Baseball America released it’s look at the Washington Nationals organization today and there aren’t many surprises. After graduating a lot of their top prospects (say, Stephen Strasburg two years ago and Bryce Harper last year) and trading a bunch of top prospects for Denard Span and Gio Gonzalez the last two years, the Nationals system is pretty top-heavy with their last two first round picks at the top.
The Nationals top prospect is Anthony Rendon. Rendon had medical questions surrounding him that allowed him to drop out of the top-5 in the 2011 draft and right into the hands of the Nationals. Those questions have been answered somewhat so far and Rendon is the best hitter in the Nationals system and is also listed as the best defensive infielder in the organization. Rendon played in 43 games through four levels last year topping out at AA Harrisburg. He struggled in his little time there, hitting .162/.305/.368. Overall, Rendon hit .233/.363/.489 showing great plate discipline in his first professional season. He very well may make his Major League debut by the end of this year should he show he can hit in the upper levels. With Ryan Zimmerman at third base, and someone at first base, the Nationals aren’t in a hurry to get Rendon to the Nation’s capital but with him so close, you understand why they are so hesitant to give Adam LaRoche a third year in negotiations.
The second top prospect is last year’s first round pick Lucas Giolito. Giolito, like Rendon, has talent way above where he went in the draft but he sprained his UCL in March and missed the rest of the season. He has potential top of the rotation stuff, but there are questions surrounding him because after signing in July, the Nationals announced he would have Tommy John surgery on August 23. Now, that is not the death warrant it was even 10 years ago. The surgery is almost routine and the Nationals have had success rehabbing pitchers back from it. The obvious case is Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann but also have seen Christian Garcia have success even though he had the surgery before becoming a member of the Nationals.
Brian Goodwin who made a name for himself in the Arizona Fall League, is third with Matt Skole and Nate Karns rounding out the top five. Garcia, after a great cameo in the major leagues last year, is sixth followed by Eury Perez, Sammy Solis, Matt Purke and Zach Walters.