USA Today released its eagerly anticipated "100 Names You Need to Know" list, and by "eagerly anticipated," I mean I had no idea such a list existed. But maybe I should, so I'm glad I do. You know?
At any rate, four members or prospective members of the Washington Nationals made the list, so we might as well make a note. Before we do so, however, how about we determine exactly what this list is? Here we go:
These aren't necessarily baseball's 100 best prospects. Many top prospects are too far down in the minor leagues to contribute in the majors this season. Others are stuck behind established major leaguers.
Not all of the players on our list have rookie status, but our criterion for inclusion is that players must have had more at-bats or innings pitched in the minor leagues in 2006 than they have had during all their major league time.
I suppose I could have just summarized that as "Guys You Might Not Have Heard of Who Might Make an Impact in 2007." USA Today wants to be part of the vanguard, so let's see what they do with it:
9. Kory Casto.
37. Shawn Hill.
77. Larry Broadway.
79. Bernie Castro.
I'm not quite sure how McWeekly ranked this list, so take the rankings as you will. Casto's high ranking obviously reflects opportunity, but what does Broadway's low ranking mean? Lack of opportunity? Well, he has a clear shot at playing regularly for at least a month uninterrupted, which is probably more than you can say for half the guys ahead of him, so who really knows what's going on. It's a list, and Bernie Castro's on it. Your mileage may vary.
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Underground Natty blog Oleanders & Morning Glories busts out the equations today, which is every bit as naughty by nature as it sounds. Kearns + Lopez + Guzman + OF? >= Soriano + Vidro + Guillen + Clayton + OF? Oh yeah.
It's a positional analysis. It's a love letter to Cristian Guzman. It's all things for all people. Read it.
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There's quite a bit of discussion circulating and percolating on why Ryan Zimmerman's name wasn't listed among the fifteen thousand guys who signed contracts today. Is it a sign a long-term deal is in the works? My official position: Hells should I know.
A thought exercise---irrelevant because it stands on its head everything we know about team control and service time, but an exercise nonetheless: If Zimmerman were put on the open market today, what would he command? Forget pre-arbitration years and arbitration years. If he were a free agent today, free and clear, how much would he get?
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It's never too early to think about next year or 2012, which in Planspeak are relatively comparable terms, and Nats Farm Authority has what we need. Brian's latest "Future Focus" profiles a righthanded pitcher named Neil Ramirez of Kempsville High School, which is located in Virginia Beach. I find this profile interesting, because the "Kasten Braves" (associationally speaking) drafted and developed a lot of local and regional talent. If the Nats are going to tap into talent within its broader region, the Tidewater area is a darn good place to start.
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I've been planning on exploring the guys on hand for Rotation Madness '07, but in blogging if you're a day late then you're often about a million bucks short. Such is the case with Tim Redding, the best of the "Gang of 13," because Capitol Punishment has written the definitive blogging profile on the guy. It's a good read. I had no idea Manny Acta managed him in the minors.
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New blog! Welcome National Record to the Natosphere, or Natmosphere, or Nats Blogosphere, or whatever we're expected to call it. Greg has a nice quick-hitter style blog over there, so check it out.
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Finally, Nats320 notes Vinny Castilla retired. Most Nats fans will remember Castilla with fondness for his part of the inaugural season. I guess that's warranted, although he didn't do much of anything after April. (However, he didn't have to do much of anything, since he made his lasting impression during the home opener.)
As for me, I guess I'll remember him more for the two seasons I watched him in Richmond. Back then (1991-92), Castilla was a relatively poor offensive shortstop, a rather low-average hitter with poor plate discipline, albeit a little bit of pop in his bat. But he certainly didn't have the pop he'd later exhibit. Castilla departed for Colorado (for the inaugural season out there, as it were), and since I was a kid from Richmond and Castilla was a guy who recently played in Richmond, I naturally rooted for him. I remember being thrilled when he broke through with a regular role in 1995, and his power surge only made me prouder.
That provincialism wore off after awhile, and it wasn't until today that I really remembered it. Coors Field certainly helped Castilla (to a great extent), but he also made himself into something. He should be very proud of his accomplishments.