The Sordid Tale of Juan Silvestre
I’m going to pull out a blast from the past today, and talk about one-time Mariners’ outfield prospect Juan Silvestre. After a 2000 season in which he was named MVP of the California League thanks to near Triple Crown numbers, prospect hunters did plenty of salivating over this diminutive Dominican power prospect.
And why not? A 22-year-old kid who just belted 30 homers, drove in almost 140 runs and hit .304 is sure going to garner attention.
The problem was, he wasn’t actually 22.
When baseball’s AgeGate ensued (a crack down on the liberties being taken with international players’ ages), it was revealed that Silvestre was born in 1976, not 1978 as long assumed.
The feats he accomplished at High-A were actually done at the age of 24 — significantly affecting his prospect status. It just took a couple of years before that came to light.
By then, Silvestre had pretty much weeded himself out of the mix with his performance. He was never able to make the leap to Double-A with any success.
The story of Juan Silvestre should serve as a cautionary tale for prospect followers in Fantasy keeper leagues. It’s so important to look beyond the numbers. And while it’s easy in retrospect to see the warning signs that Silvestre wasn’t going to cut it, the reality is we had no reason to suspect his birthdate was pure fiction. We also had no reason to wonder how a kid that was just 5’11”, 180 pounds was capable of mashing 30 homers. Now, I have no cause to suggest that Silvestre had “a little extra boost” to help him put up such prodigious power totals, but history has taught us to wonder, if nothing else.
At any rate, poor strike zone judgment that was evident as far back as Low-A (22 walks, 98 strikeouts in 1998 in the Midwest League) was going to doom him at the higher levels. And right on cue, Silvestre’s line in his first taste of Double A (.228/.270/.328) told us plenty.
It also told the Mariners plenty, and by next season, Silvestre was in the Rangers’ organization. He lasted just one year in the Texas system, batting .146 in 96 at-bats at Double-A Tulsa, and that was it for Silvestre’s run at organized ball. The following season, he played briefly with Bangor of the Independant Northeast League, but a .224 BA and no homers in almost 100 at-bats spelled the end of his diamond days.