Since Peacock, Cole and Norris were traded, here are the three guys Baseball America picked to take their place in the Top 10
8. Destin Hood, of
Born: April 3, 1990. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 225. Drafted: HS—Mobile, Ala., 2008 (2nd round). Signed by: Eric Robinson.
The Nationals knew Hood was a long-term project when they signed him away from an Alabama football scholarship for a $1.1 million bonus in 2008. That has proven correct, though he showed signs of harnessing his significant raw talent last year in high Class A. Despite playing in the Carolina League (the lowest-scoring full-season circuit in 2011), he more than doubled his previous career totals for homers and steals while also dramatically improving his plate discipline. Hood excels at maintaining his balance through his swing and has toned down his tendency to chase sliders off the plate. He can drive the ball from line to line, showing very good doubles pop to the right-center gap and emerging home run power to the pull side. Washington expects him to develop into an average or slightly better hitter with solid to plus power. A slightly above-average runner when he signed, Hood had thickened by 2010 and saw his speed drop to below average. He got himself into considerably better shape last offseason and his speed returned in 2011, when he consistently posted solid running times. He also made significant gains with his outfield routes and his throwing, and now projects as an average left fielder with a fringy yet efficient arm. Hood has a chance to be a solid regular, and how he handles the jump to Double-A in 2012 will be telling.
9. Chris Marrero, 1b
Born: July 2, 1988. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 210. Drafted: HS—Opa Locka, Fla., 2006 (1st round). Signed by: Tony Arango.
Marrero has advanced steadily through the Nationals system, one level at a time, since signing for $1.625 million as a first-round pick in 2006. Though his numbers never have leapt off the page, he has produced at every level and he had his best year in 2011. He hit .300 for the first time since Rookie ball and posted an .825 OPS, his highest ever over a full minor league season. He spent all of September as Washington's everyday first baseman, struggling to make consistent contact against big league pitching. Marrero always has tended to step in the bucket, but when he stays on line and focuses on driving the ball to the middle of the field, his barrel stays in the hitting zone longer and his pitch recognition improves. Still just 23, he profiles as an average hitter with slightly above-average power. He has plus raw power, but he's still learning to make the most use of it. Marrero made great strides defensively in Triple-A, cutting his error total to five from 18 in 2010. His footwork and ability to pick balls out of the dirt have improved significantly, and he now profiles as a fringy defender with an adequate arm. He's a well below-average runner. With first basemen Michael Morse (who shifted to left field in September) and Adam LaRoche still under contract for 2012, Marrero figures to return to Triple-A to open the season. He profiles as a decent everyday first baseman or a platoon player.
10. Michael Taylor, of
Born: March 26, 1991. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 190. Drafted: HS—Fort Lauderdale, Fla., 2009 (6th round). Signed by: Tony Arango.
A raw athlete who lacked polish at shortstop, Taylor struggled mightily in the infield and at the plate in his 2010 debut. The Nationals moved him to center field in instructional league after the season, and he took to it immediately, flashing premium defensive ability by the end of the fall. The defensive switch also took pressure off him at the plate, and he held his own in low Class A as a 20-year-old last year. He reminds club officials of Devon White and Mike Cameron physically, using his plus speed to glide effortlessly around center field, where his excellent instincts translate to stellar range. Taylor still is fine-tuning his throwing technique but flashes above-average arm strength. He's a work in progress at the plate, but his quick hands generate impressive leverage and bat speed. He had a narrow base and a long stride heading into 2011, causing his front foot to get down late and his back side to collapse. He made progress during the season at getting his foot down earlier and staying in better hitting position. Taylor also showed the ability to shorten up and take the ball the other way with two strikes, though Washington wants him to do a better job attacking pitches when he's ahead in the count. His power is to center and left field, and he has a chance to grow into 20-25 homer pop as he fills out his angular frame. The Nats love Taylor's upside, but he's still a long way from putting everything together. He'll advance to high Class A in 2012.