Sign Up! Join our newsletters, get a FREE e-Edition
Giolito's star has only grown brighter as he's gotten further removed from his 2012 Tommy John surgery, and likely will shine brighter than his actress mother, Lindsay Frost, and father Rick, who both have Hollywood credentials. Giolito started the Futures Game in July, throwing two scoreless innings for the U.S. team, and has established himself as one of the top pitching prospects in the minors. Giolito has long shown that kind of promise, dating back to his high school days. He was considered the top prep pitcher in the 2012 draft class until he sprained his ulnar collateral ligament and was shut down early that March. The Nationals took advantage of the slide in his draft stock, selecting him 16th overall and signing him for $2,925,000. He had Tommy John surgery later that summer, and the Nationals have handled him carefully since he returned to the mound in 2013. They limited him to about 100 innings in 2014 by having him skip the occasional start and shutting him down in August. In 2015, they held him back in extended spring training to delay the start to his season and manage his workload. He excelled once he got going, pitching his way to Double-A Harrisburg and finishing the season with 131 strikeouts in 117 innings, both career highs. Armed with three above-average offerings capable of generating swings and misses and an extralarge frame that allows him to throw from a steep downhill angle, Giolito is overpowering at his best. His fastball sits in the mid to upper 90s and has touched 100 mph. The velocity and angle from which he throws earn his fastball top-of-the-scale grades. His 12-to-6 curveball is a powerful offering with sharp bite and grades nearly as well as his fastball. Giolito also has made strides with his changeup, which has good sinking action. He has turned it into a true weapon against lefthanded hitters. He even produced reverse platoon splits in 2015, holding lefthanders to a .587 OPS, compared with .718 for righthanders. Giolito does a good job of repeating his sound delivery, and he can throw all three of his pitches for strikes. Like any young power pitcher, he still has room to further improve his command, particularly with his secondary pitches. He's always done a good job of throwing strikes, though he did find Double-A hitters less willing to chase his stuff out of the zone. He is also working on some of the finer points that will prepare him for the major leagues, such as holding runners, fielding his position and learning to hit. He worked on all those during an impressive instructional league stint. Giolito is an elite talent with the stuff, size and pitching acumen to develop into an ace. Having reached Double-A to finish the 2015 season, he is closing in on the big leagues and has the stuff to pitch there. But the Nationals have shown great patience with their prized pitching prospect and likely will continue to proceed cautiously because Giolito still is just 21 and has made just eight starts above Class A. He is advanced enough to reach Washington as early as the 2016 season but should begin the year back in Double-A. His stuff and feel for the strike zone give him the ceiling of a No. 1 starter.
A two-time All-American at North Carolina State, Turner was the 13th overall pick in the 2014 draft and hit .323 with 23 steals and five home runs in his debut summer. Despite Turner's initial success, the Padres' incoming front office traded him to the Nationals last December as a part of the three-team deal that also imported righthander Joe Ross and sent Steven Souza to the Rays. As a 2014 pick, Turner could not be traded until a year after he signed, and had to officially be included as a player to be named later in the deal. Thus he played the first half of 2015 at the Padres' Double-A San Antonio affiliate before joining the Nationals on June 14. They quickly promoted him to Triple-A Syracuse and called him up in August, 14 months after he began his career. Turner's best tool is his speed, which grades near the top of the scale, but he has also proven himself to be an advanced hitter. He has surprising pop thanks to the bat speed he produces, and he could consistently hit double-digit home runs. He profiles best as a top-of-the-order hitter who does a good job of hitting balls into the gaps and getting on base to take advantage of his speed. His speed has long made him a threat on the bases--he owns both North Carolina State's single-season and all-time stolen base records--and he does a good job of picking his spots to run. Turner is still polishing his defensive game, but he has the quickness and arm strength to be a solid shortstop. Though he also saw some time at second base for Washington, he projects to be an everyday shortstop. With Ian Desmond heading for free agency, Turner could be on deck for 2016.
Robles made his U.S. debut in 2015 and was the breakout prospect of the year for the Nationals. He signed with Washington for $225,000 in 2013 and impressed the organization in the Dominican Summer League in 2014. He wowed the Nationals' staff again during extended spring training in 2015, and that performance carried over to the regular season in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League and then at short-season Auburn, where the 18-year-old was the youngest regular in the New York-Penn League. Robles is an excellent athlete with true five-tool potential. He is advanced for his age, displaying a good feel for hitting and quick hands that allow him to produce impressive bat speed. Presently, his power mostly results in hard line drives to the gaps, but as he physically matures, those balls should start going over the fence. He has well above-average speed that he makes good use of both on the basepaths and in the outfield. He tracks down balls well in center field and has plus arm strength. Robles earns praise for his energy, high baseball IQ and eagerness to learn, all of which have helped him quickly adjust to the professional game. He is still understandably raw in some parts of his game, but he has the look of a fast mover. He'll get his first taste of full-season ball at low Class A Hagerstown in 2016.
A 24th-round pick by the Padres coming out of Las Vegas High, Fedde stayed close to home and attended Nevada-Las Vegas. He had a strong showing with USA Baseball's Collegiate National Team following his sophomore year and carried that over into the spring 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. The Nationals snagged him with the 18th overall pick and signed him for $2,511,100, happy to be able to grab a player with his upside at that draft spot. Fedde made his pro debut a little more than a year after the draft. After eight starts at short-season Auburn, he earned a promotion to low Class A Hagerstown. Fedde still was getting back to full strength this season, but he showed glimpses of the kind of stuff that made him a first-round pick. His fastball has gotten up to 97 mph in the past, but he more typically pitches in the low 90s. His fastball plays up because it has excellent sinking action, and he locates it well. His low-80s slider is still a bit inconsistent--it gets slurvy at times--but should sharpen and give him a second plus pitch when he returns to full strength. He also shows flashes of a solid changeup. He is an excellent athlete, helping him to both repeat his delivery and field his position well. The Nationals have had success helping young pitchers through Tommy John rehab, including Lucas Giolito, Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann. Fedde got off to a good start in his recovery and he'll likely pick that process back up in Class A next season.
Lopez was an unheralded 18-year-old with a high-80s fastball when the Nationals signed him for $17,000 in 2012. His velocity quickly began to increase, but his progress was slowed when a sore arm that was diagnosed as bone weakness kept him out nearly all of 2013. He's gotten stronger and made significant improvements since then, leading to a breakout in 2014 with a dominating performance in the low minors. The Nationals tightened the reins on Lopez in 2015, holding him back in extended spring training with Lucas Giolito to delay the start of his season and limit his workload. The pair joined high Class A Potomac together in May, and while Giolito hit the ground running, Lopez was less consistent. Lopez has come a long way already as a professional, and his fastball now comfortably sits in the mid-90s and touches triple digits. His improved strength also has helped his curveball, which is a powerful 11-to-5 offering capable of producing whiffs. His changeup gives him a solid third offering but remains a work in progress. Inconsistencies with his delivery hampered his command this season, leaving him more hittable than he should be with his stuff, and he'll need to throw more quality strikes to remain a starter in the future. Lopez still has a lot of room for improvement even as he advances to the upper levels of the minors for the first time in 2016. But he has the power repertoire to take off if he figures out some of the finer aspects of his craft.
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 at low Class A Hagerstown. He built on that progress in 2015, earning a surprise callup to the big leagues in May but broke his left hand in October, ending both his season and plans to attend the Arizona Fall League. He played sparingly in a few stints with the Nationals, starting only one game, but showed how far he has come as a player. Difo's biggest strides have been in the mental aspect of the game. He previously struggled to cope with adversity and the failures inherent to baseball. With a better approach to the game, his tools have had a chance to shine through. He's a well above-average runner and has an aggressive approach on the basepaths and at the plate. He has a short, quick swing with surprising raw power from both sides of the plate. He primarily played shortstop this season, except when he briefly shared an infield with Trea Turner at Double-A Harrisburg. Turner's presence may eventually force Difo to become a second baseman, where he can be an above-average defender. Difo gives the Nats another big league shortstop option for 2016, but he's more likely to return as Harrisburg's shortstop to start or jump to Triple-A Syracuse.
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. Since Washington reacquired Cole in March 2013, he has put his disappointing 2012 season in the rear-view mirror. After reaching Triple-A Syracuse and pitching in the Futures Game in 2014, he made his big league debut in 2015. Cole's velocity was down a bit early in 2015, including during his time in Washington, but after some mechanical adjustments, he got better as the season progressed. His fastball sits comfortably in the low 90s, pushing as high as 96 mph, and he commands it effectively to both sides of the plate. He has good feel for his changeup, which provides a good contrast to his fastball. He throws both a slider and a curveball, with the slider being the better of his two fringy-toaverage breaking balls. Cole repeats his simple, clean delivery well and throws strikes with his full arsenal. Though Cole briefly pitched out of the big league bullpen in May, he has all the tools necessary to be a starter and could become the Nationals' latest homegrown rotation member. With a deep pool of starters in Washington already, though, Cole may be ticketed again for Syracuse to begin the 2016 season.
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 hit the ground running in pro ball, quickly advancing to low Class A Hagerstown in his debut. Stevenson has exceptional range thanks to his well above-average speed and instincts. His below-average arm strength is his only defensive deficiency. In college, Stevenson had an unconventional set-up at the plate that forced him to slash at the ball. The Nationals have worked with him to adjust his hands and give him a better chance to drive the ball. He will always be more of a contact hitter, but his speed and feel for the barrel are good enough to make him a top-of-the-order candidate. He is an aggressive baserunner who can impact the game with his speed. Stevenson earns praise for his high-energy play and makeup. He already has proven to be advanced enough to move quickly with the Nationals, and he may be ready to start his first full season at high Class A Potomac.
Voth, when he pitched at Washington, ranked second in the Pacific-12 Conference in strikeouts in 2013, behind only eventual No. 1 overall draft pick Mark Appel. Voth carried that momentum into pro ball when he pitched his way to Double-A Harrisburg in 2014, his first full pro season. He led the Eastern League with 148 strikeouts in 2015 and has led the Nationals' system in whiffs in each of the past two seasons. Voth pounds the zone with all three of his pitches. He relies on his fastball, which typically sits around 90-91 mph but can climb to 95. He has a good feel for his changeup, which has late sinking action. The consistency of his slider has improved, giving him a solid third pitch. He piles up strikeouts as a result of his plus control and ability to locate his pitches in all areas of the strike zone. He has a good understanding of his craft and mixes his pitches well. Built like an innings-eating starter, Voth often gets better the deeper he works into games. As long as Voth keeps throwing strikes, he could push his way into the mix for a spot in the big leagues by the end of the 2016 season. 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.
Franco was one of the youngest players in the 2013 international free agent class, waiting until his 16th birthday on Aug. 15 to sign with the Nationals for $900,000. He reached short-season Auburn late in 2015 as an 18-year-old. Franco's physical build belies his youth, and his strength helps him in all facets of the game. He generates good bat speed and raw power, which he should get to more consistently as he matures. His strike-zone judgment still needs some refinement. In particular he needs to learn to lay off breaking balls away, but he showed a willingness to work a walk for a young player and has a decent offensive approach. Defensively, he profiles well at third base, with his glove being his best present tool. His plus arm strength, range and athleticism make him a good defender at the hot corner who will be able to stay at the position. Optimistic scouts see Franco with a chance to have four above-average tools, with speed the only one lacking. He is far away from the majors and will need a strong spring with the bat to join Victor Robles--part of the same 2013 international class--at low Class A Hagerstown in 2016.
Severino has built a reputation as an excellent defensive catcher and it was his glove that earned him a September callup in 2015. He appeared in just two games with the Nationals, but doubled in his first career at-bat. Severino's plus arm strength and athleticism behind the plate leave no doubt he has the skills necessary to catch in the big leagues. He blocks balls in the dirt well, already shows an aptitude for calling games and works well with pitchers. He receives well thanks to his soft hands and has excellent footwork. Severino hasn't taken the next step with his bat, but his defense is good enough that he won't have to hit a ton to be a valuable contributor. He has some power to his pull side, and his easy swing gives him a chance to eventually hit for more average, though he has hit .245 in three years of full-season ball. He is learning how to stay within himself at the plate and isn't a free-swinger. Severino's advanced defensive ability will allow the Nationals to be patient to let his offense develop. He probably will begin his age-22 season at Triple-A Syracuse and be in a position to provide depth at the big league level in 2016, if necessary.
Eleven picks after drafting Louisiana State outfielder Andrew Stevenson, the Nationals used their second second-round pick in 2015 on Perkins, another athletic outfielder. While still raw, he has five-tool potential and has a way of making the game look easy. Perkins was a righthanded hitter most of his life, but the Nationals are making the Arizona prep product a switch-hitter, much as they did with 2011 pick Billy Burns, a 32nd-rounder from Mercer who now plays for the Athletics. Perkins had tried batting from both sides of the plate during high school and impressed with his ability to do so in a predraft workout, helping pave the way for a full-time switch during instructional league. He has more of a line-drive approach now, but as he physically matures should add power. Perkins is a plus runner and takes good routes in the outfield, helping him to cover ground with ease. The Nationals used him in all three outfield positions in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in his pro debut, but he should be able to stick in center field. Perkins earns praise for his work ethic and aptitude. Look for him to make his full-season debut at low Class A Hagerstown in 2016.
Bautista has steadily progressed up the minor league ladder since he was the Nationals' best position prospect on the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League team that went 49-9 in 2013. After ranking second in the minors with 69 stolen bases in 2014, he missed nearly three months after breaking a finger in April 2015. He returned to action in the second half and played regularly in the Dominican League over the winter to make up for lost time. Bautista's double-plus speed is his best tool, and he uses it well on the bases and in the outfield--but he doesn't run indiscriminately. He has good instincts on the bases and will bunt for a hit. The Nationals are working with him to adapt his approach at the plate to make even more use of his speed, focusing on making consistent contact and hitting the ball on the ground. Defensively, he takes good routes and tracks down an impressive number of fly balls in center field. Bautista will advance to Double-A Harrisburg in 2016, and he has a chance to become a regular center fielder in the big leagues in time, but, at worst, his speed and defense should play as a fourth outfielder.
Reetz made a name for himself in the summer of 2013, earning MVP honors at the Perfect Game All-America Classic and helping USA Baseball's 18U national team win the World Cup in Taiwan, where he led the team with a .435 average. Those performances resonated with the Nationals in the 2014 draft, when they made Reetz the first high school player from Nebraska to be drafted in the top five rounds since 1996. Hampered by nagging injuries during his first full pro season, the catcher ended 2015 on the disabled list with a wrist injury. When Reetz is right, he has a well-rounded tool set. He's still raw, but he has a strong arm and the athleticism and hands to become an above-average receiver. Offensively, Reetz has a quick swing and hits line drives to all fields. He is a patient, disciplined hitter and should eventually tap into his raw power. If Reetz can stay healthy in 2016, he could be positioned to take a step forward as he advances to low Class A Hagerstown.
Abreu finished an otherwise lackluster 2014 season on a high note, ending the year with a 12-game hitting streak. He carried that momentum into 2015, and he turned in a solid campaign at low Class A Hagerstown, ranking second in the South Atlantic League with 74 runs and fifth with 35 doubles. Abreu still is developing physically and learning at the plate, but he showed more discipline in 2015. He isn't a power hitter, but he produces good bat speed and drives the ball into the gaps. He's an above-average runner and a threat to steal. Defensively, Abreu has split his time between shortstop and second base. To stay at shortstop, he'll have to become more consistent, for he committed 25 errors in 79 games at the position, but he has the hands and arm strength to develop into a solid defender. He will try to build on his positive momentum as he advances to high Class A Potomac in 2016.
Originally on track to finish high school in 2014, Ward would have been one of the oldest prep players in his draft class. Instead, he sped up his graduation timetable and entered the 2013 draft, where the Nationals selected him in the third round and signed him for $850,000. Since reclassifying, Ward has been young for his level and has held his own, but he has yet to break out. As an amateur, he was known mostly for his power, but he's shown a more consistent approach as a pro. Ward has struck out in onequarter of his pro plate appearances, but he balances an excessive whiff rate with an ability to work his way into hitter's counts. His feel for the barrel should help him cut down on his strikeouts as he gains more experience. He has above-average raw power, but employs more of a line-drive stroke and hasn't tapped into his pop yet. Defensively, Ward remains a work in progress. He has the arm strength and hands for third base, but his lack of athleticism limits his range, and he may eventually move across the diamond. Ward will face a stiff test when he advances to Double-A Harrisburg in 2016.
Solis overcame a bevy of injuries early in his career to make his major league debut in 2015. He missed all of the 2012 season and much of 2013 after having Tommy John surgery, and further elbow problems limited him to just five games in 2014. He didn't avoid the disabled list entirely in 2015--he was sidelined for two weeks with shoulder inflammation--but he pitched effectively out of the bullpen most of the year, making most of his appearances in Washington. Formerly a starter, Solis saw his velocity tick up when working in shorter relief stints. His fastball sat in the mid-90s, touching as high as 97 mph in the big leagues. His curveball and changeup are both average offerings, and he can throw all three pitches for strikes. Solis proved to be capable of retiring both righthanders and lefthanders, and he seems to have found a home in the bullpen. If he doesn't break camp with the Nationals in 2016, he probably will be one of the first pitchers called upon when Washington needs a reliever.
Signed for just $7,500 as a 19-year-old in April 2014, Baez emerged a year later during his first full year in the U.S. when his fastball velocity shot up and he touched 100 mph. He still is learning how to harness his exceptional arm strength, however, and remains raw on the mound. Baez's delivery features no excessive effort, and he throws from a downhill angle. His fastball sits in the mid-90s now, and he still has room to fill out his frame with an additional 15-20 pounds. His curveball shows flashes of being an above-average pitch, but it is inconsistent, and his changeup is still in its nascent stages of development. Baez still is learning how to repeat his arm slot, and his command has suffered as a result. He began the 2015 season at low Class A Hagerstown before going down to the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League and short-season Auburn to hone the rough edges of his game. After finishing strong in the instructional league, Baez will get another crack at the South Atlantic League in 2016.
Williams didn't start pitching regularly until his senior year of high school and then didn't join the rotation at Texas State until his junior season. His first full season at low Class A Hagerstown in 2015 was successful, however. He earned South Atlantic League all-star honors and a midseason promotion to high Class A Potomac. Williams throws his fastball in the low 90s and touches 94 mph with heavy sinking action. He gets good depth on his curveball, which has the potential to give him a second above-average offering. While his changeup has made strides in pro ball, it lags behind his other two pitches, and he'll need to improve it to remain a starter. He isn't afraid to come after hitters and pounds the strike zone with his full arsenal. Williams earns praise for his mound presence and competitiveness, and the Nationals felt good enough about his mental toughness to give him a spot start at Triple-A Syracuse when the Chiefs needed a starter. He will face another significant test as he advances to Double-A Harrisburg in 2016.
Signed by the Rangers in 2010, de los Santos saw his career take off in 2013 after he moved from the rotation to the bullpen. He joined the Nationals in December 2014 along with second baseman Chris Bostick in exchange for Ross Detwiler, and de los Santos reached the big leagues in his first season with his new organization. He has a full four-pitch arsenal but primarily attacks hitters with his fastball and curveball. His heater can reach the mid-90s, but more typically sits a touch below that velocity. His curveball can be an out pitch, while his slider and changeup help him combat lefthanders. His delivery features some deception, and he does a good job of throwing strikes. De los Santos probably will compete for a spot in the big league bullpen in 2016, and he will be in line for another callup at some point during the season if he doesn't go north with the team.
Wiseman was a key member of the Vanderbilt teams that advanced to back-to-back College World Series finals in 2014 and 2015. After signing as a third-round pick in 2015, he made his pro debut at short-season Auburn. Wiseman has an intriguing mix of athleticism and raw tools. His bat speed and strength give him solid raw power if he can consistently get to it. At his best, the lefthanded batter hits line drives to all fields, but he swings and misses at a high rate, having struck out 25 percent of the time at Vanderbilt and 23 percent of the time at Auburn in 2015. Wiseman covers ground well in the outfield thanks to his route-running ability and instincts. With solid-average speed and arm strength, he fits best in right field. If he can consistently tap into his power, he would fit the right-field profile. He appears destined to begin 2016 at low Class A Hagerstown.
Lora spent 2015 at short-season Auburn as a 19-year-old in the New York-Penn League before an ankle injury in early August cut his campaign a month short. Before his injury, he showed quick-twitch actions on both sides of the ball. He produces good bat speed and consistently barrels the ball, leading to plenty of line drives. That portends some pop, but he'll need to get stronger before he starts producing more extrabase hits. Lora has plus speed but still is learning how to use it on the basepaths. Thanks to his speed, he has good range at shortstop. He has a strong arm and soft hands, but remains raw in the field and made 18 errors in 35 games (.891 fielding percentage) in 2015. Lora will work to hone the rough edges of his game when he advances to low Class A Hagerstown in 2016.
Read produced the best season of his young career in 2014 as a 20-year-old in the short-season New York-Penn League. He moved up to full-season ball in 2015 and, after struggling at the plate early in the spring, came on strong in the second half. Read has an advanced approach at the plate for his age, showing a good understanding of the strike zone and a knack for hitting. He produces solid power thanks to his strength. While it presently manifests itself more as doubles pop, he should eventually hit more home runs. Defensively, Read still has work to do to prove he can play catcher. He has above-average arm strength and has thrown out 41 percent of basestealers in his career, but he needs to continue to improve his receiving and game management. Read will return to high Class A Potomac in 2016.
The Nationals signed Soto when the 2015 international signing period opened for $1.5 million, breaking the club record for a Latin American teenager. The record had previously been held by Dominican shortstop Carlos Alvarez, a 20-year-old who signed for $1.4 million in 2006 at a time when he presented himself as the 16-year-old Esmailyn Gonzalez. Soto's play in the Dominican Prospect League helped establish him as one of the best hitters in his international class. He is an advanced hitter for his age, showing a feel for the barrel and good pitch-recognition skills. He has big raw power that should translate to above-average home run totals once he physically matures. He has good outfield instincts and tracks down balls well, but he's best suited for a corner because of to his below-average speed and average arm strength. Soto has a long way to go, but he came to Viera, Fla., for instructional league in 2015. He should be ready to hit the ground running in his pro debut in 2016, probably in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League.
Signed for $125,000 as an Athletics 44th-round pick in 2011, Bostick reached as high as low Class A Beloit with Oakland before being traded with Michael Choice to the Rangers in December 2013 for Craig Gentry and Josh Lindblom. About a year later, Bostick was traded again, this time to the Nationals with righthander Abel de los Santos for Ross Detwiler. Bostick stands out most for his offensive ability, especially his quick hands. His approach is largely geared to hitting line drives to all fields, but he does have more power than his lean frame suggests. He is an above-average runner and has stolen more than 20 bases in all three of his years in full-season ball. Bostick has primarily played second base in the minors, but the Nationals introduced him to the outfield in 2015, and he may be able to fill a super-utility role in the big leagues. Bostick reached Double-A Harrisburg and ended 2015 in the Arizona Fall League. He joined the 40-man roster in November and probably will return to Harrisburg to begin 2016.
Originally signed by the Indians, Valdez spent two years in the Dominican Summer League before Cleveland released him in November 2010. The Rays signed him and released him in May 2011 before he played a game for the organization. After sitting out 2011, Valdez signed with the Nationals and has made significant strides, reaching high Class A Potomac in 2015. Valdez throws his fastball in the mid- 90s, routinely reaching 95 mph. He throws from a low three-quarters arm slot that adds deception and makes the ball seemingly jump on hitters. He has changed his breaking ball to be more of a slider, which better fits his arm slot and allows him to throw more strikes with the pitch. He's showing better feel for his changeup, which has the potential to become an average offering. Valdez still is working to improve his control, which (along with his changeup) will determine whether he fits better as a starter or a reliever. He'll get another challenge in 2016 as he reaches the upper levels of the minors for the first time.
Lee began his pro career as a starter, but elbow soreness forced him to the disabled list for three months in 2014, so the Nationals moved him to the bullpen. He profiles better and has excelled in his new role, reaching Double-A Harrisburg in 2015. Lee combined a 90-96 mph fastball with an above-average curveball that has the depth to be a swing-and-miss offering. He mixes in a changeup, giving him a solid weapon against righthanded batters. Lee struggles to repeat his max-effort delivery, which hampers his command. But with another strong performance in 2016, Lee could put himself in position to earn his first big league callup. He joined the 40-man roster in November.
Hearn was drafted out of his Texas high school, San Jacinto (Texas) JC (twice) and finally out of NAIA Oklahoma Baptist, finally signing with the Nationals for $275,000 after they made him a fifth-round pick in 2015. He impressed during his pro debut and in instructional league by touching 99 mph with his fastball. Hearn more typically throws in the low to mid-90s and induces plenty of ground balls thanks to the steep downhill angle his 6-foot-5 height creates. His slider still is developing, but he throws it with power and could develop into a second viable offering. Hearn's control needs further refinement, but he did a better job of throwing strikes at short-season Auburn than he had at Oklahoma Baptist. Hearn appears destined for the bullpen, but the Nationals will send him out as a starter in 2016, when he begins his first full pro season at low Class A Hagerstown.
The son of baseball's all-time saves leader, Rivera was a bit of a late bloomer and wasn't drafted out of high school. The Yankees selected him in the 29th round in 2014 after his sophomore year at Iona, but he opted to return to school and came on strong during his junior season. He earned Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference pitcher of the year honors in 2015 after recording a 2.65 ERA and 113 strikeouts in 85 innings. Despite this, the Nationals quickly moved Rivera to the bullpen during his pro debut at short-season Auburn, and he likely will continue in that role as he progresses. He has a quick arm and his fastball sits in the mid-90s. Unlike his father, he doesn't throw a cutter, instead relying on a late-breaking slider as his out pitch. Despite an unconventional delivery, Rivera consistently throws both pitches for strikes. He profiles as a reliever and could eventually pitch high-leverage innings in the big leagues. Low Class A Hagerstown should be his destination as he begins his first full pro season in 2016.
With a big 6-foot-5 frame and an arm to match, Glover served as a weapon out of the bullpen for Oklahoma State during his junior year in 2015. He continued to excel in the minors after the Nationals made him an eighth-round pick, and he spent much of his pro debut working out of the bullpen at low Class A Hagerstown. Glover can run his fastball up to 98 mph and consistently works in the mid-90s. He also throws a power slider in the upper 80s and occasionally mixes in a changeup. The Nationals have worked with him on a mechanical tweak that should allow him to better use his long-limbed frame to get even more leverage on his fastball and slider. Glover isn't afraid to come after hitters and earns praise for his mound presence. He could begin his first full season at high Class A Potomac and has the look of a pitcher who could advance quickly to a major league bullpen role.
In order to access this exclusive content you must have a Baseball America Account.
Login or sign up