This was supposed to be the season where we would be able to relish in the Nationals World Series Championship and bask in the glow of a banner raising. Things evolved and we aren’t quite sure what a season is going to look like in 2020. It’s scheduled to be a 60 game season and then playoffs, but we’ll need to see how it all plays out. Perhaps the biggest defeat for baseball fans this year was the loss of the entire Minor League Baseball season. While most players are still working out and developing their craft, there is no substitute for the experience gained during a full minor league season.
The most disappointing aspect for me was the ability to see some of the Nationals prized prospects finally come stateside and begin their ascent to the bigs. With the minor league system being relatively barren of impact players, there are some exciting young names ready for a breakout. If you read my Nationals Top 50 Prospects you would remember this. This article intends to make you aware of names you may not know, but that you should. You won’t see top prospects like Carter Kieboom and Luis Garcia on this list. These are guys that have flown under the radar or are recent draft picks from June.
In no particular order, let’s take a look at 10 Names You Need To Know in the Nationals organization.
Cade Cavalli, RHP
Drafted #22 overall in 2020, Cavalli has the pure stuff that matches any of the other pitchers drafted ahead of him. He consistently operates his fastball in that 92-94 range while topping out at 98. Taking one look at his build you could easily confuse him as being Oklahoma’s starting quarterback. He has that solid, athletic build that allows him to produce velocity without appearing to expend any energy. Combine his plus fastball with a curveball and a slider/cutter, he projects as a top of the rotation starter. So with that much talent, why didn’t he get drafted higher? Ever since high school he has battled injuries. From back issues to a stress reaction in his arm this season, the concern for durability exists. There was enough concern over these injuries that some thought he may not hear his name called until the second day. The hope is that Cavalli can overcome his injury history while providing the Nationals with frontline starting pitching.
Cade Cavalli faced 96 batters in 2020.
Cade Cavalli struck out 37 batters in 2020.
Cade Cavalli only walked 5 batters in 2020.
That’s…really good.#MLBDraft // #NATITUDE pic.twitter.com/8r69OsPi8h
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) June 11, 2020
Cole Henry, RHP
The Nationals 2nd Round pick in 2020, Henry is another power arm with a ton of potential but has some durability risks as well. A draft-eligible sophomore, he possesses a mid 90’s fastball along with a potential plus curve and changeup. As soon as he stepped on campus as a freshman he was their #1 weekend starter. His freshman year he pitched 58.1 innings while posting a 3.39 ERA. He also displayed good command – striking out 72 while only issuing 18 walks. In his limited action in 2020, his numbers were equally as impressive (1.89 ERA; 23K/6BB). With Henry’s ability to go back to LSU for his junior season, the Nationals had to pay above slot value ($2 million) to make sure they could land the impressive righty.
– @MLBNetwork‘s Al Leiter on Cole Henry@Cole__Henry12 // #NATITUDE pic.twitter.com/RTIONWdu7t
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) June 11, 2020
Holden Powell, RHP
Drafted in the 3rd Round of the 2020 draft, Powell seems like the best bet of the 2020 draftees to make an impact first. As a sophomore at UCLA, he won the Stopper of the Year Award in 2019 and was well on his way to repeating in 2020. He has a mid 90’s fastball with a power slider that is devastating to hitters. He can throw multiple innings which will allow some flexibility for his role in a bullpen. Ultimately I could see him garnering plenty of saves from the backend of the Nationals bullpen very soon.
UCLA righty Holden Powell has multiple paths to a big league bullpen.
Scouts love his makeup + wipeout slider.
The @UCLABaseball closer jumped 40 spots in today’s BA 500 draft update.
Full scouting report: https://t.co/zY2mbF2jZv pic.twitter.com/XpSxHTSWt3
— Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica) May 13, 2020
Andry Lara, RHP
The hope in 2020 was that Lara would get to pitch in some Gulf Coast League action by the year’s end. The now 17-year-old really caught some buzz after signing in July of 2019. There is a lot to be excited about with Lara and that starts with his aggressive and competitive nature. Coaches have been impressed with his ability to continue developing and learning along the way. With a mid 90’s fastball, a plus power curve, and a developing changeup, Lara has the potential to be a front-end starter.
The more I read and watch Andry Lara, the excitement for his progress builds. 16 yrs old. 6’4” – 217 lbs. 90-95 MPH. Effortless, repeatable delivery. Watch the nasty Slider/curve at the :40 mark @Prospects1500 #nationals #prospects pic.twitter.com/FJ6oZzZGlF
— Jacob Swain (@jacob_swain3) December 15, 2019
De La Rosa was poised to get some more exposure stateside this year after a limited showing in 2019. The comparisons, fairly or not, of Juan Soto and Victor Robles get placed on De La Rosa because of the similarities all three showed at an early age. A pure hitter and the ability to patrol center field as a plus defender leave many excited for what’s to come.
At World Series champion instructs in the DR today 🇩🇴
OF Jeremy de la Rosa hitting pic.twitter.com/bSrwqAZPZB
— Ben Badler (@BenBadler) November 20, 2019
Yasel Antuna, SS
Of all the players on this list, Antuna was the player who was probably looking forward to 2020 more than anyone. Antuna has played in only 3 games since August of 2018 after tearing his UCL and undergoing Tommy John surgery. He has used this time to get bigger and stronger and there is no denying his hitting ability from both sides of the plate. He hits equally well from both sides and there is hope that his power potential is realized when he makes it back on the field.
Nationals IF Yasel Antuna taking some hacks a little over a year removed from Tommy John. In 2016, Antuna set a franchise record by signing for $3.9 million out of the DR. After two seasons of injuries, Antuna will need a Soto like recovery to reach his five-tool potential. pic.twitter.com/hUpCdV2RBY
— tyler j. spicer (@tylerjspicer) December 10, 2019
Eddy Yean, RHP
I’m probably higher on Yean than some, but his ability to keep hitters off-balance with three-plus offerings gives the Nationals a potential mid-rotation arm. Many of the Nats starting pitchers in the minors tend to be guys who are currently straddling that line between remaining a starter and moving to the bullpen. Yean is one of few prospects to remain in a starting role. I’d like to see his control improve some, but I think that will come with time.
The 👶 of the Doubledays’ pitching staff makes his Auburn debut tonight. It’s 18-year-old Eddy Yean on the bump tonight for the DDays.
🏟️ Falcon Park
📍 Auburn, NY
⏰ 7:00 p.m. (6:50 p.m. pregame)
📻 https://t.co/5YGpicU33S or TuneIn pic.twitter.com/eQMQRTMN94
— Auburn Doubledays (@Doubledays) August 22, 2019
Roismar Quintana, OF
Quintana is a toolsy outfielder who was signed during the July international period in 2019. There is a lot to like about Quintana with above-average raw power and above-average speed. Even though Quintana would not have participated in a full-season league in 2020, his name is one to watch out for if you happen to play in deep fantasy baseball dynasty leagues.
New @Nationals international prospects Andry Lara (ranked No. 24) and Roismar Quintana make it official. @MLBPipeline https://t.co/VkyT1PafgI pic.twitter.com/2IpK8cRK6u
— Jesse Sanchez (@JesseSanchezMLB) July 2, 2019
Viandel Pena, 2B/SS
When you see Pena on the field, the first thing you may acknowledge is his size. His stature reminds many of Jose Altuve. Physical appearances aside, Pena won the GCL batting title while hitting .359 over 37 games. His hit tool is impressive and there was a strong chance of seeing him on a full-season roster this year.
Nationals MI Viandel Pena showcasing the quick hands that led him to a GCL batting title. Viandel signed for $150k in 2017 for his OBP and defensive potential. In 37G, Viandel posted a 171 wRC+ and a .455 OBP. pic.twitter.com/17SE7a3rKA
— tyler j. spicer (@tylerjspicer) January 15, 2020
Daniel Marte, OF
Marte was another candidate to get exposure to a full season schedule this year. Marte was very productive in the Dominican Summer League in 2019. He has plus speed (10 SB and 9 triples) to go with his above-average power (.190 ISO). Throughout this list, you see that many of the outfield prospects all have similar tools, speed, and power. These are the type of players the Nationals are targeting internationally, especially with their successful track record.
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