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Track Record: A 2016 first-round selection out of Walton High in Marietta, Ga., Kieboom made the most of his first healthy full season in pro ball in 2018, advancing to Double-A Harrisburg at age 20, more than four years younger than the average Eastern League hitter. Scouting Report: The Nationals wanted to see the normally selective Kieboom get more aggressive on fastballs in the strike zone in 2018, and they were happy with the results when he started to figure that out. After hitting .198/.308/.347 during the first month of the season with a 14 percent walk rate, Kieboom went on to hit .301/.370/.469 during his final 99 games, with a 9.5 percent walk rate. Kieboom has excellent balance at the plate and the ability to hit to all fields. He also started to tap into his plus raw power with a career-high 16 home runs. Kieboom improved his consistency at shortstop and showed a strong internal clock, reliably soft hands and a solid first step to go with above-average arm strength. The Future: While Kieboom has shown he could handle shortstop, he will get reps at second base to increase his versatility and provide a more clear path to the big leagues--with Trea Turner and Anthony Rendon entrenched on the left side of the infield--where he could provide an impact bat in the middle of the order.
Track Record: The No. 3 prospect available in the 2016 international signing class, Garcia signed for $1.3 million and quickly showed that his skills could translate to pro ball with a strong debut season in the Gulf Coast League in 2017. He hit .298 in his full-season debut and even climbed to high Class A Potomac, where he was the only 18-year-old in the Carolina League. Scouting Report: Garcia stands out for his excellent feel to hit, with impressive hand-eye coordination, a consistent lefthanded stroke and a strong understanding of what he's trying to do at the plate. Nationals coaches raved about his baseball IQ, and while they didn't directly compare him with Juan Soto, they did point out that he makes adjustments within at-bats in a similar manner. While Garcia doesn't have huge raw power, he homered seven times and scouts noticed increased physicality in 2018, giving him a chance for above-average power in the future. Garcia's run grades seemed to be universally lower than a year ago, when he was a plus-plus runner--now he's closer to above-average. Defensively, Garcia has the instincts and arm for shortstop, but he might profile better at second base as he continues to fill out. The Future: Garcia should start the 2019 season with Potomac after just 40 games this season but could push his way to Double-A Harrisburg if he continues to hit.
Rutledge entered the season as the second-ranked junior college prospect in the class after fellow righthander Carter Stewart because of his high school pedigree, tantalizing raw stuff and imposing, 6-foot-8, 260-pound frame. Out of high school, Rutledge had a solid, 90-93 mph fastball with impressive sinking life, but he needed to improve both his secondaires and overall control. Rutledge threw just 15.2 innings as a freshman at Arkansas before going down with a season-ending hip injury. Following the season, he decided to transfer to San Jacinto (Texas) JC and expected to enter the 2020 draft as a Kentucky commit. Those plans changed, however, when Rutledge came out this spring showing some of the best pure stuff of any pitcher in the country with improved control. Rutledge has regularly been into the upper 90s with his fastball, and he has held that velocity into the sixth and seventh innings of his starts throughout the season. In addition, he’s shown a pair of plus breaking balls in both a slider and curveball. Previously, Rutledge threw a hybrid breaking ball that was more slurve-like, but after interning with Pro Pitching Performance last summer (while he rehabbed from injury) Rutledge worked to differentiate those pitches with Rapsodo feedback and now has two distinct, swing-and-miss breaking pitches. He also has a changeup that could be a fourth above-average offering. While he isn’t facing the strongest competition, Rutledge struck out 123 batters through his first 12 starts and 77.2 innings (14.25 strikeouts per nine) this spring, with just 28 walks (3.25 walks per nine). Since his time in high school, Rutledge has significantly shortened his arm action. It’s now a incredibly tight and compact delivery, to the point that some scouts wonder how he’s able to generate and maintain his velocity. The upgrade in arm action has allowed him to improve his control, but scouts think he’ll need to continue refining his command when he faces stiffer competition at the pro level. Regardless, his pure stuff and the deception he creates with his delivery should give him plenty of room for error as he climbs the ladder. Rutledge has the upside of a No. 2 starter, but he carries some reliever risk due to his size and history of control problems.
Track Record: A converted catcher, Denaburg established himself as one of the hardest-throwing pitchers in a deep 2018 prep pitching class and did enough over the summer and during his spring season to get selected at No. 27--even though he missed time with biceps tendinitis. He did not pitch after signing for $3 million. Scouting Report: An athletic righthander with an ideal starter's frame, Denaburg touched 97 mph at times as an amateur, though he usually settles into the low 90s. At the lower velocities he commands the pitch substantially better. However, as Denaburg continues to refine his understanding of pitching, he has the mechanics, arm action and athleticism that should allow him to develop at least above-average control. In addition to a plus fastball, Denaburg has a curveball in the upper-70s that will need more consistency but has the power and depth to become a second plus offering. Denaburg rarely threw a low-80s changeup as an amateur, but he showed good feel for the pitch at instructional league. The Future: Denaburg has middle-of-the-rotation upside and should have more than enough body control to make the small adjustments that will be necessary to handle his first full season in 2019.
Track Record: Crowe had a strong 2017 debut for the Nationals after signing for $946,500 in the second round, posting a 2.96 ERA over two leagues. In his first full pro season in 2018, Crowe posted a 2.69 ERA in the Carolina League before earning a promotion to Double-A Harrisburg where he struggled in five starts. Scouting Report: Crowe has no plus pitch in his repertoire, and the 6-foot-2 righthander relies on excellent feel for a solid four-pitch mix to succeed. Scouts and Nationals coaches both rave about Crowe's ability to mix his entire repertoire in any count, which includes a willingness and ability to work inside against hitters. His fastball sits in the 91-92 mph range with solid sinking action. He has a curveball and slider that are both average offerings and a changeup that has become his go-to out pitch. Crowe doesn't throw as hard as he did in college, when he had more rest between starts. He also had Tommy John surgery as a sophomore. Still, the emergence of his changeup and his overall strike-throwing ability has allowed him to become of Washington's most consistent pitching prospects. The Future: After wearing down a bit at the end of 2018 under the stress of a career high 116 innings, Crowe will likely start 2019 back in Double-A.
Track Record: Cate established himself as one of the better lefthanded college pitchers in the 2018 draft class after two strong seasons as a starter with Connecticut. He was in the middle of a third before he was sidelined with an elbow injury. Despite Cate's short stature and injury concerns--he had Tommy John surgery in high school--the Nationals liked him and his curveball enough to sign him for $986,200 in the second round. Scouting Report: Scouts don't talk about Cate without raving about his 77-83 mph hammer curveball. One of the best breaking pitches in the 2018 class, it's at least a plus offering and many scouts go as far as throwing a 70 grade on it. Cate lands his curve regularly and uses it as a swing-and-miss offering both inside and outside the strike zone. His fastball is more solid-average, in the 90-92 mph range, but he has touched the mid-90s in the past and the Nationals hope he will be able to get there more regularly in the future with improved body strength. Cate will need to improve the life on his fastball, which gets flat at times, as well as develop his changeup, which is a distant third pitch. He also needs to improve his command, but with a compact delivery and clean, high three-quarter slot, projects to be average in that area. The Future: Cate has a middle-of-the-rotation ceiling, but could also be useful as a breaking ball-heavy reliever if his size and injury history limit his workload.
In 2016, Mendoza was a quick-rising draft prospect with a big frame who showed a knack for hitting and future power projection. Scouts hit that evaluation on the head, and over three years with Florida State, Mendoza has filled out his frame and is now listed at 6-foot-5, 225 pounds. That strength has produced double-digits home runs in two of his three years in the ACC, including this spring, when he’s hit a career-high 13 home runs through 46 games. Mendoza has above-average raw power, but it’s strength over bat speed and scouts question how much he’ll be able to reach his power against professional pitching. He has a solid eye at the plate and doesn’t chase out of the zone often, but he swings and misses enough at pitches in the zone for scouts to question his overall hitting ability. His wood bat track record in the Cape Cod League, where he’s hit .199/.291/.278 with a 32 percent strikeout rate in 57 games, is also discouraging. Mendoza actually moves well for his size at third base, but he’s played below-average defense this spring. His throwing accuracy has been a bit scattered, leading some evaluators to think he would be a better fit for first base, where there would be even more pressure on his bat. There’s no denying Mendoza has produced each season with the Seminoles, and his power has ticked up since his freshman season. But with a strikeout rate that’s never been lower than 20 percent and questions about his approach against higher-level pitching, there is some risk projecting his bat moving forward, despite his obvious size and strength.
Track Record: The Most Valuable Pitcher in the 2015 NJCAA World Series, Braymer led Louisiana State-Eunice JC to a national championship and then went to Auburn for his junior season, where he was a solid bullpen presence in the SEC. The Nationals signed him for $100,000 and he had a few solid seasons before breaking out in 2018. scouting rpeort: Washington's co-pitcher of the year, Braymer spent a month in the South Atlantic League as a reliever before moving up to high Class A Potomac where he eventually transitioned into a starting role, with success in both.Scouting Report: Braymer works in the 90-93 mph range with his fastball, but gets up to 95 at times and complements the pitch with a plus slider. He's got a solid changeup that he uses to neutralize righthanded hitters, but he is still more effective versus lefthanders, who hit just .174/.273/.231 against him. Braymer was old for both the leagues he pitched in and should be challenged in Double-A in 2019. The Future: While the Nationals will continue to start Braymer next season, he could fill a hybrid role or serve as a multi-inning reliever in the future with impressive control, poise and a solid three-pitch mix.
Track Record: The No. 14 international prospect in the 2016 class, Antuna signed for a Nationals international record of $3.85 million and had a strong debut in the Gulf Coast League in 2017 before taking a step back at the plate and having Tommy John surgery in 2018. Scouting Report: Antuna signed for nearly $4 million thanks to his offensive potential as a switch-hitter with above-average raw power. In 2018 he struggled mightily with the bat because he lacked a consistent plate approach. He also looked better from the right side than the left. Antuna's power hasn't yet shown up in games, but scouts see raw strength in batting practice. His large frame and terrific work ethic in the gym could produce a more powerful hitter in the future. Defensively, Antuna has smooth actions and strong hands at shortstop, but he had issues with throwing accuracy and sat back on balls too frequently. When healthy, Antuna had plus arm strength, but that will have to be re-evaluated when he returns in mid-2019. The Future: Antuna still has upside thanks to his physical tools, but he has plenty of work to do when it comes to refining his game--both offensively and defensively. He must develop a consistent offensive approach and get the reps necessary to improve his confidence.
Track Record: A talented defensive catcher dating back to his college days at Texas--where he also played third and second at times--Barrera signed for $210,000 in the sixth round of the 2016 draft. Since then he's progressed a level each year and continued to impress scouts and teammates with his work behind the plate. Scouting Report: A bilingual backstop, Barrera handles the pitching staff well and is athletic behind the plate, with quick actions that allow him to get down and block effectively and soft, quiet hands that allow him to present the ball well to both sides of the plate. His rapid transition and footwork on throws to second base allowed him to throw out 49 percent of baserunners in the Carolina League, and coaches also praised his improved game-calling. Barrera doesn't project to be more than a fringe-average hitter at best, but he does have solid bat speed and raw pull power. He'll need to cut down on his strikeouts and adjust his approach to tap into that potential with any consistency. The Future: Barrera could project as a regular if he takes a step forward offensively, but if that doesn't happen he could still become a valuable catch-and-throw backup for a major league team.
Track Record: Romero's pro career has stalled multiple times since the Nationals made him their first-round pick in 2017. He was sent home from spring training in 2018 for violating team rules and later in the year had Tommy John surgery that will sideline him for all of 2019. In college at Houston, he served multiple suspensions and eventually was kicked off the team. Scouting Report: Despite a long history of makeup concerns and new question marks about his health, Romero draws raves from scouts for the quality of his stuff on the rare occasions when he has been on the field. He has three plus pitches in his repertoire between a fastball that sits in the mid-90s with good life, a slider with sharp bite and a changeup that has good separation and diving action. The raw stuff has never been the question with Romero. who should have no issues racking up strikeouts, but his delivery will never be described as clean--with plenty of moving parts--and he will continue to face questions about his character until he proves his maturity. Nationals evaluators don't see him as a bad kid, but a player who is still learning how to become a professional. The Future: The start to Romero's pro career has been about as bad as anyone could have anticipated, and he will now have to wait until 2020 to prove that he can return healthy and fully take advantage of his obvious talent.
Track Record: The Nationals signed Sharp out of Drury (Mo.) University despite a 5.90 ERA at the Division II school in 2016, but the lanky, athletic righthander has come into his own in three years in the Nationals system. A gifted athlete, Sharp was recruited to play basketball in college but that athleticism has transferred well to the mound. Scouting Report: Sharp doesn't overpower batters with velocity, but uses a sinking fastball in the 90-92 mph range with terrific boring action that he routinely locates in the bottom half of the strike zone. He complements his sinker with a changeup that has diving action as well, with a tick of armside run. The two pitches allowed him to record one of the highest groundball rates in the Nationals' system, with a 61.8 percent groundball rate in high Class A Potomac and a 55.8 percent groundball rate in Double A Harrisburg. Sharp also has a developing slider that could become a third average pitch, but he needs to improve his control of the offering and learn to trust it as much as his fastball and changeup. Sharp's stuff plays up thanks to plus deception, as he hides the ball well behind a lean body, which could be improved with added strength. The Future: Sharp reached Double-A Harrisburg in 2018 and will likely return to the Eastern League to begin 2019. He has the overall package to be a back-of-the-rotation starter.
Track Record: A hard-throwing righthander who missed his first season at Vanderbilt after undergoing Tommy John surgery, Schaller struck out 39 batters in 28.2 relief innings for the Commodores this spring before Washington signed him for $551,100 as a draft-eligible freshman. Scouting Report: The Nationals used Schaller in a starting role in Rookie ball and low Class A, but most scouts expect to see Schaller provide major league value in the bullpen thanks to a high-effort delivery. While Washington has not cemented a role for him moving forward, the organization does prefer to give their priority arms more innings as starters and that could be the case here. Schaller has a fastball that sits in the 94-97 mph range in the bullpen and touches as high as 99-100 mph. For secondary offerings, the 6-foot-3 righty has a power slider in the mid-80s with sharp, downward action that could become a put-away pitch, as well as a changeup that needs more work. The Future: The Nationals will try and stretch Schaller out more with a full season in 2019 and continue to build his workload as he gets further away from his Tommy John surgery, but without the development of a consistent third pitch, the bullpen will remain his most likely future destination.
Track Record: The Nationals signed Pineda as part of their big 2016 international class, inking him to a $450,000 deal as an offensive-minded catching prospect whose defense still needed some work. After more than holding his own during his debut pro season in the Gulf Coast League in 2017, Pineda was promoted to the New York-Penn League in 2018 where--at almost three years younger than the average hitter--he hit .273/.341/.388 with four home runs and made the NYPL all-star team. Scouting Report: Washington officials were impressed with Pineda's bat-to-ball skills and believe that he'll continue to add strength and physicality to his stocky frame to hit for more power in the future. Praised for his ability to use the entire field, Pineda has pulled more than half of his batted balls in each of the last two seasons, but might use the right-center gap as he's challenged more at the plate in the future. Defensively, Pineda has above-average arm strength and has thrown out an impressive 42 percent of baserunners in his 370 minor league innings behind the plate. The Future: A broken bone in his left hand ended Pineda's season in August, but he could shoot up this list in the future given health and further refinement in his game.
Track Record: A seventh-round draft pick in 2017 who signed for $300,000, Tetreault impressed in his pro debut last season, posting a 2.68 ERA in 40.1 innings--most of which came in the low Class A New York-Penn League. Tetreault made his way to high Class A Potomac in 2018 and improved his strikethrowing ability, lowering his walk rate from 3.8 batters per nine innings to 2.8. Scouting Report: Washington officials were impressed with the adjustments that Tetreault made this season, citing improved pitch-usage, though there is still more work to be done on his command and filling out a skinny, projectable frame. Tetreault has a fast, whippy arm, a clean delivery and throws a fastball that's in the low to mid-90s. This season he threw his changeup more frequently, enough to become Tetreault's second-best offering, ahead of a curveball that he throws with solid spin, but doesn't land for strikes as consistently as he needs to. The Future: Tetreault started all of his 24 games this season, but previously had collegiate success as a reliever. There's a path to a starting role in the future, but it still involves plenty of projecting on his stuff.
Every year, the draft seems to have several successful college relievers who have the pure stuff to move from Division I to the major leagues in short order. But most often, those relievers don’t move nearly as quickly as everyone expects. 2015 draft prospects Riley Ferrell, Drew Smith and Brandon Koch were all college relievers who fit this bill, yet none of them have become established major league relievers. 2016 draftees Seth Elledge and Lincoln Henzman still have several steps to go as well. But even with those caveats, Cronin is the kind of power lefthander with a fast arm who could move faster than most if it all clicks. He has a reliever’s delivery with some head movement and recoil at the end that sees him finish into a relatively stiff front side. That helps explain why he’s always struggled with below-average control, and as of early May he was walking 5.3 batters per nine innings. Cronin has an extreme trunk tilt that helps him throw from a true over-the-top release point. It also helps him get 12-to-6 movement on his curveball, which rates as a 60 on the 20-to-80 scale. His curveball has been much better this year than last, which has led to him being more effective. His 93-96 mph fastball gets swings and misses up in the zone, and he was striking out 13.9 batter per nine innings late in the regular season. The Razorbacks have used Cronin relatively lightly, and he is usually asked to get only three to five outs at a time and rarely pitches on back-to-back days. He has the stuff to fill a setup role in pro ball, although he’ll have to continue to improve his control.
Track Record: Part of the Nationals' huge 2016 international class, Adon has quietly impressed the team in his first two professional seasons. After posting a 3.54 ERA in the Dominican Summer League in 2017, Adon came stateside in 2018 and was pushed to the New York-Penn League at just 19-years-old--more than two years younger than the average pitcher. Scouting Report: Adon has enough heat on his fastball, which is a plus offering currently in the low to mid-90s, with a solid-average slider and an average changeup that round out his repertoire. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound righty had no issues racking up strikeouts, with 40 in 30.2 innings, but has plenty of work to do limiting walks. He's still learning how to consistently repeat his delivery, stay on line and gather himself over the rubber, but Washington executives are confident those things will come with more time. The Future: Adon threw strikes more consistently at instructional league with a few mechanical adjustments. He should start 2019 back in the New York-Penn League.
A first-team Preseason All-American, Dyson was set up to extend Florida’s streak of first-round pitching prospects to four years, following in the footsteps of A.J. Puk and Dane Dunning (2016), Alex Faedo (2017) and Brady Singer and Jackson Kowar (2018). However, Dyson has struggled with both his command and secondary offerings this spring, to the point where he lost his spot in the Gators’ starting rotation. Through his first 10 appearances, Dyson posted a 5.06 ERA with career-low strikeout rate (6.75 batters per nine innings) and a walk rate approaching five batters per nine innings. Dyson does have a plus fastball—in terms of its pure velocity in the low to mid-90s—but the pitch lacks life, and with below-average control the pitch has been more hittable than the radar gun would suggest. Previously, Dyson has shown a plus slider as well, but the pitch has been more average this spring. His changeup has also been below-average, which has allowed hitters to simply sit on his fastball. Dyson was most effective during his freshman season at Florida when he was used as a reliever. Currently working with a two-pitch mix and below-average command, scouts now believe that’s his most likely future role as well. Dyson does have a solid frame at 6-foot-3, 225 pounds, so if a team believes it can figure out how to improve his control via mechanical tweaks or simplifying his delivery—as well as improving his third-pitch changeup—then he may still have some upside as a future starter.
Track Record: Irvin improved every year at Oklahoma, culminating in a 6-2 junior campaign in which he posted a 3.41 ERA with 115 strikeouts to just 28 walks in 95 innings. With an impressive Big 12 track record and a large, 6-foot-6, 225-pound frame, the Nationals signed Irvin for $550,000. Scouting Report: While his build and college track record are both impressive, Irvin's stuff is more ordinary than overwhelming. He has a solid-average fastball that's routinely in the 90-94 mph range, only occasionally touching 95 or 96. His slider is average, a low 80s breaking ball with solid finish that he's able to throw for strikes in most counts, but the pitch gets slurvy at times and he'll need to sharpen it moving forward. Irvin rarely threw a changeup in college, but scouts thought it had a chance to be a solid pitch in the future and the Nationals like his feel for the offering currently. Irvin will likely never rack up a high number of strikeouts, but he's a solid strike thrower, repeats his delivery and hides the ball well on his backside. The Future: A potential quick-mover, Irvin stands out more for his high floor than high upside, and could be a back-of-the-rotation starter or middle reliever.
Track Record: Bourque split time in the bullpen and rotation during his first two years at Michigan before becoming a primary reliever during his junior year and finding more success in the role. He's followed a similar path during his four years with the Nationals. Scouting Report: Washington ran Bourque out as a starter in 2014 and again in 2016 and 2017 after he missed the 2015 season due to Tommy John surgery, but the 6-foot-4 righthander didn't find much success until he moved into the bullpen this summer. Bourque was able to pitch almost exclusively off of a plus fastball and curveball combination, while his control issues were minimized in shorter outings. He posted a career-best 1.70 ERA in 53 innings split between high Class A and Double-A. Bourque's fastball touches as high as 98 and is regularly in the mid-90s, and he complements it with a power curve in the 85-88 mph range. That curve is presently an out-pitch and could wind up being a 70-grade offering. Bourque's lack of a third pitch might not inhibit him as a reliever, but Nationals evaluators liked the progress he made with a changeup during instructional league. The Future: Bourque should begin 2019 in Double-A, where he'll try and refine his command, but he could move quickly to the majors as a potential late-inning reliever.
Track Record: Signed as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2014, Pena struggled early in his pro career, with a 6.50 ERA combined between two stints in the Dominican Summer League in 2014 and 2016, with a Tommy John surgery mixed between. Pena began to get back on track last season in the United States, and had his best year in 2018, reaching Class A Hagerstown. Scouting Report: Though Pena dealt with some arm soreness and was eventually shut down due to an oblique injury, when he was on the mound he impressed with a good tempo and an impressive ability to repeat his delivery despite a large frame that is significantly bigger than his listed height and weight. Pena has a fastball that's typically in the 92-93 mph range and gets up to 95-96 at times, with a curveball and changeup that are both inconsistent but could both become average. He improved the feel for his changeup over the course of the season and coaches were also impressed at times with his breaking ball. The Future: Given Pena's impressive strikethrowing ability and three-pitch mix, there's a chance Pena continues to start, but he doesn't project as more than a back-of-the-rotation arm.
Track Record: Canning had a career-year at the plate for Arizona State during his junior season and hit .369/.426/.648 with nine home runs, 11 triples and 17 doubles. At the same time, he moved from right field to center field and had no issues with the position change, prompting the Nationals to sign his solid all-around package for $308,900 in the fifth round. Scouting Report: A 5-foot-10, 175-pound lefthanded hitter, Canning will likely never have plus raw power, but he has plenty of strength in his compact frame that leads to 55-grade raw power and could become above-average in-game with some adjustments at the plate. An aggressive hitter, Canning had strikeout concerns throughout college and whiffed almost 29 percent of the time in the South Atlantic and New York-Penn leagues. He'll need to cut down his swing in two-strike counts and learn how to make adjustments within at-bats to project as a solid hitter moving forward. A plus runner, Canning will also need to improve his baserunning to better utilize a strong tool, though it's enough to project him as a solid center fielder moving forward with improved route-running and more reps. The Future: Canning has a solid package of tools and a high-energy playing style that is endearing, but refinement will be necessary in all phases of his game.
Track Record: After struggling in his first full season in pro ball in 2017, Agustin began having more success in 2018, including a .302/.368/.454 line with high Class A Potomac. However, injuries have continued to limit his at-bats, and he missed time with a broken finger this season. Scouting Report: Agustin has made impressive strides forward with his strength, which has translated to the field and allowed the lefthanded hitter to leverage the baseball more effectively and start to hit for more power. Prior to his May injury, Agustin hit .386/.411/.659 including four of the six home runs he hit in total in 2018. Previously, Agustin had the speed to potentially play center field, but he's now a solid-average runner who fits best in the corners and spent all of his time in 2018 in left or right field. While Agustin's run tool has backed up, he's improved both his baserunning and outfield instincts--both of which were previously large question marks in his game. The Future: Agustin shows flashes of being a solid fourth outfielder with an intriguing bat, but injuries have prevented him from putting together a full and successful season. He should get his first test in Double-A in 2019.
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