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Posted at 03:41 AM ET, 08/16/2011

In their system, the Nationals have more quantity and quality


The elation the Nationals felt last night guarantees nothing. Even the best, most promising draft picks are longshots to be stars the day they sign. If you need proof, ask Jim Bowden about 2007, the year the Nationals beamed about signing the three left-handed starters who would anchor their rotation for years to come – Jack McGeary, Josh Smoker and Colton Willems.

That’s not the best parallel for last night’s Nationals haul, and Jordan Zimmermann also came out of that draft. But you get the idea, an idea you could glean from just about any team’s draft from just about any season. High-end talent does not ensure high-end results.

Well, this post is headed in a grim direction. Let’s change course, because signing all five of their top choices is a wonderful development for the Nationals. Does it guarantee anything? No, but it sure pushes the odds far greater in the Nationals’ favor.

Developing star players is a lottery, but the Nationals are sure holding a lot of good tickets. The Nationals lacked depth in their farm system even more than they lacked star power when Mike Rizzo took over the ship. Now they have both, with the former being far more important than the latter.

Some of the most promising Nationals prospects are not going to pan out. But given the quality and quantity of their high-end prospects, some of them are bound to become stars. They’ve rigged the game in their favor. They don’t need good luck to be successful. It would take bad luck for them to be unsuccessful.

Let’s look at what the Nationals’ future looks like. The following is a rough list of the Nationals’ top young talent — any players 25 or younger, at any level. This is not counting young, controllable players like Ryan Zimmerman (still, lest we forget, the best thing the Nationals have going for them) and John Lannan who are older than 25. If I’ve left anyone off or if someone is here who shouldn’t be, it’s late. Feel free to chime in in the comment section:

STARTER PITCHERS

Stephen Strasburg

Jordan Zimmermann

Alex Meyer

Matt Purke

Kylin Turnbull

Robbie Ray

A.J. Cole

Brad Peacock

Tom Milone

Ross Detilwer

Brad Meyers

Sammy Solis

Danny Rosenbaum

INFIELD

Danny Espinosa

Ian Desmond

Stephen Lombardozzi

Anthony Rendon

Chris Marrero

Tyler Moore

Blake Kelso

Rick Hague

Jeff Kobernus

OUTFIELD

Bryce Harper

Brian Goodwin

Destin Hood

Michael Taylor

Erik Komatsu

Eury Perez

Randolph Oduber

CATCHER

Wilson Ramos

Derek Norris

David Freitas

Sandy Leon

RELIEVERS

Drew Storen

Tyler Clippard

Rafael Martin

Ryan Mattheus

Cole Kimball

Any of the starters listed above

That list should make Nationals fans light up. There are potential stars in that group, and even if 80 percent of those players fail, the Nationals will still be left with a gaggle of talented major leaguers. Once the dust settles, it will be fascinating to see where the baseball industry ranks the Nationals’ farm system. It was rubble when Rizzo arrived. Now, it could be considered one of the game’s best, or at least among the top 10.

The Nationals should not be complacent. The next necessary step is to ramp up international signings, an area the Nationals have been utterly lacking in, sometimes to calamitous results. (The residue from the Smiley Gonzalez saga is still lingering.) But overall, their farm system and collection of young major league talent is in a good place. After last night, it has never been better.

FROM THE POST

The Nationals had a “huge” night as they signed their top five picks. All of the info you need is in that link.

The Nats will pay tribute to Navy SEALs with their caps tonight, and a non-update on John Lannan’s knee.

NATS MINOR LEAGUES

Syracuse was postponed.

Harrisburg was off.

Kinston 2, Potomac 0: The P-Nats struck out 18 times. Steven Souza went 2 for 3 with a double and a walk.

Hagerstown 3, Lexington 2: David Freitas went 3 for 4. Kevin Keyes went 2 for 3 with a home run.

Auburn was off.

By  |  03:41 AM ET, 08/16/2011

 
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