Originally written on hardballchat.com  |  Last updated 10/21/14

The Nationals farm system is a lot like other farm systems. When teams move from the cellar to the penthouse, the farm system goes through a number of changes. Players either graduate from the farm system to the ML lineup or they are traded to acquire players that become integral parts of the teams turnaround. In the case of the Nationals, they had both at the same time. Bryce Harper and Stephen Stasburgh came of age at the same time. Naturally, both took different paths to the regular lineup. Strasburgh went through some injuries before finally making it while Harper was the natural. Having both elevated to the big leagues coupled with the four key prospects they traded for Gio Gonzalez have changed the farm system, but Gonzalez is on the verge of winning 20 games. You’d have to say it was worth it.     Age Lev How BP BA MLB POS C Sandy Leon 23 AAA I 19 NR 15 NR 1B Chris Marrero 24 AAA D 12 NR 5 9 2B Jeff Kabernus 24 AA D NR NR 11 NR 3B Anthony Rendon 22 AA D 2 2 1 6 SS Zach Walters 23 AAA D 14 NR 14 NR OF Brian Goodwin 21 AA D 4 5 3 NR OF Michael Taylor 21 A+ D 7 NR 6 NR OF Eury Perez 22 AAA I 13 NR 7 NR P Alex Meyer 22 A+ D 5 6 2 NR Sandy Leon– Catcher This used to be Derek Norris and when you consider that they also had Wilson Ramos at the big league level, you’d have to say this was a position of depth for the Nats. Ramos tore his ACL and Norris was part of the deal for Gonzalez. Suddenly, a strength became a weakness. The club did acquire Kurt Suzuki to stave off the affects of having no regular catcher. Leon is likely not going make an impact. Chris Marrero– First Base Marrero is a decent first base prospect even if he is a little older than most. His presence makes the decision making surrounding Adam Laroche that much more interesting. Michael Morse can also move to first base, so Laroche may not be coming back even though he would prefer to come back. The fact that he is having a career season is complicating things. Jeff Kabernus– Second Base Danny Espinosa is the second baseman of the future and the second baseman of now. Furthermore, Steve Lombardozzi would have been in this spot last season, but he was promoted and is serving a very key role off the bench. Kabernus is likely not going to make it, but you never know. Anthony Rendon– Third Base Rendon has shown why teams avoided picking him and why the Nationals wanted to pick him at the same time. He continues to hit no matter what level you put him at, but he hasn’t been through a healthy season since his sophomore season at Rice. If he can ever complete a season healthy he might be ready for the big leagues. The question is what position he will play since Ryan Zimmerman is signed long term. Zach Walters– Shortstop Some thought he would get an opportunity this year due to Ian Desmond’s continued struggles, but Desmond has turned a corner. Of course, these things happen whenever a team goes from worst to first. Players that were shaky before suddenly become productive. So, Walters will have to wait his turn before he gets his opportunity. Brian Goodwin– Outfield There is a bit of an unknown going into 2013 when it comes to the outfield. The Nats have three outfielders right now, but none of them are really center fielders. Michael Morse might end up moving to first base full time if the Nats let Adam Laroche go, so that leaves center field as a potential open slot. Will the Nats wait for someone like Goodwin to develop (he probably will be ready by 2014) or will they sign a free agent? We will soon find out. Michael Taylor–Outfield Taylor gives the Nats some insurance if they should want to promote from within to finish the outfield. He probably will start 2013 in AA which means he could be in Washington by the end of the 2013 season or beginning of 2014 season. Like Goodwin, he has the talent to play center if the Nats are patient enough to wait. Eury Perez– Outfield Perez is not necessarily destined to become a center fielder, so the Nats are hoping he could become a decent fourth or fifth outfielder at the next level. He will likely get an invite to Spring Training and will get a chance to prove his worth. The Nats bench is one of the reasons they have come as far as they have. He will have a tough time breaking into that bench. Alex Meyer– Pitcher Stephen Strasburg is in the rotation. Brad Peacock, A.J. Cole, and Tommy Milone have all been traded, so now it is time for the next generation of pitching prospects to step up. Fortunately, the Nats have enough of them so that they aren’t just relying on Meyer. Matt Purke in particular is someone to keep an eye on. The Nats are flush with pitching, so Meyer will have plenty of time to develop.            

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