Midseason Prospect Update: Nationals

The Midseason Top 10 Prospect lists are compiled from conversations with front office officials and scouts from all 30 teams. Players who have exhausted prospect eligibility or were in the Major Leagues on June 26 are not eligible. Draftees from the 2015 draft are also not eligible.

An early-season skid saw the Nationals finish April under .500, but they have since found their footing and are playing up to their lofty preseason expectations, taking over first place in the National League East.

The Nationals' performance this season has been in no small part due to the play of Bryce Harper and Max Scherzer, who could give the team a sweep of the NL MVP and Cy Young awards. Harper, 22, became just the seventh player in history 22 years old or younger to hit 25 home runs at the mathematical halfway point of the season. Scherzer is living up to the $210 million contract he signed in the offseason and led baseball in FIP (1.94), WHIP (0.78) and strikeouts per walk (9.93) at the season's midpoint.

Though the Nationals have had few opportunities for rookies, injuries have made Michael Taylor an everyday outfielder. His defense has been exceptional, as he ranked second among NL outfielders with 13 total zone runs in the first half. He hasn't been quite as good at the plate, where he hit .250/.302/.388 with five home runs and eight stolen bases in the first three months of the season.

Pitchers A.J. Cole, Felipe Rivero and Joe Ross all made their major league debuts this season, filling in capably when called upon. Ross came to the Nationals from the Padres in a three-team offseason trade that sent Steven Souza to the Rays and Wil Myers to the Padres. The Nationals acquired a player to be named later as well in that deal, widely reported to be shortstop Trea Turner, the 13th overall pick in the 2014 draft. MLB rules prevented Turner from being traded until a year after he signed, so he couldn't join his new organization until June.

Mike Rizzo has proven to be an adept deal-maker during his tenure as general manager, with the trade for Turner showing off his creativity. He'll likely look to make some more moves before the trade deadline to supplement the Nationals' roster as they gear up for another playoff run.


1. Lucas Giolito, rhp

The Nationals held Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez back in extended spring training to begin this season as a means of managing their workloads this season. Giolito had to shake off some rust once he got to high Class A Potomac in May, but soon returned to dominating hitters. Giolito's fastball still regularly reaches the upper 90s, and his command of the pitch has improved this season. He is on track to increase his strikeout rate and decrease his walk rate for the third season in a row following Tommy John surgery.

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