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Monday, February 14, 2005

Top 15 Pitching Prospects (Part 1 of 3)

Below are the first five of the Top 15 Washington Nationals pitching prospects.

1. Mike Hinckley, LHP, 22
2005 destination: Likely back to double-A for a couple starts and then onto triple-A

Hinckley could be a very effective No. 2 or No. 3 starter in the majors, although his ceiling is not as high as that of a healthy Clint Everts. However, Hinckley could be in the majors much quicker, with a mid-season promotion likely. The 2001 third-round pick out of high school throws in the low 90s with a plus curve and an average changeup. He has solid command as well.

2. Clint Everts, RHP, 20
2005 destination: rehabbing from TJ surgery

Everts would have been even higher on this list if he wasn’t expected to miss most of the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery last year. Everts was the Expos, 2002 first round draft pick out of high school and many teams saw him as a top pick as a shortstop too. He never looked as good in pro ball as he did in high school simply because his velocity was not there and the Expos eventually found out why. The surgery, if all goes well, should return Everts’ fastball to the low 90s. Along with his plus-plus curveball and plus-plus changeup, Everts could be a real force at the front of a major league rotation. 2007 is probably the earliest that he will stick in the majors.

3. Bill Bray, LHP, 21
2005 destination: high-A ball, or low-A with a poor spring

Bray may move slower than Chad Cordero, who was another first round college reliever draft pick. The Nationals are considering having him pitch out of the starting rotation this year in an attempt to get him more innings and gain experience. His strengths are his power offerings: a fastball and slider. He lacks a reliable off-speed pitch, which starters need in order to throw batters' timing off and survive more than once through the lineup. Baseball America says he has a change to be a real dominating left-handed reliever closing out ballgames.

4. Daryl Thompson, RHP, 19
2005 destination: high-A ball

Thompson does not have the big, strong pitchers body that scouts love but he handled full season ball at the age of 18 and could still grow and add muscle. He has a great feel for pitching and solid makeup for a teenager. Thompson throws his fastball in the low 90s and possesses a nice curve and solid changeup. It is hard to project where Thompson will fit into a rotation in the majors because he is still young and developing but he could fit in as a No. 3 starter at this point.

5. Darrell Rasner, RHP, 24
2005 destination: double-A

The 2002 second-round pick possesses a sinking low-90s fastball, an improving curve and a changeup. Rasner does not have great control but it is not terrible either. The lack of any really outstanding pitch limits his ceiling to that of a fourth starter. He could end up being a solid middle reliever.

Look back Wednesday to see the Nationals next five top pitching prospects.

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