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10/26/07 Is This All Mike Rizzo's Doing?

     I openly admit to not knowing how to delineate what role each individual executive of a baseball team plays in the ultimate decision of which prospects to select in each season's MLB Amateur Draft, but in his former job as Scouting Director with the Arizona Diamondbacks, and in his current position as the Assistant General Manager and Director of Baseball Operations for the Washington Nationals, Mike Rizzo has played some part in putting together two of the most promising rosters in the Majors.

      In his seven seasons with Arizona, Rizzo oversaw the selection of the following:

1999  - Chris Capuano, Lyle Overbay
2000  - Brandon Webb(8th Round)
2001  - Scott Hairston, Chad Tracy, Dan Uggla
2002  - Chris Snyder, Lance Cormier
2003  - Conor Jackson, Carlos Quentin, Matt Chico
2004  - Stephen Drew, Garrett Mock
2005  - Justin Upton, Micah Owings

      Rizzo was hired by the Nationals on July 26, 2006, a month after that season's Draft, so his first in DC took place in 2007. In his article entitled "Nats estatic with Draft's outcome," at washington.nationals.mlb.com at the time, Nationals writer Bill Ladson quoted Rizzo as stating:

    "If we get all these guys signed we got ourselves the best
     Draft in baseball. There's no question about it."

     An e-mail I received today confirmed Mr Rizzo's opinion, nationals.com forwarded a link to a Baseball America article which declared, "NATIONALS' 2007 DRAFT RANKED #1 BY BASEBALL AMERICA."

     Outfielder Michael Burgess and the three left-handed hurlers, Jack McGeary, Josh Smoker and Ross Detwiler, that the Nationals selected were sighted as the players who brought about Baseball America's high ranking, and all four players have signed with the organization, with Detwiler even seeing an inning of work in September.

     In 2006, when Rizzo left Arizona, Baseball America ranked Arizona the #1 Farm System in Baseball, and now, two years after the Nationals moved to DC with a barren Minor League system, the Nationals are flush with prospects, many of whom are close to breaking through to the Major League level.

     The Nationals Farm Authority at:
 http://www.farmauthority.dcsportsnet.com/

 ...has a list of the Nationals top prospects as of 2007:

http://farmauthority.dcsportsnet.com/nationals-top-prospects-2007/

...and a near-exhaustive archive of any and every prospect you might be interested in from the Washington Nationals organization. You'll notice though that none of the players sighted by Baseball America are on the Farm Authority's list, with previous year's draft picks like Chris Marrero, Kory Casto, Colton Willems, and Zechery Zincola listed as a first wave or prospects set to arrive before 2007's Draft class.

     Mike Rizzo, GM Jim Bowden and all those working to build the Nationals into a contender, seem to be on the right track, and after so many years of the wrong track, this really is refreshing.

*If you have nothing but free time to read about the Nationals(Like me.)...here are some of the links referenced above...*

Baseball America 2006 Farm System Rankings- http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospects/features/26854.html

Bill Ladson's arrticle on Nationals Hiring Rizzo - http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20060724&content_id=1573299&vkey=ne ws_was&fext=.jsp&c_id=was

Bill Ladson's article on the Nationals 2007 Draft - http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20070608&content_id=2014113&vkey=news_was&fext=. jsp&c_id=was

Nationals Press Release on Baseball America's Designation - http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/news/press_releases/press_release.jsp?ymd=20071026&content_i d=2283215&vkey=pr_was&fext=.jsp&c_id=was