Washington Nationals 2011 Minor League Review

Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America:

2011 (14) | 2010 (24) | 2009 (21) | 2008 (10) | 2007 (30) | 2006 (24)

2011 Affiliate Records

MLB: [80-81] NL East

AAA: [66-74] International League – Syracuse

AA: [80-62] Eastern League – Harrisburg

A+: [68-71] Carolina League – Potomac

A: [75-64] South Atlantic League – Hagerstown

A(ss): [45-30] New York-Penn League – Auburn

The Run Down

There would’ve been a few more guys to discuss here, had the Nationals not gutted their system in acquiring Gio Gonzalez.  Their top two pitching prospects (Brad Peacock & A.J. Cole) were shipped out along with top catching prospect, Kerek Norris, and big-league-ready LHP, Tom Milone.  Prior to the trade, Baseball America had this Nationals system ranked #1 overall.  GM Mike Rizzo drafted some high-ceiling types in Anthony Rendon and Matt Purke, and the organization still possesses baseball’s top prospect.  Regarding that top prospect:  he’s got the tools and makeup to be a perennial All Star, but his mustache could use some work.  It’s flat and whispy, but not pathetic enough to be making a comedic statement a la Derek Holland.  Harper needs to add significant volume to his 6th tool in order to complete the package.  Perhaps Grey could lend some advice?

Arizona Fall League PlayersScottsdale Scorpions

Pat Lehman (RHP); Rafael Martin (RHP); Sammy Solis (LHP); Derek Norris (C); Bryce Harper (OF)

Graduated Prospects

Danny Espinosa (SS); Wilson Ramos (C); Yunesky Maya (RHP); Ryan Mattheus (RHP)

Players of Interest


Bryce Harper | OF:

Grey previews Harper here.  And while I tend to agree with the guarded outlook, the Nationals have been adamant about not counting their prized prospect out of a Major League role when camp breaks.  Grey noted that this could simply be a ploy to stir fan interest, which seems plausible.  Lately, though, I’m wondering if the Nats are sincere about promoting Harper sooner rather than later.  This, of course, is a situation worth watching closely as it develops this spring.  My best guess:  Harper will be called up in June.

Chris Marrero | 1B:

Marrero collected 100+ AB’s as the Nationals’ primary first baseman this past September.  Unfortunately, the 23-year-old did not impress.  His 2011 Triple-A figures (.300/.375/.449), however, are his best to date.  Blocked by Michael Morse and Adam LaRoche, Marrero should return to AAA, but he’s right on the cusp of breaking through as another rather boring NL first baseman.

Steve Lombardozzi | 2B:

Lombardozzi is one of those scraptastic guys who you probably don’t want anywhere near your fantasy roster.  Not very toolsy, but oozing with baseball acumen.  You know the type.  He’ll likely make the Nats as a utility infielder, but shouldn’t see regular time unless Danny Espinosa or Ian Desmond goes down to injury.

Honorable Mention


Anthony Rendon | 3B:

The sixth overall selection in the 2011 draft, Rendon signed late and is yet to make his pro debut.  He brings a polished approach to hitting and is discussed in the same light as Evan Longoria and David Wright.  Washington will be careful with him at first; a strained throwing shoulder hampered him in his final season at Rice.  Rendon has a Major League contract so he’ll be in camp with the big club this spring, but I expect him to make his pro debut in Potomac.  The Nats may have to consider shifting him to second base while Zimmerman holds down third.


Matt Purke | LHP – SP:

Purke signed too late to gain any professional experience last year, but he has the potential to climb quickly through the Washington farm system.  The lefty went 16-0 with Texas Christian in 2010, but didn’t pitch in 2011 due to a shoulder ailment.  The condition didn’t require surgery, and the Nationals feel they got a steal in drafting Purke in the third round last June.  Until he proves his health on the mound, it’s fair to be skeptical, but Purke is armed with a filthy fastball-slider combo, and projects as a frontline starter.

Cole Kimball | RHP – RP:

Kimball was off to a nice start to his Major League career before his season was cut short to injury.  In 12 appearances with the Nats, the righty posted a 1.93 ERA.  This was after Kimball put up a 0.00 ERA in 12 appearances as the closer in Syracuse.  Rotator-cuff surgery is cause for concern, but the Nationals hope to have Kimball back in their bullpen for the second half.

Sammy Solis | LHP – SP:

Solis projects as a mid-rotation, innings eating type.  His repertoire features a mid-90’s fastball with movement, a decent curve, and a work-in-progress changeup.  Solis posted a 2.72 ERA in 10 starts at High-A to round out his 2011. He’ll ride that momentum into Harrisburg for 2012 and could progress quickly from there, given his solid mechanics and fundamental approach.

  1. polczek5 says:

    given that the Gio trade knocked Washington from 1st to 14th, how much did it improve Oakland? They were 28th (2011 by BA) in your last post. Are they still pretty top heavy?

  2. mauledbypandas says:

    loved the bit about Harper’s moustasche!

  3. INSEARCHOF says:

    Could you give me a rundown on their CF in the minors? Hood, Goodwin and Perez. I’m an O’s fan-er was an O’s fan and 2012 is the year I pick my new team. The Nats are the easy choice, but I want to know about the CF prospects before I decide.

  4. Scott Evans

    Scott Evans says:

    @Polczek: We’ve been rolling out these reviews according BA’s 2011 ranks. Oakland ranked #28 a year ago & Washington was #14. BA just released their 2012 handbook a week or so ago, with Washington at #1 & Oakland at #20-something (I don’t have it in front of me right now)… they haven’t re-ranked the organizations following the trade, unfortunately. I’ll start including the 2012 BA organizational ranks so as not to confuse.

    To answer your question more completely, though: John Sickles of SB Nation ranked the farm systems after the trade. He has Washington at #14 & Oakland at #10. Of course, Sickles & BA have their philosophical differences, but I think it’s fair to rank both systems in the middle of the pack, now.

  5. Scott Evans

    Scott Evans says:

    @insearchof: I would rank those three like so: Brian Goodwin, Destin Hood, Eury Perez. Goodwin has 20/20 potential, but he’ll be making his pro debut at LoA this year, so he’s still a ways from panning out. Hood, too, is very raw, but his tools don’t project as well as Goodwin’s. And Perez is pretty much strictly a speed guy. I don’t think he sticks in the bigs unless it’s as a 4th OF.

  6. TJ says:

    Purke was in the AFL.

  7. tyler says:

    Hi I have got the eigth pick in our 20 team minor league draft. 6×6 roto with holds and obp, i can draft anyone who has under 150abs and 50 ip so i got to think Darvish, Harper, M moore go top 5, can you give me 3 names you target with pick 3 of that format, and if you can 3 names on the wrap around so pick 33. thanks

  8. tyler says:

    by the way it is a normal MLB league, but you can have minor leaguers (ie not an actual minor league fantasy league) also it is dynasty, so i can keep any and everyone for 5 years. tks again.

  9. Lefty says:

    Ok Bro, I need some help with my keeper league. I can only keep 6 (but I want them all!)
    4 I am for sure keeping: J Upton, Cano, Lincecum, Grienke.
    Need 2 more: Weaver, Andrus, Sandoval, Pence, Victorino, Shields, Hosmer.
    You have a bunch of those guys in the 30s and 40s, what do you think?
    Also, should I even bother with keeping any closers?

  10. Scott Evans

    Scott Evans says:

    @tyler: Mike Trout is someone you don’t mention who you should definitely take if he’s available at #8. Perhaps more realistically, you should target someone like Trevor Bauer or Shelby Miller. Or if you prefer the patient approach, you can’t go wrong with Manny Machado or Jurickson Profar. On the swingback, it all depends on availability. The guys left over probably carry much more risk, too. Therefore, I’d target prospects who are closer to the bigs. Check out Steven’s top 50 prospects for 2012 in the archives for some names to add to your queue.

    @Lefty: This is probably a question better suited for Grey. But I’ll take a stab… In addition to the four you’re keeping for sure, I like Hosmer & Weaver. You could make a case for Andrus too. And definitely no on keeping closers.

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