Washington Nationals Top 10 Prospects

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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, 2011.

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Aaron Fitt
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1. Bryce Harper, of
2. Derek Norris, c
3. Danny Espinosa, ss/2b
4. A.J. Cole, rhp
5. Wilson Ramos, c
6. Sammy Solis, lhp
7. Cole Kimball, rhp
8. Eury Perez, of
9. Chris Marrero, 1b
10. Brad Peacock, rhp
Best Hitter for Average Bryce Harper
Best Power Hitter Bryce Harper
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Derek Norris
Fastest Baserunner Eury Perez
Best Athlete Bryce Harper
Best Fastball Cole Kimball
Best Curveball Brad Peacocok
Best Slider A.J. Morris
Best Changeup Josh Wilkie
Best Control Tommy Milone
Best Defensive Catcher Wilson Ramos
Best Defensive Infielder Danny Espinosa
Best Infield Arm Danny Espinosa
Best Defensive Outfielder Eury Perez
Best Outfield Arm Bryce Harper
Catcher Wilson Ramos
First Base Derek Norris
Second Base Danny Espinosa
Third Base Ryan Zimmerman
Shortstop Ian Desmond
Left Field Jayson Werth
Center Field Eury Perez
Right Field Bryce Harper
No. 1 Starter Stephen Strasburg
No. 2 Starter Jordan Zimmermann
No. 3 Starter A.J. Cole
No. 4 Starter Sammy Solis
No. 5 Starter John Lannan
Closer Drew Storen
Year Player, Position 2010
2001 Donnie Bridges, rhp Out of baseball
2002 Brandon Phillips, ss Reds
2003 Clint Everts, rhp Blue Jays
2004 Clint Everts, rhp Blue Jays
2005 Mike Hinckley, lhp Blue Jays
2006 Ryan Zimmerman, 3b Nationals
2007 Collin Balester, rhp Nationals
2008 Chris Marrero, 1b Nationals
2009 Jordan Zimmermann, rhp Nationals
2010 Stephen Strasburg, rhp Nationals
Year Player, Position 2010
2001 Josh Karp, rhp Out of baseball
2002 Clint Everts, rhp Blue Jays
2003 Chad Cordero, rhp Mets
2004 Bill Bray, lhp Reds
2005 Ryan Zimmerman, 3b Nationals
2006 Chris Marrero, of Nationals
2007 Ross Detwiller, lhp Nationals
2008 *Aaron Crow, rhp Royals
2009 Stephen Strasburg, rhp Nationals
2010 Bryce Harper, of Nationals
Stephen Strasburg, 2009 $7,500,000
Bryce Harper, 2010 $6,250,000
Ryan Zimmerman, 2006 $2,975,000
Justin Wayne, 2000 $2,950,000
Josh Karp, 2001 $2,650,000
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Washington Nationals

For the first time since the franchise arrived in Washington five years earlier, Nationals fans had legitimate reason to be excited in 2010. The team still finished in last place for the fifth time in six seasons since moving from Montreal, but the anticipated arrival of top prospect Stephen Strasburg infused Nationals Park with energy—and fans.

Strasburg, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 draft, made his major league debut on June 8. Before that, the Nationals averaged 21,560 fans a game. They drew more than 40,000 fans for each of his first two starts, and averaged 33,446 fans in his seven home outings.

Strasburg held up his end of the bargain, electrifying the baseball world with 14 strikeouts over seven innings in his debut against Pittsburgh. He continued to pitch well, going 5-3, 2.91 with 92 strikeouts in 68 innings before his rookie season ended abruptly in August when he tore an elbow ligament. He had Tommy John surgery that will sideline him for most if not all of 2011.

The Nationals are optimistic Strasburg can regain his pre-surgery form, and they hope to pair him with another phenom before too long. Washington had the No. 1 choice for the second consecutive draft and chose 17-year-old slugger Bryce Harper. A year after giving Strasburg a draft-record $15.1 million major league contract, the Nationals handed Harper a $9.9 million big league deal, the largest ever for a position player in the draft.

For the second straight year, the Nationals set a record for bonus spending. They spent $11.51 million in 2009 and $11.93 million in 2010. In addition to Harper, they also gave over-slot deals to A.J. Cole, Sammy Solis and Robbie Ray last summer. Those three immediately ranked among the best starting pitching prospects in an organization short on impact arms.

Washington's big league staff ranked 12th in the National League in runs allowed, and among its six most regular starters, only 35-year-old Livan Hernandez posted an ERA below 4.65. The lineup provided more reason for optimism, albeit while finishing 14th in the NL in scoring. Franchise cornerstone Ryan Zimmerman put together another strong season, homegrown shortstop Ian Desmond enjoyed a solid rookie campaign and Danny Espinosa, Desmond's double-play partner of the future, reached the big leagues in September. Adam Dunn gave the Nationals another 38-homer season before leaving for the White Sox via free agency.

The franchise made a huge move just before the Winter Meetings, signing free agent Jayson Werth for seven years and $126 million—more money than it had spent on free agents in the previous 20 years combined. General manager Mike Rizzo said the deal signaled the start of the next phase in the club's plan, when it plans to "really compete for division titles and championships."

The farm system remains thin in premium prospects, but Rizzo did pick up one of the minors' top catchers in Wilson Ramos when he traded all-star Matt Capps to the Twins in July. The Nationals' Latin American operations have yielded little fruit in recent years, but second-year international director Johnny DiPuglia did make a splash two days later with the signing of Cuban defector Yunesky Maya. Maya reached the big leagues six weeks after signing a $7.4 million contract.

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