First off, a few housekeeping notes before I dive into the next group of prospects on my list. The first thing I would like to note, is after a recount of the votes it was determined that Sammy Solis was left off the first posts. He actually came in at 5th on my list. Next, I would just like to note some of how I decided where to rank certain prospects.
The two things I really like to look at are the upside of the player, and if they have actually produced in the minors, or is all the hype about their "tools". So with that taken care of here are prospects 12-20 plus Sammy Solis.
5. Sammy Solis - Unfortunately injuries have been the story of Solis' career to date. In 2011 he was limited to just 96.2 innings due to a hamstring injury. Then in the spring of 2012 Solis went down with an elbow injury, which would lead to Tommy John surgery which would keep him out for all of 2012, and most of 2013. When healthy, Solis looks to be a good middle of the rotation starter, with a fairly good chance of achieving that. Solis features a fastball that sits in the low 90's with a decent amount of sink to it. HIs best pitch if probably his change-up which sits in the low 80's. Combine that with the excellent feel and control he has for the change-up and you are looking at a plus pitch. His third pitch is a knuckle curve which the Nationals are definitely working on, as he has been throwing it more in his professional career so far, and it is quickly turning into a plus pitch. I have Solis starting the year in Harrisburg, and with a good year we could be seeing him in September.
12. Christian Garcia - Christian Garcia is a guy who we have seen what he can do when healthy, with "when healthy" being the key phrase. Before Garcia even got to Washington he had 2 Tommy John surgeries, to go along with another elbow injury. He signed with the Nationals in 2011 after having been released by the Yankees due to his injuries. He pitched almost all his innings with Auburn in 2011. In 2012 Garcia would start with Harrisburg, and quickly make his way up to Syracuse. He would then get the call to the majors in September, where he would impress Davey Johnson enough to be added to the postseason roster. 2013 was another lost year for Garcia, with injuries essentially wiping out his entire season. He would have a tendon problem in his forearm in spring training, and then while rehabbing his forearm, he injured his hamstring. The two injuries forced him to stay on the DL all season. When healthy Garcia features a mid to upper 90s fastball to go along with a very, very good slider and good control. He has legitimate closer potential, and if he is healthy I expect him to earn a spot in the Nationals' bullpen.
13. Zach Walters - Walters who was acquired from the Diamondbacks in exchange for Jason Marquis had somewhat of a breakout year last year. Walters had always shown a little bit of pop in his minor league career, but it wasn't until last year where it became a true asset. Walters would post a line of .253/.286/.517 while slugging 29 home runs for the Syracuse Chiefs. There are a few key flaws that Walters needs to fix before he can be a true consideration as a potential starting SS at the majors. The first one is his defense, as he made 31 errors with the Chiefs. Now as I was not able to watch any Chiefs games, I cant comment on if those errors are more mental like Ian Desmond had a problem with when he first came up, or is there something fundamentally wrong that Walters is doing. The other key flaws are the strikeouts and the lack of walks. In 487 AAA AB's Walters struck out 134 times, while only walking 20 times. The final question on Walters is if his power surge is legit, or was it just a one year fluke? If Walters can cut down on the errors, and continue with the power I think he can be a starting SS in the majors, however because of the amount of strikeouts and the errors, I feel Walters profiles as more of a future utility man.
14. Jeff Kobernus - The best way to sum up Jeff Kobernus is as the infield version of Eury Perez (I feel these two are interchangeable in the rankings). The best factor to Kobernus' game is his speed. In 371 ABs for Syracuse, Kobernus stole 42 bases, while only being caught 9 times. Kobernus' power is as a doubles hitter, and he hit a total of two home runs last season, one with the Chiefs, and one with the Nats. In the minors, Kobernus has consistently hit around .280-.300, but like you will see with Perez, what really limits his upside is the lack of walks, as he only had 28 walks with the Chiefs (and 28 walks represents a career high for Kobernus). I think Kobernus' speed and ability to hit for average should allow him to become a good utility player in the majors, but his lack of power and walks will probably keep him from ever being a starting player at the major league level.
FBB's Recommended Reading:
15. Eury Perez - With Perez I could essentially copy and paste what I just wrote for Kobernus, update the numbers and you would have a pretty accurate report for Eury Perez. Eury had one of his better years at the plate last season, hitting .300/.336/.442 with a career high seven HR in 403 at bats for the Syracuse Chiefs. The problem is that he only walked 13 times all season, and as a guy who's upside looks to be a future lead off hitter, this is a problem. He's not quite as good of a base stealer as Kobernus, but he still managed to steal 23 bags, while getting caught 8 times. He also has great outfield defense, and can play all thre positions at an above average level. Put all this together and I see a guy who at best is a future 4th OF, as the lack of walks just won't let him be all that good of a leadoff hitter.
16. Erik Davis - Not only does Davis look a lot like Tyler Clippard, he pitches a lot like him too. Acquired by the Nationals back in 2011 from the Padres in exchange for Alberto Gonzales, had a rough start to his time with the Nationals. Until last year Davis was most well known for taking a line drive to the face in the Cape Cod League. His first season with the Nationals, Davis started as a starter for Harrisburg, where his performance was so poor, he got demoted to Potomac by the end of the year. At this point in his career, everyone assumed Davis' days as a prospect were over. In the off-season between 2011 and 2012, Davis had surgery to fix a knee issue that had been bugging him all of 2011, and he was moved to the pen. Some combination of the two changes caused Davis' career to jump back on the right track, with a great year in Harrisburg where he pitched 64.1 innings, struck out 69, walked 18 and pitched to a 2.52 ERA. He continued his turnaround into the Dominican Winter League, where he put up a 0.47ERA in 19 innings para los Gigantes del Cibao. Davis would make his major league debut last year, along with putting up a nice season as closer for the Syracuse Chiefs. Davis primarily features a fastball/change-up combination. His fastball sits in the mid 90s, and the change-up in the mid 80s. Overall, I see his upside as a set-up guy, and I expect him to compete for a spot in the pen in ST this year
17. Brett Mooneyham - Mooneyham is a tall lefty who features a fastball that sits around 90-92, but with very little movement. When he does get movement on his fastball it sometimes has a cut or a sink to it, and is most effective when it is sinking. Along with the fastball, Mooneyham features a slider (converted from a curve) which still needs a good bit of work with both movement and control, but it currently serves as a good chase pitch. His best off speed offering is his changeup, but even that he still has some issues locating it. Mooneyham has almost the ideal frame for a pitcher at 6'5'' and 235 pounds, but as it often is with tall lefties, he has issues repeating his delivery. Even while still being somewhat of a project, Mooneyham dominated at Hagerstown last year, posting a 1.94 ERA in 93 innings for the Suns. He had a good SO/9 of 7.6 but he still had issues with the walk, as his BB/9 was 4.0. He was promoted to Potomac, but was hit around as in his three starts for the PNats he couldn't find the strike zone. In the end, Mooneyham is a guy who could be somewhat of a late bloomer. The Padres were willing to give him seven figures out of HS, but he turned it down, and in college injuries stalled his development. I think his upside is a good middle rotation starter, but he is still a decent ways away from the majors.
18. Austin Voth - Voth was the Nationals' 5th round pick in the 2013 draft, and he got off to a great start to his professional career. With the Auburn Doubledays, Voth dominated the competition, posting a 1.47 ERA in seven starts, with a 12.3 SO/9, and a 1.2 BB/9. Voth then quickly earned the promotion to Hagerstown, where he made two starts and posted a 3.38 ERA. In college, Voth ranked second in the PAC 12 in strikes, behind only 1st overall pick Mark Appel. Voth's fastball sits 90-94, but his control and command of it is outstanding; reports are that he can pretty much get the pitch to go wherever he wants it to. Along with the fastball, Voth throws a slider and a changeup, but neither pitch really profiles as a plus pitch. Because Voth is lacking a true out pitch, I think his upside is a solid middle rotation innings eater who will pound the strike zone. Voth seems like a pretty polished prospect for his level, and I think he could be a guy who moves quickly through the system.
19. Tony Renda - Renda is never gonna be a guy who really catches your attention, but what he will do is make the most of the tools he has. Renda is never going to be a big-time power hitter, but if last season at Hagerstown is any indication, he does have enough power to pile up the doubles (he had 43 in 531 at bats). He also walked more than he stuck out with the Suns (68 walks to 65 strikeouts). Put this together and his triple slash was .294/.380/.405 which for a guy who plays solid defense at second base is pretty good. He also stole 30 bases while only getting caught six times. I think that Renda's future is as a utility player, but if he can continue to keep the strikeouts down and hit the doubles, he could make for a solid starting second baseman.
20. Richie Mirowski - Mirowski is a guy who it's hard not to root for; a 45th round pick in 2011, Mirowski a guy who has really outpitched his stuff. His fastball struggles to reach 90, and usually sits in the upper 80s. In the AFL, he relied on his fastball and a cutting version of it, which sits in the mid 80s. He also threw a changeup in the low 80s, and a curve in the mid-70s. I can't say much about his pitches, as I could not find any scouting reports, but Nathaniel Stoltz said on Twitter that he sees him as at best as a middle reliever. Even though his scouting reports aren't all that encouraging, you can't ignore the results from last year. He started the year with Potomac after a nice season at Hagerstown, and he continued to impress. He put up a 1.50 ERA with a 11.1 SO/9 and a 2.1 BB/9 in 48 innings for Potomac. He then got the call to AA Harrisburg, where in 20.2 innings he put up a 2.61 ERA with a 12.6 SO/9 and a 1.7 BB/9. Overall, Mirowski is a guy who could easily be in Washington next year, and even without the best stuff, it should be fun to see just how far he can take himself.
Credits: baseballnewshound.com, baseball-reference, brooks baseball, baseballprospectnation.com.
- 2014 Nationals' Bullpen: Are the Nats Done Adding Lefties To the Mix?
- Can Nationals' 1B Adam LaRoche Bounce Back From His 2013 Campaign?
- Nationals Agree To Terms With Stephen Strasburg, Avoiding Arbitration
- Nationals' OF Bryce Harper on Knee Injury: "It Was a Lot Worse Than a Lot of People Thought."
- Nationals Sign Jamey Carroll And Mike Fontenot, Add Competition For Danny Espinosa