I usually like to find the top 5 pitchers and the top 5 hitters from each team for these lists, but the Nationals have such limited talent that I think a top 5 overall list is sufficient. Of all the teams out there, I can’t find many that can match the Nationals lack of young talent in the minors. While they have 2 power hitters in Michael Burgess and Chris Marrero, there’s not much pitching depth, and they failed to sign pitcher Aaron Crow out of Missouri, their top pick from the 2008 draft. All these things combined make for a really weak farm system.
1. Chris Marrero – Right now Marrero is rehabbing a broken leg he sustained in a collision at home plate earlier this year, but he should be back and ready to go by next spring. I’m beginning to have my doubts about him, however I think he still has a lot of potential, so I’ll stick with him for now.
Projection:.255-.290 average, 25-40 home runs, .750-.850 OPS
Comparable player: Jeromy Burnitz with more power
2. Michael Burgess – If Marrero fails to show signs of development next season, Burgess will take over the #1 spot on this list. I guess if we went purely by possible ceiling, Burgess would be ahead of Marrero, but right now he’s being held back by an inflated strikeout rate, which usually sits in the 25-30% range. He has tons of power and could be a real beast one day, but he’s too raw right now to warrant a #1 ranking.
Projection:.260-.290 average, 30-45 home runs, .850-.950 OPS
Comparable player: Mark Reynolds with a bit more power and more strikeouts
*There are a few other hitters that are just beginning their pro ball careers in the Nationals’ system that could prove to be solid players. However, without any substantial amount of stats to go by, I won’t include any of them on this list. Otherwise, there really aren’t any other above average hitters in the system right now.
And now, on to the pitchers…
3. Jordan Zimmermann -- While not the most talented pitcher out there, Zimmermann still has solid numbers all around and good potential. He’s still at least 2 or 3 years from being a productive major league pitcher, but he’ll have some very good years in the future.
Projection: Good #2, possible #1
Comparable player: Mike Pelfrey
4. Jack McGeary – While it’s true that McGeary has only pitched in rookie ball this year, he has shown significantly more potential than all the other pitchers the Nationals have at the moment. I’m going to go with McGeary at #4 on this list for now and hope his numbers aren’t a fluke.
Projection: Unknown, possibly top of the rotation
Comparable player: Unknown
5. Josh Smoker – I’ve been a little disappointed in Smoker thus far, but he’s still got a lot of time, so maybe he’ll come around. With only about 40 innings under his belt there isn’t much to go on, but his low ground ball numbers and average strikeout rates don’t warrant much excitement.
Projection: #3-5 starter
Comparable player: Ian Snell
Honorable mentions: Ross Detwiler, Colton Willems