Looking At The 2009 Top Prospect Class

By: Noah Wright

It’s been nearly a decade since MLB.com released their top 50 prospects of 2009.  When you look back at it, it was a fairly stacked class. Afterall there were:

  • All-stars: 20
  • MVP’s: 3
  • Cy Young winners: 2
  • 1 ROY

There’s much to talk about with this class. There were many who have had long and successful careers, some that never made it to the majors, and some that sadly passed away before they could make a large impact in the bigs.


Sprinting Out of the gates:

Andrew McCutchen was one of the most notable players of the 2009 class. When he did come to the majors in early 2009, he performed like many expected he would. In 493 plate appearances, Cutch had a .286/.365/.471 batting line with 22 SBS and 12 home runs. After his rookie season, McCutchen went to multiple all-star games, won the 2013 NL MVP, and led the Pirates to their first playoff and above .500 season in years. While 2016 and 2018 was a bit rough for the former MVP, 2019 could be another turn around year for him. Another player that burst onto the scene was Mike Stanton, or now known as Giancarlo Stanton. Stanton’s rookie season was a preview of the power we would see from him in the future. He had a .259/.327/.507 batting line with 22 home runs in only 396 PA’s. Plus he showed some gold glove level defensive work in RF, having 10 DRS, 9.3 UZR, and 1 dWAR. Since then, Stanton’s lowest OPS has been .815 in 2016, and has finished within the top 3 of MVP voting twice. David Price also starter his career hot. From 2010 to mid-2014, Price was the Tampa Bay Rays’ ace. He gave the team a 3.18 ERA, 3.33 FIP, and 1.142 WHIP, and the 2012 AL Cy Young in his time in Tampa. The other lefty ace to come out of the 2009 prospect class is Madison Bumgarner. Bumgarner has not only been a large part of the Giants in the regular season, having a sub-3 ERA for 4 straight seasons, but has also been a post season juggernaut. In 102.1 postseason innings, MadBum has a 2.11 ERA. All-Star shortstop Elvis Andrus was also part of the 2009 top prospect list. After coming up to the bigs in 2009, and finishing second in Rookie Of The Year voting, Andrus has given the Rangers 30 WAR on the dot since his debut. Freddie Freeman is yet another one of the top 50. In his rookie season, Freeman batted .282/.346/.448 with 21 HRS in 2011. Since then, Freeman has been a staple in the Braves line-up. Since 2016, he’s consistently puts up .300/.400/.500 seasons and averages 28 HRS a season with 97 RBI’s. Eric Hosmer, 2011’s 3rd place ROY voting leader, was a large part of the Royals line-up, and back-to-back AL pennants. While the corner infielder never really developed power, he still gave the Royals a .284/.342/.439 line and averaged about 18 home runs, and 81 RBI’s a season. Another one of the largest names to come out of the 2009 top prospect list is Buster Posey. The catcher made his debut in 2009, but didn’t play a handful of games until 2010. Regardless, he still broke onto the scene in a big way. In 443 PA’s, Posey had a .305/.357/.505 batting line with 18 home runs. Every year since then, Posey has put up decent numbers both offensively and defensively, won the 2012 MVP, and helped lead the Giants to 3 World Series victories. Austin Jackson is another player who started his career out hot. Between 2010 and half way through 2014, Jackson had a .278/.344/.416 batting line with the Detroit Tigers. That also includes 2012 when he had a .300 batting average, and .856 OPS. However he hasn’t had a decent full season since 2013. Between 2015 and 2018, Jackson has only batted .270/.326/.384. In 2018, he was worth -1.8 bWAR. Jarrod Parker’s career suffered a sad fate. The right handed pitcher looked to be a long term piece the A’s could use in their rotation. Between 2012 and 2013, Parket had a 3.73 ERA, 3.94 FIP, and 1.242 WHIP. However, after multiple Tommy John surgeries, Parker decided to call it quits, and he played his last game at only 24 years old. Matt Wieters was once a top ranked MLB prospect, as shown by his #2 rating. Wieters may never had performed like many expected when he made the bigs, he still had a solid .255/.319/.420 battling line and averaged 20 home runs a season as the O’s main catcher between 2009 and 2013. Plus, he averaged over 30% of runners trying to steal on him, and ranked highly in DRS early in his career. While he’s hit a downslope the last 2 years, he was once a top catcher in the MLB. Former Ranger closer Neftali Feliz is also another pitcher that came out big. In 2010, Feliz had a 2.73 ERA, 2.96 FIP, and .880 WHIP for a World Series bound team in 2010. To add on he won Rookie Of The Year. He pitched well again in 2011, having a 2.74 ERA, 3.57 FIP, and 1.155 WHIP. But that’s when the team tried to make Feliz a starting pitcher, which resulted in injury. Between 2012 and 2013, Feliz only pitched in 14 total games with 7 being starts. While he didn’t pitch bad, it did result in 2 years lost. In 2014, Feliz tried to bounce back, and he did to a degree. Sure he had a 1.99 ERA in 31 and two thirds innings, but he also had a 4.90 FIP. In 2015, Feliz regained the closer role, but didn’t hold it long, and was eventually was traded to the Detroit Tigers where he did even worse. Though he did bounceback for the second time in his career in 2016 with the Pirates, having a 3.57 ERA, 4.52 FIP and 1.137 WHIP in 53 and two thirds innings, he again struggled in a closer role with the Brewers in 2017. After being released by the Brewers, and struggling with the Royals in the same season, he hasn’t played in the MLB since.


Late Bloomers:

One of the biggest late bloomers is Jake Arrieta. After being ranked highly in the Orioles system, and never really panning out, he was traded to the Chicago Cubs in 2013, where we all know he became one of the biggest sensations in Chicago. His Cubs tenure was highlighted by a 2.67 ERA, 3.04 FIP, 1.028 WHIP, a silver slugger, and the 2015 Cy Young. Plus, he was a large part of the team’s World Series title in 108  years in 2016. Like Arrieta, Carlos Carrasco was a late blooming right handed starter who played a large role in the Indians 2016 WS run. Between 2009 and 2011, Carrasco saw inconsistent playing time, and just as inconsistent performances. Then, he missed all of 2012 to Tommy John surgery. When he came back in 2013, his overall output looked similar, if not worse to what it did pre-surgery. 2014 was when he finally got a long look at major league time, and he took advantage of it. In 134 innings, Carrasco gave the Indians a 2.55 ERA, 2.44 FIP, and .985 WHIP. Since then, Carrasco has consistently given the Indians ace like results. Between 2015 and 2018, he has a 3.40 ERA, 3.12 FIP, and 1.108 WHIP. Hard throwing right handed relief pitcher Jeremy Jeffress took a winding road before becoming a viable MLB pitcher. After a stint with the Brewers, a stint with the Royals, a few games played with the Blue Jays, back to the Brewers (when he started to perform well), then to the Texas Rangers, and finally to back to the Brewers for the 3rd time in his career, Jeffrees showed the all-star potential he showed in the late 2000’s. In 2018, Jeffress, at the age of 30, turned in a 1.29 ERA, 2.78 FIP, and .991 WHIP. Before becoming an all-star closer, Wade Davis was once a starting pitching prospect in the Rays system. While he wasn’t ‘bad’ as a rotation piece, it’s in the bullpen when he really thrived. In his first full season in the pen (2012, his third full MLB season), Davis turned in 70 innings of 2.43 ERA, 2.78 FIP, and 1.095 WHIP baseball. Once going to the Royals, they tried him out in the rotation again, but eventually moved him back to the pen. Between 2014 and 2017 (2017 being the year he spent with the Cubs), Davis had a 1.45 ERA, 2.23 FIP, and .953 WHIP. Mike Moustakas also didn’t start to produce well until later in his career. From 2011 to 2014, Moustakas had a .236/.290/.379 batting line. While he occasionally showed the power potential, hitting 20 homers in 2012, he never showed it consistently. 2015 would represent a breakout year for the lefty swinging 3B, as he batted .284/.348/.470 with 22 home runs and 84 RBI’s. While he missed most of 2016 to injury, Moustakas bounced back in 2017 with 38 home runs, and a .272/.314/.521 batting line. This past season, Moustakas turned in a solid .251/.315/.459 batting line in 635 PA’s. Yonder Alonso could also be considered a late blooming infielder. Part of the deal that sent Yasmani Grandal to the Padres, Alonso was a solid, but not standout player. Between his rookie season in 2012 to 2016, Alonso had a .267/.333/.381 batting line with the Padres and A’s. However the last two years, Alonso has seemed to find a power stroke. This started last season when he had .501 slugging % with 28 home runs between the A’s and Mariners. This season with the Indians, Alonso blasted 23 long balls, his second 20+ HR season.


Never Panned Out:

Every top prospect list is bound to have a handful of prospects that never develop as planned. Travis Snider was one of them. A consensus top 100 prospect in the minors, Snider showed some promise once he hit the majors, but never did much after that. In his first 80 MLB plate appearances, Snider batted .301/.338/.466. However he never re-produced at that level again. His best season was 2014 when he batted .264/.338/.446 in 359 PA’s with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and was worth 1.9 bWAR. He hasn’t played an MLB game since 2015. Phillippe Aumont will go down as the guy who was traded for Cliff Lee. Like Snider, this pitcher was a consensus top 100 guy, but never blossomed in the bigs. However, he was part of the trade that sent Cliff Lee from the Mariners, to the Phillies. Jesus Montero is one of the biggest prospect busts of the 2010’s. The C/1B always ranked high among top prospect lists, showing a great bat in the minors. He was also part of a big trade that sent Montero from the Yankees, to Seattle for Michael Pineda. But he struggled to throw out runners as a catcher, and overall wasn’t good defensively behind the plate. With not enough bat to stick at 1B or DH, Montero flamed out, and hasn’t played an MLB game since 2015. Matt Dominguez, while showing some power potential in the majors as he hit 21 home runs in 2013, never got on base enough, or had a good enough glove at the hot corner to stick in the MLB. Kyle Blanks was once a power hitting 1B that also like many others on this list, flamed out early in his career. The power he once showed in the minors never translated over to the majors, and like Dominguez, Blanks never had a fantastic glove, or showed enough bat skill in other areas to stick in the majors. A handful other players on this list either didn’t make it to the MLB, or played in a good amount of games. That includes Matt Gamel, Angel Villalona, Brett Wallace, Lou Marson, Scott Elbert, Adam Miller, Lars Anderson, and Carlos Triunfel.


Other notables:

Jason Heyward came to the bigs in a big way. His first game saw him hit a home run in his first at bat. He finished 2nd in 2010 ROY voting after batting .277/.393/.456 with 18 home runs and 11 stolen bases. Throughout his career, he’s had a .263/.343/.410 slashline, but his defense is what makes him special. He’s been worth 11.1 dWAR and 135 DRS since 2010. Another notable player, Jeff Samardzija, was also part of the 2009 prospect class. While Samarzija has mainly been a starter in his career, he actually came to the majors, mainly serving as a bullpen piece like Chris Sale did. His first 128 out of 123 games came out of the pen. After moving to the rotation, he has a 4.13 ERA, 3.76 FIP, and 1.225 WHIP in 7 seasons with the Cubs, A’s, White Sox, and SF Giants. Alcides Escobar is another postseason hero on the 2009 top 50. For 11 seasons between the Brewers and Royals, Escobar has batted just .258/.296/.343, but between 2012 and 2014, he had a much better looking .270/.302/.355 batting line. In the 2015 ALCS, Escobar won the MVP for that series, batting .478/.481/.652 in 27 PA’s. He also went to the 2015 all-star game, and won gold glove at shortstop in the same year. Brett Anderson, ranked #13th on the list, has been a solid starter throughout his career, but he’s dealt with many injures. He’s only starter 20+ games twice in his career, one being his rookie season in 2008 and the other being 2015 with the Dodgers. However when healthy, he can be a good back end starter. Overall, he has a career ERA of 4.07, FIP of 3.77, and WHIP of 1.341. Outfielders Dexter Fowler has also put together a nice little career for himself. After coming to the MLB and batting .266/.363/.406 in his rookie season (2009), Fowler went on to become a solid outfielder for 9 more seasons. The highlight of his career is likely his tenure with the Cubs when he went to his All-Star game in 2016, and won a ring in 2016 as well. In total, he’s batted .262/.360/.420. Chris Tillman for a few seasons was a decent starter. Between 2012 (his breakout season) and 2016, Tillman gave the Baltimore Orioles a 3.81 ERA, 4.27 FIP, and 1.253 WHIP. Trevor Cahill is another pitcher who has been effective for teams just recently as last season. After struggling in his rookie season in 2009 with the A’s, Cahill looked like a future #2 or #3 starter in 2010, having a 2.97 ERA, 4.19 FIP, and 1.108 WHIP in 196 and two thirds innings. After he had a few more solid seasons with the A’s and D-Backs, he did hit some rough patches in 2014 and 2015. However, Cahill reinvented himself as a long relief pitcher in the pen with the Cubs in 2016. He again hit a rough patch in the second half of 2017, but did decent in 2018. Back with the Oakland A’s, 3.76 ERA, 3.54 FIP, 1.191 WHIP in 110 innings. Tim Beckham could be considered a bust, but he was a former #1 overall draft pick, and he batted .278/.328/.454 with 22 home runs and 109 wRC+. Jeremy Hellickson started out his career in a big way. However, after a 2.95 ERA, 4.44 FIP, and 1.153 WHIP, Rookie Of The Year season with the Rays, the Hellboy has only had a 4.30 ERA, 4.52 FIP, and 1.260 WHIP between the Rays, D-Backs, Phillies, Orioles, and Nationals. Derek Holland has had a comparable career to Trevor Cahill. After a rough rookie season with the Rangers, the lefty went on to provide a solid starter for the team, recording a 3.98 ERA, 4.00 FIP, and 1.297 WHIP between 2010 and 2013. After missing most of 2014, Holland greatly struggled with the Rangers and White Sox between 2015 and 2017. However, he’s seemed to turn around his luck in 2018 after posting a 3.57 ERA, 3.87 FIP, and 1.290 WHIP in 171 and a third innings with the Giants. Colby Rasmus, a power hitting outfielder, also put together a nice career for himself. From his sophomore season to 2015, Rasmus’ had 4 20+ home runs seasons. That spans from the St. Louis Cardinals to start his career, and the Houston Astros. Plus, Rasmus was a good defender in his career, having been worth 4.8 WAR defensively.


Tragedies:

Sadly, the 2009 top prospect class has two players whose lives were very unfortunately cut short. The first was Nick Adenhart, who only pitched in 4 MLB games with the LA Angels before dying in a car accident at the age of 22. The other was right handed pitcher Tommy Hanson who died at the age of 29 from cocaine and alcohol in his system in 2015. Hanson had the longer career than Adenhart, but it was only from 2009 to 2013. In total, Hanson pitched in 708 MLB innings with the Braves and Angles, having a career 3.80 ERA, 3.86 FIP, and 1.282 WHIP. He also finished 2nd in ROY voting in 2009 when he had a 2.89 ERA, 3.50 FIP, and 1.185 WHIP in 127 and two thirds innings. He played his last game with the LA Angels in 2013 at only 26 years of age.


It’s fun to look back at old mlb prospect lists. Sometimes, you’ll see somebody like Travis Snider ranked above Andrew McCutchen and think “how did that happen?” It’s also cool just to see how some of these players developed. Also, it was interesting to see some players who were traded to teams as big time prospects. I already mentioned Phillippe Aumont and how he was traded for Cliff Lee, but Brett Wallace was once a headliner for a then in-his-prime Matt Holliday. However nearly a decade later, there’s still much to talk about this prospect class.


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