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Washington Nationals 2020 Top 10 MLB Prospects Chat

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Jackson Rutledge (Photo by Tom DiPace)

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Lacy Lusk: Welcome to the Nationals farm system chat. Thanks for chiming in with your questions.

Jormiah (Thunder Bay):

    Was there anything in Rutledge's appearances at low A that makes you think his control is improving? Or was it just a case of dominating weak hitters?


Lacy Lusk: He did show he can repeat his delivery, which has a much shorter arm action than most would expect from a 6-foot-8 pitcher. He was getting used to pitching more than once a week. The 3.62 walks per nine innings in the Sally League were a little higher than you might want to see, but he is making strides on improving his command.

Steve (D.C.):

    Did Carter Kieboom's rough debut affect how the Nats view him/project him?


Lacy Lusk: It didn't seem that way at all. They clearly missed Trea Turner, and not having him was a big reason for the 19-31 start, but Kieboom should be ready for another chance at a different infield spot early in the 2020 season. Of course, shortstop is the only job that's definitely set in the Nats' infield.

Terry (Nats In 7):

    Who are some sleepers we can get excited about?


Lacy Lusk: Right-hander Eddy Yean and outfielder Jeremy De La Rosa are definitely two young players on the rise. There are also several college guys from the 2019 draft who have a chance to move quickly -- Matt Cronin, Jackson Cluff and Tyler Dyson especially.

Richard (Scarborough):

    I'm surprised at how highly you've ranked Andry Lara. Is he the most polished pitcher in this international class?


Lacy Lusk: I was a little surprised at how quickly the front office has fallen in love with Lara, too. But international scouting director Johnny DiPuglia and his staff have done a tremendous job. Seems like Lara is the next one to look out for.

Jerry Dipoto's Kindred Soul (Seattle):

    How would you evaluate the prospects dealt by the Nationals at the deadline?


Lacy Lusk: They might miss lefties Aaron Fletcher and Taylor Guilbeau the most. Both were traded to the Mariners. Guilbeau has already made his big league debut, and Fletcher jumped from low A to Double-A this year and pitched lights-out in the Arizona Fall League. At least the rebuilt bullpen as a whole worked OK, if for no other reason than Daniel Hudson's emergence.

Garth (Kitchener):

    How do you like Yasel Antuna's power potential? Does his swing allow him to get to his raw power?


Lacy Lusk: The only question with Antuna appears to be his health, but that has been a big question. If he can get a full season in, he should be able to show off some impressive power for a shortstop.

DH (PA):

    Where would you rank this system? Do the Nats have enough to trade for a big piece?


Lacy Lusk: All the national pundits seem to have it in the bottom third at this point, but there a number of young players who could help give that a boost in 2020. This will also be an important year for Kieboom and Garcia at the top.

Gabe (memphis):

    Kieboom looked completely overmatched at ss when he was up in the big leagues. From everything i have heard that was not the case in minors. Will he a fine defensive 2b in 2020?


Lacy Lusk: He has good arm strength -- certainly above-average for second base. Accuracy could be a bit of a question mark, but he's certainly capable of being at least an average major league second baseman defensively.

Jay P. (Silver Spring, Md.):

    I return home annually to see an Auburn Doubledays game each summer where my son and I try to pick the most likely Doubleday to make it to the big leagues some day. We've been successful in selecting Robles and Stevenson in recent years. (But we never imagined Barrett, who pitched in relief for Auburn in 2018, would ever rise back the Nats roster a year later. What an amazing case study of perseverance and fortitude!) Anyone on this year's roster who could make it in a few years?


Lacy Lusk: Very cool. I like Falcon Park, too. Have seen Auburn more often in road games closer to D.C., I'd definitely recommend a trip there to anyone. Off the 2019 Doubledays (excluding rehabbers), Jackson Rutledge is probably the guy to watch out for. Tyler Dyson is also a good bet, and I'd consider Cody Wilson as a sleeper because of his defensive tools in the outfield and his work ethic.

Nats Nation (Lancaster, PA):

    Did Tyler Dyson’s performance in the Nats system give some hope that he might fulfill the preseason hype of a first round pick? Was it a matter of finally being healthy?


Lacy Lusk: Health was a big factor. He has a strong, quick arm and hit 96 with his fastball at short-season Auburn.

Tyler (D.C.):

    Who are a few under the radar types who could break out this year? Any potential bullpen arms that could rocket up the system?


Lacy Lusk: Matt Cronin from the left side would certainly fall into that category. Right-hander Sterling Sharp was still a starter at Harrisburg and in the Arizona Fall League, but he could be an interesting bullpen option as a groundball pitcher.

Joe (Maryland):

    Do you get the sense that this is a Nationals system on the rise, or more of one where the cupboard is pretty bare and will take some time to restock?


Lacy Lusk: I'd lean toward "restock," but that's not so bad for a franchise that will have a lot of pieces back after winning the World Series.

Mark (Portland):

    Who do the Nats protect ahead of the Rule 5 draft? Any predictions?


Lacy Lusk: Sharp would seem to have the best chance. Nick Banks also acquitted himself well in the Fall League, but I'd say he's a borderline case.

Jeremy (D.C.):

    Can you go a little more in-depth on Andry Lara? What did the Nats like so much about him?


Lacy Lusk: I'm still looking forward to seeing him for the first time -- hope that happens in March in West Palm -- but it sounds like he has a good feel for the game for a 16-year-old. He's certainly a long way away, but he's 6-foot-4 and already throws 92-95 with a power curveball. In a deeper organization, he would've been more of an 11-15 prospect, but he has a higher upside than most pitchers in the Nats system.

Rich (Bethesda):

    Why is Yadiel Hernandez not listed on prospects lists given his impressive numbers at Fresno?


Lacy Lusk: Hernandez was the organization's Player of the Year, but he didn't even get a callup in September at age 31 (now 32). He has been in the system for three years and done nothing but mash -- 33 home runs, 90 RBI and a .604 slugging percentage at Triple-A Fresno in 2019. I'm just not sure he'll ever get a chance with Washington.

Joe (Chantilly, VA):

    Is it possible Garcia is slightly overrated as a prospect? I don't see a ton of contact hitters with little power and single digit stolen base profiles as everyday MLB regulars anymore, and unless he's bringing Gold Glove level defense, there may not be much of a role for him in todays game, no?


Lacy Lusk: That is certainly possible, and he did fall down some rankings this season as he struggled at the plate. But he was a 19-year-old (18 at the beginning of the season) in the Double-A Eastern League. He slugged .470 in August, so I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do when he likely repeats at Harrisburg next season.

Greg (Martinsburg, WV):

    Luis Garcia obviously has pretty impressive contact skills, but how concerning is his body long-term in terms of his ability to stay at SS, and do the Nats believe he will clean up his approach and have power projection?


Lacy Lusk: They definitely believe the power is there and that he could stay at short if they had such a need. It'll be interesting to see where they would fit him with Kieboom, Mendoza and maybe Rendon.

KB (NY):

    How long before Drew Mendoza is playing 1st base for the Nats? Is there anyone blocking his advance to the majors?


Lacy Lusk: He's pretty much the guy as far as first basemen go. Drew Ward, Aldrem Corredor, and K.J. Harrison are among the longer shots at the position. Mendoza immediately moved to first after playing third base and shortstop at Florida State, and he's picking it up quickly.

Lacy Lusk: Thanks to everyone for participating. Hope to see you out at the ballpark next year!

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Baseball America Prospect Report -- October 28, 2019

Royce Lewis caps a sterling Arizona Fall League campaign with a strong showing in the championship game, earning MVP honors.

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