Stats, age foretell prospect's story

Originally Published: February 28, 2005
By Rob Neyer | ESPN Insider
Identifying baseball's next big stars is easier than you probably think. I realized this after looking at the lists of top prospects published in John Sickels' old (1995-2001) Minor League Scouting Notebooks. I use John's lists because 1) I believe in them, and 2) he's been a friend and a colleague for longer than I care to remember.

Let's look at John's top hitting prospects entering the 1998 season (and by the way, I selected 1998 mostly at random from that range of seven years). You ready for this?

1. Adrian Beltre

2. Ben Grieve

3. Paul Konerko

4. Todd Helton

5. Aramis Ramirez

6. Travis Lee

7. Miguel Tejada

8. Mark Kotsay

9. Chad Hermansen

10. Sean Casey

Pretty good list, huh? Say what you want about Ben Grieve, but the guy did win the Rookie of the Year Award in '98, and two seasons later he drove in 104 runs. Travis Lee's career, of course, hasn't been what everybody expected. And Pirates second baseman Chad Hermansen just never quite worked out, almost solely due to his inability to control the strike zone. Hermansen's enjoyed brief major league stints with four different clubs in the last three seasons, but at 27 his chance of winning an everyday job in the majors has dwindled to something like zero.