Detroit Tigers 2B Omar Infante - Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Jeremy's series reviewing the top 10 Tigers prospects by year according to Baseball America continues with the 2002 rankings. Some of the names will be familiar, some of them you may never have heard of, and a few of them will certainly make you curse Randy Smith
Over the next several weeks, I'll be taking a look back at Baseball America's top ten Tigers prospects rankings. You may know some of these names, as they're still active with the Tigers or other teams. You may also see some names that you haven't seen in a while or that may make you laugh out loud. The rankings breakdown continues with an analysis of the 2002 edition. Seven of the 10 names on this list were present on the 2001 edition which I analyzed last week.
Hannahan was a third-round pick in 2001 and hit .311 with good defense at third for the Tigers' A-ball affiliates upon being drafted. Over the next three years (most of which were spent at AA) he hit .256, .257, and .273, losing his status as a prospect to watch. In his major league career (spent with the Tigers, A's, Mariners, and Indians) he's a .234 hitter. The Reds signed him to a two-year deal last month.
Ross hit .276 with 15 homers and 28 steals for Lakeland in 2001 and followed that up by slugging over .500 for Erie in 2002 and Toledo in 2003. After being traded in 2004, Ross had some unremarkable seasons in Los Angeles and Miami before he became a critical component of the 2010 World Series champion Giants (much like Andres Torres). Ross was with the Red Sox last year and the Diamondbacks signed him to a three-year deal a few weeks ago.
The lefty tore up West Michigan in 2000, going 16-6 with a 2.45 ERA. He was just as good in 2001 with Lakeland and Erie, ringing up a 15-4 mark with a 3.63 ERA, including a 5-0 mark in Erie. He was called up in 2002 and threw a complete game shutout against the Indians in his first start. Van Hekken made five starts for the 2002 Tigers, going 1-3 with a 3.00 ERA and issuing only six walks in 30 innings. Most interestingly, he struck out only five of the 131 batters he faced. Unfortunately Van Hekken never pitched in the majors again and retired in 2011 as a member of the Astros' organization.
Nook Logan was touted by some as Kenny Lofton 2.0 after a 2000 season at rookie and A-ball in which he hit .292/.402/.331 with 22 steals in only 54 games. The next year, he hit only .262 but stole a whopping 67 bases for the Whitecaps. The Mississippi-born switch-hitter made the Tigers in 2004 and hit .278 in 133 at-bats. Unfortunately for him, Curtis Granderson beat him out for the center field job in 2006, and he later got entangled in injury problems while running afoul of management. He retired in 2010 after last appearing with the Nationals in 2007.
6. Andres Torres, OF
Torres was known in the minors for his blazing speed; he tripled 11 times and swiped 67 bases between Lakeland and Jacksonville in 2000. Torres was called up in '02 and hit .200 in 70 at-bats. In 2003 he hit .220/.263/.298. He got in only three games in 2004 before the Tigers decided to cut him loose. After a cameo with the Rangers in 2005, he was out of the majors for four ways before becoming an integral part of the Giants' 2010 championship team. After flaming out with the Mets, he resigned with the Giants to back up Angel Pagan (whom he was traded for) in 2013.
Some people thought Sneaky could be the next Ozzie Smith; they were mistaken. He was excellent in his first full season of pro ball in 1999, hitting .326 and swiping 25 bases between rookie and low-A ball. He was placed in West Michigan in 2000 and responded with a .272/.346/.325 triple-slash with 39 steals. BA had him as baseball's 95th-best prospect heading into 2001. He's had an unremarkable career with the Tigers and Mariners since then.
This Rice University product was the 11th overall pick of the 2001 draft and by the end of 2001 was pitching for AA Erie (and dominating; the righty posted a 2.97 ERA, a 0.96 WHIP, and a 30/6 K/BB ratio for the Seawolves in '01). Baugh was primed to join the Tigers' rotation in 2002, but alas, he missed the entire season due to a shoulder injury. Baugh returned in 2003 a changed pitcher; his walk rate went up and his strikeout rate was cut in half. He began to rebuild his strength and was in Toledo by 2005 (he went 12-8 with a 3.38 ERA for the MudHens that year). He was dealt to the Padres following the season, reinjured his shoulder, and missed all of 2006. He eventually caught on with the Marlins' AAA affiliate and went 7-9 for them in 2007...with an 8.19 ERA. From there he went to Houston's system, and from there he went to retirement.
Eric Munson was going to be an All-Star slugger; a 40-homer guy with patience and power. The first baseman was taken third overall in the 1999 draft and immediately placed in A-ball, where he smacked 14 homers in 252 at-bats with West Michigan. He was ranked 23rd on BA's league-wide rankings heading into '00. He was in AA by 2001, hitting 26 homers and driving in 102 for Erie that year. His first full MLB season came during the horrendous 2003 campaign, in which he hit .240 with 18 homers. The next year he hit 19 homers, but with a .212 average and .289 OBP. Munson then moved on to Tampa and Houston before finishing his career in Oakland in 2009. He is currently retired (thanks to @catswithbats for the update) and finished his major league career with a .214 average and 49 homers. To say Munson was a bust is an understatement.
Omar! We all know Omar, the one-time All-Star second baseman in his second stint with the Tigers. Infante had a great 2004 as the Tigers' second baseman, hitting 16 home runs and slugging .450 that year, but inconsistency and the signing of Placido Polanco led to him departing for the NL in 2008. He hit .321 in 2010, the year he was an All-Star for the Braves.
1. Nate Cornejo, RHP
Nate Cornejo was supposed to be the next great Tigers pitcher. Some scouts said the 34th overall pick in 1998 would be in the majors quickly and he would be the ace of the Tigers in no time. He moved through the system relatively quickly, starting 2000 with Lakeland and ending the year in AA Jacksonville. Then came the major leagues, where he bombed, posting a 7.38 ERA in 10 starts in 2001 (despite a 4-4 record). He was perhaps the best starter on the 2003 Tigers, despite a 6-17 record, 4.67 ERA, and 58-46 BB/K ratio. Cornejo was out of the majors by 2005, and he retired in 2006 with only 12 wins and a 5.41 ERA to his name.
You can find my review of the Baseball America's Top 10 from 2000 here, and from 2001 here.
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