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Thursday, February 17, 2005

Top 15 Pitching Prospects (Part 3 of 3)

This is where things get interesting. It’s no secret that years of MLB control have stripped the Nationals franchise of most of their prospects so the last five pitchers represented on the Top 15 list can best be described as "sleepers." Pitchers with potential, but they still have a lot to prove and are likely a ways away from contributing in the major leagues. With that said, here are the last five of the Nationals’ Top 15 pitching prospects:

11. Gabriel Sosa, LHP, 19
2005 destination: low-A ball

Sosa is extremely small (5’9’’) for a pitcher but he is a cocky lefty who gets the most out of his ability. He has a good, live fastball and a solid breaking ball. He is extremely tough on left-handed batters and struck out 63 batters in 51 rookie ball innings. He could have a career as a lefty specialist in the Nationals’ bullpen.

12. Shawn Hill, RHP, 24
2005 destination: rehabbing from Tommy John surgery

Another representative of Ontario, Canada, Hill was one of the Expos’ best pitching prospects before his career was put on hold by surgery. He throws a 90-91 mph sinker, an above average curve and a changeup. Hill also possessed excellent control of his offerings before he was injured, but time will tell if the year off will affect that or not. Without his signature solid command, Hill could be destined for a future middle relief role.

13. Devin Perrin, RHP, 23
2005 destination: high-A

Perrin, who stands 6'7'', averaged eight strikeouts per nine innings in low-A ball last year and power is the name of his game. Unfortunately Perrin also walked almost five batters per nine innings and it remains to be seen whether Perrin's future lies in the starting rotation or the bullpen.

14. Rich Rundles, LHP, 23
2005 destination: triple-A

The 6'5'' 180 lbs lefty has always put up intriguing numbers but he could never stay healthy. 2004 was no different in the injury category, but Rundles had a 3.43 ERA in double-A. This season he should be ready to pitch in triple-A and be only a phone call away should an injury occur on the major league roster. Rundles - who throws an 87-91 mph fastball, a plus changeup and an OK curveball - would probably be best suited for the bullpen given his lack of durability.

15. Chris Lugo, RHP, 18
2005 destination: short season ball

Lugo was a 28th round pick out of high school in 2004 but put up solid numbers (1.67 ERA) in his debut and was only 17-years-old. He also allowed only two home runs in 43 innings. His ultimate role, like Perrin's, is still up in the air but he is likely to see time in the low-A ball rotation.

Other pitchers to watch: Jason Bergmann, Jon Felfoldi and Anthony Pearson.

Look back Monday to see Part 1 of the Nationals Top 15 Position Players.

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