The start of the 2019 season has the Nationals’ minor league system as one of the lowest ranked in baseball. The top 3 players, Robles, Kieboom, and Garcia are in most analysts’ top 100. After that, it is a steep drop to consensus #4, Mason Denaburg. While fans might look at my top 50 list and ask what went wrong, in my opinion nothing went wrong. Yes, the system would look better on paper if you had Jesus Luzardo, Reynaldo Lopez, and Lucas Giolito but you also would be missing Sean Doolittle and Adam Eaton from the big league club. Overall, the big league roster is set, with no big holes to fill. However, for fun I thought it would be interesting to put out my predictions for some of my top 10 prospects.
Victor Robles – Robles is the primary CF on Opening Day, batting 9th, as Davey Martinez loves the idea of the second lead-off hitter. He spent to much working with Joe Maddon. Robles moves to the lead-off spot after a couple weeks of great hitting and an injury to Adam Eaton. He stays at the top of the lineup when Eaton returns as Lopez is afraid to move Robles from the top spot and mess with his rhythm. Robles ends the year with 20 SB and 15 HR and the NL Rookie of the Year Award.
Carter Kieboom – Kieboom begins his season at AAA Fresno. As in past seasons, he struggles as he has not played in AAA very long. However, after a month Kieboom comes alive as hits is way to the AAA All-Star game. There are rumblings from Washington fans asking why he is not up, as the Nationals are battling the Phillies for the top spot in the NL East. He finally gets the call in September and kills it for the month. Based on his performance, he makes the playoff roster for the Nationals.
Luis Garcia – The Nationals decide to send Garcia back to A+, since he only spent half of the season there in 2018. Once there Garcia kills it and is promoted to AA. However, once there Garcia’s struggles against LHP rears its ugly head and he struggles for the first time in his young career. He is also struggling in the field at third. To clear his mind, the Nationals move him to second base. His defense picks up as well as his hitting. He ends the year in AA and looks to 2020 to continue his progress.
Mason Denaburg – After paying off his parent’s debt (such a great story!) Denaburg opens the year at A-.
Thank you Mom and Dad. This is just a small part of what you deserve. You have helped me reach my goals in ways i could never imagine. i love you guys so much and the support and love you give to our family is greater than anything i could ever give back to you. pic.twitter.com/D2S1Kd5u5Y
— Mason Denaburg (@masondenaburg_) December 30, 2018
Denaburg is not affected by the bicep tendinitis which limited his pitching after being drafted 27th overall in the 2018 draft. He begins to show the flashes of what made him such a great high school pitcher, hitting high 90’s and sitting around 93-94 mph with his fastball, and throwing a 60 grade curve to buckle batters’ knees. He ends the year at A+ and securely in the top 100 of many prospect lists.
Wil Crowe – Crowe begins his year as a starter in AAA. His above average spin rates makes his lower velocity really play up. He’s an innings eater for Fresno Grizzlies but pitching in the PCL really raises Crowe’s ERA. He spends all year in AAA but receives a cup of coffee in September. He pitches out of the pen effectively but is not on the playoff roster.
Tim Cate – Cate begins his season in A, which is where he finished the 2018 after being drafted in the 2nd round of the June draft. While he improves on getting lefties out, they are still hitting him well. He is promoted to A+ in July as the Nationals want to challenge him. As the season ends he has an ERA in the high threes to low fours. However, he believes this year is successful as he pitches over 100 IP, which is a great sign after having injury concerns coming into the June draft.
So at the end of the year, the Nationals have a Rookie of the Year and another prospect who makes playoff roster in October. They also see improvement from the other 4 prospects in my top 10. With the state of the list coming into the year, I would say that is a major win for the club.