The Hardball Times Ranks the Washington Nationals' Top 10 Prospects

The Hardball Times released their Top 10 prospects list for the Washington Nationals today.  Not much surprise, however, only three of their top ten were arms, the rest position players.

1. Stephen Strasburg: Perhaps the best college pitcher of all time, Strasburg brings unheralded hype and ability to a Washington organization desperate for a shot in the arm. He is the best pitching prospect in baseball and will challenge Atlanta's Jason Heyward as my preseason No. 1 prospect in baseball.

2. Derek Norris: Despite his high strikeout rate, Norris has the bat of a future All-Star. The most unheralded aspect of his season was the 90 walks he drew in 437 at-bats. His defense is on track for the majors, but needs some work. If he repeats his performance in 2010, we may be looking at a top-10 prospect in all of baseball. But he does need to do it again if he is going to win me over.

See the rest of the list and some commentary after the jump...

3. Danny Espinosa: Despite some holes in his swing, Espinosa has a bit of everything you look for in a shortstop, including above-average power and the glove to match.

 

4. Christopher Marrero: Marrero has a nice bat, but nothing about it sticks out, especially as a first baseman. He is still young, and with further progression Washington could have a major league asset at first base.

 

5. Drew Storen: I was surprised to see Storen go as high as he did in the 2009 draft, but his first 37 minor league innings opened my eyes. There is even talk that Washington may turn him into a starter, which would raise his value immensely, but his change-up needs refinement if that is going to happen. There is a lot to like. More than I initially thought.

 

6. Ian Desmond: Desmond has some workable power and base-stealing ability, but neither skill be will anything more than average in the majors. His defense is his best strength, and his average bat will make sure he has a long, solid career as a major league shortstop.

 

7. Eury Perez: Perez has flashed his potential at every stop he has made. His bat seems very advanced for his age, his speed will be a weapon, and he has even shown some unexpected power.

 

8. Destin Hood: With his raw tools, Hood was one of my favorite players selected in the second round of the 2008 draft. Not much has materialized as of yet, which is concerning for me, but he is very young.

 

9. Michael Burgess: Burgess has plus power, but not much else to go with it. His strikeout rate is troublesome and may be his downfall. Future refinement could be in the works, so it's not time to give up on him yet.

 

10. Marcos Frias: Scouting reports are tough to come by on Frias, but his numbers are hard to ignore, forcing my bullish outlook. Based off of the brief video and scouting reports I have on him, I am going to take a shot in the dark on a young man with a live arm.

NFA complied his Top 20 lists a couple weeks back, and he separated them out into arms and bats.  He's not as high on Eury Perez or Marco Frias as HT was, but most of the rest of the lists jive.

It will be very interesting to see when Baseball America comes out with their scouting reports where the Nationals rank this season.  You may remember, last off-season the Nats farm system was severely downgraded from 2007's encouraging reviews. 

Most major scouting publications had the Nats in the lower-third of the league as far as minor league talent. 

With the infusion of Strasburg and Storen, two almost-ready arms that should be pitching in Washington before the all-star break, it will bear watching if the Nats get an artificial bump in the rankings this season, only to fall once again next season after Stras and Storen graduate to the majors -- or if general manager Mike Rizzo can have another good draft (he does own the No. 1 overall pick) and keep the Nats prospects rankings high.

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