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Top 5 Last 5 - Washington Nationals

TOP 5 LAST 5 is a look back on each MLB team and sees how each of the top 5 draft picks since 2008 fared this past season. While some players have reached the major leagues and flourished like Chris Sale, Buster Posey and Craig Kimbrel, some players have seen their dreams of playing in the show fall by the wayside as they are no longer in the game or playing abroad or in independent leagues. Every player flashed some sort of potential otherwise they wouldn't have been selected in the first 5 or 6 rounds. The defending NL East champion Washington Nationals are next.

2008 -

1/9 Aaron Crow RHP, 2/55 Destin Hood OF, 3/87 Danny Espinosa 2B, 4/121 Graham Hicks LHP, 5/151 Adrian Nieto C

With the Nationals having the 9th overall pick, they went for a right handed pitcher who they thought would move quick through the system. Aaron Crow was selected out of college to be just that guy. Unfortunately, Crow and the Nats front office couldn't come to an agreement on a contract. He re-entered the draft the next year and was chosen 12th overall by the Kansas City Royals. He spent 2012 in the Royals' pen taking on a substantial workload. He appeared in 73 games covering 64 2/3 innings with a 3.48 ERA, 2.96 FIP and a 1.18 WHIP. He struck out a batter per inning while only giving up 3.1 BB/9 and 7.5 H/9 by holding batters to a .228 average. He racked up ground balls almost twice as often as fly balls (1.88 GB/FB ratio) and had 2 saves to go with a 3-1 record.

Round 2 saw the team go for prep talent by picking high school outfielder Destin Hood with the 55th overall pick. Hood began his career in left field but was moved to right field full time following 2010. He spent the majority of the season in AA Harrisburg, save for 5 games in June where he rehabbed with short season A Auburn. He totaled 99 games with 409 trips to the plate. He finished off the season with a 242/301/339/640 slash line with 3 of his 28 extra base hits leaving the yard. He also drove in 45 while scoring 48 runs and stealing 6 bags. He only worked 28 walks to go with 96 strikeouts though.

3rd round pick Danny Espinosa was taken out of college with the 87th overall pick. Drafted and groomed as a short stop, he spent the majority of 2012 at second base (126 games) with some time at short stop as well (36 games). At the plate, Espinosa made 658 plate appearances accumulating a 247/315/402/717 slash line with 17 home runs, 56 extra base knocks, 20 stolen bases, 56 RBI and 82 runs scored. He had 50 free passes throughout the year but racked up a NL leading 189 strikeouts. Fan Graphs pegs him at a 3.8 WAR while Baseball Reference says 2.4 WAR. The difference between the two numbers is FanGraphs liked Espinosa's defense much more than BBRef.

The Nationals' 4th round pick came 121st overall in the form of high school southpaw Graham Hicks. He made one appearance in 2012 on July 21st for the Rookie level Gulf Coast Nationals, pitching 2 innings while walking 2 and giving up 1 hit. I assume he missed the rest of the year due to injury but could not find anything on it.

Washington finished off their top 5 picks by going with high school catcher Adrian Nieto with the 151st pick overall. He spent the majority of the year in A ball with Hagerstown except for an 8 game stint in July with their Rookie level Gulf Coast affiliate. He appeared in 78 games overall, totaling 330 PA, a 247/340/385/725 line and 6 home runs. He also had 23 extra base hits, 35 runs scored, 39 RBI and 4 steals to go with 35 walks and 64 strikeouts.

2009 -

1/1 Stephen Strasburg RHP, 1/10 Drew Storen RHP, 2/50 Jeff Kobernus 2B, 3/81 Trevor Holder RHP, 4/112 AJ Morris RHP

One of the most hyped players being drafted for the first time ever, the Nationals went with the obvious number one overall talent in the draft picking right hander Stephen Strasburg out of college. He made 28 starts this past season while serving as the co-ace of the Nationals rotation with Gio Gonzalez. He reached his infamous innings limit 2 outs shy of 160 innings. He ended the year with a 15-6 record, 3.16 ERA, 2.82 FIP, 1.16 WHIP, 11.1 K/9, 2.7 BB/9, 7.7 H/9 and limited batters to a .174 average. He was also good with the bat, posting a 277/333/426/759 line in 53 trips to the plate with 4 2B, 1HR, 7 RBI, 4 runs scored, and 3 walks to 13 strikeouts. FanGraphs put him at 4.3 WAR for the 2012 season.

Because the front office couldn't come to terms with Aaron Crow the year before, the team received the 10th overall pick in the 2009 draft. They chose another college righty with Drew Storen. He missed time in 2012, rehabbing from elbow surgery but was able to make 37 appearances out of the bullpen for the Nats. After saving 43 games in 2011, Storen lost his gig as the closer to Tyler Clippard last year and Rafael Soriano next year. For the 2012 season, he threw 30 1/3 innings with a 2.37 ERA, 2.40 FIP, 0.99 WHIP and a 3-1 record with 4 saves. He didn't allow a homer all season while limiting hitters to a .206 average, 6.5 H/9, 7.1 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9.

The 2nd round draft choice of the Nationals was college second baseman Jeff Kobernus out of college. He's stuck at the position since the draft and spent the past year working the keystone for AA Harrisburg. A thumb injury limited him to 82 games with 366 plate appearances, a 282/325/333/658 slash line with 42 stolen bases, 13 extra base hits and a single home run. He added 19 RBI and 41 runs scored to go with only 19 walks and 57 strikeouts. The speed won't play unless he learns the zone and gets on base more.

The Nats front office went with college right hander Trevor Holder with their 3rd round, 81st overall pick in the draft. He spent the 2012 season splitting time between High A Potomac and AA Harrisburg. He kicked off the year in Potomac making 10 starts and 8 relief appearances. He totaled 76 1/3 innings there with a 4.01 ERA, 3.33 FIP, 1.35 WHIP, and 5-3 record. He registered 6.4 K/9, 2.4 BB/9, 9.8 H/9 and an opponents batting average of .266. He got the call to Harrisburg in July and made 9 more starts and another relief outing. He pitched 52 1/3 innings there with an improved 3.78 ERA, 3.81 FIP, 1.26 WHIP and a 4-3 record. He only struck out 4 batters per 9 innings but gave up 9.5 H/9, 1.9 BB/9 and a .268 opponents average. All told, he toed the rubber 19 times as a starter with another 9 out of the pen for 128 1/3 innings. Holder tallied a 9-6 record with a 3.92 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 5.4 K/9, 2.2 BB/9, and 9.7 H/9.

The 5th pick of the draft came to the Washington brass in the 4th round with pick number 112. They took another college righty, this time going with AJ Morris. Morris spent 2 years in the Nats system before undergoing shoulder surgery and then was shipped to the Chicago Cubs along with 2 others for Tom Gorzelanny. He missed all of 2011 and came back in 2012 to play for High A Daytona. Morris was very old for the league (25 years old) but dominated out of the bullpen. He made 39 trips to the hill totaling 52 1/3 innings and a 5-2 record with 7 saves. He had a 2.24 ERA, 2.77 FIP, 0.98 WHIP, 7.2 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 and just 6.2 H/9 while opponents hit .188 against him.

2010 -

1/1 Bryce Harper OF, 2/51 Sammy Solis LHP, 3/83 Rick Hague SS, 4/116 AJ Cole RHP, 5/146 Jason Martinson SS

Definitely the most hyped teenager to hit the draft in decades, outfielder Bryce Harper was picked 1st overall as a 17 year old coming out of junior college. He started the year in AAA Syracuse and played 21 games, the majority in center field, and came up to bat 84 times. He had a 243/325/365/690 line with 6 extra base hits and a homer. He also stole a base, scored 8 times and drove in 3. He got his first shot at the big leagues in late April at the tender age of 19 and dominated for his age. He played in 139 games for Washington with 86 spent in center field and 41 in right field. He made 597 plate appearances with a 270/340/477/817 line with 57 extra base hits, 22 home runs, 18 steals, 59 RBI and the 5th most runs scored in the National League with 98. He drew 56 walks to 120 strikeouts, was named an All-Star, and ran away with the Rookie of the Year award. FanGraphs says he posted a 4.9 WAR while Baseball Reference tags him at 5 even.

The 2nd pick of the draft came with exponentially less fan fare. The same can be said about any player in comparison to Harper though. The club decided on college lefty Sammy Solis with the 51st overall pick. Unfortunately, Solis was unable to play this past season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in March of 2012. His last pro season was 2011 where he split time between class A Hagerstown and High A Potomac, toeing the rubber for 17 starts and throwing 96 2/3 innings. He had a 3.26 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 8.7 K/9, 2.1 BB/9 and 9.3 H/9 with a 8-3 record and over 4 strikeouts per walk. Solis should be ready to go by the start of the 2013 season.

Round 3 for the Washington front office brought pick number 83 and with it, a college short stop by the name of Rick Hague. He repeated High A Potomac this past year after dislocating his shoulder in the first week of 2011 and missing the rest of the season. This time he was healthy for the whole year, playing in 105 games splitting time between short stop (49 games) and second base (35 games). He made 433 plate appearances for Potomac, racking up a 258/312/370/682 line with 6 of his 29 extra bases going for a home run. He scored 58 times, drove in 48, had 20 stolen bases and struck out 93 times with 28 walks on the year.

Washington went with their first prep player in the 4th round with the 116th pick, taking right hander AJ Cole. Cole was part of the package sent to Oakland for Gio Gonzalez prior to the 2012 season. The A's tried challenging him out of the gate, sending him to Stockton of the notoriously hitter friendly High A California league. He was hammered over 8 starts going 0-7 with a 7.82 ERA, 4.99 FIP, 1.84 WHIP, 7.3 K/9, 2.4 BB/9, 14.2 H/9, and 7 home runs alowed in 38 innings. Hitters tattooed him to a .355 average and .405 BABIP in Stockton. Clearly overmatched, the A's demoted him to class A Burlington in the Midwest league where he pitched much better. He finished the year off there making 19 more starts covering 95 2/3 innings. Cole went 6-3 with a 2.07 ERA, 2.74 FIP, 1.01 WHIP and .221 opponents batting average. He had a 9.6 K/9 rate, 1.8 BB/9, 7.3 H/9 and 5.37 strikeouts per walk. Overall he tallied up 27 starts with a 6-10 record, 3.70 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, a strikeout per inning, 2 BB/9, 9.3 H/9 and 4.59 K/BB ratio over 133 2/3 innings. Cole was just re-acquired by the Nationals in a 3 team deal involving Seattle and Oakland with Mike Morse leaving Washington.

The Nats front office went back to college players for the 5th round. With the 146th pick they went for short stop Jason Martinson. He split time between class A Hagerstown (69 games) and High A Potomac (66 games) while playing the majority of the time at short stop (105 games) and 11 games at third base. In Hagerstown, Martinson made 321 plate appearances while throwing a 272/391/449/840 line up with 10 home runs, 24 extra base hits, 63 RBI, 68 runs scored, 23 stolen bases and 49 walks to 88 strikeouts. This was good for a 134 wRC+ and a promotion to Potomac. There he hit to a 215/279/409/689 line with 12 of his 18 extra base hits going over the fence, 43 RBI, 36 runs scored and 7 steals. He struck out 79 times and drew 21 walks covering 265 plate appearances and 66 games. Put the two seasons together and you get 135games played with 586 PA, 104 runs scored, 42 extra base hits, 22 home runs, 106 RBI, 30 stolen bases and 70 walks to 167 strikeouts. His batting line was 245/340/430/770 for the year.

2011 -

1/6 Anthony Rendon 3B, 1/23 Alex Meyer RHP, 1/34 Brian Goodwin OF, 3/96 Matt Purke LHP, 4/127 Kylin Turnbull LHP

The Washington front office had another top 10 pick in the 2011 draft and went with oft-injured college third baseman Anthony Rendon with the 6th pick of the year. Numerous ankle injuries have limited Rendon's playing time, participating in only 43 games this past season. He made 160 plate appearances for 4 different teams, the Rookie level Gulf Coast league affiliate (5 games), short season Auburn (8 games), High A Potomac (9 games), and AA Harrisburg (21 games). For the season he had a 233/363/489/851 line with 6 homers, 18 extra base hits, 28 runs scored, 12 RBI, 23 walks and 29 strikeouts while not attempting a stolen base.

In the last year of the Type A and Type B free agents, the Nationals loaded up on first round picks. They received the 23rd overall pick from the Chicago White Sox as compensation for Chicago signing Adam Dunn. They used it on another college player, right handed pitcher Alex Meyer. He started the season making 18 starts for class A Hagerstown posting a 7-4 record with a complete game shut out. Meyer threw 90 innings of 3.10 ERA ball with a 2.63 FIP, 1.13 WHIP, 10.7 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 6.8 H/9, an opponents batting average of .206, and a 3.15 K/BB ratio. He got the call up to Potomac in July and made another 7 starts, pitching 39 innings of even better baseball. His ERA sat at 2.31 to finish the season with a 3.23 FIP, 1.03 WHIP, 7.4 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 6.7 H/9 and opponents still hitting just .206 against him. He tallied a 3-2 record for Potomac and struck out 2.91 batters for every walk he surrendered. For the whole year he started 25 games with a 10-6 record, 2.86 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 9.7 K/9, 3.1 BB/9, 6.8 H/9 and 3.09 K/BB in 129 total innings. He was also the key piece to the Denard Span trade the Nationals pulled off earlier this Winter. Meyer is ranked as the #4 prospect in the Twins system according to Baseball America and #3 according to MLB.com.

Washington also received the number 34 pick of the draft overall in the supplemental 1st round of the draft because of Dunn signing elsewhere. The result was JuCo outfielder Brian Goodwin who spent the year patrolling center field for both class A Hagerstown (58 games) and AA Harrisburg (42 games) during his first pro season. Goodwin started the year off by terrorizing pitching in the Sally league to a 324/438/542/979 line with 28 extra base hits and 9 home runs. He scored 47 runs in his 266 trips to the plate for Potomac with 38 RBI, 15 steals, 43 walks and only 39 K's with a wRC+ of 167. This earned him a huge jump in the system, skipping High A and going straight to AA. In his 42 games spent there, he made 186 PA with 17 runs scored, 14 extra base hits, 5 HR, 14 RBI and 3 steals. He walked 18 times to 50 strikeouts with a 223/306/373/680 line. He made 452 plate appearances in 100 games total for the season with a 280/384/469/852 line, 14 bombs, 42 extra base knocks, 52 RBI, 64 runs scored, 18 steals, 61 walks and 89 strike outs.

Once the Nats reached the 4th pick of their draft, they were in the 3rd round and selected college lefty Matt Purke with the 96th overall pick. Coming into the draft they knew Purke had shoulder issues and took him anyway. The shoulder problems flared up again a week and a half into 2012 as he was only able to make 3 starts for class A Hagerstown on the year, totaling 15 2/3 innings with a 5.87 ERA, 1.76 WHIP, 8.2 K/9, 7 BB/9 and 8.8 H/9 with a 0-2 record. Purke had surgery on his bothersome shoulder in October 2012.

Their 5th pick in the 2011 draft went 127th overall in the 4th round as the picked JuCo lefty pitcher Kylin Turnbull. The front office decided to throw him into the full season fire, sending him to class A Hagerstown to start the year. He made 17 starts and 1 appearance out of the pen pitching 89 innings with a 4-5 record, 5.16 ERA, 4.14 FIP, 1.51 WHIP and .287 batting average against. His rate stats were equally unimpressive with 5.2 K/9, 3 BB/9, 10.5 H/9 and 1.7 strikeouts to each walk surrendered. He was briefly demoted to the Gulf Coast Rookie league in August where he made 4 more starts. Over those 4 starts he threw 9 1/3 innings with a 0-1 record, 2.89 ERA, 1.59 FIP, and 1.18 WHIP. Turnbull didn't walk anyone during his stint there and had a 8.7 K/9 and 10.6 H/9. For the entire season, Turnbull made 21 starts, 1 relief outing, 98 1/3 innings pitched, a 4-6 record with a 4.94 ERA, 1.48 WHIP and 2 strikeouts to every walk issued. He opposing hitters tagged him at a .285 clip with 5.5 K/9, 2.7 BB/9, and 10.5 H/9.

2012 -

1/16 Lucas Giolito RHP, 2/80 Tony Renda 2B, 3/111 Brett Mooneyham LHP, 4/144 Brandon Miller OF, 5/174 Spencer Kieboom C

Picking outside of the top 10 for the first time since 2006, the Washington Nationals selected high school right hander Lucas Giolito with the 16th overall pick of the draft. As with Matt Purke, the front office knew Giolito had health issues before drafting him. They did not care and as a result Giolito was only able to make 1 start this past season, pitching 2 innings while giving up 2 hits, 1 run and he struck out 1 batter while issuing zero free passes. His one appearance was for the Gulf Coast league Rookie affiliate.

The 2nd round of the draft saw GM Mike Rizzo switch things up as they took a college position player with the 80th overall pick, going with second baseman Tony Renda. He was sent directly to short season Auburn after the draft where he was able to get into 71 games, all at 2nd base, and make 334 plate appearances. Over that time he posted a 264/341/295/636 line with 9 extra base hits, zero HR, 32 RBI, 47 runs scored and had 15 stolen bases. He had a great eye at the plate too, walking 31 times while striking out only 33 times.

Another college player came next to the Nationals with the 111th overall pick during the 3rd round. Washington decided on southpaw Brett Mooneyham and sent him to short season Auburn for the rest of 2012. He excelled there, posting a 2.55 ERA, 3.65 FIP and 2-2 record in 42 1/3 innings. He had a 1.23 WHIP, 6.2 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 7.7 H/9, 1.81 K/BB ratio and a .222 opponents batting average.

Continuing with the theme, the 4th round selection of the Nats went 144th overall to college outfielder Brandon Miller who would play right field for short season Auburn during 2012. He played in 29 games, made 127 trips to the dish, scored 20 runs, drove in 21 and had 18 of his 33 hits go for extra bases, including 4 bomb shots. He didn't try to steal a base and ran up a 292/354/549/903 line against New York-Penn league pitchers. FanGraphs has him at a 161 wRC+ for the year which was top 10 in the league for players with as many plate appearances as him.

The last of the top 5 picks for Washington this past year went to yet another college position player, catcher Spencer Kieboom who was sent to, wait for it, short season Auburn for the year. He played 41 games of flawless defense behind the dish and made 155 plate appearances. Though he did not lift one out of the park, he had 6 extra base hits, 13 runs scored, 20 runs driven in, 19 walks and 24 strikeouts. He didn't even try to steal a bag this past year and his batting line came in at 258/362/305/667.

The Washington Nationals past 5 drafts have been quite successful. They have 5 players drafted in the past 5 years playing in the majors; (Aaron Crow, Danny Espinosa, Stephen Strasburg, Drew Storen, and Bryce Harper) including one for another team (Crow). They also have a pair of franchise cornerstones they were lucky enough to draft in Strasburg and Harper. All 25 players looked at were also still playing professional ball. Three players drafted played for different organizations this past year (Aaron Crow - KC, AJ Morris - CHC, and AJ Cole - OAK). Even though the team re-acquired Cole this offseason, they did lose 2 players in Jeff Kobernus (rule 5 draft - DET) and Alex Meyer (traded to MIN). Only Bryce Harper spent time in AAA Syracuse this past year out of the top 5 last 5, while 6 players called AA Harrisburg home at some point in the year (Destin Hood, Storen, Kobernus, Trevor Holder, Anthony Rendon, and Brian Goodwin). High A Potomac hosted 6 players throughout the year (Storen, Holder, Rick Hague, Jason Martinson, Rendon, and Meyer) as class A Hagerstown had 5 players spend time there (Adrian Nieto, Martinson, Meyer, Goodwin, Matt Purke, and Kylin Turnbull). The short season Auburn affiliate played home to 6 players including four 2012 draftees (Hood, Rendon, Tony Renda, Brett Mooneyham, Brandon Miller, and Spencer Kieboom). Meanwhile, the Rookie Gulf Coast team hosted 5 guys at some point in the season (Graham Hicks, Nieto, Rendon, Turnbull and Lucas Giolito).

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