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Nationals Top 10 Prospects – Fangraphs

FanGraphs, which ranks up there with my favorite baseball sites on the net, released their version of the Washington Nationals top 10 prospects. Here they are:
1. Stephen Strasburg
“He made his pro debut in the Arizona Fall League and allowed 15 hits in 19.0 innings, while punching out 23 and walking seven. He also produced a crazy number of ground-ball outs. Of the five starts that he made, he allowed more than one run just once (eight in 2.2 innings). There is some thought that Strasburg could step right into the Nationals rotation at the beginning of 2010, but he’s likely due for some minor-league seasoning in double-A.”
2. Derek Norris
“He showed excellent power with an ISO rate of .227, which helps justify (to a degree) the 26.5% strikeout rate. Norris showed exceptional patience at the plate with a walk rate of 16.7%. Defensively, he threw out 36% of base-stealers, but he allowed 28 passed balls.”

3. Ian Desmond
“He showed good power with an ISO rate of .188 but his strikeout rate was a tad high at 23.5%. That rate came down to 17.4% in 178 triple-A at-bats, but his power diminished to an ISO rate of .107. Overall, Desmond stole 21 bases in 26 attempts. Promoted to the Majors, he hit .280/.318/.561 in 82 at-bats. The 24-year-old shortstop should produce at a league-averag clip in 2010, at the very least.”
4. Danny Espinosa
“If Desmond’s development suddenly goes south, the organization also has Espinosa waiting in the wings. He looks quite different than the player of the same name at Long Beach State University, who never topped more than seven homers (in 210 at-bats) and was considered a line-drive hitter. Taking to the wood, though, has been good for Espinosa. His aggressive approach has remain consistent, though, and he has produced a high strikeout rate in pro ball (27.2%) and he did not hit for much average in ‘09 with a triple-slash line of .264/.375/.460 in 474 high-A at-bats.”
5. Chris Marrero
“He has yet to show consistent power and his ISO rate was .176 before it dropped to .120 with his promotion. His strikeout rate (23.4%) and walk rate (9.0%) both remained almost identical despite the move. Marrero is a below-average fielder at first base so he needs to tap into his raw power more consistently if he’s going to be an everyday player at the MLB level. Just 21, he’ll return to double-A for the 2010 season.”

6. Michael Burgess
“Although his walk rates (9.9%) were almost identical and strikeout rate of 28.1% was actually an improvement over ’08’s 33.9%, Burgess’ numbers took a dive in part due to a .288 BABIP (down from .331 in ‘08). The stocky outfielder hit .235/.325/.410 in 480 at-bats in ‘09, and he’s going to continue to struggle to hit for a high average until he gets his strikeout rate under control.”
7. Bradley Myers
“A little-known pitcher entering ‘09, Meyers had a solid year and looks poised to help the Nationals club in 2010, if needed. The right-hander has good size for a pitcher and an average repertoire that plays up due to his good control (2.10 BB/9 in ‘09). Meyers began the year in high-A and allowed 71 hits with a 2.72 FIP in 88.1 innings of work. He allowed just one home run thanks to a 51% ground-ball rate. Moved up to double-A, he posted a 2.76 FIP and gave up 40 hits in 48.0 innings”
8. Aaron Thompson
“Thompson pitched 114.0 innings for the Marlins’ double-A squad and he allowed 121 hits, while posting a walk rate of 3.39 BB/9 and a strikeout rate of 5.92 K/9. After the trade, the southpaw saw his rates improve to 3.03 BB/9 and 7.44 K/9. He also allowed 32 hits in 32.2 innings. Thompson clearly needs to find a way to cut down on the hits allowed and he’s been incredibly unlucky throughout his career when it comes to his LOB% rate, which was 65% in ‘09.”
9. Destin Hood
“He hit well in a brief stint in rookie ball (.330/.388/.614 in 88 at-bats) before moving up to short-season ball, where his numbers dipped a bit. At the upper level, Hood hit .246/.302/.333 in 138 despite a .352 BABIP. His strikeout rate was a disturbingly-high 32.6% and he did not produce the power numbers (.087 ISO) to help justify such a large number. Hood does not have much speed, so he’s not a stolen-base threat and he’s very raw defensive. He should move up to low-A ball for the 2010 season.”
10. Eury Perez
“The outfielder showed a pretty good approach at the plate for his age, with a walk rate of 7.3% and a strikeout rate of just 11.0%. His high batting average, though, was the result of a crazy .418 BABIP. Because he has a pretty good idea at the plate, and he buys into the strengths of his game (59% ground-ball rate), Perez – although very raw – has the chance to develop into a solid top-of-the-order hitter.”
Analysis:
-The reports on Thompson and Bradley are good to hear. This rotation has three future top of the rotation pitchers in Strasburg, Zimmermann, and Detwiler but behind that they don’t have much. Solid major league pitchers are an underrated commodity.
-The report on Norris’s secondary skills are interesting. We still very may likely see a position change for him, perhaps to first base if the club gives up on Marrero, or even to the outfield. He has the arm and the foot speed to successfully make the transition to a corner spot, and he certainly has the pop in his bat to fill the role.
-Drew Storen was left off this list as the writer, Marc Hulet, tends not to rank players who were drafted the year before the rankings. He says he does this because there isn’t enough of a track record for most of the stars. This is kind of ironic however, because Storen signed almost immediately and had 37 innings pitched in 2009, where Strasburg did the opposite. He did say however, and I agree with him, that Strasburg is too big of a prospect to irgnore.
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