Down on the Farm: Top 10 Disappointments

The Minor League season is over and it's time to take a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly. Today, the disappointing is on tap.

10. The Major League Struggles of Travis Blackley
Even at 21, Blackley was expected to fare a little better as a big league pitcher. The Aussie may just need more time getting things back together.

9. The Lost Season for Rett Johnson
Much was expected of RJ coming into the season but "personal issues" turned into massive control problems and he never regained true form.

8. Ryan Anderson Still on Shelf
Teased by the slight possibility that the former top prospects might pitch in 2004, aren't we all disappointed that we still haven't seen him? On the bright side, the latest word is that Anderson has fought hard to get as healthy as he can.

7. The 2002 and 2003 Draftees and Their Continued Failures
Josh Womack, Kendall Bergdall, Troy Cate, Evel Bastida-Martinez, Brandon Perry, Jeff Flaig, Paul Fagan, Eric O'Flaherty, Casey Abrams, Jeremy Dutton, Justin Ruchti and Michael Cox were the cream of the crop in the 2002 and 2003 drafts. None have established themselves in the least. Most have are big disappointments and a handful could find themselves released this winter.

6. Lower Level Pitching Prospects Scarce in 2004
With the exception of a few such as Bobby Livingston, Thomas Oldham, Jason Snyder and Shawn Nottingham, the lower three levels boasted virtually zero solid pitching prospects. For an organization known for solid young pitching, the M's lack a young group to push through the system.

5. Absence of Major League Ready Position Players
Coming into the season, only Jamal Strong was seen as a decent position player that was ready for the majors. Jose Lopez proved to be ready and Jeremy Reed did the same after being acquired in June. But there was no impact help available in April and May when the M's sorely needed a boost. The top systems in baseball should have a weapon or two on the shelf in Triple-A.

4. Colton, Hagen, Oliveros, and Rivera Have Difficult Seasons
Colton had a huge month in May but after that was a strikeout machine. Hagen has had two sub par seasons in a row and should be let go this winter. Oliveros capped a disappointing season at the plate by getting suspended for what is believed to be some sort of violation of baseball's drug policy. Rivera hit seven home runs in 2004. Only three came at home and the other three came at High Desert which is considered a big time hitter's park where pitcher's go to die. Good thing the kid can play defense.

3. The Control Problems of Clint Nageotte
Nageotte has never been a command king, but his 62 walks in 117.1 innings was pretty uncharacteristic for the right-hander. Nageotte was also down in velocity, hitting 88 to 91 on the gun rather than the 91 to 94 he was accustomed to. That'll make a guy try and pick at the corners and lose confidence in his fastball like Nageotte did all year.

2. The Lack of Power-Hitting Prospects
This isn't just a 2004 problem, it's been an issue since the trio of Tino Martinez, Alex Rodriguez and Jose Cruz, Jr, came up through the system. When the best power prospect (Wladimir Balentien) in the entire organization is a 20-year-old with two years in the system and none above A ball, something is quite wrong.

1. Michael Garciaparra Takes a Step Back
Why is this No. 1? Because "'Lil G" played so well in the second half of 2003, laying the groundwork for a solid follow-up season and possibly a breakthrough for the former top draft pick. Needless to say his .226 average and mid-season injury didn't allow that to happen. Garciaparra will head into a make or break season in 2005.

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