After MLB.com ranked two Nationals in their list of the game’s top prospects, Baseball Prospectus has a slightly more favorable opinion of the team's farm system.
Three Nats prospects are listed among their top 101 minor league prospects, including outfielder Brian Goodwin who did not appear on MLB.com's rankings. Lucas Giolito slots 13th, much higher than the 44th ranking on MLB.com, and A.J. Cole ranks 54th, he was 69th.
Both outlets are well-respected in their evaluations of who's next, so taking an average of the two is a worthwhile exercise. That would put Giolito around the 25th best prospect in baseball and Cole around 60th.
The difference for Giolito between the two sets of rankings is about 30 spots, showing very clearly how much Baseball Prospectus thinks of the 19-year-old. Only five pitchers rank ahead of him on their list.
Prospectus may be more convinced from Giolito's small sample size than MLB.com. Giolito returned from Tommy John surgery last July to make just 11 starts. He was excellent in his time with the GCL Nationals and Auburn Doubledays, holding a 1.96 ERA with 39 strikeouts in 36 2/3 innings.
Cole also finished the year strong. He made his final seven starts at Double-A Harrisburg, going 4-2 with a 2.18 ERA and 49 strikeouts in 45 1/3 innings.
Both Giolito and Cole closed out 2013 suggesting they were close to making huge leaps. Perhaps Baseball Prospectus anticipates they make those strides this season.