Results tagged ‘ Rookie of the Year ’
As the career of Chipper Jones comes to a close, it is amazing to look back at how he went from a consolation price as the #1 pick in the draft to a first ballot Hall of Famer.
While it is easy to look back at the 1990 MLB draft and say “of course Chipper was the #1 pick,” Jones was not the top prospect in the draft, that honor went to Todd Van Poppel, who told the Atlanta Braves not to pick him, as he would go to college at the University of Texas rather than sign with the Braves. Instead the Braves went the quasi-local route, taking Jacksonville, Florida-native shortstop with the first pick. After signing for a $275,000 bonus (Van Poppel got $1.4 million from the A’s, who took him with the 14th pick), Jones was assigned to the Rookie League GCL Braves, where he proceeded to not hit, putting up a 229/321/271 line across 164 PA while getting hit by the pitch six times, setting a career high (which is a testament to the poor command of young pitchers more than anything else). Baseball America was not deterred by his poor performance and ranked Jones the #49 prospect in baseball, between Jeff Juden and Robbie Beckett (Van Poppel was #1, with fellow Braves prospect Ryan Klesko as #3).
Undeterred by his slow start, the Braves sent Jones to the full season A Macon Braves of the South Atlantic League. Jones terrorized Sally League pitchers, putting up a 326/407/518 line with 24 doubles, 11 triples, 15 home runs, and 40 stolen bases. More amazingly, Jones walked 69 times with 70 strikeouts – nearly a 1:1 ratio. As a result, Jones jumped up the prospect rankings, as Baseball America ranked Jones the #4 prospect in baseball, behind only Brien Taylor (the 1991 #1 pick), Van Poppel, and Roger Salkeld. The #10 prospect was an undersized righty in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization, Pedro Martinez.
To start 1992, Jones was assigned to play for the high A Durham Bulls of the Carolina League, where he put up a 277/353/413 line across 70 games, before being promoted to the AA Greenville Braves of the Southern League. Jones caught fire in Greenville, putting up a 346/367/594 line with 17 doubles, 11 triples, and nine home runs in 67 games. For the season, the 20-year old Jones hit 311/360/504 with 39 doubles, 12 triples, and 13 home runs across two levels. After the season, Baseball America ranked Jones the #1 prospect in baseball, ahead of Brien Taylor (#2), Cliff Floyd (#3), Carlos Delgado (#4 – as a catcher), and Tim Salmon (#5). Van Poppel dropped to #7 in the new ranking as his star began to wane, while one of the hottest prospects was a corner outfielder in the Cleveland Indians’ organization named Manny Ramirez.
In 1993, Jones was assigned to the AAA Richmond Braves of the International League, and he picked up where he left off in 1992, putting up a 325/387/500 line while hitting 31 doubles, 12 triples, and 13 home runs. Jones earned a September cup of coffee, hitting a robust 667/750/1000 across four plate appearances (one single, one double, one walk, and one strikeout) as a 21-year old. After the season, Jones was picked as the #2 prospect in baseball, as Cliff Floyd passed him on the strength of a 329/417/600 season year in AA.
After Braves’ starting left fielder Ron Gant broke his leg in an off-season dirt bike accident, Jones was expected to compete to start in left field, but tore the ACL in his left knee in spring training and missed the entire 1994 season. Despite this setback, Jones was still the #3 prospect in baseball for 1995, with only Alex Rodriguez (#1) and Ruben Rivera (#2) ahead of him, and Derek Jeter (#4) directly behind him. Jones opened the season as the Braves starting third baseman and never looked back, putting up a 265/353/450 line (OPS+ 108) while coming in second place in the NL Rookie of the Year vote behind Hideo Nomo en route to hitting 389/450/833 in the NLDS win over the Colorado Rockies, 438/526/625 in the NLCS victory over the Cincinnati Reds, and 286/385/429 in the World Series win over the Cleveland Indians.
From there, Jones became a true middle of the order hitter for the next 15 years, putting up a 314/411/555 line with an OPS+ of 148 from 1996-2008, which includes an MVP in 1999, leading the league in OPS (1029) and OPS+ (165) in 2007, and batting average (.364) and OBP (.470) in 2008. After three sub-par seasons (well, for Jones, most players would love to put up OPS+’s of 117, 120, and 121), Jones is going out with a flourish in 2012, with a 301/381/500 line through August 28rd.
While he will never be known as a great defender, Jones became a sure-handed defender at third base who could fill in a shortstop in a pinch, though he was banished to left field for two seasons.
But how will Chipper Jones be remembered? Will he be remembered as a middle of the order threat that was never able to win that second World Series ring? Will he be remembered as the guy who tortured the Mets with a career 314/410/553 line (though in my head it seems like his line was actually 400/600/1000) or as the “cheap” #1 overall pick that worked? In the end, most people are unaware that Jones was not the top prospect in the 1990 draft and view Jones as guy who just went out there and played as much as he could, and doing pretty well when it counted, putting up a 288/411/459 line in the post season.
Until next time, follow me @HypeProspect.
Colby Rasmus has been as controversial player as there is in the major leagues over the past few years (without committing a crime). An ultra-talented center fielder with plus power, great range, and a canon throwing arm, Rasmus has the potential to be the next great player. After a great 2010, Rasmus seemingly took a few steps back in his development, followed by a trade from St. Louis to Toronto.
Born in Columbus, Georgia, Rasmus moved to Phenix City, Alabama when he was young. In Phenix City, Rasmus was a star pitcher and first baseman in Little League, leading his Phenix City Little League team to the finals of the 1999 Little League World Series, losing to Hirakata (Japan) Little League in the finals.
After a great career at Russell County High School in Seale, Alabama, Rasmus was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the first round of the 2005 MLB draft, #28 overall. A number of very good players were selected prior to Rasmus, including Justin Upton (Arizona, 1st round/1st pick), Ryan Zimmerman (Washington, 1/4), Ryan Braun (Milwaukee, 1/5), Ricky Romero (Toronto, 1/6), Troy Tulowitzki (Colorado, 1/7), Andrew McCutchen (Pittsburgh, 1/11), Jacoby Ellsbury (1/23), and Matt Garza (Minnesota, 1/25). Rasmus signed for $1 million and was assigned to the Johnson City Cardinals, the Cardinals Rookie Level affiliate in the Appalachian League. Rasmus put up an impressive 296/362/514 line in 62 games in Johnson City.
In 2006, Rasmus who not ranked in Baseball America’s Top 100, was assigned to the Swing of the Quad Cities, the Cardinals’ A-level Midwest League affiliate, where he excelled. Rasmus was putting up a 310/373/512 line across 78 games for Quad Cities, when he was promoted to the Palm Beach Cardinals, the Cardinals’ High A affiliate in the Florida State League. In the notoriously pitcher-friendly Florida State League, Rasmus displayed power with a mature approach, putting up a 254/351/404 line as second youngest player in the Florida State League.
As a result of his excellent 2006 season, Rasmus’ stock skyrocketed, as Baseball America ranked him the #29 prospect, but Rasmus’ talent had only started to shine through. In 2007, Rasmus spent the year playing for the Springfield Cardinals of the AA Texas League, putting up a 275/381/551 line, showing significant development of his power with 37 doubles, 3 triples, and 29 home runs. Tulsa Drillers’ Manager, Stu Cole waxed poetic in discussing Rasmus’ ability:
“If there was a five-tool player in the league last year, Rasmus was the one. He brought everything to the table. If the ball was in the air, there was a chance you were going to see something exciting.”
In December 2007, the Cardinals dealt incumbent center fielder Jim Edmonds to the San Diego Padres for David Freese, clearing the way for Rasmus. Rasmus was ranked the #5 prospect by Baseball America (behind Jay Bruce, Evan Longoria, Joba Chamberlain, and Clay Buchholz), and prospect prognosticators praised his power, plate discipline, range in centerfield, and cannon throwing arm. Rasmus was invited to spring training and played reasonably well, but was sent to the Pacific Coast League’s Memphis Redbirds, where he immediately went into a deep offensive funk, hitting .186 through his first 172 at bats. Rasmus ended up with a respectable 251/346/396 line in 90 games for the Redbirds, missing time with a knee injury. Presciently, comments attached to his father, Tony, a former minor leaguer in the then-California Angels system, emerged, showing Tony’s disagreement with the actions of the Cardinals. Tony stated that the Cardinals were trying to alter Rasmus’ swing, publicly displaying a rift between the Rasmus family and the Cardinals.
Despite the lackluster season and the injury, Rasmus’ solid showing after the slow start and potential convinced Baseball America to rank him the #3 prospect, behind Matt Wieters and David Price. The Cardinals requested that Rasmus play winter ball to get additional at bats to get ready for the season, but Rasmus declined. Rasmus, apparently having never seen Crash Davis’ conversations with Nuke LaLoosh, reported to spring training asserting that he would go north with the Cardinals and could be the teams center fielder, irking a number of veterans including Rick Ankiel and Chris Duncan.
On Opening Day, Rasmus batted second and played right field (Ankiel was in center) and made a great debut – going 2/4 with a walk in his major league debut in the Cardinals’ 9-3 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. Rasmus put up a solid 251/307/407 line in 2009, starting 104 games in centerfield while only starting 10 in left field and right field. Rasmus placed eighth in the Rookie of the Year Award vote (Chris Coghlan won) and was the inspiration for one of the greatest YouTube videos of all time:
Rasmus came into 2010 hoping to build on 2009 and exceeded expectations, putting up a 276/361/498 (132 OPS+) line. Rasmus began 2011 crushing the ball. After a 3/5 day against the Cubs on May 12, Rasmus goes into a tailspin, putting up a 194/282/377 line across 57 games until his late July trade to the Toronto Blue Jays. In early July, Cardinals’ Manager Tony La Russa said that “[w]hat [Rasmus is] working on is something that he thinks will help him and it comes from someplace else.” That “someplace else” was Rasmus’ father, Tony. While La Russa said that “it’s not unusual” for a player to seek familiar coaching, it was unusual to totally exclude the hitting instruction provided by the team, in this case Hitting Coach Mark McGwire.
The war of word continued between La Russa and Rasmus, culminating in a trade on July 27 with Trevor Miller, Brian Tallet, and P.J. Walters for Octavio Dotel, Edwin Jackson, Corey Patterson, and Marc Rzepczynski. Both sides seemed pleased with the deal, the Blue Jays picked up the ultra-talented Rasmus and the Cardinals picked up two solid bullpen arms, a starter, and a backup outfielder. It was the ultimate “change of scenery” trade.
While there is still a lot of time before we can fully judge the trade, it appears that St. Louis did much better than initially perceived. Rasmus put up a terrible 173/201/316 (37 OPS+) line over the final 35 games in the season, and has a 200/256/343 line (small sample size alert!) through 10 games in 2012. The Cardinals, however, caught fire after the trade, winning the Wild Card on the last day of the season and winning one of the most exciting World Series in recent memory.
How do we evaluate Rasmus? He’s still (somehow) only 25 and loaded with talent. Though reports have indicated decreased range, he still has the tools to be a middle-of-the-order hitter and center fielder. But how did Rasmus get here? Has he failed to actualize his talents? Are his father’s attempts to help hurting him? Is there another factor that is causing problems? No one seems to be quite sure – if anyone knew the problem they would be able to solve the problem. In the end Rasmus may figure it out and reach his potential or he make it onto the long list of ultra-talented players who had initial success in the Major Leagues but were unable to make the necessary adjustments.
Until next time, follow me @HypeProspect.
Not all Post Hype Prospects flame out and don’t reach the majors. Many Post Hype Prospects become useful major league players, even All-Stars, but fail to achieve prognosticated the level of success. One of the many players who fall into this category is Jay Payton.
Jason Lee (“Jay”) Payton grew up as a multi-sport standout at Zanesville High School in Zanesville, Ohio. Being named the Connie Mack World Series tournament MVP after his senior year in high school, Payton attended Georgia Institute of Technology (more commonly known as Georgia Tech) , where his teammates included Nomar Garciaparra and Jason Varitek. In the 1994 College World Series, Georgia Tech lost in the championship game to an Oklahoma team led by Chip Glass (birth name David Jason), who was named CWS Most Outstanding Player. In the first round of the 1994 draft, the New York Mets took Paul Wilson with the #1 overall pick (more on him in a later post, to be sure), Terrance Long #20 (as compensation for the Orioles signing Sid Fernandez), and Payton #29 (also compensation for the Orioles signing Fernandez) with the first pick of the supplemental first round.
Payton signed quickly and appeared in 58 games for the Mets’ Short Season A affiliate, the Pittsfield Mets of the New York Penn League (in addition to the Mets’ affiliate being in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, there were also teams in New Jersey, Vermont, Pennsylvania, and Ontario), hitting a robust 365/439/498 with ten stolen bases and nine (!) HBP. Payton was promoted to the Mets’ AA affiliate, the Binghamton Mets, for the final eight games of the season where he hit a gentlemanly 280/357/320. Payton was rated the #96 prospect by Baseball America and assigned to the AA Binghamton Mets, where he mashed to a 345/395/535 slash line, primarily playing Center Field. Payton was promoted to the Mets’ AAA affiliate, the Norfolk Tides, for the final 50 games of the season. In Norfolk, Payton put up a lackluster 240/284/398 slash line. After the 1995 season, Payton had his medial collateral ligament (MCL) surgically repaired after the 1995 season, a problem many felt was the reason for the poor AAA showing.
Baseball America took notice and ranked Payton the #21 prospect for 1996. In 1996, Payton played only 71 games, with 55 of them in Norfolk, putting up an impressive 307/363/503 slash line while in Norfolk. Payton had more injury troubles, thoroughly destroying us ulnar collateral ligament and hurting his shoulder, resulting in surgery on both his shoulder and Tommy John surgery on his elbow. Despite the short season and injury concerns, Payton was rated the #34 prospect for 1997. Unfortunately, Payton missed the entire 1997 season rehabilitating from his injuries.
In 1998, Payton played in 85 games, 82 of them in Norfolk, putting up a pedestrian 261/318/404 slash line while just trying to stay healthy. He also put up a more impressive 318/348/364 slash line in a cup of tea during September. In 1999, a healthy Payton put up a 389/437/674 slash line in Norfolk, appearing in 13 games with the Mets, hitting 250/333/375 while in the Majors. Coming out of Spring Training, Payton appeared to be sharing the 4th outfielder role with Benny Agbayani, but Payton appeared in 124 games, putting up a respectable 291/331/447 while finishing third behind Rafael Furcal and Rick Ankiel (but ahead of Pat Burrell, Lance Berkman, and Juan Pierre) in the 2000 Rookie of the Year Award voting.
After a pedestrian 255/298/371 showing in 104 games in 2001 and a solid 284/336/415 showing in 87 games in 2002, Payton was dealt to Colorado with Robert Stratton and Mark Corey for Mark Little and John Thompson. Payton put up a monster 335/376/606 for the rest of the year, taking advantage of pre-humidor Coors Field to the fullest. In 2003, Payton put up another monster season, hitting 302/354/512, though he did lead the NL by grounding into 27 double plays, just one behind major league leader Paul Konerko (who was, incidentally, drafted with the 13th pick of the 1994 MLB draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers). After the 2003 season, Payton signed a two-year contract with the San Diego Padres for $5.5 million (with a $4 million club option on the 2006 season with a $500,000 buy-out).
From 2004 through 2008, Payton appeared in 667 games with 2368 Plate Appearances, putting up a roughly league average 267/310/393 slash line (85 OPS+) while transitioning from being a CF to a LF. In March of 2009, Payton suffered a shoulder injury while lifting weights and missed the entire season. In January 2010, Payton signed a minor league contract with the Colorado Rockies, and put up a 323/365/469 slash line while primarily playing left field for the Rockies’ AAA affiliate, the Colorado Springs Sky Sox. Called up to the Rockies in September, Payton made up for lost time, mashing a 343/361/514 line in 36 PA. Faced with another off season shoulder surgery, Payton announced his retirement.
But what happened to Jay Payton? Why was he unable to reach his potential? It’s easy to say that injuries curtailed his career before it really got started or that he just wasn’t THAT talented. I think it’s a combination of the two. No one ever saw Payton as a future hall of famer, but it would not have been a stretch to see Payton hit 300 for a decade while playing a good center field. It seems that the key to reaching potential is to avoid injuries, something that may involve more than a little luck.
Until next time, leave comments and follow me @HypeProspect.