Sickels Releases Top 20 Nats Prospects List

Seventeen of the Top 20 are above the “C” grade

I’ll expand on this later, but I wanted to put this up ASAP so folks can discuss in the comments. Here’s the summary:

A Bryce Harper
B+ Derek Norris
B/B+ Danny Espinosa
B Sammy Solis, A.J. Cole
B- Wilson Ramos, Robbie Ray
C+/B- Michael Burgess
C+ Eury Perez, Rich Hague, Cole Kimball, J.P. Ramirez, Chris Marrero, Steve Lombardozzi, Brad Meyers, Brad Peacock, A.J. Morris
C Tyler Moore, Tom Milone, Danny Rosenbaum

Now before anyobdy gets their panties in a bunch about the C’s, remember that Sickels is a tough grader. And then look at his caveats…

“[Moore] ā€” I realize that other sources and most Nationals fans rank him much higher, probably due to his hot second half. But he’s older than Marrero, a level behind him, and I don’t like the reports about holes in his swing or his BB/K ratio.”

“[Milone] ā€” Great Double-A numbers of course despite lack of stuff. I might be underestimating him.”

“[Rosenbaum] ā€” Tom Milone Part Two?”

None of these I can argue with and I’m especially pleased about Rosenbaum because I’ve been thinking it privately but was afraid to jinx him by stating it publicly. Nine C+ prospects is something to be happy about when for years it seemed like it was 19 C’s out of the Sickels Top 20.

As threatened promised, here are some thoughts. And a link to his article.

…Yunesky Maya as an honorable mention. I’m very torn about whether or not to rank Maya even though he’s technically a rookie and he’s said to be major-league ready. Those two things are key components of being a prospect. But that also has a certain arrogance to it, that his international experience is no better than collegiate baseball. And I wonder if my ambivalence is also because he looks like he might be Rolando Arrojo II (though the parent club could certainly use a slightly-above-league-average pitcher).

…Michael Burgess being rated higher than Chris Marrero. The two are three months apart in age, but Marrero has shown that he can at least hit for average and with a modicum of power. It may be splitting hairs, but Marrero is the better prospect of the two at this point.

…Steve Lombardozzi is finally getting some respect. If nothing else, getting named here should make some folks pay closer attention.

Author: Luke Erickson

Since 2009, Luke Erickson has been chief writer, editor, and bottle-washer of Potomac is his home base as a season-ticket holder, but he has visited every affiliate north of Florida at least once, with multiple trips to Hagerstown and Harrisburg.

24 thoughts on “Sickels Releases Top 20 Nats Prospects List”

  1. Sue,
    I’ve been wondering if Norris has or could play first base or left field. Defensively, might he be adequate at these positions, or even better than that?

    1. Yes, which is why I’m not as nervous as some people are about his defense. He improved a lot this year despite being injured on the wrist of his glove hand. He can, should, and will be given every opportunity to make the majors as a catcher because it multiplies his value as a hitter. A catcher that can hit is like a model that can cook šŸ˜‰

  2. Nice to see the inclusion of Rosenbaum and Milone, although have some questions about some of his other choices.

  3. Kobernus is a man of glass. How many games has he even played? He was a college guy starting at Hagerstown to begin with and he hasn’t graduated Hagerstown and you’ve got guys like Sanchez and Hague starting to pass him. Next year is huge for him.

    Hood’s an honorable mention guy for Sickels. To me, it’s kind of a pick ’em between Perez, Hood, and Ramirez. Ramirez has a long, long way to go with his defense. Perez has that Juan Pierre ceiling and you worry about whether he’ll walk enough. Hood has the most tools out of the guys but he has the most to learn about fundamentals. Which ones you list depends on what your personal preference is. Hood’s an honorable mention and that’s good.

    Here are the honorable mention guys: “OTHERS OF NOTE: Adrian Alaniz, RHP; Justin Bloxom, 1B; Adam Carr, RHP; Paul Demny, RHP; Dave Freitas, C; Tyler Hanks, RHP; Destin Hood, OF; Taylor Jordan, RHP; Blake Kelso, INF; Jeff Kobernus, 2B; Jason Martinson, INF; Yunesky Maya, RHP; Randolph Oduber, OF; Tanner Roark, RHP; Atahualpa Severino, LHP; Josh Smoker, LHP; Josh Wilkie, RHP; Rob Wort, RHP.”

    Really the best thing to do is log on there and get your comments in while the forum is open, probably the next couple of days to a week.

  4. Sickel’s gives some pretty good grades to 2 pitchers who haven’t even pitched professionally yet. Not saying they’re not talented but let’s see what happens in 2011.
    You can tell what everyone thinks of Meyer’s stuff, he basically didn’t pitch in 2010 and still has the good ranking.
    Have to think Oduber and Sanchez are both knocking at the door.
    Sickel’s must have seen what TBRFan did of Hood in Hagerstown in 2010.

    Have to think 2011 will be the best year ever to be a Nats farm seamhead.

    1. Solis has pitched professionally. He showed some potential, even after a long break, in the AFL. As for Cole, if you’re going to give a guy a 1.4M signing bonus he better have enough stuff to be above the C+ marginal pros in your system. Maybe not a B grade, but certainly a B- grade at least. Remember, Sickels’ grades take into account both a guys ceiling and his floor.

  5. SIckels giving Lombardozzi a C+ and then writing “I might be underestimating him” in Milone’s notes; Christmas in November!

  6. Previously, I had made out a top twenty-five list and all of Sickel’s twenty were in my twenty-five, although not necessarily in the same order. My other five were Maya, Hood, Kobernus (in my own top twenty) Sanchez and Carr. So obviously I think (with all due modesty) he’s made a good list.
    I would still like to get some information about Norris. As asked in the first entry of this blog.

    1. I’ll repeat my reply, along with the bad joke…

      Yes, which is why Iā€™m not as nervous as some people are about his defense. He improved a lot this year despite being injured on the wrist of his glove hand. He can, should, and will be given every opportunity to make the majors as a catcher because it multiplies his value as a hitter. A catcher that can hit is like a model that can cook šŸ˜‰

  7. Sue, my point is now that the Nats have Ramos, a very good defensive catcher with some pop, could Norris effectively play another position? I realize one or the other might be used as trade bait, but I would love to see both of them as Nationals. (although Ramus or Upton would look good in a National’s uniform, but likely not worth the cost.)

    1. Yes, I think Norris could make the switch to 1B with ease, and maybe LF, but the latter is a pure guess as it’s my understanding he played 1B and 3B before moving behind the plate in H.S. He runs well for a catcher and is quite agile. Brian Peacock fits that description, too and was able to play LF and 3B in spots last season for Potomac.

      1. Let’s face it, we’re at least a year away from a numbers game at catcher. Norris has at least 1+ years to go in the minors and while all the news about Flores in Florida has been good, he’s probably going to need at least a year in the minors to get his game back.
        With the catching shortage what it is in baseball, this is a very good problem for the Nats to have.
        The fun part in 2011 will be to see who is the next Cole Kimball.
        Dying to see what Sanchez does in Hagerstown in 2011.

        1. Flores has to show a half season of health and a half season of both offense and defense to get back into the conversation. It would be great if he got back into the mix and it’s nice he’s at least playing winter ball, but counting on him seems much. Agree that barring a Norris utter and complete breakout it’s hard to see him being ready to put pressure on Ramos next year.

  8. I actually don’t have a problem ranking Burgess higher, based on positional value alone. Sure the ages are the same, but experience is also key and Marrero has another year. Neither of them are finished products, but i’m at the point now where i think Marrero is basically an “Adam LaRoche” type with weaker defense. A solid above average hitting 1B with some pop, but not a true middle of the order hitter. Burgess has a similar profile but at a slightly more difficult position with better defense.

  9. Are th ties, according to Sickels, in a particular order? For example, is Eury Perez, number eight, ahead of Hague, number nine, or Marrero, number thirteen?

    1. Yes, I blocked them together for the sake of readability but they are still in the original order from left to right.

  10. I like this list with the exception of: Burgess – um, no. Again, “strike out king” needs to lose the all or nothing swing to get anywhere. Lombo – higher, much higher than a C+. Let’s say a B- with a mid-season call up to play with Espinosa. :o) Norris – I followed his stats for catching in the AFL. I’ve got my fingers crossed for him, but still feel a position change is still possible. I do like the “model that can cook” analogy. I think i’d like him to call a better game than hit a better game….

    Eury Perez – I have to remind myself he’s so young and prone to mistakes. But at the level he wants to play at, he’s got to lose the lackadasical (sp), half-a** play and come to the park with his game face on. If he turns up the intensity a notch, the sky is the limit for him. Man is he fast!

    I am definitely on the Harper bandwagon and wow is all I can say from what I personally saw in Fla this fall.

    I don’t think i’ve ever been more excited for a season in Hagerstown than for the upcoming one. I think low A will be the level to watch – finally! Adrian Sanchez and Randolph Oduber are on my radar!

  11. On your Marerro vs Burgess thoughts. As you yourself said Marerro was originally an outfielder and couldn’t handle it. Scouts are torn on whether Marerro is as good as Adam Dunn at first base. In other words which is the lesser of two evils?

    Unless Marerro proves he can hit as well as Dunn, Willingham, or Zimmerman; given his fielding don’t you think he should be ranked below Burgess? There is no DH in the National league so he has no position on the parent club? While Burgess can play the outfield and has a plus arm to boot? And Burgess hitting and plate patience have improved this year even if his average and power have suffered as a result. Hopefully, that is only temporary … hopefully.

    1. I just posted my Top 10, but to answer your question: Marrero’s ranking is going to be higher than Burgess’s because he’s played at a higher level for longer and because he’s potential trade bait. Burgess never convinced me that he’s closed the hole in his swing by the time he was promoted. Doesn’t mean he won’t, but that subjective impression is going to affect my opinion.

  12. I’m not sure where Huzzard found this but he attributes it to Sickels and I think it should be a part of the conversation when ranking the Nats farm system:

    There is always the chance that a minor leaguer surprises some people, but from the looks of the Nationals’ minor league system it would be a surprise if a top of the rotation pitcher is developed in the next two years. –John Sickles at

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