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Prospect Profiles: Washington Nationals

Prospect Profiles: Washington Nationals Image via Sportsgraphics36


A look at the farm system of the Washington Nationals

Prior to the winter meetings, the Washington Nationals had one of the most talented farm systems in baseball. That changed considerably when they made the move to acquire outfielder Adam Eaton from the Chicago White Sox. That trade cost them three of their best pitching prospects: Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, and Dane Dunning.

All three of those young arms would have easily made the top ten on their list of prospects. Giolito was even considered to be the most talented pitcher in the minor leagues last year. Considering how important it has become for clubs to have as many young and talented pitchers as possible these days, you can understand why this trade knocked the Nationals way down the farm system rankings.

Even though Washington gave up a lot to acquire Eaton, they still have some young talent in their system to be excited about. Let’s take a look at some of their top prospects still waiting to make their mark.

Victor Robles, OF

Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2013, Victor Robles has always impressed scouts with his advanced five-tool abilities at a young age. He has blazed through the minor league levels over the past few years. He continues to pass every test they throw at him. In 2016, he ranked as the top prospect in the Low-A South Atlantic League and was promoted to High-A Potomac where he was the youngest player and the number three prospect in the Carolina League.

His best tool is his speed, but he is a pure hitter for average and the power should develop as he progresses. An outstanding outfielder, don’t be surprised to see Robles on an All-Star team soon after he makes it to the big leagues.

ETA: Late 2018

Erick Fedde, RHP

Drafted in the first round in 2014, Erick Fedde is another young arm that was discussed in trade rumors during the offseason. After the loss of Giolito and Lopez, Fedde now claims the spot of Washington’s top pitching prospect. In 2016, he finished 8-5 with a 3.12 ERA in 22 starts between Single-A and Double-A.

Fedde will start the season in the minors and will most likely finish the year there. However, don’t be surprised if Washington decides to move another young pitching prospect like Fedde to make a push for a World Series run.

ETA: 2018

Juan Soto, OF

Signed as a 16-year old out of the Dominican Republic in July of 2015, Juan Soto wasted no time making an impression. In 2016 he earned the honor of Gulf Coast League MVP with a slash line of .361/.410/.550 and a .960 OPS at just 17 years old. The left-handed slugger is young, and the Nationals will surely allow him to develop as there is no need to rush him. With Bryce Harper likely to leave in free agency after the 2018 season, the Nationals should have some serious outfield talent ready to fill that void.

ETA: 2019

Carter Kieboom, SS

Drafted by the Washington Nationals in the first round of the 2016 draft, Carter Kieboom batted .244/.323/.452 in the Gulf Coast League. Kieboom wasn’t technically Washington’s first round pick. He was a compensation pick that they received for losing Jordan Zimmerman to the Detroit Tigers in free agency.

ETA: Late 2020

Koda Glover, RHP

Drafted in the eighth round of the 2015 draft, Koda Glover was used as a closer across five minor league teams, striking out 104 batters over 86 innings. He earned his call-up last July where he impressed with the big league club. Glover mainly uses a mid-to-high 90s fastball with a slider that touches 90, while mixing in the occasional curve and a rare change-up. His experience as a closer in the minors could be very useful for the Nationals, as they still don’t have the ninth inning role locked up.

ETA: 2017

Austin Voth, RHP

Before the Giolito trade, Austin Voth was an overlooked part of the Washington Nationals farm system. As it is, he is currently one of the teams best pitching prospects. Although Fedde may be ranked higher on his pure talent and potential, Voth is closer to contributing for the big league club. Last year in Triple-A, Voth compiled a 3.15 ERA across 157 innings.

ETA: 2017

Sheldon Neuse, 3B

Drafted in the second round of the 2016 draft, Sheldon Neuse played in 36 games for Low-A Auburn, where he batted .230/.305/.341. Those numbers may seem below average, but he dealt with a hamstring injury that led to the small sample size. He was a star at Oklahoma and scouts project him to be a major league contributor in the future.

ETA: 2019

A.J. Cole, RHP

Drafted in the fourth round back in 2010, A.J. Cole has had his chances to break into the big leagues. Unfortunately it hasn’t quite panned out the way he would have hoped. In 2016, he posted a 5.17 ERA across eight starts. He will likely begin the season in the bullpen, but if a spot in the rotation opens up, he should be first in line to get a crack at it.

ETA: 2017

Andrew Stevenson, OF

Drafted by the Washington Nationals in the second round of the 2015 draft out of Louisiana State University, Andrew Stevenson finished the Arizona Fall League as the league leader in hits. Known for his speed and being a plus-defender, the development with his bat could mean great things are yet to come for the young outfielder.

ETA: Late 2018

Drew Ward, 3B

Drew Ward was drafted in the third round of the 2013 draft. Always a capable hitter, Ward’s development was always hindered by his defense. Drafted as a shortstop, the Washington Nationals moved him to third base where his struggles continued until 2016 when he made big strides in improving his fielding. Along with the improved fielding came the power, as the 6’3″ third basemen slugged 14 homers in 2016. He’ll likely open 2017 in Double-A, but if he continues to improve, he should be seen in a big league uniform sometime late in 2018 or 2019 at the latest.

ETA: 2019

Just Missed:

Wilmer Difo, infielder, .276 batting average, .364 OBP, and .379 slugging percentage in 31 games at the big league level in 2016.

Pedro Severino, catcher, .271 batting average, two home runs, and 21 RBI’s in 82 games at the Triple-A level (also spent time in the majors in 2016).

The Washington Nationals have been very successful in recent years. With five straight seasons above .500, they continue to field a playoff-caliber team. What may be even more impressive is the fact that they have continued to provide depth within their farm system. Unfortunately these winning seasons, combined with trades involving some of their top prospects, have depleted their system somewhat. The front office has done a good job staying competitive, but it’s time for Washington to go all the way. If they are in the hunt again when the deadline approaches, I expect them to use any and every piece they have to make that championship run.