This is the final post in a six part series that took a look at disappointing seasons from Top 10 prospects that entered 2011 with a lot of hype and promise. You can read the other posts here: AL East, AL Central, AL West, NL East, NL Central.
I had a hard time deciding who was a bigger disappointment between Krauss and Broxton. Ultimately, Krauss was the choice, though, because he’s older and has fewer tools. The 23-year-old outfielder hit just .242/.340/.439 in 433 at-bats. After two years of unsustainably high BABIPs (especially for someone with limited foot speed), his BABIP settled around average at .299. His strikeout rate remains high at 24.4 K%. On the plus side, his home run total dropped from 25 to 16 but counting stats can be quite unreliable in the minors and Krauss’ ISO rate slipped just slightly from .208 to .196. He also does a nice job of getting on base (12.7 BB%).
I’m going to go with both Matzek and Tago here as both have similar profiles: They were highly-ranked first-round draft picks out of high schools and both struggled mightily once they entered the Rockies organization. Matzek has a year of experience on Tago but his control deserted him for a good portion of 2011. After a decent but far from stellar 2010 season in low-A, Matzek was promoted to high-A to begin 2011 but he struggled with a walk rate of 12.55 BB/9 in 33.0 innings. He was better after a demotion to low-A but his walk rate was still 7.03 BB/9. When he does find the plate, though, Matzek can still get guys out, as witnessed by his strikeout rates of 10.09 in high-A and 10.41 K/9 in low-A.
Tago posted an ugly 6.11 FIP (7.07 ERA) in 90.1 innings in low-A. The right-hander had a tough time finding the plate on a consistent basis with a walk rate of 7.17 BB/9. Left-handed hitters batted .314 against him and he finished the year on a sour note. During his final three games (7.2 innings) he walked 13 batters and struck out just three. Colorado may want to be a little less aggressive with its prep pitchers – even those with impressive pedigree.
Sands exploded onto the prospect landscape with a productive 2010 season but 2011 was a different story. Although he reached the Majors for the first time in his career, it became fairly apparent that his ’10 output was a product of his environment. After spending time in The Show and hitting just .253/.338/.389 in 198 at-bats. it became somewhat apparent that he’s more of a bench or part-time player rather than the guy that hit 35 homers between low-A and double-A a year ago. In limited at-bats, his wOBA was .456 against left-handed pitchers but just .267 against right-handers. He’s also not going to provide much value with the glove.
Life as a top-ranked Padres prospect is dangerous. Just look at the long list of failed top prospects and burned-out former No. 1 draft picks. Tate’s season was disrupted by injuries for the third straight year in 2011. In those three years, he has just 236 at-bats. He finally reached full-season ball in ’11 but had just 19 at-bats there. The outfielder is still very raw and now has a reputation for being brittle (broken jaw, knee, concussion, and shoulder). Even worse, he was suspended 50 games for testing positive for a “recreational” drug (for the second time). The third overall pick of the 2009 draft, the two guys taken in front of him were Stephen Strasburg (Washington) and Dustin Ackley (Seattle). That’s a big drop off after those two.
Culberson had a very promising 2010 in which he hit 16 homers, stole 25 bases and batted .292. His numbers took a pretty big dive in ’11 with a triple-slash line of .259/.293/.382 in 553 at-bats. His power output dropped from .165 to .123 ISO and his already-low walk rate dropped from 6.0 to 3.7 BB%. Culberson also strikes out too much (22.0 K%) for a guy with modest power. He’s looking more and more like a utility player at best. He’s made strides on the defensive side of his game but he’s still on the wrong side of average.