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Want An Independent Opinion of the Nats Minor League Operations?

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First, thanks to "E" for inviting me to post an occasional story, column or commentary on Federal Baseball.  I'll try to keep my commentary succinct and easy to read, if not easy to digest.  I'm extremely happy to be a small part of the team, and hope everyone else will be too!

ESPN.com's Keith Law, a former Toronto Blue Jay executive, published his organizational rankings for this season today. You'll be disappointed to find out his opinion of the Nats minor league organization, as his opinion differs WILDLY from that of Stan Kasten or Jim Bowden.

29. Washington Nationals: Ross Detwiler and Josh Smoker, two of their top three prospects at this time in 2008, took huge steps backward this past season, and the Nationals' botched negotiations with first-round pick Aaron Crow were just more of the same from Jim Bowden's reign of error. The consistent failure to convert veteran big leaguers into any sort of prospects and questions about their practices in Latin America will leave them stuck down here even if they have a successful draft in 2009.

Yes, that's 29 out of the 30 major league teams. Ouch.

Also, his top 100 prospects list is due tomorrow, but we have a preview. The highest ranked individual National prospect is Jordan Zimmermann, at 42.
"Zimmermann spent most of his first full pro season in Double-A, good for any recent draftee but even more so for a pitcher out of a Division III school, as he is. He's not a potential ace but a very high-probability No. 3 with a chance to be better than that because of his plus command.

Zimmermann is a classic four-pitch pitcher who changes speeds well and commands his stuff, locating his 90-94 mph four-seamer to all parts of the zone. He also keeps the ball down. His best pitch remains his mid-80s slider, short and tight with good tilt, although his curve is tighter now than it was when he was an amateur. Plus, he turns his changeup over well.

He has good feel for pitching, above-average command and average control."

It's pretty well known that Jim Bowden has a history of hyper-inflating players, then blaming them publicly when they don't live up to his over-inflated expectations.  But if you take Law at face value, this is fairly damning evidence that "The Plan (tm)" isn't working as well as Stan Kasten of Jim Bowden hoped that it would.

Just last year Baseball America ranked the Nats' minor league ops at 9th in baseball.  If you account for Detwiler and Smoker's backwards steps being responsible for a fall from 9th to 29th, that's a precipitous fall on the backs of two pitching prospects.