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.
Hi everybody, thanks for stopping by
another Nats chat. Much different feel to this list than last year's, as
the Nats have done exactly what you're supposed to do with a loaded
farm system — use it to build a winner at the big league level. Let's
Ben (Leland Grove): Would you describe your
feelings about Matt Purke as cautiously optimistic, or do you believe
the Nats bought themselves a player who simply can't justify the
expectations placed upon him?
Hi Ben. I'll admit, I'm more than a little
nervous that Purke peaked as a college freshman and won't ever be the
same pitcher again. For now, I'm giving him—and the Nats' medical
staff—the benefit of the doubt, because I've seen what he can do when
he's healthy. But he's a major X-factor. I still think it was worth
taking the gamble on him—I really like how aggressive this
organization has been in the draft, taking advantage when elite talents
fall to them because of injury and signability. Between Purke, Giolito
and Rendon, I'm confident the Nats will get enough returns to justify
Frank (Chicago): Had he remained with the Nats, where would Alex Meyer have ranked?
He was No. 4 on my original list, turned in
before the trade. But you could have made a case for putting those top
four in any order, really. They all have serious upside, and they all
have question marks.
@Jaypers413 (IL): How close to your top 10 was OF Michael Taylor, and is he still a work in progress at the plate? How about in the field?
Ultimately, Taylor fell just outside the
Top 10. I was not very encouraged by his season, but his upside is still
significant enough that he is close to the Top 10 in a what is suddenly
a thin system. He's an outstanding defender in center field — defense
is his calling card. But scouts worry about the length in his swing and
wonder if he'll ever hit enough to be a big leaguer. He's one of those
high-risk, high-reward guys.
Grant (NYC): Chris Marrero - prospect or suspect?
I lean toward suspect at this stage. I
certainly don't see him becoming a star player in the big leagues as the
Nationals once hoped, but he could be a serviceable bat off the bench
or the righthanded half of a platoon. It's hard to put too much stock
into his 2012 season — it was really a lost year for him
developmentally, because of injuries — but he's a one-dimensional
player who needs to really hit for power to have value at the big league
level, and he hasn't slugged .500 at any stop in his career since 2007
Erin (DC): What is Destin Hood's future role likely to be at this point?
Another player the Nats aren't giving up
on, but it's notable that they left him unprotected and he went
unselected in the Rule 5 draft. He's still just 22, and maybe he'll
figure it out next year, but I'm skeptical. For a guy who's supposed to
have electric bat speed and big raw power, I can't get over the fact
that he has 26 homers in 1600-plus career at-bats, and hit just three
last year. Sure, he could figure it out and prove me wrong — but as of
now, I don't see him becoming an impact big leaguer.
Harry (Joisey): Your thoughts on Sandy Leon's catching skills? Is he in your 11-20 range?
He is, and in my first version of his list
he ranked 10th (though he moved down a few spots during the editing
process because of concerns that he profiles best as a backup catcher).
But he's an outstanding defender — a plus receiver with good agility
and blocking skills, and a slightly above-average arm that he really
knows how to use. I think he'll have a long big league career, whether
as a backup, a part-time player or even a fringe starter. He's really
made huge strides offensively, though I can't see him ever being an
impact hitter. But his defense makes him valuable.
Ben (Leland Grove): I see you ranked Billy
Burns as the fastest runner in the system, above Perez. If Perez scored
an 80 on the 20-80 scale, does that mean Burns is in Billy Hamilton
territory on the basepaths?
You can almost flip a coin between those
two — they're both 80 runners, and there was not a consensus about who
is faster amongst the organization officials I polled. (Jeff Kobernus
also got some mentions before he was Rule 5'ed). But Burns got a bit
more support than Perez, so I went with him. Burns is a real burner, but
I won't put him in Hamilton range — he's actually still got a bit more
work to do as a basestealer, particularly with his jumps.
Jake (Washington, DC): How confident are you that we're not looking at Chris Marrero Version 2 in Matt Skole?
There are some similarities, certainly.
Skole is only a year younger than Marrero, and he's still in A-ball, so
it's important not to get too carried away with Skole, but I'm very
encouraged by his power output this year, and also by his walk total.
Marrero has a career strikeout-walk rate of more than 2-1. Skole strikes
out plenty, but his strikeout-walk rate is 1.3-1 through his first two
pro seasons, and it was similar at Georgia Tech. I like power hitters
who can offset their strikeouts by also drawing a lot of walks. And it
was very apparent from the get-go that Marrero would not stick at third
base, but Skole has really made strides there, to the point that he
could be a serviceable defender there in the big leagues. He probably
fits better at first, but he'll have the versatility to play either
corner. Skole has plenty of doubters, but I think there is a lot of
reason to be optimistic.
Frank (Chicago): Safe to assume only the top three will make BA's top 100, or does Skole have a case as well?
I'm not involved with the Top 100 deliberations, but if I were a betting man, I would bet on only the top three making it.
@ProspectD2J (Toronto): Hey Aaron, thanks for
the chat. After having surgery last year, do the Nationals expect Matt
Purke to be 100% healthy to start the year?
That is the expectation. You never know
with a shoulder issue, especially one that has lingered for a couple of
years now, but this wasn't a "major" surgery — they were just cleaning
out scar tissue. Maybe this was exactly what he needed to get back to
where he was as a freshman at TCU. We'll soon find out!
Nathaniel (Minnesota): While Corey Brown is
relatively old for the minors he has put up some decent numbers. Any
chance he becomes a regular for a club?
I see him more as a fourth outfielder. He's
got power, and he's a good enough athlete with enough arm strength to
fill in anywhere in the outfield, but I just don't see him hitting
enough to be a regular — there's a lot of swing and miss there.
Alex (Fairfax, VA): Destin Hood is out of the
top 10, but how does he project? Is he a 4th outfielder type on a
contender? How would you compare him to, say, Roger Bernadina?
They have different skill sets. Bernadina
is a nice fit as a fourth outfielder because he's a good runner and a
good defender — he provides value in the outfield and on the basepaths.
Hood doesn't really bring that stuff to the table — his value is
completely tied to his bat, so he just needs to hit, plain and simple.
Jacob (Baltimore): My word. Are we sure that's
not a picture of Nate Karns' father? Or maybe that his DOB is off by a
decade? Just making sure. Thank you.
Ha! He does look rather more like a
pitching coach than a pitching prospect, doesn't he? Karns has been
around for a while — really a neat story how he re-established himself
this year. He really wasn't on the radar at all last year. But once upon
a time, we were very high on him during his amateur days. Sometimes it
just takes guys longer to get there.
Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware): Name a sleeper from the Nationals low minors (below A+).
I'm intrigued by Ivan Pineyro, a Dominican
righty who just turned 21 this September. His velocity has jumped into
the 90-94 range, he has good feel for a changeup that could become a
plus pitch, and the Nats have been impressed with his maturity and
professionalism. The key will be improving his breaking ball and
refining his command. But he's got a good arm — definitely a guy to
keep an eye on.
Jay (DC): I'm baffled as to why Giolito fell so
far in the draft. If he really was a top-3 pick before his injury, why
should TJ surgery matter so much, given the current full recovery rate?
The reason is signability. Giolito comes
from a wealthy family (his parents were both actors), and he made it
clear it would take a very significant signing bonus to keep him from
going to UCLA. And the new draft rules restrict how much teams can offer
once you get past the first couple of picks, so it was a real gamble
for the Nats to take him where they did, knowing they'd have to save
money with most of their other top-10-rounds picks in order to give
Giolito more than the slot recommendation for the No. 16 pick. It was
bold, and it was savvy.
Frank (Chicago): Do you believe Brett Mooneyham was a good get for Washington? Did he place in your top 30?
It was a solid third-round pick who was
willing to sign for slot. Mooneyham does have some upside — he was an
elite prospect coming out of high school, and he never quite lived up to
expectations at Stanford, but if the Nats can iron out his mechanics,
his command could take a step forward, and he could really pay
dividends. He has a great pitcher's frame, plenty of athleticism and arm
strength from the left side — there's plenty to like there. But he's
got a long way to go — certainly some risk there. He cracked the top 20
on my list.
Tucker (Florida): In last year's scouting
report Brian Goodwin's speed was "plus to plus-plus," now it's simply
"above average." Has he slowed down, were the reports coming out of
college inaccurate, or are you using "above-average" very generally here
(i.e. anything between 55-80)? What grade are scouts giving his speed
Above-average is really just another way to
say plus — both of them mean 60 on the 20-80 scale. (As opposed to
"slightly above-average", which would refer to a 55 grade). He'll show
better than 60 times sometimes (especially underway, going from first to
third or tracking balls in the outfield, rather than going from home to
first), but I'm most comfortable calling him a 60 runner.
Huston (Layton): What is Rendon's absolute ceiling triple slash line? Is this possible at his peak: .330/.440/.580?
Something like that could be his peak,
sure. Look at what Buster Posey did this year — Rendon's college track
record and offensive abilities were comparable to Posey's, and I could
see him being that kind of offensive player, but with a chance for more
walks. Obviously we're projecting upside here.
Patrick (Sandpoint, Idaho): Is Karn's a truly
legit prospect to start with the Nats or someone else down the road?
He doesn't show in the 2016 potentials but the obvious talent on the
current Nats depth list would dictate that.
He's got a physical frame and the makings
of three quality pitches — I think he's got a real chance to be a big
league starter, though I could also see him thriving in a late-innings
relief role. Right now, the Nats are pretty loaded with starting
pitching, so maybe he winds up in another organization or in the
Washington bullpen. I'd say one of those outcomes is more likely — but
then again, pitching injuries are inevitable, and it's nice to have
other quality starting options in the pipeline. The Nats will stay the
course with him for the time being, I suspect.
Jay (DC): I'm a bit surprised to see Skole
ranked as highly as he was. Do you think the relative success of Tyler
Moore last year makes Skole's development path look clearer?
Partly, his high ranking is a product of
the losses this system has suffered to MLB graduation and trades. Skole
has risk, but he also has a legit chance to be an everyday big leaguer
— there aren't aren't a lot of guys in this system who are safer bets
to be regulars. And yes, I think there's something to be said for the
Tyler Moore model. But one thing I like about Skole is that he walks
considerably more than Moore ever did. In fact, Skole had more than
twice as many walks this year (96) as Moore ever did in a minor league
james (potomac,md): Did aaron barrett get any consideration on this list? He dominated this year numbers wise.
He did get some consideration at the back
of the Top 30, but not for the Top 10. He's going to be 25 in January,
and he still hasn't pitched above Class A. Granted, his success at
Potomac and in the AFL was very encouraging, but his stuff is pretty
average — it's an average fastball (91-92) and a slightly above-average
slider that eats up hitters at lower levels. He's got a chance to be a
big league middle reliever, but not more than that.
Ryan from NatsGM.com (Washington DC): Thanks
for doing this chat, and for your hard work on the Top 10... Who are
some of your favorite underrated "sleeper" prospects in the Nationals
Thanks, Ryan. I mentioned Ivan Pineyro
earlier, and a similar guy is Wirkin Estevez, although he had Tommy John
surgery this fall. But he flashed very good stuff at times this year —
a fastball that bumped the mid-90s along with a changeup that has a
chance to be plus, and a serviceable breaking ball. The Nats are excited
about Shawn Pleffner, who had a nice year at Auburn. He's got a real
feel for his barrel, and he's big enough to grow into some power. If he
does, he could be a very intriguing sleeper.
Magic Johnson (LALALAND): Brian Goodwin and
Jackie Bradley of the Red Sox seem like similar prospects to me. I
don't know how well you know the Sox system, but could you compare the
Bradley was one of my favorite college
players during his career at South Carolina — he's a more advanced
defender than Goodwin, and has a better natural feel for hitting. I
think Bradley is a safer prospect because of his hit tool, but Goodwin
has louder raw tools — more power potential, more speed. And certainly
you have to be encouraged by Goodwin's development as a hitter this
year, though I want to see him improve against lefties and continue to
refine his plate discipline against upper-level pitching. But he's got a
lot of upside. I just think Bradley has a higher likelihood of reaching
Kenny Graves (Newburgh, NY): Christian Garcia
is in line for a rotation spot this spring? What kind of numbers can we
expect from him. I know he has great stuff but how will it play up as a
I think Garcia's a bullpen guy all the way.
He's got the stuff to be a starter — it's three pitches that can all
be above-average when he's on his game — but durability is an issue. He
really took off when the Nats moved him into a relief role, and I think
that's where they will keep him. They will also be careful not to
overuse him — you probably won't see him on back-to-back days too
DH (Pittsburgh): What's your best guess as to
where Rendon will play when he arrives in the big leagues and where he
settles long term? Do you think Zimmerman will be limited to 1B sooner
rather than later?
I think this is a real conundrum. I know
we've got Rendon at third and Zimmerman at first in our projected future
lineup, but that's more of an exercise to show the strengths of the
organization than an earnest projection. Maybe Zimmerman isn't the elite
defender he used to be, according to the advanced metrics, but it's
hard to move a former Gold Glove winner in his prime to first base,
isn't it? I don't know where Rendon fits in. Maybe the Nats have a long
term plan for this, but they haven't shared it with me — their stated
approach seems to be wait-and-see, which I think is the right approach
for now. I'm very interested to see how all of this plays out, if Rendon
winds up becoming the star-caliber player I think he can become.
jim (Chatsworth, Ca): Thoughts on rhp Ryan Perry as a starter?
The Nats were very pleased with the
progress he made after making Perry a starter this year. His stuff has
always been electric, but he's learning how to command it better. He can
pitch at 92-96 with a good slider and an improving changeup — that's
awfully intriguing. He's something of a wild card, but I think that was a
nice flier for the Nats to take.
Alex (Fairfax, VA): Any thoughts on Tony Renda? Nats seem to be pretty high on him. How's he compare to a guy like Lombardozzi or Kobernus?
I love Tony Renda — just like every coach
in the Pac-12 and every scout who saw him play in college. This guy is a
winner, plain and simple — he won't fail. But just because he's
undersized, don't dismiss his tools. Like Lombardozzi, he can really hit — it's just an innate feel for the barrel. He doesn't run as well as
Lombo, and certainly not close to as well as Kobernus. Kobernus is more
of a live-bodied athlete than those other two guys, but he's not the
hitter that either of them is. Lombo is a better comp for Renda,
although he's not a switch-hitter and he's got work to do on his
defense. I think you're looking at an average defender with an average
arm, a chance for a plus bat, below-average power, and all the
intangibles you could want. In that respect—makeup—he's very similar to
Frank (D.C.): Based on "stuff" alone, if
Giolito was in last years draft, where would he have ranked among the
other big name pitchers (Cole, Bundy, Bradley)?
If he were completely healthy, he'd be
right there with those guys. I'm telling you, this guy's stuff is sick.
All of those guys have flashed high-90s heat and flirted with triple
digits. Giolito's downer curveball might the best breaking ball of the
lot, or in the conversation with Bradley's curve — better than Cole's
slider, better than Bundy's curve, which also flashes plus-plus but
needs more consistency. Giolito's changeup is behind Cole's and Bundy's,
but ahead of Bradley's, and plenty of scouts think it can be a plus
pitch, too. All these guys are bona fide potential No. 1 starters.
Roger (Texas): What's your thoughts on Jason Martinson in High A? And why is is taking so long for the Nats to move him along?
Martinson's development has been slowed by
his inability to hit consistently — he hit just .215 in the Carolina
League this year. He started the year back in Hagerstown to work on his
approach after striking out 144 times in 2011, and he made progress
there, but he did not carry it over to Potomac. This is a player with
good power potential, lots of athleticism and a shortstop's skill set,
but he's already 24 years old and he's got a long way to go as a hitter.
He also needs to be a more aggressive defender. He's got upside, but I
don't think he's a very safe bet to reach his ceiling.
Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware): Auburn
had a bunch of outfielders batting around .300 or better*. Which do
you like best? Are any candidates to skip a level or two?
*Estarlin Martinez, Narcisca Mesa, Brandon Miller, Angelberth Montilla,
and Shawn Pleffner.
I think this will be the last question
today. Martinez and Miller both cracked my Top 30, but I don't think
you'll see any of those guys skip a level, because they've all got a lot
of work to do. Miller has the best raw power of the group, and he has a
second plus tool in his arm strength, but his approach needs
refinement. Martinez took a big step forward this year after moving from
third base to left field — I think that helped him to relax at the
plate. He's learning to calm himself down at the plate and tap into his
power potential, but he had a great year in Auburn, and he's younger
than Miller. Both guys are interesting long-term projects.
OK folks, that's all for today. Thanks, as
always, for all the great questions! And thanks for reading. Have a
great holiday season!