Although 2015 was a disappointing season for the Washington Nationals at the major league level, the organization had yet another successful year at the minor league level. Washington saw the continued development of Lucas Giolito and Wilmer Difo, the arrival of Trea Turner and the prospect breakouts of Victor Robles and Anderson Franco. Additionally the team appears to have done well in the past June draft, selecting outfielders Andrew Stevenson, Blake Perkins, and Rhett Wiseman and finding possible sleepers Koda Glover, Tyler Watson and Max Schrock.
Now only 10 days from the arrival of pitchers and catchers in Viera, this is an appropriate time to analyze the Nationals’ farm system and rank their Top-30 prospects. Today, I unleash my picks for prospects #30-#21 currently in the Washington Nationals’ farm system.
Honorable Mention: Joan Baez RHP, Dale Carey OF, Abel De Los Santos RHP, Robbie Dickey RHP, Matt Grace LHP, Jake Johansen RHP, Nick Lee LHP, Mariano Rivera Jr. RHP, Matt Skole 1B
#30 – Tyler Mapes Right-Handed Pitcher
Selected in the 30th round in 2014, this 24-year-old is a stocky right-handed pitcher blessed with a solid 3-pitch repertoire featuring a 88-93mph fastball, 75-79mph sweeping slider/slurve and a promising 82-84mph changeup. Mapes has the physical attributes of a starting pitcher, along with the potential for 3 average offerings, giving him a profile as a #5 starter or major league swingman.
To read more about Mapes, please click here -> http://natsgm.com/2015/09/07/scouting-washington-nationals-prospect-tyler-mapes/
#29 – Tyler Watson Left-Handed Pitcher
Signed for $400,000 as an overslot 34th round pick last summer, Watson spurred a college commitment to Loyola Marymount to sign professionally with Washington. He received a brief cameo with the GCL Nationals late last summer, pitching 13.1 innings and posting a 0.00 ERA and 16 strikeouts against only 4 walks. The 18-year-old lefty features a low-90s fastball, along with a lanky, projectable 6-5 200lbs frame. He should start this year at Short-Season Auburn and could skyrocket up these rankings in 2017.
#28 – Max Schrock Second Base / Outfielder
Another 2015 overslot selection by Washington, Schrock signed for $500,000 as a 13th round selection out of the University of South Carolina. Schrock, a left-handed hitter, punished the SEC conference for three college seasons, posting an impressive .302/.392/.460 slash line for the Gamecocks. He has a short, compact swing and some raw pull power, along with a keen batting eye.
Schrock will need to hit his way up the organizational ladder, as defensively his fringe-average speed and below-average arm make him a difficult natural profile. That said Schrock is a born hitter and profiles as an offensive-first utility player unless he improves in the field.
#27 – Jefry Rodriguez Right-Handed Pitcher
Rodriguez suffered through a difficult, injury-plagued 2015, causing him to fall significantly on the list this year. When healthy the converted shortstop will flash an explosive mid-90s fastball and a hard mid-80s curveball. Signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2012, the 22-year-old struggled in 2015, posting a 5.42 ERA in 111.1 innings at Short-Season Auburn and Low-A Hagerstown, allowing 117 hits and 58 walks against 94 strikeouts. Still extremely raw with only 235 career innings pitched, Rodriguez has the potential upside of a #4/#5 starting pitcher or late-inning reliever if things click for him.
#26 – Brian Goodwin Outfielder
Goodwin was given a $3 million signing bonus as Washington’s third 1st round pick, 34th overall, in the 2011 draft and has struggled to turn his impressive physical tools into on-field production. The 25-year-old centerfielder has posted a career .246/.343/.390 slash line over 1,542 at-bats, causing concern among scouts this left-handed hitter will not hit major league pitching.
On the other hand, Goodwin is a tremendous athlete who has shown five average or better tools in the past. Also, he was considered extremely raw at draft time and would need more development time than the average prospect to allow his talent to blossom. Finally, Goodwin had a productive winter in Venezuela this offseason, hitting .302 with a .394 on-base percentage in 23 games, giving hope he is having a breakthrough in his development. An extremely risky prospect, Goodwin still has a chance to carve out a lengthy major league career, though likely in a reserve capacity.
#25 – Koda Glover Right-Handed Pitcher
An 8th round selection last June from Oklahoma State, Glover is a powerfully built 6-5 225lbs right-handed relief pitcher. He possesses a 94-97mph fastball with life and downward plane, along with a solid-average 85-87mph slider. Glover is a pure relief prospect due to his two-pitch arsenal, but there is a chance he develops into a solid 7th or 8th inning reliever. This was a nice find by the Nationals on Day 2 of the draft.
#24 – Raudy Read Catcher
Signed by the Nationals as an international free agent in 2011, the 22-year-old Read has earned the reputation as a strong catch-and-throw defender with soft hands. Like most young catchers he still needs to refine his footwork, receiving skills and the finer nuisances of the position, but Read shows the potential to be an above-average defender in time. If he continues to develop offensively, Read could develop into a solid backup catcher and/or the weak-side of a platoon in the future.
#23 – John Simms Right-Handed Pitcher
The 24-year-old Simms has steadily developed from an 11th round pick in 2013 into a potential major league contributor. Simms owns a quality 3-pitch repertoire, featuring an 88-92mph fastball, a high-70s curveball with bite and a promising mid-80s changeup. None of these pitches are above-average but Simms excellent command and control allow them to “play up”. He should begin 2016 at Double-A Harrisburg and projects as a #5 starter or long-reliever in the major leagues.
#22 – Drew Ward Third Base
The Washington Nationals 3rd Round pick, 105th overall, in the 2013 MLB Draft, Drew Ward was given a well over-slot signing bonus of $850,000 out of a small Oklahoma high school after entering the draft a year early. Ward is a monster figure, looking larger than his listed 6-3 215lbs. In addition he possesses a powerful throwing arm and above-average to plus home run power.
Unfortunately Ward has mediocre speed and quickness, giving scouts concern he may have to move from third base in the future. Additionally his contact issues hinder his ability to flash his impressive raw power in game action. Still only 21-years-old, Ward still has time to refine his current weaknesses and develop into a major league contributor, but there is significant risk in his profile. 2016 is a pivotal year in his development, as he will likely be challenged with a promotion to Double-A Harrisburg.
To read more about Drew Ward, please look here – http://natsgm.com/2015/09/11/scouting-washington-nationals-3b-prospect-drew-ward/
#21 – Juan Soto Outfielder
In July the Nationals signed this 17-year-old Dominican outfielder to the largest bonus in franchise history with a Latin player, agreeing to terms for $1.5 million. Soto was ranked as the #22 overall international prospect by MLB.com and #13 by Baseball America last summer. A left-handed hitter with obvious bat speed, Soto was clearly one of the top hitting prospects available in the international market in 2015. He is extremely raw but has the potential to develop into a starting corner outfielder in several years.
To read more about Juan Soto, please click here – http://natsgm.com/2015/07/03/scouting-washington-nationals-newest-prospect-of-juan-soto/
Thanks for reading – I will return tomorrow (2/10) with #20-#11 and Thursday (2/11) with #10-#1.