Scouting Report – RF Juan Soto

Juan Soto            Right Field           Hagerstown Suns

DOB: 10/25/98   Height: 6-1   Weight: 185lbs   Bats: Left   Throws: Left

Future Grades:   Hit (65)   Power (60)   Arm (45)   Defense (45)   Speed (50)

Juan Soto was signed as an international free agent by the Nationals for $1.5 million in July 2015.  He is a 19-year-old left-handed hitting and throwing outfielder who is listed at 6-1 185lbs, with broad shoulders, plenty of muscle and looks closer to 205lbs.  Soto possesses average to fringe-average speed, posting 4.21-4.24 second times home to first.  He plays the game with confidence and a positive swagger, consistently smiling on the field and showing hustle between the lines.

Defensively is not where Soto makes his name as a prospect, as his average speed and athleticism, along with fringe-average arm, allows him to play a reasonable but unexceptional right field.  As he matures and receives additional game experience, I could envision his arm getting to average, as well as his overall defense in right field.  However, if he loses much speed or range as he ages, he could profile better long-term in left field, where he would project as average or slightly better.

At the plate Soto shows an exceptional ability to barrel the baseball and a preternatural feel for the strike zone.  He has a compact swing from the left side, with lightning quick wrists and outstanding hand-eye coordination.  He generates obvious bat speed and whips the barrel through the strike zone.  In addition, Soto has a quality approach at the plate and noticeably hunts fastballs.  He does not work the count as well as one might hope, but his confidence to identify and hit fastballs is evident.

The combination of bat speed and barrel skills allows the ball to jump off his bat and makes a “different sound off his bat”.  Soto shows good raw power to center field and the pull side during batting practice, although the home runs have yet to come during game action.  He needs game experience to help him gain confidence working counts, but he is one of the most impressive teenage hitters I have ever seen.  Soto projects as a future “65” hit, “60” power hitter in the majors.

Soto is an intriguing prospect due to his ability to hit for both power and for average.  He will not be a particularly strong defensive player or base stealer, so the majority of his value comes from his bat, yet he should be a passable outfielder throughout his career.  The biggest concern in his profile is the distance from the majors and projecting someone to hit major league pitching while playing in Low-A.  Furthermore, his future as a good but non-impact player defensively and on the bases limits his prospect floor. Soto profiles as an impact big league hitter at his peak, with a ceiling as a .285-.300 hitter with mid-20s home run power.  I would be surprised if anything besides injury curtails his future as a productive major league hitter.

Scouting Report – Edwin Lora

Edwin Lora         SS           Potomac Nationals

DOB:  9/14/95     Height:  6-1     Weight:  150lbs     Bats:  Right     Throws:  Right

Future Grades:     Hit (35)     Power (30)     Arm (55)     Defense (50)     Speed (55)

Lora was signed by Washington as an international free agent from the Dominican Republic in August 2012.  The 22-year-old Lora is a skinny, wiry right-handed hitting and throwing shortstop prospect.  Listed at 6-1 150lbs. he looks closer to 170lbs. with projection remaining in his frame, particularly his lower half.  An obvious athlete, Lora has quality first-step quickness and easy above-average speed, posting 4.22-4.25 second times home to first.

Defensively Lora utilizes his above-average speed and impressive athleticism to flash plenty of range at shortstop.  Lora flashes a solid-average to above-average arm for the position, with soft hands and quality actions for the position.  He does struggle occasionally with his throwing accuracy and can get sloppy with his footwork, leading to healthy error totals.  Lora has the raw tools to be a solid-average major league defender, but needs repetitions and game action to reach this potential.

A right-handed hitter, Lora owns loose wrists and impressive bat speed, allowing him to whip the barrel through the strike zone.  He has some feel for the barrel but excess length in his swing causes him to struggles with whiffs.  His lack of physical strength limits his power to center and right field, although he does show pull power in batting practice and occasionally during games.  Lora needs to add strength and make more consistent contact if he wishes to advance to the major leagues.  Unfortunately, these concerns leave me to project Lora as a future “35” hitter with “30” power.

Edwin Lora is an intriguing prospect who possesses three average or better tools and the ability to stay defensively at shortstop long-term.  Sadly, his lack of physical strength and attraction to strikeouts limits his potential as a hitter and as an overall prospect.  Unless he gains strength and make refinements to his swing, his ceiling is limited to a major league utility player, with the likely outcome being a long-term Triple-A infielder.

Scouting Report – Jakson Reetz

Jakson Reetz      Catcher                Potomac Nationals

DOB:  1/3/96     Height:  6-1     Weight:  195lbs     Bats:  Right     Throws:  Right

Future Grades:     Hit (30)     Power (30)     Arm (50)     Defense (50)     Speed (35)

Reetz was drafted by Washington in the 3rd round, 93rd overall, in 2014 from a Nebraska high school and signed quickly for $800,000.  He is listed at 6-1 195lbs, with a well-built upper body, thick legs and little projection remaining.  Reetz is a quality athlete for the position, with good agility and foot speed, consistently running 4.43-4.47 seconds home to first.  Reetz is a gritty competitor who plays with passion and fire.

Defensively Reetz possesses quality arm strength, with a quick release and reasonable accuracy, giving him the profile as a future solid-average arm.  Reetz is a solid athlete and has the frame to catch 100+ games per year.  He has good agility and feet, helping him block errant pitches well.  He has decent hands and actively attempts to frame pitches., although he will on occasion stab at pitches.  He lacks elite defensive tools but his athleticism and sheer desire should make him a future average major league defender.

Reetz has a lengthy right-handed swing with mediocre bat speed.  He has a flat, linear swing, which generates line drives but hinders his ability to backspin the ball.  In addition, his mechanics put his right arm in a unique mid-swing position, further limiting his bat speed.  He has strong hands and powerful forearms, which help him generate pull side power in batting practice, but this fails to translate during game action.  At his best, he shows a mature approach at the plate and utilizes the middle of the diamond.  Unfortunately his swing flaws cause him to struggle against velocity, forcing me to project him as a future “30” hit and power hitter.

The almost 22-year-old prospect is intriguing due to his raw athleticism, quality throwing arm and the ability to stay behind the plate defensively.  Unfortunately, his swing and lack of bat speed limits his overall prospect profile.  Overall, the parts feel greater than the whole with Reetz.  Due to his draft pedigree and physical tools, Reetz will be given the opportunity to climb Washington’s organizational ladder, but I am skeptical of his ability to consistently hit upper minors pitching.  Reetz’s defensive skills give him a ceiling as a backup catcher, with his likely outcome being a Double-A or Triple-A contributing player.

Scouting Report – Taylor Gushue Catcher

Taylor Gushue        Catcher        Potomac Nationals

Hit (30)     Power (50)     Arm (50)    Defense (45)    Speed (30)

Taylor Gushue was Pittsburgh’s 4th round pick (131st overall) in the 2014 draft after a successful career at the University of Florida and signed for $388,800.  Born in December 1993, the 23-year-old Gushue was acquired by Washington last September in exchange for infielder Chris Bostick.  Listed at 6-1 215lbs, Gushue has an ideal catcher’s frame, with thick legs and a powerful upper-body.  Far from the stereotypical base-clogging catcher, Gushue is a good athlete with below-average speed, posting 4.35-4.37 second times home to first from the left side.  Finally Gushue possesses excellent makeup, constantly hustling and actively encouraging his pitchers.

Behind the dish Gushue possesses a quick release and good accuracy, allowing his solid-average throwing arm to “play up”.  He is a quality athlete with the strength and durability to catch every day.  He has quick, nimble feet and does a reasonable job blocking pitches in the dirt.  Gushue displays soft hands and tries to frame pitches near the strike zone, but does have a tendency to stab at the ball on occasion.  He does not have stellar natural tools, but his hustle, baseball instincts and sheer desire allow him to project as a fringe-average major league defender.

Offensively the switch-hitting Gushue shows a mature approach at the plate and a solid awareness of the strike zone.  He will work the count and hunts fastballs early.  Gushue has average to fringe-average bat speed and a relatively flat, linear swing.  In spite of this, his notable strength and use of his lower half allows him to generate impressive power in batting practice and average game power.  Gushue struggles with spin late in counts and is susceptible to velocity up in the zone, which creates plenty of strikeouts. These swing issues aside, Gushue projects as a “30” hitter with “50” power.

Gushue is a terrific example of a “change of scenery” player – after languishing for a few seasons in the Pittsburgh organization, he has re-emerged as a prospect this season for Washington.  His lack of an above-average tool limits his ceiling, but his raw power, switch-hitting ability and strong work ethic gives him a chance at a major league career.  Gushue has a ceiling as a top-quality backup catcher, with his likely outcome being a Triple-A catcher who acts as an organization’s third catcher.