obviously, the AB/IP column is not relevant to them.

We will look at each year individually.

2006
Jury out TCN BA IP/AB Made MLB TCN BA IP/AB No MLB TCN BA
Lambert 3 4 33
Pomeranz 4 10 6
Haerther 5 8
McCormick  6 5
Webber 12 9
Hanson  9 7
Anderson 10 NR 285

Pomeranz: 2nd round in 2003
2006 (seven players)

Seven top 10 players from 2006 rankings fell short of expectations. Right-handers Chris Lambert and Stuart Pomeranz made prospect lists due to their draft standing as much as their pitching, though both made the major leagues briefly. I found it very interesting to note that both Michael Wacha and Lambert were the 19th overall selections in their respective drafts. Times have changed!

Bryan Anderson really had good career momentum, but as we all know, the catcher later hit a brick wall. While it took BA an additional year to warm up to Anderson, they did by 2007.

Three of the four prospects from 2006 to later fall short of the majors made both Cardinals top 10 lists. The fact we "only" had pitcher Nick Webber at number 12 is small consolation. Mark McCormick could never overcome injuries while Cody Haerther and Travis Hanson hit well before later dropping off at Triple-A.

2007
Jury out TCN BA IP/AB Made MLB TCN BA IP/AB No MLB TCN BA
Hawksworth 2 4 183
Anderson 4 6 285
Ottavino 5 7 101
Pomeranz 7 NR 6
McCormick  11 8
Jones 17 10
Stavinoha 10 20 265

2007 (seven players)

Right-hander Adam Ottavino makes the first appearance of any player in the "Jury out" column. The former first-rounder had a nice 2012 in Colorado's bullpen and could build on that. Though Blake Hawksworth has always struggled with injuries, I was a bit surprised to note that he still logged 183 major league innings. BA cooled on Pomeranz a year before us.

Another surprising factoid I gathered from preparing this data was that over the years, Anderson received more major league at-bats than did Nick Stavinoha. This occurred despite the fact that Stavi spent most of one entire season with St. Louis.

Even before he was named the Player of the Year in the Cardinals system, long-time tease Daryl Jones made BA's top 10. We were a little slower to come around on the outfielder, but we ended up buying in, also.

2008
Jury out TCN BA IP/AB Made MLB TCN BA IP/AB No MLB TCN BA
Anderson 2 3 285
Ottavino 5 6 101
Herron 6 10
J Martinez 7 17
Kozma 16 7 89
Barton 7a 4 153
Mather  8 13 493
Mortensen 9 8 137

Martinez
2008 (eight players)

The level of later disappointments reached its peak in 2008. The careers of pitcher Tyler Herron and second baseman Jose Martinez were derailed by off-field problems, though the latter is in Houston's camp this spring. Martinez is trying to make a comeback as a non-roster invitee.

September 2012 phenom Pete Kozma made his first top 10 appearance on BA's 2008 list while we were hanging back. Clayton Mortensen, currently on the Red Sox' 40-man roster, joined both top 10's coming off a high draft position.

Both sites were overly excited about the chances of Rule 5 addition Brian Barton while outfielder Joe Mather made his only top 10 showing at number eight on TCN's list. In Phillies camp this spring, Mather has almost 500 at-bats as a major leaguer. "Joey Bombs" might have an argument against being labeled a disappointment.

2009
Jury out TCN BA IP/AB Made MLB TCN BA IP/AB No MLB TCN BA
Wallace 2 2 709
Anderson 3 5 285
Todd 4 4 28
Jones 5 7
Mortensen 11 6 137
Kozma 12 10 89

2009 (six players)

2008 first-rounder Brett Wallace stormed onto both lists at number two, Though he has over 700 MLB at-bats to date, Wallace still has a chance to make his big career move. Mortensen and Kozma remained in BA's top 10, but just slid off the elite level of TCN's rankings.

Anderson was in his third season as a top five player, joined in 2008 by Jess Todd, that season's Pitcher of the Year in the system. Seth Maness fans, beware. After a year away, Jones was back.

2010
Jury out TCN BA IP/AB Made MLB TCN BA IP/AB No MLB TCN BA
Jones 5 4
Sanchez 6 6 45
Hawksworth 8 8 183
Stock 9 10

Hawksworth
2010 (four players)

The overall total of misses dropped to just four, but some interesting names are among them.

Eduardo Sanchez stormed into the prospect picture in 2010 and still could climb back – if he can harness his stuff. Hawksworth, owner of the coolest name across the system in recent years, made the difficult step of rejoining the top 10 after having missed two consecutive lists.

Jones was a consensus top-five player while then-catcher Robert Stock received top ten endorsements coming off his collegiate success at USC and second-round status. I did not include Stock among the "Jury outs" because he is a different player today. Stock the pitcher has not shown enough to be ranked in the top 40, let alone top 10.

By years

In closing, I thought it interesting to summarize the total number of disappointments by category and year.

Top 10 questions Jury out Made MLB No MLB Total
2006 0 3 4 7
2007 1 4 2 7
2008 3 3 2 8
2009 3 2 1 6
2010 1 1 2 4

It seems pretty clear that the drastically lower number of potential misses in 2009-2010 directly reflects a higher overall level of skill across the system. While there is a greater quantity of "Jury out" prospects in the later years, that is more of a point-in-time statement than necessarily a reflection of talent shift.

It will be very interesting to check back in a few years to see if this general trend will have continued with those in the 2011 and 2012 top prospect list top tens.

Yes, Tyrell Jenkins and Carlos Martinez, we are looking at you!

Links to earlier related articles
"Finding future Cards major leaguers off radar"
"When did we identify future Cardinals major leaguers"



Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnationblog.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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