In the past, the author of this post has facilitated what’s known as the Player Profile Game, in which readers are given a player profile — generally one having been written for FanGraphs Plus — and tasked with providing the identity of the player in question.
What we have on our hands presently, however, is not the past, but rather the present. As per usual, the present has issued its own set of unique circumstances and constraints. In particular, what the present has provided today is a copy of Baseball America’s Prospect Handbook from 2006 into the hands of the author.
Below are three profiles from said Handbook, in likely order of difficulty. For each player, the author has included the prospect’s parent club and Baseball America ranking within same as of the 2006 preseason.
Note that the author regards this exercise not at all as a commentary on the editors of Baseball America, nor their capacity to rank prospects. If certain young players’ future talent has been assessed incorrectly, this is almost entirely due to the difficulties inherent to that sort of exercise.
Prospect No. 1 (Player Page)
The Reds tried to cut costs in the 2002 draft with disastrous results, as Denorfia and [BLANK] are the lone bright spots from that crop. After establishing himself as the system’s best power prospect, [BLANK] had a disappointing 2005 and continued to struggle in the Arizona Fall League. [BLANK] can launch balls out of sight in batting practice. He drew 90 walks in 2004, showing a disciplined, mature approach. For a big man and former catcher, [BLANK] runs the bases well, and he has grown into a solid defensive first baseman with an above-average arm for the position. [BLANK] lacks plus bat speed and his swing lengthened in 2005. Perhaps too passive in the past, he seemed to start guessing, finding himself behind fastballs and ahead of offspeed offerings. He especially struggled against lefties, hitting .193 with a .315 slugging percentage. [BLANK]’s prospect stock has taken a hit, though he’s still the top first-base prospect in the system. He heeds to rediscover his short stroke and trust his natural hitting instincts in Double-A in 2006.
Prospect No. 2 (Player Page)
As a high school standout in the Atlanta area, [BLANK] was ticketed for Clemson along with local rival Jeff Francoeur until the Marlins took him 11th overall in the 2002 draft. [BLANK] earned Baseball America’s nod as the top pure hitter on the prep level and the fourth-best position player overall. Scouts compared him to Eric Chavez, Paul O’Neill and Andy Van Slyke, though [BLANK] himself preferred Shawn Green as a role model. He signed without acrimony for $2,012,500. His father groomed his hitting stroke from a young age… All those lessons paid further dividends in 2005, when he played in the Futures Game, was MVP of the Southern League all-star game and hit a grand slam off Cardinals righthander Al Reyes in his first big league plate appearance on Aug. 31. This is [BLANK]’s third straight winter atop this list, a first in franchise history.
Everything has gone according to plan so far. The next step is for [BLANK] to take over for free agent Juan Encarnacion as the starting right fielder on Opening Day 2006. If given 500 at-bats as expected, he should challenge to become the Marlins’ second National League rookie of the year in four seasons.
*Excerpted from full profile. Note also: this player was ranked fourth overall on BA’s top-100 list in 2006 and was featured on the cover of the Handbook.
Prospect No. 3 (Player Page)
Considered the key to the offseason Tim Hudson deal with the Braves, [BLANK] was expected to immediately step into the big league rotation and contribute. Considered the top left-handed pitching prospect in Triple-A in 2004, he couldn’t have been a bigger disappointment. he posted a 7.78 ERA in big league camp and a 5.36 ERA in Triple-A — nearly double his previous career mark. Worst yet, he battled season-long shoulder soreness that never was fully explained. [BLANK] was the system’s biggest enigma, as every aspect of his game took a significant step backwards. Armed with a 91-94 mph fastball in 2004, he rarely hit 90 after the trade. His slider went from a plus pitch to a flat, easily hittable offering. Mechanically, [BLANK] became unhinged, flying open on nearly every pitch and landing sloppily on his front foot. In less than six months, he went from a projected middle-of-the rotation starter to a pitcher who couldn’t retire minor leaguers with any consistency. The A’s aren’t sure what to expect from [BLANK] at this point, but they’d be happy if he could just get 100 percent healthy so they can assign him to Triple-A in an attempt to rediscover his stuff.
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