With the Major League All-Star game being played tonight in Kansas City, it’s officially time to go back and evaluate the first half of the season before looking forward to the second half. I’ve listed below each of the National’s current top 10 prospects (and 2 bonus prospects) and their statistics so far at the level each one is currently playing at. I’ve based my grades on 3 major factors:
Experience – Players fresh out of the draft will get more lenient grades than guys in their 3rd or 4th season as a minor leaguer. Struggling a bit in a player’s first action as a pro is to be expected but when a guy is still having trouble after 2 or 3 full seasons that’s a cause for concern.
Development – The minor leagues are all about improving as a player, so I’ve factored previous success/failure into my criteria. For example: A guy that bats .250 after batting .220 the year before will receive a higher grade than a guy that bats .250 after batting .275. I’ll also look at improvement within an individual season, if a guy gets off to a nightmare start and ends up with decent numbers he’ll receive a better mark than a guy that has similar numbers but tailed off as the year went on.
Performance – Pretty self explanatory category and the one that carries the most weight in my grading system. We already know all of these guys have great potential, that’s why they’re top prospects, so I’m just evaluating how much success they’ve had to this point in the 2012 season. If I give a guy an F it doesn’t mean I think he won’t become a great player, it just means I think he had a discouraging first half.
1. Anthony Rendon, 3B, Potomac Nationals (A+)
.500 AVG, 0 HR, 0 RBI, .667 OBP, 1.250 SLG, 1.917 OPS
Rendon badly injured his ankle (which was a problem area for him in college) in just his 2nd pro game and likely won’t play again this season.
2. Alex Meyer, RHP, Hagerstown Suns (A)
6-4, 3.32 ERA, 84 IP, 64 H, 98 K, 34 BB, 1.17 WHIP
Alex Meyer got off to a slow start for the Suns after being selected by the Nats at the back end of the first round, but he’s been really impressive since. He’s dominated South Atlantic League hitters all season and has demonstrated better command than most expected him to this early in his career.
3. Michael Taylor, OF, Potomac Nationals (A+)
.225 AVG, 0 HR, 26 RBI, 15 SB, .313 OBP, .323 SLG, .636 OPS
Taylor has probably been the biggest dissapointment of the guys in this group so far. He got many people excited when he finished the 2011 season with a flourish but he hasn’t carried that success over at all, which is troubling considering this is his 3rd minor league season. terrible average, almost no power, average baserunning (caught stealing 8 times), he’s got to have a better 2nd half.
4. Matt Purke, LHP, Hagerstown Suns (A)
0-2, 5.87 ERA, 15.1 IP, 15 H, 14 K, 12 BB, 1.76 WHIP
When the Nationals drafted Purke they knew that they were taking a big risk due to his injury history, and that concern has already derailed his first pro season. He stared the season on DL, struggled through 3 rough starts, and then went right back on the DL where he currently resides. Purke obviously still has a lot of time left but I feel like you can’t expect anything from him right now with his injury and control issues.
5. Eury Perez, OF, Harrisburg Senators (AA)
.294 AVG, 0 HR, 29 RBI, 26 SB, .322 OBP, .341 SLG, .663 OPS
Looking at the stats Perez has put up, you might be wondering how he doesn’t have an A or B. Here’s why, he’s walked 7 times all season, there are many players who have walked 7 times in just 2 games this year, he’s done it in 74. With no power to speak of, Eury’s only real value is as a leadoff hitter and a leadoff hitter can’t be successful with a .322 on base percentage. His plate discipline has to improve drastically or his chances of becoming a major leaguer are slim, but overall a solid 1st half.
6. Destin Hood, OF, Harrisburg Senators (AA)
.223 AVG, 2 HR, 28 RBI, 5 SB, .297 OBP, .312 SLG, .609 OPS
Hood was coming off a very encouraging 2011 campaign in his 4th season as a minor leaguer but his 5th season has been a very different story. There really isn’t a whole lot to say about his numbers so far other than they are pretty terrible accross the board for a guy who’s 5 years into his minor league career. In his defense, he did make the jump to AA this season (which is the toughest minor league jump to make) but at this point in his career you’d like to see him a little further on in his development.
7. Brian Goodwin, OF, Hagerstown Suns (A)
.317 AVG, 6 HR, 32 RBI, 14 SB, .439 OBP, .503 SLG, .941 OPS
Goodwin is quickly becoming the prospect I’m most excited about now that guys like Tyler Moore and Bryce Harper are up with the big boys. Brian got off to an incredible start in his first few pro games before suffering an injury that had him shut down for almost a month. After fighting through some rust coming off the DL, he really hit his stride, and he has been hot ever since. Great average, power is improving, electric on the bases, and amazing plate knowledge for a first year pro (39 walks/37 strikeouts). Keep an eye on this guy Nats fans, beast.
8. Sammy Solis, LHP, Potomac Nationals (A+)
Solis underwent Tommy Johns surgery in late February and will attempt to pitch at some point next year. Hopefully he’ll recover from his surgery like fellow nats Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann.
9. Chris Marrero, 1B, Syracuse Chiefs (AAA)
.246 AVG, 0 HR, 7 RBI, 0 SB, .358 OBP, .304 SLG, .662 OPS
The clock is starting to tick a bit louder on Marrero at this point, as he’s now 24 and currently in his 7th minor league season. Marrero missed the first part of the season recovering from a torn hamstring suffered in winter ball and hasn’t impressed since his return. An average under .250 and 0 homers in 69 ABs is just totally unacceptable for a first baseman.
10. Robbie Ray, LHP, Potomac Nationals (A+)
3-5, 4.87 ERA, 64.2 IP, 71 H, 46 K, 27 BB, 1.52 WHIP
To me there really isn’t much to get excited about when talking about Robbie Ray and so far his 2012 numbers back that up. Ray has a bad era, gives up a lot of hits and doesn’t have great control. He’s only 20 so there’s certainly time for improvement but he needs to really improve his command if he’s going to be successful.
18. Matthew Skole, 3B, Hagerstown Suns (A)
.280 AVG, 21 HR, 73 RBI, 5 SB, .434 OBP, .553 SLG, .987 OPS
Skole’s first season as a pro has been nothing short of spectacular so far and has him in position to possilbly claim the South Atlantic League MVP. He currently leads the Sally league in HRs, RBIs, BBs and OBP. The most impressive thing for me is his plate discipline, he always waits for his pitch and it’s really paid off. Skole misses out on an A+ due to his 94 strikouts, but high K totals are too be expected from power hitters that are as patient as Matt.
19. Daniel Rosenbaum, LHP, Harrisburg Senators (AA)
7-6, 3.38 ERA, 114.1 IP, 111 H, 71 K, 25 BB, 1.19 WHIP
Rosenbaum got off to an incredible start this year, taking an era below 1 into mid May. He hasn’t been nearly as good since (pretty bad actually) but puting together a stretch like that is certainly with some sort of recognition. Overall his body of work looks pretty good but he’s going to have to get hot again to have any shot at cracking the Nat’s dominant rotation.