Farm System Has More Than Before

By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 7, 2006

The minor league season is over, and there is excitement in Bob Boone's voice.

"I came away from my tour of seeing our teams," the Washington Nationals director of player personnel said by phone, "and we have 11, 12 guys who are definite major league prospects that we didn't have last year."

Opposing scouts might offer differing opinions, but the Nationals' system -- which has been notoriously weak -- has been replenished, to a degree. Midseason trades brought pitching prospects such as Garrett Mock and Matt Chico from Arizona and Shairon Martis from San Francisco. Boone, who agreed with the dour assessment of the club's farm system only a few months ago, said the Nationals conducted a study and discovered that they have five times as many minor league pitchers who throw in the 90s as they did a year ago.

Only one Nationals' affiliate -- Class AAA New Orleans -- had a winning record this season, and improving records was one of Boone's stated goals at the beginning of the season. He said he had reconsidered that stance over the course of the season.

"I think winning records are important," he said. "But you're facing teams that have a lot of older guys who'll never play in the majors again. I think it's crazy to get into this arms race of trying to win down there. We said: 'Let's take some younger kids, move them up. Yeah, they'll get beat up a little bit, but you'll come out ahead in the long run.' "

Among the players Boone said developed surprisingly is Adam Carr, a 22-year-old right-hander who posted a 2.81 ERA in 16 appearances in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League and Class A Savannah. Though Carr is an accomplished hitter, the Nationals are going to give him a chance to be a starter. "But he's kind of got a closer's mentality," Boone said.

Boone said the Nationals will send seven players to the Arizona Fall League -- outfielder-infielder Kory Casto, first baseman Josh Whitesell, infielder Seth Bynum and pitchers Brett Campbell, Daniel Foli, Roy Corcoran and Devin Perrin. They will send pitchers Carr, Marco Estrada and Zech Zinicola -- the latter of whom might be able to help the major league team next season -- to the new Hawaiian instructional league. Shortstop Ian Desmond will also go to Hawaii.

Nats Lose Black

The Nationals could not come to terms with second-round draft pick Sean Black, a right-hander from New Jersey, and he enrolled at Seton Hall yesterday, meaning the club loses rights to him and he can't reenter the draft until his junior season. Black, whose family preferred that he go to college from the early stages of negotiations, was seeking first-round money after he was chosen 59th.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company