Last week, Keith Law, the ESPN analyst and former MLB scout, came out with his list of top 100 prospects. On the Nationals front, a few guys made it on the list, but unfortunately nobody made it to the top 50.
Everybody should already know the highest Nats prospect, #51 Ross Detwiler. Law is pretty high on him, and there are usually 2 ways they look at pitchers that they like (other than those guys who are a sure thing like Chamberlain or Buchholz). The first is the potential ace with serious stuff, but may never develop right, the classic high risk high reward. The second category is the guy who will be good enough to pitch well, a number 2-4 in the roster depending on how everything breaks, but one they are almost positive will be that good. Detwiler falls into the latter category. The 22 year old lefty has at least 2 strong pitches and possibly a third, and he throws strikes, so Law likes him.
#64 is Chris Marrero the young power hitting prospect. Law thinks he should have the power to play first base, but lacks the glove to play anywhere else. He also is worried that the rest of his bat is only so-so, but his power will keep him in the majors.
#83 surprised me when it turned out to be Jordan Zimmermann. He gives him for average or above pitches and solid control. I am surprised that he ranks in higher than some other guys like Balester and Smoker, but maybe Zimmerman has developed faster.
#90 was the aforementioned lefty Josh Smoker, and he basically said his pitches look good, he needs to improve control and stamina as he develops. But he’s young, and has the time to do that.
Law also ranked his top 5 per team, and the Nats list is as follows:
1. Ross Detwiler, LHP
2. Chris Marrero, 1B
3. Jordan Zimmerman, RHP
4. Josh Smoker, LHP
5. Michael Burgess, RF
Burgess, who didn’t make the top 100, you will recall is the young power hitting OF. He is more of the high risk high reward guy. If he can develop, you may see 30+ HRs out of him a year. Which would be sweet.
Signing another catcher
So the Nationals took my advice and signed another catcher. This one, Johnny Estrada, should be interesting. He is known publicly as a bad defensive catcher… if you’re sitting in the first few rows near the first base dugout, you may be able to steal second base on him. His bat is what keeps him in the majors, but it was bad last year. The .278/.296/.403 splits aren’t too uplifting, but he has had a couple of good seasons, and he’s only had 5 full season in the majors. His rookie season was awful, he had just under 300 ABs, then didn’t play much for 2 years. After that, 2 have been bad, but 2 have been very good. His first full season after his rookie year was his All Star year in 2004, when he hit .314/.378/.450. He faltered in ’05, but came back with a strong ’06 hitting .302/.328/.444, which isn’t spectacular, but is very good for a catcher. If he can continue this on year off year thing, he will be quite a good bat in the lineup. If not, well at least its a one year deal, you can’t really complain about that. You can assume that Jesus Flores will get a whole bunch of ABs in AAA once Lo Duca is healthy, which is probably the best part about this signing.
It’s not as exciting as Guzmania, but apparently there is some lefty pitcher that was traded to the Mets recently. So I have heard, at least. Count me as someone who is excited that Santana will be pitching in the NL East. He is great to see, and while I am torn that he goes to a division rival, the opportunity to see him pitch more seems worth it. I don’t think people realize how good he is. In the 4 seasons he has been a full time starter (yes it’s only been 4) with Minnesota here’s what he’s done compared to the other AL pitchers:
Wins – top 5 three times
Ks – #1 three times, #2 once
ERA – #1 or #2 three times
WHIP – #1 all 4 seasons
K/9 – #1 three times, #2 once
K/BB – #2 two times, #4 two times
He’s insanely good. If he’s starting in DC, I’m going to try to go see him pitch. If he’s pitching against the Nats on TV, I’m going to watch him. He is the kind of player you will tell your grandchildren you watched.