The Nationals already own an impressive starting rotation and the addition of Jackson Rutledge last year just strengthened the future outlook. They followed that up with adding another high upside arm this year, further restocking a system that took a significant hit via trades in recent years (remember they dealt Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning for Adam Eaton). Where do the newly drafted prospects land? Let’s take a look:
- Carter Kieboom (SS, Grade – A-)
- Luis Garcia (SS, Grade – B+)
- Jackson Rutledge (RHP, Grade – B+)
- Cade Cavalli (RHP, Grade – B)
- Tim Cate (LHP, Grade – B-)
- Mason Denaburg (RHP, Grade – B-)
- Cole Henry (RHP, Grade – C+)
- Will Crowe (RHP, Grade – C+)
- Samuel Infante (SS, Grade – C+/C)
- Yasel Antuna (2B/SS, Grade – C)
Why Cavalli At #4?
It’s possible that Cavalli moves down these rankings when we reassess after the season, though he has the pure stuff/potential to also develop into ace. The problem is that there are three key questions hanging over him, and how these get answered will ultimately determine his value:
- Fastball Effectiveness – According to Baseball America, “Perhaps because of how clean Cavalli’s operation is, hitters tend to square up his fastball more than the velocity would suggest. Scouts wonder if he has any deception in his delivery. While the fastball has 70-grade velocity, it plays down at least a grade”
- Health – Cavalli has never proven capable of staying healthy, with a history of back and arm issues
- Control – This goes hand-in-hand with the first question, as MLB.com noted “His lack of command and deception also means that his premium stuff gets hit harder than it should.”
Why Henry At #7?
There are some signability questions as a sophomore, though you have to think the Nationals are confident they’ll be able to get a deal done. Many felt he had the stuff to go in the first round, given his size (he’s listed as 6’4”, 211 lbs), velocity (reports have him hitting 97 mph) and repertoire (there’s potential for three plus pitches).
There are some injury questions and the Nationals will need to work on his delivery, something he’s already started improving on, given this note from MLB.com:
When he was in high school, Henry’s delivery featured a lot of effort and some head whack. He has improved his mechanics in college and had no trouble providing strikes as a freshman.
He also needs to find/develop a put-away pitch, but the upside is there.
Why Infante At #9?
Infante may move off shortstop, but if it all comes together he could offer value across the board (though maybe not blow you away with any one skill). Reports have indicated that there’s been strikeout issues in the past, though he brings both power and speed. If he can stick at shortstop, the skillset will certainly play.
Sources – MLB.com, Baseball America
Make sure to check out all of our 2020 prospect rankings: