Top 20 Prospects: Washington Nationals

Below is an analysis of the prospects in the Washington Nationals farm system. Scouting reports are compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as from my own observations. The KATOH statistical projections, probable-outcome graphs, and (further down) Mahalanobis comps have been provided by Chris Mitchell. For more information on thes 20-80 scouting scale by which all of my prospect content is governed you can click here. For further explanation of the merits and drawbacks of Future Value, read this. -Eric Longenhagen

The KATOH projection system uses minor-league data and Baseball America prospect rankings to forecast future performance in the major leagues. For each player, KATOH produces a WAR forecast for his first six years in the major leagues. There are drawbacks to scouting the stat line, so take these projections with a grain of salt. Due to their purely objective nature, the projections here can be useful in identifying prospects who might be overlooked or overrated. Due to sample-size concerns, only players with at least 200 minor-league plate appearances or batters faced last season have received projections. -Chris Mitchell

Other Lists
NL West (ARI, COL, LAD, SD, SF)
AL Central (CHW, CLE, DET, KC, MIN)
NL Central (CHC, CIN, PIT, MIL, StL)
NL East (ATL, MIA, NYM, PHI, WAS)
AL East (BAL, BOSNYY, TB, TOR)

Nationals Top Prospects
Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
1 Victor Robles 19 A+ CF 2019 60
2 Juan Soto 18 A- OF 2020 50
3 Erick Fedde 24 AA RHP 2018 50
4 Luis Garcia 16 R SS 2022 45
5 Carter Kieboom 19 R 3B 2021 45
6 Koda Glover 23 MLB RHP 2017 45
7 Andrew Stevenson 22 AA OF 2018 45
8 Sheldon Neuse 22 A- 3B 2019 40
9 Jesus Luzardo 19 R LHP 2020 40
10 Osvaldo Abreu 22 A+ UTIL 2019 40
11 Kelvin Gutierrez 22 A+ 3B 2019 40
12 A.J. Cole 25 MLB RHP 2017 40
13 Pedro Severino 23 MLB C 2017 40
14 Rafael Bautista 23 AA OF 2017 40
15 Austin Voth 24 AAA RHP 2017 40
16 Blake Perkins 20 A CF 2020 40
17 Joan Baez 22 A RHP 2019 40
18 Brian Goodwin 26 MLB OF 2017 40
19 Jose Marmolejos 24 AA 1B 2018 40
20 Anderson Franco 19 A- 3B 2020 40

60 FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2013 from Dominican Republic
Age 20 Height 6’0 Weight 185 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/70 40/50 30/45 70/60 45/55 70/70

Relevant/Interesting Metrics
Slashed .280/.376/.423 with 37 stolen bases in 2016.

Scouting Report
Scouts rightly venerate Robles’ heavenly feel to hit. He identifies balls and strikes consistently, makes mid-flight adjustments to breaking balls, casually wields plus bat speed and has feel for the barrel. He’s one of the better pure hitting prospects in the minor leagues, spraying high-quality contact to all fields and then wreaking havoc on the bases. Robles is also a plus-plus runner whose routes in center field are fine, if perhaps a bit circuitous at times. But, just on his speed, he projects as a 55 defender in center field rather conservatively, which allows him to vigilantly guard both outfield gaps. There’s a chance he’s plus there at peak if his reads (especially on balls hit toward shallow center) improve. He also has a plus-plus arm.

Robles doesn’t turn 20 until May. His frame still has some room left for physical growth and, potentially, more in-game power. Passable defensive center fielders with his sort of contact profile but no other impactful skills (basically, guys who hit an empty .300) are often above-average everyday players. The idea that Robles might also grow into 15-plus annual homers makes him a potential perennial All-Star and five-tool player. I’m fairly certain that’s the only time I’ve typed that phrase during the entirety of this series. Robles isn’t so big and projectable that scouts envision him growing into a corner-outfield spot until his physical decline. Even with some extra weight he should be a plus runner and defensive asset in center.

Robles reached the upper half of the minors last year and, if he proves too advanced for High-A early this summer, we might see him in Double-A by the season’s end, placing him on the doorstep of the majors. He might be in Washington before he turns 21, and the track record of prospects who hit this well this young is pretty stable. On upside, I think we’re looking at something like .300/.350/.420 with 15-18 homers at peak and 30 steals in his early, run-heavy years — all from a good defensive center fielder. The power and speed output might not overlap like that as he adds the former and starts to lose some of the latter, but this is one of baseball’s top handful of prospects and one I expect to appear in the top five of the midseason update.

KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 10.7 WAR

50 FV Prospects

2. Juan Soto, OF
Age 18 Height 6’1 Weight 185 Bat/Throw L/L
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/55 55/60 40/55 45/40 40/50 50/50

Relevant/Interesting Metrics
Slashed .360/.410/.550 in Gulf Coast League.

Scouting Report
Soto was ranked No. 20 on the FanGraphs July 2 board from 2015, largely due to his power projection which revolved around a few promising traits. First, Soto already had average raw power and had modest but obvious physical projection that would likely yield more thump as he aged. He also showed good feel to hit — and, specifically, feel to hit the ball in the air — in limited in-game action as an amateur. In 2016, Soto was the Godzilla to the GCL’s Tokyo, posting a .973 OPS as a 17-year-old.

His body has begun to mature, sooner than many of his teenage peers from that 2015 J2 class, and more power has already arrived. Also, that nascent feel for contact Soto displayed as an amateur (something that’s difficult to scout when so much of that international process involves batting practice, fielding drills and little else) is not only legitimate but perhaps the cornerstone of his whole profile. Soto didn’t square up many pitches when I saw him in the fall, but he showed an advanced feel for the strike zone and the ability to recognize offspeed pitches and adjust to then, either spoiling well-located ones or laying off them entirely. He grinded out long, arduous at-bats against good Atlanta pitching.

Soto’s swing does get long at times and this, plus the natural, power-causing lift in his swing, might result in some strikeouts at upper levels. But the body has yet more room to grow. As a result, I have plus raw projected at peak and I think the hit/power combination (both projected to above average in games) is comfortably playable in an outfield corner when coupled with Soto’s ability to reach base. He’s a potential plus regular, his FV diluted only by his extreme distance from the majors.

KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 3.2 WAR

3. Erick Fedde, RHP
Drafted: 1sts Round, 2014 from UNLV
Age 24 Height 6’4 Weight 180 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command
55/55 55/60 45/50 50/55

Relevant/Interesting Metrics
Has produced 24% strikeout rate, 6% walk rate as professional.

Scouting Report
Touching 97 with a bat-missing slider as a junior at UNLV, Fedde was a potential top-10 pick until he blew out in May. Tommy John didn’t scare away the Nationals who drafted him 18th overall. Fedde’s TJ came at a somewhat convenient time (as far as TJs go), as he was throwing again late in the spring of 2015 and made 14 starts that year. Fedde began 2016 at High-A, then finished with a handful of starts at Double-A, where he struck out 20 over his final two outings.

Fedde’s fastball mostly sits 90-94 and will touch 96 with a bit of sink and run. He consistently commands the fastball to both sides of the plate and works down, inducing a high rate of ground balls. Fedde’s out pitch is a slider, mostly 81-84 mph, that flashes plus but can get slurvy and lose bite when Fedde doesn’t get on top of it. His arm slot can get slingy and low, making it hard for him to drive the ball down.

Not all scouts are enamored of Fedde’s delivery. His lower half is frail, often unbalanced and at times plays no role in his delivery at all. But Fedde’s only pro DL stint was a two-week absence for an oblique injury, and he hasn’t had arm trouble as a pro.

Fedde’s first full season after Tommy John was a success. The velocity is back, his slider remains promising and, on a combination of movement and command, I think it will be plus at peak. If Fedde can improve his currently fringey, mid-80s changeup, he’ll have a viable three-pitch mix and above-average command of it. He projects as a sinker/slider mid-rotation arm.

KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 3.5 WAR

45 FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic
Age 16 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

Relevant/Interesting Metrics
None.

Scouting Report
Though he didn’t receive the largest bonus among Nationals 2016 July 2 signees, Garcia is the best. He ranked sixth on our 2016 J2 board, has an intriguing combination of tools and polish, and is one of the higher-upside prospects in this system. He was showing average raw pull power during showcase BPs as an amateur. His current in-game swing is geared for line drives, but Garcia has plenty of physical projection. There’s a chance, as he grows, that he’ll produce some game power without having to adjust his approach to hitting.

Defensively, Garcia is an above-average runner with an above-average arm, and both project to plus at his physical peak. His actions at shortstop are fine, and he could be an above-average defender there with reps. Some scouts think the body might grow off of short, but if that’s the case, Garcia will have likely grown into enough power to profile at either second or third. He was one of the 2016 J2 class’s youngest players and won’t even turn 17 until May, so he’s likely to spend this year in the DSL. He’s a potential above-average everyday shortstop light years from the majors ranked ahead of the other 45s on this list purely based on his upside.

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 45/50 30/45 45/40 40/50 55/55

Relevant/Interesting Metrics
None.

Scouting Report
Though he was drafted as a shortstop and took 100% of his reps in the GCL at shortstop after signing, I have Kieboom projected to third base. He was a fringe runner as an amateur and was posting below-average times from home to first during instructional league, where he was also taking reps at third. I just don’t expect the range necessary for shortstop to be there at maturity, though he has left-side arm strength and should be fine at the hot corner.

Offensively, Kieboom’s value is largely tied to his bat-to-ball skills. He has smooth, comfortable stroke, average bat speed and tracks pitches well. He projects for average raw power at maturity. I think the approach to hitting, which is more geared for gap-to-gap contact, will limit the game-power output. It’s not an awe-inspiring offensive profile at third base, but an above-average hitter with fringe-average game power and solid defense there is still an above-average everyday player. I think that’s Kieboom’s ceiling.

6. Koda Glover, RHP
Age 24 Height 6’5 Weight 225 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command
70/70 60/70 45/50 50/50 40/45

Relevant/Interesting Metrics
Struck out 66 in 56 innings across four levels in 2016.

Scouting Report
Glover was a junior-college starter before Oklahoma State recruited him to close. He was a hard-throwing, fastball-only relief prospect at OK St, without a true out pitch, which is largely why he fell to the eighth round of the 2015 draft. In pro ball, Glover has not only found another weapon, he’s found three. The best of them is an upper-80s slider that will often crest 90 and has lengthy horizontal movement. It lacks the two-plane wipe typical of a slider and, when Glover doesn’t break it off well, it plays like a bad cutter that catches too much of the plate. The slider is Glover’s best chance to miss bats right now but was also how he often got hurt in 2016.

Complementing the slider is a slurvy low-80s curveball that’s average on pure movement but a terrific change of pace off of the slider. His changeup is also average, but Glover has very little feel for locating it at present. If his usage of either of those pitches improves, he’ll likely be a dominant late-inning reliever if the fastball/slider combo don’t get him there already. He might be the late-inning arm for which Washington would have otherwise been clamoring ahead of the trade deadline.

KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 1.9 WAR

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 50/55 30/30

Relevant/Interesting Metrics
Slashed .276/.332/.374 between High-A and Double-A in 2016.

Scouting Report
Stevenson was a three-year starter at LSU and embodied the skills and style of play associated with that program. He plays all-out all the time, runs well, and makes a lot of contact. He hit well throughout the low minors (not unusual for someone with this sort of pedigree) and was a Carolina League All-Star in 2016, before receiving a wakeup call at Double-A in the second half.

I’ve long been skeptical of Stevenson’s ability to play every day. He’s a 70 runner and is capable of covering the ground required to play center field, but I’ve spoken with scouts who have a 30 on his arm and think he’s a left-field-only defender because of it. He’ll likely be plus there, if not better, if forced to move.

Is it possible to play left field every day and generate zero in-game power? If you buy that Stevenson is a better fit in left field because the arm is untenable in center, you’re confronted with this question. Stevenson’s downward bat path is geared for ground balls. He has good bat speed, is strong and tracks pitches well enough that I have a future 50 on the hit tool, but it’s hard to envision him hitting for any power beyond the occasional slash-and-dash double.

There are lots of players like this, who aren’t locks to play in center field for one reason or another but lack prototypical corner power. Typically, the separators for those prospects are their secondary skills: either they make contact or reach base at an elite rate, play elite corner defense to make up for the lack of power, or some combination therein. For Stevenson, the most likely path toward regularity in left field would probably be his glove. If he can pass in center, I think he has a chance to be an average everyday player. I think the more likely outcome is that of a low-end regular in left and center or a luxury fourth outfielder.

KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 3.9 WAR

40 FV Prospects

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from Oklahoma
Age 22 Height 6’0 Weight 195 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 55/55 35/50 40/40 40/55 60/60

Relevant/Interesting Metrics
Slashed .369/.465/.646 as junior at Oklahoma.

Scouting Report
I became enamored of Neuse during his sophomore year at Oklahoma when the Sooners came to Arizona for early-season work. He hit and hit for power in my viewings and did so again as a junior when I saw him in an early-season tournament in Los Angeles. He has plus bat speed, above-average raw power and takes big, aggressive swings to put it on display in games. He does an excellent job of getting his weight forward and into the baseball through the swing. With those high-effort swings comes strikeouts and those were abundant during Neuse’s pro debut. I don’t anticipate that issue being solved and have a future 40 on Neuse’s bat.

Neuse pitched and played shortstop at OU but is a 40 runner and has shifted to third base in pro ball. He has a plus arm (he was low- to mid-90s on the mound) and is an average athlete with high-level makeup, so the move to third shouldn’t be an issue. He could be above average there just on actions/arm projection. If he is, then this is a fringe-regular profile with more risk than is typical for a college bat because of the strikeouts.

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2016 from Stoneman Douuglas HS (FL)
Age 19 Height 5’11 Weight 209 Bat/Throw L/L
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command
55/55 50/55 50/60 45/55

Relevant/Interesting Metrics
None.

Scouting Report
Luzardo was the 2016 draft’s polished South Florida prep arm, with advanced feel for using a three-pitch mix that already included two average secondaries. I thought he was a first-round arm after watching him sit 88-91 with an average changeup and curveball at the Area Code Games. The following spring, Luzardo was topping out in the mid-90s and looked like he might go in the top-15 to -20 picks before he blew out and had Tommy John in March. The Nationals — to nobody’s surprise, given their recent history of drafting rehabbing arms — popped Luzardo in the third round and paid him. Luzardo got $1.4 million, about $800K above slot, as the 94th-overall pick to keep him away from a commitment to Miami. We likely won’t get any meaningful reports on Luzardo until at least mid-summer. Luzardo was a potential No. 4 starter even before his velocity took a leap last spring and a steal if the TJ rehab goes well.

10. 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
30/40 40/40 20/30 55/55 45/50 60/60

Relevant/Interesting Metrics
Slashed .247/.328/.346 at High-A.

Scouting Report
Abreu’s physical attributes fit at shortstop. He’s a 55 runner with a plus arm and, despite occasionally clumsy actions, he projects as an average defender there at maturity. He has some bat speed but takes stiff, high-effort swings and has mediocre bat control. Even at short, a 45 hitter with 30 game power isn’t a no-doubt everyday player. He projects in a utility role unless a better feel to hit can be conjured.

KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 0.5 WAR

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 40/50 60/60

Relevant/Interesting Metrics
Hit .296/.350/.400 in 2016, mostly at Low-A.

Scouting Report
Gutierrez has excellent timing at the plate, tracks pitches well and has a compact, comfortable swing that produces all-fields contact. He’s a physically capable defender at third base with a plus arm, though his actions remain inconsistent. He has moved off of short entirely (he played there primarily in the DSL but was converted to third pretty aggressively after arriving in the states, but not exclusively until 2016) but has the speed/athleticism for second and either outfield corner should Washington want to expand his defensive horizons. Gutierrez doesn’t have corner-worthy power, not yet anyway, which is why most scouts project a bat-first utility profile for him.

His lean, angular build looks as though it has some room for more mass, but Gutierrez is already 22, so there’s no guarantee more is coming. If it does and he can improve what is currently doubles-only power output, he has a chance to be an everyday third baseman with a 55 hit, 45 power combination. If not, the bat probably still gets him to the big leagues and keeps him there in a reserve role. He’s one of the more underrated prospects in this system.

KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 1.0 WAR

12. A.J. Cole, RHP
Drafted: 4th Round, 2010 from Oviedo HS (FL)
Age 25 Height 6’4 Weight 180 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command
40/40 50/50 45/45 50/55 40/45

Relevant/Interesting Metrics
Recorded just 33% ground-ball rate in majors.

Scouting Report
Cole is still rookie-eligible after debuting in 2015. His fastball velocity backed up last year, sitting more 90-92 than comfortably 92-95 the way it did when Cole was arguably a top-100 prospect. His arm slot is low and the fastball comes in flat, two things that, in concert with one another, make him vulnerable against left-handed hitters. He’ll flash an above-average changeup and two average breaking balls in a mid-70s curve and low-80s slider. Neither has consistent depth because Cole’s arm angle makes it hard for him to get on top of either consistently. He has fringe command and projects as a No. 5 starter.

KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 2.7 WAR

13. Pedro Severino, C

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2010 from Dominican Republic
Age 23 Height 6’0 Weight 215 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/40 45/45 30/30 45/40 55/55 55/55

Relevant/Interesting Metrics
Slashed .270/.316/.377 at Triple-A before call-up.

Scouting Report
A live-bodied catcher with long-lauded defensive acumen, Severino is unlikely to hit enough for regular duty but is a low-risk, glove-first backup catching prospect. He’s an excellent receiver and game-caller with rare quick-twitch athleticism for a catcher and has an above-average arm. He has good lateral quickness, enabling him to smother errant pitches in the dirt with consistency.

Severino has the physical tools to hit, but his feel for it is poor. He doesn’t track pitches well, nor does he have good bat control. He’s a 40 hitter with 30 game power and therefore a backup, but he’s likely to be a long-standing one.

KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 1.7 WAR

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2011 from Dominican Republic
Age 24 Height 6’2 Weight 165 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

Relevant/Interesting Metrics
Hit .282/.344/.341 at Double-A in 2016.

Scouting Report
Bautista is a twitchy chop-and-sprint outfielder with 70 speed. He chokes up on the bat and has a very conservative approach at the plate that allows him to put the ball in play consistently, though often those balls in play are trickling grounders. He’s capable at all three outfield positions and a potential impact baserunner, but there isn’t enough offensive ability here to project him as a regular. He’s a speed/defense fourth outfielder.

KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 0.9 WAR

15. Austin Voth, RHP
Drafted: 5th Round, 2013 from Kenwtood HS (WA)
Age 25 Height 6’2 Weight 210 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command
40/40 55/55 40/40 40/50 45/50

Relevant/Interesting Metrics
Recorded 20% strikeout rate, 8% walk rate in 157 innings last year at Triple-A with just .279 BABIP. Projection systems calling for FIPs in 4.20-4.40 range for 2017.

Scouting Report
Voth pitched impressively at Triple-A in 2016, but scouts who saw him there and in the Arizona Fall League are unsure if that performance can be replicated in the big leagues. In the Fall League he was 86-88 for me with natural cut and topped out at 90. He has a deceptive, overhand delivery and hides the ball well, which allows the fastball and an above-average, low-80s slider with late wipe to play up a bit. He also sports a below-average mid-70s curveball and pitched with a below-average changeup last year, though he was working with a new grip by the fall and it might improve with reps.

Voth’s delivery is pretty noisy and makes it difficult for him to have surgical command, which is often necessary when pitching with a fringey fastball. He showed enough feel for location in the Fall League that I think he has a chance for fifth- or sixth-starter duty, provided the changeup comes along. That’s a great outcome for a fifth rounder.

KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 3.1 WAR

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from Verrado HS (AZ)
Age 20 Height 6’1 Weight 165 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/50 30/40 20/30 60/60 45/60 50/50

Relevant/Interesting Metrics
Produced 10% walk rate and .048 ISO in first full year of switch-hitting.

Scouting Report
Perkins hails from Verrado High School in Buckeye, Arizona. Buckeye is on the western edge of the developed land that comprises the Phoenix Metro area and surrounding municipalities, so to visit Verrado and to look west is to view unobstructed desert all the way to the horizon. It also means a clear view of the entire spectrum of light that cascades across the desert sky in the evening, and this video of a Perkins inside the park home run is the best one I’ve ever shot because of it.

Perkins is a plus runner with precocious feel for center field. He gracefully glides from gap to gap, making most plays in an unspectacular, routine manner. He projects as a plus defender there. Offensively, Perkins is raw. He began switch-hitting as a pro (his natural right-handed swing was never very good, and was long when I saw him in the fall) and has yet to start maturing, physically. He’s very unlikely to hit for any power down the line, but if he can develop average or above bat-to-ball skills he’ll have a long-term big-league home as a low-end regular in center or as a good bench outfielder.

KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 0.4 WAR

17. Joan Baez, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2013 from Dominican Republic
Age 22 Height 6’3 Weight 190 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command
60/70 50/55 30/35 30/40

Relevant/Interesting Metrics
Recorded 119 strikeouts, 64 walks over 125 innings in 2016.

Scouting Report
Baez throws hard, often sitting 93-plus even as a starter, and topping out around 97. He has some starter traits: a prototypical pitcher’s build, passable athleticism and a history of durability, but his command and general feel for pitching are both undercooked for his age and scouts mostly have him projected in the bullpen. Baez’s fastball is straight, so the extra theoretical giddyup his fastball could add in a relief role might be necessary for it to miss bats in the majors, where velocity alone rarely suffices. He has an average curveball and well below-average changeup, and scouts question the viability of that repertoire over multiple trips through upper-level lineups. I have him projected as a two-pitch middle reliever, but it makes sense for Washington to continue developing him as a starter on the off chance he figures it out, provided he remains a picture of health. He’s 22 and has yet to pitch above Low-A.

KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 1.1 WAR

Drafted: 1st Round, 2011 from Miami Dade CC
Age 26 Height 6’0 Weight 200 Bat/Throw L/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/40 55/55 35/40 60/60 50/50 50/50

Relevant/Interesting Metrics
Posted 31% strikeout rate in 22 big-league games.

Scouting Report
Goodwin’s interesting array of tools (he’s a plus runner who passes in center field and has above-average raw power) should allow him to carve out a long big-league career as a bench outfielder, but the stiffness in his swing, and an awkward, pull-only bat path are likely to prevent him from hitting enough to play every day, even in center field. It took Goodwin three tries to solve Double-A and he’s now 26. He might face a similar adjustment period in the big leagues, decelerated by sporadic at-bats.

KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 1.6 WAR

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 45/45 40/45 30/30 55/60 40/40

Relevant/Interesting Metrics
Slashed .289/.370/.475 at Double-A in 2016.

Scouting Report
Marmolejos has been the org’s Minor League Player of the Year for back-to-back seasons thanks not only to a keen eye for the strike zone and refined bat-to-ball ability but because he’s a plus defender at first base. The Nationals thought he merited a 40-man spot heading into the winter but placed him on the 60-day DL to make room for Matt Wieters last week. Marmolejos’s polished combination of approach and contact is enough for him to profile as a bench bat, and scouts consider him athletic enough to pass in the outfield corners if it means getting his bat on a big-league bench. His injury status complicates things, as do the presences of Clint Robinson and Matt Skole, who project to fill similar roles, but Marmolejos’ secondary skills aren’t easy to dismiss.

KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 0.2 WAR

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
20/45 55/55 20/45 40/30 40/50 55/55

Relevant/Interesting Metrics
None. Played just 22 games due to injury.

Scouting Report
Franco didn’t see game action until July because of a back injury and then struggled to get to his above-average raw power in games during his abbreviated GCL season. Once too young to sign on July 2 (Franco had to wait until August of 2013 to turn 16 and sign), he’s now a 19-year-old who has only played 11 games outside of the club’s complex in Florida. The tools (that aforementioned power, some feel to hit and an above-average arm that fits at third) are among the more intriguing in the system, but Franco needs to stay on the field, preferably one that isn’t in West Palm Beach, to start climbing this list again. He’s a potential everyday player with extreme injury/proximity risk at this point.

*****

*****

Other Prospects of Note (In Order of Preference)

Yasel Antuna, SS – Antuna got nearly $4 million on July 2nd last year, largely because of his lanky, physically projectable frame and natural feel for airborne contact. There’s power projection here, but as signing day approached, Antuna’s skills started to erode. He didn’t look twitchy or agile at MLB’s showcase and wasn’t running well. His stock is volatile right now, a pure bet on what looks like a good baseball body.

Jake Johansen, RHP – The long-limbed Johansen was up to 96 last fall, sitting 91-95 with movement and an average cutter (90-92). He also has a fringe slider and changeup. There’s no plus secondary, but the mix should play in relief.

Ryan Brinley, RHP, 0.1 KATOH+ – Brinley was 93-95 for me in the Arizona Fall League with an above-average changeup in the 82-84 range. He’s a potential middle reliever.

Matt Skole, 1B, 0.5 KATOH+ – Skole is now 27 and it’s clear his combination of power and patience is not enough to overcome his strikeout issues and defensive profile at first base, where scouts prefer him. (He also plays third.) But he does have plus raw power and his Russell Branyan-ish, low hand load allows him to uppercut the baseball into the air consistently. If a team has enough defensive versatility on the rest of their roster to carry a bat-only guy, I’d nominate Skole.

Tyler Watson, LHP, 2.6 KATOH+ – Watson is a big, projectable lefty with a deceptive but ugly delivery that scouts think will necessitate a move to the bullpen where his fastball/curveball combo could play in middle relief.

Jakson Reetz, C, 0.4 KATOH+ – Reetz has continued to make progress on defense where, as an amateur, his only discernible defensive attribute was his above-average arm. Reetz didn’t often catch pro-level stuff as a high schooler in Nebraska, and he’s improved his receiving as a pro. He’s struggled offensively, showing a keen eye for the strike zone but failing to properly time hittable pitches. His tardiness is either because of a lack of bat speed or because of an excessively high hand load that causes extra length back to the baseball, depending on the scout with whom you’re talking. Without much bat, Reetz is a backup catching prospect and one that’s far enough away from the big leagues to be held off the main portion of the list based on his risk profile.

Nick Banks, OF, 0.3 KATOH+ – Banks entered his junior year at Texas A&M as a potential top-50 pick, and scouts who saw him play well for the collegiate national team the previous summer thought he might go in the first round. His junior year arrived, and Banks struggled. Suddenly scouts were talking about how stiff and lifeless his hands were, a lack of bat speed and a defensive profile that fit best in left field. He didn’t homer in pro ball after signing and reports from Auburn were that his raw power was fringey. That will need to improve for Banks to profile, though he lacks much physical projection, so it’s not clear how that would happen.

Daniel Johnson, CF, 0.5 KATOH+ – Johnson hit .382/434/.630 with 12 homers and 29 steals in a hitter-friendly environment at New Mexico State. He’s short but stocky, strong and twitchy with blazing plus-plus speed and plus bat speed. His feel to hit is raw, especially for a college draftee, but he has some of the better physical tools in the system. He might require a mechanical overhaul at the plate to hit in pro ball. If he does, he’s a dude.

Mariano Rivera III, 0.0 KATOH+ – Rivera is still fairly new to baseball having not played in high school. His career at Iona began with him sitting 82-85. By his junior year he was touching 95 early in starts. He has a vertical arm angle that produces a vertical slider and splitter, both of which are average but have some projection due to Rivera’s short history of pitching. He’s a good athlete with a good arm action. He’s a relief-only prospect.

Drew Ward, 3B, 0.9 KATOH+ – Ward was really bad at third during the 2015 Fall League but was competent there a year later, and I think there’s a chance he stays, though his most likely future home remains first base. Ward is already a 30 runner and is huge, a wide-framed 6-foot-3. He only turned 22 during the offseason, so he’s likely to continue filling out and move to first. He has big raw power and, historically, a patient approach. The power and patience are the most likely paths toward a big-league role, but Ward’s stiff, long swing is problematic. The offensive bar at first base is high and unforgiving, and without a viable hit tool at first base or any defensive versatility, it’s hard to project Ward in any sort of big-league role. If he shows he can reach base and hit for some power at Double-A this year, we can start to talk.

Ian Sagdal, UTIL, 0.3 KATOH+ – Sagdal generates high-effort plus bat speed and has big raw power and some speed. He lacks a true defensive home and will likely always have contact issues, but he’s an interesting power/speed utility prospect.

Raudy Read, C, 0.9 KATOH+ – Another glove-first catching prospect, Read has better natural bat-to-ball skills than Reetz but a bad body and scouts think his on-paper success is due to his age relative to level. He’s three months younger than Severino but hasn’t played above A-ball.

Telmito Agustin, OF, 0.2 KATOH+ – A scrappy, undersized outfielder who peppers the opposite field with lines drives, Agustin lacks the pure speed for center field (though he’s plus in the corners) and is unlikely to have an offensive profile befitting corner play. He’s a high-energy bench outfield prospect.

Armond Upshaw, CF – An 80 runner who is also learning to switch-hit, Upshaw is a potential impact defender in center field who scouts hope will be competent enough with the bat to fit on a big-league bench. He’s already 20 and extremely raw.

Jose Sanchez, SS – Sanchez doesn’t turn 17 until July and, like Antuna, much of his future is heavily dependent on his body developing in a way that allows him to compete physically in pro ball. He’s a diminutive 5-foot-10 without much present offensive ability, but his footwork and actions at shortstop are promising.

Cistulli’s Guy
Selected by Carson Cistulli from any player who received less than a 40 FV.

Austin Davidson, 2B/3B, 0.9 KATOH+
Davidson is the shadowy doppelganger of future MVP and current Oakland prospect Max Schrock. Like Schrock, he was selected by the Nationals in the 13th round of the draft*. Like Schrock, he’s exhibited contact skills that portend more success than is typical of a 13th-round pick. And like Schrock, he’s complemented that promising offensive profile with enough defensive ability to remain in the infield.

The similarities deteriorate a bit after that. While Schrock was one of the top hitters in the SEC as an amateur, Davidson was mostly pedestrian as a collegiate, even as a member of the less competitive West Coast Conference. Also, while Schrock reached Double-A last year in just his age-21 season, Davidson remained in High-A, as a 23-year-old. Failing to compare favorably to a future MVP is hardly a worst-case scenario, of course. Davidson is promising in his own right. Perhaps he’ll have to content himself merely with multiple All-Star appearances.

*In 2014, as opposed to 2013 for Schrock.

*****

System Overview

This system retained its best prospect despite the winter purge but is now severely depleted. The front office may be confronted with some difficult decisions this summer as they weigh their still-open competitive window with the club’s long-term future. Among signs of hope is the resurgence of a Latin American talent pipeline that was literally left for dead at one point and has now provided the system with three of its better prospects. Washington’s aggressive style of drafting has netted them injured arms who would have otherwise been selected much higher, and they’ve had success easing those pitchers back from time off. They’ll likely add another 45 FV talent to this list with their first-round pick in June, though the system is likely to take a hit ahead of the deadline as Washington chases a ring.

We hoped you liked reading Top 20 Prospects: Washington Nationals by Eric Longenhagen!

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Eric Longenhagen is from Catasauqua, PA and currently lives in Tempe, AZ. He spent four years working for the Phillies Triple-A affiliate, two with Baseball Info Solutions and two contributing to prospect coverage at ESPN.com. Previous work can also be found at Sports On Earth, CrashburnAlley and Prospect Insider.

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matt
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matt

I’m most interested in if Victor Robles will break the hbp record