- Ryan Zimmerman 3B - This was a no-brainer. He put up amazing numbers (326/371/528) for a 20-year old who started the year playing ACC baseball. In 67 total games (including 4 with Savannah), Zimmerman hit more HR (11) than he did in his entire college career (7 in three seasons). Since his promotion to the majors, he has shown gap power with a very fluid swing. The one thing that was never in question was his glove. He can already play 3B at a premium level. Zimmerman is scheduled to play for the Peoria Saguaros in the 2005 Arizona Fall League (AFL) where his focus should be hitting off-speed pitches. The only question remaining is how soon he will assume the starting 3B job.
- Larry Broadway 1B - Broadway remains one of the Nationals best power hitting prospect. The 24-year old had another injury-marred season, spraining his right knee in May and not returning until late June. He began the season with New Orleans where his numbers were not very good (193/281/246) in 18 games leading up his injury. He spent the rest of the season in Harrisburg (with a few rehab starts with the GCL Nationals) where his numbers improved (269/329/538). He showed signs of the power the Nationals lack with 12HR and 14 doubles in 186AB. Broadway will also be part of the Washington contingent in the AFL. It bears watching to see how much playing time he'll get with Pittsburgh prospect Brad Eldred a teammate.
- Cristian Guerrero OF - The 24-year old made his 4th appearance in Double-A for his 4th different team in 2005. The 6'5" RH OF put up average numbers (267/325/462) with 16 HR and 14 SB in practically a full season at Harrisburg. Proving poor plate patience is hereditary; Cristian demonstrated strike zone control that would make his cousin Vlad proud, 24 BB and 106 K. Guerrero is another member of the litany of #5 outfielders of which the Nats are flush.
- Melvin Dorta IF/OF - The 23-year old spent his season if Harrisburg playing every position except catcher (he even pitched an inning) while hitting 252/314/373. He demonstrated a little bit of pop 11HR to go with some better than average speed (22/35). He could compete in 2006 for a Jamey Carroll-type role if Carroll proves too expensive.
- Dan Dement IF/OF - Much like the Triple-A prospects, I'm going to close out with a guy who, by age, is not a prospect in the tarditional sense of the word. The 27-year old Dement split time between New Orleans and Harrisburg, with the majority of the time with the Senators. Dement batted 328/378/578 with 14HR 44RBI in 71G splitting time between 2B/3B/OF. He's a career minor leaguer, which is more a further testament to the lack of higher-level prospects in the Nationals farm system.
Special mention: Dee Haynes OF - The 27-year old Haynes was acquired from the Cardinals as just another warm body to help fill out the roster shuffling caused by injuries to the big league club. Haynes jumped on the starting opportunity, batting 274/321/505 with 21 HR in 101 games for the Senators. Haynes is no more than a career minor leaguer.
Ramon Castro SS/3B - The 25-year old Castro began the season surprising hitting (285/358/600) in 34 games before being suspended for a record 105 games for violating baseball's minor league drug policy. We'll never know how much of the strong start was artificially driven.
Shawn Norris 2B/3B/SS - The 23-year old Norris is known more for his glove than his bat. He hit well enough in 2004 (315/429/500 in 37G in Harrisburg) to put himself on the radar for 2005. However, his performance with the bat actually regressed. He split the year between Potomac (275/414/457 in 39G) and Harrisburg (233/303/322 in 84G). He disappointed in a year he had the clear opportunity to make himself valuable to a team experiencing MI problems.
Josh Labandeira SS - The 26-year old had a forgettable 2005 season after finishing 2004 with the Expos. He began the season recuperating from shoulder surgery, was suspended for 10 games for violating the substance abuse policy, and appeared to stagnate in Harrisburg. In 61G, he batted 269/371/358. Much like Norris, Labandeira was presented with the opportunity to make an impression on a team desperate for a utility MI, but failed to deliver.
Top 5 Pitching Prospects
- Darrel Rasner SP - The 24-year old RH SP pitched himself into a September call-up with a solid second season in Harrisburg. In a full season with the Senators, Rasner logged 150.1IP in 27G (26 starts) with a 3.59 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 5.8 K/9IP, 1.7 BB/9IP, and 0.6 HR/9IP. In his brief time with the Nats, he held his own in 5 appearances (1 start). In 7.1IP, he gave up 5H 3R(3ER) 2BB 4K. It would have been nice to see him get additional starts in late September, but Frank's loyalty to the veterans and a 4-man rotation cost Rasner valuable major league development time. Rasner is a sinkerball pitcher with good control (think Zach Day without the drama). He doesn't strike out enough batters to be a top of the rotation SP, but he could become a solid #4 SP out of Spring Training in 2006.
- Danny Rueckel RP - The 25-year old Baby Ruckles (trademark Federal Baseball) began the season on the 40-man roster but finished off of it, possibly exposed to the Rule 5 draft in December. In 53G at Harrisburg, he had 7 saves and 9 vulture wins. He has a 4.16 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 8.1 K/9IP, 2.4 BB/9IP, and 0.8 HR/9IP. His numbers were definitely impacted by several clunkers both early and late in the season. With the emergence of Gary Majewski, Jay Bergmann and Travis Hughes, Rueckel will face an uphill battle in vying for a spot in the 2006 bullpen. Perhaps a change of scenery is best for both parties.
- Josh Karp SP - The 25-year old Karp began to show some signs of the promise that made him the #6 overall selection in the 2001 draft. After initially struggling in New Orleans, he was placed on the DL with a strained shoulder. He began his rehab in Harrisburg, where he appeared in 11G (10 starts) pitching 57.2IP with a 4.68 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 7.2 K/9IP, 3.6 BB/9IP, and 0.9 HR/9IP. Karp is currently in the AFL. He projects, like the majority of Nats premium pitching prospects, as a back of the rotation SP.
- David Maust SP - The 26-year old Maust is yet another old prospect for the Nats. In 26G (14 starts) in Harrisburg, Maust threw 100.2IP with a 2.32 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 7.0 K/9IP, 1.3 BB/9IP, and 0.6 HR/9IP. His numbers need to be tempered, as it was Maust's third year in Double-A. He was selected to participate in the AFL, so his performance against some of the top minor league prospects bear watching. I envision him as a long relief pitcher/swingman if he ever does make the majors.
- Saul Rivera RP - The 27-year old Rivera made a splash this season in Harrisburg as the pseudo-closer. In 40G, he had 9 saves in 76.2IP. He had a 2.47 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 8.2 K/9IP, 2.4 BB/9IP, and 0.4 HR/9IP. I don't see a huge upside to Rivera. He is another guy who could be a candidate for the Rule 5 draft.