Dodger all-time prospect busts – Part I
I was all ready to do my 2nd installment of the good and bad of 2017 when Baseball Prospectus rolled out a prospect bust list for the 21st century. It included three Dodgers and while I agree with Andy LaRoche and Jtd (Joel the Destroyer Guzman), they also included Zach Lee which I thought was very strange.
Even though Zach Lee was a 1st round pick and was the Dodgers top prospect in 2011 and 2012 that was more because the Dodger farm system in 2011 and 2012 was horrible. Zach Lee never really showed much and never cracked a top ten prospect or even top 20 prospect list. Defining bust is subjective but for me, you have to have been considered by the prospect community to be a player capable of at least being an all-star type of talent.
Anyway, it got me thinking about the Dodger prospects who never lived up to expectations. Lately, Dodger fans are used to the prospects being exactly what was billed what with Yasiel Puig, Joc Pederson, Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger, Austin Barnes, Clayton Kershaw, and Kenley Jansen all being homegrown prospects. Other than Barnes they have all had high expectations and other than Joc Pederson have lived up to them. Joc has done just fine based on expectations, but when you are followed by the likes of Seager/Bellinger you can see where his own production looks a tad shallow.
But as any longtime Dodger fan could tell you, that was not always the case.
First I’m going to work backward and once I’ve come up with my list, I’ll list them subjectively how busted they were based on expectations.
Heh, I’ve already gone back to the 2011 prospect lists and haven’t found any busts. The problem is that the Dodgers had some really bad drafts during the McCourt/Colletti era and you’d be hard-pressed to find any of their prospects make top twenty lists. For example the top prospect in 2011 and 2012 was Zach Lee but as I already showed above the highest he ever hit a Baseball America or MLB top prospect list was 45. He was certainly a bust but then again he was never highly rated.
Let’s keep going.
Okay, I had to go all the way back to 2008 to find a legit prospect bust. That, of course, is Andy LaRoche who while never a top ten ranked prospect was a top twenty prospect for both 2006 and 2007 by Baseball American, while Baseball Prospectus had him at #14 for pre-2008. Yeah, he was a legit bust. Very possible that health was his issue (back) but we will never know.
Sadly it is going to get easier now as the Dodgers did have a plethora of highly ranked prospects who never quite reached the expectations from 2003 – 2007.
Scott Elbert just misses the cut. I thought he was more highly ranked but he stalled out in the 30’s.
Good time for JtD aka Joel Guzman to make the list. Joel got his nickname Joel the Destroyer when he appeared in the futures game as a 19-year-old shortstop and proceeded to awe the scouts with his “light tower power”. JtD became a prospect darling at the age of 19 when he crushed AA pitching as part of the Jacksonville Five in 2004. I can remember his minor league equivalent saying his AA 19-year-old season would have produced an OPS over .800 in major league baseball. I’ll never forget the hype about the 6’6 teen-age shortstop and I fell for it until the day I saw him in a major league game. I’m not a scout, but he was the least athletic middle infielder I’d ever seen so I thought for sure he would end up a 1st baseman or left fielder. He did, but he also never hit. He stunk. Really really stunk. No positional Dodger was ever ranked as high as Joel Guzman by Baseball America until Corey Seager showed up.
Prospect ranking is not a science. The year that Joel Guzman was ranked the Dodgers top prospect Matt Kemp was ranked 14th. Matt Kemp was never in the Baseball America top 100 because he came to fast for them. Actually, he was ranked 96th in 2006 but by the summer of 2006 he was already in the majors and used up his prospect status. I talked to scouts in the winter of 2005 who felt Matt Kemp was a fourth outfielder. I’ve never quite trusted scouts. Really.
Here we go. Edwin Jackson. On his 20th birthday in 2003 he beat Randy Johnson in his first major league start. This start would rank as one of the all-time debuts in baseball history. Baseball America had him ranked as the 4th best prospect in all of baseball headed into 2004. Edwin Jackson has had a long career which includes one of the strangest no-hitters in baseball history but unlike Chad Billingsley never had one consistently good season much less a great one.
But Edwin Jackson was not even the biggest bust for me from the 2004 list. That would have been Greg Miller. Greg Miller was everything that Clayton Kershaw was at the age of 18. Hell, he was even more advanced than Clayton Kershaw at that age. Greg Miller dominated AA pitching at the age of 18. Sadly that was his peak, injury after injury kept Greg Miller from ever fulfilling his destiny and he never pitched in one major league game. Of all the Dodgers prospects I’ve followed the demise of Greg Miller was my greatest disappointment.
Righthander Edwin Jackson emerged as one of the most promising pitching prospects in baseball and won a surprise spot start in September. And some scouts say lefthander Greg Miller is even better than Jackson. That one-two punch can�t be matched by any organization, and Evans has deemed them all but untouchable.
Read more at https://www.baseballamerica.com/minors/2004-los-angeles-dodgers-top-10-prospects/#WRguIGOECmmyVWQy.99
This seems like a good ending point and I’ll have to break this into multiple parts. Time for my list of the 21st-century busts.
- Greg Miller – a real bust, zero major league games
- Joel Guzman – a real bust, barely any major league games
- Andy LaRoche – real bust
- Edwin Jackson – the least bust because he had a long career and once in a while would remind of the promise of Sept 9th, 2003.
Only four real busts in seventeen years. One view is that is pretty damn good, the other view is that from 2000 – 2003, and 2008 – 2012 the Dodgers simply didn’t have any good prospects.
The bottom line is that the Dodger prospects in the 21st century have delivered on that promise more times than not.