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Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Top 15 Pitching Prospects (Part 2 of 3)

Below is the second set of five prospects from the Washington Nationals’ Top 15 pitching prospects.

6. Collin Balester, RHP, 19
2005 destination: Likely headed to low-A ball.

Balester is still far from making the majors but he has a great pitcher’s body (6’5’’ 190lbs) and had good numbers in 2004 for a 19-year-old, even if it was in short season ball. He especially has good control for his age, although his breaking ball and changeup need more work if he is going to realize his potential.

7. Danny Rueckel, RHP. 25
2005 destination: triple-A ball

Many people think that Clint Evert has the best curve ball in the Nationals’ system, but Rueckel’s could be even better. It is, at worst, a 75 on the 20-80 scale. He is unhittable when he can control it. The athletic reliever, likely destine for triple-A, also possesses a fastball with late movement that sits in the 89-92 mph range. Rueckel was a starting shortstop in college so his pitching experience is limited.

8. Josh Karp, RHP, 25
2005 destination: triple-A ball

Karp has the stuff to be No. 1 on this list, but behavioral issues have clouded his once promising future. Karp is 6’5’’ and possesses No. 2 starter potential with a 92-93 mph fastball that can hit 96 at times. He also has a good breaking ball and an even better changeup. If he can get his attitude under control (he walked out on his team last year) he could possibly end up as a dominating closer.

9. Alex Morales, RHP. 22
2005 destination: high-A ball

At 5’11’’ 165 lbs. Morales is no friend of the scout but he does flash a 94 mph fastball despite his small frame. He also has an excellent slider (70 on the 20-80 scale), which possesses a sharp break. A decent changeup completes his repertoire. Morales biggest problem in 2004 was his command and he will likely return to high-A ball to start the season. If his body cannot standup to the rigors of starting, Morales could make a nice middle reliever.

10. A.J. Wideman, LHP, 20
2005 destination: low-A ball

It’s nice to see Ontario, Canada represented on the Nationals’ Top 15 list. Coming from Canada, Wideman does not have as much experience as a lot of pitchers from warmer regions, Even so, he knows how to pitch. His stuff is no better than average – 88-91 mph fastball with a good curveball – but he is still young, left-handed and gaining experience.

Look back Friday to see the Nationals’ last five top pitching prospects.


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