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. Ages are as of April 1, 2007.
|1.||Collin Balester, rhp|
|2.||Chris Marrero, of|
|3.||Colton Willems, rhp|
|4.||Kory Casto, 3b/of|
|5.||Esmailyn Gonzalez, ss|
|6.||Zech Zinicola, rhp|
|7.||Glenn Gibson, lhp|
|8.||Matt Chico, lhp|
|9.||Stephen King, ss|
|10.||Ian Desmond, ss|
|Best Hitter for Average||Chris Marrero|
|Best Power Hitter||Chris Marrero|
|Best Strike-Zone Discipline||Kory Casto|
|Fastest Baserunner||Justin Maxwell|
|Best Athlete||Justin Maxwell|
|Best Fastball||Colton Willems|
|Best Curveball||Glenn Gibson|
|Best Slider||Zech Zinicola|
|Best Changeup||Emiliano Fruto|
|Best Control||Glenn Gibson|
|Best Defensive Catcher||Devin Ivany|
|Best Defensive Infielder||Esmailyn Gonzalez|
|Best Infield Arm||Ian Desmond|
|Best Defensive Outfielder||Frank Diaz|
|Best Outfield Arm||Ryan DeLaughter|
|First Base||Nick Johnson|
|Second Base||Felipe Lopez|
|Third Base||Ryan Zimmerman|
|Left Field||Kory Casto|
|Center Field||Austin Kearns|
|Right Field||Chris Marrero|
|No. 1 Starter||Collin Balester|
|No. 2 Starter||Colton Willems|
|No. 3 Starter||John Patterson|
|No. 4 Starter||Glenn Gibson|
|No. 5 Starter||Matt Chico|
OF THE DECADE
|1997||Vladimir Guerrero, of||Angels|
|1998||Brad Fullmer, 1b||Out of baseball|
|1999||Michael Barrett, 3b/c||Cubs|
|2000||Tony Armas, rhp||Nationals|
|2001||Donnie Bridges, rhp||Alexandria (United)|
|2002||Brandon Phillips, ss||Reds|
|2003||Clint Everts, rhp||Nationals|
|2004||Clint Everts, rhp||Nationals|
|2005||Mike Hinckley, lhp||Nationals|
|2006||Ryan Zimmerman, 3b||Nationals|
|TOP DRAFT PICKS|
OF THE DECADE
|1997||Donnie Bridges, rhp||Alexandria (United)|
|1998||Josh McKinley, ss||Out of baseball|
|1999||Josh Girdley, lhp||Out of baseball|
|2000||Justin Wayne, rhp||Out of baseball|
|2001||Josh Karp, rhp||Nationals|
|2002||Clint Everts, rhp||Nationals|
|2003||Chad Cordero, rhp||Nationals|
|2004||Bill Bray, lhp||Reds|
|2005||Ryan Zimmerman, 3b||Nationals|
|2006||Chris Marrero, of||Nationals|
IN CLUB HISTORY
|Ryan Zimmerman, 2005||$2,975,000|
|Justin Wayne, 2000||$2,950,000|
|Josh Karp, 2001||$2,650,000|
|Clint Everts, 2002||$2,500,000|
|Grady Sizemore, 2000||$2,000,000|
he Nationals finally found some stability in their second season in Washington, as a new ownership group led by developer Ted Lerner took the over the reins of the franchise from Major League Baseball in late July. Former Braves executive Stan Kasten became team president, and general manager Jim Bowden and his staff were given the security of knowing their jobs were no longer in limbo.
Bowden’s major offseason acquisition, Alfonso Soriano, joined Jose Canseco, Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez as the only members of the 40-40 club. Though Bowden knew there was a high risk Soriano would leave as a free agent after the season, he held on to his all-star left fielder at the trading deadline. When Soriano signed a $136 million contract with the Cubs, Washington was left with two draft picks in return.
Soriano's big season and Ryan Zimmerman's 110-RBI rookie year didn't pay off in the standings, however. The Nationals finished in last place in the National League East at 71-91, 10 games worse than in 2005. Washington let manager Frank Robinson go after the season, replacing him with Mets third-base coach Manny Acta.
But the Nationals are about the future, not the present. With a new ballpark set to open in 2007, they spent 2006 trying to build a long-term foundation by acquiring as many young players as they could through trades, the draft and the international market.
Though he didn't spin off Soriano, Bowden did make some slick trades during the summer. He acquired big leaguers Austin Kearns and Felipe Lopez from the Reds and pitching prospects Luis Atilano (Braves), Matt Chico and Garrett Mock (Diamondbacks), Shairon Martis (Giants) and Jhonny Nunez (Dodgers) without giving up anyone in Washington's long-term plans. Bowden made another nice move in December, dispatching declining veteran Jose Vidro and $12 million in salary obligations to the Mariners for outfielder Chris Snelling and righthander Emiliano Fruto.
For the first time in five years, the Nationals could spend freely in the draft. Though they had two first-round picks and two second-rounders, they didn’t have to worry about signability like they had in the past. Though they didn't sign second-round righthander Sean Black, they landed two legitimate first-rounders in outfielder Chris Marrero and righthander Colten Willems and went over slot money to sign shortstop Stephen King (third round), lefthander Glenn Gibson (fourth) and righty Hassan Pena (13th).
All told, Washington spent $5.3 million on the draft, the 10th-highest amount in baseball. The Nationals also signed
16-year-old Dominican shortstop Esmailyn Gonzalez for $1.4 million. They trumpeted that bonus in their official press release, making a statement that they will be major players in Latin America for years to come.
The end result of all the moves is that Washington has vastly improved the depth in its farm system, though it will take some time for the talent to progress to the upper levels. The Nationals hope to build their club with homegrown talent, much like the Braves did under Kasten.
To that end, the Nationals hired Diamondbacks scouting director Mike Rizzo as assistant GM and vice president of baseball operations. Washington added 10 scouts, including former Devil Rays GM Chuck LaMar, in November to augment a scouting staff that had been ravaged during MLB’s ownership. Even with a skeleton staff, scouting director Dana Brown has proven resourceful with help from scouts like Tony Arango, who signed the first three prospects on this Top 10 list.