Not shy about taking a young pitcher with elbow troubles, the Nationals once again took a high risk/high reward hurler in Erick Fedde in the first round. Prior to undergoing surgery, the big right-hander looked like a lock for a Top 10 pick, potentially even going within the first five selections. Lucas Giolito, finally healthy, has been dominant. And A.J. Cole is rapidly approaching big league readiness.
For a look at the club’s Top 10 Prospects heading into the year click HERE
1. Lucas Gioltio, RHP, Age: 20
Two seasons removed from making him the 16th overall pick, the Nationals gamble certainly looks like a huge potential payday. Giolito, who underwent Tommy John surgery shortly after his selection, has been dominant during his first extended action in professional ball, striking out 28.2% of the batters he’s faced.
2. Erick Fedde, RHP, Age: 21
Obviously not shy about taking gambles – especially involving recent TJ procedures – Washington once again grabbed a high upside hurler who slipped in the draft. Fedde, who underwent the procedure two days before the draft, looked like a potential Top 5 pick. For his full pre-draft analysis click HERE.
3. A.J. Cole, RHP, Age: 22
Traded and eventually re-acquired by the Nationals, Cole plowed through 14 starts in a quick refresher course in the Eastern League before the organization finally pushed him to Syracuse. Overall, he’s averaged 7.5 K/9 and just 1.7 BB/9. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the club deal him in the coming weeks either. Again.
4. Brian Goodwin, CF, Age: 23
The club’s top offensive prospect hasn’t really lived up to that billing during his first foray into Class AAA, hitting .219/.342/.328 while posting the lowest Isolated Power, .109, of his three-year professional career. The good news: despite the lowly average and slugging percentage, Goodwin’s production has been just slightly below average thanks to his 15.2% walk rate.
5. Michael Taylor, CF, Age: 23
In midst of the best season of his five-year professional career, Taylor, who’s batting .318/.397/.542, has topped the league average offensive production by 58% en route to setting several career bests including walk rate, homeruns, isolated power and, of course, wRC+.
6. Zach Walters, SS, Age: 24
Walters continued his power surge during his repeat in Class AAA this season, posting a career best .305 ISO. The 24-year-old shortstop has also set career bests in wRC+ (159) and is walking far more often than he has in recent years. Despite the production, he isn’t likely to latch onto a fulltime gig for very long.
7. Drew Ward, 3B, Age: 19
After an impressive showing in rookie ball last season (.292/.402/.387), Ward has flashed better power (.165 ISO) and less plate discipline during his first stint in full season ball. Overall, the former third round pick is hitting .287/.337/.451 with 32 extra-base hits.
8. Matt Skole, 1B/3B, Age: 24
Skole dominated low Class A in 2012 and looked poised for a massive breakout the following season. Except Tommy John surgery on his non-throwing elbow forced him to miss the entire 2013 season. The club pushed him to Class AA this season, skipping high Class A, and he’s handled himself nicely considering the layoff. He’s hit .280/.387/.468 since May 1st.
9. Jake Johansen, RHP, Age: 23
Johansen struggled with his control through the first two seasons in college before suddenly finding the strike zone during his junior season. And now…he’s lost it again. The club’s second round pick, 68th overall, has walked 12.4% of the batters he’s faced this season.
10. Jakson Reetz, C, Age: 18
Viewed as one of the top prep backstops, Reetz is off to a slow start to begin his professional career: .257/.372/.286 through his first 14 games.
Photo Courtesy of Jason Bean/Las Vegas Review-Journal.