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Top 20 PRE-SEASON Washington Nationals Prospects

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Top 20 PRE-SEASON Washington Nationals Prospects in Review

This is the PRE-SEASON list. That means it was generated BEFORE THE SEASON STARTED and that the grades were PRE-SEASON. Anyone complaining about the grades based on 2006 performance will be smacked up the side of the head with a Vince Rooi autographed bat..

1) Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Grade A
Hitting .277/.337/.475 with 24 doubles and 12 homers for the Nationals. Successful rookie year, the doubles may indicate more power to come down the road.

2) Kory Casto, 3B, B-
Hitting .295/.414/.520 with 13 homers, 56 walks, 60 strikeouts in 281 at-bats for Double-A Harrisburg. Adjusting very well to Double-A. It will be interesting to see how the Nats work him and Zimmerman into the same lineup eventually.

3) Bill Bray, LHP, B-
3.98 ERA with 45/9 K/BB in 32 innings for Triple-A New Orleans. Best attribute is strong strikeout rate. Should be ready to help in the pen next year.

4) Larry Broadway, 1B, C+
Hitting .311/.368/.471 in 92 games for New Orleans. Solid performance, should be ready next year if they find a slot for him.

5) Brendan Harris, 2B, C+
.288/.378/.414 at New Orleans, is 8-for-32 (.250) in 17 games in the majors. Should slot in nicely as a Tony Graffanino type if someone gives him a chance.

6) Collin Balester, RHP, C+
3-3, 5.78 in 14 starts for Class A Potomac. Very disappointing, getting hammered on a regular basis.

7) Mike Hinckley, LHP, C+
This is not going well: 4.77 ERA in 16 starts for Potomac, but most disturbing is his 44/30 K/BB in 83 innings. The K/IP is way too low. Last year's shoulder injury seems to have ruined his prospect status.

8) Justin Maxwell, OF, C+
Hitting a combined .241/.333/.389 in 31 games between Class A Savannah and short-season Vermont. Good tools but still shaking off college injury rust.

9) Clint Everts, RHP, C+
5.55 ERA in 13 starts, 63/33 K/BB in 60 innings, 69 hits for Potomac. Quite mediocre. His strikeout rate is good but everything else is pretty shaky.

10) Daryl Thompson, RHP, C+
Just activated from extended spring injury rehab. Has thrown two innings for Vermont. Sample too small to mean anything.

11) Josh Whitesell, 1B, C+
Hitting .266/333/.453 with 13 homers for Double-A Harrisburg. Doing OK but not great, will need to bump things up a notch to be a regular at higher levels.

12) Jason Bergmann, RHP, C+
2.27 ERA in 19 games for New Orleans, 8.50 ERA in 16 games for Washington. His true level of ability is between those two extremes, probably around league average in middle relief.

13) Frank Diaz, OF, C+
Hitting .267/.294/.391 in 70 games for Harrisburg. Good tools but performance undermined by lack of plate discipline.

14) Francisco Plasencia, OF, C+
Hitting .271/.368/.344 for Savannah. Best mark is 42 walks boosting his OBP, but power is limited and he is ineffective at stealing bases (9 in 17 attempts).

15) Ian Desmond, SS, C
Hitting a combined .207/.251/.297 between Potomac and Harrisburg. Another guy with good athleticism and tools but horrible strike zone judgment which undermines his skill base.

16) Brandon Watson, OF, C
Hitting .305/.325/.366 in 21 games for New Orleans. Good glove and line drive hitting ability but extreme lack of power and weak walk rate inhibits his value. OK on the bench but don't count on him to start.

17) John Michael Howell, OF, C
Hitting just .198 in 28 games for Savannah. Disappointing as I though he was a good offensive sleeper.

18) Marco Estrada, RHP, C
Just activated from extended spring training, now pitching in the Gulf Coast League. 4 runs allowed in his first 10 innings, with 9 strikeouts.

19) Edgardo Baez, OF, C
Hitting .358/.411/.510 in 40 games for Savannah. Another tools guy in the nationals system, his plate discipline is a bit better than the others but this is his third exposure at Savannah and it is still unclear if he will hit at higher levels.

20) Francisco Guzman, OF, C
Hitting .205/.289/.282 combined in 24 games between Vermont and Savannah. The sample is small, but this is another case of a tools guy who doesn't look like much of an actual player yet.

Zimmerman, Casto, Bray, and Broadway are bright spots, but after that the system thins out fast. There is a large group of tools outfielders who don't actually look like they know how to play baseball. Injuries seem to have ruined Hinckley, one of my favorite prospects a couple of years ago. Guys like Everts and Balester are more disappointments. Now that the ownership mess is resolved, it will be interesting to see how quickly the front office can turn things around, or if they can, now that more resources will be available.