Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A rebuttal: DC is better than Baltimore

The Baltimore Sun has quite the array of dumb informative slideshows on their site, from "Rating Baltimore Strip Club Food" to "Ravens Making Funny Faces."

Jordan Bartel and Meekah Hopkins of the Baltimore Sun added to the list of dumb informative slideshows today with a cute "100 reasons why Baltimore is better than DC" list. Now it's my turn to make my own list. Because I've got work to do, I only had time to get 50 reasons. Don't worry, I'll be adding more. Please feel free to leave comments with other reasons below. Enjoy!

1) Our newspaper doesn't run Bleacher Report-esque slideshows.

2) You don't start conversations by asking, 'What do you do?' or 'Who do you work for?' because your unemployment rate is 1% higher than DC's.

3) Our rowhouses cost $100k more because people actually want to live here. You can buy rowhouses in Detroit for about $5, but does that make Detroit better than Baltimore and DC?

4) DC didn't kill Abraham Lincoln. John Wilkes Booth did. Lincoln just lived here. And if he lived in Baltimore, he would have gotten shot within half an hour.

5) I can't hear you talking trash about food, I have Ben's Chili Bowl clogging my arteries.

6) Natty Boh is terrible. Old-school beer does not mean good beer. And it's not even brewed in Baltimore (rather, NC and GA). If you want to be proud of a Baltimore beer, Heavy Seas is good for you. DC Brau is good for us. You people (yes, I went there) embarrass me by reaching for Natty Bohs over Heavy Seas. If you're proud of Natty Boh, you shouldn't be. And Flying Dog is from Frederick, which last I checked is not in Baltimore.

7) You added a list of films and shows with DC settings that were filmed in Baltimore ('House of Cards' and 'Veep'), but their setting is DC...meaning people actually want to watch shows based on DC, not Baltimore.

8) "HAVE YOU SEEN THE WIRE?!? IT'S BASED IN BALTIMORE!" Oh, congratulations. We've had shows based in our city since the prehistoric ages.

9) Why are you proud of The Wire being based in Baltimore, anyways? I guess when you live in a terrible city that nobody cares about, you have to take joy in the small things like drug dealing and violence.

10) You're proud of Barack Obama enjoying The Wire. He lives here. You've probably always wanted to see his house. Which, just to remind you, is in Washington, DC. Because he lives here, and not in Baltimore.

11) DC has all 4 major sports here. Baltimore has 2. Another thing nobody cares about: Lacrosse, brah!

12) "78. We don't have to pick a fight with another city to make ourselves feel better." I don't know who from DC picked the original fight that you reference in your header (without a link, of course), but I wake up every day thanking God that I don't live in Baltimore. It's not picking a fight. It's just honesty.

13) Congrats on being the nation's capital before us! You're like the guy who comments in all of the message boards "FIRST!!!" You know why they moved the nation's capital out of Baltimore and Philly? BECAUSE THEY ARE SHITHOLE CITIES.

14) You certainly do have bros wearing salmon-colored pants. I saw them last time I was in your craptastic city. We eat salmon, too. You're stupid.

15) We don't value someone based on how much they spent on a suit. If you really believe that about DC, then you're stupid. But that's an already established fact.

16) Yes, you're the birthplace of the Star Spangled Banner. You know why it was written in Baltimore? Because during the war of 1812, the British were just chillin in the water minding their own business and then they were like "OMG THIS IS CITY IS A BLOODY SHITHOLE. KILL IT WITH FIRE KILL IT WITH FIRE KILL IT WITH FIRE!!!!!!!" Major George Armistead is the one who ordered "a flag so large that the British would have no difficulty seeing it from a distance" (Source: WIKIPEDIA). He was a Virginian, not a Baltimoron.

17) Baltimoron.

18) We can get reservations at our restaurants, too. Your list is stupid. You're stupid, Baltimorons.

19) On the slideshow page, the top two stories:
The best costumes of Otakon 2013 in Baltimore
followed by
Otakon to move to DC, citing aging convention center

20) Regular bowling. Better than duckpin bowling. If duckpin bowling was better, maybe it would be on ESPN. SUNDAYS ARE FOR REGULAR BOWLING!

21) You weren't built on a swamp, true. You were built in the armpit of America.

22) You have a tumblr dedicated to guys on heroin in your city. Cute.

23)  "57. You rarely meet someone who has lived in D.C. for five years. We can walk down our streets and meet someone who has lived here for 50 years." In our newspapers, we report facts rather than assumptions. My grandfather lived in DC for 50 years and he'll kick your grandfather's ass.

24) You had BronyCon in your city. Point: DC.


26) Food trucks: DC > Baltimore. 

27) Congratulations, Cal Ripken showed up for work 2,632 consecutive times. He was a good baseball player, but let's not be ridicious and say that he's any bit better than the best DC sports figure. Walter Johnson, bro (I feel like I can call you that since you're from Baltimore. Or is it BRAH?). Slingin' Sammy Baugh. Not Cal Ripken.

28) How is having your bars close an hour earlier better? You're stupid.

29) Don't hate on the Cherry Blossom festival. Sorry we have something in our city that looks nice. Maybe you should try.

30) Edgar Allen Poe married his 13 year old cousin. Your list calls this "sassy." I call this "pedophilia" and "incest."


32) "40. Oh, D.C. has the Ruby Slippers? We have the following museums: Baltimore Tattoo, American Visionary Arts, National Dentistry, National Great Blacks in Wax ... shall we go on?" List of museums in Washington DC. Boom, roasted.

33) Tupac lived in Baltimore for 2-3 years. Baltimore is well behind the NYC and San Francisco areas in terms of being raised. Tupac is better than Wale, but Tupac is not from Baltimore. Wale was actually born and raised in DC.

34) You made a Chris Christie fat joke in a slideshow hating on DC? Baltimore's obesity rate is 28%, about 4% over the national average. Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, Baltimore.

35) We "stole" the Bullets from you because you couldn't get people to come and watch them play. Kyle Weidie of Truth About It sums it up well: "They weren’t packing houses in Landover, MD, but it clearly provided more opportunity than Baltimore, MD." Definitely click this link for his in-depth story on the flight of the Bullets from Baltimore to Landover.

36) "32. The first lady has a vegetable garden? Cute. We've been turning vacant lots into community gardens and parks. On a regular basis." We don't have many vacant lots to turn into community gardens and parks because people actually want to live here. But there are still plenty of parks in DC.

37) And the US Botanic Garden is eons better than your little community gardens.

38) You're actually proud of "Step Up" being based in Baltimore? Stupid.


40) "28. Our hookers don't hide in high-priced hotels." WHY IS THIS SOMETHING YOU'RE PROUD OF?!? I'M SO CONFUSED, LAX BRAHS!

41) Your homeboy Sisqo recently performed on a Thursday night at a small bar in Clarendon. That's like being proud of Vanilla Ice.

42) I'm not even going to bother with your F. Scott Fitgerald quote from 70 or so years ago. Baltimore might have been great then. It's not now.

43) "24. A town overflowing with sweaty, insolent interns whining all day about walking from the Capitol to other Congressional buildings? Sounds rough." YES, THERE ARE SOOOOOO MANY INTERNS ALL OVER THE PLACE WHAT WILL I DO??!?!? Good job with "insolent," though. It appears that there is at least one thesaurus in Baltimore.

44) Ray Lewis killed 2 dudes.

45) Your chance of seeing Michael Phelps out with his bros getting a DUI on any given night? 1 in 4.

46) "17. Mo'Nique can single-handedly kick D.C.'s collective a--." Nope. I'm not scared of some C-lister.

47) "15. The statue of Divine in the American Visionary Art Museum can beat up the statue of Andrew Jackson (and his horse) in Lafayette Square." Are you for serious? 48) "13. "Going to live at Baltimore laid the foundation, and opened the gateway, to all my subsequent prosperity." -- Frederick Douglass" And then he left Baltimore. And moved to DC. Where his National Historic Site is.

48) The Ravens have 2 Super Bowls. The Redskins have 3.

49) John Elway demanded a trade away from the Baltimore Colts just so he wouldn't have to be in your city.

50) You made a 100 list about being the superior city that was full of stupid fillers and somehow couldn't fit in the fact that Babe Ruth was born in Baltimore.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

The 2001 Baseball Prospectus top 40 Prospect List and the Nats

Yesterday, I came across the Baseball Prospectus top 40 prospect list published in January 2001 and was amazed at how many ex-Nats were on the list (10 if you include Brian Lawrence. I have a Brian Lawrence Nats card, so he counts).
  1. Ryan Anderson, LHP, Mariners
  2. Sean Burroughs, 3B, Padres
  3. Corey Patterson, CF, Cubs (2/15 in 5 games for the 2009 Nats)
  4. Ben Sheets, RHP, Brewers
  5. Roy Oswalt, RHP, Astros
  6. Vernon Wells, CF, Blue Jays
  7. Jose Ortiz, 2B, A's
  8. Ichiro Suzuki, RF, Mariners
  9. Jimmy Rollins, SS, Phillies
  10. Jon Rauch, RHP, White Sox (21-15 witha  3.24 ERA, 23 saves and a 2.95 K/BB in 280 and 1/3 career innings for the 2004 Expos thru the 2008 Nats)
  11. Antonio Perez, SS, Mariners
  12. Bobby Bradley, RHP, Pirates
  13. Nick Johnson, 1B, Yankees (.280/.408/.460 with 56 HR in 2041 plate appearances for the 2004 Expos thru the 2009 Nats)
  14. Josh Hamilton, RF, Devil Rays
  15. Chris George, LHP, Royals
  16. Carlos Pena, 1B, Rangers
  17. Joe Crede, 3B, White Sox
  18. C.C. Sabathia, LHP, Indians
  19. Hee-Seop Choi, 1B, Cubs
  20. J.R. House, C, Pirates
  21. Alex Escobar, CF, Mets (.356/.394/.575 in 99 plate appearances for the 2006 Nats. Wow.)
  22. Bud Smith, LHP, Cardinals
  23. Kevin Mench, OF, Rangers (.111/.172/.111 in 29 plate appearances for the 2010 Nats. Had a -21 OPS+. Bad wow.)
  24. Adam Dunn, OF, Reds (.264/.378/.533 in 1316 plate apperances for the 2009-10 Nats)
  25. Austin Kearns, OF, Reds (.242/.346/.376 in 1503 plate appearances for the 2006-09 Nats)
  26. Brad Wilkerson, OF, Expos (.248/.351/.405 in 661 plate apperances for the 2005 Nats, and .256/.365/.452 in total 2690 plate appearances for the 2001 Expos thru the 2005 Nats)
  27. D'Angelo Jimenez, SS, Yankees (.245/.379/.373 in 128 plate appearances for the 2007 Nats)
  28. Albert Pujols, 3B, Cardinals
  29. Keith Ginter, 2B/3B, Astros
  30. Luke Prokopec, RHP, Dodgers
  31. Adrian Hernandez, RHP, Yankees
  32. Craig Wilson, C/1B, Pirates
  33. Luis Rivas, SS/2B, Twins
  34. Mike Bynum, LHP, Padres
  35. Wilson Betemit, SS/3B, Braves
  36. Nick Neugebauer, RHP, Brewers
  37. Jack Cust, LF, Diamondbacks
  38. Marcus Giles, 2B, Braves
  39. Michael Cuddyer, 3B, Twins
  40. Brian Lawrence, RHP, Padres (never pitched for the Nats, but was acquired in exchange for 3B Vinny Castilla after the 2005 season)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Participate in the 2012 Fan Scouting Report

The reminder went up on FanGraphs today, so I figured I would give it a shoutout since right now the Nats only have like 22 responses.

(and if you don't watch baseball, I am confused as to why you are reading my blog, but thanks anyways!)
quoted straight from the project's page. emphasis is mine
The Project
What I would like to do now is tap that pool of talent. I want you to tell me what your eyes see. I want you to tell me how good or bad a fielder is. Go down, and start selecting the team(s) that you watch all the time. For any player that you've seen play in at least 10 games in 2012, I want you to judge his performance in 7 specific fielding categories.

  Try to judge 'average' not as an average player at that position, but an average player at any position. If you think that Ben Zobrist has an average arm, then mark him as average, regardless if you've seen him play 2B, SS, or RF.

If you don't have an opinion on a particular characteristic of that player, then go on to the next characteristic for that player. This applies especially for you TV watchers, and you can't tell how well Peter Bourjos can read the ball off the bat.
And, most importantly, do not, absolutely do not, look at any numbers. Don't look at his fielding percentage, range factor, zone rating, UZR, or anything else that someone else is telling you. I just want you to rely on your eyes. You are the scout. I need you to rely completely on your own observations.
We know the fans know what they are talking about. We know they know how to observe good and bad fielding. Now, I just want to know what the fans know. And, hopefully, so do you.
Note: The rosters are based on any player with at least 90 innings played for a particular team in 2012. If you have any write-in candidates beyond that, tell me.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The 5 best Nationals hitters of all time

It pains me to see the that the Nationals DFA'ed Cesar Izturis over the weekend to activate Ian Desmond from the DL. While Desmond has put together a solid 2012 season, Izturis was much better, putting himself in position to be one of the top 5 Nats hitters of all time. Since Izturis will likely be called up again in September if he clears waivers, his spot on the list isn't cemented, but here is the list through Sunday, 8/19/2012.

1) Travis Hughes: 1.000/1.000/1.000 (1 plate appearance for the 2006 Nats)
On August 20, 2006, the Nationals lost to the Phillies 12-10. If it wasn't for Travis Hughes, the game would have had a much further margin of defeat. The big righty trudged in from the bullpen in the fourth inning with the Nationals already down 10-1. He shut the door in the 4th and pitched a perfect bottom of the 5th as well in the last apperance of his Major League career. The truly amazing thing happened in the top half of the 5th, though, as Hughes hit a first pitch Randy Wolf fastball into RF to move Bernie Castro to 2B; Castro eventually scored on a Felipe Lopez walk, narrowing the Phillies' lead to 10-2 and Hughes left the big leagues as a career 1.000 hitter.

2) Rick Short: .400/.471/.933 (17 plate appearances for the 2005 Nats)
The 32 year old rookie who flirted with .400 in AAA was a fan favorite during the Nationals' first season in DC. He made his short (heh, get it?) ML stint worth it, homering twice and scoring four runs in 17 plate appearances.

3) Cesar Izturis: .500/.500/.750 (5 plate appearances for the 2012-present? Nats)
#Cesar4MVP! While we hardly knew Cesar, he went 2/4 with a double and four runs in his short stint with the Nationals. If Izturis makes it back up in September, he could make it past Short for #2 best Nationals hitter of all time or even drop off the list if he goes into an 0-1 slump.

4) Sean Burnett: .500/.750/.500 (5 plate appearances for the 2009-present Nats)
I've heard many throw out the idea of using Stephen Strasburg as a pinch hitter down the stretch once he is shut down, but the Nats already have a ringer with his cap tilted to the side in the bullpen. Burnett struck out in his only batting apperance for the Nats during the 2009-10 seasons, but has gone 1/1 with a run and two walks in the 2011-12 seasons. Burnett, who went 0/23 hitting in 2004, his rookie season in Pittsburgh, is clearly in the prime of his career with the bat and with a double could easily take Izturis or Short's spots as the #2 or 3 Nationals hitters of all time.

5) Beltran Perez: .500/.571/.500 (7 plate appearances for the 2006 Nats)
Wil Nieves is the token "WHOOOOOO?!?" player of the Nats of the past, but Beltran Perez was a name that made me think for a second. The Dominican righty went 2-1 with a 3.86 ERA in 21 innings for the 2006 Nats, but his real value came with the bat: Perez smacked three singles in six at bats and even threw in a walk to boost his OBP to .571. While Beltran has been out of affiliated baseball since allowing 50 runs in 59 innings for Harrisburg in 2008, he's still only 30 years old and could be an excellent addition for a team looking for a Livan Hernandez type pitcher (one who can throw the ball in the general direction of home plate as well as hold his own from the batters box).

Honorable Mention:
Drew Storen: .500/.500/.500
Alex Escobar: .356/.394/.575
Daryle Ward: .308/.390/.567
Jhonatan Solano: .314/.351/.571
Alfonso Soriano: .277/.351/.560

Monday, August 13, 2012

Christian Garcia: a story of redemption

When Christian Garcia signed with the Nationals last July, the move came with little fanfare. To the naked eye, he was a 25 (almost 26) year old RHP who had spent parts of the last 7 years in the Yankees organization, never rising above AA ball. On top of all of that, he was also recovering from his second Tommy John surgery. He was seen as organizational fodder or a shot in the dark, and as a result threw his 20 and 1/3 innings of 2.66 ERA ball in Auburn and Syracuse with little fanfare (despite having fantastic peripheral stats like a 1.3 BB/9 and 13/3 K/9).

Since I have a borderline unhealthy obsession with the minor leagues, I had an opinion on him when he signed (7/28/2011): "The 2004 3rd round pick by the Yankees was once a promising prospect, but has seen his career shred to pieces by injuries over the years, most recently with his second Tommy John surgery in 2010. At only 25 (26 in August), his baseball life is still relatively young, and if he can stay healthy (which is a huge, ginormous IF), he could still be a solid ML pitcher."

Basically, all Garcia has done since then is get healthy. He was a perennially good pitcher with the Yankees' organization, posting a 3.65 ERA and strong strikeout numbers (albeit with command issues) in his time with their system. From the moment he was drafted in the 3rd round in 2004 and converted from a catcher to a pitcher to today, he's always been a good pitcher when he's been able to throw. Garcia was ranked by Baseball America as the Yankees' #4 prospect after 2004, #8 after 2005, #14 after 2006 (when he had his first Tommy John surgery) and #17 after 2008 (before his second TJ). John Sickels of Minor League Ball rated Garcia as #9 in the Yankees organization with a C+ grade in 2005, #9/C+ in 2006, #9/B- in 2007 and #17/C+in 2009.

Before he tore his elbow up in 2006, Garcia was known as a fastball-curveball pitcher who seemed to be destined for the bullpen due to a lack of a third pitch (even though the other two were plus pitches). His curveball, in fact, was ranked as the best in the Yankees' system by Baseball America after the 2004, 2005 and 2008 seasons. After his first Tommy John surgery, he developed a solid changeup, good enough for Baseball America to note that some Yankees people felt it was their system's best. Garcia predictably lost some velocity after Tommy John surgery, but has recovered to the point that he can hit 97 MPH on the radar gun again with a filthy fastball that has more moves than Matt Hendricks in a shootout. The 2011-12 success Garcia has achieved isn't due to deception or being crafty; he's just a damn good pitcher that is better than the opposition.
Since returning from his second Tommy John and signing with the Nationals organization, Garcia has dominated his opponents. I thought his 2011 stat line was impressive, but he currently has an 0.79 ERA and 16 saves in 45 and 1/3 innings between Harrisburg and Syracuse, posting a 3.0 BB/9 and 12.1 K/9. What's truly amazing is that he has only allowed 22 hits this season (4.4 H/9), including only 9 in 25 and 1/3 innings for Syracuse. Garcia's numbers are borderline unreal this season and he deserves to get the call to the bigs that he's getting next month.

Time can only tell if Garcia will become a solid ML pitcher or not. Don't expect him to be afraid of injuring his elbow again, though. As he told Josh Norris in the article below when asked if he thinks about it happening again, "No, not at all. You can't play like that." That kind of tenacity is always welcome on the big league squad. We'll see if he can push the rest of the staff even harder as they close out the season.
If you're new to Garcia's story, I highly recommend reading the following 2 articles to catch up on it:
Christian Garcia's ready for his third chance (Josh Norris, the Trentonian, 4/27/2012)
Tommy John Times Two: How RHP Christian Garcia is on the Road to Recovery (Kevin Brown, Inside the Chiefs, 9/5/2011)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Mid-Season Nationals Top Prospect Rankings - Sean Hogan

Yesterday, I unveiled friend of the blog Konnor Fulk's top 20 list. Please make sure to give him a follow on twitter @coolnovelbro. Today, it's my turn; as you'll see, the list is relatively similar. As I said yesterday, there are two clear tiers: the top 4 (Giolito, Goodwin, Meyer and Rendon) and then everyone else. I will also put Nats rookies (Harper, Lombardozzi, Moore and Solano) where they would go in italics just for fun.

1 - OF Bryce Harper - duh

1 - 3B Anthony Rendon - Even if he's always injured, he's basically Ryan Zimmerman part 2. Until he hurts his ankles/shoulder again, I still don't believe his injuries will be long-term issues.

2 - RHP Lucas Giolito - True ace potential and pretty polished for a high school guy. I'm not all that worried about his UCL issues; if they were a problem, I don't think the Nats would have drafted him and essentially punted the rest of the draft.

3 - RHP Alex Meyer - His numbers are very encouraging so far, but it will take a few seasons of being able to show he can repeat his delivery and be consistent on the mound before I can really see him being a stud starter.

4 - OF Brian Goodwin - I love the guy. Don't know that the power sticks as he gets older (I expect 40 2B, 5 3B, 15 HR types of seasons in his prime) but he's a legit offensive center fielder with the potential to have a hell of an all-around game.

5 - 1B/OF Tyler Moore - In the past, I haven't been a believer due to his poor BB/K rates. It takes about 200 PA to be able to judge improvements/declines in such rates. Moore is right around 200 at all levels this year, so I can say that I'm more of a believer with his BB% over 10% right now.

6 - IF Steve Lombardozzi - In the same way that Moore has boosted his stock by getting on base more, Lombardozzi's stock has dropped a little to me. For whatever reason, I ignored his huge drop in BB% last year (career averages over 10%, last year around 6.4%), and it's gotten worse in his big league stints (4.9%). When you don't have a lot of power, you need to get on base to have value, and Lombardozzi is at the point where he has to hit .285 or so to be decent enough with the bat if his patience doesn't improve. I love all other parts of Lombardozzi's game (the utility factor, solid fielding, switch hitting, etc.), just want to see improvement with the bat.

5 - LHP Matt Purke - His injuries scare me much more than Rendon or Giolito. If healthy, could be a very good starting pitcher. If not, could be Sean Burnett. My faith in him is floundering, though, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him 10th or lower in my end of the season rankings.

6 - OF Corey Brown - When healthy, he has always been a good hitter. 20/20 potential at the big league level, walks a great share and keeps K's relatively low. May not be able to hack it full-time in CF, but bat can play in the corners. I've never put him this high before, but he's got a great combination of being close to the majors and having the ability to be pretty good when he gets there.

7 - 1B/3B Matt Skole - Until he stops hitting, he'll keep moving up lists. The K's are scary and he's not a great defender, but if he keeps looking this way he could end up being a Youkilis type.

8 - OF Michael Taylor - Rough start to the year, but improving walk rate and steals are still there. Still only 21 years old with a lot of room to grow.

9 - IF Zach Walters - Always a favorite of mine, and is killing AA pitching since his promotion. Minor league numbers are all over the place (is he going to hit for power? get on base? both? neither?) but lefty hitting middle infielders are fun.

10 - 2B Tony Renda - has a good chance of turning into a Lombardozzi-type player albeit with a little bit more power potential. Love the quick hands.

11 - C Jhonatan Solano - Took enough of a step forward with the bat last year that we can at least dream that he'll be a starting catcher at some point. Receiving skills are excellent, and at worst we'll have a solid backup catcher.

11 - OF Eury Perez - Will hit for average and steal bases, but nothing else. I don't think he'll be a good defender in CF and his bat won't play in a corner.

12 - LHP Brett Mooneyham - Not as good of a starter as Solis, but Solis may not be the same pitcher after his surgery. I could see Mooneyham being similar to Detwiler.

13 - LHP Sammy Solis - Has #2 potential and could shoot through the system once he gets healthy, but lost a key year of development to Tommy John surgery and isn't super young, either.

14 - LHP Robbie Ray - Furthest away of the LHP types, so minor league numbers are inconsistent. Has room to add velocity, and if he does, could raise his ceiling.

15 - OF Destin Hood - Move to AA was disappointing, but still only 22. Needs to show 2011 power levels again for me to believe.

16 - IF Jeff Kobernus - Could be a serviceable utility guy. Plenty of guys who can play good defense with a .300 OBP...can his bat develop into anything better?

17 - IF Rick Hague - The glove is pretty bad, so the bat will have to carry him. Right now, it's not.

18 - C David Freitas - Bat has looked good at all levels, glove is iffy. If he can hit AA pitching, I'll become more of a believer. Moving forward, I would expect more years like 2010 and 2012 rather than 2011.

19 - 1B Chris Marrero - Didn't just disappear, and close to the majors, but profiles as a below average hitting 1B. But he'll make the majors at least.

20 - RHP Nathan Karns - Looks fantastic this season, but very old for his level and still struggling with control to some degree. Past injuries will force him to stay in the minors a few more years to stretch his arm out unless he's bumped to higher levels as a reliever.

Next ten (no particular order): C Sandy Leon, LHP Danny Rosenbaum, IF Jason Martinson, LHP Kylin Turnbull, LHP Josh Smoker, OF Billy Burns, OF Wander Ramos, OF Caleb Ramsey, RHP Taylor Hill, RHP Christian Meza

Summary: The Nats have plenty of guys with some upside and plenty of guys who are close to the majors, but not a whole lot of guys that are close to the majors with much upside. I can dream that some of these guys evolve past role player status, but I'm honestly not that convinced. Losing 2/3 of your top 15 to injuries, promotions and trades is a tough problem, but the Nats are far from the worst minor league organization in baseball. It will be interesting to see who other teams will be interested in as the trade deadline approaches over the next week and a half.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Mid-Season Nationals Top Prospect Rankings - Konnor Fulk

Konnor Fulk (@coolnovelbro) and I have been collaborating over the past few weeks on what the Nats' top 20 prospects should look like. By and large, our lists are pretty similar. There are pretty clear tiers in the Nats' prospect list: the top 4 (Giolito, Goodwin, Meyer and Rendon, however you decide to rearrange them) and then everyone else. Much of the intrigue over the list is how to rate injured prospects like Rendon, Purke and Solis, and as you'll see below, all three are still considered to Konnor to be top 15 guys (you'll see my list tomorrow). Enjoy, and make sure to give Konnor a follow on twitter!

1. 3B Anthony Rendon - Still the top prospect; if healthy (big if) he could be a .300 hitter with 20 home runs (much like Ryan Zimmerman at his fullest potential). The more he gets injured, the further he will drop down the top 20 prospect list.

2. RHP Alex Meyer - 6'9" with room to build onto that body. Has been clocked at 99 (with some more muscle, he can hit 100, very intriguing) with a nasty slider that touches the low 90's. His control is questionable, but seems to be making reasonable improvement to that aspect. If he doesn't work out as a starter, he will be a great bullpen arm with high velocity. Should rise through system fast.

3. RHP Lucas Giolito - The Nationals' 2012 16th overall draft pick, comes with great size (6'6") and front line starter stuff (fastball has been clocked at 100). When healthy (which is pretty foggy right now, with the Nats hopeful he won't need Tommy John surgery), he will become possibly the best prospect in the system. For now, his health is a question, so this explains why I still consider Meyer ahead of him.

4. OF Brian Goodwin - Up from spot 7 on the rankings, he is having a great season: good arm and defense, good power, great contact, speed with 14 steals, and what makes me giddy, more walks then strikeouts! 2 years older then Taylor, but as a 1st round supplemental pick, he is proving himself as a top 5 organizational prospect.

5. OF Eury Perez - Still good contact guy, .293 average, good contact, but apparently a reasonable outfield arm. Great lead off potential. 24 stolen bases, so still has great speed. Lacks plate control, with few walks. Personally I like him over Micheal Taylor, he could find himself in a September call-up, if and only if he is promoted to AAA fairly soon.

6. 1B/3B Matthew Skole - Defense is awful (but will improve in left field or 1st base) his bat has put him here, and he deserves to be placed here. 21 homeruns, 70+ RBI, strikes out A LOT (94 times in the first half) but also 74 walks; his bat has put him into the systems elite. If he keeps up this batting potential, could be an intriguing major league corner outfield prospect or a trade piece. Should be in Potomac, must see how he hits at a higher level.

7. LHP Matt Purke - I believe that when fully healthy he will get his stuff back and be a solid prospect. If not a major league starter in several years, I could easily see him as a lefty specialist. The Nationals hope for the pitcher that was featured at TCU, having made a big commitment to him financially, but Purke must get fully healthy for any advancement up this prospect list.

8. OF Michael Taylor - Organization loves this guy, who is still only 21. He's currently having a year that screams growing pains: his power numbers have dipped awfully, but possibly due to the difference from the SAL league. Still young and still a very impressive defensive prospect, the potential that has surrounded this guy still allows him to maintain top 10 prospect status.

9. IF Zach Walters - Mediocre beginning to season, but has really started to produce. Great production since promotion to AA, and has demonstrated reasonable power. Alright defensively with quick flashes of brilliance, possible trade chip with the depth at infield throughout the organization.

10. IF Jeff Kobernus - Great speed, good contact hitter, with good defense. Very toolsy, but an all-the-way-around good prospect. Kobernus is a trade piece or major league utility player with speed. Kobernus should continue his steady advancement through the system.

11. RHP Nathan Karns - Would be higher based off of his amazing stats, but he is a bit old for Potomac and still fairly untested. He has good stuff, and should rise easily through the system if he keeps it up. Arguably the best Nationals pitcher this season based only off stats, so don't be surprised if he gets a call up to AA, specifically so he can make an Arizona Fall League appearance.

12. OF Corey Brown - Great year has catapulted him into the top 20. Great power, and solid tools; if it wasn't for the Nationals stacked outfield, he'd be up on the team (although he should specifically replace Xavier Nady). He will be an intriguing trade chip for an outfield needy team.

13. LHP Robbie Ray - Production has been down this year, specifically his strikeout numbers. He has managed not to have awful stats in the advanced A Carolina League at the age of 19, though. His potential makes him a top 20 prospect. Expect a repeat year at Potomac next year, and with good improvement, his prospect ranking could improve.

14. LHP Daniel Rosenbaum - Underwhelming stuff, but great control and has the make up of a good #5 starter. His statistics have been weak lately, but expect him to be in AAA next year, with a call up to Washington possible at any needed moment.

15. LHP Sammy Solis - Injured, but if he maintains his stuff, he is our best lefty in the organization. Solis still has strong potential and should be watched in the 2nd half of next season.

16. LHP Brett Mooneyham - Based off of his tools, he could be a very strong lefty within the system, awful control. If he can fix that, no reason not to believe he could be a piece to watch rise through the system, he has the stuff to become a power lefty reliever or back end starter.

17. C David Freitas - Great offensive catcher, but the knock on him is his defense. A move to the crowded 1B is possible. Expect him to be a trade piece or an eventual AAAA player. With the log jam at catcher, he could find himself competing for time with Leon and Johnatan Solano.

18. OF Destin Hood - A big drop off year has resulted in a drop in the top 20 prospect rankings. Still young and athletic, but needs to maintain his power from the previous year. He risks becoming an organizational guy without improved production. Expect a repeated year in AA for the future.

19. 2B Tony Renda - This year's 2nd round pick has not produced as expected so far in short season A Auburn. Expect him to improve and produce though. He only falls to 19 due to size and the fact I believe his ceiling is a fringe starter/utility infielder, but with all knocks aside, his heart and drive easily could push him through the system.

20. C Sandy Leon - Having a great offensive year, and will be valuable to the overall catching depth of the organization. Having his bat in AAA next year could be valuable. Leon will likely enjoy a further cup of coffee in the majors.

Just missed: 1B Chris Marrero- He simply has lost his prospect status, injury concern and lack of power for his position shows what he really expects to be, a AAAA player.

Honorable Mentions: Rick Hague, Kylin Turnbull, Jason Martinson, Christian Garcia, Aaron Barrett, Caleb Ramsey, Cutter Dykstra, Steven Souza, and Blake Monar

Post summary: What the reader should learn from this is simple: the depth within the organization is still impressive. The Gio Gonzalez trade drained the system of several top 10 prospects, but it is now evident that those particular players were expendable. Derek Norris was great, but Leon, Freitas, and Solano have impressed, while A.J. Cole and Brad Peacock have been replaced by Giolito, Meyer, and Karns. Perhaps the best player lost in that trade was Tommy Milone, who has proved what I always believed he could be: a good and serviceable starter (3.54 ERA). Rizzo and the scouting staff have formulated a deep and exciting prospect pool, and even through big trades, the Nats still maintain a good and improving minor league system, with future stars still rising.