The Washington Nationals, who traded top pitching prospects Tom Milone, Brad Peacock and A.J. Cole and catching prospect Derek Norris to the Oakland A's last winter for left-hander Gio Gonzalez and RHP Robert Gilliam, were ranked 14th overall on Minor League Ball's John Sickels' 2012 Baseball Farm System Rankings when he released his yearly list a month after the late-December 2012 trade. The deal weighed heavily in Mr. Sickels' decision to put the Nationals' organization just inside the top half of the league:
"14) Washington Nationals: The big trade with Oakland tore the top off this farm system. You still have Bryce Harper and some interesting players in the B- range. Would have ranked much higher without the trade."
The Nationals drafted an injured, albeit highly-regarded prep school arm in right-hander Lucas Giolito, traded top pitching prospect, 2011 1st Rounder Alex Meyer to the Minnesota Twins in exchange for Denard Span, and reacquired Cole from the A's this winter in an attempt to restock their system after the recent trades left them lacking in depth. They still have one of the top hitting prospects in the game, however, in Anthony Rendon, and in spite of the fact that Giolito had Tommy John surgery, his age and upside have him high on most Nats' prospect lists.
In spite of the work Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo, his scouts and assistants in the Nats' front office have done to replenish the system, the trades and moves which were made with the major league roster in mind over the last few years have resulted in them dropping to 25th overall on Minor League Ball's 2013 Farm System Rankings:
"Graduations and trades have quickly weakened the talent down on the farm over the last year, but Mike Rizzo and company should be able to recharge quickly and the major league roster is young and strong. Strengths: Anthony Rendon and Brian Goodwin have star potential. Considerable raw material for a pitching staff. Weaknesses: They are banking a lot on injured pitchers recovering well. Many prospects are too old for their levels."
With Harper, Steve Lombardozzi and Tyler Moore in the majors and players with injury concerns like Giolito, Matt Purke, Sammy Solis and Anthony Rendon among the Nats' top prospects, Mr. Sickels' points about graduating prospects and the Nationals' willingness to draft and rehab/develop injured players make sense and taking on injury issues seems to have been part of the plan (ed. note - "Everyone now, 'the new market inefficiency...'") over the last few years. Read the rest of what John Sickels said about the top minor league systems in baseball via the link below:
2013 Baseball Farm System Rankings....have fun with this. sbn.to/113gXgj— johnsickels (@MinorLeagueBall) January 28, 2013
Still Time to Order Baseball Prospect Book 2013!....shipping scheduled for February 3rd sbn.to/113aFgO— johnsickels (@MinorLeagueBall) January 28, 2013