February 2011

Day 3 in Viera: That Familiar Pop of Ball Meeting Glove

Greetings again. OK, weather check. It was a bit cloudy for most of the morning today, but temps reached 71. The wind was light and pleasant. Not perfect, but in the realm of really comfortable. The sun came out in earnest in the afternoon. I am in the midst of my eighth Spring Training in Viera and this is the best weather we’ve had right from the get-go. Usually things get very nice in March, but this year’s sunny skies seem to have come a bit early. No one is complaining.

So who is this guy who’s in his eighth Spring Training in Viera? My name is John Dever and I’m the PR Director for the Nationals baseball operation. With the help of Mike Gazda and Bill Gluvna, I’m stringing together some ideas, sights/sounds, and vignettes from the Nationals 2011 Spring Training camp. As I’ve said before, we are merely batting leadoff on this blog for another few days before Mark Lerner jumps into the captain’s seat to share his own views on what’s happening with the Nationals during their stay in Camp Riggleman.  

* Today we saw baseball players actually playing baseball in uniform as part of the first workout for pitchers and catchers. We heard balls popping into new leather gloves. A nice sound no doubt, one trumped only by the distinctive bat-on-rawhide vocals we will begin to hear next week. But we are officially underway.

* Before the workout Jim Riggleman gathered everyone together to remind the pitchers that “no one is making the ballclub today.” In essence, Skipper was telling them not to risk injury by coming out of the chute too hard and too fast. That does no one any good. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for an injury-free season for all.  

* 15 pitchers from Group A threw their first bullpens of the Spring. We saw, among others, Livan Hernandez, Chien-Ming Wang, Collin Balester (who threw gas BTW!), Jordan Zimmermann and Tyler Clippard take the hill.


Strasburg_CurlyWLive2011ST3.jpg
* It is true, Stephen Strasburg played catch today with Head Athletic Trainer Lee Kuntz. In all, Strasburg made 70 throws with Kuntz from 30-45 feet. It was a natural motion, one that I’m sure you can see tonight on the local TV sportscasts. BTW, look for one-on-one interviews with Strasburg tonight on WUSA (Brett Haber) and Comcast Sports Net (Kelli Johnson). On a side note, Stephen won a lucrative $100 bet today from his pitching coach, Steve McCatty. The bet hinged on Strasburg’s assertion that he would have “six-pack abs” by the first day of Spring Training. Word from the clubhouse is that McCatty is eating Ramen Noodles tonight because his meal money is now in Strasburg’s pocket!

* Early Bird Gets the Worm Award to RHP Cole Kimball, who showed up at Space Coast Stadium this morning for his first day in Big League camp at 5:25 a.m. He beat everyone to the park, including Special Assistant Pat Corrales, who is a bit ticked off he wasn’t first. Cole is a workout warrior who throws very hard. Very excited to see him perform in games in a few weeks.

* Truly incredible performance this morning from RHP Yunesky Maya, who threw his body around like a rag doll while fielding comebackers off the bat of Rick Schu. Granted, this drill entails the use of padded baseballs, but Maya made some truly dazzling stops. Must be something about Cuban pitchers because in my mind, countryman Livan Hernandez is the best fielding pitcher I have ever witnessed.


ClippardCurlyWLive2011ST3.jpg
* Book Club Note of the Day:  Tyler Clippard spent the dying weeks of his offseason reading Men’s Health Muscle Chow by Gregg Avedon. 150 meals to feed your muscles and fuel your workouts. I wonder how many of those 150 meals contain “Peaches?” In true bachelor fashion, Tyler told us that he prepared none of those meals himself, but rather had a personal chef to fix the meals for him.

That’s it for now – ’til we meet tomorrow, when we chronicle Yunesky Maya’s first bullpen session in Viera, and more.

Day 2 in Viera: Pitchers Take Center Stage

Hi again. I hate to rub it in—as I heard that it’s cold again in DC—but the temperature reached 72 here in Viera today. In fact, the highs for the next four days are slated to be 73 (Thu.), 74 (Fri.), 73 (Sat.) and 73 (Sun.). Now that’s baseball weather! To be more specific, that’s San Diego baseball weather.

Spring Training really is a unique time. No other sport can even touch it. I hope everyone reading this blog can someday experience firsthand the warmth, rhythm and optimism that is nearly palpable at a big league Spring Training camp. Let’s just say you have an open invitation to joins us anytime here in Viera!

I’m John Dever, the PR Director for the Nationals baseball operation, and I will be posting some miscellaneous observations (along with those of my trusty sidekicks, Mike Gazda and Bill Gluvna) over the next week or so that will hopefully appeal to all of you Nats fans out there. But really, the three of us are just saving Mark Lerner’s spot. Mark will be blogging about his Spring Training experiences starting next week. He began blogging during the ’10 Winter Meetings and he is eager to restart his blogging engines.

So here’s a run-down of today’s happenings:

*Saw Stephen Strasburg today. He looked … great. His core is noticeably stronger. And as good as he looked physically, his spirits appeared higher. While I’m sure he is bummed he won’t be throwing his first bullpen this week, I have a feeling he long ago accepted his fate and began channeling his energies toward a successful return. The media will meet with Stephen on Thursday, so I’m sure you will be reading more on his outlook directly from him by this time on Thursday. But here’s the bottom line: as anxious as we all are for the return of Stephen Strasburg “the pitcher,” it was fantastic to see Stephen Strasburg “the person” today.


102572427.jpg*Please note that no matter what you read, Jim Riggleman yesterday did not name Livan Hernandez our Opening Day starter. But Riggs did indicate that Livan is the leading candidate, and that he earned that dubbing via his performance last season (10-12, 3.66 ERA, 22 quality starts in 33 starting assignments). This would not be Livan’s first Opening Day nod. He’s earned that honor seven times during his career. Not many pitchers can say they have toed the rubber seven times on Opening Day.

*Newest arrival among position players: Roger Bernadina (who flew in on the Amsterdam-Viera express). Roger spent a good chunk of his offseason in The Netherlands, but as he told me, he gets plenty of work in there, as there is more baseball played there than any other European country. He works out with other pros there at an indoor facility, so that might give you an indication of The Netherland’s place in the baseball universe.

*Chien-Ming Wang is back and, like Strasburg, his spirits are high after spending the majority of his offseason working out and strengthening his right shoulder in Phoenix. There will be no limitations placed on Wang as tomorrow we embark on the first formal workout of the spring.

*Hair update: Strasburg’s beard that you may have spied in the offseason is gone. He’s back to the familiar chin patch.

*Local Nationals coverage reminder: Jordan Zimmermann will be on “Overtime” with Bill Rohland on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. on 106.7 fm The Fan.

Spring Training has arrived


 Greetings from warm–77-79 degrees and near perfect–Viera, Fla.

 

Today, as you are all likely aware, was the report date for Nationals pitchers and catchers. Really, it is the first day of school for baseball fans… and employees.

 

My name is John Dever and I will be putting together some miscellaneous items over the course of Spring Training. I am the PR Director of the Nationals’ baseball operation. I will be tying together some of my own observations with various contributions from my trusty sidekicks, Mike Gazda and Bill Gluvna. But really, the three of us are just place holders for Mark Lerner, who will be blogging about his Spring Training experiences starting next week. He began blogging during the ’09 Winter Meetings and, in talking to him, is very excited to share his Grapefruit League observations, most of which will focus on your Nationals.

 

So, let’s get started…

 

*Personally, the best sign of the spring is that five of our eight “everyday” players have already reported to camp in excess of a week before their report date. Ryan Zimmerman, Jayson Werth, Nyjer Moran, Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa have been working out–hitting–on the back fields here for nearly a week. Spirits are high and the cohesion is growing between this group.

 

*I know that Adam Kilgore touched on this in a blog post today, but did you know that Drew Storen has worn eight different uniform numbers since we drafted him just 20 months ago? I know it’s crazy, but here is the rundown thanks to jersey extraordinaire Bill Gluvna–all you uniform aficionados have at it:

 


2011JerseyRelease_Storen.jpg
#26 – worn at introductory press conference and with Single-A Hagerstown

#20 – 2009 Single-A Potomac and 2009-10 Harrisburg Senators

#21 – 2009-10 Double Harrisburg and 2010 Triple-A Syracuse

#38 – 2009 Nationals Instructional League

#17 – 2009 Arizona Fall League

#58 – 2010 season with the Nationals

#25 – (right) worn at Nationals uniform unveiling held in November 2010.

#22 – 2011 season

 


*When we were kids, we all had to endure a summer reading list at one time or another. Well, we checked in with our skipper, Jim Riggleman, who told us that the latest additions to his winter reading list included Growing Up Laughing: My Story and the Story of Funny by Marlo Thomas. Next up is Daniel Okrent’s Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition

 

*Hair Report: Ian Desmond is growing his hair out a bit. “If it worked for Werth,” he said. “I am going to give it a try.” Also, Ross Detwiler has cut his hair, it is more indicative of the length when we drafted him back in 2007. Gone is Ross’ shaggy look that was Owen Wilson-esque.

 

*Jesus Flores is indeed beaming. He’s excited about the competition at catcher with Wilson Ramos and Pudge. What is interesting is you have two catchers who have idolized Pudge for years now vying for playing time with the 14-time All-Star. When you think about it, how many teams have the blend of catching talent and depth that your Nationals possess? And all this without mentioning Derek Norris? By the way, all four of the aforementioned catchers have histories that say they are above average throwers from behind the dish.

A Special visit to The Lab School of Washington

Nationals Principal Owner Mark D. Lerner will be blogging throughout the 2011 Grapefruit League Season, giving Nats fans a unique perspective of the goings-on at the Nats Spring Training in Viera. Check back often for the latest updates.

Hi Nats fans–I’m pleased to return to the Curly W Live blog for the first time since baseball’s Winter Meetings. It’s been an exciting couple of months for the entire Nationals organization especially for Mike Rizzo and his able staff. All of their hard work will soon take shape when pitchers and catchers report Tuesday, and Spring Training starts in earnest shortly thereafter.

 

But before the focus shifts to Viera, Florida and Spring Training, my wife Judy and I had a special opportunity to visit The Lab School of Washington Friday morning. We’re long-time friends with one of the teachers parents, Ms. Charlotte Lefkowitz, and were invited to meet with her class of nine and 10-year-olds. The school boasts a truly unique educational environment and has a wonderful reputation. Charlotte and the kids were exceptionally welcoming and had a number of engaging questions for us about both baseball and the importance of getting an education.

 

It certainly helps to be able to point to some of our own players, including pitchers Stephen Strasburg and Drew Storen, as real world examples of young men who value and excel in both aspects of their lives. Over the winter, they both went back to school to continue their education. But the highlight of the visit came when we read the kids “Casey at the Bat” by Ernest Lawrence Thayer, the famous baseball poem originally published in the San Francisco Examiner on June 3,1888 – so there was a bit of a history lesson in our visit as well!

 

All in all, we were honored by the invitation to meet such a special group of students. We left them with a number of gifts from the Nationals and it was clear they are as eager as any fans in the area for Opening Day to arrive.

 

But in the meantime, it’s off to Viera for Spring Training for me next week, where I’ll be sure to check in regularly with the latest news and notes as we continue to build the foundation for what should be an exciting season of Nationals baseball.

 

Mark

Former Washington Senator becomes oldest living baseball player


Connie Marrero.jpgFormer Washington Senator
“Connie” Marrero–born April 25, 1911–is now the oldest living former professional baseball player at 99 years and 291 days young. He moved into the No. 1 spot on Tuesday with the passing of the former Brooklyn Dodgers infielder Tony Malinosky at the tender age of 101. It seems the baseball-life analogy never gets old so we will link them together once again. Baseball is a constant 162-game marathon of ups and downs, twists and turns, and peaks and valleys… yes, just like life.

 If you can master the game of baseball, you can master the game of life. It is all about longevity and this list defines longevity. Marrero–no relation to the Nats first base prospect Chris Marrero–pitched for the Senators from 1950 to 1954, compiling a 39-40 record with a 3.67 ERA. Marrero made his Major League debut when he was 38 years old, and was one of the oldest players in the league throughout the duration of his time in the Major Leagues. His nicknames in Cuba were “El Guajiro de Laberinto” (The Peasant from Laberinto), reflecting his rural origins, “El Premier,” and “El Curvo.”

Well now he has a new nickname “El Numero Uno” and has his sights set on the next hurdle: 100.

Curly W Mailbag: Danny Espinosa

You guys asked the questions and Danny Espinosa answered them. See if your question made the cut.


Danny Espinosa 18.jpgJosiah from Harrisburg, Va.:
What are the 2011 expectations like in the clubhouse? As fans we like what we have with this year’s roster and expect to compete every single night.

Espinosa: I feel that we all believe in ourselves and we’re going to make big improvements from last year. I think there is going to be a lot of leadership in the clubhouse. There’s going to be veteran guys in that clubhouse now who have been on winning teams and can take us in the right direction, and show some of us who haven’t always been on a winning team the right way. [They'll] show us how things are done, and show us that losing is not acceptable.

William from Cloverly, Md.: What Major League player, past or present, would you say plays closest to your style?

Espinosa: I’m not going to say that me and Troy Tulowitzki are the same guy, but that’s who I always looked up to. Troy went to my college and was the guy I looked up to and wanted to play and carry myself like. I always liked Omar Vizquel a lot — just the way he played defense. But I’ll say that the guy I look up to the most is Troy Tulowitzki.

Dustin from Dale City, Va.: Who has been the most influential player for you since you joined the Major League club last season?

Espinosa: I would say Ian Desmond. He talked to me a lot and helped me. Another guy who helped me a lot — who isn’t with us anymore — was Adam Kennedy. I thought that he worked with me and Desmond a lot and was very open and taught us things. But as far as on the team currently, I would most likely say Ian Desmond.

Ken from Apex, N.C.: What specifically are you doing to improve your consistency at the plate? How do you think pitchers are going to attack you this season?

Espinosa: In Puerto Rico, I was trying a lot of different of things. My strikeouts were still not where I wanted them. I was trying different things to get myself to a place where my strikeouts were down. I think just shortening my swing. I get such a long swing sometimes. If I stick with my approach — I see pitches, I’m not being overly aggressive, I’m not taking every single pitch, and I’m in a comfortable zone — I get myself in a better place to hit. I’m in better counts. I think that will really help. Also not trying to overswing, just making good contact. I feel that I’m strong enough to drive the ball that I don’t have to swing as hard as possible all the time.

[I think pitchers will attack me] probably similar to what they did last year — they tried to [throw elevated pitches to me]. A lot of pitchers [threw] pretty aggressive at me. They threw fastballs at me. They were making me prove I could hit.


Danny Espinosa Futures Game 1.jpgChris from Vienna, Va.:
What have been your biggest challenges in your journey to the big leagues?

Espinosa: Probably just trusting myself. The season is so long and so many people have good intentions on wanting to help you. No one is trying to make you a worse ballplayer, but you have to [take what they are teaching you] and [figure out] what works best for you. You have to believe in yourself and that your talents will take you there. Everyone wants to help you, but you have to find out what really works for you. Also, [you can't] read too much into what people are saying about you, good or bad. You just have to go out there and play. As long as you play the game, things will take care of themselves.

Leonard from Silver Spring, Md.: What is your goal for 2011 as a member of the Nationals?

Espinosa: I want to go out there and play every day. Personally, I want to play every single day and hit for a solid average. That’s my biggest thing. I want to hit for a solid average and have a high on-base percentage. For the Nationals, we can set our goals pretty high as a team. I think there are a lot of guys that came in this year — [combined] with the guys who were already there who have good energy on the field. I believe that when you play with a lot of energy and play hard, it steps up everybody’s level of play. So I think just by stepping up everybody’s energy, we will have a good season.

Brian from Dover, Del.: What’s more important for you this season — hitting and on-base percentage or fielding?

Espinosa: Right now, it’s fielding. My main priority is to be out there, play hard, have good energy and take care of my defense. Obviously, hitting is very important. We have a lot of bats in our lineup, but right now, playing up the middle, I need to take care of my defense. I’m not worried about my hitting. I think my hitting is going to continue to develop. I think my hitting is going to be just fine.

Dustin from Halifx, Nova Scotia: We all know what you can do in the field, but what can we expect to see from you offensively? Where would you prefer to hit in the lineup?

Espinosa: I came up hitting second a lot, third a little bit. Obviously, I’m not going to hit third and I believe that Ian is going to hit second. I know that he did really well at the No. 2 spot last year, so I’m sure that they will put him back there so his numbers can continue to grow. I feel that [batting second] is probably my most comfortable position, but [batting anywhere in the lineup] 1-9 is pretty comfortable with me.

Nationals Moving Day


Screech Moving.JPGOn Monday, the Washington Nationals set course for the Club’s Spring Training facility in Viera, Fla., as part of the annual ritual that has come to be known as Moving Day.

 


 “With Moving Day, we know it’s the beginning of the 2011 season because the offseason is now over,” Nationals Clubhouse Manager Mike Wallace said.

 

While the players still have some time before reporting to Florida, Monday marked the unofficial start of the season as the Nats loaded up their JK Moving & Storage tractor trailer with 30,000 pounds of equipment for the 800-plus mile trek to Space Coast Stadium. In preparation for the start of Spring Training, Wallace and his staff packed up and loaded a vast assortment of gear, ranging from weight training equipment and medical supplies to player uniforms and apparel.

 

“As the stuff gets loaded, you keep saying to yourself, ‘please have enough room, please have enough room.’ But it always works out to where we get everything on there and then the truck is on its way,” Wallace said.

 

There’s no doubt that a lot of work goes into coordinating the big move, but according to Wallace, it’s all worth it–if only for one reason in particular.

 

“I’m looking forward to being in a place where I don’t have to worry about the ice and snow,” he said.

 

Florida is a good place to start.

 


Screech Moving 1.JPGMOVING DAY FACTS

 

Nationals Spring Training headquarters………Space Coast Stadium (Viera, Fla.)*

Official moving company…………………………JK Moving & Storage

Moving truck size …………………………………53-foot trailer

Estimated trip mileage ………………………….. 869

Estimated weight of equipment……………….. 30,000 lbs.

Approximate number of baseball bats ordered for Spring Training…………. 600

Approximate number of baseballs ordered for Spring Training………………  14,400

Offseason additions


Jayson Werth 28.jpgThere are only 11 days left until Nationals pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training in Viera, Fla. And wouldn’t you know there are only 11 players remaining from the Nationals 2010 Opening Day 25-man roster–that is 44 percent for those doing the math at home. Just for comparison, the American League Champion Texas Rangers have 16 players left on their squad from the 2010 Opening Day roster.

The drastic turnover can mean any number of things about a team but the 25-man roster is in constant flux from when the season begins until the season ends, so change is expected. At the same time, GM Mike Rizzo has been putting his elephant-size foot print on this organization and finding players that fit his image of a team since he was named the GM in August 2009. He has made it very clear it is his way or the highway and that’s why there has been a major overhaul in the front office, coaching staff and 40-man roster in the last two years.

This offseason Rizzo has been busy adding impact players like Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche and bench players like Jerry Hairston Jr. He has added players with unique names like Cla and Coffey, and players that will not even get the proverbial “cup of coffee” at the Major League level. Some players will be cut the first week of March and others are Minor League invitees that hope to make a major impact. Time will tell. Here is the complete list of the acquisitions since the end of the season:

Players added over the offseason

Pitchers

LHP Tom Gorzelanny (Trade)

RHP Henry Rodriguez (Trade)

RHP Todd Coffey (Free Agent)

RHP Chad Gaudin (Free Agent)

RHP Cla Meredith (Free Agent)

RHP Tim Wood (Free Agent)

RHP Brian Broderick (Rule 5)

RHP Elvin Ramirez (Rule 5)

 

Infielders

1B Adam LaRoche (Free Agent)

INF Jerry Hairston Jr. (Free Agent)

INF Alex Cora (Free Agent)

INF Michael Aubrey (Free Agent)

1B Kevin Barker (Free Agent)

 

Outfielders

RF Jayson Werth (Free Agent)

OF Rick Ankiel (Free Agent)

OF Matt Stairs (Free Agent)

OF Corey Brown (Trade)

OF Jeff Frazier (Free Agent)

OF Jonathan Van Every (Free Agent)

OF Laynce Nix (Free Agent)

 

We will give a quick breakdown of each player next week.

Nationals trade Justin Maxwell

The Nationals traded Maryland native Justin Maxwell to the Yankees in return for Minor League right-handed pitcher Adam Olbrychowski

 

Maxwell was designated for assignment last Thursday to create an extra space on the 40-man roster and the Nats had 10 days to trade Maxwell, reassign him to the Minor Leagues or release him. They traded him.

 

Maxwell was always a hometown favorite but he never was able to transform his talent into consistent play at the Major League level. He spent time between the Minors and Majors the last two seasons and batted .201 with nine homers and 26 RBI in 122 games over three seasons (2007, 2009-10) with Washington.

 

Olbrychowski went 3-2 with four holds, one save and a 3.90 ERA in 32 games (one start) last season with Single-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton. During the last two seasons (2009-10), the 24-year-old is a combined 6-4 with seven holds, one save and a 3.31 ERA in 65 games/three starts at Single-A and Double-A. He was selected by the Yankees in the fifth round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft out of Pepperdine University.

 

In other news, the Nats outrighted right-handed pitcher Shairon Martis to Triple-A Syracuse. Martis will be a non-roster invitee at Big League Spring Training.

 

They also agreed to terms with right-handed reliever Cla Meredith and infielder Alex Cora on Minor League contracts that include Spring Training invitations.

 

Nothing Minor about these Ten Nationals

There are 13 days left before the Nationals’ pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training in Viera, Fla. That means there isn’t a better time to look at impact prospects in the Nationals system than now. We won’t rank them–ESPN’s Keith Law did that for us. It is hard enough to rank the Super Bowl teams, and there are just two, let alone the Top 10 Nationals prospects. It is the type of arbitrary system that if ten people ranked them, there would be ten different results. That’s just how it works.

 

Here is the Nationals’ Top 10 Prospects:

 


Bryce Harper AFl 1.jpg1- OF Bryce Harper:
Harper became a household name when he was anointed by Sports Illustrated as “Baseball’s Chosen One” as a 16-year-old sophomore in high school. He has lived up to the lofty expectations in his short professional career too. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft from the College of Southern Nevada, moved to right field during the Instructional League and proved he can play there in the Arizona Fall League. He faced the top pitching prospects in the AFL and hit .343/.410/.629 with one home run in 35 at-bats as a taxi-squad player. The brazen 18-year-old with superstar potential was possibly the most-hyped prospect in Draft history, besting teammate Stephen Strasburg. He won’t be in the Majors in 2011 but don’t ever count him out for buzz-worthy quotes or memorable made-up words like “oppo-boppo.”

 

2- C Derek Norris: It was an interesting 2010 year for Norris to say the least. The Nats top catching prospect with a Russell Martin like build and playing style enjoyed his first Big League camp after he broke his hamate bone in 2009. But he then missed the first month of the 2010 season due to complications from surgery. Shortly after he returned to action, he was sidelined again when he was hit in the head with a 95 mph fastball. He never fully recovered until the Arizona Fall League. He hit .278 (15-for-54) with 19 RBI, 11 walks and a .403 on-base percentage in the AFL. The 22-year-old is a beast at the plate with a short, strong and compact swing with power to all fields and has led his league in walks each of the past seasons.

 


Wilson Ramos 1.JPG3- C Wilson Ramos:
The 6-foot-0, 220 pound Ramos is built like a linebacker and has legs like Secretariat. He will enter the spring as part of the Nats’ catching platoon with Rodriguez, much like how they rotated starts in September, but he could become the No. 1 catcher by midseason. He led Aragua to the Venezuelan Winter League finals, batting .296 with seven doubles, a triple, two home runs and 21 RBI in 24 games.

 

4- RHP AJ Cole: Cole was drafted in the fourth round in the 2010 Draft out of Oviedo (Fla.) High School. He has the potential to be a frontline starter and could move fairly quickly for a high school draftee. His fastball has touched the mid-to-upper 90s, and he continues to master a solid curveball. His change-up may be a work in progress, but shows promising potential. He will likely start the season with Single-A Hagerstown.

 


 
Danny Espinosa Curtain Call.JPG5- SS Danny Espinosa:
He is a switch hitter who can hit for power to both sides of the field. He is a sound defensive player too. He played shortstop at Long Beach State–a shortstop factory–and was drafted in 2008 and continued to play the position until he was converted into a second baseman when he was called up to Triple-A Syracuse in August. It was an inevitable move for him with the Nationals knowing full well it wouldn’t be long before he arrived in the Big Leagues where Ian Desmond was already proving his potential as the Nationals’ shortstop of the future. Despite the change of position, Espinosa has excelled and his days as a shortstop seem to have only strengthened his ability to play with speed and agility.

6- LHP Sammy Solis: The 2010 Draft will always be about Bryce Harper, but don’t sleep on Solis. He was the 51st overall selection in last year’s Draft out of the University of San Diego and he signed two days before the Aug. 16 deadline. He was impressive against older competition in the Arizona Fall League and posted a 3.80 ERA in 24 innings. He will likely start the season at Single-A Potomac and could arrive in DC sometime next season.

 


 
Eury Perez 1.jpg7- OF Eury Perez:
Perez adjusted well to Single-A ball and showed signs of improvement throughout the summer months. The 20-year-old athletic center fielder has plus-speed and he utilizes it both defensively, at the plate and on the base paths. He finished second in the Minors with 64 steals and succeeded at an 83 percent rate, up from 67 percent in 2009. He will likely start the season at Single-A Potomac.

 

8- LHP Robbie Ray: Ray is another high school pitching gem from the 2010 Draft. The 12th-round pick from Tennessee –slightly misleading because it was assumed he had a strong commitment to pitch at the University of Arkansas which hurt his Draft stock–pitched one inning for the short-season Vermont Lake Monsters. He will likely start the season with Single-A Hagerstown.

 

9- 1B Chris Marrero: Marrero was ranked No. 1 on Baseball America’s list entering the 2008 season but he broke the fibula in his right leg and tore ligaments in his ankle on a slide at home plate. After recovering, he turned in a solid Double-A performance in 2010 to claim a spot on Washington’s 40-man roster. Marrero hit .306 and impressed his Manager, Pat Listach, with his defense in the Puerto Rican League playing with teammate and friend Danny Espinosa. He is becoming a more consistent overall hitter. He was selected to the Eastern League All-Star team and showcased his plus-raw power by finishing second in the Home Run Derby, hitting 13 home runs in two rounds. He will likely start the season in Triple-A Syracuse.

 

10- OF Destin Hood: Hood had a nice April to start out the 2010 season and is beginning to see the fruits of his hard labor. He came to Spring Training last season in tremendous shape determined to succeed on the field, at the plate and on the base paths. Destin possesses well-above-average raw power and is working to improve his command of the strike zone by creating a consistent approach at the plate. The 20-year-old Hood is one of the younger prospects in the organization. He has shown tremendous strides in the past year batting .285 (140-for-492) with 65 RBI in 129 games with Single-A Hagerstown.

 

Baseball America has a slightly different ranking–don’t we all–but Harper is the unanimous No. 1.

 

Top 10 Prospects 2011

1. Bryce Harper, of

2. Derek Norris, c

3. Danny Espinosa, ss/2b

4. A.J. Cole, rhp

5. Wilson Ramos, c

6. Sammy Solis, lhp

7. Cole Kimball, rhp

8. Eury Perez, of

9. Chris Marrero, 1b

10. Brad Peacock, rhp

 

In case you forgot or never knew… here are the rankings for the past few seasons. You can use it to discredit the ranking system or use it as proof to show just how hard it is to turn potential into Major League results.

 

Top 10 Prospects 2010 (according to Baseball America)

1. Stephen Strasburg, rhp

2. Derek Norris, c

3. Drew Storen, rhp

4. Ian Desmond, ss

5. Danny Espinosa, ss

6. Chris Marrero, 1b

7. Jeff Kobernus, 2b

8. Justin Maxwell, of

9. Michael Burgess, of

10. Destin Hood, of

 

Top 10 Prospects 2009

1. Jordan Zimmermann, rhp

2. Ross Detwiler, lhp

3. Chris Marrero, 1b

4. Michael Burgess, of

5. Jack McGeary, lhp

6. Derek Norris, c

7. Destin Hood, of

8. Adrian Nieto, c

9. J.P. Ramirez, of

10. Carlos Alvarez, ss

 

Top 10 Prospects 2008

1. Chris Marrero, 1b

2. Ross Detwiler, lhp

3. Collin Balester, rhp

4. Michael Burgess, of

5. Jack McGeary, lhp

6. Josh Smoker, lhp

7. Jordan Zimmermann, rhp

8. Glenn Gibson, lhp

9. Justin Maxwell, of

10. Colton Willems, rhp

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