P-Nats 3B Anthony Rendon (2011, 1st Rd., No. 6 overall) has been named the number one prospect in Washington's Minor League system, while 3B Matt Skole (2011, 5th Rd.) was rated at fourth best, RHP Nathan Karns (2009, 12th Rd.) was slotted as fifth best, and SS Zach Walters (2010, 9th Rd., Arizona Diamondbacks) was selected as the number ten prospect.
Despite an injury-stricken 2012 campaign in which he broke his ankle two games into the season, Rendon (BA prospect No. 1), 22, was effective for the Potomac Nationals. In nine games over two stints with the P-Nats as their third baseman, the former Rice University star, went 9-for-27 (.333) with five extra-base hits, including two doubles and three triples, while scoring five runs and drawing five walks. Rendon capped his shortened season with a promotion to Double-A Harrisburg followed by a trip to the prospect-laden Arizona Fall League where he collected a hitting line of .338/.436/.494 in 22 games with the Salt River Rafters. The six-foot, 195 pound product of Richmond, TX produced 26 hits, featuring 10 doubles and one triple, and drove in 11 runs, while stealing six bases in seven attempts. Rendon was named to both the AFL's Rising Stars Game and the circuit's Top Prospects Team.
Perhaps the most Major League ready prospect in the Nationals farm system, Rendon owns a checkered injury past, which allowed the Nationals to scoop his talent with the number six overall selection in the 2011 Major League Baseball Draft, when he could have been drafted higher without health concerns. Labeled as a "five-tool player," Rendon signed a Major League contract worth $7.2 million, including a $6 million signing bonus (third highest in franchise history behind $6.25 million to OF Bryce Harper in 2010 and $7.5 million to RHP Stephen Strasburg in 2009 ) and therefore, is on the Nationals' 40-man roster.
Baseball America also released its 2013 "Best Tools" listing which outlines various tangible superlatives among the Nationals' top prospects. True to his on-field versatility and billing as one of the best pure hitters in MiLB, Rendon was tagged with the following projections: "Best Hitter for Average," Best Strike Zone Discipline," and "Best Defensive Infielder."
After a monster season in which his raw power was showcased at both Class-A levels, Skole (BA Prospect No. 4), 23, has placed himself on the Nationals' prospect radar after a 2012 combined hitting line of .291/.426/.559 with Hagerstown and Potomac. The third baseman out of Georgia Tech, who also served time as a first baseman and designated hitter in 2012, was honored with the South Atlantic League Most Valuable Player award after swatting 27 home runs and driving in 92 runs, while amassing 197 total bases in 101 games. Those 27 long balls led all Nationals farmhands and were good for third most in all of Class-A Minor League Baseball.
For his offensive prowess, Matt Skole was named Washington's 2012 Minor League Player of the Year.
Like Rendon, the 6'4", 230 pounder out of Woodstock, GA finished his 2012 campaign in the desert, hitting .305 with four doubles, three homers, 15 runs batted in, while drawing 13 walks in 17 games for the Salt River Rafters.
With Hagerstown, Skole cranked home runs in three consecutive games from 8/1 to 8/3, highlighted by a walk-off grand slam vs. Lexington on 8/3.
Skole received the BA distinction of serving as the "Best Power Hitter" in the Nats' Minor League system.
Right-handed starting pitcher, Nathan Karns (BA Prospect No. 5), 25, zoomed onto the prospect scene with his consistency and dominance over both Class-A destinations. Karns went 11-4 in 24 appearances with Potomac and Hagerstown, owning an organizational-best 2.17 earned run average, surrendering just 28 earned runs in 116.0 innings pitched.
The former Texas Tech pitcher from Arlington, TX with a 6'5", 230 pound frame, struck out the most batters among Washington farm arms in 2012 and collected the second most wins in the Nats' Minor League system.
A two-time Carolina League Pitcher of the Week, Karns owned a stretch from 6/15 to 8/2 when he went 8-0 with a 0.94 ERA and 65 SO to 14 BB. Karns fanned at least 10 batters in three consecutive starts in the month of June.
Karns was tabbed the Nationals' 2012 Minor League Pitcher of the Year for his breakout performance.
Walters (BA Prospect No. 10), 23, a shortstop out of the University of San Diego, made a rapid ascent up the MiLB ladder in 2012, playing for three Nationals' Minor League levels including Class-A Advanced Potomac, Double-A Harrisburg, and Triple-A Syracuse.
Walters was acquired by Washington in the 2011 MLB trade deadline deal that sent RHP Jason Marquis to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
After hitting .300 or better in his first two professional seasons in the D-Backs system, the wiry, 6'2", 195 pound switch-hitter out of Cheyenne, WY put together a formidable 2012 campaign. Walters connected for 121 base hits in 126 games (.266), while scoring 56 runs, lacing 23 doubles and five triples. Walters lofted 12 four-baggers, stashed 49 RBI, and gathered 190 total bases for the P-Nats, Senators, and Chiefs.
Walter's off-season has been spent in the Puerto Rican Winter League (PWL) with the Leones de Ponce (English: "Ponce Lions") in Ponce, PR. Walters is hitting .266 in 30 games with nine doubles, 14 RBI, and 10 BB in 30 games (as of 12/20/12).
For the cannon along his right side, Walters was granted the "Best Infield Arm" distinction by BA.
Two former P-Nats also cracked BA's Top 10 Nationals' Prospects List; OF Eury Perez (No. 7) and LHP Sammy Solis (No. 8).
Perez (2007, international free agent) out of San Luis, Dominican Republic, 22, received a September call-up to the Big Leagues from Triple-A Syracuse, where he collected his first MLB stolen base and run scored on 9/2 vs. St Louis, and his first MLB hit, a single, on 9/24 vs. Milwaukee pinch-hitting for CF Bryce Harper. A system speedster, Perez stole 219 bags in 281 attempts during his MiLB career.
Solis (2010, 2nd Rd.), 24, a native of U. of San Diego, missed the entire 2012 season due to Tommy John surgery performed by Dr. Lewis Yocum, who also worked on Nationals RHP Jordan Zimmermann in 2009 and Stephen Strasburg in 2010. The 6'5", 230 pound southpaw, Solis, from Avondale, AZ, went 6-2 for the P-Nats in 2011 with a 2.72 ERA in 10 starts. The former No. 10 BA prospect expects to be ready for 2013 Spring Training.
Potomac CF Michael Taylor (2009, 6th Rd.), 21, a product of Fort Lauderdale, FL, received "Best Defensive Outfielder" and "Best Outfield Arm" billing. Taylor, drafted out of Westminster Academy (FL), projects as an athletic gap-to-gap defender with plenty of range, a strong, accurate throwing arm, and a bat that is accruing pop. Taylor is a career .241 MiLB hitter with 64 doubles, 12 triples, 17 HR and 118 RBI (278 games).
P-Nats RHP Aaron Barrett (9th Rd, 2010), 24, earned the BA rights to the "Best Slider." A product of the University of Mississippi, Barrett's full repertoire was lights out in relief for the P-Nats bullpen in 2012 as he maintained a 1.06 ERA in 11 appearances, striking out 21 batters in 17.0 IP, and earning one save. Barrett shined with Rendon on the national stage as a participant in the AFL's Rising Stars Game.
COMPLETE WASHINGTON NATIONALS 2013 TOP 10 PROSPECT RANKINGS (courtesy of Baseball America)
#1 3B Anthony Rendon #2 RHP Lucas Giolito #3 OF Brian Goodwin #4 3B Matt Skole #5 RHP Nathan Karns #6 RHP Christian Garcia #7 OF Eury Perez #8 LHP Sammy Solis #9 LHP Matt Purke #10 SS Zach Walters
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