Baseball Prospectus came out with their list of the Nationals Top 11 prospects. They did it over the weekend, thinking nobody would notice, but I saw it. Suckers.
You can check out the actual list on the link, or look below this line:
1. Stephen Strasburg, RHP
2. Derek Norris, C
3. Drew Storen, RHP
4. Danny Espinosa, SS
5. Ian Desmond, SS
6. Michael Burgess, OF
7. Eury Perez, OF
8. Jeff Kobernus, 2B
9. Chris Marrero, 1B
10. Juan Jaime, RHP
11. Paul Demny, RHP
Then they get into the review of each guy – which you can’t see. I’m not going to reproduce everything they say there. 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.
1. Stephen Strasburg – Surprise suprise. Just to remind you, the mention that he his a fastball that’s 95-98 mph and “touches triple digits regularly.” He’s also very very accurate, with a “plus-plus” power breaking ball that “can be an absolute wipeout offering.” His downside is apparently his “problems” with the media. I think that’s crap, in my opinion, he wasn’t overwhelmed by that first press conference, he was a little surprised and joked about it. That doesn’t show makeup issues to me.
2. Derek Norris – The much talked about catching prospect is their other 5-star guy, whatever that means. It’s his bat that people love, a catcher that can hit and has patience and power. He’s also got a great arm, but he’s still not a great defensive catcher. He’s got a few more years in the minors.
3. Drew Storen – Pretty good first draft for Rizzo, they rank this guy here. Of course, he was the 10th overall pick, and it may show more of the issues with the farm system before he took over… Anyway, they love his command and control on his 92-95 mph fastball. They don’t think he’s gonna be a great closer, but could be pretty good, although some see him topping out as a setup man. Either way, valuable addition to the bullpen.
4. Danny Espinosa – BP sees him as a good all around player, with nothing particularly outstanding about any of his skills. That being said, they also noted “Espinosa just plays the game right.” They mention he takes walks, plays good defense, runs the bases well, has good power and “his high baseball IQ leads to excellent jumps defensively.” Whether or not he’ll hit enough to play in the majors remains to be seen. But if there’s something to be excited about, it’s the thought of a double play combo of him and…
5. Ian Desmond – We had a glimpse of him last year after a great minor league season and he hit a homer in his first AB. That doesn’t squash the questions about his power, but it does quiet them. He has a “rocket arm” but still makes the “good plays and then boot routine ones.” His bat may not be all there yet, we’ll know soon if he starts on the bench with DC or plays every day with Syracuse.
6. Michael Burgess – This is the Nats big time power prospect, he didn’t look great last year. That being said he still knows the strike zone, can mash the ball, and fields well. This year will be a big indicator of what they have from the guy.
7. Eury Perez – News to me as well. But he hit .381/.443/.503 at rookie ball last year, so he is a bit of good news out of their Dominican Republic debacle. He a toolsy guy (which isn’t a bad thing, even though Bowden hearted tools) who is fast but also has some power, but he’s very raw. That being said, he can hit, has the opportunity to continue to impress and won’t be rushed. 20 years old is still young, especially coming from overseas, so he’ll have time to develop.
8. Jeff Kobernus – This was the Nats first pick after Strasburg and Storen last year, and he didn’t play much last year due to injury. He’s speedy and athletic, with good defense and has “a quick, line-drive bat to spray balls to all fields with occasional gap power, and a possible ceiling for more.” Not sure if more power will ever get there, and he doesn’t walk that much, which could be bad as he moves up levels. He’ll have time though, as you figure he’s blocked for a bit by the Espinosa and Desmond. Unless of course, he starts really impressing.
9. Chris Marrero – Once considered one of the truly top prospects in the system (and probably a 5 star guy at times) he has fallen off recently. But after a broken leg in 2008, he came back last year to well in high-A and pretty good in AA. He’s got power and hits the ball well, but besides that it is not pretty. Can’t field well, stuck at first base, and not a great defensive one at that. He’s kinda like a slow version of their current first baseman, and when that contract ends, if he’s hitting good enough, he may get a shot at the big leagues. He’s gotta do something in AA first, though.
10. Juan Jamie – Another bright spot out of the Dominican, he throws a blazing fastball, with some action and he “is an aggressive pitcher who tries to blow away every hitter.” Unfortunately he doesn’t have much beyond that, and he’s still pretty raw despite turning 23 this coming August. He probably doesn’t have enough pitches to start, so look for them to eventually move him to relief. He’s got to get some work outside of short-season teams, but he could move quickly if things work out well for him.
11. Paul Demny – Oh good ol’ Paul Demny… yeah, I didn’t know the name either. The Nats took him in the 6th round in 2008, and his numbers in 2009 weren’t anything to make you notice him (5.14 ERA). But despite being inconsistent he has a good fastball and slider, and has made some impressive starts. They see him as having a back end of the rotation ceiling, although he may be tried out in relief soon as well.
Rounding out the list but not expounded upon were Destin Hood, Justin Maxwell, Bradley Meyers, and J.R. Higley, so how bout I give you a little bit on each.
12. Destin Hood – He’s still young, he’s raw and he’s got power. He’ll only be 20 this year, and I picked him as my LFer of 2014 when I did that exercise. People will be paying alot of attention to what he does this year.
13. Justin Maxwell – The Maryland grad has potential to be like Mike Cameron… low AVG, decent OBP, big power, lots of Ks, very good CF. Hasn’t shown that he can reach that potential and the clock is ticking.
14. Bradley Meyers – Another surprise pick to my Nats of 2014 preview, it’s nice to see some amount of validation. He is not young, not raw, but had good really numbers in A and AA last year. BP mentions he has good command and control, and potential to show up in the back end of the rotation.
15. J.R. Higley – One of the Original Kings of Comedy… er… I mean a toolsy outfielder who is turning 22 this year. He was selected in the 8th round in 2008 and hit well in his brief time at Hagerstown last year. Hasn’t shown a ton of power yet but has taken walks and hit for average. Let seem him do it more in high-A, and he might get a shot to move up to AA Harrisburg this year.