Washington Nationals 2009 Minor League Review
Overall farm ranking via Baseball America (2009)
2009 (21) | 2008 (9) | 2007 (30) | 2006 (24) | 2005 (26) | 2004 (30)
Record of Major and Minor League Teams
MLB: [59 – 103] NL East – worst record in majors
AAA: [76 – 68] International League
AA: [70 – 72] Eastern League
A+: [79 – 58] Carolina League
A: [56 – 78] South Atlantic League
A(ss): [34 – 41] New York – Pennsylvania League
R: [36 – 19] Gulf League
The Run Down
The Nationals just signed Brian Bruney and Ivan Rodriguez which gives them a few veterans on a team that graduated eight prospects this year. Jordan Zimmermann, before his injury (Tommy John surgery), was looking sharp and had some significant support for his future ace status. Now his future is up in the air. Enter Stephen Strasburg, whose hype is beyond the stratosphere, and Drew Storen, who was drafted in 2009 with the 10th overall pick in the draft. The Nats received the 10th draft pick because they failed to sign Aaron Crow in 2008 (Crow was drafted and signed by the Royals in 2009). Grey has already mentioned what to expect from Strasburg, and consequently, I won’t belabor the point – just keep your expectations in check.
Even with so many rookies playing this year, many of them pitchers, the Nationals could actually contend within this year. They have a decent infield (Dunn, Ian Desmond, Cristian Guzman and Ryan Zimmerman) and a young, athletic outfield (Elijah Dukes, Nyjer Morgan and Justin Maxwell). If the Nationals can sign a veteran starting pitcher, they could have some success in 2010. It wouldn’t be a stretch to see the team win 10 more games this year with a slightly improved rotation. John Lannan pitched decent in 2009, repeating all his 2008 numbers besides his terrible strikeout per nine innings. They still have a lot of ground to make up, however, the Nationals should start to make noise in the near future.
#1 – (SP) Jordan Zimmermann; #2 – (SP) Ross Detwiler; #11 – (OF) Justin Maxwell; #12 – (SP) Garrett Mock; #13 – (SP) Shairon Martis; #20 – (SP) Craig Stammen; (P) Tyler Clippard; (2B/SS) Alberto Gonzalez
Players of Interest
#3 – Chris Marrero | 1B | 20 | A+/AA | .284/.358/.452 | 489 AB | 27 2B | 17 HR | .178 ISO | 115:50 K:BB | .343 BABIP | 46.3 GB% | 15.3 LD% | 38.4 FB%
Back in early September, I wrote a Scouting the Unknown article on Marrero. Here is me quoting me, “Marrero is projected to hit 20 to 25 homers with decent average and above average plate coverage and average plate discipline. He is a below average runner and defensive range at first base, but does have a good arm and soft hands – which serve little worth if he cannot get to the ball. Scouts, managers and team reps rave about his work ethic and have high hopes … He should start in AA to open the 2010 season and possibly move up to AAA by the middle of June and get a chance to show himself to the world by September – assuming he doesn’t get injured or struggle with the jump to AAA. However his promotions go, he still strikeouts too much for a hitter to have an average over .275 and his plate discipline is adequate – nothing spectacular, but nothing awful – and his ISO has been average too. He isn’t the sexy power hitter like Mike Stanton, the all round player like Heyward, or even the hitting scarce position prospect like Carlos Santana. However, he reminds me of Kyle Blanks [and can do what he] did this year before he went down with an injury. He has the potential to be the Nationals starting first baseman by 2011.” Much the same remains.
#6 – Derek Norris | C | 20 | A | .286/.413/.513 | 437 AB | 30 2B | 23 HR | .227 ISO | 116:90 K:BB | .342 BABIP | 35.6 GB% | 20.2 LD% | 44.2 FB%
He has great plate discipline and is an extremely patient hitter. He’s thrown out 39% of runners in his young career. After playing third base until his senior year in high school, Norris doesn’t have a lot of experience behind the plate as noted by 28 passed balls this year and 16 last year. His defense projects to be adequate at best, while most inside organizational members predict him changing positions to utilize his tremendous hitting skills.
#14 – Danny Espinosa | SS | 22 | A+ | .264/.375/.460 | 474 AB | 31 2B | 18 HR | .196 ISO | 29/11 SB/CS | 129:74 K:BB | 50.1 GB% | 13 LD% | 35.7 FB%
Espinosa is an average player at best with only a strong and accurate arm as his plus tool. His defense is above average too. However, he is a scrappy player that projects to be nothing more than a bench player. The other asset, besides his stellar defense, is his excellent base stealing skills. He isn’t extremely fast, but he knows when and how to get that extra base. He was rated a higher prospect than Ian Desmond (14 to 19) and if there are an abundance of injuries in the infield next year, Espinosa could get called upon.
#21 – Marco Estrada | RH (SP) | 25 | AAA | 6.5 K/9 | 2.2 BB/9 | 136 1/3 IP | 3.63 ERA | 3.46 FIP | 1.22 WHIP | .300 BABIP | 42.6 GB% | 14.2 LD% | 39.4 FB% | 14.7 IF/F
Throws his fastball between 90 and 94 mph, keeping it regularly in the upper half of that range. He has a plus change-up and a curve he throws at two different speeds to keep hitters off guard. Not much of strikeout pitcher, but he throws strikes and makes them count. He has thrown 20 innings in the majors the last two years combined with little success. Estrada has the tools to fight for a back-end rotation spot in spring training. Think 2009 Carl Pavano-type numbers if given a chance to pitch all year.
Josh Wilkie | RH (RP) | 24 | AA/AAA | 8.2 K/9 | 2.1 BB/9 | 71 2/3 IP | 2.64 ERA | 1.17 WHIP | .327 BABIP | 53.9 GB% | 5.5 LD% | 37.8 FB% | 11.7 IF/F [Career rates of 52.4 GB% | 12 LD% | 33.6 FB% | 11.8 IF/F in 239 2/3 IP]
Does an awesome job keeping the ball in the park (10 homers allowed in 239 2/3 IP) and on the ground (52.4 GB%; For perspective, Joel Pineiro has a career 48.2 GB% and a 60 GB% in 2009). Wilkie has never been a starter and consequently has never been a top prospect. Wilkie may get a chance in spring training, but more realistically he’ll open the season in Triple-A and get a call up if the Nationals need bullpen help in the middle of the summer.
Brad Meyers | RH (SP) | 23 | A+/AA | 7.1 K/9 | 2.1 BB/9 | 136 1/3 IP | 1.72 ERA | 1.05 WHIP | .279 BABIP | 47 GB% | 14 LD% | 34 FB% | 13.4 IF/F
Like Wilkie and Pineiro, he keeps the ball on the ground and in the park (13 HR in 283 2/3 IP). Keep an eye on him if he can keep pitching well at Double-A. His numbers were better at Double-A than at High-A this year too.