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LOOKING UNDER ROCKS FOR PROSPETS

[September 28th] -- I was pouring over the Nationals' farm clubs minor league stats in preparation for a series of articles that will start next month. I began to feel much better about the state of the team's minor league system, and began to count the players that - based on stats and comments by team management - seem destined to succeed at the major league level. I got to 15, though by no means is this list totally inclusive:

Colin Balestar, John Lanna, Garrett Mock, Jack McGeary, Jeff Smoker, Colton Willems, Glen Gibson, Jordan Zimmermann, Michael Burgess, Adam Carr, Chris Marrero, Justin Maxwell, Shairon Martis, Clint Everts and Ross Detweiler.

Fifteen out of roughly 150 players (not counting the Dominican teams), not exactly a large number.

I then decided to compare the current Nationals' with three teams' farm clubs from 2000, the Expos, Yankees and Braves. I was trying to see how many players each team had seven years ago that made it to the major leagues and made some contribution. I didn't count guys who failed, only those who either started or was valuable as a reserve player:

Braves [8]: Wes Helms, Mark De Rosa, Marcus Giles, Jason Marquis, Ryan Langerhans, Rafael Furcal, Horacio Ramirez and Wilson Betemit

Yankees [6]: Ted Lilly, Alfonso Soriano, Zach Day (stretching my parameters), Juan Rivera, Brandon Claussen, Wily Mo Pena and Chien Ming Wang

Expos [9]: Tony Armas, Milton Bradley, Brian Schneider, Joey Eischen, Brad Wilkerson, Jamey Carroll, Brandon Phillips, Shawn Hill and Grady Sizemore.

So it would seem that at any given time, there are about 7-8 players in any given minor league system that will make it to the major leagues and produce. So what does that mean for the Nationals? Well, if a well-stocked farm system is going to produce seven players, then one like the Nationals, better than it was but still not very good, will probably produce five or so.

And the fifteen I counted didn't include several others who were considered real prospects just a few months ago, players like Larry Broadway, Kory Casto, Josh Whitesell, Ian Desmond and Zech Zincola. I could probably make a case that 25-30 Nats' players have the potential to become major leaguers. A little more digging at baseball-reference.com found that roughly 20% of true prospects have a productive major league career. So if the Nationals have 30 players we consider talented, we would then expect six of them to play in Washington one day.

Of all the various minor league levels, the one most bereft of future major leaguers was at the rookie league level, and it just so happens that is where the majority of our "prospects" played last year.

That's not terribly promising.

Without a doubt, the Nationals' future is much brighter today than it was a year ago. That said, we can't assume that each one of these promising kids are going to make it to the new ballpark. which ones? Hard to say. I'd guess that two out of [Marrero Maxwell Burgess] and four out of [Balestar Lannan Mock McGeary Willems Carr Zimmermann Gibson Martis Detweiler Everts Smoker].

But it's just a guess. Unlike the NFL and NBA, projecting baseball players is more art than science.

Acta Stays Through 2009: The Nationals announced on Friday that they have picked up the first option on manager Manny Acta's contract; he'll now remain with the team through 2009. If all continues to go well, Bowden will pick up the 2010 option next year.

Don't doubt for a second that the timing wasn't due in large part to the Mets' slide from seven games up with seventeen to play to a flat-out tie with the Phillies. Willie Randolph is under tremendous pressure and I don't see him returning if the Mets don't win the division. Heck, he might not return even if they do. Manny Acta is a favorite son of both Omar Minaya and owner Fred Wilpon. Would Manny prefer to return to New York instead of staying here in D.C? They're getting a new park too, and they have much deeper pockets.

It's become a moot question. He's now locked up for two more years and Jimbo said the Nationals without question would deny any other team the right to talk to him about a managerial job. I think that he'd be crazy to go back to that 'Big Apple' pressure cooker.

I have to admit, I was dead wrong regarding Manny. I wrote when he was hired that he was going to be an interim manager, a caretaker while the team was bad. Once the parts were in place to win, he'd be jettisoned in favor of a "name" manager. My reasoning was sound, or so I thought. Every "first" manager for every expansion team was long long gone before the team turned the corner. And the Nationals were certainly no better than an expansion team, or so I thought.

Glad to have Manny in the fold for a while. I don't like uncertainty.


Comments:
Just curious how do you figure Clint Everts as a prospect?

Thanks
 
I KNEW someone would question Clint Everts as a prospect!

You're right, Everts had a bad year for Potomac, so bad that he was in the bullpen at the end of the year. But Everts, who was drafted right out of high school, is still very young, (19 or 20 I think) and may not be 100% after suffering a serious injury two years ago.

If he fails again in 2008, then I'll throw him in the "discard pile" along with Mike Hinckley. But his arm is live and he has a good fastball. I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Good question, C. hen. I actually removed his name from the list beore adding it back later!
 
"....based on stats and comments by team management" automatically disqualifies your assessment as having any validity.

Go down to Viera, Fl., watch their prospects and then put forth an opinion. Otherwise you are wasting the readers time publishing this crap.
 
It used to really bother me when uninformed readers like you left insulting remarks here.

No more. You're doing the best you can with what God gave you.

The object of a blog is for the writer to give his impressions and opinions. Bloggers aren't journalists and can't get on a plane and go to Viera; we have to use the tools we have available to us.

As for "this crap" that I write, I've been on-line since 2004 and at last check, my two Nationals' websites have had 160,000 hits. Seems you're in the minority.
 
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