Hit (40+) Power (20) Arm (50+) Defense (50) Run (50+)
Signed by Washington in April 2012 as an international free agent from the Dominican Republic, Osvaldo Abreu is a right-handed hitting, right-handed throwing middle infielder. Born in June 1994, the 23-year-old Abreu is listed at 6-0 170lbs with a lean, wiry frame and projects to add future muscle mass. Abreu is a slightly above-average runner, clocking 4.18 – 4.2 seconds home to first. In addition, he has quality first-step quickness and solid athleticism.
Offensively Abreu possesses loose wrists and impressive bat speed, whipping the barrel through the strike zone with a compact swing. Abreu has a mature approach, works the count and will draw his share of walks while aggressively hunting fastballs. He has feel for the barrel, obvious hand-eye coordination and utilizes the whole field. Unfortunately his lack of strength and linear swing limits his overall home run power. Abreu struggles with spin moving away from him, causing an elevated strikeout rate. This could improve with experience, but the lack of power limits his offensive profile. Abreu projects as a future .230 – .240 hitter who hits a handful of home runs annually.
In the field Abreu has an average or slightly better arm with good accuracy and soft hands. He has good athleticism, a solid first-step and quality actions at shortstop. He has solid range for the position and moves fluidly in each direction. Abreu struggles making the play deep at shortstop due to his lack of arm strength and will make the occasional unforced error. Abreu has the tools to be an average major league defender but his lack of plus athleticism or arm strength limits him; he profiles better at second base.
Abreu is an intriguing middle infield prospect who possesses three average or better tools, yet his lack of power or a plus tool limits his overall ceiling. Unless he can transform his physique to add strength, Abreu’s ceiling is a utility infielder, with his likely outcome being a Triple-A middle infielder who perhaps sees the majors if injuries arise.
Hit (55) Power (40) Arm (35) Defense (35 LF / 50 1B) Run (35)
Jose Marmolejos was signed by Washington for $55,000 as an international free agent from the Dominican Republic in June 2011. The 24-year-old Marmolejos is listed at a stocky 6-1 185lbs, with thick legs and little physical projection remaining. An ordinary athlete, he has below-average speed, routinely posting 4.32-4.35 seconds home to first.
Marmolejos has a short, compact and repeatable left-handed swing, along with a consistent approach at the plate and a feel for the strike zone. Further, he shows a feel for the barrel and a natural ability to hit. His underwhelming physicality and linear swing hinder his ability to produce home run power, but he consistently hits line drives and uses the entire field. Like most hitters, he can be susceptible to off-speed pitches away and in the dirt, but Marmolejos impressively seeks fastballs and works the count in his favor. I like the bat but I worry if he will produce consistently against upper-level breaking pitches and premium velocity. That said Marmolejos projects as a “55” hitter with “40” power at the major league level.
Defensively Marmolejos has split time between first base and left field this season – in the outfield his below-average speed and mediocre left-handed throwing arm are exposed. Despite his lack of experience, Marmolejos seems to track fly balls reasonably well and consistently hustles in an attempt to overcome his deficiencies. Nevertheless, his weaknesses are unlikely to improve with age, so he projects as a passable but below-average defensive left fielder. At first base, these weaknesses are shielded and his soft hands allow him to receive errant throws well. Again his athleticism and size hurts him at first, but he projects as an average defender at the cold corner.
Marmolejos is an interesting prospect because of his innate ability to put the barrel on the baseball and make hard contact. His linear swing produces more line drives than home runs, but in this era of non-contact and strikeouts, his hitting ability cannot be ignored. Unfortunately his other tools project as below-average, which makes it difficult to profile him as a major league first baseman or left fielder. He should hit his way to the majors, but his other tools will limit his time there. Marmolejos has the ceiling of a major league backup at first base and left field, with the likely outcome being a Quad-A player who occasionally sees major league time.
Washington’s 27th round selection in 2015 from Sam Houston State, Brinley is a 24-year-old right-handed relief prospect. Brinley is listed at 6-1 200lbs, with a well-formed lower half and little physical projection remaining. Brinley throws from a traditional high 3/4s arm slot and repeats his very simple delivery well, utilizing a letter-high leg lift into good extension toward home plate. He stays slightly closed during his motion, providing some subtle deception. Brinley pounds his fastball toward the lower-third of the strike zone, then uses his off-speed offerings to get hitters to chase.
Brinley features a 3-pitch arsenal, highlighted by a 91-94mph fastball, a mid-80s slider and a low-80s changeup. His fastball shows 2-seam action, with movement down-and-in to right-handed hitters and heavy natural sink. The slider is new this season, as he appears to have scraped his curveball this winter – the offering is inconsistent but shows late-bite and darting movement away from righties. He needs to gain more confidence and feel for the pitch, but this was a smart adjustment to his repertoire. Finally his changeup is thrown with good arm speed and shows fading action away from lefties. The offering is mediocre and can float away from the strike zone, but keeps lefties from cheating on his fastball. Coupled with above-average command, Brinley projects as having a future “50” fastball, “45” slider and “40” changeup.
Brinley is a polished right-handed reliever with impressive command of the strike zone and an aggressive approach to attacking hitters. His fastball is an average offering and his above-average command and control allows his entire arsenal to “play up”. Brinley projects as a “Quad-A” relief pitch, with a ceiling of a 7th inning reliever if his slider improves. He may have a low ceiling, but is a valuable player to have stashed in the minors when injuries occur to the major league bullpen.
Hit (35) Power (50) Arm (55) Defense (45) Run (35)
Drew Ward was Washington’s 3rd round pick, 105th overall, in the 2013 MLB Draft and signed for $850,000. Born in November 1994, the 22-year-old Ward is a left-handed hitting, right-handed throwing third baseman. He is listed at 6-3 215lbs, with long arms and tree trunks for legs. He could add some upper body mass, but there is little projection remaining in his frame. Ward possesses below-average or worse speed, consistently running 4.32-4.36 seconds home to first.
At the plate Ward has easy “60” raw power in his left-handed swing, launching balls deep to center and right field during batting practice. However, there is plenty of swing-and-miss in his game, hindering his ability to generate power during game action. Ward begins with the bat handle near his ear and uses a small leg kick to trigger his longish swing. He has some feel for the barrel, but velocity on the inner-half and breaking pitches gives him fits. He does damage to fastballs middle-to-middle-away and impressively identifies changeups. Ward will work the count and has a feel for the strike zone, but will need to shorten his swing and improve against breaking pitches against better competition. I project Ward as a “35” hit, “50” game power (“60” raw) hitter at the major league level.
Defensively Ward utilizes his above-average arm strength, soft hands and baseball instincts to overcome his mediocre athleticism and below-average speed at third base. Ward looks somewhat clunky moving laterally, limiting his range, but he consistently makes the routine play. His physical limitations will prevent him from becoming an average defender, but if he avoids another growth spurt, Ward projects as a below-average to fringe-average defensive third baseman.
Ward is an intriguing prospect due to his left-handed home run power, strong arm and innate baseball instincts. Sadly, his tendency to swing-and-miss, coupled with his below-average speed and athleticism, limits his eventual ceiling. His age relative to his competition and “baseball IQ” gives some optimism he can make the necessary swing adjustments. Ward projects as a Triple-A third baseman or backup corner infielder, with a ceiling of a below-average starter if he can make more contact and unleash his raw power.