Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Here's to you, class of 2006

"Vroom-Vroom... I look so stylish on my tricked out Segway!"

Bustling around to-and-fro today, I started to think about the future plans of Mike Rizzo and what he might have in-store for the Washington Nationals during the 2010-2011 Hot Stove season.

Picturing Cliff Lee donning the newest Nationals jersey, I dreamed of a future that involved shut out after shut out, clutch hit after clutch hit from Zimmerman and Dunn; I dreamed a winner.

Alas, I was awoken from my peaceful state with the harsh realities of what may lie ahead. The Nationals are heading into the offseason facing the prospects of losing their second best hitter (Dunn), a year without their ace in the making (Strasburg) and a collection of talent that is solid, but aging (Willingham, etc.) or younger guys that may never be more than your everyday AAAA type (Bernadina, et. al).

In a sheer panic, I raced to my favorite destination on the internet, Baseball Reference, and looked to find some answers as to why the Nationals were in the unenviable position they currently reside.

To my surprise, or lack their of, I was able to determine in just a few minutes of research that the Nationals "are who we thought they were" because, until recently, they have failed to produce talent through the annual MLB draft.

No year is more damning evidence of the Nationals failures in the drafting process than to take a look back to the draft class of 2006.

To date, the Nationals are the only team to have not produced a single major leaguer from the 2006 draft class. There is incompetence, and then there is the 2006 Washington Nationals draft class.

The class reads like a who's who of failed former prospects, and high school busts. Taking a look at the first 10 rounds, this is the motley crew that awaits.

1.15 - OF - Chris Marrero
1.22 - RHP - Colton Willems
2.15 - RHP - Sean Black
2.26 - OF/RHP - Stephen Englund
3.15 - SS - Stephen King
4.15 - LHP - Glenn Gibson
5.15 - LHP - Cory VanAllen
6.15 - RHP - Zechry Zinicola
7.15 - RHP - Samuel Brown
8.15 - C - Sean Rooney
9.15 - LHP - Joey Rosas
10.15 - RHP - Marcus Salmon

Beautiful, is it not?

From those first 11 picks,

- Four did not sign (Black, Brown, Rosas, Salmon)
- Three are in AA (Marrero, Zinicola, VanAllen)
- One is in A ball (Rooney)
- One is in low A (King)
- One is in Short Season ball (Gibson)
- One has been released (Englund)

And finally, Colton Willems the 22nd pick in the draft, and he of the $1,450,000 signing bonus, has already retired.

Retired millionaire at the age of 21, must be nice.

And who might be responsible for such a deluge of talent you ask?

Well, it's our good friend Jim Bowden. The less said about Mr. Bowden, the better.

Now that the bad news is out of the way, is there any hope that members of the class of 2006 may eventually find their way to the bright lights of "The Show"?

Why, yes, yes there is.

1st round pick, 1B Chris Marrero - For all his warts, Marrero is looking like a player that may eventually carve out a role on an American League team as part time DH/1B.

12th round pick, RHP Cole Kimball - Kimball, a hard throwing righty, was recently clocked at 97 MPH in an appearance in the Arizona Fall League.

18th round pick, RHP Adam Carr - currently participating in the Arizona Fall League. Average relief prospect that will likely find his way to the back of a major league bullpen in the coming years.

33rd round pick, 1B Tyler Moore* - Put on the map thanks in large part to a Jose Bautista-esque second half to the 2010 season to claim the Carolina League Hitter of the Year award. Moore, already 23, must prove in 2011 that the second half of 2010 was more than just a fluke.
* - Moore did not sign with Nats in 2006, but was drafted again by Nats in 2008 as 16th round pick.

41st round pick, RHP Brad Peacock - Broke onto the scene this year by cruising through A ball and holding his own in AA. Currently, Peacock can be found dominating hitters in the prospect rich Arizona Fall League.

- - -

So, when you start to fret about the latest rumors of Mike Rizzo signing a high priced, past his prime free agent, or his desire to keep the current outfield rotation intact, remember this; no matter how bad things get, nothing will compare to the disaster that was the 2006 Washington Nationals draft class.

Here's to you Class of 2006, your level of futility will never be matched again.

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