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Lessons Learned When Evaluating Top 100 Prospects

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Jose Altuve (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)

There are some stars of the game that, even if we could do it all over again, we’d still miss. Justin Turner is now a multi-time all-star, but it’s hard to figure out how we could have predicted it when he was a smaller, light-hitting utility infielder who was waived once and was a minor league free agent another time.

The story is similar with Tigers and now Red Sox star J.D. Martinez, who also went through waivers before completely retooling his swing to make himself a power-hitting star.

But in studying players with multiple all-star appearances who didn’t make a Top 100, we found players we missed which provided lessons to be learned. Two of our biggest misses we wish we could do over are leaving Paul Golschmidt and Jose Altuve off our Top 100 lists.

PAUL GOLDSCHMIDT, 1B, DIAMONDBACKS/CARDINALS

Goldschmidt blitzed through the minors, hitting .317/.407/.620 in 315 games before he reached Arizona. An eighth-round pick in 2009, many scouts and BA remained a little skeptical when Goldschmidt hit .306/.435/.626 in the California League in 2010. That was Goldschmidt’s last year of Top 100 eligibility.

Lesson Learned: Yes, Goldschmidt was a later-round pick and he was a better athlete than our 2010 scouting reports indicated. But mostly it was his first base profile and his fast climb through the minors that kept him from the Top 100.

How We’ve Responded: Pete Alonso can thank Goldschmidt and Rhys Hoskins success for his Top 100 placement. Alonso isn’t the athlete that Goldschmidt is, but like Goldschmidt, he’s a productive college first baseman with a track record of hitting in the minors. Since Goldschmidt, we’ve been more inclined to give extremely productive first basemen some benefit of the doubt.

JOSE ALTUVE, 2B, HOUSTON ASTROS

In the minors, Altuve looked more like a spray-hitting top-of-the-order hitter than the middle-of-the-order MVP. But he was one of the best hitters in the minors, hitting .327/.386/.481 in five minor league seasons. Most impressively, he hit .389 between high Class A Lancaster and Double-A Corpus Christi in 2011 in his breakout season as a prospect.

Lesson Learned: Altuve’s extremely short stature led to some concerns about how much impact he’d make at the plate in the majors even though scouts thought his defense at second base was solid. Altuve was a high-average, low-power hitter with excellent defense early in his MLB career. But he later developed power as well, turning into a franchise player that has helped turn the Astros into one of the best teams in baseball.

How We’ve Responded: Dustin Pedroia started to put to rest the idea of height being an issue for hitters among scouts, and Altuve has followed behind to largely finish off the idea. If a short hitter doesn’t drive the ball at all, it can still be a concern, but short but stout hitters can rake, as Pedroia and Altuve have demonstrated.

Padres second baseman Luis Urias is a player on the current Top 100 who benefits from Altuve’s success, as is White Sox second baseman Nick Madrigal.

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