Friday, September 16, 2005

Nats Farm Teams Fail to Reach 0.500

The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star thankfully touches on a topic given short-shrift by the local newspapers ... the Nationals farm system. They highlight the fact the Nationals farm teams went a combined 301-387, an 18 game improvement on 2004. While it would be nice to see the farm teams finish with a winning record, the primary goal of the farm teams is to develop players for the major league team. Winning records and playoffs are nice, but not mandatory. Regular readers know that I am no fan of GM Jim Bowden, but I have to agree with him on this:
In the minor leagues the most important thing is developing players. The reason I want to win is I want to develop winning players. So my philosophy is you develop first, but I want to the team to win. I want the players who are prospects and developing learning how to win.
If I were to place a percentage on the focus, I'd say 80% on development and 20% on winning. They mention a few players who had breakout seasons, including Savannah's Collin Ballester, Potomac's Frank Diaz and Kory Casto and Harrisburg's Armando Galarraga. I'd add Vermont's Francisco Guzman and Francisco Plasencia, Potomac's Ian Desmond, and Harrisburg's Vince Rooi. I'm working on an analysis of each team with highlights of which players moved into the spotlight and should be considered future prospects. The bottom line is that the Nationals still have a long way to go to just restore their farm system to respectability let alone to the level that produced Cliff Floyd, Larry Walker, Jose Vidro, and Vladimir Guerrero (not Pedro Martinez as the article mentions, he was a Dodgers find). Once again, Bowden sums it up best:
As far as the pool of players in our farm system, although it's improved, we have a long way to go and you don't redo a farm system overnight. You have to do it one draft at a time. So it takes four to five years to get it back to where you wanted to get it.

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