2014 Washington Nationals Top 10 Prospects

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Update: The 2014 Prospect Digest Annual finally hit e-book shelves. Check it out!!!

After a long delay – something measured in the months, not days –  I have a bit of an announcement to make: I will be publishing the first ever Prospect Digest Annual sometime late January/early February.

The Prospect Digest Annual will feature each organization’s Top 30 Prospects, ranking the farm systems, and several additional articles.

Until the big day happens, I will be posting each organization’s Top 10 Prospects, starting with the Arizona Diamondbacks and working through alphabetically. Enjoy!

For more Top Prospects click HERE

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1. Lucas Giolito, Position: RHP, Age: 19

Level

IP

ERA

SIERA

K/9

BB/9

K%

BB%

HR/9

GB%

RK

22.2

2.78

3.30

9.93

3.97

26.6%

10.6%

0.00

49.2%

A-

14.0

0.64

2.51

9.00

2.57

26.4%

7.5%

0.64

63.6%

Profile: One of the more highly touted high school right-handers to come out in recent memory, Giolito eventually fell to Washington with the 16th pick due to concerns about his elbow. Finally recovered, he made 11 starts between the Gulf Coast League and the NYPL late last season, posting an impeccable 1.96 ERA and 39 strikeout and 14 walks in just under 37 innings.

Analysis: The organization is clearly going to handle him with cotton-soft gloves, practically carrying him on a pillow of feathers until he reaches the major leagues. Front-of-the-rotation potential. And once he’s far enough removed from the surgery, Giolito is poised to move quickly.

Ceiling: 5.0- to 5.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Low to Moderate

 

2. A.J. Cole, Position: RHP, Age: 22

Level

IP

ERA

SIERA

K/9

BB/9

K%

BB%

HR/9

GB%

A+

97.1

4.25

3.00

9.43

2.13

25.1%

5.7%

1.11

35.7%

AA

45.1

2.18

2.63

9.73

1.99

28.0%

5.7%

0.60

36.2%

Profile: Cole continued to put distance between his disastrous first half of 2012 by once again re-establishing his prospect status by finishing the year with 151 strikeouts, 33 walks and a combined 2.89 SIERA between his work in the Carolina and Eastern Leagues.

Analysis: It’s surprising that Detroit didn’t demand both left-hander Robbie Ray and Cole as part of the package for near-ace Doug Fister. Cole, for his part, is the much safer bet, offering a tantalizing mix of strikeout ability with strong control. He might eke out a few ace-like seasons, but should settle in as a good #2.

Ceiling: 4.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate

 

3. Matt Skole, Position: 1B/3B, Age: 24

Level

PA

wRC+

AVG

OBP

SLG

BB%

K%

ISO

2B

3B

HR

SB/AT

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

Profile: Skole missed all but two games last season due to Tommy John surgery on his non-throwing elbow.

Analysis: It’s a shame, really, because Skole was coming off of back-to-back solid seasons to begin his career. With that being said, however, he’s coming from a pretty big collegiate program (Georgia Tech) and has just two games about high Class A. But, damn, Skole has walked in nearly 17% of his plate appearances and is sporting a .220 ISO.

Ceiling: 3.0- to 3.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate

 

4. Nate Karns, Position: RHP, Age: 26

Level

IP

ERA

SIERA

K/9

BB/9

K%

BB%

HR/9

GB%

AA

132.2

3.26

2.96

10.52

3.19

28.1%

8.5%

0.95

41.1%

Profile: After dominating the Class AA competition through the better part of the year, Karns, who struck out 155 in just 132.2 innings, tossed an additional 12.0 innings in Washington where he showed an above-average mid 90s heater.

Analysis: An older prospect, Karns, who enters the 2014 season as a 26-year-old, has punched out 362 and walked just 128 in 304.0 career innings. The fastball and numbers both suggest a long future in the big leagues, either as a dominant reliever of better than average starting pitcher. With Washington’s rotation already full – Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmerman, Doug Fister and Ross Detwiler/Tanner Roark – Karns is likely headed down the former’s path.

Ceiling: 3.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate to Above-Average

 

5. Brian Goodwin, Position: CF, Age: 23

Level

PA

wRC+

AVG

OBP

SLG

BB%

K%

ISO

2B

3B

HR

SB/AT

AA

533

115

.252

.355

.407

12.4%

22.7%

.155

19

11

10

19/30

Profile: Goodwin flashed some potential five-tool offensive talent in Class AA last season, en route to posting a 115 wRC+ total.

Analysis: Solid tools across the board – bat, speed, power, patience. But Goody’s struggles against LHs, .225/.315/.371, could eventually derail his peak as a Chris Young-type player.

Ceiling: 3.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate

 

6. Jake Johansen, Position: RHP, Age: 23

Level

IP

ERA

SIERA

K/9

BB/9

K%

BB%

HR/9

GB%

A-

42.1

1.06

3.03

9.35

3.83

26.0%

10.7%

0.21

63.2%

A

9.1

5.79

4.63

6.75

4.82

15.2%

10.9%

0.96

50.0%

Profile: The thrice-drafted Johansen was Washington’s first pick in the 2013 draft after losing their first round pick courtesy of signing Rafael Soriano. During his final season at Dallas Baptist, Johansen struck out 75 and walked 26 in 88.1 innings.

Analysis: Pre-draft evaluation: “Johansen’s otherwise solid season will be masked by a horrifically poor ERA. However, his FIP, 3.89, is more in line with his actual skill set. And his BABIP is also incredibly high, at .368. He’s going to be a very wise selection for a numbers savvy organization. And if his control really is a tangible skill, there’s no reason to believe that he couldn’t have a future in the big leagues, maybe even as a backend guy in the rotation or bullpen.

Ceiling: 1.5- to 2.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Low to Moderate

 

7. Tony Renda, Position: 2B, Age: 23

Level

PA

wRC+

AVG

OBP

SLG

BB%

K%

ISO

2B

3B

HR

SB/AT

A

606

130

.294

.380

.405

11.2%

10.7%

.111

43

3

3

30/36

Profile: A second round pick out of Cal Berkley in 2012, Renda hit .294/.380/.405 with 49 extra-base hits and 30 stolen bases in the Sally.

Analysis: Not impressed. Given his collegiate background and level of competition, Renda should perform as he did, maybe even better. Fringy big league regular, more likely than not a bench player/Quad-A infielder.

Ceiling: 1.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Low to Moderate

 

8. Zach Walters, Position: SS, Age: 24

Level

PA

wRC+

AVG

OBP

SLG

BB%

K%

ISO

2B

3B

HR

SB/AT

AAA

521

117

.253

.286

.517

3.8%

25.7%

.265

32

5

29

4/7

Profile: Walters, who had flashed intruiging power potential at various points, broke out in a huge way last season, slugging 66 extra-base hits including a career best 29 homeruns.

Analysis: Now the bad news, of course: Walters refuses to walk, something that consequently cuts his value considerably. Despite slugging .517 last year the switch-hitting shortstop topped the IL offensive production average by just 17%. Defensively, he’s sort of a train wreck. He needs to find another position, but could eventually develop into a useful bat bench.

Ceiling: 1.0- to 1.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate

 

9. Michael Taylor, Position: CF, Age: 23

Level

PA

wRC+

AVG

OBP

SLG

BB%

K%

ISO

2B

3B

HR

SB/AT

A+

581

113

.263

.340

.426

9.5%

22.5%

.163

41

6

10

51/58

Profile: Not to be confused with Oakland’s Quad-A All-Star outfielder by the same name, though Michael Taylor 2.0 won’t likely be anything better in the long term. Taylor had his finest season to date in 2013, setting a career high with a 113 wRC+.

Analysis: Interesting fact: Taylor has spent at least nine games at every position expect catcher and pitcher. The speed is a plus-tool. Other than that, he doesn’t have a true standout tool. The power is solid-average, as is the patience. If he wants to be a big league regular he’s going to need to keep running a la Forest Gump.

Ceiling: 1.0- to 1.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate

 

10. Sammy Solis, Position: LHP, Age: 25

Level

IP

ERA

SIERA

K/9

BB/9

K%

BB%

HR/9

GB%

A+

47.2

3.40

4.45

6.04

3.40

16.1%

9.0%

0.57

49.0%

Profile: Missed all of 2012 to…dun, dun, dunnnn…Tommy John surgery. Solis didn’t make it back till the end of May, but managed to do OK in the Carolina League.

Analysis: Fantastic build (6-foot-5 and 230 pounds), Solis has never really missed a whole lot of bats at any point in his minor league career. He’s probably headed to the bullpen at some point where he could be a dominant reliever. If not, #5-type starting pitcher.

Ceiling:  1.0- to 1.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate

 

 



About

After serving as a video scout/analyst for Baseball Info Solutions, Joe Werner began writing at his original site, ReleasePoints.com. He’s since transitioned into his current niche, prospect analysis, at ProspectDigest.com. He has been fortunate — and incredibly blessed — to have some of his work published and mentioned by several major media outlets, including: ESPN, Cleveland.com and the Baseball Research Journal. He can be reached at: JosephMWerner@yahoo.com.


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