• Keith Law Top 100 Prospects: The Washington Nationals landed just one prospect, 2010 no.1 overall pick Bryce Harper, on MLB.com's Top 50 Prospects list which was released earlier this week with Harper ranked 3rd overall. ESPN.com's Keith Law released his Top 100 Prospect list this afternoon. The Nats get two in Mr. Law's Top 50. Harper's 2nd overall according to Mr. Law, who cites the 18-year-old converted outfielder's "enormous raw power", the "absurd leverage" in his swing and his "plus arm" in right field as the reasons for his position on the list. '07 4th Round pick catcher Derek Norris landed 33rd on Mr. Law's list with his "above-average arm" and "outstanding plate discipline" noted. (ed. note - "Mr. Law also mentions how the surgery to repair the broken hamate bone Norris suffered affected his power in 2010, and can tend to, "sap power for 12 to 18 months" after the procedure, which hopefully isn't the case with Danny Espinosa.") The third and final Nats' prospect on Mr. Law's Top 100 Prospect list is Wilson Ramos, no. 95, formerly a top prospect with the Twins, who needs to remain healthy and continue improving his game-calling behind the plate and patience at the plate to become a solid major league catcher in Mr. Law's opinion.
ESPN.com's Keith Law's Top 10 Prospects:
Washington Nationals: 10. Destin Hood (OF); 9. Chris Marrero (1B); 8. Robbie Ray (LHP); 7. Eury Perez (OF); 6. Sammy Solis (LHP); 5. Danny Espinosa (SS); 4. A.J. Cole (RHP); 3. Wilson Ramos (C); 2. Derek Norris (C); 1. Bryce Harper (OF)
• Nats' FO Intrigue: The Sirius/XM MLB Network Radio show Inside Pitch with Jim Bowden and Casey Stern is conducting a series of "This is your life" interviews with people from the former Reds' and Nats' GM's past life calling in to talk about their interractions with the outspoken former major league executive. Yesterday it was Harolyn Cardozo, Executive Assistant to the GM for both Mr. Bowden and the current General Manager Mike Rizzo. The one real interesting exchange worth noting took place when Ms. Cardozo asked what the former GM thought of the trade for Tom Gorzelanny which sent three players to the Chicago Cubs, including one Mr. Bowden was apparently particularly fond of:
Harolyn Cardozo: "Are you upset about Michael Burgess?"
Jim Bowden: "I was disappointed that you guys don't think that his bat's going to get there obviously, cause if you did you wouldn't have traded him to the Cubs. But yeah, I'm really disappointed, but he's only 21-years-old, so, I don't, we'll have to wait and see what happens."
Harolyn Cardozo: " Well, Mike [Rizzo] thought that was, what we needed was more important than what we were giving away. That's a compliment to Michael Burgess. We didn't think that--"
Jim Bowden: "[Cubs' GM] Jim Hendry has a good scouting department, they're good on hitters, and so certainly I think they probably see what I saw, so we'll see what happens..."
Harolyn Cardozo: "He does?" [Laughs]
Burgess, who turned 22 in October, was an '07 1st Round (Supplemental) pick, taken 49th overall by the Nationals with the compensatory pick Washington received in return for the loss of outfielder Jose Guillen, who signed with Seattle in December '06 after two years in the nation's capital. Burgess was coming off a combined .265/.357/.465 2010 season in which he hit 26 doubles and 18 HR's between Class-A Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg, hitting .284/.391/.649 with 5 doubles and 5 HR's in his first 21 games and 74 at bats at Double-A before going to the Arizona Fall League where he was 16 for 65 (.246) with a .286 OBP, .477 SLG, 3 doubles, 3 triples and 2 HR's in 18 games and 65 at bats for the Scottsdale Scorpions. The Nats traded Burgess to the Cubs along with pitching prospects A.J. Morris and Graham Hicks.
Burgess (49th) was one of five picks the Nationals made in the first two rounds of the '07 Draft, after LHP Ross Detwiler, 6th overall, and LHP Josh Smoker 31st, and before RHP Jordan Zimmermann 67th overall and IF Jake Smolinski, 70th. The first pick of the second round was another topic of discussion yesterday on MLB Network Radio, with the former Nats' GM offering to take listeners inside the draft room as they discussed whether or not to take Zimmermann, a right-hander out of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point:
Jim Bowden: "So the GM gets involved in the first pick and then after that it's the Scouting Department that makes the decision, but you also have your top layers of the evaluators making the decisions and then you've got the next level of crosscheckers and then you've got the area guys. So, we walk into the room, and I had brought Mike Rizzo in, who's now the GM of Washington, I have a lot of respect for his evaluative ability, have for a long time, and we also had a whole bevy of evaluators that had been in Washington before I got there as well as some other people that came in and a lot of respected people.
"Well we got to the point where you put the list together on the board and as I said before, everybody's lists are different, we got to the point of Jordan Zimmermann and it was extremely interesting in how the process would go. I would leave, I'd go down to the clubhouse, I'd come back up and check and there seemed to be some controversy about Jordan Zimmermann's name. And this was a guy that Kris Klein, one of the crosscheckers, and Mike Rizzo really wanted. The rest of the room, which I respect equally, the rest of the room sat there and said, 'This is a real over-draft, if you leave him that high on the board it's going to be a huge over-draft, you can get him later in the draft.'
"Well in the discussions later, I kept looking at Mike Rizzo and Kris Kline and they kept looking at me going, 'The one thing we know is that this guy is going to be in the rotation in the big leagues fast and he's going to be at least a three starter in the middle. He's gonna get there and he's gonna get there quick.'"
Bowden, of course, ended up siding with the Nats' current GM, Mr. Rizzo, and Scouting Director, Mr. Kline. "And obviously the rest is history," Mr. Bowden said of Zimmermann, "he now should be their number two starter for a long time to come."
A year removed from Tommy John surgery, Zimmermann, now 24, was supposed to be no.2 in the rotation behind Stephen Strasburg in 2011, before the '09 no.1 overall pick suffered the same fate, a significant tear of his ulnar collateral ligament which required surgery and will delay the presence of both starters in the rotation until at least late August/September '11 if not 2012. In a recent article by MLB.com's Bill Ladson entitled, "Nats acquire lefty Gorzelanny from Cubs", D.C. GM Mike Rizzo was quoted saying he expected to see, "...a much-improved Jordan Zimmermann" in 2011, who is, "...going to turn into the pitcher we think he is and 14 other clubs think he is." Bill James is projecting an (8-7) season with 23 starts and 132.0 IP, 7.84 K/9, 2.90 BB/9, a 3.75 ERA and 3.97 FIP. Two seasons after what was supposed to be his breakout year, is Jordan Zimmermann finally ready for the top of the rotation?