Washington Nationals: Top 10 Prospects

Washington Nationals

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, 2008.

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1. Chris Marrero, of/1b
2. Ross Detwiler, lhp
3. Collin Balester, rhp
4. Michael Burgess, of
5. Jack McGeary, lhp
6. Josh Smoker, lhp
7. Jordan Zimmerman, rhp
8. Glenn Gibson, lhp
9. Justin Maxwell, of
10. Colton Willems, rhp
Best Hitter for Average Jake Smolinski
Best Power Hitter Chris Marrero
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Josh Whitesell
Fastest Baserunner Rogearvin Bernadina
Best Athlete Justin Maxwell
Best Fastball Ross Detwiler
Best Curveball Jack McGeary
Best Slider Zech Zinicola
Best Changeup Glenn Gibson
Best Control Glenn Gibson
Best Defensive Catcher Devin Ivany
Best Defensive Infielder Ian Desmond
Best Infield Arm Ian Desmond
Best Defensive Outfielder Rogearvin Bernadina
Best Outfield Arm Edgardo Baez
Catcher Jesus Flores
First Base Chris Marrero
Second Base Stephen King
Third Base Ryan Zimmerman
Shortstop Ian Desmond
Left Field Wily Mo Pena
Center Field Justin Maxwell
Right Field Michael Burgess
No. 1 Starter Ross Detwiler
No. 2 Starter Collin Balester
No. 3 Starter Jack McGeary
No. 4 Starter Josh Smoker
No. 5 Starter Jordan Zimmerman
Closer Chad Cordero
Year Player, Position 2007
1998 Brad Fullmer, 1B Out of baseball
1999 Michael Barrett, 3B/C Padres
2000 Tony Armas, RHP Pirates
2001 Donnie Bridges, RHP United League
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
2007 Collin Balester, RHP Nationals
Year Player, Position 2007
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 Out of baseball
2002 Clint Everts, RHP Nationals
2003 Chad Cordero, RHP Nationals
2004 Bill Bray, LHP Reds
2005 Ryan Zimmerman, 3B Nationals
2006 Chris Marrero, OF/1B Nationals
2007 Ross Detwiler, LHP Nationals
Ryan Zimmerman, 2005 $2,975,000
Justin Wayne, 2000 $2,950,000
Josh Karp, 2001 $2,650,000
Clint Everts, 2002 $2,500,000
Ross Detwiler, 2007 $2,150,000
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Washington Nationals

It's a measure of just how low expectations were for the Nationals in 2007 that they won 73 games and finished 16 games out of first place, yet Manny Acta garnered manager-of-the-year consideration for getting his team to overachieve in his first year at the helm. Washington, in its first full season with the Lerner family installed as owners and Stan Kasten as club president, embraced a youth movement with an eye at fielding a competitive, exciting team when their new Nationals Park opens in 2008.

Ryan Zimmerman turned in his second straight solid season, giving the Nationals confidence that they have a cornerstone player to build a franchise around. Other young players made positive impressions in varying amounts of big league exposure, as rookie Matt Chico led the beleaguered pitching staff in starts (31) and innings (167), Jason Bergmann made a successful conversion from the bullpen to the rotation, and rookies Shawn Hill and John Lannan also showed promise as starters. Nationals fans also got a glimpse of their potential center fielder of the future when Justin Maxwell jumped from high Class A to the majors for a 15-game cameo and swatted a grand slam in his third at-bat.

Freewheeling general manager Jim Bowden made just one significant trade in 2007, acquiring powerful but raw outfielder Wily Mo Pena from the Red Sox. Instead of bolstering the system through trades as it did in 2006, Washington focused on building through the draft, where it had five picks in the first two rounds. The Nationals spent $7.9 million on the draft, the fifth-highest figure in baseball.

The first four players they drafted—lefthanders Ross Detwiler (first round) and Josh Smoker (supplemental first), outfielder Michael Burgess (supplemental first) and righthander Jordan Zimmermann (second)—rank among the top 10 prospects in the system. So does lefthander Jack McGeary—who received a $1.8 million bonus, a record for a sixth-round pick, plus the money and permission from Washington to attend classes at Stanford from September through May for up to three years. Outfielder Jake Smolinski (second round) just missed the Top 10.

The aggressive approach to the draft paid immediate dividends, as Washington's system is already far deeper and flush with more high-impact talent than it had a year ago, when it ranked as the worst system in baseball. Assistant general manager of baseball operations Mike Rizzo and scouting director Dana Brown have co-existed very well, and there are no signs of a power struggle that some feared when Rizzo joined the organization in mid-2006 after a successful run as the Diamondbacks' scouting director.

The Nationals may not be blessed with many prospects in the upper levels of their organization, but their player-development system has made strides under farm director Bobby Williams and minor league pitching coordinator Spin Williams. Washington has instituted organization-wide philosophies, alleviating the too-many-cooks syndrome that hampered its prospects in the past. The club held instructional league for the first time since the franchise moved to Washington, giving young players a chance to build on lessons from the season and focus on developing specific skills.

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