Oct 082010
 

Not surprisingly, just one Nationals farmhand made the cut for Baseball America’s Top 20 Prospects of the Eastern League: Danny Espinosa.

What did surprise me was this characterization of Espinosa’s defense in the scouting report:

Though Espinosa played exclusively shortstop at Double-A, scouts and managers agree he fits better at second base, where he mostly played in the majors. His infield actions aren’t quite good enough for a big league [sic] shortstop, but he has a chance to be a plus defender with a strong arm at second.

Whether this is kowtowing to the Nats’ decision to play the superior shortstop out of position or not is subject to debate. What’s more pleasing to read is that while the scouts still believe he’s a candidate to strike out frequently, they’re liking the power that first came on the scene in ’09, surprising nearly everyone.

Going into 2010, Espinosa’s task was to prove his power surge at Potomac was not a fluke, and clearly he’s succeeded. Now the scouts are predicting that he’s capable of hitting .260 to .270 with 15-20 HRs. Fun fact: Espinosa was one of three 20/20 players in the minors this past season.

As always, I’ll pass along any Nats-related comments I spot in the BA chat.

UPDATE: Here’s the lone Nat question in the BA chat…

    Ben (Leland Grove): Did Chris Marrero and Michael Burgess make your short list? Your thoughts on both at this point?

John Manuel: I asked one scout who’s better defensively at 1B, Adam Dunn or Marrero, and he answered Marrero, but he had to think about it. That tells you what you need to know on Marrero’s defense. As my son would say, he’s a 5 for strat-o-matic purposes. Burgess didn’t qualify, but I’d be leery of his big hack-no contact approach anyway.

  10 Responses to “Danny Espinosa, BA’s #12 Eastern League Prospect”

  1. No Milone – color me dissapointed.

  2. Sue: From the BA chat update, Manuel’s response means what? That the scout thought Marrero has a 1/2 step more range, or that he’s eight years younger and could “grow” into the position? I understand that chats are a rough place to get any real insight, but that was just a weak response from Manuel, imo.

    I’m probably wrong, but I believe that most people who have given the Nationals farm system more than a cursory glance feel that Marrero has been a ‘bat without a position’ for a while now. I personally had no expectations for him to be a EL top-20, nor do I look at him as the Nationals ‘1B of the future’ that Bowden envisioned; I’d rather see him bundled in a trade to the AL for something of value to the ‘big club’ now, as there are other 1B prospects in the system behind him.

  3. I would say that I would not disagree with the inference that Manuel’s response was weak and ineffectual. These chats are not in real time and the questions are clearly cherry-picked. Considering those two advantages, his answer looks even worse. Does it really tell you what you need to know because the scout — unlike Manuel — stopped to think about his answer before giving it?

    Like you, I had no expectations that Marrero (or Milone) would make the cut, thus I’m not disappointed. I’m enjoying the idea that for the first time since I’ve been following this farm system, we may actually be close enough to have a discussion over which prospect at given position is the one to keep and which is the one to deal.

    • Sue: Thanks for the feedback. I had a slim hope that with Jim Callis finally taking notice of Milone that he might have made the top-20, but it was not to be.

  4. Hi Folks,
    Traded some e-mails with Byron Kerr at MASN and he was kind enough to sent me a loose transcript of his interview with Potomac pitching coach Paul Menhart, which I had missed.
    Menhart said — The best news of all was that A.J Morris was finally fully healed from his shoulder problems. They had babied him all year and now he is completely healthy for the first time all year. And he’s throwing GREAT and has been very impressive during the FIL.
    Danny Rosenbaum has been working hard on a changeup and that Rosenbaum has a very high baseball I.Q. Sue and TBRfan, I’m sure you can address that.

    Menhart also said that the cahngeup is something that is a point of emphasis for all pitchers thay’re working with. It has the least amount of stress on the arm, but requires quite a lot of finesse.

  5. Mark L: Good stuff. Rosenbaum can hopefully add that changeup to his repetoire & continue to advance. If Morris is truly healthy, he could get a look-see as a RP it the big club in September 2011, but I won’t hold my breath for it (shoulder problems bring up so many red flags).

  6. I agree with the sentiment that says its nice to wonder who is best at a given position among multiple possibilities. Rizzo has always contended that he like to see guys fight it out for positions. He liked competition as it brought out the best in players. I guess we are finally seeing that.

    Have to wonder where they’ll place Solis in the top prospects list? Last year the Nats made it to the middle around 15th mostly because of Strasburg. (While the Orioles generally made it to the top 10 even in the top 5.) Any predictions as to where the Nats farm system will be ranked in 2011?

    • Solis and Grace are going to be two prospects ranked on amateur reputation vs. professional performance. I just finished up the GCL review (to be published on Tuesday to maximize pageviews) and Grace is one of those guys where I had to think: His numbers are pedestrian, but there’s got to be a reason why they decided to give him two more starts in Vermont.

      Absolutely on competition. Marrero’s had the title of “1B of the future” for the past three years or so, but now there’s some folks coming up behind him. Steve Lombardozzi could very well do next season what Danny Espinosa has done this season, if nothing else pushing both Danny and Ian to stay on top of their games. In addition to fighting it out, it also gives the team trade bait, which it hasn’t had since Omar Minaya traded it all away.

      Finally, I don’t think the organization will crack the Top 20, even with Bryce Harper. Storen had to also be a factor in rising into the top half, and to a lesser extent, Ian Desmond and Justin Maxwell. This year, only one prospect looks ready to make the Opening Day roster (Espinosa). The passing over of Oduber is another reason I have little confidence; the implosion in Vermont is another.

  7. Rosenbaum: He was a consistent pitcher at Hagerstown, and he was one of those players that you got the feeling of “why is he still here” at times. His command was light years above what our other pitchers displayed. Now I saw him pitch for Potomac when they played at Frederick and he got absolutely rocked. It wasn’t pretty. I hope Paul Menhart can help him get his changeup working; if he can polish that pitch and deliver all consistently, he could be a diamond in the rough.

  8. Sue:
    I’d tend to agree with you. Desmond, Strasburg, Storen, & Maxwell are all off the books; The teams gains Ramos via trade, Espinosa jumps to top prospect, but even with the additions of Harper, Solis, Grace, Ray, Cole, Oduber & others, the Orginazation will probably fall into the bottom 3rd in BA’s 2011 rankings. I do wonder if other writers who are focused on MiLB developments (Keith Law @ ESPN, in particular) will finally start giving the Nationals more respect.

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