In a slightly overlooked part of Joe Ross’s return from the disabled list, last week the Washington Nationals designated minor league infielder Chris Bostick for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster. Then Monday, in a related move, Washington traded Bostick to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for catching prospect Taylor Gushue and cash considerations.
The 23-year-old Bostick split time this year between Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse, hitting .250/.313/.386 with eight homers and 11 steals. Acquired as part of the Ross Detwiler trade, Bostick showed promise in 2015 splitting time between High-A and Double-A, batting .258/.312/.398 with 12 home runs, 42 extra base hits and 31 stolen bases. He possesses above-average to plus speed, and average raw pull power, but his inability to consistently make contact hinders his overall offensive profile.
Defensively Bostick does not project particularly well at any one position, as his fringe-average arm and mediocre hands makes him a liability in the infield. In addition, he does not have enough arm strength for right field or center field, making him profile as a left fielder. With experience, one would expect Bostick to play an average or better left field, but his offense do not profile at a corner position. Hence the scout’s conundrum with Bostick is he does not hit enough to be a starter in the outfield and is not a good enough defender to play in the infield. So while I believe in his ability to be a versatile National League bench player, this is likely also his eventual ceiling.
In return for Bostick, Washington receives the 22-year-old Gushue, Pittsburgh’s 4th round pick in the 2014 MLB Draft from the University of Florida. Gushue spent this season at High-A, hitting .226/.282/.357 with 8 home runs and 38 runs batted in over 90 games played. Gushue, a switch-hitter, flashes good raw pull power, but his barrel skills and hit tool need significant improvement.
Listed at 6-1 215lbs, Gushue is rather athletic for a catcher, possessing good receiving skills plus an average or better throwing arm. His footwork and ability to block pitches need refinement, as they were raw coming out of college. His career caught stealing percentage is below-average at 25%, likely in part due to his sloppy feet. Gushue has an intriguing package of raw tools, but his inability to make consistent contact likely limits his upside to a backup catcher or career option lingering at Triple-A.
Overall I was disappointed by the team’s original decision to designate Bostick for assignment, as he has long been a sleeper of mine and I believe there are more expendable players currently on the 40-man roster. Considering the team recently traded another infield prospect, Max Schrock, I would have preferred to part with relievers Rafael Martin, Matt Grace or Yusmeiro Petit rather than Bostick.
However, considering the circumstances involved in trading a designated for assignment prospect in late September, the Nationals did well to receive an intriguing catching prospect and cash in return for Bostick. Washington has done a nice job in recent years developing catching prospects, and I am intrigued to see if the organization can develop Gushue’s skills into a potential major leaguer. With the obvious caveat that I disagreed with the original decision, Washington’s front office made a solid trade getting Taylor Gushue for Chris Bostick.
NatsGM Grade -> B-