Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus came out with his top 101 prospect list today (honestly this and the Top 10 team by team are reason enough to subscribe), and only a few Nats made the list. This isn’t exactly surprising, as their farm system has been a bit depleted the last few seasons – thanks in large part to guys coming up from said system to be part of the major league team, as well as a few trades. As Parks said back in July “They weren’t a very good system coming into the season, and thanks to the promotion of Anthony Rendon and Nate Karns, the farm is pretty bare.”
Parks has yet to built out his Nats top 10 prospect scouting report, so the three that have made the list don’t come with any commentary as of yet. So I can’t totally tell you WHY he put guys where he did. But I can tell you what I know about them, and something of what’s been said in the past.
Edit: They also put up this really awesome chart showing the tool sets of the guys on the list (and you can see it even if you don’t pay). So I’ve added their highlights to the descriptions
#13 Lucas Giolito – Not a bad spot for a guy who’s pitched 38 2/3 innings in his 2 years of professional baseball. But after his 2012 Tommy John surgery, he looked great, and his late season numbers in Rookie ball and Short-Season A reflect someone who was pitching well above the level of competition, even at age 18, with a 1.96 ERA, 39 K and 14 BB in 36 2.3 IP. In the chart, Giolito’s scouting report is jaw-dropping, with his fastball and curveball as 8s, and his changeup a 6. There isn’t another guy on the list with two pitches at 8.
And while Parks doesn’t have his scouting report done for Washington, he did have this to say a month ago
Despite having less than 40 career IP, Lucas Giolito has the highest ceiling of any arm in the minors and will rank #13 on the BP 101. #rig
— Jason Parks (@ProfessorParks) December 28, 2013
#53 A.J. Cole – Also a pretty nice spot, as Parks didn’t even have Cole on his 2013 list after a bad 2012 season. But Cole managed to recover nicely in 2013, especially after he moved up to AA. Over 25 starts this year in two minor leagues, he pitched 142 2/3 innings, struck out 151 and walked only 33 while amassing a 3.06 ERA. On the chart, Cole has three pitches listed as a 6 – a fastball, a changeup and a curve. This isn’t as impressive as Giolitio, but three plus pitches is still damn special.
Here’s what Cole said about him in a chat in September
Cole doesn’t get a lot of credit as a prospect. The combination of size, stuff, and projection still remaining is pretty fascinating. He’s only 21-years-old and is still improving
#86 Brian Goodwin – Goodwin dropped a bit on this list, down from #74 last year. That’s not a massive drop, but it suggests he didn’t get closer to fulfilling his toolsy potential and getting to the majors. Goodwin’s season was fine for a 22 year old in AA, hitting .252/.355/.407 and it was a improvement on what he did late last year after being promoted there. But his numbers reflect his lack of real development. He’s still got the tools to keep him on the list, but unless he shows something more this year, I doubt he makes any 2015 lists. I’ll be very interested to see what Parks says about Goodwin in his Nats writeup, because I’m guessing he’s off a bunch of other guys’ lists. The chart highlights that Goodwin is a true 5 tool player – defense and run are his best (at 6’s) and hit, power and arm all show up as noteworthy. If this guy can just move forward, it could be really impressive.
Not a list that will blow your socks off, but nobody expected that. The Nats do need to improve their farm system, although some of the lack of talent comes from promotion of talent. But they also have three guys here who could end up being better than just average major league regulars – they all have star capability, and that’s pretty exciting.