Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE
Jeremy's series continues as he looks at how the careers went for the top Tigers prospects of 2001
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 2001 edition.
10. Nook Logan, OF
Nook Logan was touted 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 got entangled in injury problems while running afoul of management. He retired in 2010 after last appearing with the Nationals in 2007.
9. Andy Van Hekken, LHP
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.
8. 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.
7. Andres Torres, OF
Torres was known in the minors for his blazing speed; he triple 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.
6. Shane Loux, RHP
Loux pitched for Lakeland and Jacksonville in 2000, going 12-10 with a solid 3.76 ERA between the two teams. Heading into 2001 the right-hander was ranked as the Tigers' second-best pitching prospect. He pitched 2001 in Toledo and was shelled, posting a 5.78 ERA, a 1.83 WHIP, and a BB/K ratio of 73/72 over 28 appearances, 27 of which were starts. Loux was called up in 2002 and made three starts, losing them all. He accrued a 7.12 ERA for the infamous 2003 Tigers, recording only eight strikeouts in 30 1/3 innings. He didn't pitch in the big leagues again until 2008, when the Angels gave him a handful of appearances. He made 19 appearances for those damn Giants in 2012, winning one game and posting a 4.97 ERA. In his career, he's 3-7 with an ERA of nearly 6.
5. 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.
4. Matt Wheatland, RHP
Wheatland was the eighth overall pick in the 2000 draft. The 6'5'' righty was placed on the fast track to the majors; he was in West Michigan by the start of 2001. The 19 year-old posted a 10.93 in three starts with the Whitecaps, despite a K/9 ratio of nearly 11. Wheatland's struggles were so pronounced after 2000 that he made the decision to become a first baseman, re-emerging in independent ball in 2005. The experiment didn't work and he retired a year later.
3. Eric Munson, 3B
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 playing for the Bridgeport Bluefish of the independent Atlantic League. He hit .214 with 49 homers in the majors. To say Munson was a bust is an understatement.
2. Ramon Santiago, 2B/SS
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 andMariners since then.
1. Brandon Inge, C
You remember Inge, right? Originally a catcher, BA ranked him 67th in their top 100 heading into 2001; Inge was coming off a .244/.300/.398 campaign split with Jacksonville and Toledo in which he hit 11 homers, stole 12 bases, and threw out 45% of basestealers. Inge made the Tigers in 2001, eventually moved to third, and settled into a .240 hitter with 20-homer power and 150-strikeout potential. Inge made the All-Star team with Detroit in 2009 (when he famously got shut out in the home run derby) and is currently a free agent.