Baseball Prospectus’ Kevin Goldstein has released his Top 11 Prospects for the Nationals, for 2012. For the third year in a row, The Nats have two 5-star guys. The most important takeaway, perhaps, is that the supposed thinning of the system after the Gio Gonzalez trade may not have been that bad, especially with their strong 2011 draft. If you click the link, you’ll see this list:
1. Bryce Harper, OF
2. Anthony Rendon, 3B
3. Matt Purke, LHP
4. Brian Goodwin, OF
5. Alex Meyer, RHP
6. Destin Hood, OF
7. Michael Taylor, OF
8. Steve Lombardozzi, 2B
9. Robbie Ray, LHP
10. Sammy Solis, LHP
11. Tyler Moore, 1B
Then he gets into the review of each guy – which you can’t see. I’m not going to reproduce everything he says there, because I would like that website to keep making money and continue producing great stuff, so you can buy a subscription for that. But a few highlights for each guy, just because you may not have even heard of some of them.
Bryce Harper - You’ve heard of this guy, right? He’s got an “easy 80 raw power” but understands the strike zone enough to hit for average as well. Nothing you don’t know in here, although Goldstein does mention that if things go right, he could hit near .600 slugging. He’s also going to be only 19 this season.
Anthony Rendon - He’s a very good offensive player, with great plate discipline and a very quick bat. He’ll be able to hit, and should move very quickly through the minors. He’s also a great fielder at third base. But his ankle injuries have lead people to believe he might be injury prone – that thought and the fact that these injuries have hurt his speed probably hurts his chances to actually play 2B effectively, although that’s the dream scenario for Nats fans.
Matt Purke - The third round pick in 2011 is probably the biggest risk/reward example in the organization. He’s a lefty with good velocity and movement on his fastball, plus some strong secondary pitches. But he had shoulder issues last year, which is why the Nats were able to get him so late, and he didn’t impress in the Arizona Fall League. He has potential to be a front line starter, but his shoulder could make it so he never approaches the majors. His first season in the minors will be a big indication of which way he’s going.
Brian Goodwin - He’s the “other” first round pick from the 2011 draft, forgotten behind the almost ready-Rendon and Alex Meyer, who was thought to be a first rounder for a year. But Goodwin could end up being the best of the bunch, although it won’t be known for a while. He’s a toolsy player, with speed and power, bat speed and an arm. He’s still undeveloped and might need several years in the minors, but if he makes it, he’s a star center fielder with power and speed.
Alex Meyer – The big lefty was the second pick in the draft last year, and the one besides Rendon that gets attention. When you’re 6’9″, attention probably isn’t something you’re lacking. He’s got real velocity on his fastball but he’s had some real command and control issues. Some see him as a potential starter, others see him as a dominating closer. Either way, hitters probably aren’t going to enjoy seeing 98 mph coming from a guy of his size.
Destin Hood – The first guy on this list other than Harper who wasn’t drafted this past season, Hood is an interesting prospect. He’s a tools guy, but the speed isn’t quite there to play CF. He’s developing his great athletic ability into baseball ability, and has progressed to the point where scouts are seeing a guy who can hit for average and with some power. As a corner outfielder, his power will probably be considered a little low, but if he can get on base enough it might not matter.
Michael Taylor – He’s another toolsy outfielder, with some serious power and speed. But his approach and his patience aren’t great, and he strikes out alot. If he ever develops, he could be a big HR/SB/K center fielder. But Goldstein cautions that this development is a rarity. As a side note, at the August Blogger Day, Nats Director of Minor League Operations, Mark Scialabba, mentioned Taylor as a guy who maybe flew under the radar but really impressed them this season.
Steve Lombardozzi – He played in the majors last season, and he didn’t exactly impress with the bat. But his easy quick swing makes Goldstein see him as a “.280-plus” hitter in the major leagues, albeit without any power. Even if he does hit for average, he’s probably not much more than a low-end starting 2B, or a decent utility guy. Certainly there’s value in that, but not any upside.
Robbie Ray – He’s a lefty who throws a fastball with movement, although it doesn’t have serious velocity. He’s a potential mid-level starter in the majors, although he probably doesn’t have the ability to do more than that. He’s still a few year’s away if he does develop.
Sammy Solis – Solis is another LHP, and he’s got some real velocity, touching the mid-90s. He has display good control, and has an “easy” delivery. His secondary pitches aren’t special at this point, and therefore he probably throws his fastball too much. If he can get those issues under control, he could debut pretty soon as an innings eating lefty who isn’t special, but is valuable by being average for 33 starts a year.
Tyler Moore – He’s got serious power and had a breakout year last year, turning some heads. He’s also shown good ability to play defense at first. He’s a righty who shows significantly more power against lefties (although he doesn’t hit poorly against righties) and won’t ever hit for average. He could end up seeing real time in the majors, but he’s not a star first baseman. Still, power and defense are a good combination, and should be interesting to watch.