Yesterday, we took a look at the 2013 seasons of the top 5 prospects in the Nationals’ system, as rated by Baseball America. Today, we look at players 6-10.
6. Christian Garcia, RHP
Garcia joined the Nationals organization in 2011 as a non-prospect starter coming off his second Tommy John surgery. The Nationals converted him to a reliever in 2012 in order to save his arm, and the former Yankee farmhand rose quickly through the ranks. In 52.1 innings, he gave up only 5 earned runs, striking out 66 and earning him a call-up to the Major Leagues. In September, he displayed overpowering stuff, earning himself a spot on the postseason roster and a spot in the bullpen for what looked like years to come. In fact, his ability so impressed manager Davey Johnson that he talked of converting Garcia into a starter. But the injuries recurred for Garcia; he suffered a partially-torn right wrist within the first two weeks of Spring Training, and was sidelined for the first two months of the year. At the end of May, he was assigned to a rehab assignment with AA Harrisburg, pitching effectively in 4 appearances, and moved up to AAA Syracuse. After 8 appearances in AAA, Garcia suffered a setback, and on July 9th, the Nationals announced he had been shut down indefinitely. Garcia did return to make one scoreless appearance for the Short Season Auburn Doubledays, but his injuries and his age (he’s 28) have left his status in the organization very much in question.
Where he started this year: MLB (60-Day DL)
Where he’ll start next year: Anywhere from the major leagues to out of the organization
7. Eury Perez, CF
Perez’s blinding speed made him an asset to the big club in 2012, earning him a September call-up, where he was used mostly as a pinch-runner. He did manage his first big-league hit in 5 at bats, naturally an infield single. In 2013, Perez improved a great deal in the power department. After not hitting a home run in 127 minor league games in 2012, he hit 7 this year in only 96 games. His triple slash improved from (.314/.344/.361) to (.300/.336/.422); while he is still an batting average-dependent player due to his lack of walks, a power spike, along with his good defense, would mean he could still be useful even when the hits aren’t falling in. Perez also managed 6 largely uneventful games in the majors this year, including another infield hit. Despite his success, Perez fell from Baseball America’s Nationals top-10 prospects list for 2014.
Where he started this year: AAA
Where he’ll start next year: AAA
8. Sammy Solis, LHP
Solis missed all of the 2012 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery, but returned from injury in May, and posted solid numbers. In 13 appearances (12 starts) for High-A Potomac, Solis went 2-1 with a 3.43 ERA. His fastball was down a tick from before the injury (sitting 92-94 instead of 93-96), but still fast enough to consider him a power left-hander. However, his strikeout numbers were down from before the injury; from 8.5 K/9 in 2011 to 6.2 K/9 in 2013. In the Arizona Fall League, he has a league-leading 4 wins and a strong 2.25 ERA. Solis is already 25 years old, and will likely be promoted to AA Harrisburg this year in order to see what he can do.
Where he started this year: High-A
Where he’ll start next year: AA
9. Matt Purke, LHP
Purke’s story so far in his pitching career has been one of an immense talent with trouble staying healthy. A first-round draft pick of the Texas Rangers in 2009 who decided instead to attend Texas Christian University, Purke fell to the Nats in the 3rd round of the 2011 draft partially because teams were scared off due to a shoulder injury. The shoulder issues persisted into 2012 (when he made only 3 starts) and 2013, but Purke finally got healthy in May of this year, and pitched very effectively. In 90 innings and 18 starts between Hagerstown and Potomac, Purke went 6-4 with a 3.80 ERA and 8.2 K/9. These numbers don’t jump off the page, but more importantly, it was the most innings Purke had thrown since 2010, his sophomore year of college. Purke is currently 3-1 with a 3.91 ERA in the Arizona Fall League; he dropped off Baseball America’s list of the top 10 Nationals’ prospects.
Where he started this year: Low-A
Where he’ll start next year: High-A/AA
10. Zach Walters, SS
In 2013, Walters displayed a tool that no one knew was present — his power. After hitting two home runs with the Nats in Spring Training, Walters hit an astounding 29 for Syracuse, tied for most in the league and 17 more than his previous career high. Unfortunately, this was not a very well-rounded year for Walters; his OBP slipped below .300 and he made a career-high 38 errors. However, Walters’ play earned him a September call-up, and in limited time (9 PAs), he had 3 hits, including a triple. Walters, who was acquired from the Diamondbacks in 2011 for Jason Marquis, will come into Spring Training next year not knowing his role. Will he challenge Steve Lombardozzi for the utility infield spot, or spend another year at AAA? More than anything else, his play will determine his role.
Where he started this year: AAA
Where he’ll start next year: AAA/MLB
What next year’s list looks like:
2. A.J. Cole, RHP (142.2 IP, 10-6, 3.60 ERA for Potomac and Harrisburg)
5. Robbie Ray, LHP (142 IP, 11-5, 3.36 ERA for Potomac and Harrisburg)
7. Michael Taylor, OF (.340 OBP, .426 SLG, 10 HR, 51 SB for Potomac)
8. Jake Johansen, RHP (2nd round pick in 2013, 1.92 ERA, 51 K in 51.2 IP for Auburn and Potomac)
10. Steven Souza, OF (.396 OBP, .557 SLG, 15 HR in 77 G for Harrisburg)