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.