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Columnist: Koby Schellenger

Systems Audit: Washington Nationals
December 22, 2006

Systems Audit:

Washington Nationals

1. Chris Marrero, LF, Rk. Marrero is a power hitting outfielder with plenty of tools. Drafted this year out of high school, Marrero has plus power and great bat speed. As a result he drives the ball with force. He makes good contact and has a fairly good eye. In high school he was a 3B but played exclusively in left field for the Nationals this year. He has a strong arm and will likely stay in the outfield. He struggles with pitches on the outer half of the plate and needs to improve on that to be effective against advanced pitching.
2. Kory Casto, 3B/OF, AA. Left handed third baseman and one time Nationals Minor League Player of the Year quickly found himself blocked by Ryan Zimmerman and, after a failed attempt to move him to second, Casto finds himself in the outfield. He has very good power and excellent plate discipline. Defense is sketchy but his bat commands a place in the lineup.
3. Zech Zinicola, RHP, AA. Some publications and pundits treat minor league relievers, like Zinicola, like trained assassins who are streamlined to perfect aspects of their game designed to improve their effectiveness at the major league level. They therefore overrate these players. Still others take the opposite view and tend to underrate them. I probably fall on the side that overrates them in general. Zinicola doesn't have the makeup to be a closer, but he does have the stuff to be a very effective setup man. He throws a good 91-93 mph fastball, a good change and a splitter. He has a slider but he lacks command.
4. Colton Willems, RHP, Rk. Willems has a fairly high ceiling but he is so far from reaching it that I couldn't put him above Zinicola. Willems has a very good fastball sitting in the mid 90s with plus movement and command. His second best pitch is his slider, though he tends to be a bit erratic with it. He also throws an average changeup and a curve that needs work. He doesn't have the stuff to become a front end starter but could be servicable as a #4/#5.
5. Shairon Martis, RHP, A+. Raw but good. Martis is another in a line of Nationals prospects whose ceiling is much higher than their present level. Fastball sits 94-96 with a good curveball. He throws a changeup and a slider that show potential but, as of yet, are not great pitches. His delivery is odd. His body movement is off but his arm motion is great.
6. Matt Chico, LHP, AA. Chico is a strikeout pitcher with good control. His biggest problems are that he's been too hittable and that too many of those hits are going for home runs. His stuff isn't great and he doesn't project to be more than a back end guy.
7. Garrett Mock, RHP, AA. Mock came to Washington with Chico in the Livan Hernandez trade. Like Chico, Mock is a good strikeout pitcher but his stuff is even more questionable than Chico's.
8. Shawn Hill, RHP, AA. Hill tasted the bigs this year, but with little success. He's a groundball pitcher and doesn't get many strikeouts. He also doesn't walk many. He works everything low but just doesn't have the stuff to be an really effective pitcher.
9. Jhonny Nunez, RHP, Rk. Nunez is a very talented young man with a higher ceiling than most players on this list. But he has questions about his delivery and viability of secondary pitches.
10. Larry Broadway, 1B, AAA. Broadway doesn't have a position in Washington at the moment. He strikesout too much but does have some power. The problem is he's 26.
Flier. Ian Desmond, SS, AA. Desmond nomally wouldn't get any consideration as a flier type but his defense is very good. He has good footwork, a great glove and a good arm. But his bat is terrible. If he can learn to hit (NOW!) he's the type of guy that can vault up the system's depth chart.

Future Lineup (arrival date)
C: Brian Schnieder
1B: Nick Johnson
2B: Jose Vidro
3B: Ryan Zimmerman
SS: Felipe Lopez
LF: Chris Marrero (2010)
CF: Ryan Church
RF: Austin Kearns

Pitching Rotation
1: Ramon Ortiz
2: Tony Armas Jr
3: Colton Willems (2011)
4: Shairon Martis (2010)
5: Matt Chico (2008)

Closer: Chad Cordero
Setup: Zech Zinicola, Jon Rauch
Middle Relief: Ryan Wagner, Garrett Mock, Shawn Hill

The Washington Nationals have a very bad farm system. Everyone they have that has much potential is a "project" and they don't have anything close to a top notch prospect. For a bad major league team there is no hope on the horizon. But, if some of their young guys with lots of upside pan out they could have some solid guys coming up in 2010-2011.

System Grade: F

Posted by Koby Schellenger: Dec 22 at 2:53 PM

 Comment on Systems Audit: Washington Nationalsforum

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[1] by Jim Meyerriecks on 12/23/2006 12:15 pmreply
Always love the column Koby, but thought I'd mention the Vidro deal to the Mariners that brought over Chris Snelling and Emiliano Fruto. Neither is overwhelming (you had Snelling ranked tenth among M's prospects and Fruto off the list, but as a middle reliever), but both would at least be borderline top ten in the Nats' system.

Yeah... we have a long way to go, and it's going to take some strong drafting and a little more creativity from Bowden in the trade department. I still stand by my statement that Bowden really blew it when he couldn't move Soriano at the deadline last season.

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