Baseball America's updated Top 10 Prospects list was included in the Washington Nationals' press on release on their organization being named BA's best last week. The updated rankings reflected the current state of the system after the deal for A's left-hander Gio Gonzalez which sent three players (RHPs A.J.Cole, Brad Peacock and C Derek Norris) from the original Top 10 list to Oakland. The only name on Baseball America's updated list that wasn't on MLB.com's list of the Nationals' top prospects when it was released today was Chris Marrero's. The 23-year-old '06 1st Round pick finished just outside the Top 10 on MLB.com's list after a 2011 season at Triple-A Syracuse in which he had a .300/.375/.449 line with 28 doubles and 18 HR's in 141 games and 577 plate appearances. Marrero, who made his MLB debut in 2011, was ninth on Baseball America's list, finished 11th on MLB.com's.
• Here's MLB.com Top 10...
- Bryce Harper - OF
- Anthony Rendon - 3B
- Alex Meyer - RHP
- Sammy Solis - LHP
- Michael Taylor - OF
- Matt Purke - LHP
- Eury Perez - OF
- Destin Hood - OF
- Brian Goodwin - OF
- Steve Lombardozzi - INF
MLB.com's report cites Perez's "above-average" defense, strong outfield arm and speed on the basepaths and notes the fact that, "He’s stolen 109 bases over the past two years," and, "... makes consistent contact and doesn’t strike out as a line-drive hitter," though they suggest in the scouting report that he has to, "... improve his plate discipline to fit the profile of a true leadoff hitter."
Four of the players on both Baseball America's updated list and MLB.com's rankings have yet to play a minor league game. All four are from the Nats' 2011 Draft Class. Anthony Rendon, the Nats' 1st Round pick, taken 6th overall this past June, was described by D.C. GM Mike Rizzo at the time as the, "most accomplished hitter in the draft." Rendon is ranked as the second-best prospect in the Nats' system behind only Bryce Harper on both lists based on what he accomplished in college. In 63 games and 214 at bats at Rice in 2011, Rendon, who struggled with ankle and shoulder issues, posted a .327/.520/.523 line with twenty doubles, six home runs and 27 RBI's. The right-handed hitting third baseman finished three seasons with the Owls with a .371 AVG (253-for-682), 46 doubles, 52 home runs, 194 RBIs and 176 walks in 187 games.
Fellow 2011 Draft picks RHP Alex Meyer (no. 23), OF Brian Goodwin (no. 34) and LHP Matt Purke (no. 96) were on both Top 10 Prospect lists as well, with Meyer finishing 3rd on MLB's and 4th on BA's, while Goodwin is 4th on Baseball America's and 9th on MLB's list. Purke, a 1st Round pick who fell to the 3rd Round after dealing with shoulder injuries throughout the 2011 campaign, finished 6th overall on MLB's list and 5th on Baseball America's, as the top left-hander in the Nats' system accord to BA and the second-best behind 2010 2nd Round pick Sammy Solis on MLB.com's.
Solis, according to the report on MLB.com's list, "... has looked like one of the best lefty prospects in the game," though he had to battle injury issues this season. The 23-year-old left-hander was (2-1) record with a 4.02 ERA, 3.22 FIP, 8.93 K/9 and 2.68 BB/9 in seven starts and 40.1 IP for Class-A Hagerstown Suns early in the 2011 season before he moved up to Class-A Potomac where Solis was (6-2) with a 2.72 ERA, 3.16 FIP, 8.47 K/9 and 1.76 BB/9 in 10 starts and 56.1 IP. After experiencing elbow pain at the end of his second AFL stint, Solis visited doctors, but he's expected to be 100% by the time Spring Training begins this month.
Michael Taylor, the Nats' 6th Round pick from 2009, is a 20-year-old outfielder who had a .253/.310/.432 line with 26 doubles, seven triples, 13 home runs and 23 stolen bases in 126 games and 488 PA's at Class-A Hagerstown in his second year in the Nationals' system. Taylor was 10th on Baseball America's updated list. The 6'2'', 190 lb right-handed hitting outfielder is ranked 5th in the Nats' system by MLB.com's scout, as the second-best outfielder in the organization behind only Harper. Taylor struck out 120 times in 126 games this year, and the MLB.com scouts write that he needs to improve his plate discipline, but with his "raw tools", "above-average power" and speed on the basepaths, if his patience improves and the Nats are patient too, they think, "... the payoff could be huge."
Destin Hood was ranked 8th on BA's update list, and he's 8th on MLB.com's list, as the third-best outfielder in the Nats' system. The 21-year-old, '08 2nd Round pick spent the 2011 season at Class-A Potomac where he put up a .276/.364/.445 line with 29 doubles, five triples, 13 HR's and 21 stolen bases in 128 games and 536 plate appearances. The 6'1'', 225 lb right-handed hitting and throwing outfielder projects as a corner outfielder according to MLB.com's scouts, who predict he could be a 20/20 [HR/SB] threat if he pans out.
Rounding out the MLB.com Top prospect list (at no. 10) is MLB-ready infielder Steve Lombardozzi, who was ranked 7th on Baseball America's list. The 23-year-old '08 19th Round pick made his MLB debut this past September, and is expected to challenge for a role on the Nats' bench this Spring after posting a combined .309/.360/.430 slash at Double-and-Triple-A in the Nats' system in 2011. The MLB.com scouts say the same things you've heard about the son of former major leaguer Steve Lombardozzi throughout the infielder's time in Washington's organization. Nothing flashy, but does everything well and excels, "... because of his all-out style and baseball IQ." With the Nats' infield crowded as it is, the MLB.com scouts say there's a utility role in the infielder's future.
The Nats' GM Mike Rizzo told MLB Network Radio hosts Jim Duquette and Kevin Kennedy recently that Baseball America recognizing the Nats' as baseball's top organization was some of, "... the best news I've had all winter. Those things are near and dear to my heart being a scouting a director and [involved] in player development, that is such an organizational reward, it's like the ultimate organizational award. The birthdays missed, the anniversaries missed, these scouts hitting the road and spending 200 nights in a hotel and these player development guys in the cages at seven o'clock in the morning til nine o'clock at night, that's what this thing's all about."
Though Baseball America's Jim Callis said the Nats would drop a few spots on the list after the trade for Gio Gonzalez, they've come a long way over the last few years, and the baseball world has taken notice. They've got the no.1 position prospect in baseball and they landed four prospects (Harper, Rendon, Meyer and Solis) on MLB.com's Top 100 Prospect list earlier this winter. The major league team is built to win now (or in 2013?), but the system is built to keep the Nationals competitive in the future.