Three Nats Make The Sickels Top 50 Batters For 2011

Harper is one, but who are the other two?

Yes, it’s been slow on the prospect news front. It’s less than a month until pitchers and catchers report to Viera, but that’s little consolation to the seamheads. As the headline says, John Sickels has released his Top 50 batters and Top 50 pitchers to the folks that have pre-ordered his annual book.

Coming in at #1 is Bryce Harper — not much of a shock, with Philadelphia farmhand Domonic Brown coming in at #2. Harper is one of seven Grade A batters this year, with four others getting the A- grade. That’s 11 out of roughly 2500 hitters, so it gives you an idea as to how tough a grader he is… and what that means.

Admittedly, there’s a bit of drop to the next slot. At #25 is Derek Norris, who gets a B+ from Sickels, which is the same grade as last year. Clearly Sickels believes that the AFL Norris is the one we’ll see in ’11 and likes the progress he made on defense this year. Norris is the lowest-ranked B+ grade, behind Cleveland’s Jason Kipnis and ahead of Seattle’s Nick Franklin.

The final National is Danny Espinosa, coming in at #38 with a Grade B score, also the same grade as last year. Sickels was one of the few that believed in Espinosa coming into the 2010; most were like I was — suspicious about his power breakout in ’09. Espinosa comes in ahead of the Dodgers’ Jerry Sands and behind Minnesota’s Miguel Sano.

Suffice it to say, there were no Nationals pitchers in the Top 50. This is not a shock since it appears that Sickels prefers to wait a year before grading anybody. If I’m wrong about that, then it could also mean that Sammy Solis earned a B- grade, as all 50 pitchers were Grade B or higher (Jeremy Hellickson was #1 of six Grade A’s; there were four A- pitchers). I’ll have more to report once the book comes in.

In response to the first comment, here’s a breakdown of the number of Sickels’s Top 50 Batters & Pitchers by organization:


Zero Florida, Houston, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Arizona
One Baltimore, Boston, White Sox, Cubs, Detroit, Mets, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Texas
Two Atlanta, Cleveland, Colorado, Angels, Minnesota, Yankees, Philadelphia, San Diego, Seattle, Toronto
Three Dodgers, Oakland, Tampa Bay, Washington
Four Cincinnati
Five Kansas City


Zero Florida, Milwaukee, Oakland, San Francisco, Washington
One Arizona, Baltimore, Boston, Cubs, White Sox, Cincinnati, Colorado, Houston, Mets, Seattle, St. Louis
Two Cleveland, Detroit, Dodgers, Minnesota, Yankees, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Diego, Texas
Three Angels, Toronto
Four Atlanta
Five Tampa Bay
Six Kansas City

I can double-crunch it, but I’ll save both myself and everyone else the time: KC has the most Top 50 picks with 11 out of 100, followed by Tampa Bay with seven and then Atlanta with six. Florida and Milwaukee have no Top-50 prospects while Arizona, Houston, San Francisco, and St. Louis have just one. Washington is one of seven organizations with three Top-50 picks, which is about what you’d expect for a club that will probably rank in the middle third on most lists.

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.

9 thoughts on “Three Nats Make The Sickels Top 50 Batters For 2011”

  1. Sue, how does three in the top fifty compare to other teams. I kind of thought Ramos might rank up there too. I believe he’ll be one of the top catchers in the NL sooner than later.
    Just think, it wasn’t very long ago when the Nats had no one in that group.

  2. Hmmm, I should think Corey Brown is at least still ranked a B- by Sickels? But I’ve found no evidence indicating that. He appears to be better than Burgess but Burgess is younger.

    1. peric: The last numbers I saw on Brown & Rodriguez was in Sickels’ mid-season OAK update, where he had Brown at #12 (C+), and Rodriguez at #11 (B-). I think they both got missed this year, having been traded between the time of his WSH & OAK 2010 on-line ranking.
      Hopefully, the book will clear that up.

  3. Jeremy Hellickson was #1 of six Grade A’s

    Lefty Matt Moore also has a an “A” grade.

    And the Rays now have 9 picks in the first and supplementary rounds and 2 in the 2nd round.

    And LHP Jake McGee and RHP Chris Archer come in at B+.

    For a team with a 19 million dollar payroll they look awfully good to me?

  4. Interesting that no Nationals pitchers listed in the top-50; Maybe Solis & Cole will make the ‘sleeper’ list, since they both received B’s in the November ranking.

  5. Like Rizzo and many others here Sickels et al appear to like the power pitchers who can make bats miss. Isn’t Peacock an outside possibility as a sleeper? If he gets control of his stuff as a starter … as Sue keeps hoping. Otherwise, its the bullpen for him I suppose.

    Syracuse will have a very interesting rotation if it includes Maya, Barthmaier, Tatusko, and perhaps Detwiler? Then if Solis manages to reach SYR before the end of summer … that could be a pretty solid AAA rotation of prospects?

    Barthmaier had a nerve problem in his elbow a year and a half before he went down with Tommy John’s. I am hoping he didn’t have an issue associated with lack of desire (as some presupposed in 2008 after the first elbow problem) but rather a physical/medical one. The guy gave up a heady football scholarship to pitch for the Astro’s. He was competitive in Potomac last year during their playoff drive. I would add him to any watch list if he is still considered a prospect. After suffering the initial elbow injury in 2007 he threw a 91-93 MPH fastball, that touched 96, and an 85 MPH hard breaking ball that rated as one of the best breaking pitches in the International League in 2008. It is probably hoped he will continue to develop his off speed repertoire in AAA Syracuse. He likely has that competitive makeup that Holder, Storen, and JD Martin have. I have to admit if I am Rizzo this would be the “sleeper” that would be closest to the majors other than Yunesky Maya. Yes, I know, its hoping for the resurrection of a Pirate reject (although they didn’t wait to see what he looked like after the TJ) but he looks like a far better bet than Wang. And he doesn’t profile as a AAAA soft tossing fodder for the farms that the Nats, in the past collected, and used for pitching depth.

    Brad Peacock had a complete game and a shutout. In Potomac he struck out 118 against 25 walks in 103 innings. But he ended with 30 against 22 in Harrisburg in 38 innings. That isn’t good. If he starts in Harrisburg and improves his control he might make Syracuse as well. He pitched around 140 innings as a starter last year with 27 starts. It would look better if he were closer to 160-170 innings after 27 starts. Still not bad for a 41st round pick?

    Maya throws a sinking fastball 88-92 mph that kind of matches the Cliff Lee/healthy Wang profile in terms of velocity and sinkerball. Then, like Livo and El Duque, he throws the kitchen sink: slider, multi-speed curves, splitter and change-up. He changes arm angles and speeds based on the situation and the hitter’s response. His curveball varies from 65-70 mph. He continues to profile as a pitcher that is aggressive and pounds the strike zone with good command on the corners.

    Peacock is 22, Barthmaier 27, Maya 29. Unless Frias steps up (as he did at the end of last year) and Solis progresses rapidly these I think are the Nats top of the rotation possibilities behind Zimmermann, Detwiler, and Mock.

  6. Add Tom Gorzelanny to that list. Projects into the #2 slot if he manages to reduce walks and fly balls.

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