Top 30 Prospects, Part I: Just Missed

In the 2001 Baseball America Prospect Handbook, here were the prospects who made up #s 26-30:

26. A 24-year-old outfielder who had hit .272/.333/.402 in AA (Texas League)
27. An 18th-round draft-and-follow who had his contract voided due to elbow problems and sat out a year.
28. A 7th-round pick who threw hard, but had no professional experience yet.
29. A hacking 24-year-old who moved to catcher to attempt a career as a super-utility player
30. A 28-year-old soft-tossing lefty with a chance to be a LOOGY one day.

The names aren’t as important (Doug Clark, David Brous, Erick Threets, Edwards Guzman, and Chad Zerbe) as the descriptions. When trawling through the bottom end of a prospect list, all you have are descriptions, for the most part. A 24-year-old rightie with below-average stuff but above-average command. A 23-year-old with enormous power potential but substantial contact issues. Those are the kinds of descriptions that pepper the bottom of a prospect list.

And just going off those vague descriptions, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have ranked most of the 26-30 bunch from 2001 in the top 50 of this year’s crop, with the lone exception of Threets, who would probably be analogous to Matt Graham from this year’s list. Maybe that’s a little harsh -- four of the above five did make the majors for a brief time, with one of them even busting the record books -- but it’s a testimony to the improved depth of the system. I can’t speak to how this year’s depth stacks up with other teams around the league, but it sure beats the dregs from the bottoms of Giants’ prospect lists in the past.

This is all a long-winded introduction to the honorable mentions of my top-30 list. I’m not sure where these guys would rank if I stretched the list out to 40 or 50, but some of you value them enough that you might be expecting them to pop up from #10 to #20 when they don’t show up from #21 to #30. I’ll just kill the suspense here. And by "suspense," I mean "indifference." And by "kill the indifference," I mean, "feed the indifference until it grows stronger and more powerful, eventually morphing into hostile apathy."

Five guys who aren’t on the top-30 list:

Couldn’t do it. Tools be damned, there’s no reason to be excited about a 21-year-old in low-A who doesn’t show a single average offensive skill. He isn’t hitting for power, he isn’t hitting for average, he isn’t stealing bases, and he isn’t walking a lot.

He’s as close to #10 as he is to #31, if that makes sense. With a productive season, he’ll shoot up the list. Without any professional at-bats, though, it’s hard to put him on the list just based on the opinion of the Giants, which is pretty persuasive.

But why should he be punished for not having any pro at-bats, while Chris Dominguez -- who had a bunch of them and stunk -- makes the list? Good question, and the answer is simple. My reasoning is th

He should be on the list. But I started Mike McBryde’s entry with the same sentence, and I eventually convinced myself to swap him out with Pucetas. Control pitchers who put up good numbers at lower levels are often tested at higher levels. Pucetas didn’t do well in his AAA time, and he has two things working against him: age and right-handedness. If there’s a good comp for Pucetas it’s the seasons in which Livan Hernandez gets released, not the ones in which Hernandez eats a bunch of quality innings.

In five years, after Rohlinger carves out a Mark DeRosa-like career, this might retroactively seem like the most egregious oversight. I think the comp right now, though, is Mike Benjamin with more pop. That’s not a terrible thing, but it’s not something that’s hard to find in the minor league free agent pool in any given offseason.

Something I forgot to put in my secret sauce post from yesterday: when a player has a much better season than he’s ever had before, but the walk rate is still pretty bad, I will almost completely ignore the improvement until it’s repeated at a higher level. Pill’s power was kind of impressive by Connecticut standards, but certainly not by "24-year-old first baseman in AA"-standards. Pill’s defense is supposed to be impressive, but until he does anything in AAA, he’s not much of a consideration for a top-30 list.

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