Much like this year, by the time I got around to the Nationals system last year, much of the off-season was gone and the organization had already shipped out prospects like Brad Peacock, Derek Norris and AJ Cole. That left the system a little thin in the middle, but there was still an enormous amount of talent at the top.
I’m just going to skip right past Bryce Harper in the top spot. Sticking by Anthony Rendon, even in the face of a lengthy injury history, was a smart move and one I will always stand by. Rendon is an elite-level talent and one that deserved his number two ranking.
I could say the same thing about Alex Meyer in the three spot, another amazing talent that has huge question marks, but can’t be ignored. I may have been slightly more aggressive with Meyer than some prognosticators, but that’s because I love huge fastballs and potential impact arms; call me a sucker.
I remained a little light on outfielder Michael Taylor, something I justified at the time by questioning his natural feel for hitting. That proved to be a valid concern as he moved on to High-A in 2012. I still like the raw tools, but I do have serious questions about how much he will hit going forward.
The lingering questions around Matt Purke should have pushed him down the list some last year. I honestly think I was blinded by the long past hope of what he could become. Purke is not the same prospect anymore and it just took me an extra year to fully grasp that. I don’t regret a mistake like this but it is worth noting that I have found myself a little slow to let go at times.
My affinity for Paul Demny has been well documented, even as he continues to struggle at just about every stop along his minor league progression. I am drawn to the physical body, flashes of raw stuff and the extreme competitiveness he shows on the mound. He may never pan out but I can’t promise I won’t continue to hold out hope for his long term prospects. Honestly, I still won’t be surprised if he shows up in the big leagues as a number four starter for a long time.
The back third of the list gets a little funky. There wasn’t a lot to choose from and I’m not sure I really missed much by squeezing in players like Josh Smoker and Sandy Leon, two personal favorites. I would have liked to have had more foresight on someone like Nathan Karns but I’m not beating myself up over that, despite seeing him multiple times in 2011.
The Nationals system tends to have a lot of turnover from one year to the next and it is easy to lose some guys in the shuffle along the way. I didn’t whiff too badly given how deep I had to dig after all the players they dealt last off-season, so I suppose I should say I’m pleased with my effort, but I still expected better of myself.