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, 2009.

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1. Jordan Zimmermann, rhp
2. Ross Detwiler, lhp
3. Chris Marrero, 1b
4. Michael Burgess, of
5. Jack McGeary, lhp
6. Derek Norris, c
7. Destin Hood, of
8. Adrian Nieto, c
9. J.P. Ramirez, of
10. Esmailyn Gonzalez, ss
Best Hitter for Average J.P. Ramirez
Best Power Hitter Chris Marrero
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Derek Norris
Fastest Baserunner Roger Bernadina
Best Athlete Justin Maxwell
Best Fastball Jordan Zimmerman
Best Curveball Jack McGeary
Best Slider Jordan Zimmerman
Best Changeup Shairon Martis
Best Control Jack McGeary
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 Jesus Flores
First Base Chris Marrero
Second Base Esmailyn Gonzalez
Third Base Ryan Zimmerman
Shortstop Cristian Guzman
Left Field Elijah Dukes
Center Field Lastings Milledge
Right Field Michael Burgess
No. 1 Starter Jordan Zimmerman
No. 2 Starter Ross Detwiler
No. 3 Starter Scott Olsen
No. 4 Starter Collin Balester
No. 5 Starter John Lannan
Closer Garrett Mock
Year Player, Position 2008
1999 Michael Barrett, 3b/c Padres
2000 Tony Armas, rhp Mets
2001 Donnie Bridges, rhp Out of baseball
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
2008 Chris Marrero, 1b/of Nationals
Year Player, Position 2008
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 Nationals
2007 Ross Detwiler, lhp Nationals
2008 *Aaron Crow, rhp Fort Worth (American Assoc.)
*Did not sign
Ryan Zimmerman, 2006 $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

Washington's inaugural season in brand-new Nationals Park peaked on Opening Day, when franchise player Ryan Zimmerman hit a walkoff home run to beat the Braves. It was all downhill from there, as no Nationals hitter drove in more than 61 runs and no Nats pitcher won more than 10 games while the club posted a major league-worst 59-102 record.

The shoddy on-field product depressed attendance, as Washington drew just 2.3 million fans—the lowest attendance figure for an inaugural year of a ballpark since the modern stadium boom began with Camden Yards in 1992.

There were few bright spots at the major league level. Lastings Milledge, a former ├╝berprospect acquired in an offseason trade with the Mets, led the club with 61 RBIs and tying Zimmerman with a team-best 14 homers. Elijah Dukes, another prodigiously talented outfielder added in an offseason deal, was the Nationals' most dangerous hitter when he wasn't sidelined by knee and calf injuries. Rookies Collin Balester and John Lannan settled into the majors as arms to build around.

It was an up-and-down year for the farm system. Washington's U.S. affiliates won 44 more games than they did a year ago and posted a combined winning record for the first time since 1998. Leading the way was high Class A Potomac, whose Carolina League championship was the first minor league title for a Nationals affiliate since the franchise moved to Washington in 2005. Several prospects who passed through Potomac took major steps forward, headlined by righthander Jordan Zimmermann, who emerged as the clear-cut top prospect in the organization.

But last year's No. 1 prospect, first baseman Chris Marrero, suffered a significant setback in June, when he broke his fibula and tore ligaments in his ankle sliding into home plate, ending his season. And with the exception of Zimmermann, many of the players from a 2007 draft rated by Baseball America as baseball's best crop that year didn't quite make the impact Washington hoped for last season.

The Nationals' 2008 draft wasn't nearly as productive, as they failed to come to terms with No. 9 overall pick Aaron Crow, who was widely regarded as the best righthander in the draft. Both sides drew lines in the sand and didn't start to compromise until hours before the Aug. 15 deadline. They couldn't bridge the gap between $3.5 million and $4 million at the end, leaving Washington with a compensatory pick (10th overall) in 2009—to go with the No. 1 overall choice it earned with its poor season.

The Nats didn't land Crow, but they did get a pair of high-ceiling prep outfielders in second-rounder Destin Hood and 15th-rounder J.P. Ramirez, who both received seven-figure bonuses. Still, Washington spent $3 million less on the draft last year than it did in 2007.

Even the Nationals' progress in Latin America was stunted. They announced their intention to be major players on the international scene by signing infielder Esmailyn Gonzalez for $1.4 million in 2006, but they didn't sign any international player for a six-figure bonus in 2008. Meanwhile, general manager Jim Bowden and special assistant Jose Rijo were questioned by the FBI and Major League Baseball investigators in connection with a Latin America bonus-skimming scandal.

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