A Look Back: Reviewing Baseball America's Top 10 Tigers Prospects of 2003

Otto Greule Jr

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.

My review series continues with the 2003 crop. You may remember 2003 as the Tigers' nadir before they turned it around. Sure, they're the best team in the AL now, but 10 years ago...43-119.

10. Chad Petty, LHP
The 6'4'' lefty was a second-round pick in 2000 and rapidly ascended the Tigers' system, helped by a 2001 season in which he went 6-1 with a superb 1.28 ERA in 13 appearances (11 starts) between rookie and low-A ball. The next year he won 15 games for West Michigan but his ERA rose by two runs (all the way up to 3.24). Then the bottom fell out. He went a miserable 3-14 with a 6.17 ERA between the Tigers' and Brewers' systems. He was 0-10 with a 7.41 ERA for Milwaukee's high-A team. From there he moved to St. Louis' system (where he posted an ERA of six) and then he struggled in the independent leagues for a year.
Hernandez was never much with the bat, but he made up for it somewhat with a decent glove and excellent speed. After spending 2001-2004 in the Tigers' system (never hitting above .283), Hernandez went to the Mets' system, debuting in the majors in 2005. He's been up then down for three teams since then and is a .241 hitter in the majors. He's a career .268 hitter in the minors, where he's spent the equivalent of 12 seasons.
To Clevlen's credit, he's been a very consistent minor league hitter; he spent seven years in Detroit's system and reached double-digits in homers five times. He also recorded at least five triples in six of his seven years with the Tigers organization. As far as his major league career goes...he's a consistent minor league hitter. He spent 2012 with the Diamondbacks, hitting .290 between AA Mobile and AAA Reno.
7. Nook Logan, OF
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.
The first round of the 2002 amateur draft featured seven future All-Stars, and third baseman Scott Moore (eighth overall) was picked ahead of Nick Swisher (16th), Cole Hamels (17th), and Matt Cain (25th). Worst of all was we can't make fun of Randy Smith for this one; Moore was Dave Dombrowski's first draft pick. Moore's Tigers career started off well; he hit .293 with an .808 OPS in rookie league in '02, but hit just .239 and then .223 for West Michigan and Lakeland respectively the next two years before the Cubs acquired him. It was in the Cubs' system where Moore began to realize some of his potential; he hit at least 20 homers and stole at least a dozen bases the next two seasons for Daytona and West Tenn. More recently, Moore hit nine homers for the 2012 Astros and recently joined the A's. He's a career .242 major league hitter, and a career .268 hitter over 11 minor league seasons. For a former top-ten pick, that's not good.
5. Eric Munson, 3B/C
Baseball America really had faith in this guy, eh? Munson's appearance in the 2003 rankings marked the fourth straight year he was listed by BA as one of the Tigers' top 10 prospects. The 2003 campaign was Munson's first full season, and he hit .240 with 18 homers. The next year he hit 19 homers, but with a paltry .212 average and an even worse .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.

4. Omar Infante, SS/2B
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.
Acquired from Oakland in the Jeff Weaver deal of summer 2002, German was a minor leagues save machine, recording a total of 48 saves between 2001 and 2002 and racking up 13.2 and 12.7 K/9 in those seasons respectively. German was thrust into a late-inning role for the 2003 Tigers, and posted...some interesting numbers. Put aside the 6.04 ERA; in 44 2/3 innings he allowed 47 hits and walked 45 for a staggering 2.07 WHIP. Despite that he struck out nearly a batter per inning and led the Tigers in saves with five. Five saves led the 2003 Tigers. Anyway, German was injured for most of 2004 but was a key reliever on the 2005 Tigers, as he finished 4-0 with a 3.66 ERA in 58 appearances. After '05 he caught on with the Marlins, was ineffective, and retired as a member of the Rangers in 2008.
Preston Larrison is a particularly interesting case. Drafted in the 20th round by Tampa in 1998, Larrison elected to go to college and was re-drafted in the second round in 2001 by Randy Smith. Larrison had an excellent 2002 for Lakeland, finishing 10-5 with a 2.39 ERA in 21 appearances, 19 of which were starts. Then came the fate that befell a lot of Tigers pitching prospects: promotion and failure. He went 4-13 with a 5.52 ERA between Erie and Toledo in 2003 and lost his top prospect status. He recovered somewhat in 2004, posting a 3.05 for Erie, but struggled so mightily in 2005 that he was demoted to A-ball. He was converted to a reliever during 2006, and was an above-average reliever for the 2007 Mud Hens, as his 3.84 ERA can attest. The Tigers dealt him to Cleveland in 2008, and after an unimpressive 2009 with the Nationals organization, he retired.
Like Franklyn German, Bondo came over from Oakland in the summer of 2002. He was only 20 years old when he became a full-time member of the Tigers' rotation in 2003...and he lost nearly his age in games that season (19). The next year he cut his ERA from 5.56 to 4.89 and actually led the league with two shutouts. In 2005 Bonderman won 14 games and despite a somewhat unimpressive 4.57 ERA he entered 2006 as the Tigers' #2 starter. Bonderman was a key cog in the Tigers' stunning return to relevance in 2006; he went 14-8 with a 4.08 ERA and a team-high 202 strikeouts that season, while leading the league with 34 starts. Unfortunately, Bonderman's health has let him down since then and he pitched sparingly after posting 11 wins and a 5.01 ERA in 2007. He retired at the end of 2011, but recently announced he was planning a comeback and signed a minor league deal with Seattle.

And, as always, you can follow me on twitter @Jeremy_Beren, and follow DTPR @TigersProspects.
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