This is a more difficult list to compile because, as noted in the comments recently, this system does not have much in the way of front-line starters poised for the near term. Of course, I’ve just described at least half the other organizations in MLB. That may not be much comfort, but the lament is common one. There’s a reason why you rarely see a position player traded for a starting pitcher, one for one.
What the Nationals do appear to have is a group of relievers that could make the jump in the next year or so. There’s something to be said for that. Some of you may have seen the MLB Network’s Prime 9 episode “The Most Lopsided Trades in MLB History.” Two of those nine involved relievers (oddly enough both trades involved the Red Sox) and it’s not hard to recall other past trades, particularly in late July, that involve uneven swaps of relievers for prospects.
Last year, the Nats appeared to have pulled off just such a trade (though in fairness to Minnesota, Wilson Ramos was blocked by a perennial All-Star). If just a couple of these prospects pan out, it could give Washington G.M. Mike Rizzo the chips to make another deal… or better yet make one of the team’s few strengths even stronger.
So with that in mind, I’m presenting our Top 10 List of Pitching prospects, a.k.a. “arms”…
- Sammy Solis — Struggled some in the AFL, but scouts are nearly in agreement that he can and will rise rapidly.
- A.J. Cole — Tall (6’5″) wiry (190lbs) H.S. RHP but said to possess a plus FB (91-94, top 96) that will likely gain velocity as he gains weight and grows into his frame.
- Robbie Ray — A “pitchability” lefty that is projected to command three pitches for strikes (FB, CU, CH).
- Adam Carr — Hard-throwing RHRP that had strong finish in AAA and a good AFL and has proven he can throw multiple innings regularly.
- Cole Kimball — The surprise of the AFL with outstanding numbers and an improved fastball but lack of AAA track record gives Carr the higher ranking.
- A.J. Morris — Noticeable increase in velocity, sharpness, and effectiveness after converting from starting to relief in the last month of the season.
- Tom Milone — Outstanding control and plus breaking pitch, but scouts worry it won’t translate to the next level. This has been the refrain since 2008.
- Brad Peacock — Hard-throwing RHP that needs to have his changeup working to succeed. When it is, he’s very effective. When it’s not, he can and will get hit hard.
- Brad Meyers — 2010 was a lost cause, but folks much more experienced and knowledgeable than I am in prospect-rating still believe in him, so he gets the nod.
- Danny Rosenbaum — The sizable gap between his ERA (2.09) and FIP (3.27) is a cause for concern, but like Milone, has a good feel for pitching and can survive on the nights when his breaking ball isn’t working.
The “Nigel Tufnel” goes to Rob Wort. This is a pure “gut” pick based on what I saw down the stretch from him in Potomac: A tendency to pitch remarkably better with runners on base versus the bases empty.
Honorable Mentions go to Tanner Roark and Ryan Tatusko. If I had done Top 10s for both relievers and starters, there’s no doubt they both would have been mentioned. I decided not to include Yunesky Maya because of his advanced age, his international experience, and the small sample size of work, which was less than stellar (e.g. 21BB, 4HR in 46⅓ IP majors and minors combined). All three will be on the watchlist.