This business of prospects and how they pan out is fascinating. With the state of free agency, and the high trade value of legitimate stars, prospects seem to be the hottest commodity for major league front offices.
Certain prospects seem untouchable. How many times do we hear a major trade is turned down because the team with the star wanted prospects that the team looking for the star wasn’t willing to give up? And since the odds of a prospect actually having an impact is small, you often wonder why they are horded so dearly.
That mostly doesn’t apply to the big dog, though, the Number One prospect in all of baseball.
It seems, they have, more often than not, gone on to have remarkable careers. With a few exceptions. The Rangers, in their infinite bad luck, know all too well about that.
Here are how the Number One prospects in all of baseball on the Baseball Prospectus’s list of Top 101 Prospects have fared since they started their rankings in 2007.
2007: Alex Gordon, Royals, 3B—In twelve seasons, six Gold Gloves, three All-Star games, one top-fifteen MVP vote, one ring. A .258 career hitter averaging 18 home runs and sixty-nine RBIs. Gordon was the heart and soul of the Royals World Series run, one of those guys who was more valuable than the actual numbers he put up.
2008: Jay Bruce, Reds, OF—In eleven seasons, fifth in Rookie of the Year voting, three All-Star games, two Silver Slugger awards, two top-ten MVP finishes. A .247 career hitter averaging 31 home runs and 94 RBIs. Bruce has flashes of brilliance, streaks where he is a beast.
2009: Matt Wieters, Orioles, C—In ten seasons, two Gold Gloves, four All-Star games. A career .251 hitter averaging 20 home runs and 78 RBIs. A great career in Baltimore has since fizzled out due to injury.
2010: Stephen Strasburg, Nationals, P—In nine seasons, three All-Star games, one Silver Slugger, two top-ten Cy Young finishes. A career .644 winning percentage and 3.14 ERA, averaging 238 strikeouts and a WHIP of 1.094. He’s brilliant when he takes the mound, which isn’t often enough due to injury or fear of injury, or his agent threatening lawsuits if he pitches
2011: Bryce Harper, Nationals, OF—In seven seasons, one MVP, one Rookie of the Year, six All-Star games, one Silver Slugger. A .279 career hitter averaging 32 home runs and 91 RBIs. He was ranked ahead of Mike Trout in 2011, which seems to have added extra wind to his sail. Harper is a star, for sure, but a bit inconsistent offensively and not all that spectacular on defense.
2012: Matt Moore, Rays, P—In eight seasons, one All-Star game and one top-ten Cy Young. A career .491 winning percentage and 4.56 ERA, averaging 165 strikeouts and a WHIP of 1.413. One promising season and a former number one ranking has sustained his mediocre, and often awful, career.
2013: Jurickson Profar, Rangers, SS—In five seasons, no awards or citations. A .240 career hitter averaging 15 home runs and 60 RBIs. Injuries derailed him. He has a fresh start in Oakland to see if he can made any sort of major league impact.
2014/2015: Byron Buxton, Twins, OF—In four seasons, one Gold Glove, one top-twenty MVP. A .230 career hitter averaging 15 home runs and 52 RBIs. You have to feel for the Twins. Their guy was named the Number One prospect in all the land not only once, but twice. And he has fizzled out in the major leagues.
2016: Corey Seager, Dodgers, SS—In four seasons, one Rookie of the Year, two All-Star games, one top 3 and one top 20 MVP, two silver sluggers. A .302 career hitter averaging 25 home runs and 82 RBIs. A superstar in the making, derailed by elbow surgery last season.
2017: Alex Reyes, Cardinals, P—Two seasons, mostly injured, just thirteen total games. When he has been on the mound, he has been good.
2018: Ronald Acuna, Braves, OF—In one season, one Rookie of the Year, one top 20 MVP. Batted .293 with 26 home runs and 64 RBIs. A potential perennial All-Star. Too soon to bestow greatness on him because careers have a way of derailing but if this kid keeps it up, he will be sensational.
2019: Vladimir Guerrero Jr, Blue Jays, 3B. In the minor leagues, there is nothing this kid can’t do. A brilliant career is all teed up and waiting for him.
It would seem Baseball Prospectus fired the guy who did the picking between 2012 and 2015.