The Top 10 Bats

The arguments will probably start around #5…

The people have spoken, so here’s our obligatory Top 10 list of the Nationals batting prospects. Next will be the Top 10 Arms, and then a revisit to the watchlist. I don’t have the chutzpah to do letter graders or stars, so this is just my opinion on the ten hitting prospects that folks are watching and talking about. I’ll even throw in my Nigel Tufnel to answer the usual question, “Who just missed the list?”

Without further ado…

  1. Bryce Harper — Biggest question: How will he handle the adjustments that will be made to him, especially if he gets the Barry Bonds treatment.
  2. Derek Norris — Complaints about his defense are overblown because he can readily shift to another position if need be, but made significant improvements despite being hurt.
  3. Danny Espinosa — Two spring-training questions: Will the parent club tolerate his strikeouts? Will he get a chance to win the SS job?
  4. Wilson Ramos — Let’s hope he’s given the chance to win the job outright from Rodriguez, but a platoon is probably more likely.
  5. Chris Marrero — Rated this high because I think he’s viable trade bait and appears to be capable of hitting at the MLB level.
  6. Steve Lombardozzi — Steady, solid and reliable. Capable of leading off, but more likely to hit second or eighth.
  7. Michael Burgess — Will probably never hit for average, but the power potential, the OF arm, and the option to platoon him is something to consider
  8. J.P. Ramirez — Concerns about his foot speed, but both our Hagerstown contributors liked his power potential and I liked his tendency to post a good month following bad month all season long.
  9. Eury Perez — It’s no secret that I like the guys that can run and play small ball, and there are doubts about him being able to hit at the upper levels, but he’s the youngest of that prototype in full-season minors.
  10. Tyler Moore — Like Sickels, I’m concerned about what AA pitchers will do to him once they find his weaknesses, but his power is undeniable.

And, the Nigel Tufnel goes to… Rick Hague. That’s who I’d rank #11.

I’m sure folks will have lots to say in the comments…

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.

26 thoughts on “The Top 10 Bats”

  1. Let’s hope you’re right about Marerro. However, is he a viable option to replace Dunn in the near term? As in out of ST 2011?

    What is the web address for the continuation of Brian Oliver’s work?

    1. I very much like all 11 choices, as mentioned. Guys I like Marrero very much, but the question is does he have 25 100 power . I really think its a reach at this time but I can be a convert

  2. By the way, Sue, I appreciate your diligence at responding to questions. It makes the site fun and personal.
    I agree totally with your first seven, including the order. I’m somewhat ambivalent about the next three because everytime I think of the three Hagerstown outfielders, they fall into a lump, obviously not with the same skills. It’s just my general impression. But they would be my next three in some order followed by Kobernus (hopefully no more injuries) and Moore (who I’m very skeptical about, but, boy, if he’s for real….

  3. Before you get to the pitching … I know you probably didn’t get to evaluate them (and Sickel’s ignores them) but I am wondering about where Roark and Tatusko could end up in the rankings? They are older yet they did a lot to help Harrisburg get into the playoffs. Are they Syracuse bound? Seems likely? But if they are what happens to the starting pitching inventory that is already there?

    1. I did a story about “The Guz Two” in late July, but without a “Harrisburg guy,” I have to extrapolate from what I saw previously from a guy in Potomac and since I never got to see these guys, I’ve got six starts for each to go by.

      Not to be sassy, but would you bump a guy like Brad Meyers out of contention because he’s yet to prove he’s healthy and not regressed? If you can, then Ryan Tatusko could crack the Top 10, though I’d probably list him as a reliever because I have this gut feeling that Rizzo’s scheming to build a bullpen of interchangeable hard-throwers (and I’m a proponent of bringing back a “Nasty Boys”-style approach).

      Alternately, I could take the easy way out and rank the top 10 starters and top 10 relievers…

    1. Hood is certainly on our watchlist, but I wouldn’t rank him over guys that are more finished than he is right now. I’m certainly looking forward to seeing him next summer.

    1. Just because Harper was hacking at nearly every pitch in his Nationwide TV debut doesn’t tell the whole story – He didn’t get that .410OPB in Scottsdale without having some ‘feel’ for the strikezone.

  4. If you have Norris ahead of Espinosa and Ramos, I say WOW. Espinosa should be a keeper at the MLB level as he plays hard and has a good attitude and if he quickens his stroke will get even better.

    Ramos will continue to hit with a good OBP.

    If you think Norris is that good right now, I would move him to LF now as that will get him quicker to the Majors. I think he is barely 6 feet tall which usually doesn’t help as a 1st baseman. I see Ramos as the catcher of the future here.

    1. This was discussed a lot over the weekend, but you’ve reminded me about a myth when it comes to first basemen and height. Twenty-five years ago, Keith Hernandez and Don Mattingly were usually mentioned in the same breath as the best first baseman defensively. Both were listed at 6′ even.

      1. Yeah, I brought up the height differential argument over at Nats Journal a week or two ago (Morse over Pena, iirc) & was clubbed with a list of good 1B who were 6’0″ or shorter. Then I watched a series of Zimmerman’s plays (on over the weekend & saw the 6’7″ Dunn snagging both high & low throws for 1/2-step outs.

        My point is, given relatively equal footwork on ground balls, I’ll take the extra 5-6″ in stretch 99 times out of 100.

        1. My point is, given relatively equal footwork on ground balls, I’ll take the extra 5-6″ in stretch 99 times out of 100.

          I don’t think you’re going to find yourself choosing between two guys that far apart in height that move equally well. It’s usually the lumbering giant vs. the shorter guy that’s a better fielder, and you’re not alone in choosing to probably preventing throwing errors over possibly more balls fielded.

          1. Point taken. It was more that I saw Morse (a 6’5″ former IF) as a better internal option than some of the other players being foisted as possible replacements (Willingham, Pena, Flores, etc). All things being equal, I’d rather have Dunn’s bat in the heart of the DC lineup than most, if not all of the proposed alternatives to date.

            All this coming from a guy whose favorite 1B growing up was Wes Parker (LAD), who listed at 6’1″, but probably had that measurement taken in his cleats while standing on concrete.

    2. Kevin Youkilis is 6’1″ and he is a really good glove. I do agree with Steve M. that a position change is probably overdue.

      Many players have gone through the transition, 2 in the Nats system, guys named Josh Willingham and a guy named Bryce Harper.

  5. Thanks, Sue. Can’t argue with any of your picks, it’s very very solid. Let’s hope (pray) that your concerns about Moore are unwarranted. I agree with J Campbell, there’s a chance that Moore is the real deal.
    Regarding Tatusko, we now have eyes in Harrisburg, it was about a week ago that he was raving about him.
    As to their ages, we know that a hitters best year are 27-28: it’s a statistical near certainty now that steroids are out of the picture. Pitchers are totally different, as there is no age that is better than any other. I remember when the Marlins brought up a pitcher making his major league debut at 37 (!!!!).

  6. By Top 10 bats I think we are saying Top 10 position players, correct? I hope so, at least, because Ramos, hopefully is not the 4th best hitting prospect in the organization.

    It appears, as if, Norris is on the top of everyone’s list and ahead of Ramos. I don’t buy into the notion that we can just move him to another position because that deflates his value, so I would consider him a catcher. So if that is the case I would think that Ramos would be attractive as a piece of a trade package. Pudge is still about as good as any catch defensively in the league, so he can hold down the fort for the short term. Norris needs another year of seasoning, but if Flores is physically capable, he has to be in the majors. My own eyes tell me Ramos is a major league catcher with plus defensive ability, so I would think he would have some immediate value.

    1. Yes, I’m using bats synonymously with position players. Much more difficult to do a visual pun for a picture and stay PG, iykwim…

  7. Sue_D: Good list – even Hague over the likes of Hood, who might have been a ‘safer’ pick at #11. The top-10 arms list should be a bit tougher to compile, imo. Can’t wait to see it.

    Also, the “Nasty Boys” concept for the Bullpen in DC; Interesting, to say the least. Clippard, Balester, Burnett, Storen, one or two from Mock / Stammen / Carr / Kimball, and a Slaten / Chico LH to keep hitters off-balance. That could be good for another 2-3 years, and fun to watch as well.

  8. If you can’t create or get top of the rotation starters perhaps you had better have a bullpen of arms that throw some pretty nasty stuff? Seems like a good fall back plan for a team bereft of solid, reliable middle and back of the rotation starters other than Livan Hernandez. And although Livan is a marvel, its still a scary thought.

    I wonder if there is any word on Nate Karns? Do you think he might have to retire? His arm could potentially be added to the “nasty” mix?

    Crazy people on natsinsider et al all want 19 year old Harper to start in ST 2011. He still needs work on his fielding and he has problem detecting major league caliber breaking pitches. This is not the case for one Derrick Norris. I believe his bat is MLB ready in ST 2011. In my opinion a change of position to first base with a backup role at catcher might be just what the doctor ordered for a Dunn-less Nats team? It makes more sense to me than Carlos Pena.

  9. Isn’t the Marrero vs. Burgess basically another flavor of the old ceiling vs. floors deal? To me, I believe that I’ve seen Marrero’s ceiling and it ain’t much higher. Burgess could certainly flame out, but he could harness enough of the tools to be viable as well. When I say that I like Burgess better, basically I’m saying that I think there’s a bigger chance that he will be on the 25 man roster of a Nationals winning team than Marrero.

    He does have a hole in his swing a mile wide, though, and I can’t disagree with your list based on your criteria.

    1. Souldrummer — The difference between the two is Burgess could progress to the show, while I’m in complete agreement with Sue that Marrero is strictly trade bait, with his Roberto Duran defense relegating him to the American League. Saying that, Marrero will land somewhere in the bigs with his bat.

  10. By the way, is there any way to watch the AFL championship game on replay? I missed it live, and I didn’t see it on

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