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So what's a pocketful of promises worth?

I know I'm going to be sorry for opening this can of worms again, but I just can't resist.

About that Miguel Tejada trade. When I first wrote about this, some readers were upset that I was dismissive of some of the players coming to Oriole-land. I referred to some of them as not being household names. Well, for a much better rundown of the haul Baltimore may have made, I refer you to Sun colleague Dan Connolly's excellent scouting report.

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But I was taken by some readers being particularly keen on the notion that two of the players, pitcher Troy Patton and third baseman Mike Costanzo, were the No. 3- and No. 6-rated prospects in the Astros' organization, according to Baseball America.

So I was curious about this: What has that meant historically, to be either the No. 3 or the No. 6 prospect in the Astros' organization. Now, this is not meant to be predictive about Patton and Costanzo. They may go to Cooperstown for all anyone knows, especially me. But again, over a reasonable period of time, what has it meant to be Houston's No. 3 and No. 6 prospect?

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Going back to the year 2000 and continuing through 2007, my best efforts have produced the following list of Houston's No. 3-rated prospects: Wade Miller, Tim Redding, Chris Burke, Jason Lane, John Buck, Willy Taveras, Fernando Nieve and Matt Albers. Of course, looking ahead was Patton.

For the No. 6 prospect, it was:  Julio Lugo, Adam Everett, Anthony Pluta, Tommy Whiteman, Hector Gimenez, Matt Albers, Hunter Pence and J.R. Towles.  And, of course, looking forward it was Costanzo, who was really mostly in the Phillies' farm system.

So in those groups, there are some interesting names, even from the most recent World Series -- Lugo of the Red Sox, Taveras of the Rockies. There some star/solid major leaguers current and past -- the 24-year-old Pence hit .322 with 17 homers for the Astros last year, the 31-year-old Miller was a career 62-46 for three teams. A handful have been so-so major leaguers (note that Everett was a shortstop in Houston -- hurt in '07 -- until he signed with Minnesota). Four or five have been real clinkers. And a couple may still pan out.

So, does that tell us anything about the No. 3 and the No. 6 prospects in some other team's organization now that they're Orioles? In the words of that cinematic philosopher, Forrest Gump, it's like that proverbial box of chocolates. Ya just never know what you're going to get.

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