For the first time since the Nationals moved to D.C., the team is at the top of the division standings this late in the season (by percentage points). Much of their 30-22 record is due to the good play of the team's younger players—including Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper.
It was not too long ago that both of these players were the No. 1 picks in the draft and just minor league prospects. With the team doing so well, you can't help but wonder about the future.
Here are 10 prospects who have the potential to keep this team in first place.
Now, before anyone says anything, he is still technically a prospect even though he is playing in the big leagues. The 19-year-old Harper started his season down in the minors, and it is too early in his career to call him anything else.
That being said, Harper has shown a lot of potential to be a great player. In the 32 games he has played, he has shown that he can get the job done. His .288 average is good enough for second on the team, and his .922 OPS is the team's best. He has five homers and 16 extra base hits.
Statistically, his numbers are good, but he also has great intangibles. He hustles every single play and has turned singles into doubles and doubles into triples. His energy level is always high—a good thing, as long as you aren't hitting yourself in the face with a bat.
He has a lot of confidence; some call it arrogance. He's 19 and playing extremely well, so if anyone has an excuse to be arrogant, it is him. His skill has been enough to back up his act, and there seems to be no sign of him slowing down.
Another rookie in the big leagues, there was uncertainty as to if Lombardozzi would start the year at AAA Syracuse or with the Nationals. They put him on the big league roster and has ended up staying with the big league squad for the whole year to this point. Shortly into the season he became a regular starter when Ryan Zimmerman went down with an injury. He was listed as a second baseman to start the year, but the fact that he was called up to play third shows his versatility.
Lombardozzi stayed with the Nats when Zimmerman returned, which should not be a surprise. Having played in 40 games, Lombardozzi is leading the team with a .309 batting average. He has done well at the top of the lineup as well as coming in to pinch-hit.
Lombardozzi has only made two errors in the field as a major league ballplayer, and it looks like he is there to stay.
Corey Brown is another player who has been called up to the bigs due to the Nationals' injuries. Even though he has only had a handful of at-bats at the big leagues, Brown has shown a lot of promise.
At AAA Syracuse, Brown has a .293 average with a .969 OPS and 12 home runs. He has handled himself well and looks like he has all the makings of a good prospect.
The one issue for Brown is going to be the depth of the Nationals at the outfield position. Despite all of their injuries, they have good players in the bigs—Harper, Jayson Werth and Rick Ankiel—and the minors are full of good outfield prospects.
Brown is at the top of the list of outfield prospects still in the minors.
Rosenbaum has been the best pitcher in the Nationals' farm system this year. Playing for AA Harrisburg, he has a 7-1 record with a 1.75 ERA and a .221 batting average against.
One of his biggest positives is that Rosenbaum is left-handed. With four of the five Nationals' starters being righties, the team will be paying close attention to Rosenbaum's development.
Eury Perez is yet another solid Nationals' outfield prospect. He just turned 22 last week, and his young athleticism shows.
Perez is leading the Nats' farm system with 63 hits. He also has a solid .289 average. He currently plays for AA Harrisburg, but if the Nats' continue to go through outfielders like they have recently, he's sure to be moving up.
22-years-old and a 6' 9" fireball thrower. What's not to like? Meyer, who is playing for A Hagerstown, leads the Nats' system with 62 strikeouts. He also has a solid .226 average against but just a 4-3 record.
Meyer has all the makings of a potential major league starter. Look for his continued growth and improvement as he climbs up the ranks.
Yet another potential outfield star in the Nationals' system. Goodwin, currently at A Hagerstown, has been tearing it up with his speed. He is currently batting .280 with a .894 OPS. He also has 18 runs scored.
At only 22, Goodwin has the potential to make it to the big leagues. The only problem is how many athletes at the outfield position that the Nationals have. Hopefully competition will help all of them.
Matt Skole has looked good in A Hagerstown. He has 12 home runs and 53 RBI's. Skole has a crazy .986 OPS—tops in the Nats' system—to go along with a .294 average.
Although he is just at single-A, Skole has shown that he has the ability for hit for power and a good average, something that the Nationals have to be pleased with.
Anthony Rendon was considered by some to be the second-best prospect in the Nationals' organization—behind Harper—going into this year. The 21-year-old was set to start his season out at A Carolina, but in the second game of the year, he went down with an injury.
Rendon was the No. 6 overall pick by the Nationals in last year's draft. Look for him to have a good future with the ball club.
Billy Burns has been a nice surprise for A Hagerstown. He holds a farm-system best .313 batting average. He has shown improvement in his second season, but there is still a lot the Nationals need to see from him.
The one downside to Burns is his lack of power—with just one homer in his career. Still, he has 12 extra base hits, as well as 18 steals on the season. Burns' will continue to rise in the ranks as the outfield unit continues to improve.