I grew up a baseball fan at Candlestick in the early '80s, so names like Bill Laskey and Manny Trillo mean something to me, dang it. But here are names that meant nothing to me as a kid: Kelvin Torve, Keith Silver, and Ty Dabney. Those were all top-10 prospects at one point according to Baseball America.
And while Baseball America has had a list of each team's top-10 list going back to 1998 on their website, they've actually been doing rankings since 1983. Now they've published the full archives, going back to their very first top-10 list.
It's a holiday for baseball nerds. Call in sick. Put a tree up. Prune the tree in the shape of Steve Decker. It's Prospecthistorymas.
The full list for every team is here. But you care only about the Giants. I'm here for you. Here are some assorted takeaways from the full list.
1. There was a Giants prospect named Dickens Benoit, and no one told me
For shame. This should have been tweeted at me every day until I took action. In the offseason, there might be Dickens Benoit Week. It's like Shark Week, but with Dickens Benoit.
He had an OPS of .886 in the Northwest League, but he couldn't crack .600 in either of hte next two seasons, and he was out of baseball before he was 24.
Looks like he couldn't ...
/puts sunglasses on
... keep up with the great expectations.
2. The Giants did pretty well with their top prospects of the '80s
Of course we know about Will Clark, Matt Williams, and Tony Perezchica, but tons of top-10 players had nice, long major-league careers. Mark Grant, Scott Garrelts, Dan Gladden, Jeff Robinson, John Burkett, Rob Deer, Terry Mulholland, Charlie Hayes ... the list is long.
Maybe it is for every other team, too, but I was surprised to look over the list and know so many former major leaguers. Compare it to the '90s, for example. Here's the 1994 list:
Salomon Torres, rhp
J.R. Phillips, 1b
Steve Soderstrom, rhp
Chris Singleton, of
Calvin Murray, of
Marcus Jensen, c
Bill Vanlandingham, rhp
Rikkert Faneyte, of
Joe Rosselli, lhp
Lou Pote, rhp
Singleton was the only one with much of a career other than Torres, who didn't show up again for a decade. That's a bad list.
3. The 1996 list was the demarcation line of suck/not suck
First on that list? Shawn Estes. Seventh? Rich Aurilia. The Giants realized that they couldn't draft players, but at least they pilfered other team's prospects. And in the very next season, the Giants won the division with the help of those two. They'd win a pennant with the help of Russ Ortiz a little later. But not a ... no, still too painful, even after 2010 and 2012.
4. Prospect nerds must have been livid in 1997
Between the '97 list and the '98 list, Brian Sabean traded almost half of his top-10 list. Joe Fontenot went for Robb Nen, and Keith Foulke, Mike Caruso, and Mike Villano all went for Wilson Alvarez and Roberto Hernandez. Darin Blood went for Joe Carter, Jason Brester went for Ellis Burks, and Jacob Cruz went for Jose Mesa.
Sabean loved to deal back then. Most of the deals turned out pretty well, too.
5. Royce Clayton was a super-prospect
I knew this already, but it never hurts to remember. He was Jurickson Profar -- a plus fielder who was supposed to hit.
Alas, he didn't hit. But at least this newfangled WAR stuff is giving him his due. He was worth almost 20 wins, second-most from any Giants-drafted shortstop (Chris Speier) in the draft era. Even if you include the Rangers-drafted Aurilia, he's still in second.
This stuff fascinates me. Apologies if it leaves you cold. But most importantly, Dickens Benoit. A lonely nation turns its eyes to you. Woo woo woo.