Even with the pieces lost in the acquisition of Gio Gonzalez, the Nationals have an average to above average farm system with pieces like Harper, Rendon, Goodwin, Meyer, Purke and others. They lost their first chance at being a top five or at least top 10 farm system in baseball since their Montreal days.
For the record, I am no scout and will likely pull a few (if not all predictions) out of my behind. I will give each player a little background, reasoning for being in that spot, and then make my prediction.
The player up first is Destin Hood.
I had a hard time deciding who No. 10 was and a few guys I really like will likely be left off this list, but what can you do?
Destin Hood is a very toolsy player that the Nationals have brought along slowly since they selected him in the second round back in 2008 and he just reached High-A Potomac this year where he had a very solid year all around.
His slash of .276/.364/.445 were his best overall totals since his second time around at Rookie League ball. I nearly put Eury Perez in this spot but his career low in OPS worries me.
My prediction: Destin will struggle mightily in his first go around in the Eastern League but will rebound in '13 in his second stint there and walk 70-plus times and put up numbers similar to his career highs.
Solis is probably higher on a lot of lists, but his lack of velocity is why he is only No. 9 for me. He sits around 90 with his fastball but has solid command overall with a lot of movement on his heater.
Scouts have him pegged as a No. 4 or No. 5 starter and worry that previous back issues may always be an issue. Overall, the kid can really pitch and impressed many in the AFL last season and followed it up with a solid campaign in the lower minors.
My Prediction: Solis flies through the minors and is seen in Washington by the middle of '13 but is forced to work out of the team's 'pen as a LOOGY and/or in long-relief.
If the Prince rumors are true, Moore likely has a future elsewhere. His being average to below-average defensively doesn't likely give him a shot with the team unless he takes his game up yet another notch at Triple-A Syracuse in '12. Moore obviously has the power, but will that be all he is good for?
Moore is also known to be a slow starter but has tremendous upside in his ability to hit for power. Moore has hit 31 home runs in each of the last two seasons at both High-A and Double-A ball.
My Prediction: Moore sees the big leagues by Sept. as an injury or bereavement list replacement and is packaged off to an AL team in need of DH/1B help by the start of ST in '13.
This is the first of back-to-back players I will probably get a lot of people disagreeing with me on, but I really like Rosenbaum's numbers from last year. Danny hasn't had an ERA above the mid twos since being drafted in '09. His best pitch is his sinker and all reports say it is a good one.
He posted great numbers in his second stint at High-A Potomac before putting up more impressive numbers in Double-A, holding opponents to a .190 BA in his six starts there to end the campaign.
My Prediction: Daniel has a strong campaign at Harrisburg before getting sent to Triple-A Syracuse, where he struggles mightily. He rebounds in early '13 and is seen getting his first cup of coffee in the ML by Sept. of '13.
Robbie Ray is ranked higher with me than most. I really like is strikeout numbers even in Low-A ball and the fact that he is left handed amplifies that. He may be a reliever, but I love the prospect of him as a dominant LH specialist out of the 'pen.
My Prediction: Robbie Ray becomes an effective late inning LH reliever, but it'll take a while. He won't see the ML until '14 at the earliest seeing as he was a 12th-rounder and a reliever at that.
Purke is a fiery competitor who battled a lot of health issues in his sophomore campaign. I've seen some projecting him as high as having No. 2 starter upside. He is said to have a great curveball with a fastball that comfortably sits in the low to mid-90s. He has great upside, but shoulder injuries never seem to completely go away and often can be attributed to mechanics.
My Prediction: Purke is impressive in the MiL when healthy but with constant shoulder flareups, he never makes it to the ML or at least if he does, it will be short lived.
Alex is your typical high-upside power pitching prospect with control issues. How he progresses and moves up through the system is all dependent on his mechanics, command and health. He has got stuff to blow hitters away but command will likely always be his biggest issue. His potential is why he is as high as No. 4 in the Nationals system for me.
My prediction: Meyer struggles in the higher levels of the MiL before adjusting his mechanics and getting a better grasp on his control. He goes on to have a solid ML career as a No. 3 or No. 4 type power arm as he never quite gains enough control to be a true No. 1 or No. 2 having to contend with Strasburg and Zimmermann for those roles.
I am learning about Goodwin on the fly. He is a five-tool athlete with a high-ceiling, but his suspension at NC being the reason he transferred to CC is worrisome and I wonder if he could end up being another Elijah Dukes or Lastings Milledge. Those are harsh comparisons so early on, but I just feel like I've seen this story before, only now the Nationals have drafted the player in question. The No. 3 spot is based off of the tools and not my intuition.
My Prediction: Goodwin spends the bulk of '12 at Low-A Hagerstown and has a Harper-eske year but requires two or more stints at both High-A and Double-A ball before making in to the ML around '14.
Injuries will more than likely be the only thing holding Anthony back from being a star at the ML level. He has shown he can hit for power, average and play a Golden Glove-caliber third base while with Rice. Being able to get Rendon was definitely a risk worth taking considering the high-upside selections of Goodwin, Purke and Meyer that followed him in the '11 draft.
My Prediction: Rendon gets healthy and by the mid of '13 forces Desmond out of the lineup and moves Espinosa over to shortstop.
There doesn't need to be much said about Bryce. He had a terrific season for any young prospect, but for an 18-year-old, it is exceptionally special. Harper has the chance to be Griffey and more, and he has all the tools to be the face of the Nationals franchise for a long time. And that is saying something as just a few years ago I couldn't see anybody taking that away from Ryan Zimmerman as long as he stayed healthy and productive.
My Prediction: Harper breaks camp with the Nationals and struggles out of the gate, is sent down to Triple-A, rebounds with a vengeance and returns by the middle of July and makes a serious run at the ROY for the NL.