BEST PURE HITTER: SS Carter Kieboom (1s) has excellent timing and bat speed. The Nationals believe he could develop a plus hit tool down the line. Kieboom is an aggressive hitter and has some swing and miss to his game as a result, but he knows the strike zone well and understands which pitches he can drive.
BEST POWER: 3B Sheldon Neuse (3) has the best raw power of the group, but he doesn’t always get his hips cleared to turn on the ball and use his power. Kieboom’s power showed well in his pro debut and during fall instructional league. Kieboom has the ability to drive the ball more than 400 feet, and he’s shown the ability to hit the ball over the fence to the opposite field.
FASTEST RUNNER: OF Armond Upshaw (11) and OF Daniel Johnson (5) show elite foot speed. Upshaw is an 80-runner and has run the 60-yard dash in 6.3 seconds.
BEST DEFENSIVE PLAYER: Kieboom’s improved actions and footwork this spring stand out from the group. He shows range to both sides and he shows average to above-average arm strength. Even if he eventually needs to move off of shortstop in deference to a superior big leaguer, he could be an outstanding defender at third base.
BEST FASTBALL: RHP Dane Dunning (1s) has excellent command of his two-seam fastball, which shows late movement and life, and he can run his four-seamer up to 97 in short bursts. RHP Phil Morse (16) lacks Dunning’s movement or array of secondary pitches, but his fastball can also reach 97 out of the bullpen.
BEST SECONDARY PITCH: The Nationals have seen LHP Jesus Luzardo (3) show the ability to manipulate his curveball and they see it as a plus pitch. Luzardo’s changeup is also a weapon, among the best of the prep class in 2016. Dunning’s slider could be a plus pitch, and he began using his curveball more in pro ball, and the Nationals believe that could be a plus pitch as well.
BEST PRO DEBUT: Dunning hit the ground running, posting a 2.02 ERA in the low minors.
BEST ATHLETE: Johnson has freakish athleticism, with explosive quick-twitch ability. He has fast hands and generates pull power, giving him a chance to develop into a five-tool talent because of his plus-plus arm strength and speed. Upshaw is also highly athletic.
MOST INTRIGUING BACKGROUND: Kieboom is the brother of Spencer Kieboom, another Nationals prospect who reached the big leagues at the end of this season.
CLOSEST TO THE MAJORS: Dunning’s athleticism and four-pitch mix could allow him to move relatively quickly.
BEST LATE-ROUND PICK: The Nationals are enamored with Upshaw’s all-around tools.
THE ONE WHO GOT AWAY: RHP Noah Murdock (38) had a firm commitment to Virginia and stuck to it. He’s 6-foot-7 and shows flashes of velocity and a potentially devastating breaking ball from a low slot. RHP Morgan Cooper (34) was still relatively fresh off of Tommy John surgery, and he has already boosted his stock since returning to college, with his fastball reaching 95 and his breaking ball regaining some of its oomph.