The announcement of the blockbuster trade drew a few gasps at the prospects the Nationals gave up to get left-hander Gio Gonzalez from the Oakland A's. Those prospects represented among the top players in the franchise's coveted minor league system, according to Baseball America.
Specifically, Brad Peacock (No. 3), A.J. Cole (No. 4), Derek Norris (No. 9) and Tom Milone (No.16 in 2010) were considered among the best the Nationals had to offer.
This deal was pretty much the package the Nationals have been seeking to get the attention of another team ever since they began rebuilding their minor leagues a few years back.
How big and well-known are these prospects the A's acquired in the deal for Gonzalez?
Peacock was tremendous in his 12 innings in the big leagues in September, allowing one run and going 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA. He is considered a fly ball pitcher who will fit in nicely at the cavernous Network Associates Coliseum.
Cole was tabbed as an impressive prospect because of his ability to control his fastball at such a young age. The ceiling appears to be pretty high for Cole, who will turn 20 on Jan. 5.
Milone grabbed the attention of Nationals fans with his consistent pitching and a dramatic home run at Nationals Park.
Norris showed his consistency at the plate with a tremendous Arizona Fall League performance. Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus, appearing on the MLB Network Channel on Sirius/XM radio likened the Goddard, Kan., product to a Mickey Tettleton-type in the majors - a guy who may hit around .210, but could hit home runs, walk a ton and play outstanding defense.
This moves pitchers like Sammy Solis, Matt Purke and Alex Meyer up to the top of the list of prospects in the Nationals' system.
Solis is the closest to the majors, but there is concern for his elbow as the offseason ticks by. Purke and Meyer made big strides in the fall and are now the lead arms from the last year's draft haul, which in a sense gave the franchise the confidence they needed to be able to part with the talents of Peacock, Milone and Cole in trying to obtain a pitcher such as Gonzalez.
The trade also pushes catchers Jhonatan Solano, David Freitas, Cole Leonida, Sandy Leon and Adrian Nieto to the forefront of backstop prospects left in the system. Solano is ready for the majors now, according to Nationals bench coach and former big league catcher Randy Knorr, and the 26-year old Colombian could get that shot very soon if either Wilson Ramos or Jesus Flores run into any obstacles.