Top 10 Prospects (2017): Washington Nationals: A System Not As Weak As You’d Think…

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

The trade for Adam Eaton obviously had an impact on the Washington Nationals’ farm system, as they traded away three players who would’ve been listed among the Top 10 (and all had the potential to be Top 5 options).  That said it didn’t decimate it, especially at the top, as the team was well positioned to pull off a blockbuster trade.  While they no longer have depth, there are still some intriguing names that could make an impact before long.  Let’s take a look:

 

1) Victor Robles – Outfielder
ETA – 2018
Grade – A

A popular breakout candidate heading into 2016, Robles lived up to the billing across two levels of Single-A:

  • Single-A (285 PA) – .305 with 5 HR, 19 SB and a 13.3% strikeout rate
  • High-A (198 PA) – .262 with 3 HR, 18 SB and a 16.2% strikeout rate

It’s fair to wonder how much power will develop, with 17 doubles and 8 triples, but he’s still 19-years old and has some growth and maturation ahead of him.  Maybe he’s not a 30+ HR slugger, but if he could get to 20 HR with his top-level speed and terrific approach you are looking at a potentially premier player.   It wouldn’t be surprising to see him emerge as a Top 5 prospect by the end of 2017.

 

2) Erick Fedde – Starting Pitcher
ETA – 2017
Grade – B+

After returning from Tommy John surgery in 2015, Fedde was fully rounding back into form in 2016 between High-A and Double-A:

  • High-A (91.2 IP) – 9.33 K/9, 1.87 BB/9, 1.35 GO/AO
  • Double-A (29.1 IP) – 8.59 K/9, 3.07 BB/9, 0.90 GO/AO

We aren’t going to read too much into the Double-A numbers, as they came in a small sample size.  In 185.0 innings since returning from surgery he’s racked up 182 K, 45 BB and a 1.35 GO/AO.  It’s impressive across the board, and at 23-years old (he’ll turn 24 in February) he should move quickly.  After the Nationals traded away much of their MLB ready pitching depth, Fedde should debut in Washington at some point in the second half.

 

3) Juan Soto – Outfielder
ETA – 2020
Grade – B+

Playing at 17-years old, Soto was highly impressive during his time in Rookie Ball (183 PA) as he hit .361 with 5 HR and 5 SB.  Adding 11 doubles and 3 triples shows his power potential and a 13.7% strikeout rate for a player his age shows an impressive approach.  He obviously has a long way to go and a lot can happen, but he seems to be in the same type of situation as Victor Robles a year ago (though without the elite speed).

 

4) Austin Voth – Right-Handed Pitcher
ETA – 2017
Grade – B

After the trade of Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, Voth is the Nationals’ next man up (until Fedde is deemed ready).  While there was talk about Voth debuting in ’16, he instead spent the season at Triple-A (157.0 IP) posting a 3.15 ERA courtesy of a 7.62 K/9, 3.27 BB/9 and 1.46 GO/AO.  While the strikeouts and control aren’t elite, the strikeouts did increase in the second half (50 K over 59.2 IP).  He’s not a superstar, but he should be a solid starter and produce immediately.

 

5) Andrew Stevenson – Outfielder
ETA – 2018
Grade – B-

Stevenson doesn’t have much power, but he has tremendous speed (39 SB between High-A and Double-A) and showed an ability to make consistent contact:

  • High-A – 14.7%
  • Double-A – 18.2%

The 2015 second round pick has the potential to move quickly, though the acquisition of Adam Eaton to man centerfield calls his future role into question.  If he can produce the Nationals will find a role, or use him as trade bait to fill another need.

 

The Rest:

6) Carter Kieboom – Shortstop (Grade – B-)
7) Sheldon Neuse – Third Baseman (Grade – B-)
8) Rafael Bautista – Outfielder (Grade – C+)
9) Kelvin Gutierrez – Third Baseman (Grade – C+)
Note: Gutierrez showed promise across three levels in 2016, hitting .296 with 33 extra base hits (23 doubles, 6 triples and 4 HR), 25 SB and 75 K over 446 AB.  He could develop more power and could be a breakout performer in 2017.
10) Koda Glover – Right-Handed Pitcher (Grade – C+)

Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball Reference, Brooks Baseball, MLB.com, MILB.com

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Grading System:
Grade A – Elite Prospects (aka potential future perennial All-Stars)
Grade B – Above Average Prospects (aka above average Major Leaguers, could develop into a potential All-Star)
Grade C – Average Prospects (aka solid, though unspectacular)
Grade D – Nothing More Than Roster Filler
Grade F – Move On

Make sure to check out all of our 2017 Prospect Rankings:

AL EastAL CentralAL West
Baltimore OriolesChicago White SoxHouston Astros
Boston Red SoxCleveland IndiansLos Angeles Angels
New York YankeesDetroit TigersOakland A's
Tampa Bay RaysKansas City RoyalsSeattle Mariners
Toronto Blue JaysMinnesota TwinsTexas Rangers
NL EastNL CentralNL West
Atlanta BravesChicago CubsArizona Diamondbacks
Miami MarlinsCincinnati RedsColorado Rockies
New York MetsMilwaukee BrewersLos Angeles Dodgers
Philadelphia PhilliesPittsburgh PiratesSan Diego Padres
Washington NationalsSt. Louis CardinalsSan Francisco Giants

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