Baseball America released its 2012 Top 10 prospects list for the Washington Nationals on Wednesday morning, and for the first time since 2009, neither Bryce Harper nor Stephen Strasburg finds his name residing at its top. That’s just fine with the organization, and Nationals fans, who watched both players help the team to 98 wins this past season.
Trades for premier players like Gio Gonzalez and Denard Span, as well as promotions to the major leagues of so many top prospects, have rid the organization of many of its elite players in the past few years. And this year’s list stands in stark contrast to the one released in 2011.
But the list is still fairly interesting and carries some significant talent, particularly at the top where Anthony Rendon, Lucas Giolito and Brian Goodwin assume the top three spots.
Rendon, considered the Nationals’ most advanced offensive prospect, played in just 43 games this season after suffering an ankle fracture early in April. But he performed very well in the offensively-geared Arizona Fall League where he hit .338 with a .436 on-base percentage and slugged .494 in 22 games. Rendon will be in major league camp for the second straight spring come February by virtue of the major league contract he signed when he was drafted. Given his pedigree, talent and performance when healthy, it’s no surprise to see him take over the top spot in the prospect rankings.
To see Giolito make his first appearance on this list at No. 2 speaks to the immense talent the 18-year-old right-hander possesses. Giolito, once perhaps a consensus No. 1 overall pick in this 2012 draft, fell to the Nationals because of injury concerns with his elbow and they gladly scooped him up at No. 16. The 6-foot-6 righty underwent Tommy John surgery on Aug. 31 after going through a throwing program and pitching just two innings in the Gulf Coast League. The Nationals, of course, are well-versed in Tommy John rehab and Giolito will be on the same program as every other Nationals pitcher who’s gone through it.
Goodwin, a 2011 draftee, is considered one of the Nationals’ options for center field in the near future — and part of the reason why the team viewed Denard Span’s contract, which runs through 2014 with a team option for 2015, as favorably as they did.
The rest of the list is quite interesting as well with names like Matt Skole, Nathan Karns, Christian Garcia, Eury Perez and Zach Walters making appearances. Sammy Solis (who underwent March Tommy John surgery) and Matt Purke (who had minor shoulder surgery this August) were also bumped down the list a bit after injured seasons.
Here is the full list:
1. Anthony Rendon, 3B
2. Lucas Giolito, RHP
3. Brian Goodwin, OF
4. Matt Skole, 3B
5. Nathan Karns, RHP
6. Christian Garcia, RHP
7. Eury Perez, OF
8. Sammy Solis, LHP
9. Matt Purke, LHP
10. Zach Walters, SS
For comparison, here is the 2011 list, which was published before the trade for Gio Gonzalez:
(Names in bold were traded or promoted)
1. Bryce Harper, OF
2. Anthony Rendon, 3B
3. Brad Peacock, RHP
4. A.J. Cole, RHP
5. Brian Goodwin, OF
6. Alex Meyer, RHP
7. Matt Purke, LHP
8. Sammy Solis, LHP
9. Derek Norris, C
10. Steve Lombardozzi, 2B
Baseball America also rates the players with the best “tools” in the minor league system. Here is that list:
Best hitter for average: Anthony Rendon
Best power hitter: Matt Skole
Best strike zone discipline: Anthony Rendon
Fastest baserunner: Billy Burns
Best athlete: Brian Goodwin
Best fastball: Lucas Giolito
Best curveball: Lucas Giolito
Best slider: Aaron Barrett
Best changeup: Christian Garcia
Best control: Taylor Hill
Best defensive catcher: Sandy Leon
Best defensive infielder: Anthony Rendon
Best infield arm: Zach Walters
Best defensive outfielder: Michael Taylor
Best outfield arm: Michael Taylor