We’re more than halfway through the minor league previews, and this Nationals list was the first one I really had a hard time whittling down to fifteen names. It’s not that it’s packed with studs, it’s more that there’s lots of interesting upside. You’ve got your no brainers like Lucas Giolito and Trea Turner of course, but we also saw a big breakout with Victor Robles. There seems to be a focus on speed, toolsy outfielders with good defensive skills, and up-the-middle talent. It’s all good stuff for fantasy players, and since even your great-grandmother has heard of Giolito, I find the lower levels of this system to be a lot more interesting to talk about. Don’t believe me? She has a cross-stitching of his curveball grip. Stepping away from the farm, 2016 will be the sophomore campaign of Michael Taylor, whose power and speed will probably come cheap in drafts this year. He doesn’t have to rack up that many more hits to make his average palatable as a 4th or 5th outfielder. Hey, I managed to write the whole intro without mentioning Bryce Harper! D’oh!

Please, blog, may I have some more?

All year we’ve been ranking the top prospects closest to the majors. With September call-ups quickly approaching, this post is a little different. Instead of limiting the list to players with their rookie eligibility intact, this will include any players currently in the minor leagues regardless of their at bats or innings pitched totals. There’s a catch, though. It’s only going to list players who are currently healthy and on their team’s 40-man roster. If you see a big name omitted, it’s probably because they aren’t currently on the 40-man. That can still be manipulated of course, but if a player is already on the roster, it increases the chances they’ll get a look next month. I also decided to weed through it for players that I thought could actually have some relevance in fantasy. With guys like Domingo Santana, Trea Turner, and even Aaron Altherr already up, this isn’t exactly the sexiest group. But there are some nice players in here, and if they can find playing time, they could also help your fantasy team down the stretch. When looking at who to pick up, I’d recommend focusing on teams that are out of the playoff hunt and who may be more inclined to give their younger players a look. Zeroing in on injuries (or potential ones) is also a good move. I bolded a few of the names that I think are interesting gambles…

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2014 (24) | 2013 (13) | 2012 (1) | 2011 (14) | 2010 (24)

2014 Affiliate Records
MLB: [96-66] NL East
AAA: [81-62] International League – Syracuse
AA: [53-89] Eastern League – Harrisburg
A+: [78-58] Carolina League – Potomac
A: [87-53] South Atlantic League – Hagerstown
A(ss): [34-41] New York-Penn League – Auburn

Graduated Prospects
None

The Gist
The Nationals won 96 regular season games in 2014 but were eliminated in the NLDS by the Giants. Along the way, Anthony Rendon emerged as one of the best young players in the National League and Bryce Harper returned from injury to have a solid second half. Harper just turned 22 in October. Tanner Roark took the fifth starter gig and ran with it, rounding out a nasty starting rotation. Unlike some other contenders, the Nationals’ farm is in good shape. In addition to the talented major league rotation, the Nats have some of the best pitching prospects in the minors. They are also loaded with toolsy outfielders that could contribute to the major league roster soon or be used as trade bait to fill other needs. In the 2014 draft Washington used its first round pick to land even more pitching – drafting right-hander Erick Fedde 18th overall.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Happy Sunday again gang – hope there weren’t too many of you that overdid it with your personal firework shows to celebrate the 4th – baseball (as always) seems to help us in that regard every year around this time, and the big Billy Beane shocker provided everyone a great finale for a lot of contenders. Of course this also helps bring more clarity for those looking to make a run at the MLB-level (obviously defining the market for ANY contender looking to shore up their rotation) just as it will ultimately lead to even more prospect machinations and opportunities as we move forward.

Given the rising level of prospect interest this time of year (both in potential trade/promotion opportunities, but in general as well), and in addition to our hopes of expanding our prospect coverage and helpful information and discussion for you guys in our Razzball community, Sundays will feature, what I’ll refer to as my Sunday Twelve-Pack, as opposed to a Sunday Six-Pack. As always, pace yourselves – Monday morning still looms, and never drink and drive!!!

Please, blog, may I have some more?

We at Razzball realize that exporting our views across the country has damaging consequences on the blogosphere. To help make amends, we are reaching out to leading team blogs and featuring their locally blogged answers to pressing 2014 fantasy baseball questions regarding their team. We feel this approach will be fresher, more sustainable, and require less energy consumption (for us anyway). The 2014 Nationals Fantasy Baseball Preview comes courtesy of Patrick Reddington from Federal Baseball.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2013 (13) | 2012 (1) | 2011 (14) | 2010 (24) | 2009 (21)

2013 Affiliate Records
MLB: [86-76] NL East
AAA: [66-78] International League – Syracuse
AA: [77-65] Eastern League – Harrisburg
A+: [84-55] Carolina League – Potomac
A: [80-57] South Atlantic League – Hagerstown
A(ss): [26-49] New York-Penn League — Auburn

Graduated Prospects
Anthony Rendon (2B/3B); Tanner Roark (RHP); Taylor Jordan (RHP)

The Run Down
Once again, the Nationals are sporting an exciting group of prospects, with fantasy intrigue at every level of the org.  Even after graduating Anthony Rendon and Taylor Jordan, and then trading away Robbie Ray, this Washington farm is still primed to churn out big league productivity for the next handful of years.  If there’s a weakness to this top ten, it’s that a handful of the prospects listed are on the wrong side of the age curve, developmentally.  That sort of trend needs to be considered on a case-by-case basis.  You can’t write a prospect off simply because he’s 25 — there are other variables to consider.  And having had the chance to weigh the risk, I’m not overly concerned with that aspect of the Nationals farm.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2012 (1) | 2011 (14) | 2010 (24) | 2009 (21) | 2008 (10)

2012 Affiliate Records
MLB: [98-64] NL East
AAA: [70-74] International League – Syracuse
AA: [64-78] Eastern League – Harrisburg
A+: [64-75] Carolina League – Potomac
A: [82-55] South Atlantic League – Hagerstown
A(ss): [46-30] New York-Penn League — Auburn

Graduated Prospects
Bryce Harper (OF); Steve Lombardozzi (Util); Tyler Moore (OF)

The Run Down
A little more than a year ago, this Washington Nationals system was regarded as the best in the game. Then a trade with Oakland sent a handful of prospects out west, their top draft pick went down with a broken ankle, and Bryce Harper graduated to the bigs. What’s left, now, is a system that’s filled to the brim with risky, oft-injured prospects. There is almost nothing here that I would consider safe. Top overall prospect Anthony Rendon is an exciting, high-impact guy, but he’s yet to play a full season as a pro. Top pitching prospect Lucas Giolito tossed only two professional innings before being shut down for Tommy John surgery. He won’t pitch again ’til 2014. The rest of the top ten seem to be rehabbing from their third labrum operation, or their twelfth precautionary arthroscopic elbow surgery. This is not among baseball’s top 20 farm systems at the moment, but thankfully for Washington fans, the Nationals have a young and talented collection of talent at the big league level already.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2012 (26) | 2011 (28) | 2010 (12) | 2009 (3) | 2008 (27)

2012 Affiliate Records
MLB:  [94-68] AL West
AAA:  [86-58] Pacific Coast League — Sacramento
AA:  [64-74] Texas League — Midland
A+:  [56-84] California League — Stockton
A:  [67-72] Midwest League — Burlington (Beloit beginning 2013)
A(ss):  [33-43] New York-Penn League — Vermont

Arizona Fall League PlayersPhoenix Desert Dogs
Gary Daley (RHP); Brett Hunter (RHP); James Simmons (RHP); Max Stassi (C); Grant Green (OF)

Graduated Prospects of Note
Jarrod Parker (RHP); A.J. Please, blog, may I have some more?

Please, blog, may I have some more?