2012 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. Anthony Rendon, 3b
3. Brad Peacock, rhp
4. A.J. Cole, rhp
5. Brian Goodwin, of
6. Alex Meyer, rhp
7. Matt Purke, lhp
8. Sammy Solis, lhp
9. Derek Norris, c
10. Steve Lombardozzi, 2b/ss
Best Hitter for Average Anthony Rendon
Best Power Hitter Bryce Harper
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Anthony Rendon
Fastest Baserunner Eury Perez
Best Athlete Michael Taylor
Best Fastball A.J. Cole
Best Curveball Brad Peacock
Best Slider Alex Meyer
Best Changeup Tom Milone
Best Control Tom Milone
Best Defensive Catcher Sandy Leon
Best Defensive Infielder Steve Lombardozzi
Best Infield Arm Deion Williams
Best Defensive Outfielder Michael Taylor
Best Outfield Arm Bryce Harper
Catcher Wilson Ramos
First Base Michael Morse
Second Base Anthony Rendon
Third Base Ryan Zimmerman
Shortstop Danny Espinosa
Left Field Jayson Werth
Center Field Brian Goodwin
Right Field Bryce Harper
No. 1 Starter Stephen Strasburg
No. 2 Starter Jordan Zimmermann
No. 3 Starter Brad Peacock
No. 4 Starter A.J. Cole
No. 5 Starter Matt Purke
Closer Drew Storen
Year Player, Position 2011
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
2011 Bryce Harper, of Nationals
Year Player, Position 2011 Org.
2002 Clint Everts, rhp Blue Jays
2003 Chad Cordero, rhp St. Paul (American Assoc.)
2004 Bill Bray, lhp Reds
2005 Ryan Zimmerman, 3b Nationals
2006 Chris Marrero, of Nationals
2007 Ross Detwiler, lhp Nationals
2008 *Aaron Crow, rhp Royals
2009 Stephen Strasburg, rhp Nationals
2010 Bryce Harper, of Nationals
2011 Anthony Rendon, 3b Nationals
*Did not sign.
Stephen Strasburg, 2009 $7,500,000
Bryce Harper, 2010 $6,250,000
Anthony Rendon, 2011 $6,000,000
Brian Goodwin, 2011 $3,000,000
Ryan Zimmerman, 2006 $2,975,000
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Washington Nationals

The tide is turning in Washington. The Nationals reached the 80-victory plateau in 2011 for the first time in six years and placed third in the National League East, their highest finish since the 2002 Expos landed in second. And with a once-barren farm system now bursting with talent, the franchise's future seems even brighter.

Back-to-back 59-win seasons in 2008 and 2009 gave the Nationals the No. 1 overall pick in consecutive drafts, and they used those picks on cornerstone players Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper. Washington set a record by spending $11.5 million on draft bonuses in 2009, then topped that mark with $11.9 million in 2010.

The Nationals once again were opportunistic and aggressive in the 2011 draft, landing Baseball America's top-ranked prospect for the third straight year when third baseman Anthony Rendon slid to them as the No. 6 choice. Washington then doled out huge bonuses to their next three selections: righthander Alex Meyer ($2 million), outfielder Brian Goodwin ($3 million) and lefty Matt Purke ($2.75 million).

The Nats paid out a total $15 million on bonuses, and though they yielded that record to the Pirates ($17 million), they outspent Pittsburgh when the additional $2.6 million in guarantees in big league contracts for Rendon and Purke are considered. (The overall draft expenditure record remains $19.1 million by Washington in 2009, $15.1 million of which was a major league deal for Strasburg). Most important, the spending spree earned the Nationals the designation of BA's top-rated draft and further solidified their talent foundation.

Strasburg and Harper continued to generate incredible excitement in Washington and around baseball in 2011. Strasburg returned from Tommy John surgery to go 1-1, 1.50 with 24 strikeouts and two walks in 24 innings over five September starts, showing the same electrifying stuff he displayed before injuring his elbow in the summer of 2010. Harper took the low Class A South Atlantic League by storm as an 18-year-old, posting a .977 OPS to earn a two-level promotion to Double-A Harrisburg, where he held his own against much older competition.

The organization enjoyed a strong developmental year from top to bottom, with upper-level prospects such as Brad Peacock, Tom Milone and Steve Lombardozzi breaking through to the big leagues, and lower-level prospects like A.J. Cole, Sammy Solis and Destin Hood showing nice progress. Peacock, in particular, was a revelation, emerging as one of the most exciting power arms in the high minors before a brilliant three-appearance cameo in Washington.

The parent Nationals' improvement was driven by the emergence of young up-the-middle talents Wilson Ramos and Danny Espinosa into quality regulars. After Adam Dunn departed in the offseason, Michael Morse took over at first base and led the team with 31 homers. He ultimately was more effective than $126 million free-agent acquisition Jayson Werth, who hit .232/.330/.389 while adding 20 homers.

The pitching staff also climbed from 11th in the NL in ERA in 2010 to sixth in 2011, led by blossoming Jordan Zimmermann and steady John Lannan in the rotation, and the dynamic duo of Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard in the bullpen. The Nationals' homegrown talent is beginning to make its mark in the big leagues—and plenty more is on the way.

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