How were 2012 Hall of Fame candidates viewed as prospects?

From SABR member Larry Granillo at Baseball Prospectus on January 9, 2012:

As we wait for the Hall of Fame announcement to come sometime Monday morning – for the record, I’m predicting that Barry Larkin will be the only new inductee this year, with Jack Morris getting dangerously close to the 70% mark – it seems like the perfect time to go back and look at how the main candidates on this year’s ballot looked coming into the major leagues. Using my collection of annual baseball preview magazines from the likes of Street and Smith’s and The Sporting News, I’ve gone back and found each candidate’s name in the various “minor leagues” sections of the magazines. It’s always fun to see what everyone was saying about some of the game’s greats before we knew them to be so. Also, it shows just how great the rookie class of 1987 really was.

The 1977 Detroit Tigers farm club
From the 1978 Street and Smith’s Baseball Yearbook: “Shortstop has been handed to ’77 minor leaguers with the departure to Cleveland of light-hitting Tom Veryzer. Mark Wagner has the inside track, after hitting .306 at Evansville. But Alan Trammell, just 20, comes off a .291 year in Double A, lashing out 19 triples at Montgomery. That could be a dogfight. Lou Whitaker, also 20 is set to fill Tito Fuentes‘ spot at second after switching from third in ’77. Whitaker hit .280, stole 38 bases in AA-ball. … But 21-year-old Jack Morris (6-7, 3.60 at Evansville), came up and split two decisions with the present club in only his second pro season.”
Dale Murphy
1978 Street and Smith’s: “Last year’s top prospect remains this year’s top prospect. Dale Murphy is a 6-4 catcher, just 21, and a No. 1 draft pick of the Braves in ’74. He had a reputation for having a gun. But the weapon misfired more often than not last year at Richmond, where pitchers were in mortal fear – even when they hit the dirt – in steals of second. He also had 14 passed balls. His erratic throwing was mental, not physical, Richmond manager Tommie Aaron said. Braves’ rookie skipper Bobby Cox, the former Yankee coach signed to steer Ted Turner‘s listing ship, saw Murphy at the of the ’76 International League season, while piloting Syrcause against Richmond in the playoffs. If Murphy can’t make it back of the plate – don’t bet against him – he did get some experience at first last season, when he hit .305, had 22 home runs and an IL-leading 90 RBIs. He gained Topps‘ AAA All-Star status. Some day soon, he’ll be big on Peachtree Street.”
Tim Raines
1981 Street and Smith’s: “Second baseman Tim Raines, the Sporting News’ minor league player of the year and second in league MVP voting to [Randy] Bass, hit a league-leading .354, set a loop record with 77 stolen bases, had 64 RBIs while batting leadoff, and was named the Association’s top rookie.”

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Originally published: January 9, 2012. Last Updated: January 9, 2012.