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Washington Nationals Top 20 prospects list for 2016

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Lucas Giolito
Lucas Giolito
Elsa/Getty Images

Washington Nationals Top 20 prospects for 2016

The list and grades are a blending of present performance and long-term potential. Comments are welcome, but in the end all analysis and responsibility is mine. Full reports on all of players can be found in the 2016 Baseball Prospect Book. We are now taking pre-orders for the book, so order early and order often!

All of these grades are preliminary and subject to change.

QUICK PRIMER ON GRADE MEANINGS

Grade A prospects are the elite. In theory, they have a good chance of becoming stars or superstars. Theoretically, most Grade A prospects develop into stars or at least major league regulars, if injuries or other problems don’t intervene. Note that is a major "if" in some cases.

Grade B prospects have a good chance to enjoy successful careers. Some will develop into stars, some will not. Most end up spending several years in the majors, at the very least in a marginal role.

Grade C prospects are the most common type. These are guys who have something positive going for them, but who may have a question mark or three, or who are just too far away from the majors to get an accurate feel for. A few Grade C guys, especially at the lower levels, do develop into stars. Many end up as role players or bench guys. Some don’t make it at all.

Finally, keep in mind that all grades are shorthand. You have to read the full comment in the book for the full analysis about a player, the letter grade only tells you so much. A Grade C prospect in rookie ball could end up being very impressive, while a Grade C prospect in Triple-A is likely just a future role player.

1) Lucas Giolito, RHP, Grade A: Age 21, 3.15 ERA with 131/37 K/BB in 117 innings between High-A and Double-A, 113 hits allowed, 94-98 MPH fastball with movement, double-plus curveball, change-up has improved, good command for a young power pitcher, could still use a little more polish/experience but has all the attributes necessary to be a number one or two starter. Main goal now is to get him past 150 innings a season and see how he handles that. Should be ready for a trial sometime this year.

2) Trea Turner, SS, Grade A-:
Age 22, hit combined .322/.370/.458 between Double-A and Triple-A in Padres and Nationals systems, then .222/.295/.325 in 40 major league at-bats. Stole 29 bases in minors and two more in majors. 70+ scale speed, effective line drive hitter with some gap power, should grow into more homers eventually in my opinion, could use a bit more patience at the plate and polish on defense but ultimately a long-term major league regular, likely with high fantasy value.

3) Victor Robles, OF, Grade B/B+
: Age 18, breakout prospect hit .352/.445/.507 with 24 steals, 18 walks, 33 strikeouts in 213 at-bats between Gulf Coast and New York-Penn Leagues, plus/plus speed, great glove, makes contact, could use a bit more patience, main questions involve how much home run production can be expected as he moves up. May wind up at B+ once all the grades are in and I see where he needs to slot.

4) Reynaldo Lopez, RHP, Grade B:
Age 22, posted 4.09 ERA with 94/28 K/BB in 99 innings in High-A, 93 hits. ERA was misleading; FIP was 2.75 and a better reflection of his talent, mid-90s fastball that can hit 100 at times, power curve, change-up made progress, control is ahead of his command at this point. You can make a case for a B+. Depending on how aggressive the Nationals want to be, he could pull a Luis Severino.

5) A.J. Cole, RHP, Grade B:
Age 24, posted 3.15 ERA with 76/34 K/BB in 106 innings in Triple-A, 91 hits, reputation has faded a bit but he is not dissimilar to Jake Odorizzi at the same point as a possible victim of prospect fatigue, fastball/change-up combo is strong, curve and slider draw mixed grades, athletic, throws strikes, I still think he’s a mid-rotation guy

6) Erick Fedde, RHP, Grade B/B-:
Age 22, first round pick in 2014 out of UNLV recovered from Tommy John surgery, 3.38 ERA with 59/16 K/BB in 64 innings between NY-P and Low-A, heavy sinker settled in low-90s after surgery but remains a bowling ball, slider and change-up should be solid with another year of work, need to see how he deals with 100+ innings, command sharp, number three starter potential.

7) Wilmer Difo, INF, Grade B-:
Age 23, Jedi Master Wilmer Difo hit .286/.352/.412 with 30 steals, 20 walks, 92 strikeouts in 434 at-bats between High-A and Double-A, 65-70 speed, doubles power that may still spike some, glove likely fits better at second long-term, can be super-utility player or solid regular.

8) Anderson Franco, 3B, Grade B-
: Age 18, hit .269/.346/.389 with four homers, 21 walks, 28 strikeouts in 193 at-bats between GCL and NY-P, 6-3, 190 frame should just get stronger, this is a upside projection pick for me but I think he has 20-homer power in him down the line along with good strike zone judgment and competent defense at third base. No relation, but think Maikel Franco.

9) Austin Voth, RHP, Grade B-
: Age 23, sleeper alert pick a couple of years ago has panned out well, 2.92 ERA with 148/40 K/BB in 157 innings in Double-A, 134 hits, slightly above-average fastball, slider, change-up, nothing exceptional but nothing weak either, throws everything for quality strikes, inning-eating workhorse.

10) Andrew Stevenson, OF, Grade B-/C+:
Age 21, second round pick out of LSU hit .308/.363/.379 with 23 steals, 16 walks, 30 strikeouts in debut at three levels finishing strongly in Low-A, excellent contact hitting ability, excellent fielder and runner, lack of home run power keeps him from ranking higher.

ANALYST NOTE: Significant cut-off here: slots 11-17 could be ordered in many different ways with valid logic. Look at this like tiers.

11) Osvaldo Abreu, INF, Grade C+: Age 21, another product of efficient Latin American scouting, hit .274/.357/.412 with 35 doubles, 30 steals, 50 walks, 89 strikeouts in 442 at-bats in Low-A, big improvement with strike zone judgment and power development to go with speed.

12) Rafael Bautista, OF, Grade C+
: Age 22, hit .272/.318/.325 with 23 steals, 11 walks, 22 strikeouts in 206 at-bats in High-A, missed much of season with broken finger, another guy with 70-grade speed and strong glove, not much power and a reserve outfielder unless more comes.

13) Chris Bostick, INF-OF, Grade C+:
Age 22, hit .258/.312/.398 with 12 homers, 31 steals, 31 walks, 100 strikeouts in 530 at-bats between High-A and Double-A, positives include power/speed production, ability to play infield and outfield, negatives include swing/miss tendency, low walk rate, lack of polish at all positions. Probably a role player but one who can do several things.

14) Pedro Severino, C, Grade C+:
Age 22, hit .246/.288/.331 with 19 walks, 51 strikeouts in 329 at-bats in Double-A, draws extreme praise for defensive ability, strong arm, excellent receiving skills and field generalship, not much of a hitter at this point but that may come eventually. Long career as a reserve at least and may eventually hit enough to start.

15) Max Schrock, 2B, Grade C+
: Age 21, 13th round pick from South Carolina but above-slot $500,000 bonus is more indicative of his ability and he should have gone as high as the third round, hit .308/.355/.448 with 13 walks, 16 strikeouts in 172 at-bats in NY-P, excellent feel for hitting with surprising pop, defense not special but not terrible and they’ll find a spot if he keeps hitting like this.

16) Rhett Wiseman, OF, Grade C+
: Age 21, third round pick out of Vanderbilt, hit .248/.307/.376 with five homers, six steals, 18 walks, 52 strikeouts in 210 at-bats in NY-P, all tools average to slightly above, may be a tweener type who doesn’t field quite well enough in center but doesn’t have quite enough home run power for corner, needs to sharpen his strike zone judgment against pro pitching.

17) Raudy Read, C, Grade C+/C:
Age 22, hit .252/.315/.377 with five homers, 27 walks, 53 strikeouts in 313 at-bats between Low-A and High-A, erratic but when he’s going well he shows both power and plate discipline, threw out 32% of runners but still needs defensive polish with receiving.

18) Abel De Los Santos, RHP, Grade C+/C:
Age 23, 3.43 ERA with 55/12 K/BB in 58 innings in Double-A, prototype middle reliever with 92-95 fastball, effective breaking ball, doesn’t walk a bunch but needs tighter command within the zone.

19) Koda Glover, RHP, Grade C+/C:
Age 22, eighth round pick from Oklahoma State, posted 1.80 ERA with 38/2 K/BB in 30 pro innings between NY-P and Low-A, threw 94 in college but was up to 99 as a pro with improved slider, sharp command, could move very rapidly in bullpen.

20) Andrew Lee, RHP, Grade C+/C: Age 22, 11th round pick from University of Tennessee where he was a successful two-way player, full-time pitcher now, 1.63 ERA with 47/10 K/BB in 39 innings finishing strongly in Low-A, already has plus-curve and solid-average fastball, throws strikes, stuff may pick up further as he gets away from hitting. Sleeper workhorse type along Voth lines.

OTHERS OF NOTE: Telmito Agustin, OF; Michael Brady, RHP; Brian Goodwin, OF; Kelvin Gutierrez, 3B; Taylor Hearn, LHP (I like him a lot, may end up C+), Spencer Kieboom, C; Nick Lee, LHP; Edwin Lora, SS; Jose Marmolejos-Diaz, 1B; Blake Perkins, OF; Jakson Reetz, ; Jefry Rodriguez, RHP; Matt Skole, 1B-3B; Juan Soto, OF; Drew Ward, 3B; Tyler Watson, LHP; Austen Williams, RHP

Many of the C guys are really close to C+ and may end up there in the end. I will post some of the book write-ups in the comments thread as I have been doing with other teams.

Overall I like this system. There isn’t quite enough impact at the top to rank with the elite, but there seems to be a lot of mid-level depth and lower-level guys who could improve dramatically with more experience.