Looking over an Altoona Curve game-day program from 2010, it’s easy to see why WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) doesn’t always hold true in baseball.
According to Baseball America, the Pittsburgh Pirates top 10 prospects as of July 4, 2010 were (from No. 1 to No. 10):
1. Pedro Alvarez
2. Jose Tabata
3. Tony Sanchez
4. Brad Lincoln
5. Chase d’Arnaud
6. Starling Marte
7. Tim Alderson
8. Zack von Rosenberg
9. Rudy Owens
10. Gorkys Hernandez
Alvarez tied for a home run championship in 2013 but struggled mightily in 2014, Tabata has fallen off after his rookie season and was DFA’d Saturday, Sanchez has difficulty throwing the ball, Lincoln might’ve been better off as an everyday player with his hitting ability, d’Arnaud is a pinch-runner, Marte is the gem amongst the rubble, Alderson threw 86 mph in his first game with the Curve and went downhill from there, von Rosenberg has never sniffed Triple-A, Owens was useful as part of the Wandy Rodriguez deal and Hernandez was traded as part of the Gaby Sanchez swap.
Remember, these were the top 10 prospects in the entire organization, not just Double-A. The group turned out to be suspect, at best.
Turning the Curve program book to the player profile pages, there are more players helping Pittsburgh at the major league level than the one’s listed by Baseball America.
Josh Harrison: “Another fresh face in the Pirates system.”
Jared Hughes: Hughes was originally drafted out of high school by the “Tampa Rays” in 2003 but did not sign.
Jordy Mercer: Drove in 22 runs in his last 24 games for Lynchburg in 2009 to lead the Hillcats into the playoffs.
Bryan Morris: Morris saw more time in a Pirates uniform than most of the top 10 list.
Tony Watson: Watson started only five games in 2009 because of left elbow tendinitis. Explains why he flew under the radar.
Justin Wilson: Wilson was the winning pitcher in Fresno State’s College World Series-clinching win over Georgia in 2009.
The moral of the story?
Prospects lists aren’t the end-all, be-all they’re cracked up to be.
The Bucs found their starting third baseman, shortstop and four bullpen arms in 2014 from players not listed by Baseball America.
Pittsburgh’s 2010 draft class still looks somewhat promising – Jameson Taillon, Nick Kingham, Brandon Cumpton and Casey Sadler, but as we know, nothing is guaranteed.