Baseball America Ranks The Top 10 Nats Prospects

For most of you, this list is hardly new. But the blogging protocol is that I needed Baseball America to officially release its list so I could link to it before mocking discussing it. Without further ado, here’s the list from the home office in Durham, North Carolina…

1. Bryce Harper, OF
2. Anthony Rendon, 3B
3. Brad Peacock, RHP
4. A.J. Cole, RHP
5. Brian Goodwin, OF
6. Alex Meyer, RHP
7. Matt Purke, LHP
8. Sammy Solis, LHP
9. Derek Norris, C
10. Steve Lombardozzi, 2B/SS

So what’s with the picture, Sue? Glad you asked. I’ve put the prospects with zero regular-season pro experience in italics. As the old expression goes, when you’re girl watching the prettiest one is the last one to walk by. It’s a crude metaphor, but we all know there’s some commonality here with ranking prospects.

Of course, this is not to say that none of these four isn’t a prospect. It’s just my personal conviction that placing a guy with no professional track record over a guy that does doesn’t pass the sniff test — especially when two of these four have injury issues, one of which we’ve been tracking from afar in the Arizona Fall League. For example: Which Matt Purke is the real Matt Purke — the one that’s turned in two scoreless innings in his last two outings, or the one that threw in-game BP the two appearances prior?

Maybe that’s just a pet peeve, so forgive me for seizing the chance to rant… I’m not as diplomatic as others have been on the subject.

Like last year, the free article focuses a lot on how the Nationals have spent freely and heavily the past three drafts. Two of last year’s Top 10 “graduated” — Danny Espinosa and Wilson Ramos — while a third went down with a season-ending injury (Cole Kimball). Chris Marrero dropped off the list while Cole, Harper, Norris, Peacock and Solis are repeats from last year.

What’s perhaps more interesting is the “best in the system” lists. Harper remains the best power hitter and best outfield arm, but lost the title of “Best Athlete” to Michael Taylor, who was also named as the best defensive outfielder (disagree, but no argument over naming Steve Lombardozzi as the best defensive infielder). Anthony Rendon with his undefined pro average (zero divided by zero) is the best hitter for average and those zero walks drawn have earned him the system’s best strike-zone discipline, topping Derek Norris’s .403 career OBP in 1,815 more plate appearances (OK, so maybe I’m still ranting). Brad Peacock’s curve was named the best in the system while Alex Meyer and A.J. Cole were said to possess the best slider and heater, respectively.

Among the non-Top 10 tools, Eury Perez retains the title of fastest baserunner (Kobernus is close, but Perez has that proverbial fifth gear). Tommy Milone retains the title of best control and takes the best changeup honors away from Josh Wilkie (which might explain why he’s demoted his bender to a show-me pitch). Deion Williams has the strongest infield arm while Sandy Leon was named the best defensive catcher (agreed).

Lastly, here’s where BA thinks these guys will start the 2012 season:
MLB or AAA – Lombardozzi
AAA – Norris
AA or AAA – Harper
AA – Solis
High-A – Cole, Purke
Low-A – Goodwin, Meyer

BA took no guess at Rendon, but my rule of thumb is to take whatever level you think is about right, and drop back one: In this case, Hagerstown instead of Potomac. If he’s as good as advertised, I’ll get to see him in June or July, presuming that field conditions won’t play a factor in promotions as they allegedly didn’t this past summer.

Byron Kerr will be running a series based on his conversations with Aaron Fitt of Baseball America (author of the article linked in the first graf), beginning with Lombardozzi. I encourage you to take a look, as that’s where we learned that the Nigel Tufnel is Destin Hood.

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 “Baseball America Ranks The Top 10 Nats Prospects”

  1. Baseball America is always biased in favor of youth when ranking players. Thus it is the “logical” result to rank players who are so new that they haven’t played even an inning of pro ball. Next we hear that 12 year olds are really prospects based on projection!

    1. Exactly – I’ve started calling it ‘New, shiny thing syndrome’. If enough hype is placed behind drafted players, they’ll displace players who actually have a professional track record, even when a player has posted consistent (or even improved) results.

  2. What? No Brad Meyers?

    Perhaps the rule of thumb ought to be to look at the top 20-25 and allow for a large statistical variance?

    Even Rizzo keeps ‘hinting’ that there are at least 2-3 pitchers he believes could pitch in the majors today. With Davey Johnson at the helm they might just get that chance earlier and not later … and I assume Brad Meyers is at the top of that list.

    Unless he gets his velocity back Yuneksy Maya likely drops … all the way off … is he even still a prospect?

  3. At least we can take solace that we now actually have a legitimate Top 10 not containing the likes of Kory Casto and Glenn Gibson anymore. In fact, injuries (or trades) would be the only reason all 10 shouldn’t eventually be contributors to the big league club. when the likes of Robbie Ray and Tyler Moore are not good enough to make the cut, that’s actually exciting. 🙂

  4. Okay, I mentioned this once before when I saw this list. It’s fun to speculate, no matter how impossible the task. I had eight of these ten in my top ten. Had Ray and Marrero instead of Lombardozzi and Goodwin.
    My next five were the latter two plus Milone, Hood, and either Turnbull or Rosenbaum.
    Any of you care to chip in on the next five? What about you,Sue?

    1. Off the top of my head… “For The Weekend”, Sanchez, Taylor, Burns, and Demny if you go the BA route, Kobernus, Moore and Meyers if you value guys that can fulfill a role sooner.

  5. Sue, out of curiosity, who do you think is the best defensive outfielder prospect wise?

    I was quite shocked that Robbie Ray and Destin Hood aren’t on the list and Meyer and Goodwin are. Ray pitched nearly as well, if not better than Cole and is a lefty. Hood had a very solid season and like you said Goodwin hasn’t had a single at bat.

    1. In terms of the guys that might have enough offense to get there, and that I’ve seen more than once or twice, Eury Perez. Minus the bat, Chris Curran.

  6. I still see Alex Meyer as a future closer/setup guy. He is a 2 pitch guy fastball/slider which works great with his velo in college it won’t work in the MLB. If he can’t perfect a changeup into a ‘plus’ pitch, he will be a reliever.

    The Nats screwed around way to long with Garrett Mock trying to make him into a starter. The jury is still out on what Ross Detwiler really is………

    1. I know that BA loves Rendon, loves Purke and loved our draft. These guys may not have a pro history to go on, but they’re also not high schoolers who have spent the last 3 seasons racking up 12 k/9 rates against weakling 15yr olds from rural schools with no baseball pedigree. Both Rendon and Purke played for big-time baseball schools and have many many college games for scouts to have arrived at their decision.

      Maybe it is too forward looking. But I’m not exactly arguing for the next tier of players (guys like Hood, Marrero, Kobernus, Walters, etc) to be named above them…

      1. Agreed on that last sentence, and you’re right: I didn’t raise a fuss last year when Cole and Harper made the list.

      2. Agreed. It’s not that much of a stretch to say that a healthy Rendon would be at the top of any list that didn’t already contain Harper or Mike Trout.

        I take Sue’s point more to heart when it comes to pitchers, especially H.S. ones. There it really is pure speculation and shiny new toy syndrome.

    2. I think they should be ranked separately, but I’m also on record as being ambivalent about ranking prospects, too. That’s why I have a watchlist instead of a Top 20 or 25 or 6 to 4.

  7. Since there are 25 guys on a team. I’d love to see this Top 10 expanded to a Top 25. There are so many players that didn’t make the cut like Hood, Taylor, Ray, Brad Meyers, Eury Perez, Chris Marrero, etc.

    1. I did Top 10s for the arms and bats (i.e. pitchers and position players) last year after polling the readership, and I anticipate doing the same this year. But I’d like to wait until the AFL is finished to even out the workload — seems like everything is happening a week or two earlier than last year, some of which I think has to do with the Nats improving in the eyes of the prospect gurus. Kevin Goldstein, for example, does his Top 11s in draft order.

  8. Because BA is so speculative, these are funny to look back on, the one from four years ago is one of my favs: Gibson, JZimm & Willems were 3 of the Vermont Vunderkids, and Smoker & McGeary had less than 5 IP between them. But what great ceilings they all had!

    1. Chris Marrero, of/1b
    2. Ross Detwiler, lhp
    3. Collin Balester, rhp
    4. Michael Burgess, of
    5. Jack McGeary, lhp
    6. Josh Smoker, lhp
    7. Jordan Zimmerman, rhp
    8. Glenn Gibson, lhp
    9. Justin Maxwell, of
    10. Colton Willems, rhp

    PROJECTED 2011
    Catcher Jesus Flores
    First Base Chris Marrero
    Second Base Stephen King
    Third Base Ryan Zimmerman
    Shortstop Ian Desmond
    Left Field *Wily Mo Pena*
    Center Field Justin Maxwell
    Right Field Michael Burgess
    No. 1 Starter Ross Detwiler
    No. 2 Starter Collin Balester
    No. 3 Starter Jack McGeary
    No. 4 Starter Josh Smoker
    No. 5 Starter Jordan Zimmerman
    Closer Chad Cordero

    1. And this is proof that any long-term projection is simply spit in the wind. Six players either set back (Flores, Marrero, McGeary, Smoker) or cast aside (Cordero, Maxwell) due to injury, two (Burgess, Pena) either traded or released, and one (King) who has ‘flatlined’ in the mid-minors. 14 players projected, and only three have established themselves (Desmond, RZim, and JZimm), but seven others are still in the system (Balester, Detwiler, Flores, King, Marrero, McGeary, Smoker).

      Bad prediction, but a decent survival rate overall.

  9. Love to hear what you guys all think about who gets the six or seven 40 man spots between now and when they have to finalize the list on 11/23.


    1. Prospects who’ll need to be protected from exposure the Rule-V draft (Norris, Moore, maybe Meyers, Smoker & Solano). That would take the roster to 35, leaving room for re-signs & trades/FA signings.

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