We’ve gone over the vaunted Baseball America prospect list, but they aren’t the only ones who discuss the Washington farm system. Baseball Prospectus and ESPN both released their lists this week, so here’s a look:

Baseball Prospectus

Really great for stats geeks like me, BP does a shorter version of the prospect lists. These guys are really into statistics, but that’s not to say they ignore scouting reports and look only at the numbers. The Baseball Prospectus Future Shock is a little different than BA also because they don’t list a future lineup. But, in order, they list the prospects as such:

Four-Star Prospects
1. Jordan Zimmermann, RHP
2. Michael Burgess, RF
3. Ross Detwiler, LHP
Three-Star Prospects
4. Derek Norris, C
5. Jack McGeary, LHP
6. Chris Marrero, 1B
7. Destin Hood, LF
8. J.P. Ramirez, OF
9. Esmailyn Gonzalez, SS
Two-Star Prospects
10. Rogearvin Bernadina, CF

Alright, there it is. First, the bad news. And there is quite a bit of it. For starters, the stars go up to 5, and there aren’t any 5 star prospects on this list. They aren’t the only team without a 5 star guy, but most systems do have one. I get a feeling that has alot to do with upside, and if Detwiler recovers this season, he’d be a 5 star prospect.  Second bit of bad news, they say that Aaron Crow, if he signed, would top the list. Such is life, hopefully this summer’s draft will provide more. Top guys Detwiler and Burgess have some clear negatives – when Detwiler was off he was off, and Burgess strikes out alot and his swing isn’t always pretty. And Marrero still doesn’t play first base well.

On to the good news, fast and furious. They predict Zimmermann will be a very good 3rd starter at best, but no worse than a 5th. In other words, he’s a viable MLB starter with upside, something this team could really use. They like Burgess, thinks he has good pitch selection, and thinks the power will outwiegh his negatives (Ks and low AVG). Despite stumbles early, Detwiler had a good second half, and as long as he can keep his mechanics consistant, has a chance to be very very good. Norris has a chance to be an all star catcher, McGeary is a heady pitcher with great location, Marrero can hit well and with power, and Hood looks like a high talent, toolsy but raw potential guy.

Unlike some other (see below), Baseball Prospectus thinks this system is getting better. Their summary

The Nationals system is definitely improving thanks to some impressive drafting, despite last year’s fiasco with Aaron Crow. While the organization should continue placing talent onto the major league roster, there will still be a question of depth and upside, as the system still lacks any true impact players.

To me, lack of depth is a given, they’ve only been drafting and developing for real for 3 or 4 years. Hopefully having picks #1 and #10 this upcoming summer will help take care of the impact players – Strasburg and a high school stud? Who knows, but this isn’t as bleak an outlook as the Nats-loving…

…Keith Law

Law is a great analyst for ESPN and Scouts, Inc who I really respect. His opinion is always insightful and I find his snarkiness quite entertaining. He calls he like he sees it, and he hates Jim Bowden and what the Nats are doing. I am not surprised, but he ranked the Nats farm system and #29 in the league, second to worst.

He really doesn’t like what this team has done, and he’s not ashamed to say it

Don’t ask me to explain anything that happens there. They botched their first-round pick, fielded an absolutely awful team, and found their GM and a top assistant embroiled in the scouting/embezzlement scandal, and their GM survived.

That being said, he is very very good at his analysis and really doesn’t seem to be biased. I really do respect his opinion, so I think it’s worth going through what he thinks.

His top 5 prospects for the Nats are kinda the same as most, except for one right in the middle there:

1. Jordan Zimmermann, RHP
2. Michael Burgess, RF
3. Esmailyn Gonzalez, SS
4. Ross Detwiler, LHP
5. Chris Marrero, LF

What surprised me was how high he ranks Smiley Gonzalez – Baseball America had him at #10. So Keith Law may agree with me that he could be a middle infielder of the future here. He has noted all year about Detwiler’s decline this past season, so hopefully Detwiler will be more productive in 2009 and Law is wrong on that one. His top 100 prospects include only one National – #42 Jordan Zimmerman.

The differences

Between Law, BP, and BA, there are some different perspectives on how good this farm system is. Law is really disappointed in how McGeary and Detwiler performed this past year, and ranks the system very low. It give me some heart to think that neither Baseball Prospectus nor Baseball America believe the system is that bad. But there is still alot of room for improvement, and hopefully 2009 will help take care of that. This team must go out and invest all of the resources, time, and personnel into the 2009 draft. Despite a class that may not have the depth of some, the Nats have the first pick and the tenth pick, and they NEED to make something happen there.

By Charlie