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MiLB Top 10 Prospects Flashback: 1987 Southern League

The Double-A Southern League has a rich prospect tradition, none better than the class of 1987 headlined by Hall of Famers Randy Johnson (No. 2) and Larry Walker (No. 3), both Jacksonville teammates as Expos farmhands, and 1996 National League MVP Ken Caminiti (No. 1).

Other contenders for best prospect class in Southern League history include 1990 with Frank Thomas and Chuck Knoblauch, 2006 with Joey Votto and Ryan Braun, 2008 with Clayton Kershaw and David Price and 2009 with Giancarlo Stanton and Freddie Freeman.

1987 Southern League Top 10 Prospects

1Ken Caminiti3BColumbusAstros7,12736.0
2Randy JohnsonLHPJacksonvilleExpos4,135105.2
3Larry WalkerOFJacksonvilleExpos8,03068.7
4Erik HansonRHPChattanoogaMariners1,55523.6
5Geronimo BerroaOFKnoxvilleBlue Jays2,8256.0
6Steve GasserRHPOrlandoTwins
7Walt WeissSSHuntsvilleAthletics5,51614.8
8Brian HolmanRHPJacksonvilleExpos67710.3
9Tommy GreeneRHPGreenvilleBraves6286.7
10Rob MallicoatLHPColumbusAstros54-1.1

Johnson won five Cy Young Awards but didn’t receive his first vote until he was 29 because of untamed wildness stretching back to his amateur days. In the Southern League he walked 128 in 140 innings while leading the league with 163 strikeouts thanks to his “93 mph-plus fastball.” One manager regarded Johnson as having “more potential than any pitcher in the league.”

Walker shot to Double-A at age 20 and had a big year in the Southern League, hitting .287 with 26 homers thanks to a “smooth swing.” One manager accurately forecasted that Walker “can do all five things well.”

“Everything he does is a plus,” one Southern League manager gushed about Caminiti, who reached Houston in the second half of 1987. While he was repeating the SL, Caminiti hit .325 with 15 homers and drew praise for his “outstanding arm, good hands and range at third.”

Walt Weiss (No. 7) carved out a 14-year big league career as a smooth-fielding but light-hitting shortstop. “His defense is at major league standards now,” one manager said.

Southern 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.

1981Tim LaudnerCOrlandoTwins2,2684.0
1982Stefan WeverRHPNashvilleYankees3-0.4
1983John MorrisOFJacksonvilleRoyals665-0.1
1984Mickey BrantleyOFChattanoogaMariners1,2220.9
1985Jose CansecoOFHuntsvilleAthletics8,12942.1
1986Bo JacksonOFMemphisRoyals2,6267.7
1987Ken Caminiti3BColumbusAstros7,12736.0
1988Pete HarnischRHPCharlotteOrioles1,95928.0
1989Eric AnthonyOFColumbusAstros2,2440.3
1990Frank Thomas1BBirminghamWhite Sox10,07572.1
1991Mark WohlersRHPGreenvilleBraves5534.3
1992Chipper JonesSSGreenvilleBraves10,61484.6
1993Alex S. GonzalezSSKnoxvilleBlue Jays6,2489.2
1994Trey BeamonOFCarolinaPirates172-0.7
1995Jason KendallCCarolinaPirates8,70237.1
1996Andruw JonesOFGreenvilleBraves8,66467.0
1997Miguel TejadaSSHuntsvilleAthletics9,20539.7
1998Eric Chavez3BHuntsvilleAthletics6,22835.7
1999Vernon WellsOFKnoxvilleBlue Jays7,21225.1
2000Corey PattersonOFWest TennCubs4,49910.9
2001Adam DunnOFChattanoogaReds8,32825.6
2002Jake PeavyRHPMobilePadres2,37743.7
2003Miguel Cabrera3BCarolinaMarlins10,33170.5
2004Andy Marte3BGreenvilleBraves940-2.0
2005Delmon YoungOFMontgomeryRays4,371-1.3
2006Homer BaileyRHPChattanoogaReds1,39910.2
2007Justin UptonOFMobileD-backs7,13536.0
2008Clayton KershawLHPJacksonvilleDodgers2,29973.6
2009Jason HeywardOFMississippiBraves5,64931.5
2010Giancarlo StantonOFJacksonvilleMariners4,95139.7
2011Matt MooreLHPMontgomeryRays8956.4
2012Trevor BauerRHPMobileD-backs1,14319.5
2013Yasiel PuigOFChattanoogaDodgers3,37618.0
2014Kris Bryant3BTennesseeCubs3,17527.9
2015Miguel Sano3BChattanoogaTwins2,1328.7
2016Dansby SwansonSSMississippiBraves1,8794.6
2017Ronald Acuna Jr.OFMississippiBraves1,2809.9
2018Eloy JimenezOFBirminghamWhite Sox6002.4
2019Jo AdellOFMobileAngels41-0.6
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