A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP THE NATIONALS
I see a lot of really good things—they're going to be the surprise of the year. They're going to push .500, and the system has talent all the way down into A ball... . I'm a big fan of Danny Espinosa. He has good range at second and is a very athletic kid who can run. He has bat speed but has trouble laying off balls up in the zone... . Ian Desmond is another athletic kid with a plus arm at short. He really hits the fastball well. He can still be undisciplined and chase breaking balls, but he's only 25... . Adam LaRoche is a plus defensive first baseman who covers ground and can pick the ball. That helps young kids who know they don't have to hit him in the chest with their throws. At the plate he's like Adam Dunn in that he'll take pitches, go deep in counts and won't get himself out... . Jayson Werth has big-time power and is a good mistake hitter. I think he's a guess hitter. He'll take a fastball down the gut and then hit a slider off the right centerfield fence... . Jordan Zimmermann was getting back up to 95 mph this spring, and he already has a plus curve, plus slider and plus change. He has a clean delivery and is always around the zone. He could be a No. 2 in this rotation for a long time... . Drew Storen has two above-average pitches, his fastball and a power slurve that's a swing-and-miss pitch. He can get his fastball up to 92 or 94, but he needs to look at Mariano Rivera and realize how important command is for a closer. If he can command his fastball with that power breaking ball he can really do some damage.
April 3, 2011
WITH 2010 STATISTICS
MANAGER JIM RIGGLEMAN
3RD SEASON WITH NATIONALS
NEW ACQUISITION (R) ROOKIE
Errors committed by Nationals shortstops in 2010, the most at any position by any team. Rookie Ian Desmond had 34; his errors cost his team 10.5 runs more than the average shortstop. The last NL shortstop with more miscues was the Dodgers' Jose Offerman in 1995 (35).
The Nationals are justifiably excited about their young middle infielders, Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa, but they're not deploying them properly. Desmond, 25, was the first to arrive in the majors, in 2009, and was the team's Opening Day shortstop a year ago. He spent five years in the minors largely because of his shaky defense: In six seasons he had 189 errors and poor range ratings—eight runs a year below average as measured by Total Zone. Among regular shortstops in the majors last year, Desmond ranked fourth worst with a -8.8 Ultimate Zone Rating. The 23-year-old Espinosa, on the other hand, shot through the minors at shortstop on the strength of his glove, not only getting to a lot of balls but also making the plays when he did; he has a +10 career Total Zone and just 44 errors in three minor league seasons. Last year Washington shifted Espinosa to second in deference to Desmond, but that's placing too much importance on order of arrival. Espinosa is the much better fielder and should handle the more demanding position, with Desmond sliding over to the right side of the infield.