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December
20th
2005
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Post-2005 Prospect Review: Washington
by Tim Polko

Today's Fantasy Rx

Prospects with Double-Digit Upside
Likely 2006 September Call-ups
Potential Reserve Help
Minor League Draft Picks
Organization Rankings
Washington's Top 15 Fantasy Prospects


Prospects with Double-Digit Upside

Bill Bray, 22, LH Reliever
1-4 and 2 Saves on a 25:9 K:BB in 21.1 IP over 23 G
with 23 H, 3 HR, a .62 G-F, and a 5.06 ERA for AAA New Orleans(PCL).
1-0 and 1 Save on a 6:1 K:BB in 5.2 IP over 3 G
with 10 H, 1 HR, a 1.20 G-F, and a 6.35 ERA for AA Harrisburg(EL).
1-0 and 3 Saves on an 18:3 K:BB in 12.2 IP over 8 G
with 8 H, 1 HR, a .82 G-F, and a 2.13 ERA for A+ Potomac(Car).

Selected thirteenth overall in 2004, Bray surprisingly remained in the minors all year as the Nationals wisely avoided wasting a 40-man slot on him this winter. Now he only needs a good spring to break camp in Washington's bullpen, and given his significant upside as a late-inning force, Bray merits a Dollar Days' selection in almost any league. Any injury to Chad Cordero could result in plenty of unexpected roto value for Bray.


Tyrell Godwin, 26, OF-L
0/3 for .000/.000/.000 with 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 R, 0/0 SB%,
and a 0:1 BB:K for Washington.
160/499 for .321/.387/.443 with 9 HR, 48 RBI, 83 R, 22/34 SB%,
and a 50:77 BB:K for AAA New Orleans(PCL).

Kept as a Rule 5 pick from Toronto at the cost of A-ball starter Aaron Wideman, Godwin finally emerged as a capable outfielder in New Orleans. Of course, the Nationals remain somewhat stocked with decent outfielders, but given his impressive tools and overall upside, Godwin just might snag a starter job with a good spring. He at least looks like a solid bench player capable of a dozen or more steals and therefore meriting at least an endgame pickup in every NL league.


Darrell Rasner, 24, RH Swingman
0-1 on a 4:2 K:BB in 1 GS(5G)
with 5 H, 0 HR, a 6-10 G-F, and a 3.68 ERA for Washington.
6-7 on a 96:29 K:BB in 150.1 IP over 26 GS(27G)
with 150 H, 10 HR, a 1.42 G-F, and a 3.59 ERA for AA Harrisburg(EL).

Potential rotation filler as soon as next spring, a poor strikeout rate unfortunately leaves Rasner with little long-term upside. However, outstanding control conversely could keep him in the majors indefinitely, and if he breaks camp in the majors, Rasner absolutely merits a couple bucks during the endgame. Consider him a strong sleeper as long as the Nationals remain at RFK.


Brandon Watson, 24, OF-L
7/40 for .175/.250/.325 with 1 HR, 5 RBI, 8 R, 0/2 SB%,
and a 4:8 BB:K for Washington.
132/372 for .355/.400/.419 with 1 HR, 25 RBI, 69 R, 31/44 SB%,
and a 28:33 BB:K for AAA New Orleans(PCL).
36/146 for .247/.290/.253 with 0 HR, 6 RBI, 13 R, 7/12 SB%,
and a 7:21 BB:K for AA Harrisburg(EL).

Unfairly pushed back to Harrisburg after merely a mediocre 2004, Watson finally exploded upon his return to the PCL, demonstrating solid plate discipline, speed skills, and a BA that indicates plenty of upside on a big league bench. Like Tyrell Godwin, Watson only needs to break camp in the majors to automatically merit a fantasy roster spot throughout NL rotodom, though limited player gives Watson less upside than his New Orleans teammate.


Ryan Zimmerman, 21, 3B-R
23/58 for .397/.419/.569 with 0 HR, 6 RBI, 6 R, 0/0 SB%,
and a 3:12 BB:K for Washington.
76/233 for .326/.371/.528 with 9 HR, 32 RBI, 40 R, 1/6 SB%,
and a 15:34 BB:K for AA Harrisburg(EL).
8/17 for .471/.471/1.059 with 2 HR, 6 RBI, 5 R, 0/1 SB%,
and a 0:3 BB:K for A Savannah(SAL).

Even an awful spring probably won't prevent Zimmerman from opening 2006 as the Nats' starting third baseman following the fantastic trade of Vinny Castilla for Brian Lawrence. Capable of handling shortstop, Zimmerman profiles as one of the top fielding third baseman in baseball. More importantly, he possesses plenty of offensive upside despite a rookie season of home games at pitcher-friendly RFK Stadium. While I expect Zimmerman's unimpressive plate discipline will prevent him from blossoming into a $20 player for a couple years, a respectable batting average and quantitative output should fuel a push towards double-digit value, an impressive result for anyone only a year out of college. Push bidding to the low teens in all standard keeper leagues given Zimmerman's long-term upside, however holding your offering to single digits similarly makes sense in single-season leagues.


Likely 2006 September Call-ups

Larry Broadway, 24, 1B-L
11/57 for .193/.281/.246 with 0 HR, 5 RBI, 4 R, 2/2 SB%,
and a 7:17 BB:K for AAA New Orleans(PCL).
50/186 for .269/.329/.538 with 12 HR, 24 RBI, 29 R, 0/0 SB%,
and a 17:37 BB:K for AA Harrisburg(EL).
12/28 for .429/.543/.714 with 1 HR, 4 RBI, 3 R, 0/0 SB%,
and a 7:3 BB:K for R Nationals(GCL).

With Brad Wilkerson dispatched to Texas and Nick Johnson heading towards free agency next fall, Broadway remains positioned to win a starting job in 2007 despite his awful summer. Knee problems effectively ruined his season, likely forcing him to begin a fourth AA campaign in April barring a shockingly productive off-season. The good news is that Broadway remains a relatively disciplined hitter headed towards his prime, so although he lacks significant long-term value, he merits a roster spot in virtually every league with any minor league system.


Kory Casto, 24, 3B-L
145/500 for .290/.394/.510 with 22 HR, 90 RBI, 86 R, 6/9 SB%,
and an 84:98 BB:K for A+ Potomac(Car).

So impressive in A-ball that we believed him worthy of a mid-summer pick-up, Casto looks like a future cleanup hitter in Washington regardless of whether he plays third, second, or a corner outfield position. My biggest concern regarding his development is the possibility of Casto turning into another Val Pascucci, however Casto's superior defensive skills should insure he avoids a quick move to AAAA status and eventually Japan. Consider Casto a solid mid-round pick in any league, likely to win a starting job sometime in 2007.


Clint Everts, 21, RH Starter
0-1 on a 21:12 K:BB in 19 IP over 1 GS(8G)
with 21 H, 0 HR, a 1.47 G-F, and 3.79 ERA for A- Vermont(NYP).
0-1 on a 15:8 K:BB in 16 IP over 7 GS
with 18 H, 0 HR, a .74 G-F, and a 3.38 ERA for R Nationals(GCL).

The extremely forgiving environment of RFK Stadium currently boosts the value of all Nationals' pitching prospects, earning Everts inclusion here despite his slow development track. Tommy John surgery at the end of 2004 thankfully only cost him a year, and give his significant long-term potential, Everts just might challenge for a rotation slot by the end of 2006. Of course, waiting until he remains healthy for a full year makes much more sense than rostering him now, so only keep Everts on your spring draft radar in the deepest NL leagues.


Armando Galarraga, 23, RH Starter
3-4 on a 58:21 K:BB in 76.1 IP over 13 GS
with 80 H, 10 HR, a 1.05 G-F, and a 5.19 ERA for AA Harrisburg(EL).
3-4 on a 79:23 K:BB in 80 IP over 14 GS
with 69 H, 7 HR, a 1.04 G-F, and a 2.48 ERA for A+ Potomac(Car).

Sent to Texas in the Alfonso Soriano deal earlier this month, Galarraga no longer looks like a viable fantasy prospect given both the severe competition in the Rangers' upper minors and the downside of pitching in Ameriquest. He somehow needs to improve his effectiveness in the Texas League while echoing these skills to remain a viable future members of the Rangers' rotation.


Shawn Hill, 24, RH Starter
No 2005 stats.

Tommy John surgery cost Hill the entire year, and considering his limited dominance prior to the injury, he should shift to the bullpen upon his return. I don't expect him to emerge as more than roster filler until 2007.


Mike Hinckley, 23, LH Starter
3-9 on an 80:51 K:BB in 127.2 IP over 21 GS(22G)
with 151 H, 10 HR, a .96 G-F, and a 4.93 ERA for A+ Potomac(Car).

Shoulder problems resulted in a delayed start to the season for Hinckley, who largely flailed for Potomac despite dominating in the Eastern League over the second half of 2004. Although an expected rebound next summer would return Hinckley's top prospect status, he needs to demonstrate better skills before warranting serious fantasy consideration. Monitor his progress with the thought of possibly rostering him during a likely September cup-of-coffee.


Josh Karp, 26, RH Swingman
3-1 on a 29:14 K:BB in 36 IP over 1 GS(21G)
with 37 H, 8 HR, a .93 G-F, and a 5.75 ERA for AAA New Orleans(PCL).
2-5 on a 40:23 K:BB in 57.2 IP over 10 GS(11G)
with 58 H, 6 HR, a 1.08 G-F, and a 4.68 ERA for AA Harrisburg(EL).

The sixth pick of the 2001 draft, chosen ahead of Chris Burke, Casey Kotchman, Aaron Heilman, Bobby Crosby, Jeremy Bonderman, Noah Lowry, Jeff Mathis, and David Wright in the first round alone, Karp barely still deserves a place on Washington's prospect list. However, his pedigree and passable control still suggest some big league potential for the UCLA product. Perhaps shifting to the bullpen will result in him avoiding complete draft bust status.


Danny Rueckel, 26, RH Reliever
9-6 and 7 Saves on a 72:21 K:BB in 80 IP over 53 G
with 86 H, 7 HR, a .78 G-F, and a 4.16 ERA for AA Harrisburg(EL).

Remaining at Harrisburg for a second season suggests rather limited upside given the club's need for pitching help throughout the year. Rueckel appears headed for no more than a likely brief career in middle relief, though until he actually reaches the majors, he won't belong on any roto roster.


Potential Reserve Help

Jay Bergmann, 24, RH Reliever
2-0 on a 21:11 K:BB in 20.2 IP over 1 GS(15G)
with 14 H, 1 HR, a .71 G-F, and a 2.75 ERA for Washington.
3-2 and 2 Saves on a 39:13 K:BB in 37 IP over 20 G
with 26 H, 5 HR, a .94 G-F, and a 3.16 ERA for AAA New Orleans(PCL).
2-0 and 5 Saves on a 17:6 K:BB in 37 IP over 21 G
with 27 H, 3 HR, a .48 G-F, and a 1.22 ERA for AA Harrisburg(EL).

Bergmann blossomed in his first full year in the bullpen, largely dominating the upper minors prior to remaining a force on the Nationals. He needs to cut his walk rate before earning serious consideration from fantasy owners, however continued effectiveness could qualify Bergmann as no worse than roster filler fairly early in 2006.


Kip Bouknight, 27, RH Starter
3-2 on a 34:18 K:BB in 52.2 IP over 8 GS(9G)
with 52 H, 9 HR, a 1.41 G-F, and a 3.42 ERA for AAA New Orleans(PCL).
4-4 on a 60:32 K:BB in 89.2 IP over 13 GS(20G)
with 92 H, 10 HR, a 1.34 G-F, and a 4.01 ERA for AA Harrisburg(EL).

Former Golden Spikes winner Bouknight wisely signed with Washington following his release from Toronto last December. Although he still looks like a no better than a decent AAAA option, his performance in New Orleans just might earn him a look in Washington next summer. Don't be surprised if Bouknight emerges as a roto sleeper, especially if he heads into the Nationals' bullpen.


Jason Bowers, 27, SS-R
79/333 for .237/.326/.303 with 2 HR, 38 RBI, 29 R, 9/12 SB%,
and a 39:55 BB:K for AAA New Orleans(PCL).

A third AAA campaign resulted in only minor development in the skills of this minor league free agent. Bowers won't possess any fantasy value even if he lands a job on a big league bench.


Donnie Bridges, 27, RH Starter
2-6 on a 52:42 K:BB in 63.1 IP over 12 GS(13G)
with 72 H, 9 HR, a .93 G-F, and a 5.68 ERA for AAA New Orleans(PCL).
1-3 on an 18:8 K:BB in 25.2 IP over 5 GS
with 34 H, 1 HR, a .97 G-F, and a 4.21 ERA for AA Harrisburg(EL).

The 1997 first round pick entered his ninth professional season without so much as sniffing the majors. I still believe Bridges might see some success as a reliever, but he clearly doesn't deserve any consideration for a big league rotation slot.


Melvin Dorta, 23, OF-R
103/408 for .252/.314/.373 with 11 HR, 50 RBI, 56 R, 22/35 SB%,
and a 35:46 BB:K for AA Harrisburg(EL).

Developing speed skills, decent plate discipline, and moderate defensive flexibility just might push Dorta to the majors as a utilityman. However, a meager OBP indicates the minor league free agent requires significantly more seasoning in the upper minors.


Justin Echols, 25, RH Starter
9-7 on a 120:40 K:BB in 116 IP over 17 GS(31G)
with 138 H, 21 HR, a .94 G-F, and a 5.20 ERA for AA Harrisburg(EL).

While Echols might rebound if finally forced into the bullpen, allowing an abundance of homers certainly renders him useless as a starter. He may never develop into more than minor league roster filler despitean intriguing strikeout rate.


Dee Haynes, 27, OF-R
11/43 for .256/.304/.465 with 2 HR, 7 RBI, 10 R, 1/1 SB%,
and a 3:6 BB:K between AAA Memphis(PCL) and AAA New Orleans(PCL).
103/376 for .274/.321/.505 with 21 HR, 63 RBI, 63 R, 0/1 SB%,
and a 21:54 BB:K for AA Harrisburg(EL).

The former Cardinals' prospect shifted to the Nationals in May for future considerations yet simply lacks an apparent role in Washington. Limited patience renders Haynes fairly useless as more than a one-dimensional slugger, although given his repeated AAA problems, he easily could crest as AAAA roster filler.


Travis Hughes, 27, RH Reliever
1-1 on an 8:8 K:BB in 13 IP over 14 G
with 18 H, 4 HR, a 1.71 G-F, and a 5.54 ERA for Washington.
2-5 and 13 Saves on a 73:25 K:BB in 59.2 IP over 52 G
with 47 H, 3 HR, a 1.08 G-F, and a 3.02 ERA for AAA New Orleans(PCL).

An April waiver claim resulted in a couple trips to Washington for Hughes this summer. Of course, his continued failure to translate AAA success into big league effectiveness renders him useless to fantasy teams until he manages to cut his walk rate to an acceptable level.


Kenny Kelly, 26, OF-R
4/13 for .308/.357/.385 with 0 HR, 2 RBI, 5 R, 1/2 SB%,
and a 1:6 BB:K between Cincinnati and Washington.
76/233 for .326/.382/.438 with 3 HR, 17 RBI, 43 R, 18/22 SB%,
and a 20:49 BB:K for AAA Louisville(IL).
19/82 for .232/.308/.293 with 0 HR, 6 RBI, 1 R, 3/5 SB%,
and a 9:15 BB:K for AAA New Orleans(PCL).
10/47 for .213/.288/.447 with 2 HR, 6 RBI, 5 R, 2/3 SB%,
and a 5:10 BB:K for AA Harrisburg(EL).
2/12 for .167/.231/.250 with 0 HR, 0 RBI, 1 R, 0/0 SB%,
and a 1:2 BB:K for A+ Sarasota(FSL).

Few players wear six different uniforms in one season, and even fewer emerge as impact big leaguers following such an insane campaign. Yet Kelly demonstrated intriguing fantasy potential at Louisville, so despite no longer profiling as a future starter, he still could impact the game as a speedster off the bench. He just might emerge as a viable Dollar Days option with a strong camp.


David Maust, 27, LH Swingman
5-4 on a 78:14 K:BB in 100.2 IP over 14 GS(26G)
with 79 H, 7 HR, a 1.03 G-F, and a 2.32 ERA for AA Harrisburg(EL).
1-0 on an 18:13 K:BB in 20.1 IP over 9 G
with 27 H, 2 HR, a 1.11 G-F, and a 6.64 ERA for A+ Potomac(Car).

Returning to the rotation somehow resulted in an amazing comeback for Maust, who appeared unable to pitch effective above A-ball prior to this summer. Even echoing this performance in 2006 will push him to the cusp of the majors.


Juan Melo, 29, SS-S
99/311 for .318/.365/.489 with 10 HR, 56 RBI, 44 R, 2/6 SB%,
and a 20:38 BB:K for AAA New Orleans(PCL).

Returning to an affiliated club for the first time since 2002 resulted in another solid performance from the minor league journeyman. With a career AAA OPS near .800, Melo deserves a chance to contribute off a big league bench, though his failure to stay in the upper minors over the past couple of years indicates only minimal chance of him ever reaching the majors.


Saul Rivera, 28, RH Reliever
3-3 and 9 Saves on a 70:20 K:BB in 76.2 IP over 40 G
with 72 H, 3 HR, a 2.76 G-F, and a 2.47 ERA for AA Harrisburg(EL).

Rundles again failed to earn that necessary promotion, instead spending a fifth summer in a AA bullpen. Hopefull his excellent all-around skills at least will push him onto a AAA staff in 2005 since his overall success suggests some potential to remain effective against tougher competition.


Rich Rundles, 24, LH Starter
6-13 no a 91:49 K:BB in 159.1 IP over 26 GS(27G)
with 177 H, 14 HR, a 1.66 G-F, and a 4.18 ERA for AA Harrisburg(EL).

The second prospected acquired by Montreal from Boston with Tomo Ohka for Ugueth Urbina in 2001, Rundles stalled at Harrisburg over the last two years. A low strikeout rate apparently prevented his advancement, however given his relative youth and effectiveness, I fully expect Rundles to develop into a viable big leaguer by the end of the decade.


Rick Short, 33, 2B-R
6/15 for .400/.471/.933 with 2 HR, 4 RBI, 4 R, 0/0 SB%,
and a 1:1 BB:K for Washington.
144/376 for .383/.456/.569 with 11 HR, 70 RBI, 72 R, 5/9 SB%,
and a 46:27 BB:K for AAA New Orleans(PCL).

Ignoring their respective fantasy values but not their salaries, frankly I'd rather own Rick Short than Alfonso Soriano on any MLB team. Short led all affiliated hitters in batting average, appears able to handle half-a-dozen positions, and owns superb plate discipline. Yet following the ridiculously lopsided trade with Texas, the addition of Soriano pushed Short right off the roster, leading to a likely move to Japan. Of course, I realize that Soriano possesses much more upside, but due to his inflated price and continuing refusal to move to a position where his defense won't kill the team, Washington erred in letting a potentially outstanding bench player depart the organization this week.


Matt J. White, 28, LH Swingman
0-1 on a 3:3 K:BB in 4 IP over 1 GS
with 4 H, 0 HR, a 3-8 G-F, and a 9.00 ERA for Washington.
8-6 on a 102:45 K:BB in 125.2 IP over 16 GS(35G)
with 122 H, 7 HR, a 1.14 G-F, and a 3.72 ERA for AAA New Orleans(PCL).

An unexpected return to the rotation surprisingly didn't cause White's skills to collapse as he remained quite effective as a AAA swingman. He still profiles as a future middleman, though his immediate future remains rather uncertain given his performance this summer. I suspect White will need a year to reconsolidate his skills in a AAA bullpen before seriously challenging for a permanent spot in the majors.


Minor League Draft Picks

None.


Aside from players listed above, no other Washington prospect deserves consideration in 2006 fantasy drafts. Brendan Harris, J.J. Davis, Tony Blanco, and Joe Horgan no longer qualify as rookies due to exceeding the service time maximum.


Organization Rankings

I really didn't expect to see so many potential fantasy assets on Washington. While additional off-season moves could severely limit the value of many of these players, Zimmerman and Brady seem certain to spend the season in the majors, Watson and Godwin look like no less than solid reserves, and Casto, Broadway, Hinckley, and Everts all remain excellent prospects for future years. With RFK suppressing hitting for a few more seasons, the Nationals now look as promising as the three NL California teams for developing young pitchers. Unfortunately, although you should feel free to roster even untested relievers here if they register decent skills over their initial outings in Washington, the Nationals possess very little overall depth of prospects. Aside from their highest-upside players, the continued uncertainty facing the club renders the majority of their minor leaguers fairly useless.

Current ranking of potentially helpful fantasy depth for teams discussed thus far in 2005, based on both the quality and quantity of players ready to contribute in the majors, as well as consideration of the trade value of minor league draft picks from the lower levels of each system:

1. Florida Marlins(Hermida, Jacobs, E.Reed, Willingham, J.Wilson, Petit, Olsen)
2. Arizona Diamondbacks(Co.Jackson, C.Quentin, S.Drew)
3. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim(J.Mathis, B.Wood)
4. Colorado Rockies(Shealy, J.Salazar, Quintanilla, Stewart)
5. Los Angeles Dodgers(Billingsley, R.Martin, J.Guzman, Loney)
6. Texas Rangers(I.Kinsler, J.Botts)
7. San Diego Padres(J.Barfield, B.Johnson)
8. Milwaukee Brewers(P.Fielder, C.Hart)
9. Seattle Mariners(S.Choo, J.Strong)
10. Minnesota Twins(F.Liriano, Kubel)
11. Boston Red Sox(Pedroia, C.Hansen, Papelbon)
12. Chicago White Sox(Br.Anderson, Ch.Young)
13. Atlanta Braves(Marte, Chuck James)
14. Tampa Bay Devil Rays(Del.Young)
15. Baltimore Orioles(Markakis, Maine, W.Young)
16. Washington Nationals(R.Zimmerman)
17. Oakland Athletics(D.Barton)
18. Cleveland Indians(Fr.Gutierrez, F.Carmona)
19. New York Mets(Milledge, And.Hernandez)
20. Pittsburgh Pirates(McLouth)
21. San Francisco Giants(Cain)
22. St. Louis Cardinals(An.Reyes)
23. Cincinnati Reds(Denorfia)
24. Kansas City Royals(Huber)
25. Chicago Cubs(F.Pie)
26. Houston Astros(Hirsh)
27. Toronto Blue Jays(D.McGowan)
28. Detroit Tigers(Verlander)
29. New York Yankees(K.Thompson)
30. Philadelphia Phillies(M.Bourn)


Today's Fantasy Rx: After a month of articles spent looking for sleeper rookies on most clubs in this space, Washington provides us with a perfect counterexample. Ryan Zimmerman shot up prospect lists as the first player from the 2005 draft to reach the majors. He registered impressive performances at three professional levels and now seems certain to break camp as the Nationals' starting third baseman. However, he remains relatively untested, lodged in a somewhat depleted lineup, and facing tremendous pressure to produce immediately. Questionable plate discipline and a poor hitters' park also provide potential obstacles, so although could emerge as an All-Star in the near future, the publicity surrounding Zimmerman virtually insures that everyone who drafts the rookie this spring will fail to earn any profit on him in 2006.


Washington's Top 15 Fantasy Prospects for 2006
1. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B
2. Tyrell Godwin, OF
3. Brandon Watson, OF
4. Darrell Rasner, SP
5. Larry Broadway, 1B
6. Kory Casto, 3B
7. Kenny Kelly, OF
8. Bill Bray, RP
9. Clint Everts, SP
10. Mike Hinckley, SP
11. Shawn Hill, SP
12. Kip Bouknight, SP
13. Jay Bergmann, RP
14. Travis Hughes, RP
15. Dee Haynes, OF


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Please e-mail your comments to tim@rotohelp.com.
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