Washington Nationals Top 50 Prospects: 31-40

Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

Counting up from the top prospects through to no.50 in the system, the next installment of our list of the Washington Nationals Top 50 prospects for 2014. Here are no.s 31-40, starting with 2012 4th Round pick Brandon Miller and ending with another catcher, Craig Manuel.

31. Brandon Miller: Miller was the Nationals' 4th round pick in 2012 out of Samford. Miller was drafted with his main tool being his power. Miller was not only the highest pick in Samford history, he also holds the program school record for HRs. Miller started his journey through professional baseball with the NY/Penn League's Auburn Doubledays in 2012, where in 113 at bats he hit .292/.354/.549 with 4 HRs. His performance with Auburn earned him a promotion to Low-A Hagerstown to start the 2013 season. He played well for the Suns, earning a promotion to Potomac before the season's end. Combined between Hagerstown and Potomac, Miller hit .255/.317/.457 with 20 HRs. The big question on Miller is his ability to make contact, and that was something he continued to struggle with in 2013, striking out 164 times in 505 at bats. As far as defense goes, Miller will probably never be more than just an average left fielder, but if his power pans out people won't be talking about his defense. If Miller can learn to make just a little bit more contact as he moves up the chain he very well could turn into almost a Josh Willingham-type player, with hopefully a little bit more power and less injuries.

32. Taylor Hill: Taylor Hill was somewhat of a breakout star in the system last year, especially after a lackluster year in the system in 2012. Hill was a 6th round pick in 2011 out of Vanderbilt, and he got his professional career off to a fine start with a 3.16 ERA through 31 1/3 innings. The most impressive part of his pro debut was the fact that he only walked three batters with the Auburn Doubledays in 2011. For Hill, 2012 was a bit of a rough year, as he had a 4.91 ERA in time split between Hagerstown and High-A Potomac. His SO/9 was a very low 4.6, and his hits per 9 was at 10.4. Last year, however, Hill managed to turn things around, pitching quite well while spending most of his time at Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg. His year started with Potomac, and he was promoted after putting up a 2.99 ERA through 84.1 innings for the P-Nats. He then continued his success at Harrisburg, where he posted a 2.71 ERA in 69.2 innings.  Hill even made a couple spot starts for Triple-A Syracuse last year. His SO/9 went up to 5.7, and his H/9 dropped to 8.6.  Hill will likely never be a top 3 starter in the majors, as his stuff his not flashy, however I think he has the potential to be a nice 4th or 5th starer.  Personally, Hill is one of my favorite sleeper prospects.

33. Danny Rosenbaum: Rosenbaum is a guy who has been talked about for a few years now. He was taken last year by the Rockies in the Rule 5 draft, but he failed to stick and was returned to the Nationals after spring training. Rosenbaum has been consistently posting solid results everywhere he has played throughout the minors. The reason he is so low on the list, is because is stuff is not the greatest, and the fact that every level he has moved up, he has struck out less batters, and walked more. Rosenbaum still has the potential to be a starter at the majors, but unless he starts to throw more strikes I think his future is more as a long reliever or a LOOGY.

34. Rick Hague: Hague was a third round pick in 2010 out of Rice University. Hague has had rather lackluster numbers through his minor league career. One thing of note is that Hague missed almost all of 2011 due to a shoulder injury. Hague will have to show better on-base skills, as at second base a .301 on base percentage won't cut it.  He also lacks average power, but he has to upside to hit around 10 home runs. In order to r-establish himself as a prospect though, Hague will have to either show a power surge, or learn how to take a walk, and he will have to do it soon as he is already 25, so time is not on his side.

35. Jason Martinson: Martinson is another intriguing middle infield prospect for the Nationals. Martinson primarily plays at short. The most interesting thing about Martinson is his power, as the last 2 years he has hit 22 then 16 home runs. The concern with Martinson is if he will be able to make contact consistently enough to compete against higher quality breaking stuff as he has stuck out 167 and 143 times the last 2 seasons. He did make it up to AA last year, but he only managed to hit .185.  Like Hague, Martinson is also 25, so he will need a good season at AA this year to keep himself on the prospect map.

36. Sandy Leon: Leon had a lot written about him over the offseason, due to his Winter League success and his shot at the backup catcher spot.  Leon made his major league debut in 2012, when the Nats suffered a rash of catcher injuries. Leon is well-regarded for his defense, which is already major league-ready according to most scouts. He seemed to make strides with the bat in 2012, hitting .322 between Harrisburg and Syracuse. Unfortunately he took a huge step backwards in 2013, hitting only .177 with the Senators. He will have to hit more than that to get another shot at the major leagues, or to ever be anything more than a third catcher.

37. Wander Ramos: Ramos, who has signed out of the Dominican back in 2009 by the Nats is someone who I see as kind of an interesting prospect.  When healthy he has been able to show off a decent hit tool, hitting for decent power and average. His breakout season was 2011, when he it .313 with 12 HRs for the GCL Nationals. He has continued to have success with Auburn and then Hagerstown, but injuries have really held him back, as the last two years he has had only 236 and 269 at bats. He hit 7 HRs both seasons, and hit .264 last year with the Suns. Next year, most likely at Potomac, will be a big year for him if he can stay on the field. We should really get a sense of what type of prospect he really is.

38. Isaac Ballou: Ballou was definitely the best hitter from the Nats 2013 draft class. Taken in the 15th round out of Marshall, Ballou impressed with Auburn hitting .294/.405/.398, and he stole 8 bases. The center fielder then got the call to the Hagerstown Suns, where he struggled in a limited sample size. For a 15th Round pick, Ballou has put up good numbers so far, but we will have to see him for a full year to get a real look at what we have here. Look for him to start next season with the Hagerstown Suns.

39. John Wooten: Here is all I know about Wooten, who was acquired from the As in the offseason. He was drafted in the 37th round out of East Carolina in 2012 by the Athletics, and he made this list because he hit 20 HRs in Low-A last season. He also stuck out a good bit, but that is to be expected for someone with power. He has played mostly RF, and he played some infield. Hopefully we will get a better look at him at Potomac next year, so I can get a real scouting report on him.

40. Craig Manuel: Manuel, taken in the 10th round out of Rice is an interesting catcher. Most scouting reports on him seem to think his long term spot is as a backup, however, he flashed a decent bat in a limited sample last season. In 170 at bats for the Hagerstown Suns, Manuel hit .282/.364/.347, and he only stuck out 19 times.  His defense is reportedly pretty good too, so he is an interesting catcher to watch move up the chain.

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