Top 10 Washington Nationals Prospects
Washington Nationals top 10 prospect outfielder Eury Perez
The Washington Nationals have built one of the better minor league systems in baseball. Through the hard work of General Manager Mike Rizzo, Washington has gone from being basically an expansion team with no players of value to one stocked with talent other teams are willing to trade for.
Granted, the Nationals have had some luck in that players such as pitcher Stephen Strasburg and outfielder Bryce Harper happened to be available when they had the number one pick. However, Washington had to make the right picks and did.
Going into 2013, who are the Nationals top 10 prospects? Who are the players down on the farm that Washington and those who follow pro baseball feel have the best chance of developing into major league talents? As with the draft and signing free agents, no one really knows who will pan out and who won't. Everyone makes their assumptions based on the potential that a player shows.
Of course, judging a player's potential has gotten a lot of general managers fired. Even the greatest baseball minds miss from time to time. Former manager Sparky Anderson is in the hall of fame, but he is also famous for saying that Torey Lovullo was the finest prospect he had seen since Johnny Bench. Of course, Bench is a hall of famer and Lovullo never lived up to Anderson's assessment.
So, ranking the Nationals prospects is nothing more than one man's opinion. Some of the players mentioned have already made it to the show for a brief period. Others are just starting out. None are guaranteed locks to make it to the majors and play for a long time.
With that said, here are the top 10 prospects in the Nationals organization as of today. Some of them may be gone by April.
10. Lucas Giolito: Right-handed pitcher
The 6-6 230 pound Giolito was drafted number one by the Nationals in 2012. This, despite the fact that he did not pitch his senior year of high school at Studio City Harvard-Westlake, because of a sprained URL. Giolito only made one appearance in the Gulf Coast League last season before having Tommy John surgery performed in August.
Of course now that Giolito has gone under the knife, he will be subject to innings counts and shut downs just as current Washington starters Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmerman were when they came back from Tommy John surgery.
9. Matt Purke: Left-handed pitcher
The Nationals took a chance on Purke by drafting him in the third round of the 2009 draft. Purke was considered a top prospect until he injured his shoulder in college at TCU. He is known for having a good fastball, change up and slider.
Purke only appeared in two games in 2012 before shoulder tendonitis shut him down for the year.
8. Robbie Ray: Left-handed pitcher
Ray was drafted in the 12th round in 2010. The 20 year old lefty pitched over 100 innings for the first time last season. At Class A Potomac, Ray struggled finishing with a record of 4-12 and an ERA of 6.56.
However, the Nationals feel his fastball, slider and change up are good enough that once he harnesses them, Ray will be on his way.
7. Destin Hood: Outfield
Hood was the Nationals second round pick in 2008. This means he is a case of a player Washington drafted who has not panned out so far.
Hood spent 2012 battling injuries to his groin and wrist. Playing for Harrisburg, he finished the season batting .245. If he can stay healthy, Hood is projected to be a 20/20 man and the Nationals hope to use him as a corner outfielder in the future.
6. Brian Taylor: Outfield
Taylor was drafted as a shortstop in the sixth round back in 2009. He has been moved to center field and may get a chance to fight for the Nationals job when Denard Span's contract runs out.
Taylor has above average speed and good power. He moved up to advanced Class A Potomac in 2012 and batted .242 with 3 home runs, 37 runs batted in and 19 stolen bases.
If Taylor can show more discipline at the plate, his numbers and chances of advancing, will improve.
5. Chris Marrero: First Base
Marrero may be the reason why Washington has hedged on signing free agent first baseman Adam LaRoche to a three year contract. The Nationals have planned on Marrero being their every day first baseman since drafting him with a first round pick in 2006, but injuries have slowed him down.
After being called up at the end of 2011 and batting .248 in the majors, Marrero suffered a hamstring injury last season which cost him a chance to stay on the 25 man roster. After coming back, he batted .244 in 37 games at Triple A Syracuse.
4. Eury Perez: Outfield
The Nationals are really excited about Perez. He was a September call up after batting .314 in three minor league stops. Perez would bring speed to Washington that only Bryce Harper and Denard Span possess.
A free agent signing in 2007, Perez stole 51 bases in 2012. He is a line drive hitter who just needs to learn more plate discipline in order to become a consistent every day player.
3. Sandy Leon: Catcher
Leon had the misfortune of being injured in his first major league game last May. A sprained ankle kept him on injured reserved until July. Leon was sent back to the minors when Washington traded for Oakland Athletics catcher Kurt Suzuki.
When he did play, the switch hitting Leon batted .322 in the minors and .267 with the Nationals. He threw out 46 percent of runners attempting to steal on him.
The problem that Leon faces is the logjam Washington has at catcher. With Suzuki, Wilson Ramos and Jesus Flores ahead of him, Leon may have to go elsewhere to become a starter.
2. Brian Goodwin: Outfield
The Nationals third first round pick in 2011, Goodwin is another prospect that may be battling for the center fielder's job. He started 2012 at Hagerstown before being promoted to Harrisburg.
The left handed swinging Goodwin has above average power and speed as he batted .280 with 14 home runs and 52 RBI. As a first round pick, Goodwin will be given every chance to succeed.
1. Anthony Rendon: Third Base
Rendon is considered the Nationals top prospect by just about everyone in baseball. After a stellar college career at Rice, he was considered the top prospect going into the 2011 draft before an ankle injury ended his junior season.
The injury did not stop Washington from taking Rendon with the sixth overall pick. Though many questioned the Nationals drafting a third baseman when they already had an All-Star in Ryan Zimmerman, Washington decided to go for whom they felt was the best player available.
In his first season with the Nationals organization Rendon batted .233 at four minor league stops. He began to show his potential by batting .338 in the Arizona Fall League.
With Zimmerman at third, it will be interesting to see how Washington handles Rendon. If he pans out, the Nationals may use him or Zimmerman as trade bait down the road.