JOHN SICKEL'S TOP 20 PROSPECTS
There are no real surprises, save perhaps Larry Broadway being listed as the 12th best prospect. When Jim Bowden came here two years ago, Broadway was "the guy," one of the very few real prospects the organization had.
Of the top twenty prospects, twelve have been acquired, either through trade or the draft, by the Bowden administration. That tells me two things: first, the farm system really, really sucked before his arrival, and two, he's doing a pretty decent job of restocking the shelves.
Now, before you get all giddy, things aren't that rosy, at least not yet. The Nationals' top-20 breaks down like this: A's: 0 - B's: 5 - C's: 15. Let's compare that to, say, the Minnesota Twins: A's: 1 - B's:11 - C's: 8. The Braves have 10 B's and 10 C's. Even the moribund Kansas City Royals have 3 A's and 5 B's in their farm system.
Sickel lists the next ten prospects as totally interchangeable, one no better than the next. They are all "C's": Adam Carr (P), Rogerearvin Bernadina (OF), Roy Corcoran (P), Frank Diaz (OF), Stephen Englund (OF), Devan Ivany (C), John Lannan (P), Salomon Manriquez (C), Justin Maxwell (OF), Yunior Novoa (P), and Cory Van Allen (P).
Sickles says that the Nationals' farm system "might be the worst farm system in the game right now." Well, of course it is. The team is just now coming out of the wilderness that was the MLB ownership debacle, and it still remembers the bargain-basement owner that preceded Bud Selig, Jeffrey Loria. After coming to an informal agreement with the city of Montreal to build LaBatt Park and remain in Canada, he went back on his word and demanded that the city pay for more of the facility. From that point on, it was down hill. He stopped funding the minor league system and just hung around until he was able to buy the Florida Marlins. For more than seven years, then, baseball allowed the franchise to just whither on the vine. Is it any surprise, then, that the Nationals' farm system "might be the worst ... in the game right now?"
Things are better, thank goodness. The tunnel is still surrounding the franchise, but we can at least see a light deep within its darkness. It will take time, but we'll make it. And when the Nationals ultimately take their place at the head of the line, we can beam with pride and say, "We were there at the beginning."
It's worth the suffering today for that moment in the future.