Baseball America Ranks The Top 10 Nats Prospects

A look at the Top 10 Nats Farmhands, according to Baseball America

A few surprises here. But first let’s get to the Top 10 list, from the home office in Durham, NC…

  1. Bryce Harper, OF
  2. Derek Norris, C
  3. Danny Espinosa, 2B-SS
  4. A.J. Cole, RHP
  5. Wilson Ramos, C
  6. Sammy Solis, LHP
  7. Cole Kimball, RHP
  8. Eury Perez, OF
  9. Chris Marrero, 1B
  10. Brad Peacock, RHP

As you might imagine, the free article focuses on Strasburg and his return and how much money the team has spent in bonuses the past two drafts. Four of last year’s Top 10 “graduated” (Strasburg, Storen, Desmond, Maxwell) and three prospects dropped off the list (Kobernus, Burgess, Hood) while Marrero fell from #6.  About the only quibble I have is the ranking of Kimball, which is particularly odd for BA, which worships youth.

Harper naturally was named as the system’s best athlete, hitter for both power and average, and OF arm. Perez got props for both his footspeed and fielding while Espinosa was named the best infielder and IF arm. Norris got the nod for the best strike-zone judgment. Kimball’s fastball was deemed the best, with A.J. Morris getting the nod for slider, Josh Wilkie for changeup, Brad Peacock for curveball, and Tom Milone for control. Ramos was named the best defensive catcher.

As for 2011 projections, which I know folks are always interested in, here’s where BA thinks they’ll start:

Low-A – Cole
Low-A or High-A – Harper
High-A -Solis, Perez
AA – Norris, Peacock
AAA – Marrero
AAA or MLB – Kimball
MLB – Espinosa, Ramos

None of those projections I can argue with. I am pleased about the respect that Peacock got, because he was one that caught my eye this summer. The Eury Perez disrespect may be over now, as they’re starting to see what we see in him using a word that one of our Hagerstown spies uses (“slashes”) to describe his game. Finally, don’t confuse my earlier statement with Kimball for anything other than surprise that Robbie Ray or J.P. Ramirez didn’t make the list. Obviously, the likes of Milone and Steve Lombardozzi not making the list was not a surprise for reasons we’ve discussed ad infinitum (not only that Skipper, over and over again).

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.

40 thoughts on “Baseball America Ranks The Top 10 Nats Prospects”

  1. Glad to see Eury Perez getting some love.

    The consensus on the Nats seems to be that we have a lot of middle of the road / slightly above average prospects (outside of Harper and possibly Norris), few of which are ‘locks’ to be sure fire elite major league players. You can make a very well reasoned argument that virtually all of our guys in our top 10 will be solid ML contributors, but… you get what I am saying. Anyway, with that knowledge, where do you think that our system ranks overall? I would figure that Harper alone virtually pushes us into the to 20, but would be surprised to see us higher than 14. Regardless, we have to be in better shape than the Brewers…

    1. Don’t know how much Winter Ball factors into things, but Eury Perez seems to be doing well in Winter Ball as well. .330/.385/375/.760 20SB 4CS. Don’t know about the defense, but that’s consistent with his line for Hagerstown and he’s likely playing against stronger competition in the DWL.

      Last night: 1-3, BB, K 2SB

    2. I think of our system as being middle-of-the-pack (15-17). The Gonzalez and Greinke trades have highlighted that the system is getting more diverse, but the depth isn’t quite there yet. We’ll know we’ve returned to pre-Loria glory days when the third- or fourth-best guys at any position are more prospects than suspects.

    1. Hood made the list last year, but had a disappointing 2010 season. I believe they excluded any pickups since the end of the season for this article, but I can’t know that for sure.

      1. Why do you consider Hood’s season disappointing? Not disagreeing just curious. I know that people keep waiting for a power tool that hasn’t shown up yet, and he hasn’t shown he can play center. I’m as concerned about the poor steals percentage 5SB, 7CS, which seems to be a trainable skill that you would expect somebody to improve as they go up the minors and 119Ks/33BBs in 537PAs doesn’t help him either. To me, he’s still on the map, but he got passed by Ramirez and Perez. It will be real interesting to see how they handle outfield time once Ramirez, Perez, Hood, and Harper are all on the same squad. I’m assuming Hood starts in Potomac.

        1. “Disappointing” is a relative term. I used it in the way that BA does = Hood didn’t meet their expectations. I’m not writing off Hood, but it’s fair to say that he lost some of the luster he had when he was viewed as a raw talent. Quite frankly, to me – that’s a sign of progress; that an athlete has been passed by a ballplayer.

          1. No quibbles with that. It’s the power outage that I think is the biggest question for him with the scouts. They can appreciate that he’s raw. I don’t think they can fully excuse him for not showing much power when they were expecting a football guy to eventually develop a power tool.

  2. Only one of the top-ten without a track record (Cole). I’ve got no complaints with this years’ list. Same goes for their starting predictions, where AJ Cole is the biggest unknown.

  3. The starting rotation still has Lannan at #5. Might it not be possible to see Robbie Ray there instead? Rizzo does prefer power pitchers. Be nice if Kimball made the starting rotation as opposed to the bullpen. They need another power pitcher in there.

    1. Robbie Ray’s a high schooler. He’s got a long way to go before making the rotation. Got to believe Kimball’s gotten a trial as a starter at some point. Kimball was a starter during his age 21 and age 22 seasons and couldn’t cut it at Hagerstown. If he’s a power arm and he’s got a could K rate out of the bullpen, he’s certainly valuable enough there. We’ve got enough volume at the back end of the rotation. It’s just a question whether there’s a better option for the middle of the rotation that’s not spooked by our lack of offense or distance from contention in the same division as the Phillies.

  4. I like AJ Cole on the list. The kid has big raw power arm. With the schooling he will get in the Minors, this is the future here.

    The other more curious designation is on their 2014 lineup they have Derek Norris at 1st base. While Rizzo won’t admit to that, it seems inevitable to get him to the Majors quicker. Should they make the change now and finally make a trade to get Marrero to an AL team that can use him at 1B and DH?

  5. I don;t think that Norris is an inevitable first baseman and Kevin Goldstein at BP doesn’t seem to think so either. He just needs to get better at receiving. I am also not saying that he won’t be a first baseman, but I still have hope. And I could see him starting over Ramos.

    1. I think Byron Kerr had a couple of Q&A’s with Randy Knoor recently, and one was regarding Norris. Knoor seemed to think that Norris calls a good game, has a very good arm, but still has problems repeating his body / glove positioning behind the plate. Sue_D made the same observation over the summer, IIRC.

      1. That’s correct, BinM. By no means is it “tick-tock time” for Norris, but it could be a make-or-break year for him to stay behind the plate. But I wouldn’t give up on a 22-year-old so damn quick. Don’t forget his bum wrist was his catching hand.

        Because it’s a great line, let me repeat it: A catcher that can hit is like a model that can cook!

  6. Rich – It seems to me that the continual education of the defensive position of catcher takes time. If Norris can impact quicker at 1st base there is a BIG GAPING hole there. This is kind of like what the team did with Bryce Harper making the quickest path to the Majors. Ramos is under team control for 6 years.

    On Norris, it is tick-tock time….and the clock is ticking.

    1. Next year, though, we are committed to Ramos and Pudge at catcher and hopefully Flores. Ramos is under control for awhile. Flores doesn’t become a free agent until 2014. Keep him at catcher this year, and see what shakes down with the big club. If there’s a lock down block on him (and that would be Flores bouncing back, I don’t see Ramos being able to make enough contact to be an elite starter), then you start giving him some opportunities at first base in instructionals maybe next year with the intention of him playing some first base in AAA to maximize at bats, especially against NL foes. We need to see Norris stay healthy this year first, too.

  7. I think the most interesting thing about this list is the lack of prospects who will be loosing their eligibilty after this season. Espinosa and Ramos will loose their prospect status and maybe Kimball other than that everyone should still be eligible for the list next year. This is evidence of the growing amount of talent in our system. Next year will most likely be the first year since 2004 that our number 1 prospect will not change. It is also likely that our top 2 prospects won’t change and who knows how long it has been since our top 2 prospects haven’t changed from year to year. This is a great sign of the growth of our system I honestly think after next years draft(three picks in the first round 🙂 ) we will have a top 10 or 12 system in Baseball.

    1. Agreed. It is nice that we probably won’t be forced to ‘graduate’ our top five every year and see the other half of the top ten flame out because they weren’t really ballplayers anyway.

  8. It’s a good list. But what I really like is that after these ten, there are other legitimate prospects–a new situation for the Nats. Morris, Ray, Hague, Brown, Rodriquez just to mention a few. And there’s still possibilities in Milone, Meyers, Rosenbaum (the light throwers), and one of my personal favorites, Kobernus. Then there’s the outfielders, Ramirez, Burgess, and Hood. Our cups are beginning to overflow. OK, I got a bit carried away there..

    1. Why is Kobernus one of your favorites? That man has been made of glass. Hope he bounces back next year. Not a criticism. Just curious what about him makes you somebody you like.

  9. If Ramos proves to be as good as projected as a catcher then Rizzo needs to look at other options for Norris. I don’t see Pudge coming back in 2012 so it should be Ramos and JFlores.

  10. FWIW, Corey Brown ranked #6 by Hagen (HardballTImes) & #10 by Goldstein (Basball Prospectus) for 2010; still digging for Sickels/KLaw/Fitt comps.

    Also, Henry Rodriguez was #11 (B-) from Sickels in 2009 (OAK).

  11. Granted, I don’t know much about Kobernus, souldrummer–it’s just that I like what I’ve read about his tool set and his attitude. Is he really that fragile or just been unlucky lately. I don’t know his history in that regard.

    1. Only got 343PAs this year and managed just a .662OPS as a college guy who is behind for his age at this point. He’s probably got to repeat Hagerstown heading into his age 22 season and has now been passed by Sanchez and Hague. Certainly not dead as a prospect but he’s not Top 20 at this point, either. I know I was always asking about Bloxom and Kobernus to the Hagerstown beat guy and their injuries. Bloxom especially had some interest for me and was Hagerstown’s best hitter for most of the season until he got hurt.

  12. Baseball America had Eury Perez as best defensive outfielder? That’s more of an indictment on our system than praise of outstanding defense, right? I’ve though he has defensive tools but is still trying to master center.

    1. I have a hard time believing that Perez is better all-around defensive OF than Chris Curran — that kid can fly, takes tremendous angles, and has an arm that’s just a tick below Burgess in terms of both strength and accuracy. I’ll have more to say in about six months, but my gut says Perez got the recognition a la Palmeiro or Jeter.

  13. Yes Curran does look pretty good. I think it may have to do with JayB complaining about the dearth of major International signings. ~laughing~ Thus Perez and Maya.

  14. Brown was asked about in the BA chat but, as I suspected, he was acquired after their internal deadline for this handbook and magazine. BA’s Aaron Fitt had the following to say about the “Perez vs. Brown” question:

    He’s a quality athlete with a nice all-around tools package and a pretty good approach. At this point, I’d probably give him a slight edge over Eury Perez, who still comes with question marks about his bat long-term[sic].

  15. Curran will be hard-pressed to ever get any love from the scouts & minor-league writers because he’s a “smurf” in CF (5’9″, 170 soaking wet). He makes the most of his abilities, but much like Lombardozzi, doesn’t have a “wow” factor or tool & gets overlooked.

  16. I’m missing something here. Curran? Just checked his offensive stats in A ball. BA 236, 1 HR, 10 stolen bases. Huh?

    1. Jackson, that was my point: Curran is not an offensive force, but you should see him play in the field. If you’re going to name the best defensive OF, then an exception like him ought to be possible. Having really cut my teeth on the indy game, I can tell you about another exception: Jason Startari. Now you’ll look at his stats from his 2003 season and go “meh” but if you’d seen him play, you’d have noticed this undersized 3B that just snagged everything with was within three steps of him, for a .977 fielding percentage. Yes, that’s a flawed metric but to compare apples to apples, that rate would have been in the top three of the NL this past season.

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