Top 18 Prospects: Washington Nationals by Eric Longenhagen March 21, 2018 Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the Washington Nationals. Scouting reports are compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as from our own (both Eric Longenhagen’s and Kiley McDaniel’s) observations. For more information on the 20-80 scouting scale by which all of our prospect content is governed you can click here. For further explanation of the merits and drawbacks of Future Value, read this. Top Prospects Series 2018 2017 ALBALCHWHOUBOSCLELAANYYDETOAKTBRKCRSEATORMINTEX NLATLCHCARIMIACINCOLNYMMILLADPHIPITSDPWSNSTLSFG ALBALCHWHOUBOSCLELAANYYDETOAKTBRKCRSEATORMINTEX NLATLCHCARIMIACINCOLNYMMILLADPHIPITSDPWSNSTLSFG A’s Top Prospects Rk Name Age High Level Position ETA FV 1 Victor Robles 20 MLB CF 2018 65 2 Carter Kieboom 20 A 3B 2021 55 3 Juan Soto 19 R OF 2020 50 4 Erick Fedde 25 R RHP 2018 45 5 Seth Romero 21 A- LHP 2019 45 6 Wil Crowe 23 A- RHP 2020 45 7 Blake Perkins 21 A CF 2020 40 8 Yasel Antuna 18 R SS 2021 40 9 Daniel Johnson 22 A+ OF 2020 40 10 Kelvin Gutierrez 23 A+ 3B 2019 40 11 Andrew Stevenson 23 R OF 2018 40 12 Luis Garcia 17 R SS 2022 40 13 Austin Adams 26 MLB RHP 2018 40 14 Brigham Hill 22 A RHP 2020 40 15 Anderson Franco 20 A 3B 2020 40 16 Rafael Bautista 25 R OF 2018 40 17 Jose Marmolejos 24 AA 1B 2018 40 18 Osvaldo Abreu 23 AA UTIL 2019 40 65 FV Prospects 1. Victor Robles, CF Video Age 20 Height 6’0 Weight 185 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 55/70 40/50 35/45 70/70 60/70 70/70 He’s barely played a month above A-ball, but Robles looked ready for the big leagues in 2017 and got a brief cup of coffee before finishing his season in the Arizona Fall League. He’s a polished, instinctive player capable of making an impact in every facet of baseball. Robles has great feel for all-fields contact and sneaky power for his size, which manifests itself in doubles and triples. He’s also a potential Gold Glove center fielder with breathtaking range and arm strength, and he was easily the best baserunner in the AFL, which features a pretty advanced group of prospects. Andrew McCutchen comps have been pretty common here because Robles has a similar build and swing, but from a skillset perspective, Robles looks more like Lorenzo Cain. He’s a likely star and arguably the most polished high-end prospect in baseball. 55 FV Prospects 2. Carter Kieboom, 3B Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Walton HS (GA) Age 19 Height 6’2 Weight 190 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 35/55 55/60 30/55 50/45 45/50 55/55 Kieboom’s older brother is a catcher in the Nationals organization, but Carter wasn’t drafted as a favor: the Nationals had plenty of competition angling to land the toolsy younger brother in 2016’s first round. Kieboom, like many infielders on this list, may be able to stick at shortstop for certain teams that shift heavily or prioritize offense over defense at the position, but he fits more traditionally at second or third base, with some scouts suggesting even a corner-outfield spot. He’s got plenty of bat for any position. Kieboom has flashed all five above-average tools at times, the bat and power most consistently. He profiles as a middle-of-the-order hitter who is likely to stay on the dirt. 50 FV Prospects 3. Juan Soto, OF Video Age 19 Height 6’1 Weight 190 Bat/Throw L/L Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/55 55/60 30/55 45/40 40/50 55/55 Soto was seen as an advanced bat with present raw power in his July 2nd class, signing for $1.5 million, but has quickly smashed those expectations, becoming one of the best all-around young hitters in the minor leagues. Soto has put up cartoon numbers in two short summers in pro ball, slowed by some minor injuries. He’s also limited to a corner-outfield spot, where he’s likely average at best, so there isn’t a huge margin for error in projecting him, but he’s done everything you could ask a corner-only prospect to do to bolster confidence: has performed, has done so while being young for his level, and has looked the part for scouts. 45 FV Prospects 4. Erick Fedde, RHP Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2014 from UNLV Age 25 Height 6’4 Weight 180 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command 55/55 40/45 55/55 45/50 50/55 Fedde blew out his elbow in May of his draft year, but Washington still drafted him 18th overall in 2014. He had navigated the minors free of any reported arm trouble until he felt forearm discomfort throughout a late-August 2017 start, just his third big-league outing. Fedde was shut down, but an MRI revealed no elbow damage. His fastball was 93-96 before that final start and has been again this spring. It has nasty tail at times, but scouts also want to see Fedde vary his delivery’s cadence because they think he can be easy to time. Fedde works with three secondary offerings: an overhand curveball in the upper 70s, a firm cutter/slider in the mid-80s, and a mid-80s changeup. His curveball is the best of these, and when Fedde isn’t badly altering his arm speed to throw his changeup, it, too, is effective. He’s working on the slider more intensely this spring. Ready for the big leagues, Fedde profiles as a No. 4 starter and has a little more upside than that, but he’s also more of an injury risk than the typical pitcher. 5. Seth Romero, LHP Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Houston Age 21 Height 6’3 Weight 240 Bat/Throw L/L Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command 60/60 55/60 45/55 40/50 Romero is a habitual line stepper, kicked off his college team for repeated violations (a fistfight with a teammate finally ended things) and sent home from spring training this year by the Nationals for curfew violations. Scouts weren’t enamored of his physical conditioning during parts of his collegiate career, but his stuff was undeniably filthy. Not everyone loves his delivery, but Romero throws enough strikes to start and has a chance for three plus pitches if you project heavily on his changeup. It flashes plus but isn’t consistently there. He has the ingredients for stardom if he can get out of his own way. 6. Wil Crowe, RHP Drafted: 2nd Round, 2017 from South Carolina Age 22 Height 6’2 Weight 240 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command 55/55 50/55 50/55 40/45 45/50 Crowe had Tommy John in 2015, missed all of 2016, and returned throwing as hard as he was pre-surgery as a redshirt junior in 2017. He’ll touch 97, sit 91-94 and mix in two breaking balls that should be 55s at maturity. Crowe has an XL build, but he’s a good athlete who remains balanced throughout his delivery. He projects to have a solid four-pitch mix and is a potential No. 4 starter. He’s already 23 and could move quickly. 40 FV Prospects 7. Blake Perkins, CF Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from Verrado HS (AZ) Age 20 Height 6’1 Weight 165 Bat/Throw S/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/45 30/40 20/30 60/60 45/60 50/50 Perkins only began switch-hitting full time in pro ball and his swings from both sides of the plate are works in progress, as most of his contact is low-impact. But he’s a good athlete with good makeup, so there’s reason to believe the offensive profile has growth. Overall, he’s a potential plus defensive center fielder with nearly elite plate discipline. If his feel for contact improves as he matures, he’s a relatively sure bet to become some kind of valuable big leaguer in the Nori Aoki mold. He’s a low-variance, low-upside prospect despite being raw at the plate, a rare combination. 8. Yasel Antuna, SS Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic Age 17 Height 6’0 Weight 170 Bat/Throw S/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/50 40/50 20/45 55/50 40/50 55/55 Antuna had a terrific statistical pro debut as a 17-year-old in the GCL, where he hit .301/.382/.399 with an 11% walk rate. He has a good build (one source put a Jorge Polanco body comp on him) and moderate physical projection. Antuna has good hand-eye coordination and bat control for a switch-hitter his age. His feel for timing the elements of his swing that would enable him to really put a charge into the ball aren’t there yet. He could grow into average raw power, but Antuna’s feel for contact is going to have to improve if he’s going to get to any of it in games. He’s shown glimpses of natural loft from the right side of the plate. Defensively, Antuna was mistake prone in 2017, and there’s some doubt he has the hands to play the up the middle. The range, arm, and athleticism are all fine at short, but his actions aren’t. If he can stay at short then Antuna’s range of likely offensive outcomes (a 50 hitter with 45 game power is the 2017 version of Orlando Arcia, basically) would enable him to play a solid everyday role. If he can’t, it’s harder to find a place both where the bat profiles and his deficiencies are hidden. He signed for $3.9 million in 2016. 9. Daniel Johnson, OF Drafted: 5th Round, 2016 from New Mexico State Age 21 Height 5’10 Weight 185 Bat/Throw L/L Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/40 55/55 30/45 70/70 40/50 70/70 Johnson had a 20/20 year split between Low- and High-A, then went to the Fall League and was relatively unimpressive when lined up against a higher concentration of talent. Johnson has big-league ability. He can really run, he has a cannon, and there’s untapped potential in his swing (there’s some length right now, he’s still tinkering with his footwork), so if he continues to make adjustments, he has everyday potential. He has poor defensive instincts and the swing needs work if Johnson’s going to get to his raw power, but he was a raw college prosopect with loud tools who now has a season of in-game success under his belt. He’s trending up and has a sexy profile, but it’s not time to go crazy, yet. 10. Kelvin Gutierrez, 3B Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2012 from Dominican Republic Age 22 Height 6’3 Weight 185 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 40/55 45/50 30/40 40/40 40/45 60/60 Gutierrez is a career .290 hitter as a pro and began seeing time at first base last year. He’s a 40 defender at third and doesn’t have the power to profile at first every day. That said, he can hit, so he’s likely to carve out a big-league role of some kind, probably as a four-corners bench bat. 11. Andrew Stevenson, OF Drafted: 2nd Round, 2015 from LSU Age 23 Height 6’0 Weight 185 Bat/Throw L/L Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 40/50 50/50 20/30 70/70 55/60 30/30 Stevenson was promoted to Syracuse after a dominant April at Double-A, then struggled through the rest of the year, including a 37-game grande in the big leagues. Stevenson can really run, but he might be a corner-only player because of his arm. If that’s the case then Stevenson has very little chance to play every day because, unless his downward-sloping swing is drastically altered, he doesn’t have the power to profile in left. He’s likely a reserve outfielder, though it’s possible his defense in left is so great that he can be a low-end regular. 12. Luis Garcia, SS Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic Age 17 Height 6’0 Weight 180 Bat/Throw L/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/45 45/50 20/40 55/60 45/55 55/60 There were several scouts who thought Garcia would outgrow shortstop, but none thought he’d do it this quickly. He doesn’t turn 18 until May but has already thickened to the point where pro scouts expect Garcia to play second base, long term. We also learned that Garcia needs to be more patient (to reach base more) and better incorporate his lower half into his swing (to hit for power) — especially now that he looks very likely to move off of short. The twitch and feel for the barrel which made Garcia such an interesting amateur prospect are still present, but there are suddenly concerns that have caused pro scouts to downshift expectations beneath what amateur scouts were touting. 13. Austin Adams, RHP Drafted: 8th Round, 2012 from South Florida Age 26 Height 6’2 Weight 225 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Command 60/60 70/70 35/40 Adams was acquired from Anaheim for Danny Espinosa in the winter of 2016. He has late-inning stuff in a 93-95 mph fastball that touches 98 and has some sink, as well as a plus-plus, heavily used, upper-80s slider. Adams’ fastball command is shaky and it might prevent him from pitching high-leverage innings, but his stuff might force the issue. 14. Brigham Hill, RHP Drafted: 5th Round, 2017 from Texas A&M Age 21 Height 6’0 Weight 185 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command 45/45 45/50 55/60 45/50 Hill lacks size and big velocity, but his fastball flashes impact movement and his changeup projects comfortably to plus. He has a fringe breaking ball and enough control/command to start. He could max out as a back-end starter, though the idea of his fastball ticking up in the bullpen is also intriguing. 15. Anderson Franco, 3B Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2013 from Dominican Republic Age 19 Height 6’3 Weight 190 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 25/45 55/55 30/50 40/30 40/50 55/55 Franco, who hadn’t played much entering the year due to injuries, had a terrible statistical season (.200/.270/.350), but scouts still see viable big-league power, hitting ability, and a chance to stay at third base, although he’s started to see time at first, too. His .234 BABIP from 2017 is evidence there’s some statistical regression likely to occur. Overall, Franco’s profile looks an awful lot like Gutierrez’s, but there’s a bit more power potential. 16. Rafael Bautista, OF Signed: July 2nd Period, 2011 from Dominican Republic Age 25 Height 6’2 Weight 175 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 40/45 30/30 20/30 70/70 50/55 45/45 The big leagues seemed to move too quickly for Bautista, who had some out-of-control moments during a short major-league look in 2017. He still has clear bench-outfielder qualities, led by his speed and ability to put the ball in play. 17. Jose Marmolejos, 1B Signed: July 2nd Period, 2010 from Dominican Republic Age 24 Height 6’1 Weight 185 Bat/Throw L/L Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 45/50 50/50 45/45 30/30 55/55 40/40 Marmolejos is limited to first base and the outfield corners, where his perfectly competent combination of hit, power, and pitch selection would look fine on a bench or in as a two-week injury patch, but it’s comfortably short of profiling every day. 18. Osvaldo Abreu, UTIL Signed: July 2nd Period, 2011 from Dominican Republic Age 23 Height 6’0 Weight 170 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 35/40 40/40 20/30 55/55 45/50 60/60 Abreu is an okay defensive shortstop who doesn’t do enough with the bat to play every day, even at short. He also hasn’t played anywhere but short since 2015. His speed and glove would be sound fits on a big-league bench but Wilmer Difo is firmly entrenched in the role Abreu would be likely to play in this org. Other Prospects of Note Jefry Rodriguez, RHP – Rodriguez, 24, will touch 98 and flash a plus curveball. He was old for A-ball last year and probably lacks both the repertoire and command to start, but he has a big arm and breaking ball. Dakota Bacus, RHP – Bacus has missed time with injury each of the past two years, but he’s reached Double-A and his stuff looked good in the fall. He’ll touch 96 and throws two quality breaking balls for strikes. His slider flashes plus, his curveball above average. He profiles in middle relief. Jose Sanchez, INF – Sanchez signed out of Venezuela for $950K during the 2016 J2 period. He has some feel to hit and viable infield actions but no clear position yet. He spent 2017 struggling in the GCL but doesn’t turn 18 until July. Gabe Klobosits, RHP – Klobosits has a solid three-pitch mix (92-95, average changeup and slider) and he’s a physical beast at 6-foot-7, 250. He has good stuff for a senior sign and at least looks like he’ll be a competent depth arm. Tomas Alastre, RHP – A teenage projection arm whose fastball is currently 90-94, Alastre also has some curveball feel. He’s 6-foot-4, 170. Raudy Read, C – I wrote Read up as a glove-only catching-rotation prospect last year, then he went out and hit 17 homers, and scouts put a 55 on his raw power. In February, he was suspended 80 games for testing positive for Boldenone. Joan Baez, RHP – Baez has started for most of his pro career but projects in a bullpen. He’s 90-95 with a 50 curveball. The velo might tick up in shorter bursts. Israel Pineda, C – A heavy 17-year-old catcher, Pineda hit well in the GCL last year and has a 55 arm, but scouts are worried about the body and other aspects of catching. Cistulli’s Guy Selected by Carson Cistulli from any player who received less than a 40 FV.Austin Davidson, 2B/3B The Nationals don’t appear in a rush to hurry Davidson — designated as Cistulli’s Guy last year, as well — through the system. After playing parts of three seasons at Low-A Hagerstown (2014-16), Davidson has now recorded over 600 plate appearances at High-A Potomac, split between 2016 and -17. As a result, his exposure to advanced pitching remains minimal. On the plus side, his knowledge of Mid-Atlantic geography is likely well developed. Davidson enters his age-25 season having never recorded a plate appearance above A-ball. That, in itself, is rather predictive of his future as a ballplayer. Few players who debut in the majors at 25, for example, proceed to assemble Hall of Fame careers. Not all that many even develop into major-league regulars. Josh Donaldson, Steven Souza Jr., and Ben Zobrist all emerged late. They’re the exceptions to this merciless rule, however. Nevertheless, Davdison retains the same skills that earned him a place here on the 2016-17 edition of this list. He controls the plate, he has some power, he can handle an infield position. Those are all virtues. System Overview There’s still star potential atop this system, but its lack of depth is somewhat concerning if viewed with ignorance of the Major League club’s quality. The system has a healthy mix of Latin American talent, which is a great sign considering the organization’s LA program needed a total reset after a 2009 federal probe and the Esmailyn Gonzalez scandal, which ultimately led to the resignation of then-GM Jim Bowden. There’s not much domestic talent in this system, but of course Washington has traded several away to add pieces to a big-league club competing for a ring. It’s not unusual for a contender’s system to look like this, and there’s still enough left that Washington can make another move or two, but it’s a below-average system on depth.