Before I even got this posted Alex Reyes exhausted his rookie eligibility (needed a single out to do so and pitched an inning on Friday) so I updated my top 150 before it went live. Reyes was at 22 but is now removed making room for Ryan Weathers, giving the Padres two more than any other team with 12 players making the top 150. 15 players on the list open the season in the big leagues, with 14 of those in the top 80 and the Padres and Mariners both starting with two players in the big leagues.
Quick Report: It was supposed to be Robles to make an impact with the big league club a season ago, not Juan Soto, but a hyperextended elbow led the Nationals to call up the teenager instead. Robles did finally make his debut as a September callup and won a spot on the post-season roster, so he will exhaust prospect status early in the season. He has elite speed to go with a cannon of an arm and no doubt center field tools, although he will likely see most of his time in right given Adam Eaton currently patrols center in D.C. He has a plus hit tool and enough power in the bat to get into the 20 home run range in time. He has the upside of a leadoff man playing Gold Glove ceiling and should make a number of All-Star games in his career.
Quick Report: Currently a shortstop, Kieboom has shown improvement in the field to lead people to believe he can stick there. If he does end up moving off it, second base is a natural landing spot, although he has plenty of arm to play at third if the raw power shows a bit more as game power. He has plus raw power but plays more below average in games currently. The bat plane should allow more power to show up in games while he also shows good bat control and bat speed to hit for a solid average. There is an outside chance he gets a late-season callup, but 2020 should be the year Kieboom becomes a staple in the Nationals lineup.
Quick Report: I touched on one Luis Garcia yesterday, here is the other one who, just to make things more confusing, is the son of former big league infielder, Luis Garcia. This Garcia’s carrying tool is his advanced and patient approach at the plate and impressive bat control there is some pop in his bat, although he will probably always be a little below average in terms of power, which makes his defense key. He has plenty of arm and solid range but does not have the natural fluidity you like to see out of a shortstop. There is some real concern he moves off to second but there is a real shot he improves to be average or better at short, in which case he could become one of the better prospects in the game.
Player: Mason Denaburg
Opening Day Age: 19
2018 Highest Level: DNP
Weight: 195 lbs.
Quick Report: Some elbow discomfort, which does not appear to hold any negative long term impact, kept Denaburg from making his pro debut in his draft year last summer. He has a fastball that sits in the mid-90s and can touch 98 with one of the sharper and more consistent curves you will see from a prep arm. The breaker does not have any real upward action in it, instead just falls off the table, while the fastball has some real zip while running arm side and carrying a heavy downhill plane. The change, as with most young arms, is a work in progress, but has flashed above average. His delivery is repeatable and the command is solid, making Denaburg a guy who I expect to rocket up prospect lists once he puts together some strong pro innings.
Quick Report: An arm that could find its way into the Nationals rotation this season, Crowe has a fastball that regularly hits 95 and the feel for a plus change. He also mixes in both a curve and slider that are at least average offerings. The delivery has some effort in it which, along with elbow and knee troubles in high school and Tommy John surgery while at South Carolina, led many to feel Crowe was a future impact reliever than a starter. He has managed to repeat his delivery and show solid command despite the effort late in the delivery and has all but solidified himself as a starter long term. The ceiling isn’t all that high, but the fact he could be the number four starter by the end of the season means his floor is quite high.
Quick Report: UConn has really ridden some of their top arms in years past, and Cate fell victim of it during his time there as well. He had Tommy John while still in high school and missed a good chunk of 2018 with forearm tightness that is all too often a precursor to the surgery. He came back late in the season for the Huskies and pitched 52 innings in the Nationals system, showing the arm may be healthy again. He has a low-90s fastball that typically would grade out below average, but the fact it comes out of the same high 3/4 slot as one of the better curves you are gonna see allows it to play up. The change is well behind the other two pitches and needs to improve if he is to stick in the rotation long term, but if he does move to the bullpen, the curve alone is enough to lead him to being a useful piece.
Quick Report: The prized signing in the IFA class that is now highlighted by Luis Garcia, Antuna hasn’t put up the impressive numbers the Nationals would like, but there is still plenty of upside. Antuna is a rather rare position player to undergo Tommy John surgery, so there is some question how his raw power and above average arm strength bounce back. He has the natural ability to play short, but he seems to rush his mechanics at the position leading to a rather inconsistent defensive profile that may see him move to third full time. His approach at the plate is raw where he still relies on his natural skill set rather than heading to the plate with a real approach. That said, there is gap power now that could turn into above-average game power in time.
Quick Report: Pineda’s swing is one that looks like it should produce a lot of power, but it is only average at best and will probably never reach that potential. The bat control is better than most teenagers and he handles the zone well despite the bat speed being a tick slow. The real question is how well his defense will hold up behind the plate. He has more than enough arm behind the plate but the receiving ability needs work. He is already a mature bodied teenager, but all reports from the Nationals are that he is an incredibly hard worker who they anticipate will become a solid defensive option behind the plate, which should allow him to become a solid timeshare option behind the dish.
Quick Report: This is a tough one, a guy who was suspended from his team in college before ultimately getting into a fist fight with a teammate and getting kicked off the team. Despite the long list of off the field concerns, the Nationals still grabbed him at the 25th overall pick two drafts ago, but he served a short suspension for violating team rules before he even threw his first pro pitch. Late last year he underwent Tommy John surgery and will likely be out the entire regular season but, despite all this, he has impressive natural stuff that lands him on the top 10. His fastball and slider are both plus offerings, while his change has the makings of being above-average. Command is spotty, but he repeats his delivery enough to believe he can turn the command into an average tool. I would love to see Romero healthy enough at the end of the season to be sent the to AFL to work in relief and get some game action in. He could be a dominant closer or a mid-rotation guy, but there are so many non-pitching red flags it is impossible to know if he will ever get close to his potential.
Quick Report: I highlighted the selection of Canning for the Nationals as their steal in the draft last year, and he has only worked to make that look like an even bigger steal than anticipated. He is not the most tooled up player, but he is a guy whose whole is greater than the sum of the parts. He will never hit for much power, but ability to put the ball in the gap along with baserunning instincts and above average speed will allow him to hit plenty of XBHs. He doesn’t have the strongest arm, nor the greatest of reads in the outfield, but he is one who should be able to hold down any of the three spots. He is a prototypical fourth outfielder who may overachieve and become a solid every day option.
Quick Report: Bohm has some work ahead of him if he is going to stay at third, but he does provide hope he can improve to become an average fielder at the position. If he has to move to first, he will hit for plenty of power that it won’t reduce his value much. He has a wide base to go with a big leg kick, but he eliminates the leg kick with two strikes to improve his contact ability. The bat is a bit long due to the fact he has longer arms, but he gets it to the zone well and should be able to make more than enough contact to really tap into his plus power.
Quick Report: With Sixto Sanchez now in the Marlins organization, Medina takes over as the top arm in the Phillies system. He has an athletic delivery that allows him to throw plenty of strikes, but his command with those strikes still needs quite a bit of improvement. He slings in the ball from a quick arm in a 3/4 slot that allows there to be plenty of movement on all his pitches. The fastball is 92-95 but gets up to 97 at times. The slider is sharp and plays plus while the change is rather advanced and has shown signs of being a potential plus offering. He could fit in as a quality number two in the rotation in the future.
Quick Report: A late riser in the 2017 draft, Howard eventually went in the second round and has shown elite stuff, including enough to throw a no-hitter in the South Atlantic League playoffs last year. His fastball can touch triple digits while sitting in the high 90s while he has a dipping change that is his best secondary offering. He also has two breaking balls that grade out to average or better. He has the body and mechanics to eat innings thanks to a lower effort 3/4 slot delivery. His command can be a real struggle at times and the stuff in inconsistent leaving him open to a wide array of potential roles in the future.
Quick Report: The former Virginia Cavalier star received about $100k more in his signing bonus than his teammate college Pavin Smith received from the Diamondbacks despite Smith being selected one spot higher. A big part of the reason is the Phillies believe he can stick in center, a point of debate amongst scouts. I lean on the side of him not only being able to stick in center but be solid there. Add that to a line drive swing that allows him to make a lot of solid contact with power to put the ball into gaps and potential to develop into average power. I don’t see him ever becoming an All-Star caliber player, but a guy who can hit second in the lineup and play up the middle is valuable asset.
Quick Report: Which Luis Garcia is THE Luis Garcia will long be a debate (with the other also being a shortstop born the same year in the NL East that you can read about tomorrow on the Nationals list). This Garcia is very polished in the field with plenty of arm and range to play an above average short. The speed also allows him to get a few infield singles and stretch out a few extra doubles too. The bat is quick to the zone from both sides of the plate, with it appearing he could flirt with average power from the right side of the plate while more of a contact hitter from the left. Overall the power isn’t really a tool expected to reach average, but the hit tool could become a plus tool.
Quick Report: Romero has had a wide variance in his fastball velocity, sometimes sitting in the high-80s while others running up to 95. He does use both a two- and four-seam fastball that allows it to play at least average even when at the lower velocities. Like his fastballs, he has two pitches with the same spin and arm slot but different velocities in a cutter and slider, which play up as he has a two-plane curve he can spin as well. Add to all that an above average change and you have a pitcher that truly has six unique offerings, which will allow him to slide in as a mid-rotation starter sooner than later.
Quick Report: While he has primarily been a starter in the minors, the future for De Los Santos is most likely in the bullpen. He can easily sit 94-95 but can run it up to 98 in shorter outings where it can pair well with his above average change. His breaking stuff is inconsistent and I don’t see it really developing to where he would need it to stick in the rotation. Add to that the fact he has a high effort delivery that includes a violent follow through, and you have the makings of a guy who struggles with command at times. There is plenty of polish to his offerings so I do expect he could find himself in high leverage spots out of the bullpen this year for a Phillies team looking to compete after their off-season moves.
Quick Report: Unlike De Los Santos, Suarez has little question as to whether or not he has the stuff to start, as he has three pitches grading out as average and a fourth, his changeup, that is between above-average and plus. He has a long track record of throwing for solid command, although he walked more than he typically does a season ago. The upside for Suarez is limited as he should never be more than a fourth starter, but he has the frame and delivery to allow him to eat plenty of innings and be a quality arm at the back of a rotation.
Quick Report: While he is still just a teenager who has yet to pitch in full season ball, I expect Morales to transition to the bullpen before too long, where he could be a quick mover. His fastball is heavy for a mid-90s pitch thanks to the arm-side run out of his low 3/4 slot. His slider has shown the making of a genuine plus offering, while his change will probably never be more than below-average, hence my take he should move to the pen soon. The delivery is rather controlled for a lager bodied young pitcher, but he does fall to the first base side and has command concerns from time-to-time, but could be a reliever that can develop better than average command.
Quick Report: The number one overall pick from just a few years ago should never sit this low on a team’s prospect list, it also wasn’t the strongest of drafts. Despite this, don’t go comparing Moniak to Mark Appel or Brien Taylor just yet. He is still a very athletic outfielder who can play a solid center and enough arm to fit in at all three outfield spots. He has a good second half of the 2018 season and the swing is still smooth, so the contact will be enough to find his way to the big leagues in time, even if it is as a fourth outfielder. The big knock on Moniak before and since the draft is his strength, which he hasn’t really added much of leaving his power below average despite the bat plane that should result in more HR numbers.