His momma named him John Paul, but he legally changed it to Boof in 2001. Good move, even if he never becomes an all-star pitcher, he'll still be a hobby star forever. Boof was the Giants' #2 rated prospect according to the back of the card, but he was still traded to the Twins in the 2003 offseason in the horrific A.J. Pierzynski deal. He was called up for good in 2006 and pitched effectively in 18 starts. He was somewhat less effective in his first full year in '07 and lost his starting gig last year and ended up in the bullpen. He'll be 27 this year and will probably have another shot at the Twins' rotation in Spring Training.
Career MLB totals: 96 games, 391.7 innings pitched, 18-25 record, 317 Ks, 5.12 ERA, 1.479 WHIP
The can't missiest of the can't miss prospects in this set. The #1 pick of the White Sox in 2000, and their #1 prospect in 2002. He was even a quarterback at Stanford. So wha hoppen? Joe had all the physical tools to succeed and made his debut with Chicago in 2002. While he could hit the absolute slop out of the ball, he had problems actually hitting the thing. He spent 63 games with the Sox in 2004, and mashed a 504 foot homer but only hit .174. The Sox gave up on him in 2006 and shipped him off to the Mariners. He didn't last long there, and was in a Marlins uniform by May. He had a little success with Florida in 2006, playing in 103 games and hitting 10 homers. He mostly played in Albuquerque in '07 however, and by 2008 he was a non-roster invitee to the Braves' Spring Training Camp. Unfortunately, after 33 games in Richmond in 2008, his elbow blew out ad he had to have Tommy John surgery. Normally this would be the end of the line for a 30-year old prospect, but the Braves apparently see something in Joe that everyone else doesn't and have resigned him for 2009 and are allowing him to rehab. Joe might end up a starter in the bigs yet, but he'll never reach the lofty expections he had in 2002.
Career MLB totals: 301 games, 26 homers, .205 average, 89 runs, 77 RBI, 65 OPS+
The first bona-fide star in the set. There's an interesting blurb on the back of the card: "Grew out of Josh Hamilton's shadow in 2001 with banner season". Carl made his debut with the Devil Rays in 2002 and stole 55 bags in his first full season in 2003. HE really came into his own in 2004 as he made the All-Star team and was the Devil Rays' Most Valuable Player. Carl has turned into a Fantasy League player's dream, providing a ton of steals and solid production in average, homers, RBI and runs. Crawford had an off year with the Rays in 2008 due to an injury, but performed well in the postseason as he bopped two homers in the World Series. He will be a top player in 2009 and beyond.
Career MLB totals: 925 games, 70 homers, .293 average, 559 runs, 434 RBI, 302 stolen bases, 101 OPS+
Juan had actually made his debut with the Cubs in 2001, logging 8 starts for Chicago. He pitched well in '01 but lost his starting job in 2002 and was sent to the bullpen. He was a disaster in 2003, and ended up with a 6.05 ERA. The Cubs shipped him off to the Braves just before the 2004 season and he turned in a brilliant season in the 'pen and lowered his ERA to 2.75. The Braves flipped him to the A's in the Tim Hudson deal and it was implosion time as the ERA ballooned back up to 7.44! He was traded again in '06 to the Diamondbacks who tried and failed to put him back in a starter role. He didn't crackthe starting rotation, but he's been extremey successful as a set up man for Arizona the past three years. Unfortunately he may have been too successful, as he's currently stuck in free agent limbo. Juan had the best season of his life in '08 with a 2.61 ERA and 71 Ks in 51 2/3rds innings. This got him an A rating in the Elias player rankings, which means a team has to give up their first round pick to the D-Backs in order to sign him. Due to the fact that the free agent market is depressed and first round draft picks are like gold, no one has been willing to pay this price yet. Juan will be pitching somewhere in '09 though as he has established himself as a dependable set-up man.
Career MLB totals: 297 games, 515 innings pitched, 29-31 record, 535 Ks, 4.00 ERA, 1.383 WHIP
10 Nelson Cruz
Nelson is probably the most interesting prospect in the set so far. Nelson was signed by the Mets and was traded to the A's in 2000. In 2002 we was still a very raw prospect but with some massive upside. The A's traded him to Milwaukee in 2004, and he made his deput with them in 2005. He was then sent to the Rangers in the Carlos Lee deal in 2006. Nelson has absolutely murdered the minor leagues since 2004, but developed a reputation as a Quad-A player since he couldn't repeat that success once he was called in to the majors. In 2008 he obliterated the Pacific Coast League, tallying 37 homers and 99 RBIs in only 103 games while sporting a .342 average and a 1.124 OPS! This time however, when he was called up to the majors he kept on hitting. In 31 games with Texas he hit another 7 homers and added a .330 average and an insane 1.030 OPS on top of it. In 2009 Nelson has a chance to finally break through as a productive starter in the majors at age 28.
Career MLB totals: 176 games, 22 homers, .251 average, 70 runs, 82 RBI, 93 OPS+
Instead of cards 11-15 tomorrow, I have a surprise... stay tuned.