The Washington Nationals' #1 Prospect According To Baseball America...
Second in the hearts of DC baseball fans only to the unveiling of the Nationals Farm Authority's "Nationals Top Prospects" list...It's Baseball America's Aaron Fitt, who's back with this year's edition of the, "Top 10 Prospects: Washington Nationals" report, which announces the crowning of Jordan Zimmermann, Washington's 2nd Round pick, 67th overall in 2007, as the top prospect in the Nationals' organization. Zimmermann moves up from 7th overall in last year's edition to the top of the list following an '08 campaign that saw the 6'2'', 200lb right-hander post a (10-3) record between Class-A Potomac and Double-AA Harrisburg, going (3-1) with the P-Nats in 5 games, (4 starts) and 27.1 IP in which the 22-year-old Auburndale, Wisconsin native had a 1.65 ERA with an 0.84 WHIP, and (7-2) as a Senator, with a 3.21 ERA in 20 starts and 106.2 IP, over which he K'd 103.
Aaron Fitt's opinion mirrors that of the Washington Nationals, and apparently a few other teams around the league, at least according to DC GM Jim Bowden, who told a questioner during a live chat, as quoted in MLB.com's Bill Ladson's article entitled, "Bowden takes questions from fans", that:
"Of all of the players in our organization, more clubs ask for Jordan Zimmermann in trades than any other player...He will be given consideration to make our rotation out of Spring Training."
...Just yesterday, Washington Post sports writer Chico Harlan, in an article entitled, "Right Off The Stove" in the Post's Nationals Journal, included Jordan Zimmermann in his list of the, "...five in line for rotation jobs," with the '09 Nationals, along with John Lannan, Scott Olsen, Collin Balester and Daniel Cabrera, as the Nationals put the strength of their scouting, drafting and teaching to the test, looking to work three starters, Lannan, Balester and Zimmermann, who were drafted by DC within the last five years, and two starters, Olsen and Cabrera, acquired this offseason, into the Major League rotation.
Lannan jumped from high Class-A ball in Potomac to Double-AA Harrisburg, Triple-AAA Columbus and finally the Nationals' rotation in 2007, after just 55 starts in DC's system following his selection, 324th overall, in the 11th Round of the '05 Draft. Balester's '08 debut followed 5 seasons and 94 starts in the system after the Expos chose him with their 4th Round pick (114th) in 2004, and now Jordan Zimmermann will look to make the quickest ascent of three, having made just 35 starts and 3 relief appearances, and without having thrown a pitch above Double-AA ball.
The Rest Of Baseball America's Aaron Fitt's Top 10 DC Prospects List...
(after the jump)...
The rest of the Baseball America's Aaron Fitt's Top 5 after Jordan Zimmermann are as follows: Ross Detwiler (2), Chris Marrero (3), Michael Burgess (4), Jack McGeary (5).
DC's first baseman of the future, Chris Marrero, last year's pick as DC's #1 Prospect, drops two spots mainly due to a broken right fibula and torn ligaments in his right ankle which were suffered on a play at the plate that ended his season after only 70 games in which he collected 15 doubles, 2 triples, 11 HR's and 38 RBI's as a 19-year-old with Class-A Potomac.
Washington Times' sports writer Ben Goessling summed up Ross Detwiler's second professional season as a struggle in which the, "...left-hander...stagnated at Potomac, his mechanics going through an overhaul that robbed the 2007 first-rounder of consistency much of the year." But by the time Nationals' Pitching Coach Randy St. Claire visited the 22-year-old Nationals' '07 1st Round pick in the Arizona Fall League as described in MLB.com's Bill Ladson's October '08 article entitled, "St.Claire visits AFL Prospects", Mr. St. Claire was reporting that progress had been made in correcting Detwiler's delivery and command issues...At least enough so that Detwiler didn't fall at all in Baseball America's estimation...
Michael Burgess**, who earns the distinction of having the "Best Outfield Arm" in the DC Organization in Aaron Fitt's opinion, stays in the same spot as last year, 3rd overall in the Nationals' system, by following up on his first professional season, (in which he hit .318 over 55 games with 7 doubles, 4 triples, 11 HR's and 42 RBI's), with a combined .246 AVG, 29 doubles, 4 triples, 24 HR's and 79 RBI's at two stops in Class-A ball with the Hagerstown Suns and Potomac Nationals.
Jack McGeary** took time away from his studies to make 13 starts in the Nationals' system, 12 for the Gulf Coast Nationals, posting a (2-2) record and a 4.07 ERA in 59.2 innings pitched over which he struck out 64 batters...and 1 start with the Vermont Lake Monsters in which he lasted 4.0 innings and allowed 6 hits, 2 runs and 3 walks with 5 K's and 1 hit batter.
#'s 6-10 on Baseball America's Aaron Fitt's List Of Washington Nationals' Prospects...
After '07 6th Round pick, catcher Derek Norris (6), who is described by Baseball America's Aaron Fitt's as having the "Best Strike-Zone Discipline"...three of the Nationals' next four Top Prospects on Mr. Fitt's list were drafted in 2008, starting with outfielder Destin Hood (7), drafted 2nd behind only Aaron Crow...Adrian Nieto (8), a high school catcher drafted in the 5th Round in '08, who was described in a Washington Nationals' official press release entitled, "Nationals agree to terms with fifth-round catcher Adrian Nieto", as, "...one of the best bats among catching prospects selected in this season's Draft,"...J.P. Ramirez, (9) drafted in the 15th Round and already one of the Nationals' Top 10 Prospects, was almost sacrificed to the up-to-the-deadline, last-minute Aaron Crow negotiations according to DC GM Jim Bowden, as he describes in a Nationals Journal post by Chico Harlan entitled, "More than 3,700 words from Jim Bowden on Aaron Crow":
"'...He (J.P. Ramirez) was done at one minute 'til midnight at the end. Here was a guy that, we were holding on to that because we didn't know if we had enough money in our budget to get Ramirez. We had enough money to get Ramirez because we didn't sign Crow. So that was done right there at the end.'"
...and finally...the only player on the Baseball America list of the Nationals' Top 10 Prospects that DC did not draft...
Esmailyn "Smiley" Gonzalez** (10). The Washington Nationals' first high-profile Latin American signing was described by DC GM Jim Bowden, in a 7/2/06 article by MLB.com's Bill Ladson entitled, "Notes: Nationals Sign Gonzalez", as, "...a definite starter in the big leagues," Bowden said. "He's an incredible shortstop."According to Baseball America's Aaron Fitt, "Smiley" will be a part of the DC infield by 2012 (but not at short?). The 18-year-old infielder, in his second pro season, led the Gulf Coast League with a .343 AVG after 51 games and 181 at bats in which he hit 12 doubles, 3 triples, 2 HR's and collected 33 RBI's, with the GCL's 2nd best OBP (.431), a .475 SLG, and .906 OPS.
For more information check out:
Brian Oliver's analysis at the Nationals Farm Authority
A FANPOST here at Federalbaseball.com by nowayback entitled, "Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects"
The Hardball Warriors (hardballwarriors.com) collect the last five lists of the Baseball America Top 10 Prospects reports for each NL East team in one place.
(ed. note - " ** = minors.baseball-reference.com stat pages.")