Monday, March 1, 2010

Top Prospects?

Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus put out his list of the Nats' top 11 prospects coming into the 2011 season:

Five-Star Prospects
1. Stephen Strasburg, RHP
2. Derek Norris, C
Four-Star Prospects
3. Drew Storen, RHP
4. Danny Espinosa, SS
Three-Star Prospects
5. Ian Desmond, SS
6. Michael Burgess, OF
7. Eury Perez, OF
8. Jeff Kobernus, 2B
9. Chris Marrero, 1B
10. Juan Jaime, RHP
Two-Star Prospects
11. Paul Demny, RHP

Four More:
12. Destin Hood, OF: This big outfielder remains high on upside, but raw with the bat.
13. Justin Maxwell, OF: A toolsy outfielder, Maxwell has plenty of secondary skills, but he's 26, and he might never hit for average.
14. Brad Meyers, RHP: He’s a command and control righty who is very good at what he does, but his ceiling ends at a back-end starter.
15. J.R. Higley, OF: Higley certainly passes the scouting sniff test, but will he hit?

To quote Freddy Prinze, "Looking good!"

Or maybe not. Just for fun, here's Goldstein's 2008 top 11:

Five-Star Prospects
1. Chris Marrero, 1B
2. Ross Detwiler, LHP
Four-Star Prospects
3. Michael Burgess, OF
Three-Star Prospects
4. Josh Smoker, LHP
5. Justin Maxwell, OF
6. Jake McGeary, LHP
7. Collin Balester, RHP
Two-Star Prospects
8. Jordan Zimmerman, RHP
9. Jake Smolinski, OF
10. Colton Willems, RHP
11. Adam Carr, RHP

Just Missing: Esmailyn Gonzalez, SS; John Lannan, LHP; Shairon Martis, RHP

And here's the 2009 list, which will really turn your stomach:

Four-Star Prospects
1. Jordan Zimmermann, RHP
2. Michael Burgess, RF
3. Ross Detwiler, LHP
Three-Star Prospects
4. Derek Norris, C
5. Jack McGeary, LHP
6. Chris Marrero, 1B
7. Destin Hood, LF
8. J.P. Ramirez, OF
9. Esmailyn Gonzalez, SS
Two-Star Prospects
10. Rogearvin Bernadina, CF
11. Adrian Nieto, C

Just Missed: Garrett Mock, RHP; Colton Willems, RHP; Terrell Young, RHP

Just two prospects appear on all three top 11 lists (Marrero and Burgess). In 2008, Goldstein rated the Nats as the 14th best organization in baseball. McGeary/Smoker/Detwiler have been mostly vaporware. Marrero/Maxwell/Burgess have consistently underperformed. Zimmermann graduated to Tommy John surgery. Most of the 2009 top 11 fell off the list, which makes sense as Goldstein rated the Nats' organization 29th last season. The 2009 Nats top 11 would have been bottom shit on most other teams, and they've been replaced by players either drafted in 2010 or, more interesting, players already in the system who didn't make the top 11 in previous years (Espinosa, Desmond, Perez).

What really stands out for me is how much the underperformance of those starting pitchers drafted in 2007 set the organization back. I used to complain that the Nats hadn't developed any position players, but I suppose my new complaint is going to be "Where are the pitchers?" (No, Mike, I'm never going to believe you no matter how many times you repeat the phrase "young arms" in reference to Martis/Chico/Mock/Stammen/Martin.)

Goldstein states that "having Strasburg alone moves this system up the organizational rankings considerably." While some of the more recent draft choices and a few old favorites seem to be performing, how good is the system really when Strasburg's thumb is taken off the scale?


Miles Grant said...

Not quite accurate to say "just two prospects appear on all three top 11 lists (Marrero and Burgess)" -- Jordan Z. & Detweiler are in the majors & no longer considered prospects, so they're on this year's report in the "Top 10 Talents 25 And Under" section.

Kevin said...

I was trying to emphasize the churn and lack of continuity in these top prospect lists. I acknowledge that Zimmermann has graduated off the lists. I'm not convinced that Detwiler's minor league performance and his 75 major league innings in 2009 make him anything other than a failed prospect.

Miles Grant said...


Hmm, I'm used to parodying global warming deniers, but I need to work on my imitation of relentless homer Nats fans. Probably because I've never met one.

Nate said...

You're a mite too harsh. A certain percentage of prospects will, by definition, fall by the wayside every year. Churn is inevitable, and good. You want high draft picks to come in and knock some guys off the list every year, otherwise you're doing something wrong with your draft.

Guys like Balester and Maxwell were probably never as good as advertised, while Willems, Smoker and McGeary were all highly regarded but have battled injuries. (Maybe the Nats pitcher development sucks, maybe TINSTAAPP, maybe both.) Marrero seems to be making slow but steady progress through the system and could still be on schedule for a major league debut at the ripe old age of 23.

Call no man happy until he is dead and call no one a draft bust until he underperforms whoever the Pirates selected in the first round that year.