There are 2 types of baseball fans these days – the saber “stat-nerds” and the old school “I saw it with my own eyes” crowd. I’m about to attempt… nay, prove, that there is another type of talent evaluation.
I don’t judge books by their cover; I judge them by their name… which I guess would technically be on the cover but… I got nothing.
I know some have their theories about names translating to success, but I have never been wrong. Never. Not 15 times. I remember grasping at straws, trying to convince my friends that “Lastings Milledge” sounded like a superstar from the 1920s, but I knew deep down he never had a shot at Major League success… not now, not with that name.
So without further ado, I present my foolproof (proof that I am a fool) breakdown of Baseball America’s 2013 top 25 prospects… by name only.
1. Jurickson Profar
He plays a fairly weak position, will come up to a team in hitter’s park (assuming he’s not dealt for Giancarlo – you heard it here 114th) and projects to be a 5 tool player… but that’s all irrelevant. We’re talking names here, and I mean, “Pro” is right there. And “Jurickson?” I’m in. That’s a cool name. He could have easily anglicized his name and became “Rick Profar,” or “Jurry ‘pronounced Jerry’ Profar,” but he stuck to his guns, and for that, I believe that he will live up to all of his hype. Superstar.
Photo source: Flickr.com
2. Dylan Bundy
There has only been one other “Dylan” in major league history apparently, and his last name was “Axelrod.” That’s a badass name, but I won’t break down his career numbers as it will take away from my “foolproof” name theory. “Bundy” – on one hand you have a notorious serial killer. On the other you have one of the greatest TV characters of all time, and on some random third hand you have a fat wrestler. It can be argued that Ted and King Kong were very successful in their fields, but Al was a terrible shoe salesman, so Dylan can go either way. His name has good “flow,” so I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and call him a star.
Photo source: Reuters.com
3. Oscar Taveras
Yes all day. Baseball needs a new Oscar to look up to. Sure his last name isn’t as awesome as “Gamble,” but “Taveras” has some cache in the sports world right now. Oscar Tavares just sounds like a great baseball name. I haven’t bought a pack of cards in 10 years, and I want his card. Superstar.
Photo source: AP.com
4. Wil Myers
Had he spelled his first name with 2 L’s, I would have been on the fence… but one L? That’s CRAZY! Unless I’m forgetting someone, there is only one good “Will/Wil/Bill” in baseball right now (Butler) so the door is open for ol’ one L to swoop in. Star.
Photo source: Pouya Dianat/SI.com
5. Jose Fernandez
This is a tough one. While his name seems like it was pulled from a random Latin ballplayer name generator, and probably translates to “John Smith,” he is shockingly only the second “Jose Fernandez” to make the big leagues. I could have sworn at least 3 of them played for the Mets since 2001. The generic factor is making me lean towards bust, but I’ll give him a bump and say he’ll pan out as a good #3.
Photo source: palmbeachpost.com
6. Shelby Miller
This one is kind of a cheat considering he’s carving up the league already, but I’ve been sold on Shelby since day 1. It just sounds like a star name. (Unlike his Cardinal system-mate “Kolten Wong,” who has no prayer.) The one thing holding Shelby Miller back is his girl name. Who was the last great pro athlete with a girl name? Torry Holt? Marian Gaborik? Either way, I’m going to make a big claim and say Shelby Miller will be more Christy Mathewson than Dana Eveland. A Shelby is a classic American muscle car anyway. They can do some great marketing crossovers with Ford. Superstar.
Photo source: Vincent Pugliese/Getty Images.com
7. Gerrit Cole
No. Gerrit? I can’t get behind that name. I’d apologize to all the “Gerrits” out there, but there are probably more “Juricksons” reading this. Cole is a boring last name as well. I just don’t see it. Bust.
Photo source: post-gazette.com
8. Xander Bogaerts
The last Boston SS prospect to pan out had a ridiculous name as well, and “Xander” has the same kind of “Cher” appeal as “Nomar” did, but he also has a pretty great last name. You can write some solid headline puns with that one. I’m thinking star… wars. “Xander Bogaerts” could be the name of the Sith Lord in the next installment of the saga and I’d be on board with it. I want to root for this name, so I’m going with star.
Photo source: providencejournal.com
9. Miguel Sano
I’m stumped on this one. There’s only one superstar 3rd baseman named “Miguel” allowed in the AL Central, so unless he changes his position or is dealt, I fear his prospects of being a star are like Kate Upton – quite busty. See, I’m hip. I like girls. Another thing that is bugging me about “Sano” is that I mistyped it as “Sabo,” and it made me think of Chris Sabo, another 3rd baseman who came before him. I’m going bust… but if he decides to rock the rec-specs like my man Sabo, he might have a shot at a better career.
Photo source: startribune.com
10. Byron Buxton
Alliteration is never a bad thing when it comes to names. Can you picture yourself discussing Byron Buxton? I can. At the same time, when I hear it in my head, it’s in Mel Kiper’s voice. “Byron Buxton” sounds like a speedy defensive back more than a baseball player. Still, I expect him to be a good one, and… ugh… make a ton of bucks. I know. Star.
Photo source: blogspot.com
11. Zach Wheeler
As a diehard Met fan, I’m forever the cynic. I believe the hype on one hand, but my other hand is punching myself in the face for deciding to become a Met fan. I don’t know where that third Bundy hand went. There’s already an ace pitcher in baseball named Zack (Greinke) and he did it the right way – with a “K.” Sure it was probably Zach Wheeler’s parent’s choice, and Greinke’s real name is “Donald” –which would have turned him into an instant bust if he kept that—but that “H” is throwing me for a loop. “Wheeler” is a real gem though. Anytime you can pair your last name with “Dealer,” you’re probably going to be pretty good. Dan Wheeler was decent for a couple months that one time. The thing that scares me most about Wheeler is Matt Harvey(I was on the fence.) He’s better than expected, and as a Met fan I don’t believe I’m allowed too many good things… but, on name alone – Star.
Photo source: nydailynews.com
12. Tyler Skaggs
I guess we’ve reached the point in time when “Tyler’s” are becoming grown men. Normally I’d hold that against a potential superstar athlete, but “Skaggs” is too cool a last name. He just sounds like he has nasty stuff with that name. I’m sure people will call him “Boz,” and if a Red Sox fan says that, it will sound like “Boss,” so that’s good enough for me. Star.
Photo source: thegoldensombrero.com
13. Carlos Correa
Alliteration! It sounds like it should be pitching in Cleveland’s bullpen, but once again, the name has flow. Still, there are already a few good “Carlos’s” in the game right now with Beltran, Gomez, Ruiz, Gonzalez, and Marmo… lol, j/k. I’m not sure we’re ready for another. This one is a true coin flip. I’m grabbing a quarter. Heads he’s a star, tails he’s a bust. Tails. Sorry, Astro fans.
Photo source: hdnux.com
14. Trevor Bauer
24 jokes aside, I like it. I can imagine people saying, “We should get tickets to the next Trevor Bauer start.” Maybe he can be a career compiler like the great Trevor who preceded him, Hoffman. I’m ignoring his career to this point, and on name alone, I’m saying he’ll pan out. He won’t be an ace though.
Photo source: cleveland.com
15. Christian Yelich
No chance. That is not a star athlete name, that’s the weird kid you went to second grade with who lived in the woods. I can’t even think of a “fun” play on this name. I’ll root for the kid, but he’s a bust waiting to happen.
Photo source: blogspot.com
16. Javier Baez
Meh. This one is a snoozefest. I hear “Javier,” and I think pitcher. I hear “Baez” and I think pitcher… he’s a shortstop. I’m bringing my retirement fund back out on this one. Heads. There ya go, we got ourselves a future star.
Photo source: jacksonville.com
17. Mike Zunino
My favorite player of all time is an Italian catcher named Mike. Is there room for another one? No, unfortunately. There is only one Mike ItalianLastName and he should have been a first ballot hall of famer. Seriously, I mean, there is no proof the man took steroids. Oh you saw acne on his back?! Whoooaaa, lock him up, he must be a drug abuser… huh? Oh, right, sorry. Zunino. “Zunino” is a little too ‘speech impedimenty’ to be taken seriously as a star. Bust.
Photo source: marinersblog.com
18. Taijuan Walker
While it’s spelled differently, I don’t think the MLB has ever had a player named after an Asian country. I’ll admit now that I have zero clue if Taiwan is indeed a country or a part of China… judge my intelligence accordingly. All that aside, the “Walker” part is troubling for a pitcher. I’m not afraid he will reflect his name on the mound; I just don’t want to hear commentators make the reference 100 times. I say he’ll be slightly worse than the other pitcher named after a motion on this list, Wheeler. Solid 2 starter.
Photo source: blogspot.com
19. Jameson Taillon
While I like this one better than “Gerrit Cole,” I just can’t give it to you, Pittsburgh. I’d imagine at least one of the 2 should pan out, but these names… I don’t see it. He should go by “Jimmy.” “Jimmy Taillon” would light the world up. Jameson is a whiskey… or a butler, or a pornstar, not a star pitcher. Bust.
Photo source: ESPN.com
20. Billy Hamilton
Josh might be opening the door for a new “Hamilton” to take over. I hate to keep bringing up flow, but this name has it. While I think it feels like it could easily be the name of a little country fried quarterback in a sappy high school football movie, I think it will ultimately translate to major league success. How much success? I think he’ll be in the star discussion, but never quite make it to that level.
Photo source: zimbio.com
21. Nick Castellanos
This guy is going to bounce around the league. His name has staying power, but I don’t think it has star potential. I guess I’m just thinking of Frank Catalanatto and it’s clouding my judgement. “Who’s your favorite player?” “Nick Castellanos.” Nah, that doesn’t sound right. He’ll be a fringe starter/utility guy for the next 10 years.
Photo source: blogspot.com
22. Mike Olt
Nope. Sorry Mike, you’re a bust. The really short named hasn’t worked since Mel Ott, and I’m pretty sure he played in the 1870s or something. Seriously, your name is almost as short as “A-Rod,” and that’s a nickname… a terrible, lazy nickname. Sure you can hear a John Sterling-esque call of “A jolt by Olt,” in your head, and you love to throw your hands up in the air and scream “Mike Olt” like Gob Bluth’s illegitimate son, but I’ve made my decision. Bust.
Photo source: dallasnews.com
23. Travis d’Arnaud
Met alert. Run for cover. The lower case d is the real wild card here. If his name was pronounced phonetically? Forget it – bust city, but since it is pronounced “Dar No” I think he has a really good shot at being a star. I want to call him “Dr. No” but I know that’s a crappy nickname for a ballplayer. Baseball has been yearning for a star named “Travis” since Pronk (magical Yankee resurgence aside) aged 14 years in one offseason a few years back. Baseball has also yearned for a star of French descent since Eric Gagne juiced his way to 143 saves in a row… that being said d’Arnaud will only be a “pretty good” player.
Photo source: zimbio.com
24. Kyle Zimmer
I know there are a few pitching today with moderate to good success (Kendrick, Farnsworth, Lohse) but I just can’t believe in a “Kyle.” Sorry, Kyles. “Zimmer” has some pedigree to it, but I think that name lost its luster the day it was tossed to the ground by Pedro Martinez at Fenway. I’m afraid “Kyle Zimmer” just isn’t a star name. Now if there was a “man” at the end of his last name? Maybe an oft-injured star, but for now, I’m going to take that “man,” add “journey” and tell you what Kyle Zimmer’s career ceiling will be – manjourney… journeyman.
Photo source: collegebaseballdaily.com
25. Archie Bradley
This name oozes stardom. If I could buy stock in any of the players on this list off name alone, this would probably be my pick. “Archie” is one of the most underrated first names of all time, and baseball has never had a star with that name. This sounds like the name of some champion welterweight boxer, but I see no reason why it would end up being a superstar baseball player.
So there you have it. It looks like Major League Baseball has a bright future ahead of it. I’ve been Vin Conzo, star pitcher/shortstop for the champion 12 year old MYAA Royals. Have a good one.
Photo source: brosher.com