With baseball officially on the shelf for the foreseeable future, I wanted to take a look at how some of the players on my Washington Nationals Top 50 Prospects list fared during the shortened Spring Training. In total, thirteen players on my Top 50 list saw some action during games this spring. All eyes were on Carter Kieboom as he attempted to break camp as the starting 3rd baseman. I’ll jump further into his spring, but first, here are the spring stats for those players that made appearances in the abbreviated 2020 Spring Training.
(#) – Top 50 Ranking
(1) Carter Kieboom, 3B: 7-30 (.233/.395/.300); 2 2B; 2 RBI; 3 errors
(2) Luis Garcia, SS: 10-24 (.417/.462/.542); 1 HR; 4 RBI
(4) Wil Crowe, RHP: 6.2 IP; 1.35 ERA; 1.20 WHIP; 5.4 K/9; 5.4 BB/9
(5) Drew Mendoza, 1B: 0-1
(9) Yasel Antuna, SS: 0-1
(10) Jeremy De La Rosa, RF: 0-1
(13) Ben Braymer, LHP: 6.0 IP; 6.00 ERA; 2.00 WHIP; 6 K/9; 1.5 BB/9
(17) Tres Barrera, C: 1-7 (.143/.143/.143)
(18) Raudy Read, C: 2-11 (.182/.308/.545); 1 2B; 1 HR; 2 RBI
(19) James Bourque, RHP: 6.1 IP; 2.84 ERA; 0.63 WHIP; 15.6 K/9; 1.4 BB/9
(25) Jackson Cluff, 2B: 0-1
(35) Nick Banks, RF: 0-1
(45) Jakson Reetz, C: 3-4 (.750/.833/.750); 1 RBI
Two pitchers on my list did impress during their limited time. Crowe pitched well throughout the spring, but I still see him beginning the year in Fresno (AAA) and probably making some spot starts here and there towards the end of the season. His control was hit and miss, as well as his walk rate, which was 5.4 BB/9. Some further seasoning in the minors will give him time to improve that before a call-up.
Bourque was very effective in his 6.1 innings pitched. He was able to overpower many hitters (15.6 K/9) and finished with a 0.63 WHIP. These numbers are all based on very limited innings. However, they are good indications for the upcoming year. I think Bourque could contend for a spot in the bullpen once the season ramps up again.
There was one talked about and welcomed performance this spring, and that was of Luis Garcia. Garcia carried over his impressive Arizona Fall League play with a standout spring. He was given plenty of opportunities (24 AB) to show off his skills, and he did not disappoint. It’s a shame that the season came to a screeching halt as carrying his spring success into a second assignment in Harrisburg (AA) could have been the start we had been anticipating to see. I’m still expecting Garcia to have a year that puts him back on the map as a bonafide top 50 prospects in all of baseball.
No big deal … just a 19-year-old going yard in #SpringTraining for the World Series champs.
Luis Garcia drove this one out for his first spring dinger for the @Nationals.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) February 29, 2020
Finally, the most-watched story in Spring Training was whether or not Kieboom would be able to adjust to third base and win the spot out of camp. I think he did enough to justify making him the starting third baseman. The only other player that received a fair amount of playing time at third was Asdrubal Cabrera. Cabrera’s OBP during the spring was only .192 while Kieboom posted a .395 OBP. Kieboom’s offense has never been a question mark, and this spring was no different. From an offensive standpoint, he’s your guy. The biggest question was whether or not he could get comfortable with a move from shortstop to third defensively. You could tell through most of the spring that his comfort level at third is not there yet. He committed three errors in just fourteen games this spring. Kieboom possesses the ability to play third without a doubt, but there is some adjustment time that needs to be afforded to him. The most prominent question is, do the Nationals value his bat more than his defensive liabilities right now?