Keith Law Ranks Nats’ Top 10 Prospects

Three Nats make the overall Top 100

As posted earlier, Keith Law has released his Top 10 Prospect List for each of the 30 MLB teams as well as his Top 100 prospects overall. Three Nationals made the latter. Most of you will guess that Bryce Harper (#2) and Derek Norris (#33) made the cut, but the surprise? Wilson Ramos (#95) made it over Danny Espinosa.

Without further ado, here’s the Law list:

  1. Bryce Harper, RF
  2. Derek Norris, C
  3. Wilson Ramos, C
  4. A.J. Cole, RHP
  5. Danny Espinosa, SS
  6. Sammy Solis, LHP
  7. Eury Perez, OF
  8. Robbie Ray, LHP
  9. Chris Marrero, 1B
  10. Destin Hood, OF

The inclusion of Ramos appears to be a function of Law’s belief that the number of legitimate catching prospects is scarce. He cites his throwing arm and bat (for average) as above-average tools but questions how much Ivan Rodriguez will be able to help him in the art of game-calling.

Law believes that Norris’s defensive reputation is undeserved, believing that he can work himself into becoming an average receiver while citing his above-average arm and adequate release (Derek does have a habit of fumbling sometimes). Naturally, he sides with the obvious assessment that Norris’s hitting skills will return 2009 form and his power will continue to develop.

Finally, while there’s not much to say about Bryce Harper that hasn’t already been said, it’s interesting to note that Law believes that CF is not necessarily out of the question, if for no other reason than it eliminates the need for him to learn the angles necessary to play RF. Like most, Law believes his ascent will be timed by how quickly he adjusts to better breaking pitches.

The Pipeline To The Majors

Some thoughts on what it takes to build a successful farm

There was another great article that was put up yesterday on ESPN Insider (yes, it’s a paid subscription, but well worth it) written by’s Jason Churchill.

As the pic suggests, it’s about the minor leagues and what it takes to build a good farm system, a.k.a. the talent pipeline. But it also bears repeating that there is no one right way to do this. Tampa Bay (#2 this year per Keith Law), for example, leans heavily on the U.S. for its talent; Texas (#1 last year) has been aggressive with international signings and/or trading for international talent.

As we’ve already seen in the comments from yesterday, there are philosophical debates as to when and how high to draft high schoolers… and there are teams that have had success (Kansas City) and teams that have not (*ahem*).

Among the highlights from Churchill’s article…

Recycling Talent — Which means developing players for both the parent club and trade fodder. It’s common for folks to remark about how it’s tough for a third baseman with Zimmerman at the top. But that also handicaps Washington if he were to get hurt, decline, or demand a trade. Having the next Ryan Zimmerman ready gives the team options that right now it doesn’t have.

Balancing The Draft Against The International Market — This is a bit of a third rail for Nationals fans, but Churchill points out that while the domestic draft is considered safer, some teams have been successful leaning heavily on IFAs. His overall point? Any team that doesn’t go outside the U.S. is at a disadvantage. My personal opinion is that folks obsess too much about the high-dollar IFAs, when the evidence is ample that spreading that money out over more players is a better value play. Doesn’t mean I’m right, of course.

Spending — Teams that go over slot tend to get better talent. In a related story, being tall is conducive to playing basketball. But Churchill points out how a “rich” team like the Mets (#26 per Law), which has not been a big spender, is languishing while a team like Cincinnati (#8) has been both spending and getting results. Unfortunately, there are teams like Philadelphia (#5) that seem be able to spend conservatively and still get good results, which contradicts Churchill, too.

The Right Kind Of Depth — I’m going to quote Churchill directly: “The kind of depth that matters means having a true abundance of a particular position or skill, such as starting pitching. Having a good player is nice, being able to spare one is better.” (The italics are mine because it echoes my sentiments exactly). The whiners Folks wrung their hands over not being able to trade for Zach Greinke and Matt Garza, but that’s primarily because such a move would have been almost literally betting the farm (which is basically what Milwaukee did, coming in at #30 per Law and not having a single Top-100 prospect).

Today might just be another multiple-post day, but I thought I’d give the snowbound folks a little some to read and discuss while we wait for the thaw.

Keith Law Ranks The Washington Farm In The Top 20

Up from #23 last year…

As the pic suggests, that would be #19, like Paul Hardcastle’s sole U.S. hit single. Maybe that’s not something to get all that excited about… until you consider that just two years ago Mr. Law had Washington at #29 and last year, it was #23.

Law describes this as “a ton of progress since Mike Rizzo took over as GM,” pointing to spending beyond the top pick, as our guest columnist Marcus Wyche wrote yesterday. My point in dedicating a post to this is that the folks that believe Law “has it in for the Nats” — much like the Lieutenant Dans — need to reconsider their prejudices.

Tomorrow, Law ranks his Top 100 prospects, which may get some play here tomorrow. Bryce Harper getting ranked #3 by for its Top 50 didn’t because quite frankly it felt like I’d done a post like that recently.

Baseball America Top 20 Shutout Continues

Another BA Top 20 League Prospects sans Nats is released

After three league Top 20s — GCL, NY-Penn, South Atlantic — by Baseball America for the 2010 campaign, the Nationals have yet to have a player recognized. Given its slavish devotion to youth, this is hardly a surprise. But perhaps more telling is the answer that was given in the Top 20 chat regarding J.P. Ramirez:

Bill (Raleigh): JP Ramirez, suspect or prospect?

Bill Ballew (BA): Ramirez is an interesting guy. While his defense improved this year, he continued to display solid bat speed and power at the plate. He expands the strike zone at times, but his strikeouts were relatively low for a guy who looks to put the ball in play. He received a decent bonus as a mid-round pick and simply needs to play the game at this point in order to reach his potential, whatever that might be. In my opinion, he may have been the top prospect at Hagerstown, even though he remains somewhat raw.

Perhaps this is the nature of the beast — a “live” chat — but nothing in that answer suggests that he’s actually seen Ramirez play himself and some of it has been contradicted by our eyes on the field. Something to keep in mind before getting to wrapped up in the lack of mentions.