Under the guidance of Gm Mike Rizzo, the Nationals have experienced a successful, yet frustrating run in their franchise’s history. With five straight winning seasons, but nothing to show for it, the Nationals were once again aggressive on the trade market. Sending top prospects Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, along with 2016 first rounder Dane Dunning to the White Sox for Adam Eaton. Despite moving some very good prospects in Giolito and Lopez, the Nationals activity in the International market, and a strong 2016 draft crop, has helped restock the lower levels of the system. Due to diligent scouting, and astute drafting, Washington has been able to maintain organizational balance throughout all of the levels of the system. They have a potentially ready made replacement for Bryce Harper, should “Make Baseball Fun Again” walk for Greener Pa$trues. There’s far less arms in the upper reaches of the system than there used to be, but Erick Fedde isn’t that far from contributing on the major league level. There’s exciting young power hitter Juan Soto, and top international signing Yasel Antuna, as well as another Tommy John reclamation project in Jesus Luzardo. The Nats keep churning out the talent, and there’s no reason to think it won’t continue. It’s the Top Washington Nationals Prospects.
Tier 1: Specs On The Beach
Potential stars. Consensus T100 prospects with premium fantasy ceilings.
Victor Robles, OF | Age: 19 | ETA: 2019 | 2016 Level: A+/ A-
Ranked 4th overall in my Top 100 Prospects, Robles is one of the hottest prospect names in fantasy baseball. With a 60 grade hit tool, 60 grade speed, and average power that’s still being tapped into, there’s a lot to like. His elite defense will push his ETA despite his young age, though not to sell his hitting short, as the bats advanced too. The outfielder should touch AA this year, after finishing the year in A+. He slashed .305/.405/.459 at Hagerstown before promotion to the Carolina League. He struggled a little in high A to the tune of .262/.354/.387, but he was the youngest cub in the Carolina League, and he still stole 18 bases. If he hits in his return to Potomoc, and meets the challenge of AA Harrisburg, we very well could be looking at the top overall prospect as soon as mid-season.
Erick Fedde, RHP | Age: 23 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: AA/A+
Ranked number 59 on my Top 100 list, Fedde had 1.1 buzz heading into the 2014 draft. Unfortunately those dreams crashed when Tommy J ate his elbow his last season at UNLV. So he instead fell to the Nationals at 18 in the 2014 draft. He took off last year after debuting late in 2015. His stuff is all the way back working mostly in the low to mid 90’s with the sinking fastball, but he can ramp it up to 97 on occasion. His slider is a plus pitch, while his change has developed to the point of being labeled average. His mechanics are clean, loose, and athletic, so he has no problem throwing strikes. He could stand to improve his command a bit, hitting his spots more consistently. Should see time in the upper minors with a chance for an MLB debut sometime during the season.
Juan Soto, OF | Age: 18 | ETA: 2020 | 2016 Level: Rk
Ranked number 96 on my Top 100, Soto signed with the Nats in 2015 for $1.5 million. He made his pro debut in the rookie level Gulf Coast League this season, and proceeded to hit .361/.410/.550 driving in 31 runs in 169 at bats, and winning MVP honors. He has a quick and compact lefthanded swing, and should draw from his natural power to end up at least an above average home run hitter. Not sure what approach the Nationals take, could see full season Hagerstown or return to Auburn and short season ball. Long way off but one to keep an eye on.
Tier 2: Floorboreds
Lacking the “star” upside. They might have some warts, but their ETAs are on the horizon.
Koda Glover, RHP | Age: 23 | ETA: 2017 | 2016 Level: MLB/AAA/AA/A+
After skipping across four levels last year there’s big things expected of the 2015 8th rounder out of Oklahoma State. His triple digit fastball with sinking action, and hard slider, allow him to really attack hitters. Looks to me like the makings of a future closer. Should have a role in some capacity in the Washington bullpen this year, with a darkhorse shot to lockdown the closers role.
Austin Voth, RHP | Age: 24 | ETA: 2017 | 2016 Level: AAA
A pitchability over stuff guy, he’s not the typical Nationals starter profile, but he’s managed to lead the minor league system in strikeouts in consecutive years. He lacks a plus pitch, though his changeup grades as above average. He gets results by knowing the art of pitching. He mixes his arsenal well, and gets deep into games, racking up consecutive seasons of 150+ innings. Looks like a backend of the rotation innings eater.
Wilmer Difo, 2B/SS | Age: 24 | ETA: 2017 | 2016 Level: MLB/AAA
The switch-hitting middle infielder bloomed late, but rose through the upper minors of the Nationals system relatively quickly. He has only below average power, but he has good bat to ball skills, and base stealing ability. Only really a flier in the deepest of formats or NL Only Leagues.
Andrew Stevenson, OF | Age: 22 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: AA/A+
A former LSU Tiger and teammate of 2015 second overall pick Alex Bregman, Stevenson is a potential future lead off hitter with serious wheels. He doesn’t hit for power, opting more for a hard ground ball and liner to the gap approach, becoming of his speed. Looked excellent in the Arizona Fall League finishing second in the batting title, and first in hits. Could be an all-speed future SAGNOF type. Don’t sleep.
Drew Ward, 3B | Age: 22 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: AA/A+
Solid third base prospect, flashed some power in high A Potomac, smacking 11 homers before being called up to AA Harrisburg. He struggled in his 53 games in the Eastern League, but he still managed to walk at a 10% clip. Impressed scouts in the Arizona Fall League, with a .391 OBP, though he hit for very little power there. If he can continue to cut back on the strikeouts and tap into his raw power we could be talking about an MLB regular.
Tier 3: Long Shot Lolitas
Sexy ceilings, but these youngsters also come with risks and distant ETAs
Yasel Antuna, SS | Age: 17 | ETA: 2021 | 2016 Level: N/A
A polished teenage prodigy, Antuna was considered by many to be the top shortstop prospect in the Dominican Republic this year. His natural instincts on offense and defense and five category potential make him an intriguing draft and stash in deeper dynasty formats.
Luis Garcia, SS | Age: 16 | ETA: 2021 | 2016 Level: N/A
Another signing to go along with Yasel Antuna, Garcia was the most highly ranked of the Nationals 2016 signing class. The son of a former Major Leaguer, Garcia is a young toolsy middle infielder with a loose, quick lefthanded swing that’s more line drive focused at the moment. He makes loads of hard contact leading many to believe he’ll unlock some raw power. He’s an excellent athlete that runs well, and fields his position well enough to stick at short long term.
Carter Kieboom, SS | Age: 19 | ETA: 2020 | 2016 Level: Rk
The younger brother of Nationals catching prospect Spencer Kieboom, Carter is an all around solid if unspectacular player. His bat speed is above average and he has shown the ability to drive the ball, but he strikes out a bit too much, and needs to refine his plate discipline. He has the defensive instincts and arm to stick at short long term.
Jesus Luzardo, LHP | Age: 19 | ETA: 2022 | 2016 Level: N/A
A potential first round prep arm, that underwent Tommy John months before the draft, he fell to Washington in the third round. He mixed three above average or better pitches in his prep days, and has some under the radar upside.
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