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Robles had impressed Nationals evaluators for years before breaking out in 2015 during his U.S. debut. He signed with Washington for $225,000 in 2013 and impressed in the Dominican Summer League the following year. He wowed the Nationals during extended spring training in 2015, then carried that performance over to the regular season in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League and short-season Auburn. He ranked as the No. 2 prospect in both leagues while hitting a combined .352/.445/.507 with 24 stolen bases in 61 games. Robles advanced to full-season ball in 2016 for the first time, beginning the season at low Class A Hagerstown. After earning a spot in the South Atlantic League all-star game, he was promoted to high Class A Potomac, where the 19-year-old was the youngest player in the Carolina League. He again ranked as a top prospect in two leagues--No. 1 in the South Atlantic and No. 3 in the Carolina. Robles was sidelined for about three weeks in the second half of the season by a thumb injury he suffered after being hit in the hand by a fastball, one of 34 times he was hit by a pitch in 2016. Even as he has raced through the minor leagues, Robles has continued to hit and earn praise for his baseball IQ and willingness to learn. Robles has excellent quick-twitch athleticism and true five-tool potential. He is advanced for his age, displaying a good feel for hitting. He has strong, quick hands that help him to produce impressive bat speed. Presently, his power results mostly in hard line drives to the gaps, but as he physically matures, those balls should start going over the fence. He sometimes gets big in his swing as he tries to drive the ball with more authority. He has a good feel for the barrel and is difficult to strike out, though he does not often walk. He sets up very close to the plate, which allows him to cover the outer half of the plate well, but also results in him often being hit by pitches. He is confident in his ability to turn on inside pitches, but after his stint on the disabled list he is also starting to learn about the importance of getting out of the way of inside pitches. Robles is a plus runner and makes good use of his speed on both the basepaths and in the outfield. He tracks down balls well in center field and has plus arm strength. His defensive ability and speed enable him to impact the game in many different ways. He plays with lots of energy in all facets of the game, a trait that endears him to teammates, coaches and scouts alike. Robles has proven to be capable of moving quickly in the minors and will likely return to Potomac to open 2017. Because he won't turn 20 until May, he will likely again be among the youngest players in the Carolina League. It will be a challenging assignment for the precocious outfielder, but his makeup and dynamic skill set should help him continue to find success against older competition. He has all-star potential and could arrive in Washington late in the 2018 season and be a regular player at age 22 in 2019.
A 24th-round pick by the Padres coming out of Las Vegas High, Fedde stayed close to home and attended Nevada-Las Vegas. After his sophomore season at college, Fedde had a strong showing with USA Baseball's Collegiate National Team and carried that into his junior year back at school, where he went 8-2, 1.76 with 82 strikeouts in 77 innings. He appeared to be on his way to becoming a top-10 pick in the 2014 draft until he had Tommy John surgery that May. Despite the injury, he didn't fall far on draft day and the Nationals selected him 18th overall. Fedde made his pro debut a year later and reached Double-A Harrisburg in 2016. As more time has passed since Fedde's surgery, he has gotten stronger and seen his stuff return. His fastball has reached 97 mph, but he more typically pitches in the low 90s. It plays up because of excellent sinking action, and he pounds the strike zone with it. His low-80s slider is a plus offering and generates swings and misses. He made strides with his changeup in 2016, and it could become an average pitch. Fedde throws a lot of strikes but still has room to refine his command to more consistently locate all his pitches. He is an excellent athlete, helping him to both repeat his delivery and field his position well. Now that he's fully healthy, Fedde could make quick work of the upper minors. He will return to Harrisburg to start 2017 and is closing in on his big league debut. He has a No. 2 starter ceiling with a high floor based on his wide-ranging ability.
The Nationals established a new franchise bonus record for an international teen when they signed Soto for $1.5 million in 2015, though it wsa shattered a year later in their international spending spree. He skipped the Dominican Summer League in 2016 to make made his pro debut as a 17-year-old in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, where he won MVP honors after leading the circuit in batting (.361) and slugging (.550) and ranking second in on-base percentage (.410). He earned a late-season promotion to short-season Auburn and continued to succeed against older competition. Soto ranked No. 13 in the 2015 international class largely because of his hitting ability, which translated well to pro ball. He is an advanced hitter for his age, showing a feel for the barrel and good pitch-recognition skills. He has a short, easy, lefthanded swing and uses the whole field to hit. He makes good adjustments at the plate thanks to his impressive understanding of hitting. His power is still developing, and he could have above-average pop by the time he is done physically maturing. Soto has average speed and arm strength, and he profiles in right field. Soto earns priase for his makeup, maturity and confidence. He will play the entire 2017 season as an 18-year-old, and is probably advanced enough to handle an assignment to low Class A Hagerstown. But the Nationals could opt for a more conservative approach and send him back to Auburn, where he would still be one of the youngest players in the league.
A late bloomer, Difo struggled in the low minors before breaking out in 2014, when he won the South Atlantic League MVP award as a 22-year-old at low Class A Hagerstown. He has built on that progress, making his major league debut in 2015 and returning to Washington for much of the second half in 2016. He also earned a spot on the postseason roster thanks to his versatility and speed. Difo is a well above-average runner and has an aggressive approach on the basepaths and at the plate. A switch-hitter, he has a short, quick swing. He has some wiry strength and can drive the ball into the gaps for extra-base hits but has produced below-average power in the upper levels. After moving around the infield early in his career, Difo has settled at shortstop, where he has made strides as a defender. He is still improving his consistency in the field, but he has above-average arm strength and the hands necessary to play shortstop. He also played second and third base in the major leagues. Because Difo has played only one game at Triple-A, the Nationals could send him to Syracuse to play every day at shortstop and continue to work on his defense. He also could return to Washington to reprise his role as a utility infielder.
Signing Max Scherzer cost the Nationals their first-round pick in 2015, making Stevenson their top selection in the second round. He ranked as one of the best defensive outfielders in NCAA Division I and helped Louisiana State reach the College World Series in 2015. He then hit the ground running in pro ball, quickly advancing to low Class A Hagerstown in his debut. He carried that momentum into 2016, which began at high Class A Potomac, included a midseason promotion to Double-A Harrisburg and ended with a strong showing in the Arizona Fall League. He led the AFL in hits (30) and finished second in the batting race with a .353 mark. Stevenson employed an unconventional set-up at the plate at LSU that forced him to slash at the ball. The Nationals worked with him to adjust his hands and give him a better chance to drive the ball. His swing is still geared to hit the ball on the ground to take advantage of his well above-average speed, but he is now more likely to line the ball into gaps for extra-base hits. His speed and feel for the barrel are good enough to make him a top-of-the-order candidate. Stevenson is a plus defender in center field with exceptional range thanks to his speed and instincts. His below-average arm strength is his only defensive deficiency. Stevenson earns praise for his high-energy play and makeup. He likely will return to Harrisburg to start 2017, looking to build on his strong finish to the season.
Glover established himself as a weapon out of the bullpen in 2015, first at Oklahoma State and then in his pro debut after the Nationals made him an eighth-round pick. He built on that momentum in 2016 by pitching his way from high Class A Potomac to the big leagues. He made his major league debut in July, almost 13 months to the day after signing with the Nationals. After a strong debut, Glover recorded a 7.27 ERA in September before being shut down late in the season with a hip injury. He has a physical 6-foot-5 frame and the power arm to match. His fastball touched 100 mph in the big leagues and sat 97-98 with heavy sinking action. He complements it with a hard slider that sits in the low 90s. Glover also throws both a curveball and changeup but seldom throws either. He isn't afraid to come after hitters and throws plenty of strikes. Glover earns praise for his poise and mound presence, and he has the tools to be a big league closer. He probably won't fill that role in 2017 but should go to spring training with a chance to win a spot in the Washington bullpen.
The Nationals busted their international bonus pool in 2016 by signing three of the top 15 prospects in the class. Garcia, whose father Luis Garcia reached the big leagues in 1999 with the Tigers, was the No. 3 prospect in the class and headlined Washington's haul, though his bonus of $1.3 million was not the largest the Nationals handed out in 2016. Garcia has impressive all-around tools and evolved as a prospect in the year leading up to his signing. He has good bat-to-ball skills and a simple lefthanded swing that is geared for hitting line drives to the middle of the diamond. He makes loud contact and shows signs that he will develop more power as he physically matures. He is an excellent athlete with well above-average speed and plays with a hard-nosed, high-energy style. Garcia has above-average arm strength and good hands, giving scouts reason to believe he will be able to stay at shortstop. He will need to improve his infield actions, but even if he does move, his tools will play well at second base or in center field. Garcia is far from a finished product but earns praise for his baseball IQ and work ethic. Those traits will serve him well as he tries to become a big leaguer like his father. He will likely begin his pro career in the Dominican Summer League.
Kieboom helped lead Walton High to a 2016 state championship and scored the winning run in the decisive game. A few weeks later he joined his older brother Spencer in the Nationals organization after they selected him 28th overall. He dealt with minor injuries after signing but still held his own in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League during his pro debut and was fully healthy in time to participate in instructional league. Kieboom is a steady, solid all-around player. He stands out for his bat speed and timing at the plate, though he struck out in nearly 28 percent of his plate appearances in the GCL. He employs a gap-to-gap approach at the plate, and projects to hit for average power as he physically matures and learns to drive the ball more consistently. Kieboom is a solid runner and has good first-step quickness on defense. He has above-average arm strength and good infield actions, giving him the tools necessary to continue to develop as a shortstop. Spencer Kieboom made his major league debut in 2016, and Carter should one day join him in the big league fraternity. The younger Kieboom has the potential to deliver more impact than his brother, who has a backup catcher profile. He should be ready for low Class A Hagerstown in 2017.
Severino has built a reputation as an excellent defensive catcher, and his glove has carried him through the minor leagues. He made a his major league debut in September 2015 and returned in 2016, taking over as the Nationals' everyday catcher down the stretch and in the postseason when Wilson Ramos was injured. Severino stands out for his catch-and-throw ability, leaving no doubt he has the skills necessary to catch in the big leagues. He has plus arm strength and has thrown out 35 percent of basestealers in his pro career. He is a good athlete and game-caller, he blocks balls in the dirt well and he quickly developed a rapport with the big league pitching staff. He receives well thanks to his soft hands and has excellent footwork. Though Severino held his own in the big leagues, his bat has long lagged behind his glove. He is best offensively when his swing is short and compact and he works the middle of the field. But he has hit just .251 in four years of full-season ball and has below-average power. Ramos' season-ending injury as he headed for free agency left the Nationals in an uncertain position behind the plate. They traded for Derek Norris in early December, and Severino could work with the veteran behind the plate as a superior defensive option.
Voth's stuff doesn't match up with other top pitchers in the Nationals system, but he has become the organization's strikeout king. He led the system in strikeouts for three straight seasons, 2014-16, amassing 414 whiffs in that time. He spent all of 2016 with Triple-A Syracuse and joined the 40-man roster in November after finishing the season in the Arizona Fall League, where he closed the year on a 16-inning scoreless streak. Voth pounds the zone with all three of his pitches. His fastball sits around 90 mph and can reach the mid-90s. He has a good feel for his changeup, which has late sinking action. The consistency of his breaking ball has improved, giving him a solid third pitch. Though his stuff isn't electric, Voth has a good understanding of his craft and mixes his pitches well. That in addition to his above-average control helps him accumulate strikeouts. Built like an innings-eater, he often gets better the deeper he works into games and has thrown more than 150 innings in back-to-back years. The Nationals have a deep pitching staff, but now that Voth is on the 40-man roster, he is in line to make his major league debut in 2017. He lacks a plus pitch and has a small margin for error, but his control and above-average changeup give him a ceiling as a possible No. 4 starter.
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.
Originally on track to finish high school in 2014, Ward sped up his graduation timetable and entered the 2013 draft. Since reclassifying, he has been young at every level and held his own, reaching Double-A Harrisburg in 2016 as a 21-year-old and finishing with a strong showing in the Arizona Fall League. As an amateur Ward was known mostly for his power. While it took him a while to start tapping into it in the minor leagues, he began to find his power stroke in 2016 and hit a career-high 14 home runs. With his power comes a fair amount of swing-and-miss, and he has struck out in 25 percent of his plate appearances as a professional. Ward balances that with an ability to work his way into hitter's counts and has enough feel for the barrel to eventually cut his strikeout rate to a more palatable level. He has made strides defensively at third base, increasing his chances of staying at the hot corner in the long run. His below-average speed limits his range, but he has the arm strength and hands for the position. Ward will return to Harrisburg to begin 2017, looking to build on his AFL performance.
The Nationals originally signed Cole for $2 million as a fourth-round pick in 2010 before trading him to the Athletics for Gio Gonzalez in November 2011. After a disappointing 2012 season, Washington reacquired Cole in March 2013, and he made his big league debut two years later. He returned to the majors in 2016, starting eight games with middling results. He showed swing-and-miss stuff in the majors with 39 strikeouts in 38.1 innings, but also showed he can get hit hard when he doesn't locate precisely, with 16 of his 37 hits allowed going for extra bases, including seven home runs. Cole's fastball sits in the low 90s, and he commands it effectively to both sides of the plate. He has good feel for his changeup, which is his best secondary pitch. He throws both a slider and a curveball, with the slider being the better of the two fringy-to-average breaking balls. Cole repeats his simple, clean delivery well, and he has average control. The Nationals' crowded rotation has proven difficult for Cole to break into, so he will likely start 2017 back in Triple-A Syracuse's rotation as he awaits another chance in the big leagues.
Franco was one of the youngest players in the 2013 international class, and he was still 17 when he made his U.S. debut in 2015 in the Gulf Coast League. He earned a late-summer promotion to short-season Auburn, but was unable to capitalize on that momentum in 2016 as a back injury sidelined him until late July. When healthy, Franco generates good bat speed and raw power, which he should get to more consistently as he matures physically and improves his pitch recognition. In particular, he needs to learn to lay off breaking balls away, but he has shown a willingness to work a walk and has a decent offensive approach for a young player. Franco profiles well at third base. He has plus arm strength, and his range and athleticism make him a good defender at the hot corner who will be able to stay at the position. He has four tools that have a chance to be above-average, with the exception being his speed. Franco's upside is considerable, but he first needs to prove his injuries are behind him. After a lost year, he likely will head back to Auburn in 2017.
Luzardo started his senior season of high school strong and appeared to be pitching himself into the first round. His momentum was halted, however, when he got injured four starts into the season and required Tommy John surgery in March. The Nationals, who have not shied away from drafting prominent pitchers with health concerns, made the Miami commit the 94th overall pick and signed him for $1.4 million, happy to add another premium arm to their system. Luzardo first stood out as an underclassman for his pitchability and offspeed stuff. But in 2016, before his injury, he showed improved velocity, running his fastball up to 97 mph. He more typically threw the pitch in the low 90s with good sinking action. He has a good feel for his changeup, which projects as a plus pitch, and shows multiple looks with his breaking ball. He commands his whole arsenal well, and has an advanced understanding of his craft. The Nationals have had success helping young pitchers through Tommy John rehab, including Lucas Giolito, Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann. Luzardo will look to follow in their footsteps and should be ready to make his pro debut when the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League opens in 2017.
Signed for $30,000 in 2013 as a shortstop, Gutierrez has since outgrown the position but impressed evaluators as he's moved to third base and improved offensively. He advanced to full-season ball for the first time in 2016, spending most of the year with low Class A Hagerstown before being promoted to high Class A Potomac for a playoff push. Gutierrez has a short, balanced swing and makes consistent contact, resulting in a .288 batting average so far in his young career. His power mostly manifests itself as doubles pop, but as he physically matures he should start driving the ball over the fence more often and could develop average power. He also became a threat on the bases for the first time in 2016, swiping 25 bags in 34 tries as an average runner. Gutierrez has adjusted well defensively to the hot corner. He has plus arm strength and has the hands and range to make highlight-reel plays. He is prone to making errors, but as he matures and continues to learn his new position, he can be an above-average defender. Gutierrez earns praise for his makeup and baseball IQ and is set to return to Potomac in 2017.
Neuse was a two-way player at Oklahoma and scouting directors twice voted him a Preseason All-American. While his big arm worked out of the bullpen, he impressed at the plate in 2016 and led the Big 12 Conference in slugging percentage (.646). The Nationals drafted him in the second round (No. 58 overall) as a third baseman, signed him for a $900,000 bonus and sent him to short-season Auburn for his professional debut. Neuse has a short, compact swing and uses the whole field to hit. He has average power potential, but at times sells out his approach to drive the ball. Neuse was a shortstop in college, but is a fringy runner and has range better suited for third base. His plus strength and hands give him a chance to become an average defender at his new position. Third base is a deep position in the Nationals' system, enabling them to start Neuse out slowly. He will likely begin his first full professional season with low Class A Hagerstown in 2017.
After an impressive showing in the summer of 2013, including leading USA Baseball's 18U national team in hitting at the World Cup in Taiwan, Reetz became the first high school player from Nebraska to be drafted in the top five rounds since 1996 when the Nats took him 93rd overall is 2014. He was slowed by injuries during his first full professional season, but advanced to full-season ball in 2016. He got off to a slow start with low Class A Hagerstown, but improved as the season went on. Reetz is still raw, but has a dynamic set of tools. He worked to adjust his setup offensively to allow him to more consistently barrel balls. He is best when he hits line drives from gap to gap, and has the potential to develop average power in time. Defensively, Reetz has the athleticism and hands to become a solid receiver. He has above-average arm strength and threw out 33 percent of base-stealers in 2016. Having acclimated to full-season ball, Reetz will look to improve on his performance as he advances to high Class A Potomac in 2017.
After an impressive professional debut in 2012, Goodwin struggled to find traction over the next three seasons in the upper minors. He began to get back on track with a strong showing in winter ball in Venezuela after the 2015 season and carried that performance into 2016. He earned a spot in the Triple-A All-Star Game and made his major league debut in August. Goodwin never lost the tools and athleticism that made him the 34th overall pick in 2011, and was able to harness them more consistently in 2016. He worked to simplify his swing and improved his approach at the plate. Those adjustments allowed his fast hands and bat speed to play, and he did a better job of driving the ball. An above-average runner, his speed and instincts make him a solid defender in center field. He has solid-average arm strength and appeared at all three outfield positions during his time in the big leagues. Goodwin's tools give him a chance to be an everyday player, but he is more likely to find a role as a fourth outfielder. He could earn a spot on the Nationals' bench in 2017, or return to Triple-A Syracuse to start the season.
The Nationals doubled up on toolsy, athletic outfielders in the second round of the 2015 draft, selecting Perkins 11 picks after Andrew Stevenson. Perkins spent most of his first full professional campaign with short-season Auburn before moving up to low Class A Hagerstown near the end of the year. Perkins is still raw, but has five-tool potential and a habit of making the game look easy. He was a natural righthanded hitter most of his life, but the Nationals have helped him become a switch-hitter. He is still learning to hit lefthanded, but the early returns have been promising. He has more of a line-drive approach now, but should grow into more power as he physical matures. Perkins is a plus runner and takes good routes in the outfield, helping him cover center field with ease. He has played all three outfield positions as a pro, and with his athleticism and speed, he should be able to stick in center. He earns praise for his makeup and aptitude and will return to Hagerstown to open 2017.
Abreu has advanced steadily in the minor leagues since the Nationals signed him out of the Dominican Republic in 2012. After a tough first half in 2016 with high Class A Potomac, he improved in the second half and finished the year with a solid showing in the Arizona Fall League. Much of Abreu's improvement at the plate was as a result of a more consistent approach. He isn't a power hitter, but produces good bat speed and has some pop when turns on the ball. He is patient at the plate has drawn a good amount of walks at every level, boosting his on-base percentage to above-average levels even when his batting average is low. He's an above-average runner and a threat to steal. Earlier in his career, Abreu split his time between second base and shortstop, but he played shortstop exclusively with Potomac. His athleticism, hands and arm strength give him a chance to become a solid defender at the position. Abreu will try to build on his late-season momentum as he advances to Double-A Harrisburg in 2017.
Read finished the 2015 season strong, earning a late-summer promotion to high Class A Potomac. He built on that performance the following year in his return to the Carolina League, and again played well down the stretch and in the playoffs. He impressed the Nationals enough to be added to the 40-man roster in November. Read has a solid approach at the plate, showing a good understanding of the strike zone and a knack for hitting. The righthanded hitter has solid raw power thanks to his strength, particularly to his pull side. Read has improved behind the plate, and was voted best defensive catcher in the Carolina League in 2016. He has above-average arm strength, but will need further refinement defensively to become an everyday catcher in the big leagues. He will reach the upper minors for the first time in 2017 as he advances to Double-A Harrisburg.
Lora has steadily advanced in the minor leagues since signing with the Nationals in 2012. He reached full-season ball in 2016 as a 20-year old, where he continued to show quick-twitch actions on both side of the ball. He produces above-average bat speed that gives him surprising power, particularly when he can turn on the ball. That mostly results in doubles now, but as he gets stronger, he could develop average power. He has some feel for the barrel, but needs to improve his approach at the plate. South Atlantic League pitchers took advantage of this shortcoming, giving Lora 113 strikeouts in 118 games. He is a plus runner and is improving on the basepaths. Thanks to his speed and athleticism, Lora has good range at shortstop. He has a strong arm and soft hands, but like the rest of his game, needs to develop more consistency in the field after committing 29 errors last season. He will continue to work on the rough edges of his game in 2017 as he advances to high Class A Potomac.
A part of the Nationals' bonus-pool busting 2016 international signing class, Sanchez was the ninth-ranked player on the market. Washington signed him to a deal for a $950,000 bonus on his 16th birthday. Sanchez stands out most for his ability to stay at shortstop and advanced feel for the game. His hands and footwork were among the best in the international class and he has good infield actions. He is an average runner with the athleticism and arm strength necessary for shortstop. At the plate, Sanchez has a short swing and a good feel for the barrel. His approach is more geared to contact and hitting line drives, but he is expected to add power as he physically matures. Importantly, Sanchez separated himself as someone who performed at the plate in games rather than just in batting practice and workouts. He sprays the ball to all fields and is able to drive pitches on the outer third of the plate the other way, a rare skill for someone so young. Sanchez will need to get stronger as he develops, but his all-around skill set sets him up for success. He will make his professional debut in the Dominican Summer League in 2017.
Attracted by his bat, scouts have followed Antuna since he was 13, and he ranked No. 14 in the 2016 international signing class. He signed with the Nationals for a $3.85 million bonus, a franchise-record for an international signee. Antuna has a calm approach at the plate and solid bat-to-ball skills. His swing is more geared for line drives, but he could develop average power in time. He started switch-hitting as a 16-year-old and is more advanced from his natural left side. Antuna showed good athleticism and above-average run times early in the scouting process, but he has grown more physical and may end up moving off shortsop position as a result. His arm strength is good enough for third base if he does have to move, but the Nationals will give him a chance to develop at short. One concern is Antuna rarely dominated in games in a way scouts would have liked to see, but the overall components for success are present. He will start his professional career in 2017 in the Dominican Summer League.
Born in New Jersey, Marmolejos moved between the U.S. and the Dominican Republic a few times while growing up, eventually finishing high school in Florida. After going undrafted in 2010, he returned to the Dominican Republic and signed as an international free agent a year later for $55,000. Marmolejos broke out over the last two years, and the Nationals named him their Minor League Player of the Year in both 2015 and '16. After he reached Double-A Harrisburg in the second half of 2016, Washington added him to the 40-man roster in November. Marmolejos has a simple, repeatable swing and has a patient, disciplined approach at the plate. His swing is geared to produce line drives and, as a result, his power mostly results in doubles into the gaps. While Marmolejos has occasionally played left field as a professional, he is best suited to first base, where he is a capable defender. His hitability as a lefthander makes him a solid candidate to carve out a role as a platoon player or pinch hitter. For now, however, he'll return to Harrisburg in 2017 to continue to play every day.
The Nationals drafted Watson in the 34th round in 2015 and signed him away from a Loyola Marymount commitment for $400,000, fifth-round money. He excelled as a 19-year-old with short-season Auburn the next year, and finished the season with low Class A Hagerstown. Watson is advanced for his age and takes advantage of his large 6-foot-5 frame to throw from a steep downhill angle. His fastball sits in the upper 80s and he locates the pitch well. He still has some projectability, and his fastball could eventually sit in the low 90s. His curveball has the potential to be an above-average offering and his he has good feel for his changeup. Watson throws all three of his pitches for strikes and earns praise for his poise and confidence on the mound. Watson has the tools and pitchability to develop as a starter, but his ceiling will depend on how much he physically matures and adds strength to his frame. He will return to Hagerstown to begin 2017.
Born in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Agustin moved to the Dominican Republic prior to signing with the Nationals for $50,000 in October 2013. After an impressive showing in 2015 in the Gulf Coast League and with short-season Auburn, he advanced to full-season ball in 2016. He was limited to 76 games by injuries, including an ankle injury that sidelined him for six weeks in the first half, but he held his own as a 19-year-old with low Class A Hagerstown. Agustin is an athletic, toolsy outfielder. He has well above-average speed and has built his game around it. He has good feel for the barrel and his approach at the plate is geared toward hitting the ball on the ground to take advantage of his speed. His pitch recognition skills are still developing, however, and he will need to cut down on his swing-and-miss after striking out in 27 percent of his plate appearances. His approach does not lend itself to power. His speed plays well in the outfield, and he has made strides as a defender. He has primarily played left field, but if he continues to improve his reads and routes, his tools would play well in center. Agustin will likely return to Hagerstown to start 2017 as he makes up for lost time.
The Nationals signed Baez for $7,500 in 2014 and he broke out a year later in his first full season in the U.S. when his fastball velocity spiked and he touched 100 mph. He spent the 2016 season with low Class A Hagerstown, where he again impressed with his arm strength. Baez's fastball sits in the mid 90s and regularly reaches the upper 90s. He pairs that with a curveball that is an above-average offering and a developing changeup. Like many young power pitchers, Baez's control will need improvement. He is still working to consistently repeat his delivery, as well as learning to refine his approach to become more of a pitcher and less of a thrower. Baez remains raw, but offers plenty of upside. He will advance to high Class A Potomac in 2017 as he continues to work to harness his considerable arm strength.
Skole made waves in his first full professional season in in 2012 when he hit 27 home runs. His ensuing campaign was brought to an abrupt halt by a collision in the second game of the season that forced him to have Tommy John surgery and a procedure to repair a microfracture in his wrist. Skole struggled in 2014 in his return to the field, but rebounded to lead all Nationals' minor leaguers in home runs in each of the last two seasons. Skole's best tool is his above-average power and he knows how to work a walk. There is still a lot of swing-and-miss in his game, but he has worked to consistently repeat his swing and has decreased his strikeout rate every year he's been healthy in the minors. Skole began his professional career as a third baseman, but has primarily played first base since his injuries. He is capable of playing either corner, and is an above-average defender at first. Skole was added to the 40-man roster in November, and his lefthanded power and defensive versatility give him a chance to carve out a role on a big league bench. He could fill that spot in Washington as soon as 2017.
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