Washington Nationals 2019 Top 50 Prospects

Yasel Antuna - photo credit Jeffrey Hyde on Flickr, @jeffhyde on Twitter

Washington Nationals Top 50 Prospects for 2019

Going into the 2018 season the Nationals were on many people’s list (including mine) to be the National League representative in the World Series. However, the Curse of Washington Sports Teams had other plans and they finished 2nd in the N.L. East with an 80-80 record. The underperformance actually led the Nationals to sell instead of buy at the trade deadline. Two of the pickups made it on my list, K.J Harrison and Gilbert Lara. Another would have made the list but Andruw Monasterio was flipped to Cleveland (along with Jefry Rodriguez and Daniel Johnson) for Yan Gomes. The one bright spot for the Nationals was the chosen Juan, Juan Soto. He blazed through the minors and was called up May 13th, the day I was going to watch him in Richmond. (C’mon!) It was a shame Robles got hurt earlier in the year as maybe it would have been the Robles year instead of the Soto Show.

As a whole, the Nationals system is quite poor. The top three, Robles, Kieboom, and Garcia, rank in many top 100 lists. After that, the system drops off a cliff and some lists ‘might’ have Denaburg on their top 300. One reason for the awful system is the Nationals have been in a win now mode for a couple of years now and have traded a bunch of interesting guys. Think how this system would look with Jesus Luzardo, Dane Dunning, Taylor Hearn, or Daniel Johnson still in the mix. Another reason for the poor system is where they draft. Since the Nationals have been competitive, they have a lower draft pick slot. Because of this, the Nationals have gambled on TJS/hurt players or players who have fallen in the draft due to other factors.

Even though the system looks bleak, I have hope it can improve. Antuna and Romero have flashed major talent and hopefully they can stay healthy and/or get their act together. Wil Crowe, as seen on the Fangraphs board, has some of the highest spin rates on both the fastball and breaking pitches. The Nationals have also had success in the International market, (again I get to mention Juan Soto, Victor Robles and Luis Garcia), so the next great Nationals prospect might not be in the system just yet.

Interesting stats on list:
26 position players ranked
24 pitchers ranked. 16 RHP, 8 LHP
9 prospects have had TJS

Prospects1500 Tiers:
Tier 1: Players with high expectations of both making the majors and playing at an All-Star level for a number of years
Tier 2: Players with an above average expectation of making the majors and being a solid contributor
Tier 3: Players with an average expectation of making the majors and being a solid contributor
Tier 4: Players who have the potential of making the majors, or have high likelihood of making the majors but providing minimal impact (e.g. middle reliever, low-ceiling UT guys)
Tier 5: Players who are worth keeping an eye on, but likely to never make a team’s 40-man roster


Tier 1
:
1. Victor Robles, OF (Midseason rank: 1)
Age 21
Highest Level: MLB
ETA: 2019
Robles should not be long for this list, especially if the Nationals fail to re-sign Bryce Harper. A magician in the field, Robles made his MLB debut in September of 2017. He held his own in 21 games he hit .288/.348/.525. He missed most of the 2018 season due to hyperextending his elbow at the beginning of the season. I’m pretty sure if it wasn’t for the injury, Robles would have been called up instead of Juan Soto.


Tier 2:

2. Carter Kieboom, SS (Midseason rank: 2)
Age 21
Highest Level: AA
ETA: 2020
2018 was a huge year for Kieboom. He played in 123 games, the most games played in his pro career, splitting time between A+ and AA ball, playing in the Futures Game in DC, was invited to the AFL and played in the Fall Stars game. Scouts have said his defense has gotten better since signing and he should be able to stick at SS. However, with Turner currently playing there, I think Kieboom makes it to the Washington as a September call up as a second baseman.

3. Luis Garcia, 2B (Midseason rank: 3)
Age 18
Highest Level: A+
ETA: 2021
Splitting time between A and A+, Garcia increased his “stock” in the eyes of many scouts. He, along with Kieboom, was selected to the Futures Game this past summer. I will be interested in how he progresses in hitting lefties; only hit .222/.230/.278 against lefties in 2018. He split time this year playing third, second as well as shortstop. When promoted to Potomac (A), he only played short. In the end, I think he’ll move over to third as the arm plays up there.


Tier 3
:
4. Mason Denaburg, RHP (Midseason rank: 7)
Age 19
Highest Level: Fall Instructs
ETA: 2022
Denaburg was the Nationals first round pick this July. The Florida prep righty did not pitch until Fall Instructs due to some bicep tendinitis and looked pretty good, especially since he had not pitched in a game for quite some time. Scouts have said he has a very repeatable delivery with great velocity. Excited to see how he is with more reps in 2019.

5. Wil Crowe, RHP (Midseason rank: 8)
Age 24
Highest Level: AA
ETA: 2020
Crowe is more of an innings eater type; good depth to have in a major league rotation. A swollen elbow scare mid-June led to a couple of weeks on the shelf. After an MRI revealed no major damage, he returned to sub-par results, as he also moved up to AA. Likely will never will be an ace as he is just too hittable, a major WHIP killer. Would be great if he was a year older and in AAA. He would be in competition for the fifth starter role in Washington.

6. Tim Cate, LHP (Midseason rank: 22)
Age 21
Highest Level: A
ETA: 2021
The Nationals selected Cate in the second round of the 2018 draft. He was the Friday night starter for the University of Connecticut. Prior to the draft, scouts said he had the best breaking ball but fell due to forearm tightness. The injury caused him to miss a couple of starts. After signing he threw 31 innings in Auburn (A-) and then moved to Hagerstown (A), however was not very effective. His 2018 line read 5.02 ERA and 1.404 WHIP with only a 7.8 K/9. An interesting piece to watch next year after some rest in the offseason.

7. Yasel Antuna, 3B (Midseason rank: 4)
Age 19
Highest Level: A
ETA: 2021
Antuna saw a major drop in performance in 2018. Limited to 87 games, he saw a decrease in BB and increase in Ks when he moved up to High-A Hagerstown. His last game of the season was in mid-July and then had Tommy John surgery. Should begin the season in High-A, hoping to regain what was lost in 2018, minus a UCL of course.

8. Israel Pineda, C (Midseason rank: 43)
Age 19
Highest Level: A-
ETA: 2022
Signed in the 2016 International draft class. Made it to A- ball as an 18-year-old. Bat first catcher with an above average arm. Note the Nationals have been aggressive with his promotions. Keep him on your radar.

9. Seth Romero, LHP (Midseason rank: 6)
Age 22
Highest Level: A
ETA: 2022
Hard first year in pro ball for Romero. He was the Nationals first round pick in 2017 that fell due to makeup concerns in college. He was sent home in Spring Training for violating team policy, most likely curfew. His season started in June in Hagerstown. In 25.1 innings he struck out 34 batters with a 3.91 ERA and 1.11 WHIP. His season ended in August after having TJS. I doubt he will pitch in 2019. Missing this much of development time on top of makeup issues is quite concerning.


Tier 4
:
10. Telmito Agustin, OF (Midseason rank: 17)
Age 22
Highest Level: A+
ETA: 2021
At age 22, Agustin has yet to play above A+ ball but put up his best offensive year. I wrote a case for him to be added to the 40-man roster. Agustin has fourth OF potential, think Brian Goodwin-esqe. Should move to AA in 2019.

11. Jose Sanchez, SS (Midseason rank: 10)
Age 18
Highest Level: A-
ETA: 2022
Sanchez, another 2016 International signee, made it to Auburn (A-) this past year. A defensive wiz, but at only 155 lbs., Sanchez really needs to add strength to his game. In 64 games he hit .230/.309/.282. Keep in mind, Sanchez is only 18 years old and the glove will keep him in the lineup so he can work on his hitting. Sanchez should spend all of 2019 at A- to get the reps he needs. The Nationals can also wait, with Turner and Kieboom manning SS and 2B for years to come.

12. Gage Canning, OF (Midseason rank: 39)
Age 21
Highest Level: A
ETA: 2021
Canning, selected in the fifth round in 2018, was sent to A-, Auburn, to begin his career where he killed it. In 14 games, he popped 2 home runs and hit .315/.373/.593. He made it to A, Hagerstown, where he struggled a bit .223/.294/.411. His season ended early after injuring himself making a diving catch in the field. Was able to take some hacks in Fall Instructs which was good to see. Canning has a nice compact swing and is lighting quick along the base paths. Look for the Nationals to move him up quickly.

13. James Bourque, RHP (Mid-season rank: N/A)
Age 25
Highest Level: AA
ETA: 2019
Bourque made the transition to the bullpen this year after three years of so-so numbers as a starter. His stuff played up as Ks increased and BBs decreased. He was added to the 40-man roster at the end of the season, much to my surprise instead of Agustin. Should contribute in the pen this year.

14. Reid Schaller, RHP (Midseason rank: 34)
Age 22
Highest Level: A-
ETA: 2020
Add another to the list of Nationals pitching prospects with a TJS on their resume, as Schaller had his in his freshman year at college. Drafted in the third round this past year. Reported to be hitting mid-to-high 90s coming out of the pen for Vanderbilt. Back end of the pen is where I think he will make his mark in the bigs.

15. Sterling Sharp, RHP (Midseason rank: 26)
Age 23
Highest Level: AA
ETA: 2020
Picked in the 22nd round in 2016, I’m pretty high on Sharp, which is a change for me. For some reason, I get the ol’ reliable starter feel from him. Modeled his slider from online photos of Blake Treinen’s slider grip. Scouts have also seen him tinker with varying his timing, which I love. Scouts have also noted that he gets great extension and deception. If he puts it all together, he could be a reliable back end of the rotation guy.


Tier 5
:
16. Jackson Tetreault, RHP (Midseason rank: 24)
Age 22
Highest Level: A+
ETA: 2020
Picked in the 7th round in 2017. Four pitch mix (fastball, curveball, slider and changeup). Low to mid 90s with the fastball but can spin those breakers. Some scouts feel more velo is there. Spot starter at best but could be a 5th starter if he finds that velo.

17. Kyle Johnston, RHP (Midseason rank: 27)
Age 22
Highest Level: A+
ETA:2021
Picked in the 6th round of the 2017 draft. Fastball sits mid-90s. In the end, I think he ends up as org depth. He has pitched in the pen in college but his less than one strikeout per inning does not bode well with how MLB pens are headed.

18. Malvin Pena, RHP (Midseason rank: N/A)
Age 21
Highest Level: A+
ETA: 2022
Signed during the July 2nd period in 2013 but missed all of 2015 and 2016 due to injury. Three pitch mix and a strike thrower. Delivery is violent with major head whack. Fastball sat mid-nineties with a mid-eighties change. If all goes to plan, he is a back-end starter but due to threat to injury will most likely be a reliever.

19. Jake Irvin, RHP (Midseason rank: N/A)
Age 22
Highest Level: A-
ETA: 2021
Another 2018 draftee, Irvin was picked in the fourth round out of the University of Oklahoma. Irvin looks like a pitcher, a 6’6”, 225 lb. righty but does not have an overpowering arsenal. Fastball sits low nineties and a slider in the low eighties. Very little effort in the delivery and projects to be a back-end starter. After being drafted he threw a total of 20.2 innings with a 1.74 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in Auburn (A-). Should start the season in Hagerstown.

20. Brigham Hill, RHP (Midseason rank: 16)
Age 23
Highest Level: A
ETA: 2020
Hill was drafted in the fifth round in 2017 and struggled in his first taste of pro ball. 2018 went much better. In 49.2 innings at Hagerstown he had a 3.08 ERA and 1.29 WHIP. His ceiling is a back-end starter as he lacks size and velocity on his pitches.

21. Joan Adon, RHP (Midseason rank: N/A)
Age 20
Highest Level: A-
ETA: 2021
Signed in the International signing period in 2016. Adon sits mid-to upper nineties with ease. However, he has trouble repeating his release. If he can dial that in we are looking at closer stuff. Keep an eye next year.

22. Jordan Mills, LHP (Midseason rank: N/A)
Age 26
Highest Level: AA
ETA: 2019
I was impressed with Mills when I saw him in the AFL. Sidearm delivery with an above average curve. Was left unprotected in the Rule 5 draft and was also not selected. I could see him getting some play in the pen in 2019.

23. Ben Braymer, LHP (Midseason rank: N/A)
Age 24
Highest Level: A+
ETA: 2020
Two pitch pitcher selected in the 18th round during the 2016 draft. Pitched exclusively in the pen during college. The Nationals have tried him as a starter and he did not disappoint but also did not impress. Would be an interesting guy to have in your pen, which is where I see him making his contribution for the Nationals.

24. Taylor Guilbeau, LHP (Midseason rank: N/A)
Age 25
Highest Level: A+
ETA: 2019
Moved to the bullpen this year, Guilbeau had an excellent season in A+ this year. He was a senior sign; picked in the tenth round in 2015 and is eligible for the Rule 5 draft this December. He had an amazing second half of 2018. In 23 innings he had 21 Ks, 1.17 ERA and batters were hitting .195 off him. If he stays with the Nationals, he should be an interesting pen piece. He is filthy against lefties; holding them to a .184 AVG.

25. Drew Ward, 3B (Midseason rank: 33)
Age 24
Highest Level: AA
ETA: 2019
Was one of the players the Nationals could have chosen to protect from the Rule 5 draft but was not added to the 40-man roster. At 23 he is not ‘too old’ to be written off as scouts have loved his power potential. Was not selected in the Rule 5 so he will make his way back to AAA this year.

26. Jose Marmolejos, 1B (Midseason rank: 19)
Age 26
Highest Level: AAA
ETA: 2019
Would have been interesting guy if the Nationals had not signed Matt Adams. Now he’s looking more like a 25-year-old low power 1B. Had a down year but has shown potential before.

27. Austin Davidson, 1B (Midseason rank: 38)
Age 26
Highest Level: AA
ETA: 2019
Basically, read what I just said about Jose Marmolejos above, but he is a level below. Plate discipline is more interesting than Marmolejos’ though. Will be interesting to see who the Nationals bring up if/when Zimmerman gets hurt.

28. Tomas Alastre, RHP (Midseason rank: 45)
Age 20
Highest Level: A
ETA: 2021
Feel for three pitches; fastball, curve, and changeup. The righty’s fastball sits in the low to mid-nineties. Has a chance to reach #5 starter but most likely swingman to org depth.

29. Raudy Read, C (Midseason rank: 11)
Age 25
Highest Level: MLB
ETA: 2019
Had a PED suspension in 2018. Might make the majors, only as a backup though. I think Tres Barrera has the better glove. According to scouts, he made huge strides defensively by becoming a better blocker and receiver. Slightly above average arm so he could control the running game.

30. Cole Freeman, 2B (Midseason rank: 23)
Age 24
Highest Level: A+
ETA: 2020
Led all minor league Nationals with 26 SBs. Scouts and coaches have loved his makeup and how hard he plays the game. Above average bat to ball skills with little to no power. Would make a great utility infielder for any club.

31. Nick Raquet, LHP (Midseason rank: 20)
Age 23
Highest Level: A+
ETA: 2021
Drafted in the third round of the 2017 draft. Scouts have him at low 90’s fastball but has reached 98 mph.

32. Gabe Klobosits, RHP (Midseason rank: 14)
Age 23
Highest Level: A+
ETA: 2020
Klobosits did not pitch after May 13 due to injury and had TJS mid-summer 2018. He has nasty stuff and profiles to be a late inning reliever but by the time he returns he will be 25 and most likely only at AA.

33. Wilmer Perez, C (Midseason rank: 44)
Age 20
Highest Level: A-
ETA:2022
On the smaller side, only 5’10’’. Decent hit tool but needs to work on the defensive side of catching. Would be an interesting piece if that improves.

34. K.J Harrison, C (Midseason rank: N/A)
Age 22
Highest Level: A
ETA: 2021
Came to the Nationals organization in the Gio Gonzalez trade, Harrison was drafted in the third round in 2017. Most likely will not stick behind the plate, as he played more 1B and DH in 2018. Scouts have said he needs to work on his footwork and release if he wants to stick behind the plate.

35. Anderson Franco, 3B (Midseason rank: 25)
Age 21
Highest Level: A
ETA: 2021
Power took a bit of a drop in 2018, even repeating at A ball. However, scouts have loved his bat speed and potential for power. Org depth and bench bat if he reaches his potential.

36. Taylor Gushue, C (Midseason rank: 15)
Age 25
Highest Level: AAA
ETA: 2019
Decent all around, both at and behind the plate. Many catchers have passed him in the list. Great makeup. Org depth.

37. Armond Upshaw, OF (Midseason rank: 29)
Age 22
Highest Level: A
ETA: 2021
Super speedy OF but has failed to hit throughout his career. Org depth.

38. Joan Baez, RHP (Midseason rank: 30)
Age 24
Highest Level: A+
ETA: 2019
Baez sits mid-nineties and actually has a plus curve. Potential to reach the bigs as a reliever but not a closer type.

39. Frankie Bartow, RHP (Midseason rank: N/A)
Age 22
Highest Level: A
ETA: 2020
The Nationals picked Bartow in the 11th round of the 2018 draft. Three pitch mix (fastball, slider, and changeup). Fastball sits low to mid-nineties. Scouts have loved the bite on his slider. Bartow has a great feel and control of his pitches and barely walks anyone but was hit around a bit in A+ this year. Keep in mind this was only in 23 innings.

40. Jakson Reetz, C (Midseason rank: 31)
Age 23
Highest Level: A+
ETA: 2021
Scouts loved the bat speed when he was drafted out of high school in 2014. Bat has never played in pro ball. A couple of catchers have passed him on the list.

41. Tres Barrera, C (Midseason rank: 32)
Age 24
Highest Level: A+
ETA: 2019
Barrera has a great glove but his ceiling is a backup. Most likely a backup to the backup catcher.

42. Jake Noll, 3B (Midseason rank: 35)
Age 25
Highest Level: AA
ETA: 2019
Noll has power and it played in A+ and a promotion to AA after the All-Star game. However, he is 25, just now hit AA and limited to the corners. Org depth at this point.

43. Andry Arias, 1B (Midseason rank: N/A)
Age 18
Highest Level: R
ETA: 2022
An interesting young 1B/corner OF with a smooth lefty swing. A deep sleeper prospect due to outstanding eye at the plate for his age.

44. Viandel Peña, 2B (Midseason rank: N/A)
Age 18
Highest Level: R
ETA: 2022
Switch hitting middle infielder signed for $175,000 in the July 2 international signing period with a great eye at the plate.

45. Aldrem Corredor, 1B (Midseason rank: 36)
Age 23
Highest Level: A+
ETA: 2020
Slow start in April but picked it up in the second half of the season. Plus side: power increased and strikeouts decreased. Downside: walks decreased and 22 at A+ ball. Interesting to see if the power sticks around next year.

46. Matthew DeRosier, RHP (Midseason rank: 37)
Age 24
Highest Level: A+
ETA: 2020
Promotion to A+ was a struggle and DeRosier was transitioned to the bullpen. At this point he is org depth.

47. Justin Connell, OF (Midseason rank: 41)
Age 20
Highest Level: A-
ETA: 2021
11th round selection in the 2017 draft. An OF with no power to speak of but a great eye, with double digit BB% throughout his career. Also has a bit of speed. Without power, unlikely to crack the big-league roster but stranger things have happened before.

48. Grant Borne, LHP (Midseason rank: 28)
Age 24
Highest Level: A+
ETA: 2020
Pitched 72 innings in A+ to a 2.50 ERA and an increase in SwStr% (up to 19.8%). At this point he is org depth that might make it the pen if everything clicks.

49. Alfonso Hernandez, LHP (Midseason rank: 46)
Age 19
Highest Level: A-
ETA: 2021
Hernandez moved to the pen in 2018. Org depth at this point, however, he is only 19 so who knows?

50. Gilbert Lara, 3B (Midseason rank: N/A)
Age 21
Highest Level: A
ETA: 2021
Acquired by the Nationals, along with KJ Harrison, in the Gio Gonzalez deal. He received a $3.1 million signing bonus in 2014 from the Brewers but has never been able to put it together. Scouts have said his lack of plate discipline and weak defense profile will always hamper him.

About Shelly Verougstraete 22 Articles
Shelly Verougstraete is the Nationals writer here at Prospects1500. Even as a diehard Red Sox fan, and author of sabermetric based Red Sox blog greenmonsterbb.wordpress.com, the goal here is to keep you up to date with all the happenings down on the Nats farm. Shelly lives in Virginia and has many minor league parks (A to AA) close by. Let's Go Nats!

1 Comment

2 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Tuesday, January 15, 2019 – Fantasy Baseball Links | FantasyRundown.com
  2. Prospect Sleeper Alert - Keep Your Eyes On Sterling Sharp | Prospects1500

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*