MLB Farm System Rankings: #7 Washington Nationals


I thought about how I would lead into this, the ranking of teams’ farm systems, but don’t have a good way to do it, other than say it is something that I like to tackle every year. Obviously, in the grand scheme of things my rankings aren’t going to make waves with Keith Law, John Sickels, or the staff at Baseball America. However, these rankings by any outlet are rather arbitrary in nature, and I like any of them, will try to give everybody some reasoning behind them. Scouting and prospects are a big part of the game. We can see that by how teams are clinging onto them in a lot of cases this year, instead of dealing them away for proven players. A lower ranked system doesn’t necessarily correlate to a bad team, and a highly ranked system doesn’t mean it’s a good major league team. It just gives us all a look at organizations who might get healthy in a few years, and which ones are going to have to find other means.

Anyway, this is supposed to be fun, so if you want to discuss, let’s do so….

I am going to get this off my chest now. If there is a ranking I really question from myself it is this one. Washington gutted 4 of their top 10-12 prospects in order to get Gio Gonzalez. It might turn out to be a good trade, but as far as the system goes, it definitely weakened it. Washington could’ve been in the top 5 for sure. That being said, this is the ultimate in demonstrating what I do think of their top tier prospects, and it’s a good discussion to have. Would teams give up tremendous depth for a top two or three that look exceptional? I don’t know the answer to that, but my ranking reflects that. In hindsight, I might have them down around 10. But it’s too late now……..

Top 10 Prospects:

1. Bryce Harper (OF)- A no-brainer ranking of what most consider to be the best prospect in the game. Harper can do it all on the field. He hits for average, power, has speed, plus arm strength, and he apparently isn’t afraid to tell people about it. He still needs to mature, but if he reaches his ceiling, I am not sure the Nats care how big of a dictator he is.

2. Anthony Rendon (3B)- Rendon getting drafted by the Nats made it the third year in a row they might have gotten the top prospect in the draft. Following selections of Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper in consecutive years, Rendon fell to the Nats. If he becomes another in the line of Ryan Zimmerman, well, he is going to be a stud.

3. Brian Goodwin (OF)- Goodwin has the 5 tool tab to live up to, and I am not sure that he will. He does have above average speed, and should hit for average and power, but the arm isn’t special. It’s plenty good for CF though, and the Nats could have themselves a high OBP guy with power and speed. That’s pretty good I guess.

4. Robbie Ray (SP)- Woah! Curve ball. Here is a secret. I like pitchers with Ray’s frame. I like them with his solid delivery, and I like pitchers with his combination of projectability and current pitch ability. Like many youngsters, he is still working on consistency and quality of secondaries. I think it’s in there for him to develop this stuff.

5. Destin Hood (OF)- Woah! Curve ball #2. Back to back. Here is what I see with Hood. A 21 year old who improved his discipline, his aptitude on the bases, and his power numbers, all while moving up a level. This is what you like to see from good athletes who are learning to play baseball.

6. Matt Purke (SP)- Obviously, given Purke’s past history of having above average stuff, he could rocket up this list come mid-season. I don’t know if that is going to happen. With all of the conflicting report about his stuff and his shoulder, Purke is going to have to prove things a little. There is of course #2 potential here, and this pick could be a steal for Washington.

7. Alex Meyer (SP)- Okay. I’m listing Meyer as a starter, even though it is entirely possible he ends up a reliever. Meyer has two potential plus pitches in a fastball and curve, and could be a top of the rotation guy. Here is the thing though, he is so tall, he is going to have difficulty repeating his delivery. I’m not as bullish on guys like this. They tend to fall apart mechanically. Great arm though.

8. Steve Lombardozzi (2B)- I’m not sure how he fell this far. It is most likely a function of the ceilings I see from the other guys, but Lombardozzi seems like a guy that can play 2B for a number of years, and play it well. He should hit for average, hit in the 2nd hole, steal a few bags, and be a doubles machine. He can handle second solidly as well.

9. Sammy Solis (SP)- Solis would be much higher on this list if it wasn’t for an elbow issue that there isn’t a lot of information right now on. Solis had a sore elbow after pitching the Arizona Fall League. Has #2 or #3 type stuff if healthy, and of course would move up a couple spots if that was the case.

10. Kylin Turnbull (SP) Turnbull is a tall lefty that could get some more gas on his heater, which is good already. Has mid-rotation potential at least, just needs to work on mechanics consistency and command of his arsenal, but can already push a fastball towards the mid 90’s.

Just Missed The List: Michael Taylor (OF), Chris Marrero (1b), David Freitas (C), Taylor Hill (P), Matt Skole (3B), and Daniel Rosenbaum (SP).

Sleepers: Manny Rodriguez (SP) and Randolph Oduber (OF). Rodriguez has quality stuff as a right-handed starter. A low 90’s fastball and two solid secondaries should help him advance somewhat quickly. Oduber is quality athlete that with some strides in strike zone discipline could be a danger with the bat and on the base paths.

Rebound Candidate: Rick Hague (SS/2B) Hague looked like a solid draft pick in 2010 as he showed some good hitting ability and some power. Defensively he isn’t special, but he should be able to play short or second without embarrassing himself. He missed 2011 with injury and could re-establish himself as a prospect in 2012.

Verdict: Like I alluded to earlier in this review of their system, it isn’t exactly a deep system, but even outside the top 10, there is some interesting players. Eury Perez is a speedster I didn’t mention who has been in their top 10 in the past. There are some bullpen arms that are intriguing like Josh Smoker and Brian Dupra, who is starting at this point. There is strength up the middle with athletic but unspectacular 2B prospects. The potential is great here with Harper, Rendon, Purke, Goodwin, and Meyer. It gets even better if Ray and Hood continue to improve. But Purke, Meyer, Rendon, and Solis all have question marks too, and some of those will have to be answered in a positive manner for this system to stick around the top.