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SoxProspects News

February 2, 2007 at 11:18 PM

Turn back the clock: 2002

Perspective. The gift the past endows to those who wish to appreciate the present. So here we are, a good five years removed since the end of the Dan Duquette regime. A time where a gallon of gas averaged $1.43 and the President was actually liked. Anyway, snicker if you will at some of The Duke's can't miss prospects - Andy Yount, Rick Asadoorian - but let's also give him a tip o’ the cap for Jon Lester, Kevin Youkilis and Hanley Ramirez, all of whom turned out to be pretty good major leaguers. Hard to believe that The Duke was sent packing five years ago this spring. That being said, let's take the Delorean back to 2002 and revisit five guys we salivated over before Theo Epstein took the reigns.

Now before mentioning the following players, full disclosure must be made: the following are players listed as prospects during the 2002 season. Random Duquette-era prospects during his tenure were not simply named, but rather, these names were culled from Baseball America, USA Today, and other fine publications from 2002.

Seung Song. Pitching phenom, 36th member of the Wu-Tang Clan. Ok, so that’s half right. Which half is entirely up to you. Anyway, Song reached Trenton in 2002 with tickets to Boston on his dresser. Check out this quote from Josh Goldfine (Baseball America) circa '02: “The righthander, who signed with the organization prior to the 1999 season, went 8-4 with a 1.90 ERA - second-best among all minor leaguers to Florida Marlins' righthander Josh Beckett - between two Class A stops.” In the words of Lee Corso, “Not so fast my friend!” A deadline deal that year to Montreal for Cliff Floyd and Song was gone. He has yet to crack a major league roster.

Freddy Sanchez. Call him a late bloomer, but this guy could always hit. The problem with Freddy Ballgame before his 2006 NL batting crown was injuries. Let's not forget that he hit .300 at every minor league level prior to the celebrated Jeff Suppan trade that sent him to the Pirates. Soon after, his development was hampered by a series of leg injuries that shelved him for portions of the 2003 and 2004 campaigns. He hit a respectable .291 in 2005 before he broke out with a .344 average last year for the perennially horrible Bucs. Just remember, pink-hatted Sox fans: before Dustin Pedroia, there was Freddy Sanchez.

Tony Blanco. You may know him as one of the guys (the other being another touted prospect, (Josh “Don't call me Bobby” Thigpen) we sent to Cincy for Todd Walker in 2002. This is about the only remarkable thing Mr. White did for any major league team, and the shelf life of a trade deadline bargaining chip is quite often short and unglamorous. At the peak of his artificial hype, there were lofty projections of 30 homers and 110 RBI a season. Well my friends, those would be generous career projections given that Blanco has 29 HRs and 103 RBI remaining as a 25 year-old Carolina Leaguer.

Manny Delcarmen. Prior to MDC’s conversion to the 'pen, he was projected to be a top of the rotation starter. He struck out 62 in 46 innings during his GCL stint in 2001, and was seemingly poised for Fenway within a few short years. In May 2003, he underwent Tommy John surgery, and after experiencing some rough outings as a starter, he was converted to a reliever, and has flourished since. Favorite MDC Moment: The 99 he flashed on the McCoy Stadium pitch speed display in 2005. After experiencing some major league success in 2006, he is expected to be an important cog in the Sox' relief corps in 2007.

Greg Montalbano. Unfortunately, there are guys you can only shake your head in disbelief at because their potential was never fully realized due to injuries or medical issues. The Massachusetts native had setbacks on both fronts, having battled shoulder injuries that sidelined him the entire 2002 season, as well as cancer, which he was stricken with both in 1996 and 2006. After hoping that he’d stay healthy enough to fulfill the potential so many projected, the Sox let Montalbano go prior to the 2005 season. In 2005 and 2006 he pitched for the independent Worcester Tornadoes, his career far removed from the bright lights of Fenway Park just mere miles down the Mass Pike.