Third baseman Zach Walters is No. 10 in Baseball America’s top 10 Nationals prospects for 2013. The infielder, who can also play shortstop, played 126 games in three levels of the minors in 2012, plus the Arizona Fall League and winter ball in Puerto Rico.
Here is the complete top 10 list from MASNsports.com’s Dan Kolko.
We will countdown from No. 10 to No. 1 and spotlight each of the Nats’ top prospects, according to Baseball America.
Walters played for Single-A Potomac, Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse last season, hitting .266 with 121 hits, 12 homers and 49 RBIs. He showed considerable power ability while hitting .293 with six homers for the Senators. In the last 10 games with Leones de Ponce, Walters is hitting .270 with 10 hits and three RBIs. Ironically, his average with Ponce is the same as his overall season average, currently at .266 through 30 games.
Aaron Fitt, national writer for Baseball America, said the Nationals have sent off some of their top prospects in trades, with Alex Meyer, A.J. Cole, Tommy Milone, Derek Norris, Michael Burgess, Brad Peacock and others departing. That has altered the strength of the minor leagues, but played a major role in why the Nationals won their first division title in 2012.
“As everyone knows, the whole point of having a good farm system is to win at the big league level, and that is what the Nationals have done,” Fitt said. “They have turned their really strong system into some trade chips and so their system is considerably thinner than it used to be.”
So if just a handful of those prospects were still with the Nationals, Walters would not have made the Top 10. But that doesn’t mean that the 23-year-old doesn’t have the tools to become a big leaguer. Fitt said Walters does have the potential to be a consistent hitter at the next level.
“He is interesting,” Fitt said. “I kind of like him. I always thought he had a natural ability to hit ever since his time at the University of San Diego. He has a great stroke and a good athlete. He is versatile. You can put him all over the diamond. I expect his future role will be a utility guy who can play six different positions, maybe.”
His power numbers have gone up each season since 2010, from four homers to nine to 12.
“There is some pop in there,” Fitt said. “He is not going to be an impact power hitter, but he can give you in regular playing time, 15 to 20 homers a season.
“He can hit for average. He has the arm strength at shortstop. I don’t know that he has the range to be an everyday shortstop, but he is a good player that does a lot of little things good for you.”