- Ryan Zimmerman, 3b
- Collin Balester, rhp
- Clint Everts, rhp
- Ian Desmond, ss
- Armando Galarraga, rhp
- Kory Casto, 3b
- Mike Hinckley, lhp
- Bill Bray, lhp
- Larry Broadway, 1b
- Daryl Thompson, rhp
Zimmerman was an obvious choice as #1. After that, I don't necessarily quibble with who are #2-10. The order is open to debate.
Bray has the greatest chance of an immediate impact. Assuming that LH RP Joey Eischen is not re-signed, Bray would have to be the clubhouse leader in the competition for LH out of the bullpen. He quickly climbed the organizational ladder from Potomac to New Orleans in 2005. His struggles in Triple-A (1.50WHIP and 1.3HR/9IP) are balanced by a solid 3.8BB/9IP and a very good 10.6K/9IP.
With regards to the SPs, I would rate Galarraga the highest for near term impact. He posted a 3.80ERA, 1.23WHIP, 7.9K/9IP, 2.5BB/9IP, and 1.0HR/9IP in 156.33IP split between Potomac and Harrisburg. He has an opportunity to make an appearance in Washington some time in 2006. He projects as a #4 SP. Everts, continuing his recovery from Tommy John, pitched sparingly in 2005 (35IP split between GCL Nats and Vermont) with 3.60ERA, 1.69WHIP, 9.3K/9IP, 5.1BB/9IP, and 0 HR allowed. As I stated in my review of the Vermont prospects, I'd like to see him challenged with a placement at Harrisburg or New Orleans, but he could easily begin the season in Potomac in an effort to build up arm strength. Balester built upon his strong debut with an equally strong performance in Savannah. In 125IP, he compiled a 3.67ERA, 1.18WHIP, 6.8K/9IP, 3BB/9IP, and 0.8HR/9IP. He probably has the highest upside of any pitcher on the list above. The 19-year old is, at best, 3 years away from the majors. Potomac is his most likely destination in 2006 with a quick promotion to Harrisburg if he continues to pitch well. Thompson will likely join Balester in Potomac after a brief but strong second season in Savannah. In 53.2IP, 3.35ERA, 1.30WHIP, 8.1K/9IP, 4.0BB/9IP, and 0.5HR/9IP. He had shoulder surgery and a full season with the P-Nats is in the offing. Last season's #1 prospect, Hinckley had a disappointing 2005 which rightfully led to his slide down the list. After a solid finish to the 2004 season in Double-A Harrisburg, his performance at Potomac (127.2IP with 4.93ERA, 1.58WHIP, 5.6K/9IP, 3.6BB/9IP, and 0.7HR/9IP) cannot be entirely written off to injury. He has alot to prove in 2006. I would have ranked the pitchers: Bray-Galarraga-Balester-Everts-Thompson-Hinckley.
Desmond at #4 is a function of how weak the upper levels are. His numbers split between Savannah and Potomac show promise but his K/BB (113/34) is definitely a concern. Many Nationals fans have adopted Desmond as a future star of the franchise. I don't see that. He has the potential to be a very solid utility IF but I don't see his bat as strong enough to carry him to a starting SS job. Casto had a break out season with P-Nats in 2005. He switched from OF to 3B in hopes of accelerating his climb to the majors, and that he did. Unfortunately for him, the Nats drafted Zimmerman putting an end to his chances of making the majors as a 3B. The Nats are now determining if he can make the switch to 2B in hopes of replacing Vidro in a couple of years. I still see his best chances as a corner IF. Broadway had a disappointing 2005 battling injury and inconsistency. He has something the Nats need ... LH power. With Nick Johnson's inability to stay healthy, Broadway still has a chance to make noise at 1B. I would have ranked the positional players.: Zimmerman-Broadway-Casto-Desmond.
Overall, my ordering of Baseball America's top 10: