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Washington Nationals Top 20 prospects for 2018: mid-season review

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Checking in on the Nationals . . .

Washington Nationals v New York Mets
Juan Soto
Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Continuing with our mid-season organization reviews, we turn our attention to Washington Nationals farm system.

This list was originally published December 24th, 2017

*****THIS IS NOT A NEW LIST******

THIS IS A REVIEW OF THE PRE-SEASON LIST

THESE ARE NOT NEW GRADES

1) Victor Robles, OF, Grade A-/A: Age 21, signed out of Dominican Republic in 2013, missed most of the season with an elbow injury; back in action now, hitting .253/.362/.316 in 158 at-bats between Triple-A and rehab games, 16 steals; still an exciting talent but disappointing season due to the injury, not his fault of course.

2) Juan Soto, OF, Grade B+: Age 19, signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2015; murdered minor league pitching at .362/.462/.757 clip, reaching the majors at least two years ahead of schedule, hitting .290/.408/.507 for the Nationals with 15 homers, 60 walks, 72 strikeouts in 300 at-bats; amazingly talented young hitter, an historic season from a teenager.

3) Carter Kieboom, SS, Grade B+: Age 20, first round pick in 2016 from high school in Georgia, hitting .281/.357/.448 with 16 homers, 55 walks, 104 strikeouts in 466 at-bats between High-A and Double-A, has a chance to stick at short but enough power potential to move to third base if necessary.

4) Erick Fedde, RHP, Grade B/B+: Age 25, first round pick in 2014 from UNLV; 4.70 ERA in 61 innings in Triple-A, 67/17 K/BB, 72 hits; 5.79 ERA in 28 major league innings, 19/9 K/BB; inconsistent, looks like a strong number three starter on a good day, can get hit hard on bad days, evens out to a four perhaps.

5) Seth Romero, LHP, Grade B: Age 22, first round pick in 2017 from University of Houston; 3.91 ERA with 34/8 K/BB in 25 innings in Low-A, pitching time limited by disciplinary problems and injuries, very talented but this looks like a case where the “intangibles” really do matter.

6) Wil Crowe, RHP, Grade B/B-: Age 23, second round pick in 2017 from University of South Carolina; solid in High-A (2.69, 78/30 in 87, 11-0 record), more human after promotion to Double-A (5.32, 12/11 in 22, 24 hits) but should be able to make adjustments, workhorse projection.

7) Daniel Johnson, OF, Grade B/B-: Age 23, fifth round pick in 2016 from New Mexico State University; hitting .275/.336/.413 in 346 at-bats between Double-A and rookie ball rehab for hamate injury; 21 steals, 22 walks, 81 strikeouts; lively speed/raw power combo, needs to tighten strike zone but has some ceiling.

8) Yasel Antuna, INF, Grade B-: Age 18, signed out of Dominican Republic in 2016; hitting .220/.293/.331 in 323 at-bats in Low-A, with an .893 fielding percentage, not very good on the surface but very young for full-season ball and scouts like his tools, seeing serious power/speed potential.

9) Luis Garcia, INF, Grade B-: Age 18, signed out of Dominican Republic in 2016 although was born in New York; hitting .294/.333/.404 with seven homers, 12 steals, 30 walks, 79 strikeouts in 473 at-bats between Low-A and High-A; contact hitter but can grow into some pop, very young for full-season ball, a fine defensive shortstop, stock rising rapidly, into B+ range.

10) Raudy Read, C, Grade B-/C+: Age 24, signed out of Dominican Republic in 2011; limited to 49 games by PED suspension, hitting .279/.320/.391 between Double-A and Triple-A, two homers, 11 walks, 34 strikeouts in 179 at-bats; draws praise for glove tools, could show offensive surge eventually.

11) Andrew Stevenson, OF, Grade C+: Age 24, second round pick in 2015 from Louisiana State; .235/.318/.338 in 293 at-bats in Triple-A, .250/.300/.346 in 52 major league at-bat; fourth outfielder type.

12) Blake Perkins, OF, Grade C+: Age 21, second round pick in 2015 from high school in Arizona; was traded to Kansas City Royals for Kelvin Herrera; hitting .243/.369/.311 in High-A, three homers, 28 steals, 88 walks; intriguing due to speed/OBP combination, might show more power eventually.

13) Austin L. Adams, RHP, Grade C+: Age 27, eighth round pick of the Los Angeles Angels in 2012 from University of South Florida, traded to Washington for Danny Espinosa in December 2016; 3.02 ERA in 45 innings in Triple-A, 75/20 K/BB, very successful Triple-A bullpen record, don’t see any reason why he can’t be a useful 11th man on a staff.

14) Pedro Severino, C, Grade C+: Age 25, signed from Dominican in 2010; hitting .171/.256/.254 in 181 major league at-bats; strong defense will keep him employed as a reserve/platoon catcher for years.

15) Taylor Gushue, C, Grade C+: Age 24, fourth round pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2014 from University of Florida; traded to Nationals in 2016; hitting .215/.298/.368 with 10 homers, 37 walks, 88 strikeouts in 326 at-bats in Double-A; 24% of runners caught but with reliable receiving; won’t hit for average but power/glove combo could have some value.

16) Jefry Rodriguez, RHP, Grade C+: Age 25, signed from Dominican Republic in 2011; 3.40 ERA in 101 innings between Double-A and Triple-A, 102/43 K/BB; 4.54 ERA in 36 major league innings with 26/20 K/BB; can succeed if he manages to tighten his command.

17) Kelvin Gutierrez, 3B, Grade C+: Age 23, signed out of Dominican Republic in 2012; traded to Kansas City Royals; hitting .277/.329/.405 with 10 homers, 18 steals in Double-A; impressive range at third base with some power/speed potential, possible late-bloomer type.

18) Nick Raquet, LHP, Grade C+: Age 22, third round pick in 2017 from William and Mary; strong in Low-A (2.79, 56/18 in 68), not so much in High-A (5.95, 30/19 in 42, 61 hits), live arm can hit 95 but pitchability comes and goes.

19) Jackson Tetreault, RHP, Grade C+: Age 22, seventh round pick in 2017 from State Junior College of Florida; 4.30 ERA in 126 innings in Low-A/High-A, 130/40 K/BB, 125 hits; nice K/BB ratio with a plus curve, 90-95 fastball.

20) Wander Suero, RHP, Grade C+: Age 26, from Dominican Republic, good solid relief season in the majors, 3.47 ERA with 37/10 K/BB in 36 innings.

OTHER GRADE C+:

Tres Barrera, C; Hitting .259/.336/.366 in High-A while throwing out 50% of runners.

Rafael Bautista, OF; Has missed most of the season with a knee injury while hitting .366/.395/.463 in 82 Triple-A at-bats; was briefly released in June for roster management reasons but re-signed.

Justin Connell; OF; Hitting .229/.354/.267 between rookie ball and NY-P

Alex Troop, LHP Made four starts in Low-A then went on DL.

**********************

Juan Soto makes this a successful year for the farm system all by himself, taking away the sting of Victor Robles’ injury.

Looking ahead to 2019, expect Luis Garcia to leap up the list while 2018 first-rounder Mason Denaburg continues the Nationals tradition of investing in high-ceiling pitchers with some health/durability concerns.

I expect most observers will rate Robles ahead of Kieboom and Garcia, but I’m not sure that’s right. Discuss!