Washington Nationals 2020 Midseason Top 30 Prospects Update
STATE OF THE SYSTEM
The Nationals have a bottom-10 farm system, and with SS Carter Kieboom likely to graduate soon, they have a lack of high-end position prospects in the pipeline. Washington does have a strong collection of big-bodied, power arm pitchers, though they're mostly at the lower levels.
1. Carter Kieboom, SS/2B
An offensive-minded middle infielder, Kieboom has excelled up through Triple-A with a mature hitting approach and good barrel awareness to develop into a plus hitter. He projects as a top-of-the-order hitter who could handle shortstop if needed. Given the construction of Washington's roster, however, more playing time is likely to come at third base this season.
2. Luis Garcia, SS/2B
Garcia is a tricky evaluation as a player with good but not great tools whom the Nationals have aggressively pushed up the ladder. He spent all of last year in Double-A as a 19-year-old but hit just .257/.280/.337 in 2019. We would have had a better sense of Garcia in a normal year in which he would have returned to Double-A now at 20, but scouts highest on him believe he has a chance to be a solid-average hitter, albeit with minimal power, with a chance to stick at shortstop.
3. Jackson Rutledge, RHP
A first-round pick last year, Rutledge has an enormous build (6-foot-8, 250 pounds) and power stuff, with a fastball he can run up to 98 mph and a plus slider. He's relatively athletic for his size and projects as a starter, but he will need to improve his control.
4. Cade Cavalli, RHP
The Nationals' first-round pick this year, Cavalli has a strong 6-foot-4, 220-pound frame, a fastball he can dial up to 98 mph and a hard slider with strong tilt that he uses as a putaway pitch. Health and control have been risk factors with Cavalli, but his pure stuff was among the best for a starting pitcher in the 2020 draft.
5. Cole Henry, RHP
The Nationals used their top two 2020 draft picks on a pair of college pitchers with power arms, drafting Cade Cavalli at No. 22 overall and Henry with their next pick at 55. Henry’s fastball sits at 92-95 mph, touches 97 mph and flashes above-average potential. His curveball and changeup have similar ceilings, though he will need to tighten the consistency of his secondary stuff.
6. Wil Crowe, RHP
Crowe, 25, reached Triple-A last year, though the results weren't pretty with a 6.17 ERA in 10 starts. There's solid enough stuff across the board that he could develop into a back-end starter, though a relief role could be in his future as well.
7. Tim Cate, LHP
Cate lacks an average fastball, typically registering around 88-92 mph, but his bread-and-butter pitch is a sharp-breaking curveball and he throws strikes at a high rate. He could eventually slot into the back end of a rotation, with a chance he could help the Nationals this year in a relief role as well.
8. Drew Mendoza, 1B
A third-round pick last year out of Florida State, Mendoza is 6-foot-5, 230 pounds with above-average power and a patient approach to rack up walks. A college third baseman and shortstop, Mendoza moved to first base upon signing with the Nationals.
9. Andry Lara, RHP
One of the top pitchers in the 2019 international signing class, Lara has a big frame (6-foot-4, 217 pounds) for a 17-year-old and power stuff for his age. His fastball reaches 95 mph, and he pairs it with a hard curveball that may eventually morph into a true slider. Lara's control escapes him at times, but he has promising attributes upon which to build.
10. Mason Denaburg, RHP
A first-round pick out of high school two years ago, Denaburg was looking to rebound in 2020 after his velocity was down in an abbreviated 2019 season, after which he had shoulder surgery. When healthy, Denaburg has shown a fastball that sat 91-94 mph and touched 97 with a curveball that flashed above average.
- Sammy Infante, SS
- Yasel Antuna, SS
- Seth Romero, LHP
- Holden Powell, RHP
- Tres Barrera, C
- Eddy Yean, RHP
- Jeremy De La Rosa, OF
- Matt Cronin, LHP
- Jake Irvin, RHP
- Jackson Cluff, SS
- Tyler Dyson, RHP
- Reid Schaller, RHP
- Israel Pineda, C
- Ben Braymer, LHP
- Cole Freeman, 2B/OF
- James Borque, RHP
- Joan Adon, RHP
- Jackson Tetreault, RHP
- Malvin Pena, RHP
- Nick Banks, OF
The Nationals continue to compile large-framed righthanders with big fastballs, many of whom come with durability risk factors. That includes 2019 first-rounder Jackson Rutledge, 2019 international signing Andry Lara and their top two 2020 draft picks, Cade Cavalli and Cole Henry. RHP Mason Denaburg and LHP Seth Romero are two more pitchers who throw hard but have had trouble staying on the field.
Carter Kieboom is one of baseball's best prospects, but he's probably going to graduate soon. Once that happens, the Nationals don't have any high-end hitters that they can count on to be part of their future lineup. SS Luis Garcia has shown it in flashes and has been pushed extremely aggressively but still has a lot to prove. Their outfield prospect group is particularly light, though they have time there with Juan Soto and Victor Robles in Washington.
PLAYER POOL TIDBITS
With Kieboom in the big leagues, the Nationals have their next top prospect in Garcia at their alternate site in Fredericksburg, Va. They have several of their top pitching prospects joining him there, with Jackson Rutledge, Tim Cate, Wil Crowe, Seth Romero and RHP Joan Adon. The Nationals put catcher Tres Barrera on their 60-man player pool, but on July 25, Major League Baseball announced that he tested positive for Dehydrochlormethyltestosterone and will be suspended for 80 games.
RHP Wil Crowe missed summer camp after testing positive for COVID-19, but he was cleared last week and is at the team's alternate site in Fredericksburg.
RHP Mason Denaburg is rehabbing from offseason shoulder surgery. He was throwing again early in spring training, but had to slow the process after experiencing discomfort.