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After establishing himself as a big-name prep prospect years ago, Giolito dazzled in the fall and winter of his senior year at Harvard-Westlake High, prompting some scouts to suggest he had a chance to be the best high school righthander in draft history. He regularly ran his fastball up to 99 mph that January and February, but he sprained the ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow in early March, ending his season and transforming him into a draft wild card. The son of Hollywood actors Lindsay Frost and Rick Giolito, Lucas made it clear a hefty bonus would be required to sign him away from a UCLA commitment. The price tag, coupled with the injury, caused Giolito to fall to the Nationals at No. 16, and they signed him for $2,925,000, exceeding his assigned pick value by $800,000. He made one pro appearance in 2012 before having Tommy John surgery on Aug. 31, but he returned to game action about 10 months later in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, where his stuff was as electric as ever. He continued dominating in three August outings in the short-season New York-Penn League. The first three pitches out of Giolito's hand in his 2013 GCL debut were 100 mph fastballs. His fastball routinely ranges from 93-100 with exceptional downhill angle, and he learned by the end of the summer that he was more comfortable and had better command when he sat at 95-97, rather than reaching back for triple digits all the time. Between his velocity and his angle, Giolito's fastball rates as a true 80 pitch on the 20-80 scouting scale, and he does it with minimal effort. He also throws a 12-to-6 power curveball in the 84-86 range that Nationals pitching coordinator Spin Williams has called one of the best curves he's ever seen when Giolito throws a good one. It has late bite and excellent depth, projecting as a plus-plus pitch with a chance to be a second 80 offering. Giolito is still learning to control his 6-foot-6 body, and his delivery is not always in sync. When he does not repeat his delivery, his curveball is not as good, and neither is his fastball command. When he throws his 82-83 mph changeup with conviction, it flashes plus, but it remains a work in progress. Giolito also stands out for his competitive mound demeanor and tireless work ethic, and he spent his rehab learning bunt defenses and working on his fielding, which helped him make big strides holding runners and fielding his position this summer. Giolito has a real chance to become a No. 1 starter in the big leagues, because his repertoire is electrifying and his feel for pitching is fairly advanced for his age. The Nationals have a great track record with building pitchers back up after Tommy John surgery--former No. 1 prospects Jordan Zimmermann and Stephen Strasburg both overcame the procedure to become stars--which allays concerns about Giolito's long-term health. The next step is proving he can handle a full-season workload. He figures to start 2014 at low Class A Hagerstown, and if he dominates as expected, he could move quickly. A big league debut by the end of 2015 is within the realm of possibility, though 2016 is a safer bet.
The Nationals signed Cole for a fourth-round-record $2 million bonus in 2010, then traded him to Oakland in the Gio Gonzalez deal after the 2011 season. He spent one year with the Athletics, then returned to the Nationals in the March 2013 Michael Morse deal. Cole pitches predominantly off his explosive fastball, which sits at 94-95 mph and regularly touches 97. His two-seamer has plus sink, and his four-seamer has riding life. His fastball command is solid, but it remains better to his arm side than his glove side. His second pitch is a fringe-average changeup that flashes plus when he maintains his arm speed. The biggest knock on Cole is his lack of a wipeout breaking ball, but he worked hard to tighten it up and add some power to it this year. The shape and depth of the pitch are inconsistent, and so is the velocity, which ranges from 75-82 mph. Whether it winds up as a curve or a slider, it has a chance to be fringy to average in time. Cole should get a shot in Triple-A in 2014. He could get a big league callup by season's end and projects as a mid-rotation starter.
After signing for $3 million in 2011, Goodwin reached Double-A by the second half of 2012, but he has struggled at that level for the last year and a half. He hit just .204 against Double-A lefties in 2013, but he showed a more disciplined approach in the final month. Goodwin has tantalizing five-tool ability. His best tool is his speed, which rates as a 65 on the 20-80 scale, but he still needs to refine his routes in center field and his basestealing acumen. He has at least a chance to be a solid-average to above-average defender with an average arm. Goodwin has plenty of bat speed and average power potential, but he still has work to do at the plate. His approach can still be segmented, causing his swing to be late. If he can get himself into better hitting position more consistently and learn to chase fewer lefthanded breaking balls, he could become a slightly above-average hitter. Some evaluators think Goodwin has all-star potential, while others view him as a borderline regular or even an extra outfielder. He figures to reach Triple-A in 2014 and could compete for a big league job by 2015.
Skole won South Atlantic League MVP honors and was named Washington's minor league hitter of the year in 2012. His 2013 season was cut short in his second game when he collided with a runner while playing first base, causing a microfracture in his wrist and severing the ulnar collateral ligament in his non-throwing elbow. He had Tommy John surgery and wrist surgery but returned to action in the Arizona Fall League, where he homered twice in his first four games. Skole's calling card is his plus lefthanded power, primarily to the pull side. He has a flicker with his bat head right before letting loose on the baseball, and he generates serious bat speed. The Nationals helped him get more out of his huge frame by minimizing his leg kick, solidifying his base and improving his balance. He showed an improved ability to stay back and drive breaking pitches the other way in his last healthy season. Skole also has an advanced feel for the strike zone, giving him a chance to be an average or slightly better hitter. He has good hands at either infield corner and a solid arm, but he lacks the range at the hot corner, so he figures to focus on first base going forward. Skole will return to Harrisburg to start 2014, and he could push for a big league callup by season's end. He is the best power prospect in the system and could be the organization's first baseman of the future.
Ray first made a name for himself by flashing mid-90s heat on the high school showcase circuit, but he pitched mostly in the 87-91 mph range and topped out at 93 over his first three pro seasons. His velocity jumped in 2013, and his prospect status jumped with it. He ranked as the No. 16 prospect in the high Class A Carolina League, and he more than held his own as a 21-year-old in the Double-A Eastern League following a midseason promotion. In their 2012 instructional league, the Nationals made an adjustment with Ray's lower half to maximize his deception, and hitters struggle to pick up his fastball. He attacks hitters primarily with his heater, which ranges from 91-96 mph, averaging about 93. His arm still drags at times, causing his release point and command to be inconsistent, but he is a good athlete with a loose arm, prompting scouts to project his command as at least average. His changeup came along nicely in 2013, showing flashes of being a slightly above-average pitch in the low 80s. The biggest question about Ray is whether he has enough feel to spin an effective breaking ball. He throws a short slurve that ranges from 74-79 mph, and too many of them are tumblers with loose spin, rating as 35 pitches. His best ones are average, but the pitch still has a long way to go. Ray's plus fastball, athleticism and durable frame give him a chance to be a mid-rotation starter if he can develop his breaking ball. He'll continue to work on the pitch as a 22-year-old in Double-A next year.
Staying healthy has been an issue for Solis since his college days, but his body and stuff tantalize when he is on the mound. He missed almost all of 2009 at San Diego with a herniated disc in his back, then saw his first full pro season in 2011 delayed by a quadriceps injury. He missed all of 2012 after having Tommy John surgery, but he returned to action in May and looked stronger than ever. Right before he injured his elbow, Solis had touched 96-97 mph, but his comfort zone this year was 89-93, touching 95 early in games. His fastball has natural tail and run, and he has solid command of it. His No. 2 pitch is usually his changeup, which projects as a slightly above-average to plus offering, but there are days his slurvy breaking ball can be the more effective pitch. The three-quarters breaking ball is still somewhat inconsistent, sometimes flashing solid-average but other times rating as a slightly below-average pitch. Solis has a good delivery, a physical frame and an unflappable demeanor on the mound. With a chance for three average to plus pitches from the left side, Solis has a chance to be a No. 4 starter in the majors, if he can stay healthy. He's already 25 and has not yet reached Double-A, so the Nationals figure to push him in 2014, starting with an assignment to Harrisburg. He could reach Washington by season's end.
Drafted as a shortstop, Taylor took to center field in a hurry and made himself into a legitimate prospect based primarily on his spectacular defense. After struggling offensively in high Class A in 2012, he repeated the level in 2013 and made major gains. The wiry, quick-twitch Taylor earns frequent physical comparisons to Mike Cameron and Adam Jones. He's a plus runner with plus-plus range thanks to his outstanding reads and jumps, and his plus arm is accurate. He made huge strides with his baserunning, demonstrating good leads, reads and jumps. Taylor also has above-average raw power, but scouts have reservations about whether he'll ever hit enough to unlock it. He has a choppy, disjointed swing and a tendency to get very aggressive with his stride, though he made progress toning it down in instructional league. He still struggles mightily against offspeed stuff, but he can punish fastballs in or over the plate. If Taylor can become even a below-average hitter, his other tools could give him significant big league value. If he can mature into a fringy or average hitter, he can be an all-star. Next year will be a big test, as he'll get his first taste of upper-level pitching in Double-A.
Johansen never harnessed his potential at Dallas Baptist, where he went 7-6, 5.40 in 15 starts as a fourth-year junior in 2013. The Nationals were pleased to land a player with Johansen's arm strength with their top pick (No. 68 overall), and his pro debut in the New York-Penn League was very encouraging. Though his command and his secondary stuff remain works in progress, Johansen dominated the NY-P with a premium fastball that sat at 94-96 mph with heavy sink and topped out at 99. He arrived in pro ball with a poor 74-77 mph curveball, but he threw it with more power as the summer progressed, coming in at 77-83 with tighter rotation at its best. He also made progress with his 86-90 cutter/slider and showed improving feel for his changeup, but all of his secondary stuff needs refinement. The Nats think Johansen is a late-bloomer who is still growing into his huge frame, but when he maintains a quick tempo, he can throw strikes and succeed. The Nats will keep Johansen in a starting role as long as possible, and if everything clicks, he has No. 3 starter upside, though many scouts see him as a better fit in the back of a bullpen.
Karns recovered from a torn labrum to jump back onto the prospect landscape in 2012, leading the minor leagues in opponent average (.174) in his full-season debut. He followed that up with a strong season in the Double-A Eastern League. Karns made his big league debut in May but was sent back down to Harrisburg after struggling in three starts. He really found his groove upon his return to the EL, posting a 2.57 ERA the rest of the way. Physical and aggressive, Karns attacks hitters with a 91-95 mph power sinker, peaking at 98 on occasion. He has a second plus pitch in his wipeout hammer curveball, which ranges from 82-85 mph. He's still learning to throw the curve for strikes, but he excels at getting hitters to chase it. Karns also has a below-average changeup at 83-85 mph, but his feel for it increased marginally in 2013. He has a long arm action and a stiff front leg, leading to just fair command, though he does throw strikes with his fastball. Unless Karns can make significant strides with his command and his third pitch, he profiles best as a big league set-up man. He'll enter 2014 as a 26-year-old in Triple-A, where he will continue to work as a starter.
Maturity issues undermined Souza's ability to maximize his tantalizing raw talent for the first few years of his career. As he grew up, he rejuvenated his career with a breakout 2012 campaign, then performed well in Double-A in 2013, though he missed time with an oblique injury. Souza is a physical specimen with multiple loud tools. He has 65 raw power and is capable of hitting home runs from pole to pole. A former third baseman, Souza has found a home as a corner outfielder, where he is a solid-average defender with a plus arm. He's also a slightly above-average runner with good baserunning instincts. If Souza hits, he has the tool set to be an everyday right fielder. He has done a better job staying in his legs and maintaining a balanced swing, helping him drive the ball to all fields. Souza can hit premium velocity, but his swing still has some length, making him vulnerable against offspeed stuff. He couples his high strikeout totals with an improving walk rate, though he remains a fringe-average hitter. He should advance to Triple-A in 2014. Washington retained Souza by adding him to the 40-man roster this fall, preventing him from becoming a minor league free agent.
Purke has lost prospect luster since the Rangers drafted him 14th overall out of high school in 2009. After a deal with Texas fell apart, he wound up at Texas Christian, where he went 16-0 to earn BA Freshman of the Year honors in 2010. Injuries torpedoed Purke's sophomore season, but the Nationals nevertheless signed their third-rounder for a $2.75 million bonus and $4.15 million total guaranteed. He pitched just 15 innings in his 2012 pro debut before having surgery in August to relieve bursitis and clean out scar tissue in his shoulder. When he returned to action in 2013, Purke's stuff was rather pedestrian, as he worked mostly at 88-91 mph with inconsistent secondary stuff. He was better in the Arizona Fall League, working at 90-93 mph and flashing a plus changeup in the 82-84 range. Purke's changeup projects as an above-average to plus offering that enables him to get swings-and-misses. His slurvy breaking ball sometimes looks more like a show-me curveball in the mid-70s and sometimes like an average 11-to-5 pitch at 78-80 mph. His fastball has decent arm-side run and sink, helping him get groundball outs. Purke's breaking ball should be effective enough against lefties to give him a floor as a middle reliever, but he still has a chance to become a back-end starter if he can harness his command, because he has the makings of three average or better pitches. He'll advance to Double-A Harrisburg in 2014.
The son of former New York Jets running back Bob Burns, Billy is a premium athlete who has made himself into a prospect despite his lack of size. A switch-hitter in high school, he hit solely from the right side in college, and the Nationals reintroduced the lefthanded swing in 2011 instructional league. Burns has a slap-and-dash approach from the left side and a little more strength from the right side, but he has no power and does not try to hit home runs. His game is completely built around his 80 speed, which allows him to beat out infield hits and bunt his way on base regularly. Burns has walked more than he's struck out in his pro career, and his patient approach makes him a perfect table-setter. His reads and jumps on the basepaths improved immensely in 2013, helping him rank third in the minors with 74 steals in 81 attempts between high Class A and Double-A. He also cuts bases extremely well. Burns is capable of making dazzling plays in center field and left, but he is actually a better defender in the latter. His arm is below-average, but he worked on improving it in instructional league. Burns plays with intensity and savvy, and he knows his strengths and weaknesses better than any player in the system. A lack of impact offensive ability causes many scouts to view him as a fourth outfielder, but he might begin winning converts if he continues hitting at Double-A to start 2014.
A career .347 hitter during a standout three-year career at California, Renda stands out for his pure hitting ability and his makeup. He had a solid but unspectacular pro debut after signing for $500,000 as a second-round pick in 2012, and then he ranked second in the minors with 43 doubles in his first full season in 2013. Generously listed at 5-foot-10, Renda will never be a home run hitter, but he is strong enough to drive the gaps, and he makes consistently hard, line-drive contact with a slight uppercut stroke. He controls the strike zone well and never gives away an at-bat, and he has a chance to be an above-average hitter. None of his other tools rate as above-average, but the sum may be greater than the parts. Renda has average speed, but he is an efficient, aggressive basestealer, helping him swipe 45 bags in 54 tries in his pro career. He was an unpolished, mechanical defender at second base when the Nationals drafted him, and scouts who saw him early last year said his hands were stiff and his instincts were questionable. But he made progress improving his hands, footwork, reads and pivots in 2013, giving him a chance to become a fringy to average defender with an average arm. Renda needs to be seen in large doses to be appreciated, and scouts who like him invoke the names Freddy Sanchez or Ryan Theriot. He lacks the defensive versatility to carve out a career as a utilityman, so he'll need to hit. Renda will advance to high Class A Potomac to begin 2014 but could push his way to Double-A by midseason.
A ninth-round pick by the Diamondbacks, Walters was traded for Jason Marquis in 2011. A broken hamate bone sapped his power in 2012, but he stayed healthy at Triple-A Syracuse in 2013 and saw his power numbers jump, tying for the International League lead with 29 home runs and earning him a September callup. Walters has good extension and leverage in his swing, particularly from the left side (he hit 25 of 29 homers in 2013 against righties). He has above-average raw power and the ability to drive the ball to all fields, but he is a free swinger who must learn to control the strike zone and take more walks. He has a tendency to get out on his front side and chase pitches. Walters is a good athlete with a plus arm that plays at shortstop, but he has stiff hands and he tends to make too many careless throwing errors. If he can improve his defensive instincts and actions, he could become an adequate defensive shortstop with offensive upside. Walters, however, profiles better as a utilityman who can fill in all around the infield or on an outfield corner. He's a fringe-average runner who lacks exceptional first-step quickness but is better underway. Walters could compete for a backup job in the majors in 2104, but he would benefit from more time at Triple-A to refine all aspects of his game.
Voth had a solid but unspectacular three-year career at Washington, highlighted by his 7-6, 2.99 junior season in 2013. He spent two summers in the Cape Cod League, where he ditched his "bendy" curveball, as he called it, for a slider in 2012. His slider has developed into a promising pitch, a short, 83-85 mph offering that currently rates as fringe-average but projects as solid-average. Voth's bread and butter is his fastball, which tends to sit in the 89-92 mph range for the first five innings of his outings, then starts bumping 95 in the middle innings. He commands the pitch well to both sides of the plate, and his ability to hide the ball and work downhill helps induce swing-throughs. He also has an average changeup that flashes plus, with late sinking action. Voth is a gritty competitor who impressed the Nationals with his ability to control opposing running games by mixing up his times to the plate. He's a good athlete who fields his position well. The Nationals believe they got a fifth-round steal in Voth, who has back-of-the-rotation potential, and perhaps a bit more. Though he made just two appearances in low Class A in 2013, he ought to force his way to high Class A to start 2014.
As a pull-happy hitter with a big leg kick, Severino struggled offensively for two years in the GCL, but he still put himself on the prospect radar because of his defensive prowess. The Nationals worked with him to simplify his hitting mechanics and get him to use the middle of the field more often, and they challenged him with an assignment to low Class A Hagerstown in 2013. Severino's calling card is his well-above-average arm, which is deadly accurate and helped him throw out 40 percent of basestealers in 2013. His hands are strong and soft, making him a good receiver who blocks well, and his quick feet help him get out in front of the plate to field bunts adeptly. To wit, he led all minor league catchers with 71 non-caught stealing assists in 82 games last year. He projects as an above-average defender, and the Nationals rave about his ability to call games and handle pitchers, thanks in part to his magnetic personality and good ear for the English language. He's a good athlete who even flashes average running times. At the plate, Severino became more consistent with his approach in the second half of the season, and the Nats think he has a chance to hit enough down the road to become an everyday big leaguer. Scouts aren't yet convinced, saying that he often looks overmatched at the plate. But even his skeptics are intrigued by his batting practice displays, suggesting he could grow into occasional pop. He could return to Hagerstown in 2014, though the Nats might push him again to high Class A Potomac.
Ward graduated high school a year early and successfully lobbied Major League Baseball to make him eligible for the 2013 draft. Area scouts in Oklahoma had a difficult time getting a handle on him because his high school competition was exceedingly weak. Still, the Nationals bought him out of an Oklahoma commitment with an $850,000 bonus as a third-round pick, and he had a strong debut in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. A high school shortstop, Ward shifted to third base in pro ball, and he showed soft hands and good instincts at the position, though his footwork needs plenty of refinement. Like Matt Skole, Ward has the arm strength for the hot corner and has at least a chance to stick at the position, but like Skole he seems destined for first base as he grows into his big frame. He impressed the Nationals in 2013 with his simple offensive approach and ability to control the strike zone as an 18-year-old. He showed he can hit good velocity and hold his own against breaking balls, giving him at least a chance to be a plus hitter down the road. He has a doubles-oriented approach currently, but he has plus raw power and time on his side. Ward has the potential to be a quality everyday player at an infield corner or perhaps an outfield corner. The next step figures to be the short-season New York-Penn League, though he could push his way to low Class A Hagerstown in 2014.
Drafted three times prior to signing with the Nationals in 2010, Barrett ranked as a top-200 draft prospect as a Wabash Valley (Ill.) CC sophomore in 2008 but elected to attend Mississippi instead of signing. His stock dropped somewhat over two seasons in Oxford, as he struggled with his command, but the Nationals took Barrett in the ninth round in 2010 as a money-saving senior sign, inking him for $35,000. He spent his senior year as a starter, but he has found a home in the bullpen in pro ball. He ranked second in the Double-A Eastern League with 26 saves in 2013, and the Nationals added him to the 40-man roster in November. Barrett's calling card is his wipeout slider, an 85-86 mph offering with sharp, late three-quarters tilt. The pitch rates as a 65 or 70 on the 20-80 scale. He also has developed fringy to average command of his 92-94 mph fastball despite a violent delivery, which adds some deception. Barrett's ultra-aggressive, competitive mentality is a good fit for the bullpen, but he needs to harness his emotions and do a little less barking at hitters. He lacks big-time upside, but he is just about big league-ready as a middle reliever or set-up candidate. He will compete for a major league job in spring training.
Nagging injuries hindered Kobernus' development over his first four seasons, and the Nats left him off the 40-man roster following the 2012 campaign. The Red Sox selected him in the Rule 5 draft and traded him to the Tigers for Justin Henry, but Kobernus returned to Washington in March and went on to put together his best pro season. He posted a career-high .754 OPS at Triple-A Syracuse and spent most of June and September in the big leagues as a reserve. Kobernus started his collegiate career at third base before moving to second, and he handled himself adequately at both positions plus left and center field in 2013, boosting his stock as potential utilityman. He's a fringy defender at all four spots, and his below-average arm is a liability. Kobernus' plus-plus speed gives him value as a pinch-runner and a chance to become an average defensive outfielder as he gets more comfortable tracking down fly balls. His premium speed really plays on the basepaths, where he is instinctive and aggressive, helping him swipe 140 bases in 170 tries (82 percent) over the last three years. Kobernus lacks the strength to be an impact hitter--his power is well-below-average--but his contact-oriented approach works for him. He does not draw enough walks to thrive as a table-setter. Kobernus is close to reaching his ceiling as a versatile speedster off the bench, and he will compete for a big league reserve spot in 2014.
Perez has consistently hit for average and stolen bases throughout his career. He set career highs for doubles and home runs last year in Triple-A, while his stolen-base rate declined, but his game still is built around double-plus speed, a tool that sometimes draws 80 grades. His speed gives him excellent range in center field, where he is a plus defender. He also played left and right field well last year, and his 55 arm is an asset. Perez has a quick righthanded swing, and he hit the ball with more authority in 2013, but his power still rates as well-below-average. He has a chance to be a solid-average hitter, but he's a free-swinger with a career walk rate of just 6 percent, limiting his value as a table-setter. Scouts say he'll need to maximize his on-base ability by racking up infield hits. At this stage of his development, Perez seems unlikely to suddenly start taking more walks, so most evaluators view him as an extra outfielder. He'll be in the mix for a big league roster spot in 2014.
The Nationals converted Rodriguez from infielder to pitcher after signing him in January 2012. He had a solid first year on the mound in the Dominican Summer League, then was even better in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in 2013. Rodriguez continued to make progress with his command and his changeup in instructional league. Long, lanky and projectable, Rodriguez needs to strengthen his legs to improve his endurance and help him repeat his mechanics more consistently. But he has the foundation of a good delivery, and he has a lightning-fast arm, helping him sit in the 93-95 mph range and touch 97 on occasion. He improved his strike-throwing ability last year but still needs to learn how to command the zone. Rodriguez has the makings of a plus curveball in the low 80s that is a true swing-and-miss pitch when he throws it right. His changeup is still in its nascent stage, but he started to gain some confidence in the pitch in instructs. Rodriguez quickly has put himself on the prospect map, and his stock could soar if he proves himself at low Class A Hagerstown in 2014.
A native of British Columbia, Pivetta played for the Canadian Junior National Team in 2009 and 2010. He made a name for himself at New Mexico JC, and the Nationals took him in the fourth round of the 2012 draft, signing him away from a commitment to New Mexico for $364,300. Pivetta signed on June 18 and debuted a month later after securing a visa, and it took him some time to build his arm strength back up after the downtime. He works in the 90-93 mph range and touches 95, and his fastball could become even firmer as he fills out his lanky 6-foot-5 frame. The Nats want him to focus on refining the better breaking ball and scrap the lazy sweeper. He also has the makings of a solid changeup, but it is inconsistent at this stage. His delivery has no major red flags, though he is a bit of a short strider with a low three-quarters slot. Pivetta has a lot to learn, but he has big league starter upside. He figures to spend the bulk of 2014 at low Class A Hagerstown.
Treinen started his college career in 2007 on the junior varsity at NAIA Baker (Kan.), then spent 2008 at Arkansas (where he did not play) before transferring to South Dakota State (where he sat out 2009 due to NCAA transfer rules). His arm strength got him drafted by the Marlins in 2010 (23rd round) despite a 6.09 ERA, but he returned to post a 3.00 ERA as the SDSU ace in 2011, leaving as the program's highest-drafted player since 1985. The A's traded Treinen along with A.J. Cole to the Nationals in the Michael Morse deal before the 2013 season, and he turned in a solid year in Double-A. He works predominantly off his plus fastball, which sits in the 91-95 mph range and tops out at 97 with power sink at times. He has a durable 6-foot-4 frame and works downhill effectively. His secondary stuff is inconsistent, but he has the makings of a four-pitch repertoire. His curveball flashes plus at times but is below-average at other times, projecting as an average offering with more refinement. He also works in a below-average, short slider in the 81-84 mph range and a fringy changeup in the low 80s with decent arm speed and sink. Treinen is a strike-thrower, but scouts question the quality of his strikes, and most evaluators project him as a middle reliever. The Nationals could leave him in a starting role and move him to Triple-A in 2014, but he could push for a bullpen job during the season.
Garcia's career has been plagued by injuries. Two separate Tommy John surgeries cost him all of 2007 and nearly all of 2010, and the Nationals signed him as a minor league free agent after the latter season. Washington moved Garcia from a starting role to the bullpen, and he thrived in the new role in 2012, reaching the majors and earning a spot on the postseason roster. But a forearm injury derailed him again in spring training 2013, and by the time he recovered from that, a nagging hamstring injury kept him on the shelf. When healthy, Garcia's stuff remains electric. His fastball sits in the mid-90s and tops out at 97 mph with good life, and his plus changeup is effective against both righties and lefties. His hard-biting curveball has tight spin and good power in the low 80s, and it flashes plus at times. Garcia's command is fringy, but he throws enough strikes to carve out a role as a middle reliever if he can stay healthy--but that's a big "if." He remains on the 40-man roster and is ready to stick in the big leagues, but he's 28 years old, and he has yet to make a major league impact.
Erratic control kept Mooneyham from living up to lofty expectations at Stanford. He thrived in low Class A last year in his first full pro season, though his walk rate was still on the high side. Mooneyham has a tendency to tinker with his mechanics from outing to outing, and his command is poor because his arm tends to drag and disrupt his timing. He no longer flashes the high-90s heat he showed when he was younger, but he did run his fastball up to 94 mph last year, pitching at 90-91 with decent sink and run. His secondary stuff is erratic, but when he has good feel, his 79-82 mph slurvy breaking ball is solid-average to a tick above, and his 79-81 fading changeup is average. Other times, both pitches are below-average. Mooneyham's physical build and three-pitch repertoire give him a chance to be a back-end starter, but most evaluators think his lack of consistent command will consign him to the bullpen. Mooneyham figures to open 2014 in high Class A.
The Nationals drafted Lee in the 38th round after his freshman year in 2010, then signed him as an 18th-rounder a year later. Lee struck out more than a batter per inning in 2013 at low Class A Hagerstown, where he made progress learning to repeat his delivery and command the strike zone. Smallish but strong and athletic, he has a quick arm and a competitive demeanor. He attacks hitters with an 88-92 mph fastball that bumps 95, and his 77-80 mph downer curveball is a wipeout pitch with good depth when it's on. He was more of a fastball/changeup pitcher in junior college, but the development of his curveball gives Lee a potential future as a lefthanded reliever. His low-80s changeup has decent sink and projects as an average third pitch. He also throws a below-average 82-84 mph slider. Lee's lack of fine command, his high-effort delivery and his size suggest his future is in the bullpen, but the Nats will keep him in a starting role in high Class A in 2014.
A first-team All-America closer during his 2012 junior year at Florida State, Benincasa saved 27 games between low Class A and high A in 2013, but his stuff fell off down the stretch as he wore down physically, partially a result of poor nutritional habits. At his best, Benincasa works in the 92-94 mph range and touches 96 with slightly above-average sink, but he sat around 89-92 late in the season. At full strength, his low-80s slider has good depth and rates as a 55 pitch on the 20-80 scale, but it was not as sharp late in the year. Benincasa has a solid third pitch in his split-changeup, giving him another weapon against lefties. He is a good athlete with plenty of poise in tight spots and promising feel for pitching, giving him a chance to reach the big leagues as a middle reliever. He'll need to do a better job putting on weight--and keeping it on--for him to reach that ceiling. Benincasa figures to advance to Double-A Harrisburg in 2014 and might not be far from the majors.
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.
In the summer of 2006, Davis was struck in the face by a line drive in the Cape Cod League, nearly causing him to lose an eye. The injury required two surgeries and the insertion of a titanium plate in his face, but he recovered and emerged as the ace of Stanford's staff as a senior. San Diego traded him to Washington for Alberto Gonzalez in March 2011, and he proved himself in the high minors for two seasons, earning a June 2013 callup to Washington. He has some funk in his delivery, helping his fastball play up. He sits in the 88-92 mph range but can reach 94 when he really needs to. His best pitch is an above-average 82-83 mph sinking changeup that he can throw in any count and use as an out-pitch. He also flashes an average curveball in the mid-70s, but it rates as a below-average. At age 27, Davis has essentially reached his ceiling, but he should continue to provide useful bullpen innings between Triple-A Syracuse and the majors.
Nieto emigrated from Cuba when he was 8 and made a name for himself while playing alongside Eric Hosmer in travel ball and at American Heritage High. Injuries and immaturity derailed his pro career, which bottomed out when he was suspended 50 games at the start of the 2011 season after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance. Nieto put himself back on the prospect landscape with a strong 2013 campaign in high Class A. He made big strides simplifying his offensive approach, reducing the big leg kick he once employed and showing a more direct swing path. The switch-hitter is a better hitter with more power from the left side--he hit .300 with 10 homers against righties, but just .203 in 74 homer-less at-bats versus lefties. Nieto's bat speed and doubles-oriented approach give him a chance to be an offensive backup catcher in the big leagues. His footwork behind the plate also has improved, but his receiving and blocking remain works in progress. He projects as an average defensive catcher with a slightly-above-average to plus arm. Nieto will have to work to keep his weight in check, and he is a poor runner. He is ready to tackle Double-A as a 24-year-old in 2014.
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