Baseball America names Nationals top Minor League system

The Washington Nationals minor league system has been named the best in Major League Baseball, according to the just-released 2012 Prospect Handbook published by Baseball America.

The annual analysis of minor league programs by Baseball America placed the Nationals as the premier minor league system among MLB’s 30 franchises, and placed a number of the team’s prospects in the Top 100.  Washington’s No. 1 ranking stands in stark contrast to the 2007 season, when the Nationals’ system ranked 30th.

Nationals Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo said the honor reflected the commitment of the organization to rebuild a system that was among MLB’s worst when it was transferred from Montreal to Washington, DC.

“I cannot begin to say how proud I am of the Nationals scouting and player development staffs,” said Rizzo, who joined the club in July 2006. “The Lerner family told me they intended to build the Nationals from the ground up and we took it seriously.  The scouting and player development departments worked tirelessly and effectively to sign the best prospects to make a major league roster and to give us the ability to either play the best or trade for the best.  That’s the recipe for building a successful organization.”

Rizzo said key signings over the last five years, including Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper, Jordan Zimmermann, Drew Storen and Anthony Rendon, coupled with the recent trade of four prospects for All-Star Gio Gonzalez, demonstrate how the scouting and player development strategy of the Nationals should position the organization to better compete in 2012 and well into the future.  The list was compiled and published just before the recent Gonzalez trade, which sent four prospects (A.J. Cole, Tommy Milone, Derek Norris, Brad Peacock) to the A’s, further demonstrating the value of the team’s program.

“We desperately needed talent we could either develop to improve our roster, or that provided the assets to trade for proven talent from other rosters,” Rizzo said.  “We are definitely on the right track.”

Baseball America agrees.

“The Nationals have come a long way in our organization rankings in a short time after ranking dead last just five years ago,” said Baseball America Executive Editor Jim Callis. “They've been as aggressive as any team in the draft, which is the best way to build a team and a farm system. They've gotten the No. 1 player in our draft rankings for three years in a row with Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon, and they've added a lot of quality depth around them.”

“Between our draft picks, our trades, and our free agent acquisitions over the last three to five years, I don’t think there is a question in anyone’s minds about our commitment to building a contender in the Nation’s Capital,” Rizzo added.  “We had a strategy, we stuck to it, and hopefully, we will begin to see dividends in 2012 and well beyond.”

At one time or another, 11 current Nationals have been listed by Baseball America among the club’s Top 10 prospects:  Ian Desmond, Ross Detwiler, Danny Espinosa, Cole Kimball, John Lannan, Chris Marrero, Wilson Ramos, Stephen Strasburg, Drew Storen, Ryan Zimmerman and Jordan Zimmermann.

Those interested in ordering Baseball America’s Prospect Handbook can do so by calling 800.845.2726.

WASHINGTON’S TOP 10 PROSPECTS PER BA (’12)* BA’S TOP 10 ORGANIZATIONAL RANKINGS (‘12)** NATIONALS ORGANIZATIONAL RANKINGS BY YEAR PER BA
  1. Bryce Harper, OF
  2. Anthony Rendon, 3B
  3. Brian Goodwin, OF
  4. Alex Meyer, RHP
  5. Matt Purke, LHP
  6. Sammy Solis, LHP
  7. Steve Lombardozzi, INF
  8. Destin Hood, OF
  9. Chris Marrero, 1B
  10. Michael Taylor, OF
  1. WASHINGTON NATIONALS
  2. Texas Rangers
  3. Kansas City Royals
  4. Arizona Diamondbacks
  5. Toronto Blue Jays
  6. New York Yankees
  7. Cincinnati Reds
  8. San Diego Padres
  9. Seattle Mariners
  10. Boston Red Sox
  1. 2012: 1
  2. 2011: 13
  3. 2010: 21
  4. 2009: 21
  5. 2008: 9
  6. 2007: 30
  7. 2006: 24
  8. 2005: 26
* Post 12/23/11 trade with OAK ** Per 2012 Prospect Handbook