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2016 international signings could break out for Washington

Nationals have capital hopes for Yasel Antuna and Luis Garcia

MLB: Spring Training-Houston Astros at Washington Nationals Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Adam Eaton trade at the 2016 Winter Meetings cost the Washington Nationals three of their best prospects. Pitchers Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning all departed for the veteran outfielder, leaving behind a farm system that is very top heavy.

Thankfully, it makes up for its lack of depth with one of the game’s best prospects in 20-year old Victor Robles. Not too far behind him is fellow outfielder, 19-year old Juan Soto. 20-year old infielder Carter Kieboom rounds out a trio of high-ceiling bats.

Beyond that, the stock of pitchers topped by Erick Fedde and minor league graduates like A.J. Cole and Austin Voth exemplify a system without much depth in arms, or bats beyond the top three.

After the trio of young stars atop of the system, there are a pair of prospects even younger that could very well be the next wave beyond Robles, Soto and Kieboom.

In 2016, Nationals management inked a pair of infielders from the Dominican Republic, Yasel Antuna and Luis Garcia. (Don’t confuse the latter with another infielder of the same name and country, signed by the Phillies in 2017.)

Antuna is now 18 and Garcia 17. Both players were stellar in the Gulf Coast League last season, each hitting over .300. Antuna posted a .382 OBP and Garcia stole 11 bases.

Copyright Mike Janes/Four Seam Images

Signed together from the same country and both being infielders, the players will always be joined at the hip. Their progression through the Nationals system will probably also be synced up at least until they hit full season ball.

Until then, there is more to see. Both players showed well in their debut performances last season, but are very young and development with international players signed in their pubescent years always requires patience.

Antuna projects to end up at second or third base but will be tried at shortstop for now. Garcia has the better glove of the two and has better odds to stay at short, with second an option for him as well.

Where Garcia has the defensive edge, as it stands now Antuna is the better offensive prospect. A switch-hitter, he has more pop and a little seniority provides him with a superior batter’s eye.

Whether it is one or the other —or both— the Nationals system has a way of replenishing itself each season with a new name to watch. Two years ago, it was Robles. Then Soto. Then Kieboom.

Two Dominican signings from the summer of 2016 could be next in line. Antuna and Garcia both provide intriguing skills. They may not profile like the big time prospects (yet), but another great year for the very young and still growing prospects could establish them as not only organizational names to watch, but all across the league.