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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.

Graduate Prospects
#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

Arizona Fall League Players – Phoenix Desert Dogs
Pitchers – Strasburg, Storen, Jeff Mandel, Josh Wilkie
Hitters – #3 – (1B) Chris Marrero, #14 – (SS) Danny Espinosa, (C) Sean Rooney

Players of Interest
Hitters
#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.

Pitchers
#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.

From Around The Web

  1. GopherDay says:
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    What are the odds that the Nationals have a Zimmerman and a Zimermann on their team?

  2. Curtis Granderson report hey grey what do you think of these numbers

    he hit .264, 3Hr and 11rbi w/ 30Ks in 110AB vs RedSox pitching. SECOND worst BA in the MAJORS vs. LHP.

    He hit all but two of his home runs off right-handers, batting just .183 in 180 at-bats against southpaws.

    Was his numbers against left hand pitching BAD LUCK ?

  3. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @mrbaseball: No, he’s not good vs. lefties. Ethier hit .194 vs. lefties, Howard hit .207 vs. lefties, BJ Upton hit .190 vs. lefties and he’s a righty. What I’m saying is, I don’t think Grandy’s going to be killed by this split.

  4. Stephen says:
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    @GopherDay: Lower than gaining another Rodriguez.

  5. Tony says:
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    i think grandy will be just fine, why is everyone so worried about his lefty splits? is splits are the way they are and he does what he does each year, he’s basically a 20/15 lock, and moving to that park he’s probably a 30-35HR/20SB lock…. hopefully he just bats .275 and not .250

  6. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Tony: I agree with you. Some people just don’t hit lefties. Whole lot better than not hitting righties.

  7. Tony says:
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    @Grey: YA haha, you’re up a creeek if you can’t hit righties….

  8. Stephen says:
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    @Tony: Even if he bats .250, he’ll put up the same numbers that Mark Reynolds put up in 2009.

  9. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Stephen: I think 44 homers is a stretch.

  10. Stephen says:
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    @Grey: Meant, probably and should have said similar numbers.

  11. Tony says:
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    @Stephen: why do you say that? i dont think that park will jump his #’s from a 30HR guy to a 40HR guy? maybe, but doubtful….

  12. Stephen says:
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    @Tony: I imagine that Granderson will slash 100/35/85/.275/20 while Mark Reynolds will regress some to 90/40/100/.255/15

  13. sean says:
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    @Tony: I think we’re giving Granderson a bit more power than he’s shown. He’s a 20-25 homer guy who hit 30 one year. When he did get to 30, his SBs dropped off (as most expect during peak power years). Thanks to the ballpark and lineup changes, I think he’s a lock for 100/25/75/20 and anything else is a bonus for where he’ll probably be drafted (fourth round?). He’s not a guy who is going to hit 35-40 homers. He’s a guy who can get to 30 with a little jetstream and lineup help. I am a little concerned that we’ll see a 25/15-type year out of him, especially in his first year in the Bronx when he’s likely more concerned about taking pitches and being a good teammate.

  14. Stephen says:
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    @sean: That’s very true. I am going very Bill James with Granderson. That’s all.

  15. brett says:
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    I don’t know if it carries any weight that i’ve watched hundreds of his at bats over past 4+ years, but he’s a legitimate power hitter who’s taken more and more to pulling the ball (and putting it in the air). 30 HR this year wasn’t an outlier in my opinion, but more the result of a progression. He’s also hit his share of fly outs and gap shots in Comerica that should leave the yard in NY.

    Check out the graphs that Dave Allen put up at Fangraphs today. I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t reach 30 HR again in 2010, and i’d put his upside above 35. Combine that with a regression in batting average and I think he’s a STEAL in the 4th round. If i can get him in the 3rd, i won’t hesitate.

  16. Simply Fred

    Simply Fred says:
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    @mrbaseball: Grandy had to face the likes of C.Lee, Danks , Burhle, Duensing, all sub 4 era, in the central. Lester, Rzepczynski the only sub 4 era in the East. G pulls everthing just like Damon who bumped from 17 to 24 HR from old NY short porch to new. Fenway the only non-reachable fence for G in the East. G should improve average against lefties as well as HRs.

  17. Simply Fred

    Simply Fred says:
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    @brett: You better draft ahead of me in that 3rd round!

  18. brett says:
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    @Simply Fred: Bring it! Although to be honest, i might not follow up that claim if there’s a good opportunity to address position scarcity in the 3rd. I think we discussed this in the mock: I’m all about having at least two elite guys between 2B, 3B and SS.

    It’ll be a tough call.

  19. GopherDay says:
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    “CLEVELAND (AP)—Indians catcher Carlos Santana, who had an outside shot of making Cleveland’s opening-day roster, will be sidelined for 2 1/2 months after undergoing hand surgery.

    The team said Santana had his right hamate bone removed by Dr. Tom Graham at the Curtis National Hand Center in Baltimore, Md. The switch-hitting Santana, who was named the Eastern League’s MVP, experienced soreness during winter ball.

    Santana will need up to 10 weeks of rehab. He was expected to start the year at Triple-A Columbus, but after the trade of catcher Kelly Shoppach(notes), Santana had a chance to break camp with the Indians.”

  20. Stephen says:
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    @GopherDay: Thanks for the update. Just a reminder though, the Hamate bone is usually what saps hitters of power for a year. Usually, not always.

  21. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @GopherDay: There he goes… Wouldn’t even look at him until June and I’d be looking on waivers.

  22. Stephen says:
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    @Grey: I’d ignore completely in one-year leagues, and buy low in keeper/dynasty leagues.

  23. GopherDay says:
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    Lindstrom traded to Astros for 2 minor leaguers. Taking over at closer??

  24. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @GopherDay: He’ll get a look for sure. Need to win the job in the spring though.

  25. GopherDay says:
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    LaTroy Hawkins to the Brewers. They sure are busy!

  26. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @GopherDay: Astros would be wise to turn over the entire roster.

  27. GopherDay says:
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    @Grey: No kidding. Sucks to be a Houston sports fan right now. Unless you like the Dynamo, they win the championship like every year. But I don’t like soccer.

  28. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @GopherDay: Is that who your team is? The Astros?

  29. GopherDay says:
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    @Grey: They are. I was at the 18 inning game against the braves in 05′. Best Stros moment I’ve had. (Only playoff game I went to, had tickets to game 5 of the world series, but they didn’t make it that far)

  30. big o says:
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    @GopherDay:
    right now , the entire free world expects nunez to take over the closer’s role .

  31. GopherDay says:
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    @big o: For the Marlins, yeah. I was talking about the Astros.

  32. Stephen says:
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    @big o: About time he had the job without any hinting at Lindstrom taking over again.

  33. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @GopherDay: Nice, two for the price of one. There’s a commenter, Chase, who loves the Astros. You guys have had a tough run lately.

    @big o: Yeah, Nunez would be the closer there.

  34. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Stephen: That would mean the Royals trade of Nunez looks even worse now than last year.

  35. GopherDay says:
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    @Grey: Tell me about it. McClain has this notion that you never need to rebuild, but can stay competitive every season. Doesn’t work if you give fat contracts and no trade clauses to guys that love Houston.

  36. GopherDay says:
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    @GopherDay: (Lance Berkman, Carlos Lee, Roy-O)

  37. Simply Fred

    Simply Fred says:
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    @brett: No disrespect to our mock mates, but I thought you had the best overall draft. Know you will have a tough call if Youk is available in the 3rd.

  38. big o says:
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    @GopherDay:
    yeah , what’s the deal ? valverde is on his way out of town ??
    are they serious about that ???

  39. Stephen says:
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    @Grey: Did it ever look above bad?

  40. GopherDay says:
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    @big o: I don’t think they sign him.

  41. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Stephen: Right, and now it’s worse.

  42. sean says:
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    Harden to the Rangers, who also traded Milwood for Ray today.

  43. sean says:
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    One of my best FA pickups last year, Randy Wolf, has signed with the Brewers. I think they offered 3/27M… They added Cuddleboy Hawkins earlier today.

  44. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @sean: Thanks for the heads up!

  45. Stephen says:
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    Pirates signed Bobby Crosby for 1 yr $1.5 m, however, $500k is incentive based. He was brought in to compete with Ronny Cedeno. blah-tastic.

  46. big o says:
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    @Grey:
    i’d really like to know who’s gonna play 3rd base for the orioles .
    i don’t think wiggington is the answer .
    could uggla possibly man the position ?
    what about miggy (part 2) ?? <== the really love him in that town .
    is there anyone in their minor league system ???

    any thoughts ?

  47. Stephen says:
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    @big o: They don’t have much in their farm for third baseman. I thought they had that Aubrey kid playing the hot corner? Maybe that was first – checked, yup first. Probably are going to have Wiggington play there if there is no trade.

  48. brett says:
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    @Simply Fred: Thanks dude. I got screwed up a bit by autodraft early on, but (somewhat) made up for it in the middle rounds. I think that team would be competitive. Reminds me, i should give that draft a proper analysis when i have some time.

    @Grey: Dombrowski is reporting he “expects” Austin Jackson to be their starting center fielder out of spring trading. Does he have any value? Even SAGNOF?

  49. Stephen says:
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    @brett: Playing Triple-A this year at age 22 he hit .300/.354/.405 with 4 homers, 23 doubles, 9 triples and 24 steals in 28 attempts while striking out 123 times and walking 40. He has hit 30 homers in a little over 2200 AB. SAGNOF may be all he is bringing to the table next year. Maybe a Nyjer Morgan like production. Truthfully, he’ll probably perform as well as Carlos Gomez did for the Twins.

  50. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @brett: I’ll have to go over him at length, but off the top of my head, I’d expect an Ian Desmond-type outfielder. High side, you’re looking at 10/20.

  51. AL KOHOLIC says:
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    slow mock draft,any updates,forumn shows the 2nd round and thats it,like to see what a competitive(non computer) draft looks like

  52. AL KOHOLIC says:
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    @Grey: you been getting johan in the 5th round?i like that deal too,i wander what price he has in auction leagues?

  53. GopherDay says:
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    @GopherDay: @AL KOHOLIC: And scroll down a bit also to see the complete draft.

  54. AL KOHOLIC says:
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    @GopherDay: cool thanks

  55. GopherDay says:
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    @AL KOHOLIC: No problemo

  56. brett says:
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    @Stephen/Grey: Thanks for the projections. Stephen, chances are you’ve covered him somewhere already, but how’s his defense? From what I’ve read he’s not a standout but the Morgan/Gomez comparisons got me thinking. Were those strictly offensive comps or is he better than i thought?

  57. Stephen says:
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    @brett: I’ve actually never done an Austin Jackson Scouting the Unknown article. However, straight from Baseball America (2009):

    “He’s a smart baserunner with maybe a tick above average speed, though he’s not likely to be a big league basestealer in the majors. Defensively, Jackson can glide to balls in the gap with plus range and has a strong accurate arm that could allow him to more to right field.
    Jackson lacks a standout tool but earns future grades of solid-average to plus across the board.”

    Also to note, they mentioned how if he bulks up in his maturing years, he’ll have to move to one of the corner outfield spots. Keep his power projections in check as he is projected to only have average power at best.

  58. brett says:
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    @Stephen: Thanks. I’m not expecting a lot in terms of power, I’m just hoping he can make enough contact to hit for a decent average (his high BABIPs in the minors are a bit worrying). Looks like draws a few walks and has above average speed, so if he can put up lead-off type numbers and play solid defense at the league minimum for the next few years, i’ll be happy.

  59. Stephen says:
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    @brett: A lot of top prospects put up high BABIP in the minors.

Comments are closed.