Washington Nationals PRE-SEASON Top 20 Prospects in Review
1) Mike Hinckley, LHP
Hurt his shoulder early in the year. Pitched through it, but poorly, going 3-9, 4.93 in 21 starts for Class A Potomac, 80/51 K/BB in 128 innings. Note that he pitched very well in Double-A in 2004, so 2005 was a major disaster for him, pitching badly at a lower level. Stock has dropped, no question.
2) Bill Bray, LHP
Limited to 27 innings between Double-A and Triple-A, posted combined 5.33 ERA. K/BB was decent at 31/10. Bothered by back problems, so it's hard to know how seriously to take a 27-inning sample size.
3) Larry Broadway, 1B
Another guy with injury problems, limited to 52 games at Double-A Harrisburg, hit .269/.329/.538. Again, hard to know what to make of his performance given that he was not healthy most of the year. Good power, but unclear where he fits.
4) Brendan Harris, 3B-2B
Hit .270/.329/.417 in 127 games for Triple-A New Orleans, 13 homers. Was repeating Triple-A and hit better there in 2004, but there could be some discouragement here since he had nothing left to prove at that level. This is not uncommon, a good prospect being asked to repeat Triple-A despite already playing well there often doesn't have as good of a follow-up season.
5) Ryan Church, OF
Hit .287/.353/.466 in 102 games for the Nationals. A very useful platoon player.
6) Tony Blanco, OF
Rotted on the bench most of the year, got into 56 games for the Nats but just 62 at-bats. Hit .177/.215/.274 but playing time too limited to mean anything.
7) Darrell Rasner, RHP
6-7, 3.59 in 26 starts for Harrisburg, 96/29 K/BB in 150 innings. Looked good in seven late innings for the Nationals. Decent prospect with good command, good sinker, projects as back-end rotation starter or long reliever.
8) Daryl Thompson, RHP
3.35 ERA in 11 starts for Class A Savannah, 48/24 K/BB in 54 innings. Another guy who missed large portions of the season due to injury. A sleeper prospect compared to Oil Can Boyd due to size and style of pitching, if healthy.
9) Colin Balester, RHP
8-6, 3.67 in 23 starts for Savannah, 95/42 K/BB in 125 innings. Just 19 years old, and a solid overall prospect who should be watched closely for signs of further improvement.
10) Clint Everts, RHP
Rebounded VERY quickly from Tommy John surgery, fanning 21 in 19 innings for short-season Vermont, though he also walked 12. Needs to get his command in gear but rehab has been rapid.
11) Kory Casto, 3B
Hit .290/.394/.510 with 36 doubles, 22 homers at Class A Potomac. A strong season, good power from the left side, as well as a greatly improved walk rate this year. Main problem now is age, he turns 24 next month.
12) Danny Rueckel, RHP
9-6, 4.16 in 53 games for Harrisburg, 72/21 K/BB in 80 innings. Repeating the league and didn't pitch as well as he did in 2004. Still has a chance to be a decent middle reliever, but for many clubs he would not make a top 20 list.
13) Rogearvin Bernadina, OF
Hit .233/.356/.369 with 12 homers, 35 steals for Savannah in 122 games. Good tools, some power and speed, draws walks, but hasn't blossomed yet.
14) Josh Karp, RHP
Ugly Triple-A stats, 5.75 ERA in 36 innings. Did better after demotion to Double-A, but we're still talking about a guy who is 25 years old and still has no idea how to pitch.
15) Ben Cox, RHP
3.00 ERA in 42 games for Savannah. Traded to Giants in blockbuster Deivi Cruz deal. Standard Grade C type prospect, decent arm, decent stats, nothing spectacular about him.
16) Josh Whitesell, 1B
Hit .293/.416/.524 with 18 homers, 32 doubles, 74 walks for Class A Potomac. Good solid year, increasing power production compared to 2004. Similar to Larry Broadway.
17) Ian Desmond, SS
Split season between Savannah and Potomac, hitting .250 with 23 doubles, 7 homers, 33 steals. Weak plate discipline is a problem, but he is young and athletic and has a chance to improve.
18) Brandon Watson, OF
Hit .355/.400..419 with 31 steals in 88 games for New Orleans, but just .175/.250/.325 in 25 games for the Nationals. Runs well, but has no power. Projects as reserve outfielder.
19) Marvin Lowrance, OF
Hit .288/.353/.425 in 57 games for Savannah. Promising tools player still putting his game together.
20) Josh Labandeira, SS
Hit .269/.380/.358 for Harrisburg. More of an organization player than a prospect, given his age (26).
The Nationals system is quite thin, although the 2006 prospect list will likely look much different than this pre-season '05 list. Ryan Zimmerman obviously goes straight to the top, for example. Injuries were a big problem this year.