In 2013, ESPN.com's Keith Law ranked the Washington Nationals no.21 overall in the majors on his yearly list of the top farm systems in baseball, noting that after a strong Top 5, there was a "... bottomless crevasse somewhere not far after that." The Nats moved up three spots on Law's 2014 farm system rankings to no.18, with ESPN's analyst noting that there was more depth in the organization, but most of the "elite" talent had graduated from prospect status and after the top six or seven names on the list, the "caliber drops off quickly."
This time around, on Law's 2015 farm system rankings, which were published today, the Nationals make a jump from no.18 to no.9 overall among MLB's teams.
My ranking of all 30 MLB farm systems is now up for Insiders: http://t.co/8uOppDP6R1
— keithlaw (@keithlaw) January 28, 2015
Mike Rizzo and co. in the nation's capital, Law writes, "got a big boost" in the last year with the addition of 2014 1st Round pick Erick Fedde a projected top 5-10 pick before he suffered a torn UCL in his right elbow and fell to no.18, and the "two top-100 prospects" the Nationals acquired in the three-team trade with the San Diego Padres and Tampa Bay Rays which netted both right-hander Joe Ross and a PTBNL (widely reported to be 2014 1st Round pick SS Trea Turner).
With the prospects that previously graduated to the majors, Law mentions that the Nationals are "set at the major league level" and thus haven't had to deal from their prospect depth to fill holes on the Nats' roster, with, "... just two of their top 10 from last year, [Steven] Souza and Nate Karns... no longer with the Nats," after they were traded in this winter's and last winter's deals with the Rays.
The Nationals have to wait until June for one of their two "top-100 prospects" to join the organization, of course, since the Padres can't officially include Trea Turner in the deal until a year after the 13th overall pick in last year's draft was signed.
MLB.com's Prospect Watch scouts ranked Turner 8th overall on their list of the Top 10 Shortstop prospects in the minors when they released the rankings today:
"The 2014 first-rounder has top-of-the-chart speed and knows how to use it well on the basepaths. He showed a very good feel for hitting during his pro debut and could move quickly, especially once he's past this trade oddity."
Turner put up a .321/.418/.516 line at North Carolina State in 2014, then joined the Padres' organization after the draft, putting up a .228/.324/.283 line with two doubles and a home run in 105 plate appearances at Class-A Eugene in San Diego's system and a .369/.447/.529 line with 14 doubles, two triples and four home runs over 216 PAs at Low-A Fort Wayne before heading to the Arizona Fall League where he posted a .400/.417/.400 line in nine games and 36 PAs.