- Full name Rafael Darwing Bautista
- Born 03/08/1993 in Santo Domingo Centro, Dominican Republic
- Profile Ht.: 6'2" / Wt.: 194 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- Debut 04/30/2017
Organization Prospect Rankings
After stealing 56 bases in the Double-A Eastern League in 2016, injuries and the lowest on-base percentage of his career limited Bautista's steals total to just nine in 2017, with time between Triple-A Syracuse and the majors. A premium runner, Bautista's speed is his carrying tool, so a hamstring injury that kept him out for two months clearly hurt his production. That's true at the plate, too, where he is a slap-and-dash hitter with just 11 home runs across six seasons and 608 games. Even while he was healthy, Bautista spent much of his time bouncing back and forth between Syracuse and the majors, where he started just four of 17 games and never got into any sort of offensive rhythm. His usage in 2017 is likely a good indicator of his future role on a first-division team, however. Bautista's bat doesn't profile as an everyday player. He could turn into a premium defender in center with fringe-average to average arm strength and elite speed. Bautista likely will start 2018 back at Triple-A Syracuse, where his health will be worth watching considering his history and the nature of his 2017 injury
Bautista ranked second in the minor leagues with 69 stolen bases in 2014, but a broken finger sidelined him for three months the following season and prevented him from racing to the top of the leaderboard again. After a solid winter ball campaign in his native Dominican Republic, Bautista swiped 56 bases in 2016 with Double-A Harrisburg, tying him for the most in the minors. Bautista's well above-average speed is his best tool, but his success on the bases is a result of more than just raw speed. He has good instincts, reads pitchers well and doesn't run indiscriminately. He has geared his approach at the plate to making contact and hitting the ball on the ground to use his speed to get on base. He has below-average power as a result, but when he does hit a ball into the gaps, he can turn it into extra bases. Defensively, Bautista takes good routes and tracks down an impressive number of fly balls in center field. He has an average arm. Bautista was added to the 40-man roster in November and will advance to Triple-A Syracuse in 2017. He has a chance to develop into an everyday center fielder. At worst, his speed and defense should play as a fourth outfielder.
Bautista has steadily progressed up the minor league ladder since he was the Nationals' best position prospect on the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League team that went 49-9 in 2013. After ranking second in the minors with 69 stolen bases in 2014, he missed nearly three months after breaking a finger in April 2015. He returned to action in the second half and played regularly in the Dominican League over the winter to make up for lost time. Bautista's double-plus speed is his best tool, and he uses it well on the bases and in the outfield--but he doesn't run indiscriminately. He has good instincts on the bases and will bunt for a hit. The Nationals are working with him to adapt his approach at the plate to make even more use of his speed, focusing on making consistent contact and hitting the ball on the ground. Defensively, he takes good routes and tracks down an impressive number of fly balls in center field. Bautista will advance to Double-A Harrisburg in 2016, and he has a chance to become a regular center fielder in the big leagues in time, but, at worst, his speed and defense should play as a fourth outfielder.
Bautista led the low Class A South Atlantic League and ranked second in the minors with 69 stolen bases last season. His best tool is his well above-average speed, and he is an instinctive baserunner who gets good leads and reads. His speed also translates to center field, where he is an above-average defender with a solid-average arm. He hit at the bottom of the lineup in 2014, but he spent the second half in the leadoff spot and continued to thrive. Bautista is a slasher with good bat-to-ball instincts, and though his power is well below-average, he is wiry enough to drive the gaps for extra-base hits. He'll need to become more patient to realize his potential as a table-setter. He shows good aptitude, and he works hard to implement suggested adjustments. Bautista will advance to high Class A Potomac in 2015, and he has an outside shot to become a starting big league center fielder, though he profiles better as a speed merchant off the bench.
Bautista impressed organization officials with his makeup in his first two seasons, quickly picking up on new drills and then showing teammates how to do them. Bautista's best tool is his double-plus speed, and he knows how to use it. He is an instinctive baserunner who gets excellent reads and jumps in center field, where his arm is average. He also has an intelligent approach at the plate, working counts and grinding out at-bats. He has a short, quick righthanded swing and some gap power, though he doesn't figure to ever be a home-run hitter. Bautista's aptitude and athleticism give him a chance to become a big league center fielder or fourth outfielder, but he still has a lot to prove. He might be ready to jump to low Class A in 2014.
Best Tools List
- Rated Fastest Baserunner in the South Atlantic League in 2014
- Rated Best Baserunner in the South Atlantic League in 2014