THE NatsGM 2018 Washington Nationals Top Prospect List, #21-#30

Let’s do this – The Washington Nationals #21-#30 prospects, which shows a nice cluster of players from this most recent draft, along with a few promising outfielders.

#21        Rafael Bautista OF

Bautista was signed from the Dominican Republic as an international free agent in 2012 and has steadily risen through Washington’s farm system, finally reaching the majors for 13 games in 2017.  Offensively Bautista utilizes his excellent speed and solid bat-to-ball skills to act as a leadoff hitter – he has little home run power, but there is enough potential to keep pitchers’ honest.  In the field Bautista plays a solid center field due to his speed, range and average arm.  He can play all three outfield positions, although his arm is a bit light for right field.  The almost 25-year-old possesses four average or better tools and profiles as a solid backup outfielder, perhaps in Washington this season.

#22        Jackson Tetreault RHP

Washington plucked Jackson Tetreault in the 7th round last June from the State College of Florida Manatee based on his projectable 6-5 170lbs frame and impressive three pitch arsenal.  Tetreault is blessed with a low-90s fastball with life, along with an intriguing curveball and changeup.  He has impressive arm speed and scouts believe he could add velocity in the future.  He struggles with his command and is quite raw, but the upside could be a future #4 starter or impact reliever.  Tetreault is a project for Washington’s development staff and a name to remember from the 2017 draft class.

#23        Justin Connell OF

Drafted in the 11th round last June, Washington signed Connell for $125,000 based on his projectable 6-1 185lbs frame, along with his impressive speed and athleticism.  He has a solid arm and the ability to play all three outfield positions, although he is stretched in center field.  The 18-year-old fared well last summer in the GCL, batting .323/.407/.365 with more walks than strikeouts.  There is plenty of risk in the profile, but Connell is a true sleeper in the Nats’ farm system.

#24        Kyle Johnston RHP

The Nationals’ 6th round pick last summer from the University of Texas, Johnston is an undersized 6-0 225lbs righty with a low-to- mid-90s fastball and a promising upper-80s cutter.  In addition, he throws a changeup, but it is a distant third offering and needs significant development.  Johnston should begin his career as a starting pitcher, but likely projects as a 2-pitch middle reliever down the road.

#25        Telmito Agustin OF

Originally from the U.S. Virgin Islands, Agustin moved to the Dominican Republic and signed with Washington for $50,000 in October 2013.  The 21-year-old Agustin struggled mightily in his first experience at High-A this year, forcing a demotion mid-season back to Low-A where he rebounded with a .277/.308/.456 batting line over 80 games played.  Listed at 5-10 160lbs, Agustin is an athletic outfielder with plus speed, good barrel skills and some sneaky pop from such an undersized hitter.  He has a fringe-average and accurate arm, which allows him to profile well in both center and left field.  The lack of power limits his ceiling, but Agustin profiles as a future potential 5th outfielder.

#26        Ricardo Mendez OF

Washington signed Mendez for $600,000 from the Dominican Republic as an international free agent in July 2016.  Mendez was known as one of the top defensive outfielders in his class, based upon his plus or better speed, excellent instincts and below-average but accurate throwing arm.  He showed well as a 17-year-old hitting .252/.319/.338 over 151 at-bats in the GCL last summer.  Listed at 6-0 160lbs, the almost 18-year-old is projectable and has a solid package of tools yet needs to add strength to become a stronger offensive threat going forward.

#27        Cole Freeman 2B/OF

Washington’s 4th round selection last June, Freeman was drafted from Louisiana State University as a senior after two strong years in Baton Rouge.  He is an undersized 5-9 175lbs with above-average speed and athleticism, along with excellent barrel skills in his righty swing.  Freeman lacks power, limiting his offensive upside and has a below-average arm, giving him a difficult defensive profile.  His ability to hit and pure speed make him intriguing, but his lack of another tool limits him to a utility profile.

#28        Drew Ward 3B

Washington’s 3rd round pick in 2013, the 23-year-old Ward is a large 6-3 215lbs left-handed hitting third baseman with easy plus batting practice power.  He struggles recognizing spin and has a long swing, inducing far too many strikeouts and hindering his offensive profile.  Defensively he has a strong arm and good reactions at third base, but his mediocre speed and athleticism limit his range.  He projects as a backup corner infielder or Quad-A hitter, with a ceiling of a below-average starter at the hot corner if he can improve his contact issues.

In-Person Scouting Report ->  http://natsgm.com/2017/08/16/scouting-report-drew-ward-3b/

#29        Joan Baez RHP

Washington acquired Baez as an international free agent in April 2014 based on his projectable 6-3 190lbs body and mid-90s velocity.  Presently his 3-pitch arsenal features a 91-93mph fastball that touches 95mph, a mid-80s change and upper-70s curveball.  Unfortunately his secondary pitches lag behind his powerful fastball, and his command is below-average at present.  If he can develop one of his off-speed pitches to compliment his heater, he projects as a potential 7th inning reliever.

In-Person Scouting Report -> http://natsgm.com/2017/08/25/scouting-report-joan-baez-rhp/

#30        Armond Upshaw OF
Chosen in the 11th round in 2016 from Pensacola State junior college, Washington gave Upshaw a noteworthy $400,000 bonus to sign.  A switch-hitter, Upshaw has legitimate “70” or better speed and drew 41 walks in 60 games last summer, showing a good knowledge of the strike zone.  Unfortunately he also struck out 62 times in only 195 at-bats, an unacceptable number for a table-setter.  Defensively he has a fringy arm and utilizes his outstanding athleticism to cover plenty of ground.  He projects as a strong defensive center fielder, but Upshaw must limit the strikeouts in order to reach his potential.

Next Five ->   Aldrem Corredor, Anderson Franco, Gabe Klobosits, Jakson Reetz, Jackson Stoeckinger

THE NatsGM 2018 Washington Nationals Top Prospect List #20-#11

Let’s not waste time – Building off Monday’s article listing the Washington Nationals Top-10 prospects, here are numbers 11-20!

#11        Kelvin Gutierrez 3B

Signed as a 2013 international free agent for $30,000, the 23-year-old Gutierrez is an intriguing athlete with fringe-average speed and a projectable 6-3 185lbs frame.  Gutierrez is quite impressive at third base, flashing soft hands, good quickness and a plus arm, which allows him to profile as a future above-average defender.  Offensively the right-handed hitter has a lengthy swing and flashes raw power in batting practice that has yet to translate in game action.  His power is likely to be light for the position, but Gutierrez could develop into a below-average starter at the hot corner.

In-Person Scouting Report -> http://natsgm.com/2017/08/30/scouting-report-kelvin-gutierrez-3b/

#12        Andrew Stevenson OF

Stevenson was Washington’s top pick in 2015, 58th overall, based on an impressive package of tools including plus or better speed, outstanding defense in center field and natural barrel skills.  In the field Stevenson utilizes his excellent quickness and speed to flash outstanding defensive range.  His arm strength is mediocre, but he profiles as an above-average defender in center field and a plus in left field.  Offensively Stevenson understands his role as a table-setter, working counts, getting on-base and utilizing his speed to disrupt the opposition.  Stevenson is a high-floor, medium ceiling outfield prospect with the potential for three average or better tools and has a ceiling as a 2nd division starter, with his likely outcome being a valuable reserve.

In-Person Scouting Report -> http://natsgm.com/2017/07/24/evaluating-andrew-stevenson/

#13        Blake Perkins OF

Drafted in the 2nd round, 69th overall in 2015, Washington chose Perkins from an Arizona high school based on his impressive athleticism, plus speed, and potential to be a switch-hitting center fielder.  On defense Perkins appears born to play center field, as his speed, lengthy strides and impressive instincts give him outstanding range and plus potential.  Perkins is a natural right-handed hitter who committed to switch-hitting as a professional, and while he is raw, the results have been solid so far.  He has the potential for three above-average tools and if his offensive skills continue to improve, he has a ceiling as a 2nd division defensive-first center fielder.

In-Person Scouting Report -> http://natsgm.com/2017/07/12/evaluating-blake-perkins/

#14        Jose Sanchez  SS

Washington signed Sanchez for $950,000 in July 2016 as an international free agent, yet he has been slightly overshadowed by fellow international acquisitions Yasel Antuna and Luis Garcia.  But as his bonus indicates, Sanchez is an interesting prospect in his own right, possessing a strong arm, excellent speed and the ability to stay in the middle infield defensively.  The 17-year-old struggled offensively in the GCL last summer, hitting only .209/.280/.247 over 48 games played.  However, scouts like his compact swing, approach at the plate and feel for the barrel, giving them hope he will develop as a hitter.  He should return to the GCL to begin 2018 and could gain significant prospect helium if his offense blossoms.

#15        Taylor Gushue Catcher

Acquired in September 2016 from Pittsburgh for Chris Bostick, the 24-year-old Gushue has an ideal catcher’s frame, solid athleticism and below-average (but good for a catcher) speed.  Behind the dish he has a solid-average throwing arm, blocks and frames pitches well, which allows him to outproduce his natural skills and profile as a fringe-average major league defender.  Offensively the switch-hitter possesses average bat speed and utilizes his lower half to generate average home run power.  He struggles with strikeouts and lacks an above-average tool, which limits his ceiling, but he profiles as a solid backup.

In-Person Scouting Report -> http://natsgm.com/2017/09/04/scouting-report-taylor-gushue-catcher/

#16        Austin Adams RHP

Acquired as part of the Danny Espinosa trade to Anaheim in December 2016, the 26-year-old Adams is a pure right-handed relief prospect, possessing a 93-97mph fastball and an easy plus slider.  This allowed him to overwhelm Triple-A hitters last season, posting a 2.14 ERA with 91 strikeouts against 37 walks over 59 innings pitched.  He has well-below average command, which limits his ceiling, but he profiles nicely as a whiff-inducing 7th inning reliever.

#17        Nick Raquet LHP

Washington’s 3rd round pick, 103rd overall, this past June from the College of William & Mary, the diminutive lefty has a fastball that sits 92-94mph and can reach 97mph, an intriguing changeup and occasionally will flash a decent slider.  His command in college was woeful, yet he only allowed 7 walks over 51 innings in pro ball last summer.  Washington will develop Raquet as a starter in hopes his breaking ball improves and he develops into a back-end starter, with the most likely outcome being a future shift to the bullpen.

#18        Jefry Rodriguez RHP

Originally signed from the Dominican Republic in 2011, Washington added Rodriguez to the 40-man roster this offseason in spite of missing 80 games last season due to PED suspension.  When on the mound, Rodriguez utilizes a 93-95mph fastball, a power curveball and a mediocre changeup to post a 3.32 ERA with 51 strikeouts against 19 walks over 57 innings pitched in 2017.  The 24-year-old has struggled with various injuries and wayward command since signing, but the potential still exists for him to develop into a quality 7th inning reliever.

#19        Pedro Severino Catcher

Washington signed Severino from the Dominican Republic in 2010 and he has diligently climbed the organizational ladder ever since, playing at Triple-A the past two seasons and reaching the majors the past three.  Still only 24-years-old Severino is a tremendous defensive catcher, with excellent arm strength, solid accuracy and good athleticism for blocking pitches.  Offensively Severino shows some bat speed from the right side and will work the count, but unfortunately he has failed to produce in game action, as his career .244/.294/.339 batting line indicates.  Some scouts still believe he will develop offensively, but unless this happens, Severino projects as a defensive-first backup catcher.

#20        Jose Marmolejos 1B / LF

Marmolejos signed with Washington for $55,000 in June 2011 as an international free agent.  The 24-year-old is a stocky 6-1 185lbs with fringy tools across the board, except a keen ability to hit.  A left-handed hitter, Marmolejos has solid bat speed, good awareness of the strike zone and a knack for spraying line drives all over the field.  He shows some power during batting practice, but projects as a “55 hit / 40 power” hitter.

Defensively Marmolejos has split time between first base and left field, in an effort to be more valuable.  He has a fringe arm and below-average speed, and in spite of his effort, he profiles as a fringe defender in left field.  He is an interesting prospect because he can flat out hit, but the lack of another average tool limits him to a future backup role.

http://natsgm.com/2017/08/21/scouting-report-jose-marmolejos-1blf/

THE 2018 NatsGM Washington Nationals Top Prospect List, #10-#1

After many years of consistently having one of the stronger farm systems in baseball, Washington entered this offseason missing the prospect depth it has enviably procured earlier this decade.  Much of this is attributable to the graduation of prospects like Wilmer Difo and trades of several players in the Adam Eaton trade last winter plus midseason swaps last summer.

Washington has done a nice job drafting pitchers the past two years and successfully signing several international free agents, so the system has some intriguing outfield and pitching depth.  However, the system is the weakest it has been in the six years I have scouted it and probably middle-of-the-pack compared to the other organizations.

This week I will be ranking the Top-30 prospects presently in the Washington Nationals’ organization, beginning with players #10-#1.  My list prioritizes the prospect’s ceiling, their likelihood to fulfill their potential, their positional value and finally, how far they are from the major leagues.  Without further delay, these are the Top-10 Washington Nationals’ prospects, counting down from #10.

#10        Raudy Read       Catcher

Signed by Washington as an 2011 international free agent, Read spent most of 2017 at Double-A, hitting .265/.312/.445 with 17 home runs and 67 runs driven in, before earning a promotion to the majors.  Defensively Read has a strong arm and does well controlling opposing base stealers, but struggles blocking and framing errant pitches.  The right-handed hitting Read struggles making consistent contact, yet flashes plus raw power and punishes fastballs in the inner-third.  The 24-year-old is an intriguing catching prospect and projects as an offensive-first backup or weak-side of a catching platoon.

In-Person Scouting Report ->  http://natsgm.com/2017/08/14/scouting-raudy-read/

#9           Wil Crowe RHP

Washington’s 2nd round pick last June, Wil Crowe is a well-built 6-2 245lbs right-handed pitcher blessed with a 4-pitch repertoire.  He features a 92-94mph fastball with sink and arm-side movement, a low-80s slider and a high-70s curveball, along with a quality 82-85mph changeup with arm-side fading movement.  He was a bit old for the draft class at 22.5 years old and has a past Tommy John surgery on his resume, causing him to slip into the 2nd round.  Acknowledging the increased potential for injury, Crowe profiles as a workhorse #4 starter and could move quickly through the minor leagues in 2018.

#8           Luis Garcia SS

The Nationals signed Garcia for $1.3 million as an international free agent in July 2016 and he performed well in his first experience in pro ball, hitting .302/.330/.387 as a 17-year-old in the GCL.  Garcia is a wiry 6-0 190lbs with good athleticism, above-average or better speed and a strong arm, allowing him to profile well at shortstop.  He has a simple left-handed swing and shows a knack for hitting line drives all over the field.  Garcia possesses four average or better tools and the potential for some fringy power as he matures physically.

#7           Yasel Antuna SS

Washington signed Antuna for $3.9 million as an international free agent in July 2016 and he showed last summer the promise the Nationals’ scouts envisioned, hitting .301/.382/.399 at 17-years-old in the GCL.  A switch-hitter, Antuna is a 6-0 170lbs middle infielder with above-average speed, a solid arm and advanced bat-to-ball skills.  Scouts also believe there is some future power in his bat and he has the potential to develop into a quality hitter.  There is plenty of risk, but he profiles a potential above-average future 2-way player at shortstop or second base.

#6           Daniel Johnson OF

Washington’s 2016 5th Round selection, Johnson is a well-built 5-10 185lbs left-handed hitting and throwing outfielder that broke out in 2017, hitting .298/.356/.505 primarily at Low-A.  Johnson has outstanding raw tools, consisting of easy plus speed, a cannon-like arm and emerging raw power.  The 22-year-old must limit his strikeouts going forward to fully reach his offensive potential, but he could develop into a .250 type hitter with 15-22 home run power.  Johnson has a ceiling of an impact two-way center fielder, with the floor of a backup outfielder that provides defense and left-handed power.

In-Person Scouting Report -> http://natsgm.com/2017/06/26/evaluating-hagerstown-suns-of-daniel-johnson/

#5           Seth Romero LHP

The Nationals top pick, 25th overall last June, Romero was viewed as a top-10 talent but slid due to a series of off-field incidents in college.  When on the mound, Romero throws from a low 3/4s arm slot and features an impressive 3-pitch arsenal including a mid-90s fastball, a mid-80s slider with excellent break and a quality changeup.  He is listed at 6-3 240lbs, so there are concerns about his conditioning, but he has good athleticism and repeats his mechanics rather well.  In addition to the normal injury concerns with any pitcher, there are makeup issues with him as well, but if everything comes together, Romero profiles as a long-term #3 or #4 starter.

#4           Carter Kieboom SS

Kieboom was the Nationals 1st round pick in 2016 from a Georgia high school.  He is listed at 6-2 190lbs with a very projectable body, above-average speed and arm strength, plus the ability to stay in the infield defensively.  A right-handed hitter, Kieboom has good bat speed and a knack for making contact, which combined with the expected development of strength as he matures, allows him to profile as a “55 hit/50 Power” hitter in the future.  Defensively he presently plays shortstop, but his mediocre hands and reasonable agility makes him a better long-term fit at second or third base.  He should begin 2018 at High-A Potomac and profiles as a future Role 55 player.

In-Person Scouting Report -> http://natsgm.com/2017/05/15/scouting-carter-kieboom/

Interview on THE NatsGM Show -> http://natsgm.com/2017/11/06/carter-kieboom-the-natsgm-show-115/

#3           Erick Fedde RHP

Erick Fedde was Washington’s 1st round pick in 2014 but slid to the 18th selection due to undergoing Tommy John surgery weeks prior to draft day.  Now healthy, the almost 25-year-old Fedde is a polished pitcher that features a strong 4-pitch repertoire – he features a 92-95mph fastball with excellent command, a nasty 81-85mph slider with nasty break, along with a curveball and changeup.  The fastball and slider are easy above-average or plus offerings, but the curveball and changeup lag behind, leaving him susceptible to left-handed hitters.  This weakness, plus the Tommy John surgery, has questions surrounding his ultimate role.  If one of the tertiary pitches improves, he has a ceiling as a mid-rotation starter, with the floor being an impact 2-pitch reliever.

In-Person Scouting Report -> http://natsgm.com/2017/05/01/scouting-erick-fedde-2/

#2           Juan Soto OF

Signed by Washington for a $1.5 million bonus in July 2015, Soto is a 19-year-old left-handed hitting and throwing corner outfielder.  Listed at 6-1 185lbs, Soto possesses average speed and a fringe-average arm, allowing him to play right field now but could necessitate a shift to left field if he adds mass.  However, defense is not where he makes his name, as Soto profiles as a potentially elite hitter.  The ball sounds different off his bat and his preternatural ability to make hard contact is exceptional.  He profiles as a “65 Hit / 60 Power” hitter and is one of the most impressive teenager hitters I have ever seen.  Soto projects as an impact major league hitter, with the ceiling of a .285-.300 hitter with 25+ home run power.

In-Person Scouting Report -> http://natsgm.com/2017/11/29/scouting-report-rf-juan-soto/

#1           Victor Robles CF

Perhaps the top prospect in baseball, Robles has elite tools and profiles as a future impact center fielder.  Only 20-years-old, Robles has easy plus speed and a plus arm, which allows him to play gold glove caliber defense in center field.  Offensively, the right-handed hitter has lightning fast wrists, outstanding bat speed and a solid awareness of the strike zone.  He has a good feel for the barrel and the bat speed allows the ball to jump off his bat.  He still needs polish to his overall game, but Robles has true 5-tool talent and is one of the best prospects I have evaluated in the minor leagues.  He should be a fixture in Washington’s outfield for the next several years.

In-Person Scouting Report -> http://natsgm.com/2017/06/05/scouting-victor-robles-2/

THE 2018 Washington Nationals Prospect Sleepers

Next week kicks off Prospect Week at NatsGM, my annual ranking of the Top-30 Prospects currently in the Washington Nationals organization.  While preparing for these articles, it caught my attention that although Washington has traded numerous prospects in the past twelve months, there is still depth in their system.  In particular, Washington has drafted several interesting college pitchers in the past two years and developed some intriguing depth at catcher.

Last year I correctly identified Daniel Johnson and Jose Sanchez as sleepers poised for a breakout 2017, so no pressure.  While “sleeper” is a rather nebulous term, for the purposes of this article it includes prospects presently ranked outside my top-30 that deserve more hype.

Tres Barrera

Drafted in the 6th round in 2016 from the University of Texas, Barrera is a quality athlete listed at 6-0 215lbs that plays solid defense behind the plate.  He has a strong, accurate arm and shows a strong aptitude at blocking pitches in the dirt.  Barrera has soft hands and quietly attempts to frame pitches.  He needs experience behind the dish, but he profiles as an above-average to slightly better defensive catcher.

Offensively the 23-year-old Barrera is a right-handed hitter with legitimate raw pull power and a knack for getting on-base.  However, there is plenty of swing-and-miss in his approach, which limits his hit tool and overall offensive potential.  The whiffs limit his ceiling to a bench player, but a strong defender with power that draws the occasional walk sounds like a nice backup.  Barrera should begin 2018 at High-A Potomac and is a prospect not receiving enough attention.

Brigham Hill

Hill was Washington’s 5th round selection last summer after a strong career at Texas A&M.  Hill is somewhat undersized at 6-0 185lbs (likely closer to 5-10 175lbs) but succeeded as a college starter due to his command of a sinking 89-92mph fastball and plus low-80s changeup.  Also, he utilizes a curveball primarily as a weapon against righties, but the pitch rates as fringy and needs significant work to reach average.

Hill had a quick 30 inning cameo at Low-A last summer after a lengthy college season, and hitters punished his diminished repertoire.  After an offseason to rest and recover, the experienced 22-year-old righty should rebound in Hagerstown to start 2018 and advance quickly through A-ball this season.  Hill will work as a starter and has a ceiling as a 5th starter, with the potentially intriguing outcome he becomes a fastball-changeup relief specialist.

Gabe Klobosits

Klobosits slipped in this past draft, sliding to the 36th round after serving as Auburn’s closer in the spring.  Despite being overlooked on draft day, he exploded as a professional, posting a 1.47 ERA and 34 strikeouts against only 8 walks in 30.2 innings last summer.  Klobosits possesses a 93-96mph fastball with quality life, along with an upper-80s slider and split-finger.  A monster of a man at 6-7 270lbs, Klobosits is a pure relief prospect that could skyrocket through the farm system next summer.  There is risk in his profile, but the reward is a potential future 7th/8th inning reliever – Klobosits was a steal for the Nationals last June.

In addition, Gabe was a recent guest on our Podcast, THE NatsGM Show -> http://natsgm.com/2017/12/12/the-natsgm-show-116-special-guest-gabe-klobosits/