Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

Nationals Prospect Ranks historically


Giolito is currently ranked #1 Nats prospect.  Photo Eric Dearborn via win for teddy blog

Giolito is currently ranked #1 Nats prospect. Photo Eric Dearborn via win for teddy blog

For years I’ve collected links and lists of Nationals top 10 prospect lists into a text file, just growing it chronologically year after year.  I noticed somewhat recently that in the Nats Big Board there are a few tabs with titles like “2013 Prospect Rankings”  that had some but not all the rankings data that I’ve collected.  Plus there’s no 2014 or 2015 tabs of this information.

So, I kind of became obsessed with translating all the information I had in text format to a spreadsheet.  Today I’ve uploaded this spreadsheet for your viewing pleasure.  I’ve created a “Link” along the right-hand side of this blog and also offer the below Google XLS:

Some quick notes on the spreadsheet:

  • I’ve only included what I deem to be “professional pundits” rankings.  That is to say, I have not included my own, or the rankings of other Nats bloggers.    I’ve also excluded auto-generated rankings (like at Scouting Book), rankings driven by projection systems (Zips, Pecota, etc), and rankings driven by or for Fantasy purposes.
  • The default XLS in Google is sorted by the Fangraphs recent ranking, then alphabetically by last name after that.
  • The color schemes on the spreadsheet: Orange means that the player hadn’t been acquired and/or drafted yet. Red means that player has either left the organization (by release, trade, etc) or has “graduated” and is no longer a candidate for these lists.  Therefore a “white” or non-colored tab for recent lists should mean the player is still in our system, ranked or not.  Corrections welcome.
  • In the 2nd “pundits” tab you can see pundit by pundit whose lists i’ve used and (in yellow highlighting) see some of the lists I wouldn’t mind finding and including.  In particular, if anyone has the BA handbooks from previous years, I’d love a scan of the Nats top 30 pages.
  • One of the really interesting things I see in this data is the discrepant rankings from pundit to pundit by player; having all this data side by side lets you see (for example) that Keith Law really likes Joe Ross and John Sickels doesn’t rate Reynaldo Lopez nearly as highly as some of his counterparts.
  • The data is pretty solid to 2010; if anyone has older links i’ll take them and include them.  I also can carve off future time to do the google research but for now I’ve devoted enough time to this little project 🙂

There are some weird discrepancies in the data as far as I can tell:

  • I have not done the “not yet signed” logic for all the IFA candidates, mostly because there’s some discrepancies in some of the IFA signing dates.  To wit; Anderson Franco is listed on the big board as a 2014 IFA signing, but he appeared in BA Handbook’s 2014 rankings for the team.  That BA Handbook is written mostly in December; how could Franco be ranked if he wasn’t even signed yet?   Do all IFAs sign on the same July time-frame?  Can a D.R. prospect sign the moment he turns 16, even if its outside the signing window?
  • Players like Aaron Barrett and Taylor Jordan ended up on pundit ranking lists after exhausting their eligibility; that’s what numbers in red blocks means.
  • lists in particular are not published and set in stone; their system constantly adjusts the lists to account for player movement, so some of the older MLB list links may not match what’s in the xls.

The canonical history of Nats prospects ranked #1 on any list:  Lucas Giolito, Brian Goodwin, Anthony Rendon, Bryce Harper (who never was NOT ranked #1 by any pundit), Stephen Strasburg (also never not ranked #1 in his brief stay on these lists in 2010), Jordan Zimmermann and lastly Chris Marrero, ranked #1 in the BA Nov 2007 ranking I somehow found.


27 Responses to 'Nationals Prospect Ranks historically'

Subscribe to comments with RSS or TrackBack to 'Nationals Prospect Ranks historically'.

  1. Baseball Prospectus’s rankings out today ( Four Nationals made the BP list, starting (of course) with Giolito (6), followed by A.J. Cole (30), Taylor (57) and Lopez (72). Of interest is that Trea Turner and Joe Ross did not make the BP list, and BP ranked Cole higher than Lopez.

    John C.

    9 Feb 15 at 2:55 pm

  2. Could they be on their old teams lists? It can’t be a legitimate Top 100 without Turner.

    This sure beats all that Frandson vs. Kobernus talk!

    Mark L

    9 Feb 15 at 3:52 pm

  3. Todd – this is a pretty great compilation. It needs more time than I can give it right now. The biggest thing that jumped out at me is the fatigue the writers have with Cole, and also Goodwin. Admittedly Goodwin has been hurt and underperformed too, but those are the biggest negative variance guys.


    9 Feb 15 at 7:56 pm

  4. Re: Turner and Ross:
    “Turner is a Padre for several more months or until the commissioner’s office tells us otherwise. He was not in consideration for the 101. Ross was just on the outside, and will be mentioned in the “just missed” supplement.”

    Pretty surprising. Maybe we need to focus on Kobernus since Turner is a bum! 🙂

    Andrew R

    9 Feb 15 at 8:40 pm

  5. I’m surprised to see Cole so high. The guy is like the #8 starter for the Nats this year. If he’s THAT good, would be nice to find a spot for him.

    Andrew R

    9 Feb 15 at 8:47 pm

  6. Heh – I asked the question about Ross and Turner. You can thank me later 🙂

    Careful of the “prospect fatigue” narrative. For all the chatter, Cole still is a consensus Top 100 prospect, and on some lists (MLB, BP) has moved multiple spots. He did move down Keith Law’s list, but in a chat Law still likes him, said he’s liked him since he was drafted (felt Cole was a first round talent) and that he projects Cole as a #3 starter. If that’s “prospect fatigue” it’s not a whole lot of it.

    Goodwin isn’t downgraded by prospect fatigue; his mediocre season (poor average only somewhat redeemed by an OK OBP) at AAA had more to do with that.

    John C.

    9 Feb 15 at 10:04 pm

  7. Others have said it (Luke last week) but it bears repeating: Baseball America *has* to figure out a way to update their stuff to adjust to major trades. Especially given that a huge number of them happen at the Winter meetings and they can’t seem to adjust their printed handbooks or these lists.

    It’s hard not to get prospect fatigue with certain high-school draftees. They get drafted with high expectations but are usually 4-5 years away … Cole was first ranked in Nov 2010 lists … here we are Feb 2015 and he’s maintained more or less his potential. I disagree with some of the pundits (there’s no way i’d have him ranked below Fedde or Lopez; call me when Fedde throws a professional pitch or Lopez gets above A-ball) … but that’s also a factor of the flavor of the opinion. Some guys like potential raw tools, some guys discount relievers simply because they’re relievers.

    Todd Boss

    10 Feb 15 at 9:10 am

  8. the fun part for me with this data is to go backwards in time to a pundit I like and re-sort to see what they thought.

    John c thanks for the BP list; I do track the top100 in all of baseball lists but not in this xls; here i’m focusing just on top 10/15/30 for the system. BP should be putting out top 10 lists per org soon (last year’s per-team lists came out in Feb).

    Todd Boss

    10 Feb 15 at 9:14 am

  9. Another thing on Cole; BP’s latest top 100 has him *above* two advanced 1-1 picks in Carlos Rodon and Mark Appel right now. That’s just one list, and others have different opinions, but as someone else mentioned Cole isn’t exactly a lost cause. We’re not talking about a guy who isn’t expected to do good things; he’s just blocked. With a significant number of other teams in this league, he’s already in the rotation.

    Todd Boss

    10 Feb 15 at 9:39 am

  10. Todd, that work is just awesome. Unbelievable that you did that, and thank you (from all of us).


    10 Feb 15 at 9:39 am

  11. After looking at BP’s list, it seems like they reward performance and ‘closer to the majors’ guys a little more than, say, Fangraphs or Law. It is interesting comparing between them.

    Another takeaway that I get is that one of the more common pitching prospect types that make these lists is the RHP with above average, but not elite, velo (sitting 92-94, touching 96) with more control than command, and a potentially good but yet-to-master secondary pitch. Cole and Ross fit into this category. I think that there is high popularity/failure rate on these guys because (a) there are a bunch of successful guys like this in the 3/4 category in the majors, but (b) the trick to whether they make it is if they refine their command of the FB, and move at least one breaking pitch into plus or beyond. But they are ‘good enough’ in the minors to not need it to succeed, so they are successful but still aren’t there yet for success in the majors. The last step can only be worked on and proven in the majors.

    So these guys fall into the category of having the kind of ability that succeeds in the majors (ie potential), but still represent something of a guessing game to figure out which one actually does. That is where educated evaluators can reasonably differ, which is why Law puts Ross very high on his list, yet BP doesn’t have him in the top 100.


    10 Feb 15 at 10:54 am

  12. Wally, except that they didn’t reward “closer to the majors” guys explicitly, or at least not greatly. That’s why Souza was not on the list either, and he’s basically MLB ready (certainly the Rays think so). Asked about Souza in the comments, the author replied:

    “… we ended up viewing it [Souza] more as a low-risk solid everyday asset than a higher upside skill position asset. But I do understand the value in the profile and, as I said, buy into him being one of the top 101 prospect eligible talents if your scale is skewed to that skillset (which would also have ripples in our rankings, such as pushing someone like Susuc higher).”

    John C.

    10 Feb 15 at 2:48 pm

  13. Agree with JohnC here. BP doesn’t rate Trea Turner for its top 100 but practically every other pundit I’ve seen easily has Turner in their top 100. Law just loves Joe Ross and has him ranked in our system now but others have him way, way down.

    Todd Boss

    10 Feb 15 at 3:29 pm

  14. John C – Souza is just one example (and maybe they just see him as an average player, and therefore knock him for upside). Reading the comments and chats, they just seemed to want a prospect to prove themselves more than the guys who fall in love with tools or jump on the bandwagon for someone who may just be a flash in the pan. They seemed much lower on a JP Crawford, for instance, than most others, and failing to have Turner at all are examples. I don’t have a preference, and actually like to see different styles since the sum total of information seems more complete that way.


    10 Feb 15 at 6:31 pm

  15. I agree, Wally. Picking prospects is at least as much art as science, so the good thing from the Nats’ perspective is that they have a bunch of players kicking around a variety of lists. They won’t all make it – but hopefully enough will.

    John C.

    10 Feb 15 at 10:59 pm

  16. As I read through Todd’s great list, I started thinking about 2012. Cole got clobbered in Cali and traded twice. Taylor flunked Potomac and would have to repeat it. Roark, who barely could be thought of as a “prospect” anyway, was a 6-17 punching bag and looked done. Rendon fed injury concerns by missing nearly all of the season. Meanwhile, Skole raked at Hagerstown and got a big-club invite for the next spring, where he impressed Davey. Goodwin also excelled at Hagerstown and took the fast track to Harrisburg.

    My point is that if there’s any science to it at all, it’s a terribly inexact one. As noted recently, there are two recent studies that concluded that around 70 of the consensus top-100 prospects fail. That’s a staggering failure rate for the class that has been identified as elite. You can look at first-round picks from any year and see similar stats.

    All the more reason that I completely agree that it’s ridiculous to project too much for Fedde before he’s even thrown a professional pitch. I am curious that Law is so high on Ross, though.


    11 Feb 15 at 5:24 am

  17. One thing I think about with these prospect lists is the balance between ceiling and floor. And I think it comes into play with some of these names where there’s significant differences in opinion.
    – Souza; he’s still a “prospect” since he’s not yet exhausted rookie eligibility, but he barely appears on these lists. But Tampa (in essence) traded two 1st rounders (Ross and Turner) to acquire Souza and Travis Ott (a sleeper but not a recognized talent). Tampa isn’t an inept organization; they wanted Souza for a reason. Some projection systems have him as a 25-homer guy. If Souza was 22 instead of 25, would he be in the top 5 of all prospects? Probably.
    – Roark: totally agree; i’ve talked recently about the “Greg Maddox” paradox of scouting players these days. If you don’t throw mid 90s, you’re a 5th starter/4-A ceiling automatically. There are examples of guys who have great velocity but who are average pitchers (wily peralta, Nathan Eovaldi maybe?) and examples of guys who are near the bottom of FB velocity but who give value (Jered Weaver, Doug Fister, Dallas Keuchel, Alex Wood).
    – Ross: really surprised that Law has him so high; normally Law is the kind of guy who falls in love with low-A big arms (Reynaldo Lopez). But he really, really likes Ross. Which is a great win for this team, since he looks to be ready right around the time we’ll need 3 new arms.
    – Turner: most of the scouting reports i’ve seen question whether he can stay at shortstop. Nobody questioned that with him coming out of college. Why the change? not everyone is Andrelton Simmons at shortstop (a guy with a 70 fastball on the mound who happened to also be a great fielder).

    Todd Boss

    11 Feb 15 at 9:12 am

  18. I think the Souza and Roark references here do raise important points about the shortcomings of relying on the pundits.

    Souza will and should be compared, in a Trout-Harper way, to Will Myers. Note that Will Myers was the elite of the elite prospect when TB acquired him, to the huzzahs of the pundit class. How did he do in his first years? Souza is treated like Rodney Dangerfield by the pundits, less so after his IL year. Guess who will have a better early career in Tampa Bay than Will Myers had? Steven Souza. That’s all you need to know about the definition of a prospect.

    As for Roark, when he was 6-17, the lights went on for his at the end of the year, and his performance took a quantum step up. He got a spring training invite — what other 6-17 AAA pitcher would ever achieve that? The Nats knew they had something, they just did not know how much of something. And then Roark just dominated in AAA from the get go. And you wonder why I keep bringing up Rafael (too old) Martin?

    The best prospect source over the past three years has been, hands down, Doug Harris. Cagey as Mike Rizzo is, Harris has been open, and dead on, time and again about numerous Nats prospects that we did not notice. He was talking Steven Souza up as a future star as he approached AA, and he was talking up Taylor while Taylor scuffled. Harris is the truth.

    To that end, the biggest gap missing from this year’s list is Byron Kerr’s coverage of tidbits from the Nats instructional league. We learned from this, over a year ago, that Difo was a man to watch, even before spring training, as was the heretofore failed Destin Hood, and that the GCL Nats 13 alumnus to watch was Silvestre. I haven’t seen any coverage of how the Nats youngsters fared in the instructional league this past fall, and that is a glaring omission.

    That would have been far more valuable than the whole of Sickels/Law/BP/FG (although one pundit we discussed last week was specifically referencing instructional league looks, and I cannot remember his name).


    11 Feb 15 at 11:01 am

  19. Voth is my pick for the “next Roark.” If he threw 98, the progress he made last year (3 levels) would have everyone raving about him. He struggled at the end of the season at AA but should bounce back.

    With the Nats’ truckload of pitching prospects in general, they’ve only got to be right about two of them. They’ve got Gio for four more years, Roark for five, and Scherzer for seven. Out of Treinen, Cole, Giolito, Lopez, Ross, Fedde, Jordan, et al., they’ve only got to be right about two of them. Those odds are pretty good. The rub, of course, is whether those guys can come up to the J-Zim/Stras level.


    11 Feb 15 at 12:58 pm

  20. Ahem. Wil Myers put up an .835 OPS and was the AL Rookie of the Year in 2013. That’s pretty good.

    Yes, if Souza put up his AAA numbers at age 22 rather than age 25 he would be a top prospect – I don’t know about Top 5, but certainly Top 10. But there’s a big reason for that, because putting up such numbers at age 22 is much more indicative of MLB success than putting those numbers up at 25.

    And I do think that Roark is a major part of the Nats’ plans this season. I think he likely makes 12-15 starts and pitches over 100 innings for the Nats in 2015 before sliding back into the rotation full time in 2016.

    John C.

    11 Feb 15 at 1:47 pm

  21. TB would not have traded Turner and Ross for a player that they did not think could top Myers’ 13 HR, 53 RBI .293 BA 5/7 SB, and 2 outfield assists in his first season – let alone the .614 OPS that he followed up with.

    Success is indicative of success.

    KW, your point is well-articulated. Indeed they only have to be right about two of them. And whatever starter that gets traded is going to bring back more prospect depth.


    11 Feb 15 at 2:43 pm

  22. TB didn’t trade Turner and Ross – San Diego did. To get Myers.

    I like Souza, I’m glad he’s going to get a chance to play every day and I hope he does very well in Tampa. But the great thing about all prospects is that they haven’t failed at the MLB level … yet. Souza has a “best case” scenario that is certainly better than most possible results for Myers. But let’s not pretend that Souza is Bryce Harper – who still hasn’t realized his potential.

    John C.

    11 Feb 15 at 5:36 pm

  23. It was reported that TB could have kept Turner and Ross, or included the Nats, and chose to include the Nats. So I guess that means they effectively traded those two for Souza and Ott.

    But you can’t just pull out Myers for Souza, there were a lot of pieces there. The Rays walk a tightrope, and years of control are huge. 5 years of Myers got them 4 years of Rene Rivera and 6 years of Souza (and Rivera was maybe the biggest piece) plus a few prospects. I think TB is very high on Souza (heck, I am too), but I doubt that they would have traded Myers for Souza straight up.


    11 Feb 15 at 8:59 pm

  24. I’m agreeing with Wally on this one w/r/t the Turner+Ross for Souza+Ott. There’s really no other way to read the trade, since Washington did NOT send anything directly to San Diego as part of the deal (unlike other 3-team deals we’ve been involved in).

    Todd Boss

    12 Feb 15 at 8:36 am

  25. A closer read of my comment is that just like Harper and Trout are frequently compared, I would not be surprised to see Souza and Myers compared as their careers advance, irrespective of “fairness” or whether that is a simplification.

    No one is comparing Souza to Harper. Although if Harper would just become Harper, I think we would all be very excited. 🙂


    12 Feb 15 at 10:18 am

  26. How bout the fact that Shields for Wil Myers was basically the two main pieces of that big trade …. and now they’re both with San Diego two years later? 🙂

    Todd Boss

    12 Feb 15 at 12:15 pm

  27. Pretty incredible twist of fate, Shields-Myers.

    Which brings another points to mind: is pretty incredible, actually. They are not afraid to go out on a limb just to stir the pot, but they sure do their research of the beat writers.

    They began the offseason with a look at the top 50 free agents and where they were likely to land. Kudos to them for trying, but it is fascinating how they were wrong most of the time. That’s what makes this stuff so fun. You try to think about what’s coming, and for even teams that are not as stealth as the Nats, by the time the Merry Go Round stops in spring training, everyone is surprised when they look at their new toys.


    12 Feb 15 at 1:52 pm

Leave a Reply