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Ranking World Series players as prospects

MLB.com @JimCallisMLB

It's no surprise that Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa and Corey Seager are cornerstones on World Series teams because they each ranked as the best prospect in baseball when they first arrived in the Majors. But the best players this season on both the Astros and Dodgers weren't highly regarded at all.

American League MVP favorite Jose Altuve cost the Astros a mere $15,000 when he signed out of Venezuela in 2006. He drew more attention for his lack of size (5-foot-6) than his ability until he won the Minor League batting title in 2011, and even then no one predicted he'd become the dynamo he has turned into.

It's no surprise that Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa and Corey Seager are cornerstones on World Series teams because they each ranked as the best prospect in baseball when they first arrived in the Majors. But the best players this season on both the Astros and Dodgers weren't highly regarded at all.

American League MVP favorite Jose Altuve cost the Astros a mere $15,000 when he signed out of Venezuela in 2006. He drew more attention for his lack of size (5-foot-6) than his ability until he won the Minor League batting title in 2011, and even then no one predicted he'd become the dynamo he has turned into.

Justin Turner, whose career 1.113 postseason OPS is the third-highest in baseball history (minimum 100 plate appearances) behind Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth, was a $50,000 senior sign out of Cal State Fullerton in the seventh round of the 2006 Draft by the Reds. Viewed as a utility type with no notable tool beyond his hitting ability, he didn't blossom until he joined the Dodgers, his fourth organization, eight years later on a Minor League contract that guaranteed him just $120,000.

Video: Callis on former non-prospects in World Series

Most of the World Series participants had stronger prospect pedigrees. Eleven were first-round Draft choices, five more were supplemental first-rounders and 24 of the 50 appeared on an MLB.com or Baseball America Top 100 Prospects list.

Below we rank the top 15 players in the World Series based on their prospect status when they made their MLB debut. We didn't include Yu Darvish, Yuli Gurriel or Kenta Maeda, considering them as fully formed big leaguers when they arrived from foreign nations.

1. Carlos Correa, SS, Astros
No. 1 overall pick, 2012 (HS, Puerto Rico), $4.8 million bonus

He wowed teams in workouts shortly before the 2012 Draft, and while it's true that the Astros took him in part to save bonus money for later selections such as Lance McCullers Jr., Correa might have gone No. 2 to the Twins had Houston passed. Though his career stalled briefly when he broke his right fibula in high Class A in 2014, he joined the Astros a year later and won the AL Rookie of the Year award.

Video: Top Prospects: Carlos Correa, SS, Astros

2. Corey Seager, SS, Dodgers
No. 18 overall pick, 2012 (HS, North Carolina), $2.35 million bonus

When the Dodgers took Seager 17 picks after Correa, it marked the first time in 10 Drafts that they hadn't spent their top selection on a pitcher. He slumped briefly in high Class A and the Arizona Fall League at the end of 2013, then bounced back to win the Minor League batting title in 2014 and was starting in the National League Championship Series the following year. He was the National League Rookie of the Year and placed third in MVP balloting in his first full season in Los Angeles.

Video: Top Prospects: Corey Seager, 3B, Dodgers

3. Alex Bregman, 3B, Astros
No. 2 overall pick, 2015 (Louisiana State), $5.9 million bonus

Fellow Southeastern Conference shortstop Dansby Swanson went right ahead of Bregman, though the latter has fared much better at the big league level so far. He smashed 20 homers in 80 Double-A and Triple-A games in 2016 -- one less than he hit in three years at LSU -- to force his way to the Majors 13 months after turning pro. With Correa entrenched at shortstop, Bregman had to learn third base on the fly.

Video: Top Prospects: Alex Bregman, SS, Astros

4. Clayton Kershaw, LHP, Dodgers
No. 7 overall pick, 2006 (HS, Texas), $2.3 million bonus

If the Dodgers' agreement with 2005 supplemental first-rounder Luke Hochevar hadn't fallen apart, he wouldn't have gone No. 1 overall the next June -- and Andrew Miller might not have fallen to No. 6 and the Tigers, who otherwise were set to pick Kershaw. Rated as a second- or third-rounder until he added velocity and tightened his curveball as a high school senior, he advanced to Double-A in his first full pro season and was in Los Angeles to stay shortly after turning 20.

Video: Clayton Kershaw: From top prospect to MVP, Cy Young

5. Francisco Liriano, LHP, Astros
International free agent, 2000 (Dominican Republic), $900,000 bonus (Giants)

Liriano wanted to audition as an outfielder at a Giants tryout camp but they moved him to the mound and signed him for $900,000, then a franchise record for an international amateur. He showed a mid-90s fastball by the time he got to the United States, but repeated shoulder troubles prompted San Francisco to ship him to the Twins in an ill-fated trade for A.J. Pierzynski in November 2003. He topped the Minors in strikeouts in 2005, debuted in Minnesota that September and was an All-Star as a rookie in 2006.

Video: Liriano's perfect inning in the 2005 Futures Game

6. Justin Verlander, RHP, Astros
No. 2 overall pick, 2004 (Old Dominion), $3,120,000 bonus/$4,500,000 contract (Tigers)

Though Verlander had the best pure stuff in the 2004 Draft and they drafted him second overall, the Tigers broke off negotiations with him after a fourth-month standoff. His father Richard, a former union representative, got talks going again, leading to a five-year big league contract (typical at the time for a top college pitcher but now forbidden by Draft rules). His 1.29 ERA in 2005 is the lowest in the Minors in the last 32 years, and he made his first two starts for Detroit just four months into his pro career, setting the stage for an AL Rookie of the Year award in 2006.

Video: 2005 Futures Game: Verlander tosses a scoreless first

7. Cody Bellinger, 1B/OF, Dodgers
Fourth-round pick, 2013 (HS, Arizona), $700,000 bonus

Bellinger's $700,000 bonus made him the biggest over-slot signing in the Dodgers' 2013 Draft class, but he posted a .698 OPS in his pro debut and homered just four times in his first two summers. Once he got stronger and made some adjustments to his swing and approach, he broke out with 30 longballs in high Class A in 2015 and eventually blossomed into the top power prospect in the Minors. He reached Los Angeles a little sooner than expected this April and set an NL rookie record with 39 homers.

Video: Top Prospects: Cody Bellinger, 1B, Dodgers

8. Cameron Maybin, OF, Astros
No. 10 overall pick, 2005 (HS, North Carolina), $2,650,000 bonus (Tigers)

Rated behind only Justin Upton among high schoolers in the 2005 Draft, Maybin lasted 10 choices because of signability concerns that proved well-founded when he held out for nearly four months. He tore up the Minors and got rushed at age 20 to Detroit, where he homered off of Roger Clemens in his second game. His big league numbers (.255/.321/.372) never have approached his Minor League production (.296/.386/.470).

Video: DET@NYY: Maybin's first home run in Majors

9. Carlos Beltran, DH/OF, Astros
Second-round pick, 1995 (HS, Puerto Rico), $300,000 bonus (Royals)

Injuries and an inconsistent high school senior season dropped Beltran out of the first round in 1995, and he batted just .245/.321/.364 in his first three pro seasons. He started to get going with an All-Star winter in Puerto Rico during the 1997-98 offseason, then posted a .958 OPS and jumped from Double-A to Kansas City in 1998. The 1999 AL Rookie of the Year has made nine All-Star teams.

Video: KC@CWS: Beltran records his first Major League homer

10. Joc Pederson, OF, Dodgers
11th-round pick, 2010 (HS, California), $600,000 bonus

Pederson could have played baseball and walked on as a wide receiver in football at Southern California had the Dodgers not given him the second-largest bonus in their 2010 Draft. Like Bellinger, he grew into his power, improving his home run totals for four straight years in the Minors, including a 30-30 season while winning Triple-A Pacific Coast League MVP honors in 2014. He broke in with Los Angeles that September and was an All-Star as a rookie in 2015.

Video: Top Prospects: Joc Pederson, OF, Dodgers

11. George Springer, OF, Astros
No. 11 overall pick, 2011 (Connecticut), $2,525,000 bonus

One of the best all-around college position players to come along in years, Springer dropped to No. 11 in a loaded 2011 Draft because of swing-and-miss concerns. The strikeouts never prevented him from producing in the Minors (he nearly had a 40-40 season in 2013) or the Majors (20 homers in 78 games as a rookie in 2014, and he continues to get better each year).

Video: Top Prospects: George Springer, OF, Astros

12. Yasiel Puig, OF, Dodgers
International free agent, 2012 (Cuba), $12 million bonus/$42 million contract

Puig never played for Cuba's top national team and there were questions about his conditioning and makeup, so many in the industry were stunned when the Dodgers handed him a $42 million contract in 2012. The investment quickly paid off, however, as he needed just 63 games in the Minors (1.016 OPS) before bursting onto the big league scene with a .319/.391/.534 rookie season in 2013.

Video: Top Prospects: Yasiel Puig, OF, Dodgers

13. Brian McCann, C, Astros
Second-round pick, 2002 (HS, Georgia), $750,000 bonus (Braves)

Considered more of an offensive-minded catcher when he entered pro ball, McCann quickly dispelled questions as to whether he'd have to move to first base. He played just 48 games above Class A before jumping to the Majors for good at age 21 in 2005, and he earned All-Star recognition in each of his first six full seasons in Atlanta.

Video: 2005 NLDS Gm2: McCann hits three-run shot off Clemens

14. Yasmani Grandal, C, Dodgers
No. 12 overall pick, 2010 (Miami), $2 million bonus/$3,200,000 contract (Reds)

A potential first-rounder as a high schooler before a so-so senior season and signability concerns, Grandal achieved that status after starring at Miami. He needed just 169 games in the Minors before reaching the big leagues, where he homered from both sides of the plate in his first start for the Padres, who acquired him a trade for Mat Latos.

Video: SD@COL: Grandal slugs first two career home runs

15. Brad Peacock, RHP, Astros
41st-round pick, 2006 (HS, Florida), $110,000 bonus (Nationals)

Drafted as a catcher out of high school in 2006, Peacock shone as a pitcher at Palm Beach (Fla.) CC the next spring before signing as a draft-and-follow. He developed slowly before breaking out as the Double-A Eastern League pitcher of the year and pitching well in three outings with Washington in 2011. Traded to the Athletics that offseason in a package for Gio Gonzalez, Peacock enjoyed little big league success again until this year.

Video: Top Prospects: Brad Peacock, RHP, Astros

Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.