Washington Nationals: Top 10 Prospects

Scouting reports for the Top 10 Prospects 
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Aaron Fitt
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1. Stephen Strasburg, rhp
2. Derek Norris, c
3. Drew Storen, rhp
4. Ian Desmond, ss
5. Danny Espinosa, ss
6. Chris Marrero, 1b
7. Jeff Kobernus, 2b
8. Justin Maxwell, of
9. Michael Burgess, of
10. Destin Hood, of
Best Hitter for Average Derek Norris
Best Power Hitter Derek Norris
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Derek Norris
Fastest Baserunner Roger Bernadina
Best Athlete Justin Maxwell
Best Fastball Stephen Strasburg
Best Curveball Stephen Strasburg
Best Slider Drew Storen
Best Changeup Josh Wilkie
Best Control Stephen Strasburg
Best Defensive Catcher Sandy Leon
Best Defensive Infielder Danny Espinosa
Best Infield Arm Ian Desmond
Best Defensive Outfielder Roger Bernadina
Best Outfield Arm Michael Burgess
Catcher Derek Norris
First Base Chris Marrero
Second Base Danny Espinosa
Third Base Ryan Zimmerman
Shortstop Ian Desmond
Left Field Josh Willingham
Center Field Nyjer Morgan
Right Field Adam Dunn
No. 1 Starter Stephen Strasburg
No. 2 Starter Jordan Zimmermann
No. 3 Starter Ross Detwiler
No. 4 Starter John Lannan
No. 5 Starter Collin Balester
Closer Drew Storen
Year Player, Position 2009
2000 Tony Armas, rhp Braves
2001 Donnie Bridges, rhp Out of baseball
2002 Brandon Phillips, ss Reds
2003 Clint Everts, ss Nationals
2004 Clint Everts, ss Nationals
2005 Mike Hinckley, lhp Rangers
2006 Ryan Zimmerman, 3b Nationals
2007 Collin Balester, rhp Nationals
2008 Chris Marrero, 1b Nationals
2009 Jordan Zimmermann, rhp Nationals
Year Player, Position 2009
2000 Justin Wayne, rhp Out of baseball
2001 Josh Karp, rhp Out of baseball
2002 Clint Everts, rhp Nationals
2003 Chad Cordero, rhp Mariners
2004 Bill Bray, lhp Reds
2005 Ryan Zimmerman, 3b Nationals
2006 Chris Marrero, 1b Nationals
2007 Ross Detwiler, lhp Nationals
2008 *Aaron Crow, rhp Royals
2009 Stephen Strasburg, rhp Nationals
*Did not sign
Stephen Strasburg, 2009 $7,500,000
Ryan Zimmerman, 2006 $2,975,000
Justin Wayne, 2000 $2,950,000
Josh Karp, 2001 $2,650,000
Clint Everts, 2002 $2,500,000
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Washington Nationals

The Nationals endured a whirlwind 2009. By the end of the summer, the signing of No. 1 overall pick Stephen Strasburg to a record contract and the installation of Mike Rizzo as general manager generated some actual excitement, even with the club headed toward its second straight 100-loss season. But the road to that optimism was a bumpy one.

Washington’s year got off to an ugly start when it came out in February that shortstop Esmailyn Gonzalez, who signed for $1.4 million out of the Dominican Republic in 2006, actually was Carlos Alvarez. While his listed age was 19, he actually was 23 years old.

The next week, the Nationals fired special assistant Jose Rijo, who had signed Gonzalez, and moved out of their Dominican academy, which was owned by Rijo. On March 1, general manager Jim Bowden resigned amid a federal probe into Latin American bonus skimming. Rizzo was promoted from assistant GM to interim GM.

With the major league season lost by the end of April, after Washington dropped 16 of its first 21 games, Rizzo’s priority became the No. 1 pick in the draft. To no one’s surprise, the Nationals selected Strasburg, the most hyped and perhaps the best prospect in the history of the draft. Agent Scott Boras made it clear Strasburg sought a precedent-setting contract, and the Nationals inked him to a record-shattering $15.1 million deal—including a $7.5 million bonus—scant minutes before the Aug. 17 deadline.

Washington also had the No. 10 choice as compensation for its failure to sign 2008 first-rounder Aaron Crow. The Nats used that selection on another college righthander, Drew Storen, who signed for $1.6 million on draft day and quickly reached Double-A Harrisburg. Headlined by the Strasburg and Storen deals, Washington doled out a record $11,511,500 on draft bonuses in 2009.

The Strasburg drama gave Nats fans a distraction from a dismal big league season. There were a few bright spots: free-agent acquisition Adam Dunn slugged 38 homers; franchise player Ryan Zimmerman had another strong campaign and made his first all-star team; center fielder Nyjer Morgan was a revelation after being acquired from the Pirates in a midseason trade for Lastings Milledge; lefthander John Lannan blossomed into a steady workhorse.

But Jordan Zimmermann, who ranked No. 1 on this list a year ago, was lost to Tommy John surgery halfway through his rookie season as a member of Washington’s rotation. The Nationals ended the year with the worst record in the majors (59-103) and will have the No. 1 draft pick for the second straight year, giving them another chance to infuse their mediocre farm system with impact talent.

Catcher Derek Norris and shortstops Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa took major steps forward in 2009, but there were few other bright spots in the minor leagues, as many of Washington’s top prospects turned in disappointing seasons.

In the fall, Rizzo replaced farm director Bobby Williams with former Indians scout Doug Harris. Longtime scouting director Dana Brown left to take a job with the Blue Jays and was replaced by assistant scouting director Kris Kline.

Rizzo hired decorated Braves scouting director Roy Clark, who consistently brought in quality talent in Atlanta, as vice president of player personnel. The Nats also brought in former Red Sox international scouting coordinator Johnny DiPuglia to revamp the organization’s beleaguered international department.

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