I was looking at Baseball America League Top 20s recently, and opened the 2003 Carolina League list. I had completely forgotten how prospects of the Bucs completely dominated the list. Five of the 20 were on the Lynchburg Hillcats, and all five played in the majors. Ryan Doumit had the second highest fWAR of the players on the list, but BA should get props for putting Greinke at the top of the list.
For each player I've included career fWAR through last year (NA means they have not played in the majors) and some illuminating quotes. The ones for Ryan Doumit and Chris Shelton are right on, but the one for John Van Benschoten is sad (knowing his subsequent injury history). And apparently Ian Snell (Oquendo in this list) lost sight of the strike zone when he changed his name.
I'm beginning to think it's hard to predict major league success.
4. John Van Benschoten, rhp, Lynchburg Hillcats (Pirates), fWAR = -0.8
Van Benscoten cruised through the Carolina League, needing just just nine starts to warrant promotion to AA.
"He creates a very easy arm angle," Massarelli said. "I like to say he has an effortless fastball. With everything I had read about him, I was expecting him to be kind of raw. But what I saw was an extremely polished pitcher for being at this level. He definitely has big league presence out there."
Unfortunately, JVB had extensive shoulder surgeries in 2005, including labrum repair, rotator cuff debridement and thermal shrinkage. Van Benschoten holds the record for most career innings pitched with more runs allowed than innings pitched. He pitched 90 innings, allowing 92 earned runs.
5. Kris Honel, rhp, Winston-Salem Warthogs (White Sox), fWAR = NA
8. Dan Meyer, lhp, Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Braves), fWAR = -0.1
9. Ian Oquendo, rhp, Lynchburg Hillcats (Pirates), fWAR = 7.0
Oquendo's top pitch is a curveball that managers rated the best in the league. He has a second plus pitch in his low-90s fastball, and he has no problem finding the strike zone.
As a major leaguer, oddly, Snell rarely threw a curve. He threw his slider far more often. He also had a lot of trouble finding the strike zone, walking 4.17 per nine innings.
10. Bryan Bullington, rhp, Lynchburg Hillcats (Pirates), fWAR = 0.0
Some scouts weren't impressed with Bullington's fastball, which was clocked in the 95 mph range in college but dropped to 89-91 late in his first pro season. His slider also wasn't as devastating as it was at Ball State. "Everything I had on him led me to believe that he was a lot better than what I saw," one scout said. "But when I saw it, I was kind of disappointed."
Bullington actually pitched quite well in AAA in 2010, showing a 2.82 ERA with 6.4 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9. He pitched a bit for the Royals and then went to Japan. With the Carp he had 30 starts with an ERA of 2.42 and was named an All-Star. Maybe we should try to bring him back.
11. Macay McBride, lhp, Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Braves), fWAR = 1.0
12. Ryan Doumit, c, Lynchburg Hillcats (Pirates), fWAR = 9.6
"I like his bat a lot, but you give something up with him behind the plate," one manager said. "I have no problem with his arm strength. It's his ability to receive, call games and handle a staff that I question."
13. Ryan Wing, lhp, Winston-Salem Warthogs (White Sox), fWAR = NA
14. Rommie Lewis, lhp, Frederick Keys (Orioles), fWAR = -0.2
15. Ty Howington, lhp, Potomac Cannons (Reds), fWAR = NA
17. Chris Shelton, 1b/c, Lynchburg Hillcats (Pirates), fWAR = 3.5
"The trouble is going to be finding a spot for him," one manager said. "I know this much, it definitely isn't behind the plate. "
18. Jared Gothreaux, rhp, Salem Avalanche (Astros), fWAR = NA
20. Andres Blanco, ss, Wilmington Blue Rocks (Royals), fWAR = -0.4