Reviewing Baseball America's Top 10 Tigers Prospects: 2004

Leon Halip

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 retrospective continues with 2004.

10. Kenny Baugh, RHP

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.
9. Jay Sborz, RHP
A second round pick out of Langley High School in Langley, Virginia in 2003, Sborz struggled as a starter and as a reliever in the minors, but struck out a lot of guys so he was given chance after chance. Sborz finally made the majors in 2010, posted a 67.50 ERA for the Tigers, and promptly left baseball.
Now we're starting to see the more familiar names. Curtis was the complete package in the minors and as a Tiger; he could hit for average, power, steal bases, field, and throw. In 2007 he joined the 20-20-20-20 club, as he doubled, tripled, homered, and stole at least 20 in each category. After an All-Star campaign in 2009, Granderson was dealt to the Yankees in the Austin Jackson three-way, and continued to become a limited player. Since joining the Yankees, he's become one of the game's best sluggers, but his average and stolen bases continue to plummet and his strikeout rate has risen exponentially.
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.
When the Tigers acquired Kody Kirkland from the Pirates before the 2003 season, it was viewed in some circles as a steal. Kirkland seemingly had it all: a 6'4'' frame, speed (he tripled 11 times and stole 14 bases in 67 games for low-A Oneonta in 2003), and a bat that would hit close to .300 and maybe hit 25 homers. After hitting .303 in 2003, the Tigers moved Kirkland up in the system and his numbers began to slide, with the bottom falling out during his 2007 season with Erie in which he hit .202 and OPS'd .657. He tried to catch on with Atlanta and Houston but couldn't and is now floundering in the independent leagues.
5. Tony Giarratano, SS/2B
A third round pick out of Tulane in 2003 (where he was an All-American freshman and all-conference infielder), Giarratano was a slick-fielding contact hitter who might have been the Tigers' shortstop of the future had he not had the durability of glass. Giarratano was called up in June of 2005 and hit .143 with a homer in 15 games. Then came the barrage of injuries; knee problems and shoulder problems eventually cost him all of 2007 and after he reinjured his shoulder during spring training 2008, he was released and subsequently retired at 25.
4. Rob Henkel, LHP
Like so many other Tigers pitching prospects, this lefty had one very good season, got ranked highly by BA, and promptly flamed out. A former Marlins farmhand, Henkel posted a 3.38 ERA and 1.14 WHIP for Erie in 2003 before getting hurt in 2004 and posting an ERA of 6 in 2005. After leaving Detroit's system, he tried to latch on with Boston but struggled there too and retired after the 2007 season.
3. Joel Zumaya, RHP
Zumaya and his 101 mph fastball broke into the majors during the 2006 season and soon thereafter he was crowned heir apparent to the closer role. Let's see what happened next: bizarre injury after bizarre injury, a loss of command, some more injuries, released after 2011, signed with the Twins, got hurt again, free agent. In the end, another Tigers pitching prospect.
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.
1. Kyle Sleeth, RHP
Righthander Kyle Sleeth was the third overall pick in the 2003 draft and was going to be the ace that Nate Cornejo wasn't and Justin Verlander currently is. He was the #36 prospect in baseball according to BA before he had even thrown a professional pitch. He was 5-4 with a 3.31 ERA for Lakeland in 2004 and averaged nearly a strikeout per inning before he was promoted to Erie and was torched to the tune of a 6.30 ERA. Unfortunately, the worst was yet to come for the Wake Forest product. After missing the 2005 season, Sleeth recorded an 8.03 ERA between the GCL and Lakeland in 2006 and then went 1-9 with an 8.11 ERA for Lakeland and Erie in 2007 before he retired.

As always, you can follow us on Twitter @TigersProspects, and feel free to follow me personally @JeremyBeren.
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