I'm a Phillies fan looking to learn more about other Major League teams' farm systems. What's the best way to do that? Well in my mind it's to put together each organization's top 10 prospects as I see them.
I stayed away from Baseball America's 2010 list and tried to stay away from MLB top 50 prospects, so that it didnt make me think twice about a pick.
I've completed the Athletics, Blue Jays, Angels , Diamondbacks, Astro's, and more recently the Twins. Take a look if you like and please if I forgot someone or you think I slotted someone to high please let me know.
1) Stephen Strasburg-RHP (Will be 22 in July)
What hasn’t been said about Stephen Strasburg already that I can add? At this point there are hobbits that live in Middle Earth who know about Strasburg and his unhittable stuff.
Is Strasburg ready to turn the Nats into true contenders? Only time will tell, but from most scouts I’ve heard from this is one of the best pitching prospects ever.
Strasburg lit the world on fire at San Diego State where he played under hall of famer Tony Gwynn. Amazingly he wasn’t highly recruited coming out of high school but jumped onto every scout’s radar under Gwynn’s tutelage. Now whether it was his 23 strike out game against Utah or his 103 MPH fast ball that he throws like its nothing, Strasburg developed into a star in college.
Strasburg's 2008 stats were incredible: 8–3, with a 1.57 ERA & 133 K in 97 1/3 IP. Most pitchers dream of a season like that but Strasburg managed to do it.
As for his 2009 college stats: 13-1 Record with a 1.32 ERA. In 109 IP he only allowed 59 hits and only walked 19. He also had an amazing 195 K including 17 in his final game.
In that final game that I mentioned he also threw a no hitter against Air Force.
Strasburg was taken by the Nats with the 1st overall pick, and even though there were signability issues, the two sides managed to hammer out a four year, $15.1 million major league deal.
The Nats decided to give him some time to rest and regroup and waited to unveil their new weapon. He debuted in the instructional league and then moved to the Arizona Fall League. His numbers in the Arizona Fall League were average, as he posted a 4-1 record with a 4.26 ERA and missed his final start due to a pop in his knee while shagging fly balls.
The most impressive thing about Strasburg is he throws 103 MPH but has accuracy and control with the pitch. He throws a hard slider for strikes. He doesn’t walk many, if any, and will amazingly compete for a rotation spot this Spring Training after having a "cup of coffee" in the minors (if that).
2) Drew Storen-RHP (Will be 23 in August)
The Nationals were ridiculed by MLB fans for drafting Aaron Crow and then failing to sign him. Crow went 12th overall to the Royals in the 2009 draft but with the compensation the Nats received for failing to sign Crow, they took Drew Storen with the 10th overall pick.
It’s looking as if failing to sign Crow could pay off as Drew Storen solidified himself as one of the best relief prospects in all of minor league baseball last season.
The former Stanford Cardinal started his pro career out at Hagerstown. It was a bold step for the Nats to place him at this level considering he was really skipping the GCL and the NYP league, but Storen quickly proved he was up to the test.
In 14.2 IP at Hagerstown Storen managed to have a 3.68 ERA. He struck out 26 batters and had 0 BB. He did allow 2 HR but managed to keep his opponents to a .193 BA. After 11 games in Hagerstown Storen received a promotion to Potomac of the Carolina League.
High Class A is a big step to most but Storen managed to make it look easy. While at Potomac Storen pitched in 7 games and had 10 IP. He had a 1.80 ERA and managed to strike out 11 batters, but he did have 2 BB. He didn’t allow a HR and his opponents batted .206 off of him. After just 10 IP Storen received the third promotion in his young career, this time to AA Harrisburg.
Like a good wine, Storen just gets better with age —or in this case promotions, and tougher competition. At Harrisburg, Storen pitched in 10 games, 12.1 IP and had a spotless ERA. His 12 SO, 6 BB and 0 HR added to his amazing Harrisburg stats, as well as his 0.77 Opponents BA.
COMBINED 2009 STATS: 2-1 record with a 1.95 ERA. In 28 games, 37 IP he had 49 SO and 8 BB. He had 11 Saves and held opponents to a .162 BA.
Storen seems destined to reach the majors this year. Most players struggle upon receiving promotions because they are facing stiffer competition and more seasoned players but amazingly Storen got better. Considering the jump that players experience from Single A to AA, Storens ERA and numbers at AA Harrisburg are that much more impressive.
Most teams are thrilled when they get a player to the majors within two years but the Nationals look poised to get their two first picks (Strasburg & Storen) in the majors in less than a year.
3) Chris Marrero-1B (Will be 22 in July)
Drafted in the first round (15th overall) in the 2006 draft, the Nationals had high hopes for Marrero. Most of the time you expect a kid who was drafted in 2006 to be making some sort of impact in the majors by now, but Marrero is only 21 now and won’t turn 22 until July. It’s one of the positive results of taking High School players.
The mashing first basemen from Florida 's Monsignor Pace High School had scouts drooling and ever since he was taken by the Nats he has had a home on everyone's Top 10 prospect list, ranking No. 1 on Baseball America's back in 2008.
Last season as a 21 year old he started the season at Single A Potomac and managed to finish the season at AA Harrisburg. At Single A Potomac Marrero put up great numbers with a stat line that read as such: .287/16/65 to go along with 21 2B. He also had 97 SO with 42 BB in 414 AB.
He then received the promotion to AA Harrisburg where he posted similar numbers. In only 75 AB Marrero had a .267 BA with 6 2B, 1 HR, and 11 RBI. He also had 18 SO and 8 BB.
COMBINED 2009 STATS: .284 BA with 27 2B, 17 HR, 76 RBI and 139 H. He had 115 SO and had 50 BB with a .810 OPS in 489 AB.
His 139 hits ranked second in the entire Nationals organization in that category. His 17 HR are tied for fifth in the organization and his 76 RBI rank him third in the organization.
His power numbers are obviously there and are even more impressive when you factor in his age and the level of play he was playing at in 2009.
Marrero only got a slight taste of AA ball last year, so he figures to be back in Harrisburg in 2010. But with Adam Dunn's contract up at the end of the year, and the Nationals not looking to compete in 2011 it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he would be at first base sometime next season.
4) Derek Norris-C (Will be 21 for the 2010 Season)
Norris is one of the best power hitting catchers in the minors and the best in the Nationals system.
Norris was ranked 6th last season by Baseball America and would have moved up on my list if it wasn’t for the stellar performances of the people ahead of him on the list.
The future Nats backstop was taken in the 4th round of the 2007 draft and had one of the best offensive seasons for any Nationals hitter last season in Single A Hagerstown.
2009 STATS: .286 BA, 23 HR, 84 RBI with 30 2B. In 437 AB he had 116 SO but 90 BB. He also had a .926 OPS.
His 125 hits were tied for fourth among Nats minor leaguers. His 23 HR were ranked first among all minor leaguers and his 84 RBI were second. His .413 OBP was good for third and his .513 SLG was best among all Nats minor leaguers. He will definitely be in Potomac next season and if all goes well he will be catching games for Harrisburg by the end of the season.
5) Marcos Frias-RHP (Will be 21 for the 2010 season)
Signed out of the Dominican Republic back in 2007, and ever since he has been one of the most dominating pitchers in the Nationals system.
Back in 2008 Frias pitched for the GCL Nationals and had a 3-4 record with a 2.92 ERA. He started 9 out of 13 games and had 38 SO & 14 BB.
These numbers earned him a promotion for the 2009 season to Hagerstown of the South Atlantic League, skipping Vermont (NYP) all together. Frias got stronger with the Suns and had a career year in 2009.
2009 STATS: 9-5 record with a 2.91 ERA in 126.2 IP. Started 23 out of 25 games, had 112 SO & 30 BB while allowing just 6 HR. Opponents did hit .254 off of him however.
The only negative I can see with this kid is his Opponent's BA, which is still under .260 and isn’t all that bad, but could be better. His 2.91 ERA was good for second in the Nats organization and his 112 SO were good for third in the organization. The 21 year old looks poised to take the hill for Potomac next season.
6) Bradley Meyers-RHP (Will be 25 in September)
Bradley Meyers came out of nowhere this past season to earn a spot on my top 10 list.
A former 5th round pick in 2007 out of High School, he had never really backed that high pick up, managing to make it only to High A Potomac last season with seemingly average numbers. But last season he finally started living up to his promise. He set Potomac on fire and managed to get all the way up to AA Harrisburg by the end of the season.
His Single A Potomac numbers were great as I had mentioned earlier. He had a 6-2 record with a 1.43 ERA in 88.1 IP. He struck out 65 batters and only walked 21 batters and surrendered a measly 1 HR. He also held his opponents to a .222 BA. He received the call up to AA Harrisburg and never slowed down.
At AA Harrisburg he pitched in 9 games, starting in all 9. He had a 5-1 record with a 2.25 ERA in 48 IP. The 43 SO were nice, but the 11 walks were even better and he managed to hold AA hitters to a .225 BA.
COMBINED 2009 STATS: 11-3 record with a 1.72 ERA. In 24 games, 136.1 IP he had 108 SO & 32 BB. He gave up 3 HR and had an opponent’s BA of .223.
He basically led the Nationals minor leaguers in every pitching category. He ranked first in ERA with 1.72 and ranked and ranked fourth in Wins with 11. His 108 SO was tied for fifth in the organization. His 1.05 WHIP were ranked first along with his .223 Opponent's batting average.
The only reason he is behind Frias on this list is because Frias has been consistent, while Meyers needs to prove 2009 wasn’t a fluke.
2010 should see him start the season out in Harrisburg and if he can duplicate his 2009 success he will be with the big club by September.
7) Danny Espinosa-SS (Will be 23 in April)
Some may say this is a little high but I like what Espinosa has brought to the table so far. Power, Speed, an OK batting average and he plays a position that you usually don’t see your power hitters come out of.
The former third round pick had a great year for the Potomac Nationals last season so let’s get to the stats.
2009 STATS: .264 BA, 18 HR, 72 RBI, in 474 AB. He compiled 125 H, 31 2B, 4 3B. While he had 129 SO he also had 74 BB and had an OPS of .834. 29 SB isn’t too bad either but the 11 CS could be better.
His 125 hits were best for forth in the Nationals minor league system. His 18 HR were also good for forth and his 72 RBI were good for fourth in the system. He may want to change his number to 4 instead of 3.
He needs to work on cutting down the strike outs and raising his batting average. Also while 29 SB are great he needs to pick his spots better because 11 CS are a bit too high.
All in all though he looks to be what every organization looks for, a SS who can hit the long ball and drive in runs while swiping some bags. He will get the promotion to AA Harrisburg next season where the true test of his talents will be measured.
8) Tom Milone-LHP (Will be 23 for the 2010 season)
Milone was a 10th round pick back in 2008 out of USC and had his best season as a pro in 2009.
In his draft year of 2008 he pitched for both Vermont and Hagerstown, having surprisingly better success in Hagerstown. His 2.89 ERA there made it easy for the Nats front office to give him a ticket to Potomac for the 2009 campaign.
2009 STATS: 12-5 with a 2.91 ERA. In 151.1 IP he had 106 SO & 36 BB. Let up 9 HR & had an opponent’s BA of .257.
Milone's 2.91 ERA was good for third best among Nationals minor league pitchers & his 12 Wins were tied for first among those same pitchers.
Milone looks poised to take the mound for AA Harrisburg where he will face much tougher competition then he did at Single A Potomac, but he is still very young (23) so it wouldn’t kill him to spend a full year at Harrisburg and then move to Syracuse in 2011 when he will be just 24 years old.
9) Eury Perez-OF (Will be 20 in May)
Like Marcos Frias, Perez was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2007. He is the fourth player on the list who was added to the Nationals organization back in 2007.
After a stellar 2008 season in the Dominican Summer League which saw Perez hit .321 with 4 HR, 44 RBI, 51 R, & 28 SB, Perez earned a promotion state side where the young OF put on a hitting display that Willie Mays Hayes would be proud of (there are probably 15 people that may get that reference). Playing for the GCL Nationals he lit the stat sheet on fir.
2009 STATS: .381 BA, 3 2B, 5 3B, 3 HR, 24 RBI. In 181 AB he added 16 SB, 8 CS, 38 R, and a .946 OPS.
He had more triples (5) then doubles (3) which show’s his speed. While he really wasn’t able to light the base paths on fire he certainly left GCL pitchers shaking their head with his .381 BA which was best among all minor league players in the Nationals system.
Perez should be headed for Vermont for 2010 but with his amazing numbers, he could be destined for Hagerstown.
10) Destin Hood-OF (Will be 20 in April)
Hood was taken out of High School in the 2nd round of the 2008 draft. Obviously, high school kids are projects and take time to reach their full potential —look no further then Chris Marrero.
While the Nats failed to sign their first rounder from that year, they managed to ink Hood who had agreed to play both football and baseball for Alabama. He played shortstop in high school and as far as I can tell this is really his first time playing the outfield as his primary position.
Hood started out the 2009 season in with the GCL Nats but did manage to earn a promotion last season to Vermont of the NYP.
In the GCL he played great posting a .330/3/24 stat line while adding 10 2B, 3 3B, and a 1.001 OPS. He struggled a bit upon his call up to Vermont posting a .246/2/24 stat line with 4 2B, 1 3B, but his OPS went down to .635.
COMBINED 2009 STATS: .279 BA, 14 2B, 4 3B, 5 HR, 48 RBI. In 226 AB he had 30 R, 5 SB, 1 CS, and a .777 OPS. He had 64 SO, 19 BB.
Obviously he needs to draw more walks. His strikeout to walk ratio is around 3-1 right now and it’s just too high. But has a big athlete who, when he was drafted, was reported to be able to hit for power and swipe bases. Now we haven’t seen him do either yet but as of right now he is just 19 years old and probably still adapting to pro pitchers. I would expect to see him back in Vermont for more polishing.