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MiLB Top 10 Prospects Flashback: 1987 Northwest League



The short-season Northwest League had a banner season for future talent in 1987, the year the draft was streamlined into one June phase. For the first time, players from high school, college and junior college were draft-eligible at the same time. This created a situation in which prep outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. (No. 1) and juco righthander Kevin Appier (No. 6), the first and ninth overall picks in 1987, could debut together immediately after signing.

1987 Northwest League Top 10 Prospects

NoPlayerPosTeamOrgPA/IPWAR
1Ken Griffey Jr.OFBellinghamMariners11,30477.7
2Mike ErbRHPSalemAngels
3Kevin GarnerRHPSalemAngels
4John OrtonCSalemAngels448-0.1
5Tom GordonRHPEugeneRoyals2,10832.8
6Kevin AppierRHPEugeneRoyals2,59557.3
7Jose ValentinSSSpokanePadres6,31730.3
8Eric GundersonLHPEverettGiants229-0.1
9Bobby MooreOFEugeneRoyals150
10Lee TinsleyOFMedfordAthletics9791.4

Griffey made a rousing pro debut, hitting .313 with 14 homers and 13 steals in 54 games. “He can do anything he wants,” one manager said of Griffey’s obvious five-tool potential.

Appier recorded a 3.04 ERA in 15 starts, striking out 72 in 77 innings with an “above-average major league arm,” including a “good live fastball, change and slider.”

Five-foot-9 Tom Gordon (No. 5) struck out 91 batters in 72 innings with “incredible arm speed and the makings of an outstanding curveball.” Gordon peaked at 94 mph on the “slow” JUGS radar gun in use at the time; his curve would become one of the deadliest in the majors.

“He’s so smooth and sure-handed it’s hard to believe he’s only 17,” one manager said of Jose Valentin (No. 7). He hit .250 with strong “discipline at the plate” for Spokane. Valentin would later develop big power for a shortstop, swatting 249 big league homers.

No other single Northwest League season can hold a candle to 1987. Future stars to play in the league include Jose Canseco (1983), Mike Hampton (1991), Miguel Tejada (1995), Carlos Beltran (1996), Felix Hernandez (2003), Josh Donaldson (2007) and Kris Bryant (2013).

Northwest League All-Time BA No. 1 Prospects

Players listed with career major league plate appearances/innings and FanGraphs WAR. Stats for active players current through mid August.

YearPlayerPosTeamOrgPA/IPWAR
1982Jimmy JonesRHPWalla WallaPadres755-0.6
1983Bill WilkinsonLHPBellinghamMariners1131.4
1984Todd BurnsRHPMedfordAthletics4906.6
1985Clint ZavarasRHPBellinghamMariners52-0.1
1986Lee StevensOF/1BSalemAngels3,7241.4
1987Ken Griffey Jr.OFBellinghamMariners11,30477.7
1988Stan Royer3BSouthern OregonAthletics169-0.3
1989Roger SalkeldRHPBellinghamMariners1890.5
YearPlayerPosTeamOrgPA/IPWAR
1990Todd Van PoppelRHPSouthern OregonAthletics907-0.4
1991Troy PercivalRHPBoiseAngels70918.9
1992Jason HutchinsRHPBendRockies
1993Jeff GrangerLHPEugeneRoyals32-1.0
1994Ben GrieveOFSouthern OregonAthletics3,7436.7
1995Miguel TejadaSSSouthern OregonAthletics9,20539.7
1996Mike CarusoSSBellinghamGiants1,140-1.4
1997Dee BrownOFSpokaneRoyals874-4.0
1998Paul PhillipsCSpokaneRoyals2380.2
1999Kyle SnyderRHPSpokaneRoyals238-0.3
YearPlayerPosTeamOrgPA/IPWAR
2000Freddie BynumSSVancouverAthletics377-0.4
2001J.J. JohnsonOFBoiseCubs
2002Andy SiscoLHPBoiseCubs148-0.1
2003Felix HernandezRHPEverettMariners2,73056.9
2004Javier HerreraOFVancouverAthletics
2005Shane LindsayRHPTri-CityRockies6-0.2
2006Tyler ColvinOFBoiseCubs1,3161.9
2007Mat LatosRHPEugenePadres1,15316.7
2008Josh Vitters3BBoiseCubs109-1.4
2009Hak-Ju LeeSSBoiseCubs
YearPlayerPosTeamOrgPA/IPWAR
2010Jurickson ProfarSSSpokaneRangers1,9244.2
2011Justin NicolinoLHPVancouverBlue Jays2010.7
2012Mike ZuninoCEverettMariners2,43413.9
2013Kris Bryant3BBoiseCubs3,17527.9
2014Franklin BarretoSSVancouverBlue Jays216-0.5
2015Dansby SwansonSSHillsboroD-backs1,8794.6
2016Leody TaverasOFSpokaneRangers00.0
2017Cole RagansLHPSpokaneRangers
2018Joey BartCSalem-KeizerGiants50.1
2019Kristian RobinsonOFHillsboroD-Backs
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