Thursday, March 08, 2007

Hyped Hughes

I was scrolling down the main page of USAToday.com, and there was a picture of Phillip Hughes. I think I would now rank Hughes as #2 in all-time hype of a Yankee prospect in my lifetime.

It's impossible to argue who the top 4 are, just their order (and I don't consider Hideki Matsui, Hideki Irabu, or Jose Conteras as prospects, not matter where they were ranked by Baseball America).

#4 - Brien Taylor. He had the most start-out hype. #1 overall pick in the draft. Dwight Gooden except in the Bronx instead of Queens. However he hurt himself before he ever did anything on the field worth increasing the hype.

#3 - Derek Jeter. Jeter was a first round pick and had an awesome minor league career. However, he was a shortstop and people were really looking at him as a future .300 average hitter with speed (a 4-tool prospect), which is great at that position, but nobody really envisioned exactly what you get with Derek Jeter at that point (all those intangibles). Nobody knew he'd be the Captain.

#2 - Phillip Hughes. Primed to be the first Yankee first round pick since Derek Jeter was chosen in the 1992 draft to make it to the big-league club with the Yankees (a few others have been traded and been in the bigs, but no all-stars by any means). That alone has helped up the hype. However, after a rocky first spring outing he had an extremely impressive second one, and the hype machine went out of control. There's no question I'm excited about him. However I was more excited about #1.

#1 - Ruben Rivera - A contemporary prospect of Derek Jeter, Rivera was actually one year behind Jeter in the Yankee system, and made his debut in 1996. I was at the game he made his major league debut (I was also at the Major League Debuts of Hideki Irabu and Paul Wilson, making for a trifecta of the biggest busts of the late '90s, so you can imagine I will not be at the Stadium if Phillip Hughes first start is at home). Rivera was billed as the "can't miss" prospect. They called him "the Next Mickey Mantle." Many truly thought he was the best 5-tool prospect since the Mick. I even remember the back of one baseball card (I think it was Upper Deck) as saying "the best thing Mariano Rivera will have ever done for the Yankees is tell them about his cousin Ruben." It's a good thing that statement was on a baseball card and not by a baseball exective, or it would be ranked right up there with the 1996 comment about the "twilight" of some pitcher's career.

2 comments:

Warren said...

People talk about the "New York hype", but it doesn't seem like Hughes has reached the Mark Prior/Josh Beckett/Rick Ankiel level of hype yet. Given those three guys' history, that may not be a bad thing.

Ruben Rivera never actually made the #1 spot on BA's list (#2 behind A-Rod in 1995, and #3 in 1996 behind Andruw Jones and Paul Wilson). Until I looked at their old Top 100 lists, I had forgetton that Ben Grieve was their #1 in 1998. Oops.

Sully said...

Hey, Ben Greive was a rookie of the year!