By Jason Wojciechowski on July 17, 2013 at 12:15 AM
Here is how many: 1.
You know who it is: it's Addison Russell, shortstop extraordinaire. Marc Hulet notes Russell's adjustments to a difficult level for a 19-year-old, his extra-base power, and says that he could be a "solid defender."
The A's probably don't have any near-misses from the list, either. Michael Choice looks like a ballplayer, but he's slugging .430 in the Pacific Coast League, Dan Straily is already past his rookie eligibility, Sonny Gray probably doesn't have the upside you want from a Top 50 prospect, ditto for Grant Green. Who else? Renato Nunez's .316 OBP? Nolan Sanburn and his 26 professional innings?
This isn't to say that any of these players aren't good prospects. I think Choice and Green can be very useful players and I have optimism in my heart about Gray being a good third starter rather than a back-end or bullpen pitcher, but top 50 is top 50.
And on the other hand, top 50 is also not all it's cracked up to be. Because this is always fun, here are some players who were consensus top 50 prospects in Baseball America's annual prospect guide in 2004. (BA publishes in the book Top 50s for multiple staffers. In 2004, it was Allan Simpson, Will Lingo, Jim Callis, and Josh Boyd.)
- Delmon Young
- Greg Miller
- Adam Loewen
- Andy Marte
- Chin-Hui Tsao
- Angel Guzman
- Kyle Sleeth
- Merkin Valdez
And on the flip side, here are some players who'd have been considered something other than top prospects by BA that year:
- Howie Kendrick, 14th in the Anaheim system
- Carlos Gonzalez, 23rd for Arizona
- "Jon" Papelbon, 14th for Boston
- Josh Johnson, 24th for Florida
- Francisco Liriano, 18th for Minnesota
- Melky Cabrera, 19th for New York
- Brian Wilson, 30th for San Francisco
- C.J. Wilson, 16th for Texas
The A's Top 30 for that year had Nick Swisher behind Graham Koonce and Brad Sullivan and Dan Johnson; Andre Ethier behind all those guys as well as Mike Rouse; and Nelson Cruz listed on the depth chart but not in the top 30.
So all I'm really trying to say is that prospect rankings can go eat a hot bowl of soup.