2013 Washington Nationals Top 10 Prospects With Scouting Reports




Follow me on Twitter

Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player's long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible.

Complete Index of Top 10 Prospects
Nationals Chat
Aaron Fitt
Pre-Order the 2013 Prospect Handbook
    30 scouting reports on every team

NATIONALS
LINKS
Nationals Team Page
Nationals Top 10 Prospects
Last Year's Nationals Top 10 Prospects
2012 Draft: Nationals
2012 Draft Report Cards: Washington Nationals
Complete Index of Top 10 Prospects
Pre-Order the 2013 Prospect Handbook
Washington Nationals

After years spent building a rock-solid foundation, the Nationals were rewarded for their planning and opportunistic drafting with a resoundingly successful 2012 campaign.

They posted their first winning season since moving to Washington in 2005, leading the majors with 98 wins, cruising to the National League East title and snapping the franchise's 31-year postseason drought. The city embraced a team that spent all but a handful of days atop the division, capped by the first playoff appearance by a Washington baseball club since 1933.

But the dream season had a nightmarish finale. After splitting the first four games of an NL Division Series against the Cardinals, the Nationals blew a 6-0 advantage in the decisive fifth game. Drew Storen failed to hold a two-run lead with two out in the ninth, and St. Louis rallied for four runs to complete a stunning comeback.
Still, Washington could take solace in the knowledge that it has perhaps the best young core in baseball and looks poised to contend for championships for years to come.

The Nationals led the National League with a 3.33 ERA in 2012, as homegrown arms meshed with offseason acquisitions to form a deep, talented staff. They traded four of their best prospects (Brad Peacock, A.J. Cole, Derek Norris and Tommy Milone) to get ace lefthander Gio Gonzalez from the Athletics in December, and he rewarded them by topping the NL with 21 wins and 9.3 strikeouts per nine innings. In his first full season back from Tommy John surgery, Stephen Strasburg was dominant at times and would have outranked Gonzalez with 11.1 strikeouts per nine innings—if Washington hadn't made the controversial decision to shut him down after 159 innings.

The Nationals took the same approach with Jordan Zimmermann when he came back from elbow reconstruction in 2011, and he responded with his best season in 2012. Another homegrown pitcher, lefty Ross Detwiler, also took a major step forward. Free-agent signee Edwin Jackson rounded out a rotation in which all five starters won at least 10 games.

The lineup featured more player-development success stories. Bryce Harper's rookie season was one of the most anticipated in baseball history, and the 19-year-old phenom didn't disappoint. Called up in the late April, he earned a trip to the All-Star Game and hit .270 with 22 homers—the second-most ever for a big league teenager.

Beyond Harper, Ian Desmond blossomed into one of baseball's best shortstops as a 26-year-old, validating the work of minor league instructors who spent five long years easing him along and major league coaches who didn't give up on him after a trying 2011 campaign. Desmond and Danny Espinosa give Washington a pair of dynamic homegrown middle infielders to go with cornerstone third baseman Ryan Zimmerman.

The future is bright for Washington largely because ownership, general manager Mike Rizzo and scouting director Kris Kline have shown they aren't afraid to take chances and spend money in the draft. After hitting the jackpot with Strasburg and Harper as back-to-back No. 1 overall picks in 2009-10, the Nationals pounced on elite prospects who slipped because of health questions with their next two top choices. Third baseman Anthony Rendon (2011) and righthander Lucas Giolito (2012) now rank as the top prospects in a system that has been thinned by graduations and trades.

1. Anthony Rendon, 3b Born: Jun 6, 1990 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-0 Wt.: 195
Drafted: Rice, 2011 (1st round).  Signed by: Tyler Wilt
Anthony RendonBackground: Rendon is one of the most accomplished college players of the last decade, and his rise to elite prospect status has been slowed only by a succession of injuries. A 27th-round pick by the Braves out of Houston's Lamar High in 2008, Rendon burst onto the national scene at Rice the following spring, hitting .388/.461/.702 with 20 homers to win Baseball America's Freshman of the Year award. He tore ligaments in his right ankle after stepping on a sprinkler head in during NCAA super regionals that June, but he rebounded to hit .394/.530/.801 with 26 homers in 2010 to win BA College Player of the Year honors. Once again his summer was lost to injury, as he broke the same ankle while running the bases in his second game with the U.S. collegiate national team. A strained throwing shoulder largely limited him to DH duties as a junior, and he got few pitches to hit. Rendon still ranked as the 2011 draft's top prospect, but uncertainty about his shoulder caused him to drop to the Nationals as the sixth overall pick. He signed a $7.2 million big league contract that including a $6 million bonus at the Aug. 15 deadline. After a stellar spring training, Rendon once more succumbed to the injury bug on April 7, slightly fracturing his left ankle while running the bases in his second pro game. He returned to action on July 19 and quickly reached Double-A Harrisburg, but he didn't truly find his stride until the Arizona Fall League, where he batted .338/.436/.494.

Scouting Report: Rendon stands out most for his strong, lightning-quick hands. Rendon's tension-free swing allows him to stay back and then whip his bat through the zone, generating hard line drives from foul pole to foul pole. He has excellent balance, advanced pitch recognition and a patient approach (as evidenced by his 176-78 BB-K ratio at Rice), though his timing and pitch selection were off somewhat in his injury-shortened 2012 pro debut. Though he isn't overly physical, he has enough leverage in his swing to hit 20 or more homers annually while contending for batting titles. Rendon compiled an impressive defensive highlight reel in college, and the Nationals have been impressed with his body control, hands, footwork and instincts. He had a plus arm at Rice, but it now rates as more of a solid tool. He also has lost a step or two after his three ankle injuries, making him a slightly below-average runner.

The Future: If he can stay healthy, Rendon can be an all-star third baseman with a middle-of-the-order bat and quality defensive skills. But with Ryan Zimmerman in his prime and locked into Washington's third-base job for the foreseeable future, Rendon figures to wind up elsewhere—perhaps second base, where he has played on occasion in college and in spring training. He figures to return to Double-A to start 2013, and he could get his first taste of the majors later in the year because his skills are advanced.

Year Team AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
'12 Nationals (R) 11 2 4 1 0 2 6 3 3 0 0 .364 .500 1.000
'12 Auburn (SS) 27 7 7 2 0 1 3 4 6 0 0 .259 .375 .444
'12 Potomac (HiA) 27 5 9 2 3 0 0 5 4 0 0 .333 .438 .630
'12 Harrisburg (AA) 68 14 11 3 1 3 3 11 16 0 0 .162 .305 .368
Minor League Totals 133 28 31 8 4 6 12 23 29 0 0 .233 .363 .489

2. Lucas Giolito, rhp Born: Jul 14, 1994 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-6 Wt.: 225
Drafted: Harvard-Westlake HS, Studio City, Calif., 2012 (1st round).  Signed by:
Lucas GiolitoBackground: Giolito's combination of elite stuff, size and polish gave him a chance to be the first high school righthander ever drafted No. 1 overall. But he sprained his ulnar collateral ligament in early March, ending his season and clouding his draft stock. The son of Hollywood actors Lindsay Frost and Rick Giolito, he made it clear a hefty bonus would be required to lure him away from a UCLA commitment. After drafting him 16th overall, the Nationals exceeded his assigned pick value by $800,000 and signed him for $2,925,000. He appeared in one game before having Tommy John surgery on Aug. 31.

Scouting Report: When healthy, Giolito works from 92-100 mph with his fastball, sitting comfortably at 94-96. He complements it with a plus-plus 82-86 mph curveball with depth and bite. He even flashes an above-average 82-84 mph changeup, giving him a third swing-and-miss pitch. He has an easy delivery, an advanced feel for pitching, a tenacious mound presence and a tireless work ethic.

The Future: Giolito has true No. 1 starter upside, and his makeup and command give him a solid chance to reach that ceiling. The Nationals successfully nursed Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann back form Tommy John surgery, and should be able to do the same with Giolito, though he might not pitch in 2013.

Year Team W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
'12 Nationals (R) 0 0 4.50 1 1 0 2 2 1 1 0 0 1 .250
Minor League Totals 0 0 4.50 1 1 0 2 2 2 1 0 0 1 .250

3. Brian Goodwin, of Born: Nov 2, 1990 B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 195
Drafted: Miami Dade JC, 2011 (1st round supplemental).  Signed by: Alex Morales
Brian GoodwinBackground: Signed for $3 million as a 2011 sandwich pick, Goodwin made progress refining his impressive raw tools in his first full pro season. He showed speed, power and plate discipline while starring at low Class A Hagerstown, then continued to dazzle with his physical ability despite having less success in Double-A and the Arizona Fall League.

Scouting Report: Goodwin has worked hard to put his hands into better hitting position, free up his swing and make it less rotational. When he's going well, he stays short to the ball, waits on offspeed stuff and drives pitches from left-center to right field. When he struggled at Harrisburg, he got pull-happy and chased pitches up and away. Goodwin must improve against southpaws, who held him to a .246 average last season. But his quick hands and feel for the strike zone give him a chance to be a tablesetter, and he generates enough leverage to add solid power. He's also an above-average runner, though he's still learning to use his speed on the basepaths and in center field. He has a chance to be a plus defender with a solid arm.

The Future: He could be a dynamic player in the mold of a Curtis Granderson with less power and better on-base skills. Goodwin figures to start 2013 back in Double-A.

Year Team AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
'12 Hagerstown (LoA) 216 47 70 18 1 9 38 43 39 15 4 .324 .438 .542
'12 Harrisburg (AA) 166 17 37 8 1 5 14 18 50 3 3 .223 .306 .373
Minor League Totals 382 64 107 26 2 14 52 61 89 18 7 .280 .384 .469

4. Matt Skole, 3b Born: Jul 30, 1989 B-T: L-R Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 230
Drafted: Georgia Tech, 2011 (5th round).  Signed by: Eric Robinson
Matt SkoleBackground: After hitting 47 homers in three years at Georgia Tech, Skole led the short-season New York-Penn League with 23 doubles and 48 RBIs in his 2011 pro debut. He was even better in 2012, winning low Class A South Atlantic League MVP honors and topping the circuit in homers (27), walks (94), on-base percentage (.438) and slugging (.574). His prospect stock has climbed higher than that of his younger brother Jake, a Rangers first-round pick in 2010.

Scouting Report: The Nationals have helped Skole get more out of his big, physical frame by minimizing his leg kick, solidifying his base and improving his balance. As he has implemented a more consistent load and better posture, he has hooked fewer balls and started driving back-door breaking pitches to the opposite field. Most of his plus power comes to the pull side. His improving ability to use all fields, good pitch recognition and patient approach suggest he can be an average hitter. Skole will never be a rangy defender at third base, but he has improved his footwork and body control. His hands are sure enough to play at either corner and his arm is solid.

The Future: Blocked at third by Ryan Zimmerman and Anthony Rendon, Skole has more of a future with Washington as a slugging first baseman. He should reach Double-A in 2013.

Year Team AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
'11 Auburn (SS) 272 43 79 23 1 5 48 42 52 2 1 .290 .382 .438
'12 Hagerstown (LoA) 343 73 98 18 0 27 92 94 116 10 0 .286 .438 .574
'12 Potomac (HiA) 70 11 22 10 1 0 12 5 17 1 0 .314 .355 .486
Minor League Totals 685 127 199 51 2 32 152 141 185 13 1 .291 .410 .511

5. Nate Karns, rhp Born: Nov 25, 1987 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-5 Wt.: 230
Drafted: Texas Tech, 2009 (12th round).  Signed by: Jimmy Gonzales
Nate KarnsBackground: Karns has flashed power stuff since his high school days in Texas, but his command held him back in college at North Carolina State and Texas Tech. He appeared to turn the corner in 2009 in the Texas Collegiate League, where he ranked as the top prospect before signing for $225,000 as a 12th-round pick, but he tore the labrum in his shoulder shortly afterward and didn't pitch again until 2011. He came out of nowhere to lead the minors in opponent average (.174) in his 2012 full-season debut.

Scouting Report: Karns throws a heavy fastball at 92-94 mph, topping out at 96. He always has been able to get hitters to chase his downer curveball, a low-80s hammer with depth and finish, and he improved his ability to throw it for strikes last season. His curve should become a true plus pitch as he continues to learn to repeat it, and his changeup has a chance to be average. He has smoothed out his delivery somewhat, and his command has improved so much that he has a chance to stick as a starter.

The Future: Added to the 40-man roster in November, Karns will advance to Double-A in 2013 and could reach Washington in the second half. He could be a mid-rotation workhorse or a late-inning reliever, depending on how his changeup and feel for pitching progress.

Year Team W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
'11 Nationals (R) 0 0 0.00 5 5 0 19 2 0 0 0 6 26 .034
'11 Auburn (SS) 3 2 3.44 8 8 0 37 27 14 14 1 27 33 .197
'12 Hagerstown (LoA) 3 0 2.03 11 5 2 44 23 11 10 1 21 61 .147
'12 Potomac (HiA) 8 4 2.26 13 13 0 72 47 23 18 1 26 87 .179
Minor League Totals 14 6 2.20 37 31 2 172 99 99 42 3 80 207 .161

6. Christian Garcia, rhp Born: Aug 24, 1985 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-5 Wt.: 215
Drafted: Gulliver Prep, Miami, 2004 (3rd round).  Signed by: Dan Radison
Christian GarciaBackground: After converting from catcher to pitcher as a prep senior, Garcia rocketed into the third round of the 2004 draft and signed with the Yankees. But his career was derailed by two Tommy John surgeries, costing him all of 2007 and most of 2010. He signed with Washington as a minor league free agent in July 2011 and thrived in his first full season as a reliever in 2012, earning a September callup and a spot on the playoff roster.

Scouting Report: Garcia's stuff is electric. His fastball sits at 93-96 mph and regularly bumps 97 with good life and angle. His plus changeup has late sink, and he trusts it against both lefties and righties. The shape of his hard-biting curveball can vary, making it look more like a slider at times, but it has tight spin and good power in the low 80s. He's still learning how to command its break consistently, though it shows flashes of becoming a plus pitch. Garcia's command is a tick below average, but his stuff is good enough that he doesn't need pinpoint accuracy to succeed.

The Future: Garcia has a smooth delivery without much effort, but his medical history will keep him in the bullpen. He'll open 2013 as a set-up man for the Nationals.

Year Team W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
'04 Yankees (R) 3 4 2.84 13 6 0 38 26 13 12 1 17 47 .186
'05 Yankees (R) 0 0 4.50 2 1 0 6 4 4 3 0 5 7 .182
'05 Charleston, SC (LoA) 5 6 3.91 21 20 0 106 102 57 46 3 53 103 .243
'06 Yankees (R) 0 1 9.53 5 3 0 11 15 13 12 1 4 15 .306
'06 Charleston, SC (LoA) 2 3 3.46 7 7 0 42 37 19 16 2 12 45 .228
'08 Yankees (R) 0 2 14.73 3 3 0 7 19 12 12 3 2 9 .463
'08 Tampa (HiA) 4 2 2.90 10 10 0 50 45 20 16 2 17 60 .232
'08 Trenton (AA) 0 0 3.38 1 0 0 5 4 2 2 0 6 5 .200
'09 Trenton (AA) 2 0 0.71 5 5 0 25 15 3 2 1 17 24 .165
'10 Trenton (AA) 1 0 0.00 1 1 0 6 2 0 0 0 1 3 .105
'11 Auburn (SS) 3 1 2.95 10 0 1 18 17 6 6 1 2 28 .236
'11 Syracuse (AAA) 0 0 0.00 1 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 1 2 .000
'12 Harrisburg (AA) 1 0 1.35 18 0 7 20 13 6 3 0 6 28 .178
'12 Syracuse (AAA) 1 1 0.56 27 0 14 32 18 4 2 0 11 38 .157
'12 Washington (MAJ) 0 0 2.13 13 0 0 13 8 3 3 2 2 15 .174
Major League Totals 0 0 2.08 13 0 0 13 8 8 3 2 2 15 .170
Minor League Totals 22 20 3.23 124 56 22 368 317 317 132 14 154 414 .223

7. Eury Perez, of Born: May 30, 1990 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-0 Wt.: 180
Signed: Dominican Republic '07 Signed by: Dana Brown/Moises de la Mota
Eury PerezBackground: Perez hit .303 in his first five pro seasons and made great strides with his mental approach in his sixth, helping him advance three levels and earn a September callup in 2012. He improved his English and became a better communicator, implemented a plan for practice as well as games and did a better job staying within himself at the plate.

Scouting Report: Perez's carrying tool is his speed, which rates an 80 on the 20-80 scale. He's learning to make better use of it by maintaining a slashing approach at the plate, after trying to muscle up and pull pitches in the past—something that makes little sense with his well below-average power. He has good feel for the barrel and makes consistent contact, though he still needs to become more patient in order to realize his potential as a tablesetter. Perez has dramatically improved his pre-pitch positioning and reads, translating to well above-average range at times.

The Future: Washington's November trade for Denard Span leaves Perez looking at a reserve job in Washington. A little more time in Triple-A Syracuse could be good for him.

Year Team AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
'07 Nationals1 (R) 158 41 40 5 1 0 14 32 39 15 5 .253 .399 .297
'08 Nationals 1 (R) 213 51 69 9 2 4 44 32 36 28 6 .324 .428 .441
'09 Nationals (R) 181 38 69 3 5 3 24 15 20 16 8 .381 .443 .503
'10 Hagerstown (LoA) 438 88 131 17 5 3 42 23 74 64 13 .299 .345 .381
'11 Potomac (HiA) 424 54 120 9 2 1 41 22 63 45 15 .283 .319 .321
'12 Nationals (R) 22 4 9 1 0 0 2 1 0 5 0 .409 .435 .455
'12 Harrisburg (AA) 351 34 105 11 2 0 30 7 53 26 10 .299 .325 .342
'12 Syracuse (AAA) 159 21 53 7 1 0 10 8 26 20 5 .333 .373 .390
'12 Washington (MAJ) 5 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 .200 .200 .200
Major League Totals 5 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 .200 .200 .200
Minor League Totals 1946 331 596 62 18 11 207 140 311 219 62 .306 .363 .374

8. Sammy Solis, lhp Born: Aug 10, 1988 B-T: R-L Ht.: 6-5 Wt.: 230
Drafted: San Diego, 2010 (2nd round).  Signed by: Tim Reynolds
Sammy SolisBackground: By visiting the AIDS orphanage his family owns in Africa, the laid-back Solis gained an uncommon sense of perspective, which has been an asset during his injury-plagued career. He missed almost all of 2009 at San Diego with a herniated disc in his back. Signed for $1 million as a 2010 second-rounder, he saw his first full pro season in 2011 delayed by a quadriceps injury. He returned to post a strong season in Class A, but after impressing in the Arizona Fall League, he felt some discomfort in his elbow, which eventually required Tommy John surgery last spring.

Scouting Report: Solis has quality stuff when healthy, starting with a 90-94 mph fastball that peaks at 96 and has late, tailing life. The depth, speed and shape of his spike curveball varies, looking like a plus downer curve at times and more like a slider at others. He has good feel for his changeup, which projects as a solid or better pitch. He throws strikes but gets in trouble when he leaves balls up in the zone.

The Future: Solis was progressing well in his rehabilitation and throwing again by the fall. The Nationals expect him to begin 2013 in extended spring training, but he could see game action at high Class A Potomac or Harrisburg by June 1. He projects as a mid-rotation starter, though he must prove he can stay healthy.

Year Team W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
'10 Hagerstown (LoA) 0 0 0.00 2 2 0 4 2 0 0 0 0 3 .143
'11 Hagerstown (LoA) 2 1 4.02 7 7 0 40 39 18 18 3 12 40 .244
'11 Potomac (HiA) 6 2 2.72 10 10 0 56 61 20 17 5 11 53 .265
Minor League Totals 8 3 3.15 19 19 0 100 102 102 35 8 23 96 .254

9. Matt Purke, lhp Born: Jul 17, 1990 B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 205
Drafted: Texas Christian, 2011 (3rd round).  Signed by: Ed Gustafson
Matt PurkeBackground: The 14th overall pick in the 2009 draft, Purke agreed to a $6 million bonus with the Rangers, but MLB controlled the club's finances and refused to approve the deal. He went 16-0 to lead Texas Christian to its first College World Series and win Baseball America's Freshman of the Year award in 2010, but shoulder bursitis hampered him as a draft-eligible sophomore in 2011. The Nationals took him in the third round and signed him to a big league deal with a $2.75 million bonus and $4.15 million total guarantee. He pitched just 15 innings in his 2012 pro debut before having surgery in August to relieve the bursitis and clean out scar tissue in his shoulder.

Scouting Report: When he's at his best, Purke can pound the strike zone with a 91-94 mph fastball that reaches 96. He backs it up with a plus 78-82 mph slider and shows good feel for a changeup. He was never healthy in 2012 and his stuff was down in the three starts he did make. He has a slingy, low three-quarters delivery, and Washington has worked to raise his arm angle in order to prevent his pitches from flattening out.

The Future: Purke's history of shoulder problems clouds his prospect status, but he has shown No. 2 starter upside in the past. He's expected to be ready for spring training and to open 2013 in low Class A.

Year Team W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
'12 Hagerstown (LoA) 0 2 5.87 3 3 0 15 15 11 10 1 12 14 .246
Minor League Totals 0 2 6.00 3 3 0 15 15 15 10 1 12 14 .250

10. Zach Walters, ss Born: Sep 05, 1989 B-T: B-R Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 195
Drafted: San Diego, 2010 (9th round).  Signed by: Jeff Mousser
Zach WaltersBackground: Acquired from the Diamondbacks for Jason Marquis in July 2011, Walters broke the hamate bone in his right hand during his first spring training with the Nationals. The injury limited him to eight games in April but he played his way to Triple-A by August. He had a solid winter in Puerto Rico as well.

Scouting Report: Walters stands out for his smooth, fluid swing from both sides of the plate, though he fared markedly better from the left side than the right in 2012. His swing has excellent extension and leverage, giving him a chance to be an average hitter with fringy power if he can improve his plate discipline. He needs to stick with a plan at the plate. Walters' other notable tool is his plus arm, which is accurate and gives him a chance to play shortstop in the big leagues. His hands work in the infield, but he must improve his pre-pitch positioning and routes. He's a fringy runner.

The Future: Washington believes Walters has the athleticism and aptitude to play six different positions, suggesting he could be a valuable utilityman with a quality bat if he can't force his way into an everyday role. He'll head back to Syracuse in 2013.

Year Team AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
'10 Yakima (SS) 275 44 83 18 4 4 43 16 59 14 4 .302 .338 .440
'11 South Bend (LoA) 361 69 109 27 6 9 56 42 96 12 10 .302 .377 .485
'11 Potomac (HiA) 116 15 34 7 1 0 11 8 33 7 1 .293 .336 .371
'12 Potomac (HiA) 193 24 52 8 1 5 24 10 43 6 3 .269 .304 .399
'12 Harrisburg (AA) 164 23 48 11 4 6 19 8 38 1 0 .293 .326 .518
'12 Syracuse (AAA) 98 9 21 4 0 1 6 6 28 0 0 .214 .260 .286
Minor League Totals 1207 184 347 75 16 25 159 90 297 40 18 .287 .337 .438