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Washington Nationals 2013 Top 20 PRE-SEASON Prospects in Review

Anthony Rendon
Anthony Rendon

Moving forward with our farm system reviews, we look at the Washington Nationals. Remember, this is the PRE-SEASON list. This is NOT a new list. These are PRE-SEASON grades and rankings.

This list was originally published December 27, 2012 and was revised on January 18, 2013.

1) Anthony Rendon, 3B, Grade B+: Borderline A-. Hitting .260/.308/.390 in 52 major league games, 200 at-bats. I think he will continue to improve and get closer to his impressive minor league numbers next year.

2) Brian Goodwin, OF, Grade B+: .251/.351/.399 with 18 steals, 53 walks, 109 strikeouts in 398 at-bats for Double-A Harrisburg. Still showing power/speed combination, will take a walk, but strikes out a lot, may not hit for average. Which is pretty much what we knew from last year.

3) A.J. Cole, RHP; Grade B: 4.05 ERA with 108/24 K/BB in 104 innings combined between High-A Potomac and one start in Harrisburg, 99 hits allowed. Have to love the component ratios, and he is over whatever was bothering him in the California League last spring in the Athletics system.

4) Lucas Giolito, RHP, Grade B
: 11 strikeouts, 7 walks in 8.2 innings in the Gulf Coast League. Good news is that his velocity is back after Tommy John surgery. Bad news is that his command is poor at this point, but it is very early in the recovery process with just a handful of innings.

5) Matt Skole, 3B, Grade B: Out for the season with wrist and elbow injuries suffered in early April game for Harrisburg. Good article here about his rehab by Geoff Morrow.

6) Nate Karns, RHP, Grade B-: Solid season, 3.41 ERA with 110/38 K/BB in 92 innings in Double-A; made three major league starts and will be back at some point. No questions about his stuff; he just needs consistent command.

7) Christian Garcia, RHP, Grade B-: Limited to 12 innings in Double-A/Triple-A by forearm, shoulder, and hamstring injuries, which is basically the story of his career. He's a very good pitcher but he can't stay healthy long enough for it to matter.

8) Sammy Solis, LHP, Grade B-:
Coming back from Tommy John, has pitched 31 innings between rookie ball rehab and High-A, with a 2.90 ERA and a 21/8 K/BB. His skills seem intact, so at this point it is a matter of building his durability back up.

9) Matt Purke, LHP, Grade C+:
Excellent at Low-A Hagerstown (2.41 ERA, 41/7 K/BB in 29 innings, 25 hits) but horrible after promotion to High-A Potomac (7.07 ERA, 17/10 K/BB in 28 innings, 41 hits) although he did pitch well in his outing last night. Makes a nice matched set with Garcia and Solis. Nationals medical staff earns their keep.

10) Eury Perez, OF, Grade C+:
Hitting .297/.322/.431 with 15 steals, seven walks, 50 strikeouts in 290 at-bats for Triple-A Syracuse. Developing power this year to go with his speed, but his impatience at the plate remains a big problem, suppressing his on-base abilities.

11) Tony Renda, 2B, Grade C+: Hitting .293/.371/.401 with 21 steals, 51 walks, 57 strikeouts in 399 at-bats for Hagerstown. Decent glove at second base, but lacks tools for shortstop. Not a power guy, but I think he can sustain his OBP at higher levels.

12) Zach Walters, INF, Grade C+:
Interesting player. Hitting .265/.293/.555 with 24 homers, 11 walks, 93 strikeouts in 373 at-bats for Syracuse. Unusual power for a middle infielder, can also play third base, profiles as utility guy with sock, if his impatience at the plate doesn't eat his bat.

13) Destin Hood, OF, Grade C+: Hitting .230/.272/.343 in 318 at-bats in Double-A. He's got good tools, but he hit .245/.301/.344 at the same level last year; if anything, his bat is getting worse, making the tools go to waste.

14) Steven Souza, OF, Grade C+:
Hitting .273/.375/.541 with 14 homers, 13 steals, 35 walks, 67 strikeouts in 231 at-bats for Harrisburg. He has good tools and actually puts up numbers with them, although scouts don't like his swing and there is still skepticism about his ability to hit in the majors. Older prospect at age 24, but he deserves a full trial in Triple-A and could get to the majors next year if he continues to perform.

15) Brett Mooneyham, LHP, Grade C+:
2.60 ERA with 49/35 K/BB in 66 innings in Low-A, 40 hits. Live-armed lefty from Stanford has a pretty ERA but ugly K/BB ratio. Which will win out at higher levels?

16) Estarlin Martinez, OF, Grade C+:
Hitting .233/.315/.327 in 245 at-bats for Hagerstown, 12 steals. I liked him after his seeming breakthrough in the New York-Penn League last year, but he hasn't maintained his progress.Good athlete, age 21, problems with his swing hold him back.

17) Carlos Rivero, 3B, Grade C+:
Borderline C. Hitting .236/.296/.291 in 86 games combined between Double-A and Triple-A. He played very well in Triple-A last year, so this backward slippage is very disappointing; he's lost 150 points off his SLG.

18) Blake Treinen, RHP, Grade C:
3.72 ERA in 109 innings for Harrisburg, 73/33 K/BB with 2.01 GO/AO. Solid year, but went on the disabled list after his last start on July 20th for undisclosed reasons.

19) Sandy Leon, C, Grade C:
Hitting .212/.308/.303 in 241 at-bats for Harrisburg. Good defensive catcher, bat weak at his point.

20) Michael Taylor, OF, Grade C:
Hitting .266/.336/.416 with 34 steals, 36 walks, 100 strikeouts in 387 at-bats for Potomac. Runs well, very good glove in the outfield, flashes power, but poor strike zone judgment and a long swing hold him back.

21) Brandon Miller, OF, Grade C:
Hitting .239/.306/.457 with 18 homers, 34 walks, 132 strikeouts in 381 at-bats for Hagerstown. Excellent power with a strong throwing arm, but very aggressive and without some adjustments he will get carved up at higher levels by pitchers who change speeds.

22) Corey Brown, OF, Grade C:
Hitting .253/.315/.509 with 16 homers, 9-for-10 in steals, 23 walks, 95 strikeouts in 273 at-bats for Syracuse. Old prospect at age 27, still tantalizes with power/speed production and memories of being a supplemental first round pick (2007, Oklahoma State), but contact problems have kept him out of the majors except for very brief looks.

OTHERS: Aaron Barrett, RHP; Robert Benincasa, RHP; Billy Burns, OF; Erik Davis, RHP; Rick Hague, INF: Neil Holland, RHP; Jason Martinson, SS: Spencer Kieboom, C; Pat Lehman, RHP; Chris Marrero, 1B; Christian Meza, LHP; Randolph Oduber, OF: Ivan Pineyro, RHP; Wander Ramos, OF; Caleb Ramsey, OF; Robbie Ray, LHP; Derek Self, RHP; Kylin Turnbull, LHP; Rob Wort, RHP.

The Nationals are in second place, but are two games below .500 and nine games back of the Braves, obviously not the season they were hoping for. Still, the team remains young and the key core is home-grown.

Down on the farm, good news comes in the form of Taylor Jordan, a Grade C-type prospect who was mediocre in the minors last year coming off Tommy John surgery but took a giant leap forward this spring, landing in the major league rotation and looking like he could stay there for a long time. Right-hander Ivan Pineyro was having a good year in A-ball before being traded to the Cubs for Scott Hairston. Lefty Robbie Ray has been very effective throwing strikes in High-A and Double-A and has dramatically improved his stock after a poor '12. Ian Krol provided an unexpected boost to the big league pen.

These successes are balanced by negative news in the form of injuries and simple ineffectiveness among some of the more toolsy players.

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