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A History of Royals Top 100 Prospects Part 4 (1999-2001)

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In which there are very nearly as many busts as prospects

Carlos Febles takes off for first

This span marks the largest number of prospects in the Royals’ system to make the top 100 except for the "Greatest Farm System Since Whenever" from 2010-2012. So that’s an improvement over the last three-year period. However, unlike the eventual results of that farm system, this one produces little more than the previous entry's systems did.

1999

Jeremy Giambi follows through on a swing

Number 1 Prospect: OF J.D. Drew, St. Louis. Drew was actually drafted three times, in the 20th round of the 1994 draft out of high school by the Giants, the 1st round of the 1997 draft by the Phillies, where he failed to sign and sat out a year, in the 1st round of the 1998 draft when he finally signed with the Cardinals. He debuted the same season - on the very same night that Mark McGwire broke Roger Maris’ home run record - but didn't end up playing enough to exceed rookie limits, which is how he still shows up here.

Drew never quite lived up to his perceived potential in St. Louis. Manager Tony LaRussa blamed it on a lack of passion, but there were also injury problems - he was hurt every single year he was in St. Louis. After being traded, he had a terrific season in Atlanta and signed one of the earliest examples of an opt-out deal with the Dodgers, and surprised a lot of people when he actually opted out. He got a ton of money from the Red Sox, though to do so he actually had to give them an opt out if he got hurt too often.

Drew won a World Series with the Red Sox in 2007 and made the All-Star team in 2008.

Royals Prospects: 14 - OF Carlos Beltran, 30 - 2B Carlos Febles, 55 - RHP Jeff Austin, 57 RHP Orber Moreno, 64 - OF Jeremy Giambi, 92 - OF Dee Brown

Carlos Febles was introduced to Royals fans at the same time as Carlos Beltran. Both got 1998 September call-ups and both were in the opening day lineup of 1999. Both were also very good that year, and acquired the shared nickname "Dos Carlos."

Unfortunately, while Beltran got better and better, Febles’ moderate power vanished after 1999 never to return. Just to give you a comparison Febles hit 22 doubles, 12 triples, and 10 home runs in 1999. In 2000 those numbers were 12, 1, and 2 respectively.

Febles managed to stick on the roster through 2003 but signed consecutive minor league contracts with the Red Sox for 2004 and the Royals for 2005 before eventually retiring as a player. He has been a coach and manager for Boston’s farm teams since 2007 and managed the AA Portland Sea Dogs in 2016.

Jeff Austin debuted in 2001 as a reliever with a 5.54 ERA. He struck out 27 in 26 innings, but also walked 14 and allowed 27 hits. He was slightly better the next year with a 4.91 ERA in only ten appearances. He was traded to the Reds following that season with and for a handful of other guys you’ve never heard of.

The Reds let him start seven games for them in 2002 and the most notable thing is that in his final start, which was also his final appearance as a major league baseball player, he allowed home runs to each of the first three batters he faced. According to Kings of Kauffman he currently works for Google as the Enterprise Regional Manager-Channel.

Orber Moreno was signed as an international free agent as a 16-year-old in 1992. He eventually debuted as a reliever with the big league club in 1999. He had serious control issues, walking six while only striking out seven in eight innings that year. He also injured himself in some sort of off-field incident I can neither recall nor find. The first commenter to remember or find out what it was gets a special prize.

The injury caused him to miss the 2000 season entirely and then return to the minor leagues. The Royals cut him following the 2002 season and he signed with the Mets for the 2003 season. They allowed him to pitch another eight innings at the big league level where both his walks and strike outs declined. However, he finally got some significant playing time in 2004 and managed accrue a 3.38 ERA across 34 and 2/3 innings in 33 appearances. He signed deals with the Mets and Cardinals following that year, but never again saw big league action. He did pitch in independent and Mexican leagues through 2013.

Jeremy Giambi is, of course, the younger brother of the very successful Jason Giambi. Jeremy ended up not being nearly so good. When Jeff King abruptly retired in 1999 Jeremy got a chance to split time at first base with the much more successful Mike Sweeney. Legend has it that Jeremy injured himself when he wrecked a four-wheeler he was driving on Kevin Appier’s farm and cost himself a legitimate opportunity to win the starting first baseman job. Of course, he also wasn’t nearly as talented a hitter as Mike Sweeney ended up being and that may have played a part in it, as well.

Following the 1999 season Giambi was traded to his big brother’s club, the Oakland Athletics, where he had a decent year, followed by a very good year, followed by a terrific year in which he was also traded in May to the Phillies. Following that season he was traded to the Red Sox who cut him following the year because he had reverted once again to being pretty bad. He never saw big league action again.

Giambi got to be a character in the Brad Pitt film Moneyball and was characterized as a huge party-hound. This is probably because he was once caught with marijuana at an airport checkpoint. Jeremy was also mentioned in the Mitchell Report as a user of anabolic steroids.

Other Notable Prospects:

2 - LHP Rick Ankiel, St. Louis.

4 - LHP Bruce Chen, Atlanta.

5 - RHP Brad Penny, Arizona. Brad never actually threw a pitching during the regular season for the Royals, but he signed as a free agent prior to the 2014 season in a bid to make a comeback. He was cut before spring training ended.

31 - LHP Odalis Perez, Atlanta. Eventually was traded to the Royals by the Dodgers in the midst of a poor season following a couple not-bad seasons. Pitched one and a half poor seasons for the Royals before departing as a free agent.

38 - 1B Calvin Pickering, Baltimore. Played parts of six seasons for four different teams, but never more in a single season than the 35 games he played for the Royals in 2004. Was chronically unappreciated due to consistently terrible batting averages, even though he could both walk and hit for power with a career 13.9% walk percentage and .205 ISO.

45 - RHP Octavio Dotel, New York Mets. Signed on to be the Royals’ closer in 2007. Was in Atlanta before the season ended.

60 - SS Rafael Furcal, Atlanta. Never actually played for the Royals, but attempted to make a comeback with them in 2015, retired in May of that year having never made it out of the minors.

78 - RHP Gil Meche, Seattle.

93 - 1B Carlos Pena, Texas. Signed as a free agent in August 2013 after being cut by the Astros. Appeared in 4 games with a total of three at-bats, signed with Texas for his final season in 2014.

2000

Dan Reichert winds up

Number 1 Prospect: LHP Rick Ankiel, St. Louis. If you want to know more about Ankiel’s interesting career go back to part 3 of this series where the most interesting bits are detailed under 1998's other notable prospects.

Royals Prospects: 11 - OF Dee Brown, 40 - LHP Chris George, 70 - RHP Kyle Snyder, 75 RHP Dan Reichert, 83 - RHP Orber Moreno

Chris George...what to even say about him? He was probably rushed to the majors. While that may not have been the only cause of what ultimately became an exceptionally disappointing career it certainly didn’t help. George was a starter on and off with the Royals for four seasons from 2001-2004. He got 18 starts during that miraculous 2003 season where he actually went 9-6 while allowing 22 home runs in 93 2/3 innings en-route to  gathering a 7.11 ERA. Just in case you were still under the impression that pitcher wins meant anything.

In 2004 after a few starts the Royals tried him out of the bullpen and it just wasn’t any better, so he was demoted back to the minor leagues and spent the next nine years on various farm teams before finally retiring in 2012.

Kyle Snyder excited a lot of people but could never seem to escape the injury bug with the Royals including missing all of 2003 while recovering from Tommy John surgery. He was eventually selected off waivers by the Boston Red Sox during the 2006 season. He won a ring with them in 2007, despite not appearing in a single post-season game.

2007 was also his best season, and his only full season a big league pitcher. Even so he walked 32 and only struck out 41 across 54 and 1/3 innings. He currently works as a pitching coach in the Tampa Bay farm system.

Dan Reichert probably had the best stuff of all the pitchers on this prospect list. His slider, in particular, was electric. Sadly, Reichert never learned to harness his stuff and the lack of control led to him being a sub-par pitcher. He is perhaps best known for allowing a grand slam to Manny Ramirez over the green monster that caused many Royals fans to question if it might not have been better to allow the wild right-hander to simply intentionally walk a run home instead of risking the result that eventually occurred.

Reichert does serve as an inspiration to diabetics everywhere as he was able to overcome the disease to pitch in the major leagues for parts of five seasons with the Royals and Blue Jays. Even if he walked 223 while striking out 240 in that career.

Other Notable Prospects:

8 - SS Rafael Furcal, Atlanta.

14 - RHP Kip Wells, Chicago White Sox. Pitched 10 games as a terrible reliever for the Royals in 2008.

22 - RHP Brad Penny, Florida.

99 - SS Wilson Betemit, Atlanta. Spent a year and a half starting in 2010 as a utility infielder for the Royals. Was traded at the 2011 deadline to Detroit for 2 guys you’ve never heard of.

2001

Mike MacDougal can’t keep his hat on. Credit: Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Number 1 Prospect: OF Josh Hamilton, Tampa Bay. Hamilton is a very troubled man who finally, ultimately debuted for the Reds in 2007 after they acquired him from the Cubs who had selected him in the Rule 5 draft. He made a name for himself as a 5-time consecutive all-star with the Rangers. Signed a huge deal following that run with the Angels where he promptly fell apart as a player. Hamilton has long struggled with issues a drug and alcohol abuser. One of the few cool things to come of that situation is that his teammates, out of respect to his struggles, have often replaced the champagne celebrations common to playoff advancement with ginger ale celebrations.

Hamilton was traded back to the Rangers during the 2015 season after admitting to yet another relapse. He is currently in Texas’ plans for the 2017 team and everyone remains hopeful he will also find lasting success in battling his demons.

Royals Prospects: 25 - LHP Chris George, 48 OF Dee Brown, 79 RHP Mike MacDougal

Mike MacDougal, like Reichert before him, had electric stuff and essentially no control over it. The difference between them is that MacDougal was able to harness his pitches every once in a while - at least in relief. This includes most of 2003 which he spent as the Royals’ closer and did well enough to claim the Royals’ All-Star spot that year. He was also somewhat infamous for his cap flying off his head during his vigorous delivery.

MacDougal parlayed his ability to occasionally control his pitches, or to at least to be effectively wild, into a 12-year major league career as a reliever for five different teams. He even got to be a closer again for half a season with the 2009 Nationals. He was last seen pitching in the Mariners farm system during 2014.

Other Notable Prospects:

4 - RHP Jon Rauch, Chicago White Sox. Yet another notable prospect that didn’t actually playe for the Royals. He received an invitation to spring training with the Royals in 2014 but was cut before the end.

11 - 1B Carlos Pena, Texas.

29 - SS Wilson Betemit, Atlanta.

Last time it was four prospects and one success. This time it is ten prospects and one success (the same guy as before, even) and a pair of journeymen of differing values. Prospects are hard, its true. But when you get that many guys that are that well-regarded, it would behoove a team to find more success with more of them.

You can read Part 1 of this series here. Part 2 can be found here, and Part 3 can be found here.