The best tools of the past few years

Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

Not A.J. Pierzynski.

I'll write it again: Baseball America's best tools survey is one of my favorite annual traditions. Can't explain exactly why. Just love them tools, everyone. Here's the link to the Giants players on this year's list, in which you'll discover that managers around the league think Posey is a good hitter.

For no particular reason, and by unpopular demand, I went back as far as the Googles allow in search of BA's best-tools rankings from years ago. I wanted to see which familiar names were honored when they were in the minors (or majors). Some of the surveys had bonus quotes from managers who voted. Like Chip Hale talking about Yuniesky Betancourt in 2005:

"I had heard a lot about him from a couple of scouts. He made everything look so easy; even the hard plays were easy for him. Everything he did was effortless. Very rarely do you get excited about watching guys play defense, even routine plays. He is a very exciting guy to watch. I'd come to watch him play defense."

And then, one day, Betancourt woke up and was an awful defensive shortstop. I'm going to guess "spider bite."

Most of this is an exercise in "whoa, remember that guy?", but there's also a touch of "Wow, they really nailed/biffed that one" with some of them.

2005

Triple-A
Best defensive outfielder (Pacific Coast League): Julio Ramirez

Double-A
Best defensive 1B (Eastern League): Tyler Von Schell

High-A
Best baserunner (Cal League): Clay Timpner
Best defensive 1B: Travis Ishikawa
Best defensive 2B: Kevin Frandsen
Best defensive OF: Clay Timpner

Low-A
Best baserunner: Marcus Sanders
Fastest baserunner: Marcus Sanders
Most exciting player: Marcus Sanders

2006

Triple-A
Best reliever: Jack Taschner

Double-A
Best defensive 1B: Travis Ishikawa
Best defensive 3B: Brian Buscher

High-A
Best control: Nick Pereira

Low-A
Best outfield arm: Mike Mooney

2007

Triple-A
Best pitching prospect: Tim Lincecum
Best fastball: Tim Lincecum
Best breaking ball: Tim Lincecum

Double-A
Best baserunner: Eugenio Velez (lololol)
Fastest baserunner: Eugenio Velez

High-A
Best defensive SS: Brian Bocock

Low-A
Best fastball: Henry Sosa
Best control: Kevin Pucetas

2008

Triple-A
Best baserunner: Ivan Ochoa
Best defensive SS: Brian Bocock
Best infield arm: Brian Bocock

Double-A
N/A

High-A
Fastest baserunner: Mike McBryde
Best OF arm: Mike McBryde
Best breaking ball: Tim Alderson

Low-A
Best pitching prospect: Madison Bumgarner
Best control: Madison Bumgarner
Best infield arm: Charlie Culberson

2009

Triple-A
Best control: Kevin Pucetas
Best defensive 3B: Ryan Rohlinger

Double-A
Best defensive C: Jackson Williams
Best defensive 1B: Brett Pill
Best OF arm: Mike McBryde

High-A
Best batting prospect: Thomas Neal
Best power prospect: Roger Kieschnick
Fastest baserunner: Darren Ford
Best pitching prospect: Madison Bumgarner
Best defensive catcher: Buster Posey
Best defensive SS: Brian Bocock
Best OF arm: Thomas Neal
Best manager prospect: Andy Skeels

Low-A
N/A

2010

Triple-A
Best batting prospect: Buster Posey
Best pitching prospect: Madison Bumgarner
Best defensive catcher: Jackson Williams

Double-A
N/A

High-A
Best batting prospect: Brandon Belt
Fastest baserunner: Francisco Peguero
Best breaking pitch: Eric Surkamp
Best defensive 1B: Brandon Belt
Best defensive SS: Ehire Adrianza
Best defensive OF: Juan Perez
Most exciting player: Francisco Peguero
Best manager prospect: Brian Harper

Low-A

Best power prospect: Chris Dominguez
Best defensive 3B: Chris Dominguez

2011

Triple-A
N/A

Double-A
Best breaking pitch: Eric Surkamp
Best changeup: Eric Surkamp

High-A
Best baserunner: Gary Brown
Fastest baserunner: Gary Brown
Best reliever: Heath Hembree
Best defensive catcher: Tommy Joseph
Best defensive 2B: Ryan Cavan
Best defensive OF: Gary Brown
Most exciting player: Gary Brown

Low-A
Best defensive 2B: Carlos Willoughby

2012

Triple-A
Best defensive 2B: Charlie Culberson

Double-A
Fastest baserunner: Gary Brown
Best defensive OF: Gary Brown
Best control: Chris Heston

High-A
Best defensive SS: Joe Panik

Low-A
Best breaking pitch: Kyle Crick
Best reliever: Cody Hall

My main takeaways from this were that:

1. Madison Bumgarner was a fun prospect to follow
2. Tim Lincecum wasn't too shabby, either
3. The ballad of Marcus Sanders is always, always sad
4. Cody Hall is the best prospect in the system that I completely forget about every six weeks
5. Eastern League managers were so high in 2007

You didn't ask for it, but darned if you didn't just get it. The best tools from the last eight years. I don't know why this stuff fascinates me, but hopefully it fascinates, oh, four percent of you, too.

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