1. Stephen Strasburg, P – If you don’t know about Strasburg, you’ve been living under a rock. He’s got an incredible fast ball that can hit triple digits; it also moves and looks like his other pitches coming out of his hand. His curveball has late break and has some horizontal movement; it also comes from the same arm-slot that the fastball comes from. He’s got an above average change-up that he doesn’t use much; he should work on it in the minors to prefect it. He’ll start in Double A, but I wouldn’t be surprise if he was in Washington by June.
2. Derek Norris, C – I’m expecting big things this year from Norris; he’s got approach of someone that’s been in the majors a while. He’s a very disciplined hitter and doesn’t swing for pitches out of the zone. He can recognize pitches better than others in the low minors. He’s still raw as a catcher, since he’s only been behind the plate for 3 years. He’s got the arm for the position, but needs to work on calling games and his footwork; he can’t block balls that well. He’ll still need a minimum of 2 seasons in the minors.
3. Drew Storen, P – The Nationals took Storen with their second first round pick in 2009 knowing he’d be a fast mover. He’s got closer written all over him and will see time in the bullpen this year. There was talk of moving him to the rotation, but I don’t see much to it. He’d need to improve his change-up, but that might take longer than the Nationals would hope.
4. Ian Desmond, SS – It was announced over the weekend that Desmond beat out Christian Guzman for the starting shortstop job. He’s got limited power, but his speed and batting eye should help make up for it. He’s a solid glove in the field too. He won’t be considered an all star, but he’ll be a solid player for years.
5. Danny Espinosa, SS – Espinosa may bump Desmond to second, since he’s a better hitter and fielder. He’s got above average power for a middle infielder. He’s got holes in his swing he needs to iron out and he needs to cut down on his strike outs. He’s got speed, but need to work on his stealing; he was thrown out in a little over a third of his attempts. He’s got great range and a strong arm, so he’ll stick at short.
6. Chris Marrero, 1B – Marrero is a bat only first baseman. He’s got a nice, short swing which generates a good amount of power. He’s still tapping into his power, so he should continue to hit homers as he gets to Triple A and the majors. He needs to work on recognizing off speed pitches, which should lower his strikeout numbers. He should be ready for the majors when Dunn leaves.
7. Destin Hood, OF – Hood is still very raw, but the Nationals liked what they saw enough to take him in the second round of the 2008 draft. He’s got a lot of work ahead of him; he strikes out almost a third of the time he hits. He doesn’t have much speed and has limited power. The power should develop though. He’ll be in Lo-A this year and won’t be ready for the majors for quite a while.
8. Michael Burgess, OF – Burgess has great power, but the current concern is his long swing; it causes a high strike out rate and low average. If he can be a little more patient, he should be able to increase his walk rate, which isn’t horrible now. He also needs to work on his base running, where he was thrown out 8 times in 20 attempts. His arm is suited well for right field and gets good reads on balls hit his direction. He should start in Double A this year.
9. Aaron Thompson, P – Thompson has average pitches, but he has great control of them. The lefty has problems allowing hits, which will only get worse at he moves to Triple A and could limit him to a LOOGY in the majors. He’s got 4 pitches, but only his change-up is a plus pitch. He could see some time in the bullpen this year to get his feet wet, but don’t expect him full time until 2011.
10. Juan Jaime, P – Jaime is a good power arm, but there are questions about his secondary pitches. He hasn’t developed anything to complement his fast ball. At this point, I’d say he’s a reliever; he could be a closer if he can get an average curve or slider.
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