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February 12, 2014

Pebble Hunting

The Importance of Top Prospect Trajectories

by Sam Miller


If you’re the sort of fan with only enough mental storage space to keep track of the top 101 or so prospects, you may officially quit paying attention to Mike Olt, Trevor Story, Rymer Liriano, Kaleb Cowart, Taylor Guerrieri, Bubba Starling, Danny Hultzen, Mason Williams, Luis Heredia, Arodys Vizcaino, J.R. Graham, Alen Hanson, Allen Webster, Jake Marisnick, Justin Nicolino, Hak-Ju Lee, Casey Kelly, Tyrell Jenkins, Clayton Blackburn, Dorssys Paulino, Sean Nolin, Michael Fulmer, Lewis Brinson, Delino DeShields. All were top 101 prospects last year, but things happen to prospects (they break your heart) and none is this year. You can just rewrite over those brain cells.

If you’re the sort of fan, though, who keeps a few post-hype sleepers in the back of your mind, those are your boys. Each has already demonstrated some combination of tools and traits—and, usually, performance—that was worth getting excited about, so, you figure, even after a bad year, or a bad injury, there’s at least something exciting buried under each player’s recent disappointment. To the collector of post-hype sleepers, the only thing better than a prospect is a guy who used to be a prospect.

So what this will attempt to answer is whether that’s true. Or, because it’s the question that got me wondering: Is Gary Brown still worth paying attention to?

Brown, you’ll recall, was a top 101 prospect two years ago, and after a torrid season in High-A we considered his arrival imminent: in a perfect world “he’s a dynamic, All-Star center fielder,” according Kevin Goldstein at the time. A year later, he was off the top 101—though still one of the top prospects in a (relatively weak) Giants system. Jason Parks’ write-up of him that year: “The adjustment issue and lack of growth is a red flag, but the overall athleticism and glove-work give him a high floor. Even if the bat is only average, the defensive profile will have use on a major-league bench (eventually).” This year, Brown tumbled further, off the Giants’ top 10 entirely. Parks again: “It’s highly unlikely that his bat improves to the point where it plays as a major-league regular. But the defensive profile and speed should be enough to carry him to the highest level... however, when you have the physical tools of Brown—a former first round pick—the bar for success is set much higher than most players.”

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article Overthinking It: Where... (02/12)
<< Previous Column
Pebble Hunting: Yasiel... (02/10)
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Premium Article Pebble Hunting: The Se... (02/14)
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The Lineup Card: Ten P... (02/12)

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