Sickels Releases Top 20 Nats Prospects List

Late yesterday afternoon, John Sickels released his Top 20 list for the Washington Nationals. Here’s a look at how it breaks down by grade:

B+ Anthony Rendon, Brian Goodwin
B Lucas Giolito, Matt Skole
B- Nathan Karns, Christian Garcia, Sammy Solis
C+ Matt Purke, Eury Perez, Tony Renda, Zach Walters, Destin Hood, Steven Souza, Brett Mooneyham, Estarlin Martinez, Carlos Rivero
C Sandy Leon, Michael Taylor, Brandon Miller, Corey Brown

Left to right is by number, i.e. Rendon is #1, Goodwin is #2… Miller is #19, Brown is #20. In bold are last year’s Top 20 guys, red = they ranked higher, blue = they ranked lower. Italics = played their way onto the list.

The good news and bad news are both two-fold. For the second straight year, eight guys played their way onto the list… and nine of the 20 are C+ guys, meaning they’re a notch above the average so-called prospect (remember Sickels is a tough grader). Unfortunately, after having a baker’s dozen guys rated B- or better last year it’s just seven this year… and five of the eight repeats fell in their letter grade.

I think it’s important to repeat what Sickels wrote about the Nationals system as a whole:

The system has thinned out massively, but that’s understandable: much of the major league roster is home-grown, and farm system products were important in key trades. So while the current list is not impressive, it should not be taken as an indictment of the farm system…

As I did a year ago, here are few of my thoughts on the list…

…While perhaps true, Sickels may have done Rendon no favors by suggesting he can play 2B because now the drumbeat for Rendon to replace Espinosa will only get louder.

…Like Baseball America, I’m intrigued as to why Solis gets a pass despite having had surgery and not mastering A+ yet. Sickels seems to talking out of both sides of his mouth (and I know how hard that is to do, because I’ve caught myself doing many a time) by dropping Giolito from an A grade to a B grade.

…Thankfully, Sickels is on board with the idea that Skole should be switched to 1B and the jump from a C to a B grade is quite the vote of confidence.

…Interesting to see Hood and Souza ranked back-to-back because Hood’s 2011 was much like Souza’s 2012. The difference, of course, is that they’re roughly a year apart in age (23 vs. 24) but Sickels seems to hinting that Souza could be a sleeper.

…Other sleepers: Erik Davis and Carlos Rivero, though the wording in his blurb (“Could be nice utility guy for someone.”) seems to suggest he’ll be back in Syracuse and groomed as trade bait.

…The list of “others,” akin to an honorable mention, effectively mirrors the 2013 Watchlist with the exceptions of Kylin Turnbull, Robert Benincasa, and Derek Self. But that also includes “old guys” like Davis and Pat Lehman, along with mostly-discussed-just-here guys like Neil Holland and Christian Meza.

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.

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

  1. Always interesting to read such lists. But without the assumed metrics, the list takes on a subjective format.

    Christian Garcia will probably be making the 25 man before the 5 guys listed ahead of him. Lucas Giolito hasn’t even pitched. professionally to any significant degree, so what’s the point of including him at this point??

    1. Unfortunately, there’s a certain amount of catering to your audience that has to be done. Giolito was the team’s #1 draft pick and people want to know about him and where he ranks based on his current ceiling. In terms of ranking, it was probably worse last year when none of the top five draft picks played professionally (also a very strong reason why Turnbull still gets play despite subpar numbers thus far).

  2. Only a Michael Morse trade would change this list before June, or the return of Danny Rosenbaum and Jeff Kobernus. Have they been rated yet with their new teams?


    1. Morse won’t bring back anything that will affect a change other than more depth Half Street. He only has a year left and teams aren’t desperate yet … its not like a traded in the midst of a pennant race now is it? Right now Morse only returns depth.

      Now a Tyler Moore + Stephen Lombardozzi trade? That might bring a prospect or two back. Both are ranked as starters. Both are under team control for a good long time.

  3. I thought that Rivero was out of options now. Did that “Could be nice utility guy for someone.” blurb just make it even harder to get him through waivers?

    1. Depends on how he does during spring training, of course, who he might be competing with for a bench spot, and what team might need him. But I also don’t think, after his strong 2012 campaign, that he’s an unknown entity. Remember, Sickels is basing his rankings on his statistical analysis combined with what he hears from scouts — the same scouts that serve the other 29 teams.

    2. Keep in mind that they couldn’t keep DeRosa on the field last year. Rivero’s main competition will be Chris Marerro who can only play one position and pinch hit. Rivero could play shortstop and second base if needed. And Marerro still has options. So Rivero has to hit in spring training and prove he can play more than third base at the major league level adequately and he just might get the job.

      1. I just dont see a spot on the Nats for Rivero with Lombardozzi, Moore, Bernadina, Tracy, and Suzuki/Ramos on the bench.

  4. Count yourself a longtime regular both here and the old NFA if it seems Souza’s been with the organization at least 10 years.
    Very much looking forward to seeing both Hood & Taylor in 2013. They’re both still young.

    1. I would consider it a make or brake year for both Hood and Taylor along with a lot of other guys(Souza, Ray, etc)

      Next year should be interesting

      1. I’ll defer to Luke & the Potomac regulars on Souza, he’s had a lot of AB’s there.
        With Taylor & Hood’s ages, I think they’ve got a couple more years to figure it out. I mean, Hood’s already in Harrisburg.
        Remember when everyone said Tyler Moore had become too old.

        1. No just pushing the envelope because Marerro was younger and in AAA. Skole looks like he may have the same problem.

        2. This is a big year for Hood in AA. If he progresses then he’s a prospect if he doesn’t do better than last year he will flame out.

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