March 17, 2009

Dreams to Remember

Whether due to the completion of my annual top-40 prospects series or last week's mention of David McCarty, several readers have inquired recently about the Twins' biggest prospect busts. There are two ways to look at that question, because there are basically two ways for a prospect to be considered a bust. One way is failing to pan out after being a first-round pick and the other way is failing to live up to the hype after being a highly ranked prospect. And some busts fit into both categories, of course.

Researching the biggest busts in the Twins' five-decade history is a more difficult and time-consuming project than I'm ready for, but examining the past 15-20 years is pretty simple with the help of Baseball America's archived prospect rankings and's draft database. Because the jury is still out on most recent draft picks and prospects, let's focus on 1990-2003. Here are my choices for the Twins' biggest first-round busts during that time:

                    YEAR     PICK
Adam Johnson 2000 2nd
David McCarty 1991 3rd
B.J. Garbe 1999 5th
Ryan Mills 1998 6th
Matt Moses 2003 21st
Dan Serafini 1992 26th
Scott Stahoviak 1991 27th
Midre Cummings 1990 29th

McCarty might be considered the biggest draft bust in team history after going third overall in 1991 and using three straight top-six picks on Ryan Mills, B.J. Garbe, and Adam Johnson was a brutal stretch for the Twins that was thankfully snapped when they selected Joe Mauer first overall in 2001. Now here's a look at the players who failed to have much big-league success after being ranked among baseball's top 100 prospects by BA from 1990-2003:

                    YEAR     RANK                            YEAR     RANK
Willie Banks 1990 13th Luis Rivas 1998 55th
Willie Banks 1991 15th Luis Rivas 1999 63rd
David McCarty 1993 16th Michael Restovich 2002 63rd
David McCarty 1992 22nd Willie Banks 1992 68th
Pat Mahomes 1992 25th Luis Rivas 1997 70th
Michael Restovich 2000 26th Marc Barcelo 1995 70th
Midre Cummings 1992 33rd Dan Serafini 1996 76th
Michael Restovich 2003 37th B.J. Garbe 2000 79th
Adam Johnson 2001 41st Adam Johnson 2002 85th
Johnny Ard 1990 46th Luis Rivas 2000 86th
Michael Restovich 1999 50th Luis Rivas 2001 93rd
Alan Newman 1992 96th

Willie Banks missed the 1990-2003 cutoff for draft busts listed above because he was picked in 1987, but just like McCarty he went No. 3 overall and then ranked as a top-20 prospect in back-to-back years. Luis Rivas was never a top-20 prospect, but he placed among BA's top 100 in 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2001 before becoming the Official Whipping Boy of in mid-2002. Michael Restovich was a top-50 prospect in three straight seasons and ranked 68th in a fourth year.

Also worth noting is that while he was never actually ranked by BA as Twins property, Frank Rodriguez ranked ninth in 1992, 25th in 1993, and 39th in 1994 before coming to Minnesota in the mid-1995 trade for Rick Aguilera. If you count Rodriguez as a Twins prospect, then he joins Mauer (2002, 2003, 2004, 2005), Francisco Liriano (2006), and Todd Walker (1997) as the team's top-10 prospects since 1990. Based on draft position and BA rankings, here are the 10 biggest Twins prospect busts in that time:

 1. David McCarty           .676 OPS in 1,647 PA
2. Willie Banks 4.75 ERA in 610 IP
3. Frank Rodriguez 5.53 ERA in 654 IP
4. Adam Johnson 10.25 ERA in 26 IP
5. Ryan Mills Never played in majors
6. B.J. Garbe Never played in majors
7. Michael Restovich .690 OPS in 297 PA
8. Luis Rivas .680 OPS in 2,290 PA
9. Dan Serafini 6.04 ERA in 264 IP
10. Pat Mahomes 5.47 ERA in 709 IP

If you're curious, Delmon Young was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2003 draft and BA's prospect rankings pegged him No. 3 in 2004, No. 3 in 2005, No. 1 in 2006, and No. 3 in 2007.

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