It is inevitable, a prospect is going to one day shatter your worldview and leave you in metaphorical (hopefully, not actual) tears because of his poor performance in the majors. Since major league teams have caught on to the idea of building a winning roster with smaller payroll, prospects have become the new currency among General Managers willing to trade. They’ve become more valuable than winning, than current players, than money itself. They are the very cornerstones of every successful major league baseball team and the object of affection for fans with a long-term focus.
Prospects also happen to be the most unstable feature of a major league organization. The reason why all of these superstars in the making aren’t already in the major leagues is because teams simply cannot rely on these players to make the needed plays on a consistent basis. In one swing, a prospect can look like the next Barry Bonds, and the next swing, he could look like a drunken 40-year old attempting to relive the glory days. A pitching prospect may unleash a 97 mph fastball with movement that catches the corner on one pitch, and throw a curveball that lands ten feet short of home plate on the next. What matters most in the development of these youngsters is their ability to consistently produce and more importantly adjust. It’s what separates Brandon Wood from Cal Ripken Jr., or Matt Wieters from Johnny Bench. The following is a list of hyped prospects that you shouldn’t get attached to, because they will break your heart.
1. C Jesus Montero: New York Yankees. No. 3 prospect according to Baseball America. He’s played catcher throughout the minor leagues, but no one is fooled. Montero is as much a catcher as Travis Hafner is a shortstop. The bat has drawn comparisons to Miguel Cabrera, but let’s be “real” for a minute. At age 21, Miguel Cabrera was an everyday 3B and a serious MVP candidate. Jesus Montero is struggling to hit .290 in AAA with consistent power. There isn’t a doubt in my mind that Montero will be a decent major league hitter. But .290 and 20 HR’s goes a lot further as a catcher than it does as a DH.
Who to fall for instead? Wil Myers, No. 10 prospect according to Baseball America. He’s a catching prospect in the Royals system. He’s a terrific defensive catcher who is already beginning a shift to the outfield, and while he’ll never hit as much as Montero, his ability as an everyday player should make him a much more attractive prospect.
2. LHP Manny Banuelos: New York Yankees. No. 41 prospect according to Baseball America. Ok, I swear I’m not picking on the Yankees on purpose. They have a dedicated fan base and a huge media following, so their prospects are naturally going to be hyped. Banuelos is supposed to be the next great lefty, but to be honest, the last time we heard something similar from the Yankees was when Phil Hughes was dubbed the next Roger Clemens. While Banuelos is ahead of the age curve in the minors, he still cannot throw an off speed pitch for a strike, let alone his fastball with any consistency. He’s a classic case of being a “thrower” versus being a “pitcher”. If the Yankees forced him to step up to the stage, big leaguers would sit on his fastball and knock it out of that launch pad known as New Yankee Stadium.
Who to fall for instead? LHP Tyler Skaggs, No. 82 prospect according to Baseball America. He’s a lefty in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization. At age 19 he was able to mow down hitters in AA all while putting up a 1.04 WHIP. He throws all his pitches for strikes and despite being young, should have little trouble adjusting to major league hitters.
3. RHP Martin Perez: Texas Rangers. No. 24 prospect according to Baseball America. Like Neftali Feliz before him, this Rangers fireballer is being touted as the long-term solution to the Rangers starting pitching shortage. Also like Feliz, Perez’s future likely resides in the bullpen nailing down the later innings. It isn’t that either pitcher has been or will be a disappointment, but when fans are expecting an ace, they’re usually disappointed when they find they’ve got a setup man instead. Feliz will test his hand at transitioning to the rotation but inevitably Perez will do the opposite. This is because Perez still hasn’t developed a lethal third pitch as expected.
Who to fall for instead? RHP Arodys Vizcaino, No. 93 prospect according to Baseball America. Arodys Vizcaino has no trouble keeping the ball over the plate. Originally from the Yankees organization and currently with the Atlanta Braves, Vizcaino’s steady climb up the ladder is indicative of his ability to throw any pitch for the strike.
4. RHP Anthony Ranaudo: Boston Red Sox. No. 67 prospect according to Baseball America. Ranaudo was one of the better college pitchers coming out of the 2010 draft. Scouts believed his advanced approach and “polish” would allow for an easy and relatively quick transition to the major leagues. It was also believed that because of his big, strong frame (6’7 230 lbs.), Ranaudo would also add a few ticks on his already impressive fastball. As it turns out, injuries may have sapped Ranaudo of much of his power as his once mid-90’s fastball now sits in the low 90’s and his sharp 12-6 curve has yet to make an appearance with any consistency. He also hasn’t developed much of a change up either. All of this resulted in a 4.33 ERA against younger and less experienced competition in 2011.
Who to fall for instead? RHP Garrett Richards, unranked by Baseball America. Unlike Ranaudo, Richards couldn’t get hitters out in college, and also unlike Ranaudo, Richards has had little trouble disposing of minor league hitters. Richards flashes a mid-90’s fastball with movement, a “fall off the table” slider, a sharp 12-6 curve and a promising change up. Perhaps most impressive, Richards can throw all four pitches for a strike. Click here for Garrett Richards’ scouting report courtesy of monkeywithahalo.com.
5. RHP Casey Kelly: San Diego Padres. No. 31 prospect according to Baseball America. Kelly was drafted by the Boston Red Sox and praised for his athletic ability as a two way star. It was believed that once Kelly gave up playing shortstop he’d be able to concentrate on pitching and thus become a more effective pitcher. It turns out that the more Kelly pitches, the more his stuff diminishes. Now, Kelly projects into the back end up a rotation or a swing starter.
Who to fall for instead? RHP Taijuan Walker, unranked by Baseball America. Like Kelly, Walker has been lauded as an athlete that happens to pitch as well, except Walker’s degree of polish displayed so far has been unexpected. Generally, 18 year olds coming out of high school aren’t capable of posting a 2.89 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in their first go around in A Ball.