Image credit: (Photo by Tom DiPace)
In a bygone era, the Pacific Coast League was considered the top minor league in the land. It still occupies a spot at Triple-A, the top of the minor league hierarchy. All-time greats including Alex Rodriguez (1995), Mark McGwire (1986) and Tony Gwynn (1982) passed through the PCL on their way to the majors, but the 1992 prospect class was the one we chose to highlight.
Albuquerque teammates and future Hall of Famers Pedro Martinez (No. 3) and Mike Piazza (No. 5) headlined an unusually strong group that also included Tim Salmon (No. 1), the 1992 Minor League Player of the Year, and long-time big league middle infielders Bret Boone (No. 2), Damion Easley (No. 4) and Royce Clayton (No. 8).
1992 Pacific Coast League Top 10 Prospects
|10||Reggie Jefferson||1B||Colorado Springs||Indians||2,306||4|
While Martinez would go on to become the best pitcher on the planet in the late ’90s, he faced questions as a prospect about his “poise” despite owning a “great fastball and circle-changeup.”
Piazza had the “tools to be a front-line big league catcher” after “improving his receiving skills.” Most notable was his power after he hit .341 with 16 homers in 94 games. Managers accurately noted that Piazza didn’t “pull the ball much . . . but he can reach the deepest fences in the yard.”
Salmon was the “unanimous top choice” in a banner year for the PCL. He led the minors with 29 homers and a .672 slugging percentage, leading one manager who had seen him at Double-A to say that “he’s improved tremendously with his ability to put the bat on the ball.”
Managers singled out Boone for his power, speed, glove and that he “flat-out hustles.” Easley had converted from center field to second base and was lauded for his speed, range, arm and “first-step quickness.” Clayton built a 17-year big league career on the strength of his “outstanding” defensive ability at shortstop.
Pacific Coast 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.
|1984||Darnell Coles||3B||Salt Lake City||Mariners||3,224||-0.6|
|1988||Sandy Alomar Jr.||C||Las Vegas||Padres||4,865||13.2|
|1994||Brian L. Hunter||OF||Tucson||Astros||3,659||5.2|
|1996||Todd Walker||3B||Salt Lake||Twins||5,055||9.5|
|2004||Casey Kotchman||1B||Salt Lake||Angels||3,412||1.9|
|2011||Brett Lawrie||3B||Las Vegas||Blue Jays||2,417||9.7|
|2015||Corey Seager||SS||Oklahoma City||Dodgers||2,156||19.0|
|2017||Amed Rosario||SS||Las Vegas||Mets||1,497||4.3|