Every MLB Team's Prospect Most Likely to Become a Big-Time Bust
Bryce Harper entered the professional ranks with more hype than any other prospect (not named Stephen Strasburg) in baseball history.
He also has more pressure than any other prospect.
"Busts" are a part of life in baseball. Players who have fatal flaws or who succumb to career-ending injuries. Some we can see coming (Matt Bush), some we can't (Jeff Allison). Either way, it's always a depressing thing when it happens.
Take as a primary example, the above-mentioned Bush. The prep shortstop was the No. 1 overall pick back in 2004 by the San Diego Padres.
After just 200 games, the Padres gave up on him as a position prospect. It took another 10 for them to cut bat with him as a pitcher. Now he's a reliever in the Rays organization.
Talk about a bust.
This list is comprised of the players I see as the most likely to "bust" as professional players. It might be this year, or it might be a few years from now, but it will happen, and not even the most talented players in the minors are safe.
Bobby Borchering, 3B, Arizona Diamondbacks
Borchering was widely touted as being the top high-school bat from the 2009 MLB draft, and the D-Backs were stoked to pair him with their first-round supplemental pick, Matt Davidson, another high-school slugger.
Since signing, however, the paths of the two first-rounders have diverged.
Yes, both have blossomed into power hitters. Borchering has the edge with 15 homers to Davidson's nine. But Borchering has failed to cut down on his strikeouts as he has progressed.
He whiffed an astounding 128 times last year in 135 games, and with 100 in just 78 games this season, he's on pace for 173 strikeouts.
Further compounding the problem is his inability to draw many walks. He has 22 this season and appears to have regressed from 2010, when he drew 54. The rise in his K-count has had a negative impact on his average (down seven points) and his OBP (down 27 points).
Keep in mind that Borchering is still playing in High-A ball, and the jump from High-A to Double-A is widely considered the toughest of any level-to-level jump, meaning greater struggles at the plate await him.
Christian Bethancourt, C, Atlanta Braves
Not too many catchers make their mark in the big-leagues as guys who hit for a tremendously high average. Save for Joe Mauer.
The rest of the really productive Major League backstops are guys who have some excellent power. Guys like Brian McCann, Matt Wieters, Russell Martin and Victor Martinez.
So while Christian Bethancourt's ability to hit .303 during a 54-game stint with Low-A Rome is impressive, the number that Braves fans should be worried about is four.
That's the number of home runs he hit in 221 at-bats, putting him on pace for less than 10 for a full-season's work.
Four is also the number that is the career-high benchmark for Bethancourt's home run total.
And as impressive as his .293 season average is, he's hitting .229 in nine games with High-A Lynchburg so far, leading me to believe that a number somewhere in between the two is more in line with what kind of hitter he'll likely be as he progresses further through the Braves system.
And if he can't hit higher than .270 in a season and offers little power, there isn't much reason for Atlanta to think that he's going to one day replace Brian McCann behind the plate, no matter how good his defensive skills are.
Joe Mahoney, 1B, Baltimore Orioles
Mahoney exploded onto the scene last year with 18 home runs, 78 RBI, and a combined .307 average, acquired while splitting time between High-A Frederick and Double-A Bowie.
And while this outburst is what many O's fans had been expecting from the 6'6", 240-pound slugger, who also happens to be the career home run record holder at Richmond, it was actually quite out of character for Mahoney, who had only hit 24 home runs in three previous minor league seasons.
Hardly a prolific professional home run hitter.
In fact, if there was anything prolific about Mahoney's career before 2010, it was his uncanny ability to steal bases. In 2009, he stole a whopping 29, not exactly the kind of showing you expect from a guy who hovered close to 260 pounds for the majority of the '09 season.
This year, Mahoney has been derailed by a few injuries, but he's finally back and healthy and producing for the Baysox. He's hitting .295 for the O's Double-A affiliate with five home runs and 17 RBI in 26 games.
Unfortunately, the organization is going to need to see more than one season's worth of prolific home run hitting to feel comfortable giving Mahoney a shot in the big-leagues.
Jose Iglesias, SS, Boston Red Sox
The track record for Cuban defectors is pretty good.
Livan Hernandez, Orlando Hernandez, Aroldis Chapman and Alexei Ramirez have worked out pretty well for their respective clubs, so there's no reason to think that Jose Iglesias isn't destined for the same long productive career that so many defectors before them have shown capable of. Right?
Not so much. How many players, regardless of their background, have been able to overcome the fact that they can't hit for a high-average, hit for power or draw a walk, based only on the fact that they play very good defense?
I can't name too many. Maybe Adam Everett?
Iglesias started off great. He hit .350 in a 13-game trial in the New York-Penn League last year and held his own in Double-A, hitting .295 over 57 contests. This year, however, Iglesias is hitting only .227 in his longest exposure yet, 64 games.
He has only four extra-base hits (all doubles), only 17 RBI and his OBP and slugging are both under .300.
Early on in the season, Iglesias got a call-up to Boston, where he went hitless in six games.
I have no doubt that Iglesias will be a solid defensive shortstop when he's finally called up for good, but I highly doubt that his hitting ability will keep him around in a Red Sox uniform for long.
Josh Vitters, 3B, Chicago Cubs
Many fans and experts have already given up on Vitters, and after examining his path to get to Double-A, where he's currently hitting .282 with seven home runs, it's hard not to agree with the consensus.
He just isn't as good as everyone thought.
And unlike with the first few guys on this list, there isn't any definable reason for why Vitters hasn't turned out to be as good as his draft standing. He just hasn't developed properly and shown the improvement everyone, the organization included, expected him to.
Vitters has shown some promise, like when he hit .322 in a 65-game trial in 2008, or when he clubbed 18 home runs the next season, but he simply hasn't been able to put together consistent stretches of productivity.
Last year, he bottomed out, hitting .247, splitting time between High-A and Double-A. He finished the season with only 10 home runs and 39 RBI, despite getting 316 at-bats.
The Cubs expected to have Vitters in place by 2011 or 2012, but if he can't show more than he is currently at the plate, the Cubs might have to look elsewhere for their future third baseman.
Jacob Petricka, RHP, Chicago White Sox
Like most MLB clubs, I'm all for guys who can touch triple-digits with their fastball, but after taking a long, hard look at baseball's 100-mph club, you can't find too many names who have had sustained success in the big-leagues.
Look no further than the most recent addition to the club, Cincinnati's Aroldis Chapman. After a sensational rookie campaign, one that saw him top out at 105 mph, the lanky lefty has struggled to get back to the majors, showing incredible inconsistency in his delivery and wildness in game action.
Like most guys with that kind of velocity, Petricka has done pretty well for himself in the lower levels of the minors, where high 90s heat can make just about anyone look like Sandy Koufax.
He's worked his way up to High-A ball in just 11 appearances, and the results have been excellent: a 2.76 ERA, 54 strikeouts in 49 innings.
We may have seen a little warning sign in his first start for High-A Winston-Salem. Petricka couldn't make it out of the fourth inning and walked three batters, striking out only one.
The White Sox are likely hoping that it's just jitters that made the right-hander look so inconsistent, but it could be much much more.
Billy Hamilton, SS, Cincinnati Reds
Don't get me wrong, I love speed as much as the next guy, but you can't survive in the big-leagues on speed alone, even if you have as much of it as Hamilton, likely the fastest runner in the minor leagues.
Hamilton has 58 steals this season, in just 77 games, putting him on pace for close to 100, assuming he can finish out the season with around 130 game appearances.
Unfortunately, stealing bases is just about all Hamilton is doing this year. His average sits at a lowly .229, he has only 18 extra-base hits (although five of those are triples), and he's struck out 79 times already.
Still, the Reds are very high on Hamilton, and for good reason. He is still months away from his 21st birthday and he's already shown the ability to be very productive. In addition to his lightning-like quickness, he also flashes some serious leather in the field, whether it be at shortstop or second base.
Hopefully this season doesn't put too big a ding in Hamilton's confidence at the plate, but I find it hard to see a future in which he is better than a .270 hitter, leaving him destined for a career as a pinch-runner and late-inning defensive replacement.
Jason Knapp, RHP, Cleveland Indians
Knapp has had an incredibly tough time staying on the mound during his four-year pro career.
He's missed time with multiple shoulder injuries, his latest requiring him to be shut down for the remainder of the 2011 season.
When he's been healthy, however, he's been brilliant, showing a fastball that is as good as anyone's. He's averaged more than a strikeout per inning for his entire career and struck out a whopping 123 batters in just 97 innings in 2009, his only true "full season."
Injuries are the only thing standing in the way of Knapp blossoming into a true ace, a front of the rotation starter, but shoulder issues are always a serious long-term concern, and when Knapp returns for the 2012 season, he'll already be 21 years old, with just 16 innings of experience above Low-A ball.
Tyler Matzek, LHP, Colorado Rockies
It's hard to look back into the past and think what could have been, but maybe, just maybe, Tyler Matzek would have benefited from heading off to college, much like the other top lefty from the 2009 high school class, Matt Purke.
Since turning pro, Matzek has struggled greatly with his command, and even when he's been good, he's still been a mechanical mess.
Last year, he posted strong numbers: a 2.92 ERA, a 5-1 record, 88 strikeouts in 89.1 innings. But his also issued 62 walks.
This season, he's fallen apart completely, walking 61 batters in just 42 innings. He's also been hit much harder than last year, giving up 48 hits and allowing seven home runs, one more than he surrendered all of last season.
His ERA was at a lofty 9.82 when the Rockies demoted him from High-A ball back to Low-A Asheville and was up to 10.71 when the organization allowed him to leave pro ball to head back to California to work with his personal trainer who helped him become one of the top pitchers in the 2009 draft class.
Matzek will no doubt be back, likely some time this season, but you have to wonder if he'll ever have the same confidence that made him such a high target coming out of high school.
Andy Oliver, LHP, Detroit Tigers
Oliver has looked solid in the minors, posting a 3.45 ERA in 23 starts last year, and a 4.63 mark in 15 outings this season, but his performance during his time in the big-leagues leads me to believe he's nothing more than another long-reliever in the making.
First off, Oliver has gotten hit hard in the majors because of his inability to challenge hitters in the strike zone. As such, he's gotten into trouble with walks (21 in 31.2 IP) and has had to try to work his way out of trouble.
That was the primary factor behind his 7.36 ERA in five big-league starts in 2010 and his 6.52 mark in two appearances this year.
Second, as good as Oliver has looked in the minors, he still hasn't reigned in his control issues down there. In his most recent start for Triple-A Toledo, he struck out eight batters in just six innings. Unfortunately, he also walked six.
The outing before that he issued four free passes in just three innings of work, leading me to think he might be on the verge of falling off the wagon altogether.
Oliver's struggles might have something to do with the fact that the Tigers threw him right into the fire, giving him only nine starts in Triple-A before promoting him straight to the big-leagues. I think he would have benefited from spending the entire 2010 campaign in Double-A, before tackling Triple-A in 2011.
Only time will tell if Oliver's early struggles will tell the story of his big-league career.
Matt Dominguez, 3B, Florida Marlins
For some reason, the Marlins are working under the belief that the more at-bats Dominguez has in Triple-A will have a positive impact on his hitting ability once he reaches the majors for good.
Have they learned nothing from career minor leaguers like Terry Tiffee, Chad Mottola and Ernie Young, all guys who played average-to above-average defense at multiple positions but couldn't stick in the big leagues due to their ineffective bats?
Keep those names in mind as you continue to track the progress, or lack thereof, of Dominguez, who is currently hitting .241 for Triple-A New Orleans and .225 on the season.
Dominguez is widely regarded as being the top defensive third baseman in the minor leagues, with only his hitting ability keeping him from locking down the hot corner in Florida for the next decade.
Unfortunately, every time Dominguez seems to take a step forward with the bat, he takes a step back the next season. The same thing happened in 2009, when coming off of a campaign in which he hit .296 with 18 home runs.
The next year his average dropped to .247, and while he still slugged 13 home runs, he also struck out nearly 30 more times.
I'd like to be a believer in Dominguez, but the proof is in the pudding.
Jonathan Villar, SS, Houston Astros
See Jose Iglesias.
Not exactly the same case, but similar in the fact that Villar is one of the top defensive shortstops in the game right now, but his inability to show any real potential at the plate will likely keep him from having a productive major league career.
Villar hit .272 over 100 games at Low-A Lakewood in 2010, but hit .225 in his next 32 at High-A Lancaster, which last time I checked played in the California League, an offensive haven, especially for guys with limited offensive upside.
The Astros saw enough in Villar, defensively anyways, to look past his .259 average in 47 contests this season with Lancaster and promote him to Double-A where he has struggled to maintain an average over .225.
Villar also offers close to no power, making him an even tougher bet to stick in the big-leagues.
Did I mention the Astros also have Jio Mier manning shortstop in their minor league system? Mier not only offers more power, but also has better plate discipline than Villar. He's also rates just a hair below him Villar defensively.
John Lamb, LHP, Kansas City Royals
I know it's not proper etiquette to pick on a guy when he's down, but season-ending injury or not, I would have pegged Lamb as the biggest potential bust in Kansas City's loaded system.
The primary reason is that Lamb was pitching so above what anyone ever expected of him, that there was no way he was going to keep it up. There was no way he could.
Just look at his numbers from 2010. A 2.38 ERA, including a 1.45 mark at High-A Wilmington, 159 strikeouts in 147.2 innings, and a .226 average against. He also only surrendered five home runs all season.
You can tell, however, that has Lamb progressed through the Royals system, it became more of a struggle for him. Batters hit .188 off of him in Low-A ball, but that number jumped to .219 in High-A and finally to .280 in Double-A.
In his final seven starts of the year, all for Double-A Northwest Arkansas, Lamb was hit pretty hard. He gave up 37 hits and walked 13 batters in 33 innings, after giving up only 59 hits and 15 walks in 74.2 innings in High-A ball.
This season Lamb wasn't anywhere near as prolific with the strikeouts, getting only 22 in 35 innings. He also walked 13 batters in that same period. Still, he was performing pretty well, posting a 3.09 ERA in seven starts before he was shut down for the year and sentenced to 16 to 18 months of Tommy John rehab.
Lamb is by no means a power pitcher, so there shouldn't be any worries about his velocity returning after surgery, but you never can tell with guys after TJ.
Cam Bedrosian, RHP, Los Angeles Angels
As hard as it is to pick on a guy who won't be pitching for the next year-and-a-half, it's even tougher to forecast doom and gloom for a guy who has only 12 pro innings under his belt.
Unfortunately, I'm not the least bit sold on Cam Bedrosian, the Angels first-round pick from last year's draft.
Bedrosian was touted as being one of the top high-school arms out of Georgia, but reading his scouting report, it sounds like the son of 1987 Cy Young Award Winner Steve Bedrosian would be a better fit pitching out of the bullpen.
He got tons of attention due to his fastball, which touched 96-97 mph, but sat more comfortably in the low 90s range. He also showed a great slider, one that has potential to be a plus pitch, but aside from those two offerings, he has little to speak of.
Last time I checked, it's hard to make it in the big leagues these days as a starter with only two pitches.
Bedrosian is working hard on developing a changeup and a curveball, but for the time being, it's hard to envision him as a No. 1, 2 or 3 starter, something you would expect out of a first-rounder.
Rubby De La Rosa, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
My case for de la Rosa being a bust is very similar to the case of Jacob Petricka.
Both guys draw attention for throwing in the high 90s and having really explosive stuff. Unfortunately, de la Rosa is about four inches shorter and has a lot less projection left than Petricka.
Reading Baseball America's Prospect Handbook, it sounds like de la Rosa has two promising secondary pitches, in a changeup and a slider, but when was the last time you heard of a guy who had "promising" pitches who was already in the big leagues.
Granted, a fastball that can touch 102 mph will get you places, but I'm just not sure they're going to get de la Rosa anywhere as a starter.
To me, it sounds like he'd be better off serving in an Aroldis Chapman-like role, where he could better use his velocity, while increasing the likelihood that he'll stick around longer without the risk of injury.
Taylor Jungmann, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers
If you thought it was cruel to pick on a guy who is out recovering from Tommy John surgery or one that has only pitched 12 innings in pro ball, you're going to think I'm really mean for picking on Jungmann, who isn't even signed to a professional contract yet.
Still, despite all the results that Jungmann had in college, there were always concerns about his delivery, and many scouts and experts thought that of all the college pitchers who were going to make the transition to pro ball, Jungmann's path would be the toughest.
More than a few compared him to Anthony Ranaudo, in both a good and a bad way.
It's way too early to surmise anything about Jungmann's pro career, but I'm not that hopeful.
Aaron Hicks, OF, Minnesota Twins
For all the incredible tools that Hicks possesses, nobody could quite figure out why he spent two full seasons in the Midwest League.
And while Hicks showed some improvement last season, improving all of his offensive numbers, it still wasn't the kind of breakout season that the Twins have been expecting from a potential five-tool stud, who should by all accounts be the darling of the Minnesota system.
Instead, Hicks has been frustratingly consistent. But not in a good way...or a bad one.
He's consistently put up middle-of-the-road numbers, and that trait has carried over to this season, his first outside of Beloit. He's hitting .280 with 20 doubles, three home runs, 26 RBI and a 48:58 BB:K ratio in 67 games.
The plate discipline has been a pleasant surprise from Hicks, but all the other aspects of his play, including power and base-stealing have been a disappointment.
Hicks was drafted out of high school, but he's already almost 21 years old and still stuck below Double-A. Not a good sign for his future prospects.
Jenrry Mejia, RHP, New York Mets
Mejia is another guy who is easy to pick on because he too is out for the rest of the 2011 season.
Still, I've never been a big believer in him, primarily because of how the Mets have used him in his short career.
Mejia is still just 20 years old but has already spent time at both Triple-A and in the major leagues, where the team tried to force him into a relief role. And while he performed better than many expected, it's not the kind of path that he should be on.
Mejia is a top-of-the-rotation arm that has amazing potential. Way too much potential to be wasted in a relief role.
The Mets then compounded the problem by sending Mejia back to Triple-A to turn him back into a starter. I think if they were really thinking hard about their investment in him, they would have allowed him to ease his way back into starting, maybe in High-A or Double-A.
Instead, they tried to rush him into a struggling big-league rotation, and now the team won't have him available until late 2012 at the earliest.
Brandon Laird, 3B, New York Yankees
Laird opened some eyes with an impressive 2010 campaign that saw him bash 25 home runs, drive in over 100 runs and maintain a .281 average.
All that does look impressive, but when you take into account that those are the kind of numbers Laird has been putting up since the Yankees drafted him, it makes you wonder why the sudden interest in him?
He cranked out 23 home runs and drove in 86 runs back in 2008, but nobody was pumping him up as the guy to possibly replace A-Rod at the hot corner back then.
That's because for all of Laird's talents with the stick, he still struggles with plate discipline. Check out his stats this season for proof. He's whiffed 46 times, while drawing only 13 walks. Last season he struck out 111 times, but that number could have been a lot higher had pitchers not been afraid to pitch to him.
His scary raw power also caused a spike in his walk totals, which shouldn't cause anyone to think that his pitch selection has improved dramatically.
To me, Laird is very much the same player that the Orioles have in Brandon Waring. An incredible power hitter who will be more and more exposed as he climbs the ladder.
I can't ever envision Laird being a productive big-league regular.
Michael Choice, OF, Oakland Athletics
Choice had tons of tools that were responsible for making him the tenth-overall selection in last year's draft, but after watching him during the 100-plus games he's played, it's clear that he has plenty more holes than anyone thought.
He has definitely shown the power that the A's were expecting out of him. He homered seven times in just 30 games last year and already has eclipsed the 20-HR mark just 77 games into his 2011 campaign. He's also rapped 18 doubles and driven in 54 runs.
In the field, Choice has been solid, playing mostly centerfield, although his future home is likely in a corner spot.
His aggressiveness at the plate, however, has been his biggest liability so far and signals a trend that if it continues, will likely stall his progress somewhere short of the big leagues.
In those 30 games in 2010, Choice struck out 45 times, accounting for nearly 42 percent of his at-bats. This year he already has 91 strikeouts, making up for nearly 30 percent of his at-bats.
His walk numbers have been solid, especially this year (44 in 77 games), but if he keeps swinging for the moon on each two-strike pitch, he's not going to make it to Oakland.
Jesse Biddle, LHP, Philadelphia Phillies
When Biddle was drafted the comparison to Matt Hobgood was tossed around. Like the Orioles first-round pick, Biddle had a pro-ready body and very little projection left.
And while I'm sure Biddle's work ethic gets much better reviews than Hobgood's the comp scares me enough to think Biddle was more of a signability pick than the organization cares to admit.
Like Hobgood, Biddle has pitched to so-so results. Both pitchers have walked more batters than is good for them, and both have losing records for their career.
I'd like to hope for a better path for Biddle, and with so many talented pitchers ahead of him in the system, it only makes sense for the Phils not to rush him, but to me, he just doesn't seem like big-league rotation material.
Stetson Allie, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
I'm all for teams taking chances on guys like Allie.
But with his scouting report and the early results so far, not to mention the Pirates track record for screwing up pitchers, I'm not at all encouraged that Allie can make the jump to the rotation.
To me, he still seems like a better fit as a reliever, and at $2.25 million, the Pirates better hope he's the next Trevor Hoffman if that turns out to be the case.
The book on Allie is that he doesn't show enough secondary stuff to warrant a long look in the rotation and that he could be a dominant closer with his mid-to-high 90s velocity, but as just about any other team would, the Pirates are going to kick the tires on him as a starter, where I fear he might fall prey to the same inabilities that have turned Phillippe Aumont into a pretty darn worthless prospect for Philadelphia.
Aumont went back and forth between the rotation and the bullpen, and the flip-flopping has damaged not only his confidence, but his prospect status. He now profiles as a middle-reliever, not the top-of-the-rotation ace that the Mariners once thought he was or the shutdown closer that the Phillies envisioned him to be.
Hopefully the same path doesn't await Allie, but I'm not too hopeful.
Zack Cox, 3B, St. Louis Cardinals
Before he emerged as the top-hitting collegiate prospect in the 2010 draft, Zack Cox was kind of an enigma at Arkansas.
He hit for a very terrible average during his freshman campaign after trying to sell out for power. It worked; he hit 13 home runs, but his average dipped to .266, a pathetic number especially in college ball.
His sophomore season he focused more on hitting line drives, and the approach paid off. He hit .429 and led the Razorbacks to the NCAA tournament.
The Cardinals happily scooped up Cox with the 25th-overall pick in the 2010 draft after all those other teams passed on him, probably because they weren't sold on his ability to do both, hitting for average and power.
And in his short pro career so far, Cox hasn't shown the ability to do both.
Through 290 at-bats this season, Cox is hitting a decent .283, but he also has only five home runs.
The Cardinals were hoping to get a guy who could hit for both power and average, but it seems like they might only get one out of the deal with Cox.
Reymond Fuentes, OF, San Diego Padres
The Cardinals were hoping to get a guy who could hit for both power and average, but it seems like they might only get one out of the deal with Cox.
Perhaps you've heard the term "jack of all trades, master of none."
That motto describes so many potential five-tool athletes who have entered the professional ranks only to discover that they weren't good enough at any one thing to keep them moving forward towards the big-leagues.
That very well could be the case with Fuentes, who was drafted in the first-round back in 2009 by the Red Sox, who were big believers in his skill set. Fuentes has great speed, and has shown it by stealing 42 bases last season and another 37 so far this year.
He's shown the ability to hit for average. He's shown above-average defensive ability. He's even shown some raw power in BP.
But you have to wonder, as Fuentes is only in High-A ball, if he'll be able to continue to perform well in all aspects as he climbs the ladder.
This guy says no.
Andrew Susac, C, San Francisco Giants
Susac is the second member of the 2011 draft class to make an appearance on this list.
At Oregon State, Susac played sparingly, due to both injuries and ineffectiveness. Somehow, he turned in a couple of impressive months during his junior season into a second-round draft selection.
Now, experts are touting him as the guy who is going to force Buster Posey over to first base.
My first reaction to this statement is: the Giants really think the best plan is to move an above-average defender out from behind the plate because of a freak injury to install a less impressive defender AND hitter who has injury concerns of his own?
Doesn't make a whole lot of sense.
Not to mention that the Giants aren't really sure what they have gotten with Susac. He didn't play a full season last year, and while he showed flashes of greatness, there's no telling what kind of numbers he's going to put up over the course of a 162-game grind.
Taijuan Walker, RHP, Seattle Mariners
I know my Mariners friends are going to have major beef with me about this one.
Walker is having the best season of any member of the organization, despite making only 11 starts to date. He has an incredible 72 strikeouts in just 56 innings and has held hitters to a .218 average.
He's had two 11-strikeout performances, during both of which he only allowed two hits and one run.
On the surface, Walker is a freak. He's still only 18 years old, and he's already dominating hitters in Low-A ball.
However, at the same time, Walker is experiencing so much success because of his great fastball, which not only has impressive velocity but also has tons of sink.
His other pitches haven't been as impressive in his full-season debut, leaving him primarily as a one-pitch guy.
He's still working on his changeup and his curveball, and getting both of those to come along could make him one of the toughest pitchers to face in the minors, but for now I still see a guy who is thriving against hitters because of his superior fastball and not much else.
Matt Moore, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays
There are tons of talented pitchers in the Rays system, so many in fact, that it's hard to envision any of the arms currently in their minor league collection ever cracking the big-league rotation.
Matt Moore is the one exception. Thanks to his prolific strikeout numbers and his incredible stuff, Moore has already been assured of a rotation spot whenever he's ready.
Unfortunately, just about everyone who has listed Moore as one of the top pitchers in the minor leagues over-values the strikeout. Yes, it's nice to send down 11 guys on strikeouts, but when you're only lasting five innings because all those K's have jacked up your pitch count, it's hard to maintain any kind of lasting effect.
I'm thinking of guys like Scott Kazmir. Kaz had a promising start to his big-league career, also with Tampa, but flamed out because he put way too much emphasis on strikeouts, and he wound up throwing way too many pitches.
Moore might very well have better stuff than Kazmir, but until he shows capable of getting batters out someway other than with a forwards or backwards "K," I'm not sold on him.
Martin Perez, LHP, Texas Rangers
I've never been a guy who has been sold on Perez's potential.
He's been touted as one of the best pitchers in the minor leagues for three seasons running, but until this season, he hasn't really shown anyone any proof that that potential can also be reality.
He's put up solid numbers this season, but he's still looking much less impressive than several of the other arms in the Rangers system, guys like Robbie Erlin and Joe Weiland.
I know that the emphasis on Perez is with his stuff, and not necessarily the results, but it would be nice to see some consistent positive results out of him before I jump on board with declaring him the next stud pitcher in Texas.
Anthony Gose, OF, Toronto Blue Jays
See Reymond Fuentes.
Bryce Harper, OF, Washington Nationals
I'm not gonna lie, it was hard for me to put Harper on this list.
Especially considering the fact that he was just skipped over High-A ball and promoted straight to Double-A, after a half season he spent destroying Low-A hitters in the South Atlantic League.
He hit 14 homers, drove in 46 runs, stole 19 bases and played flawlessly in the outfield.
No reason why this kid should be a bust right?
Not only does Harper have a flawed approach at the plate, one that leads to high numbers of strikeouts, but he also has a much publicized terrible attitude. Not against his teammates but more against opponents.
If you think that he's not going to be target practice for big-league pitchers once he gets there, think again.
Harper also has one HUGE thing going against him.
Everyone expects him to be THE guy. The guy who hits moonshots, cranks out 50 home runs a year, and guns down a runner a game at home plate.
When was the last time anyone with his hype actually reached his ceiling...in the pros.
Yeah, Matt Wieters destroyed minor league pitching, but he hasn't done too well at the plate in the big leagues.
The Upton brothers have had their share of ups-and-downs. Joe Mauer can't stay on the field long enough to warrant Hall of Fame consideration. Stephen Strasburg looked good, but his brief showing speaks nothing of the kind of career he has to look forward to.
You'd have to go back to A-Rod and Ken Griffey Jr. to find another guy who had all the attention and actually lived up to the billing in the long run.