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/