The Washington Nationals were the no.1 system in baseball on Baseball America's organizational rankings before the trade that sent three of the prospects on BA's November '11 Top 10 Nats' prospect list to Oakland in return for A's left-hander Gio Gonzalez and RHP Robert Gilliam. Baseball America's Jim Callis (@JimCallisBA) commented on Twitter that the deal would result in the Nationals slipping, "... a little in final rankings."
ESPN.com's Keith Law wrote yesterday in his rankings of the top organizations in baseball that the 4-for-2 trade with the A's turned the Nationals from, "a top-10 system," and, "no worse than top 15" on the list to no.21 overall because after the deal, as he wrote, "this system lacks depth." Two current Nationals' prospects and two former Nats' prospects made the ESPN.com writer and scout's list of the Top 100 Prospects in baseball when it was published this morning...
2010 no.1 overall pick Bryce Harper, who was ranked no. 2 overall on MLB.com's Top 100 Prospect list when they released it last week, and was no. 2 on ESPN.com's Mr. Law's list last season, is no.2 again this year, finishing behind 20-year-old LA Angels' '09 1st Round pick Mike Trout on the ESPN.com list for the second year in a row. Harper's slow starts and ability to adjust at each new level are noted, and his "light tower power" and high "contact rates" are highlighted by Mr. Law, who predicts that the left-handed hitting slugger who put up a .297/.392/.501 slash at A and Double-A in the Nats' system last season will start back at Double-A and likely earn a September call-up later this year.
Joining Harper on the list this year, at no.17, is 2011 Nats' 1st Round pick Anthony Rendon. The no.6 pick in last June's Draft finished the 2011 season at Rice with a .327/.520/.523 line, twenty doubles, six home runs and 27 RBI's in 63 games and 214 at bats, but struggled with ankle and shoulder issues that caused the player considered the best hitter in the draft to drop to the Nats with the sixth overall pick. ESPN.com's Mr. Law writes that the Nats' first 1st Round pick of 2011 has, "... one of the quickest bats in the minors, coupled with major league-caliber plate discipline," and predicts that a healthy Rendon could end up on top of the list next year.
Harper and Rendon are the only Nats' prospects on Mr. Law's list this season. Last year, Harper was joined by a then-21-year-old '07 4th Round pick Derek Norris (at no.33), who was one of the four prospects dealt to Oakland this winter, and then-23-year-old backstop Wilson Ramos (no.95). Norris is an A's prospect now, and he lands at no.93 this year on Mr. Law's prospect rankings. 20-year-old right-hander A.J. Cole, the Nats' 2010 4th Round pick and one of the three pitching prospects dealt to Oakland (along with RHP Brad Peacock and LHP Tom Milone) ends up at no.33 on Mr. Law's 2012 prospect list with the writer suggesting he could eventually end up a top of the rotation arm (a no.2) in Oakland.
• 2011 1st Round pick RHP Alex Meyer and 2010 2nd Rounder LHP Sammy Solis made both Baseball America's original and the updated Top 10 Prospects list after the trade with Oakland and both pitchers joined Harper and Rendon on MLB.com's Top 100 Prospect list when it was released earlier this winter, but neither pitcher made it onto ESPN.com's Mr. Law's Top 100.