Our friends over at Seedlings to Stars have continued to work through their Top 100 Prospects list as they count down from #100 to #1. Robbie Ray was the first National to appear on the list, at #81, and now we have another. Infielder Stephen Lombardozzi checks in ranked as S2S’ #66 prospect.
Unlike many of the names to appear on the Top 100 thus far, Lombardozzi is a little more well known outside of prospect junkies such as myself considering his appearance in Washington late this past season and his inclusion in trade rumors at last July’s deadline (the team’s efforts to acquire Denard Span from Minnesota reportedly fell short because of the Nationals unwillingness to include Lombardozzi (who’s father played for the Twins from 1985-1988) in any deal).
Drafted in 2008 (19th round), Lombardozzi has moved fairly quickly through the Nationals’ minor league system. He’s also hit fairly consistently at every level. In 2001 career minor league plate appearances he is a .298/.369/.411 hitter. He doesn’t hit much for power but shows solid speed – 28 triples, 74 stolen bases, just 17 home runs. Upon reaching the Majors in September, the switch-hitter batted .194/.219/.445 in 32 plate appearances before the season concluded.
While the guys at S2S believe he’s “basically ready to start for a Major League team at second base right now” they do mention that his biggest asset is his glove. A second baseman by trade, Lombardozzi has also seen some time at third base and shortstop as well. He boasts a strong range and a good deal of athleticism to go with plus speed that helps him get to balls many second baseman cannot reach.
Lombardozzi’s future in Washington remains a little uncertain. He could open 2012 as the team’s primary utility option off the bench or he could return to Triple-A where the organization can have him play everyday. Between his on-base ability, defensive prowess, speed, youth (he just turned 23) and baseball pedigree he’s an attractive prospect for any organization. It’s likely that his name will come up in trade discussions this winter as well, though personally I hope the team retains him. Considering the team’s current middle infield I’d prefer to see Ian Desmond traded, allowing Danny Espinosa to slide over to short and Lombadozzi to play second.