Monday, December 29, 2014

Reviewing BA's Top Ten: 2003

I think last week worked much better so we'll keep with that method. For the second consecutive season, the Braves landed a trio of prospects in the overall Top 50. They would do that for three more seasons, providing the backbone to the 2005 Baby Braves.

If you'd like to take a view at previous versions of this series, click here.

Atlanta's Top Ten Prospects for 2003 according to Baseball America
1. Adam Wainwright, rhp - BA Top 100: #18 - Other Years in Braves Top Ten: 2001 (7th), 2002 (2nd), 2004 (3rd)
2. Wilson Betemit, 3B - BA Top 100: #49 - Other Years in Braves Top Ten: 2001 (1st), 2002 (1st)
3. Andy Marte, 3B - BA Top 100: #40 - Other Years in Braves Top Ten: 2004 (1st), 2005 (2nd), 2006 (1st)
4. Bubba Nelson, rhp - BA Top 100: #58 - Other Years in Braves Top Ten: 2002 (8th), 2004 (4th)
5. Macay McBride, lhp - BA Top 100: #68 - Other Years in Braves Top Ten: 2004 (7th)
6. Jeff Francoeur, of - BA Top 100: #95 - Other Years in Braves Top Ten: 2004 (2nd), 2005 (1st)
7. Carlos Duran, of - Other Years in Braves Top Ten: 2002 (5th)
8. Scott Thorman, 1b
9. Brett Evert, rhp - Other Years in Braves Top Ten: 2000 (10th), 2002 (4th)
10. Gonzalo Lopez, rhp - 2002 (8th)

Prospect Spotlight
The only player to be one-and-done on this list was Scott Thorman. The Cambridge, Ontario native was an impressive physical presence when the Braves spent their first round selection on him coming out of the 2000 draft straight out of high school. He signed for slightly more than a million, giving up a chance to head to the University of South Carolina. He opened his career as a third baseman, but after injuries wiped out his 2001 season, he headed across the diamond to open to 2002.

He would make the Braves Top Ten after a big year with Macon. He picked up 230 total bases and 57 extra base hits, including 16 homers, while slashing his way to .294/.367/.489. Not hard to imagine why he made this list. Nor is it hard to imagine why he soon fell off. Not only did the Braves produce even better prospects, Thorman would struggle in Myrtle Beach in 2003, his OPS falling over 150 points to .702. And this would begin his need to repeat levels, a sign of a fringe prospect.

Thor has the honor of playing in the final season of the Greenville Braves and the first year of the Mississippi Braves. In 2006, Thor appeared to reclaim his prospect status with a .298/.360/.508 run at Richmond through 81 games ahead of a promotion to the majors to play left field. As a piece of advice to the 2015 Braves, you can't just put anyone out in left and everything will work out. Course, Thor also didn't hit that well, which made it all the more confusing why the Braves would ship out Adam LaRoche after the season and hand the job to Thor. It appeared to work out early when Thor slashed .288/.339/.538 in the first month of 2007, but from there, his season went the way we probably should have expected. John Schuerholz, in a ridiculous need to salvage the Streak, made the Mark Teixeira trade and everything went dark.

From there, Thor went to a sub role before heading back to the minors for 2008. He spent a few years playing for other AAA teams, getting opportunities with Oklahoma City, Omaha, and Toledo, but never in the majors. After five games in the Mexican League, Thor returned home and called it quits. He has since re-joined the Royals organization, this time as a coach for their affilate in Burlington.

Biggest Bust
In the 2002 season, Thorman was producing every first day for Macay McBride, a young lefty out of Sylvania, Georgia. He went 12-8 for the year with a 2.12 ERA and very solid line of 7.9 K/9. The season was good enough for McBride to win the South Atlantic League's Most Outstanding Pitcher. And while his years of productive play didn't end with the 2002 season, we can see why he was amazing that one season, which included his only professional shutout. 6.8 H/9. Should have known something was up. McBride would post a 2.95 Myrtle Beach-assisted ERA in 2003, but his marks would fall from there. Shipped to the pen, he made it to the majors in 2005 for 23 games and 71 games the following year. It seemed like he was better than he actually was, but his WHIP was over 1.50.

A trade to the Tigers in 2007 followed and with it, a lot of injuries. In fact, after 2007, he would pitch one game for AAA Toledo in 2008 and one game for Lancaster in the Atlantic League in 2010. Since giving up baseball, he has returned home and opened a sports academy in his home town of Sylvania. One day, a youngster he has helped could be the next Atlanta Brave.

Other Highlights
-While four of the players in the Top Ten were international pick-ups, of the six players out of the draft, five were selected in the top 51 picks. The old compensation system with Type A and B free agents truly helped a team like the Braves.
-Francoeur's first appearance came after 38 games in rookie ball following his pick as the 23rd overall selection of the 2002 draft.

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