- Kory Casto 3B - The 23-year old was a slam dunk choice for the top P-Nats prospect. He was named the Player of the Year in the Nationals farm system. Though a bit old for the Carolina League, Casto produced a solid season (290/395/510 with 22HR and 90 RBI) while adapting to a new position (from OF to 3B). He ended up impressing the managers of the Carolina League enough to name him one of the top defensive 3B in the league. This winter, he is once again shifting positions, from 3B to 2B, in response to the drafting and promotion of Ryan Zimmerman. I don't believe he has the abilities to excel in the MI, but he still has the potential to progress as a corner OF/back-up 3B. He should begin the season in Harrisburg, and has the potential to challenge for a roster spot in 2007.
- Frank Diaz CF - The 22-year old Diaz bounced back from an abyssmal season in the Florida State League and re-established his position on the Nats radar at Potomac in 2005 (312/341/498). He began the season splitting time between the three OF positions but quickly assumed the starting CF role where he remained all season. He showed a nice combination of HR (16) and speed (14/23 SB) in 134 games. I also see Diaz beginning the year in CF for Harrisburg with the likelihood of making the majors some time in 2007 as a #4 OF in the same vein as Marlon Byrd.
- Ian Desmond SS - The 19-year old Desmond made a name for himself in Spring Training this year for the Nationals. He made some spectacular defensive plays at SS, quickly putting the 2004 draft pick in the consciousness of Nats fans. He split the season between Savannah and Potomac, actually performing better with the bat at the higher level, 247/284/334 in 73G (296AB) with the Sand Gnats versus 256/326/384 in 55G (219AB). He showed speed, 33SB, but needs to work on his baserunning, 45 SB attempts. He needs serious work on his strike zone control 34BB vs 113K overall. Additionally, his error numbers were alarming (39) but I can attest from watching him play on several occasions, his range is impressive and he gets to many more balls than the average SS. He is still a work in progress and in my opinion, projects as an utility middle infielder. He could become an Omar Vizquel type (i.e. defense brings him to the majors with learning to hit coming as the years progress). He is another guy who will begin the season in Double-A.
- Salomon Manriquez CA - Another guy too old for his level (23), Manriquez put up respectable numbers for a catching prospect (287/336/479). His defense, on the other hand, was sketchy ... at best (14 passed balls and 6 errors in about 70+ games at catcher). He projects as a back-up catcher, and, you guessed it, he will likely be behind the plate with the Senators in 2006.
- Josh Whitesell 1B/DH - Whitesell's power is what puts him on the list at #5 (18 HR and 32 doubles). The 23-year old hit 293/409/524. Yet another guy too old for his level, his K numbers were alarming, 125 of his 275 outs were strikeouts. He did walk 74 times, but he really needs to work on cutting down on the Ks. Depending upon what happens with Larry Broadway, Whitesell could do anything from starting the season at Potomac again to platooning in Triple-A New Orleans.
Erick San Pedro CA - the 2004 second round pick got a late start to 2005 (he tore a ligament in his thumb in 2004), and only played in 7 games before his season ended with a broken leg after a collision at home plate in June. The 22-year old San Pedro will likely start 2006 in Potomac with hopes of quickly climbing the organizational ladder. He has a limited professional resume, so his future is uncertain.
Top 4 Potomac Pitchers
- Armando Galarraga RH SP - The 23-year old Galarraga continued his recovery from Tommy John surgery with a breakout season for the P-Nats. In 14 starts (80IP), he had a 2.48 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 8.9 K/9IP, 2.6 BB/9IP, and 0.8 HR/9IP. Upon his promotion to Harrisburg, he didn't experience the same success, 5.19ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 6.8 K/9IP, 2.5 BB/9IP, and 1.2 HR/9IP in 13 starts (76.1IP). Galarraga was added to the 40-man roster. He is likely to return to Harrisburg for 2006 with the possibility of being one of the first call-ups to fill a spot start for the Nationals.
- Bill Bray LH RP - The 2004 1st round pick racked up the frequent flyer miles in 2005. After a late start due to a bulging disk in his back, the 22-year old Bray made appearance for Potomac, Harrisburg, and New Orleans. He had his greatest success with the P-Nats, in 12.2IP, he had a 2.13ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 12.8 K/9IP, 2.1 BB/9IP, and 0.7 HR/9IP. He had bad numbers in a brief stopover in Harrisburg (5.2IP 6.35ERA, 1.94WHIP, 9.5 K/9IP, 1.6 BB/9IP, and 1.6 HR/9IP) before finishing the season in New Orleans (21.1IP 5.06ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 10.6 K/9IP, 3.8 BB/9IP, and 1.3 HR/9IP). The LHP Bray presently has an almost unencumbered path to the majors, the only LHP remaining on the Nats roster is Joey Eischen, a free agent. I see him starting the season in the majors and slowly developing into a solid LH complement to Gary Majewski.
- Mike O'Connor RH SP - The 25-year old was the Nationals Pitcher of the Year in 2005. He finished 10-11 for the P-Nats in 24 starts (167.2IP) with a 3.54 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 8.5 K/9IP, 2.6 BB/9IP, and 0.8 HR/9IP. He was way too old for the level at which he pitched, but he is another signal of the overall weakness of the Nats farm system. He's a #5 SP at best. O'Connor is rule 5 eligible this year, and I do not see the Nats adding him to the 40-man roster. His future may be with another team.
- Mike Hinckley LH SP - The 22-year old Hinckley was the Nationals top prospect coming into the 2005 season. Unfortunately, he battled inconsistency most of the year. In 21 starts (127.2 IP), he had a 4.93 ERA, 1.58 WHIP. 5.6 K/9IP, 3.6 BB/9IP, and 0.7 HR/9IP. He needs to rebound in 2006 and it will likely begin again with Potomac in 2006.