July is almost upon us, and with it will come…at some point…an updated MLB Pipeline ranking of organizational top-30 prospects.
The Washington Nationals’ list of top prospects has already changed quite a bit from the preseason rankings, and it will soon change even more!
The order of Washington’s top three prospects was jumbled a little bit as MLB.com updated its top-100 overall prospect list, with Nats left fielder Juan Soto leapfrogging fellow prospect Victor Robles, a consensus top-10 talent who has been on the shelf since April with an elbow injury, to become the team’s #1 prospect.
In other changes, #10 prospect Kelvin Gutierrez and #11 prospect Blake Perkins were shipped to the Kansas City Royals in a trade last week for reliever Kelvin Herrera, while outfielder Andrew Stevenson (#12 preseason), catcher Pedro Severino (#20 preseason), and reliever Wander Suero (#24 preseason) have apparently graduated from the prospect ranks. Also vanished from the list is outfielder Rafael Bautista (#21 preseason), although it is unclear whether he is no longer considered a prospect because of his time in the majors or because he was released (but later re-signed) following a potentially career-ending knee injury earlier this season. (Any clarity you smarties in the comments can provide on this would be great!)
The list now stands as follows:
1. Juan Soto (OF, MLB)
2. Victor Robles (OF, Triple-A)
3. Carter Kieboom (SS, Double-A)
4. Erick Fedde (RHP, MLB)
5. Seth Romero (LHP, Single-A)
6. Luis Garcia (SS/2B, Single-A)
7. Yasel Antuna (SS/3B, Single-A)
8. Wil Crowe (RHP, High-A)
9. Daniel Johnson (OF, Double-A)
10. Raudy Read (C, Triple-A)
11. Luis Reyes (RHP, Double-A)
12. Jackson Tetreault (RHP, Single-A)
13. Nick Raquet (LHP, High-A)
14. Jefry Rodriguez (RHP, Triple-A)
15. Gabe Klobosits (RHP, High-A)
16. Jakson Reetz (C, High-A)
17. Jose Marmolejos (1B/OF, Triple-A)
18. Jose Sanchez (SS/2B/3B, Short Season-A)
19. Brigham Hill (RHP, Single-A)
20. Tomas Alastre (RHP, Single-A)
21. Cole Freeman (2B, Single-A)
22. Drew Ward (1B/3B, Double-A)
23. Telmito Agustin (OF, High-A)
24. Austin Voth (RHP, Triple-A)
25. Anderson Franco (1B/3B, Single-A)
26. Kyle Johnston (RHP, Single-A)
27. Armond Upshaw (OF, Single-A)
28. Joan Baez (RHP, High-A)
29. Taylor Gushue (C, Double-A)
30. Tres Barrera (C, High-A)
So, now for some (quick) check-ins:
#1 SOTO. We all know by now that the kid is alright. At age 19, Soto has been terrorizing major league pitching staffs and confounding all efforts so far to shift on him or exploit holes in his swing in an attempt to keep him off base. Soto made a practically unheard-of sprint from Single-A Hagerstown (.373/1.300 with five homers in 16 games) to the majors this year, barely stopping to catch his breath in High-A Potomac (.371/1.256 with seven homers in 15 games) and Double-A Harrisburg (.323/.981 with two homers in eight games) before being called up following a season-ending injury to utilityman Howie Kendrick. Since then, Soto has scorched major league pitching to the tune of a .324/1.013 line that leads the Washington Nationals; while his power pace has slowed a bit, with six homers to show for 32 games played, he’s been taking his walks and getting plenty of hits. As of the time of this writing, Soto is on a nine-game hitting streak and has walked eight times in his last seven games. Again, he is 19 and started the year in the South Atlantic League. What he is doing is nearly unprecedented. The kid is alright.
#2 ROBLES. You could have made some good money on the Vegas Strip betting that Soto would be called up before Robles this year, after the now-21-year-old enjoyed a cup of coffee last September as the youngest player in MLB and even made the Nats’ playoff roster. Unfortunately, while Robles got off to a hot start at Triple-A Syracuse (where he was assigned, unsurprisingly, after a lackluster spring training in Florida), he fell awkwardly on his elbow while attempting a low-probability diving catch in center field on April 9. The young outfielder avoided the most serious of injuries, but the elbow hyperextension caused enough damage that he’s been kept out of action since then, although reports suggest he may be nearing a return. Robles was hitting .385/.851 before the injury, although that was over a minuscule four-game sample size at Triple-A. He figures to be a good bet to rejoin the Nats some time after the All-Star Break, although the team’s current outfield logjam could complicate matters somewhat.
#3 KIEBOOM. The youngest brother of Nats catcher Spencer Kieboom got off to a slow start at High-A Potomac in April, but he has since turned things around and now looks like one of the best shortstop prospects in all of baseball. The 20-year-old Kieboom tagged Carolina League pitching for a .298/.880 batting line over 61 games, numbers dragged down by his cold opening stretch, before being promoted this month to Double-A Harrisburg after a three-hit performance in the Carolina League All-Star Game. He homered in his first Double-A game and has put up a .348/.913 line over five games at the new level, and he has been hitting the ball hard all over the field. Fielding his position cleanly has been a bit of an issue for “Skippy”, as he has amassed 14 errors on the season at shortstop. It’s unclear whether he will be a major league shortstop; the Nats could conceivably decide they need him at second base as soon as this year, as they did with another hot-hitting shortstop prospect named Trea Turner in August 2015.
#4 FEDDE. The Nats’ top pitching prospect has finally become their newest staple in the major league rotation, albeit only because co-ace Stephen Strasburg finally landed on the disabled list this month after a string of uneven outings. Strasburg’s timetable is unclear, and unless the Nats find outside help, Fedde figures to be his replacement for the duration. Even if Strasburg returns soon and/or the Nats add someone like Tyson Ross or J.A. Happ via trade to bolster the rotation, with fellow starters Gio Gonzalez and Tanner Roark slumping and Jeremy Hellickson‘s future effectiveness following a hamstring injury this month as-yet-unproven, Fedde could wind up following in the footsteps of Joe Ross in 2015. That year, Ross bumped Doug Fister from the rotation by outpitching the veteran until he was finally shut down in September. Fedde, 25, will also likely face a shutdown at some point, as he has battled injuries throughout his career and has yet to top 121 innings in a season. For now, though, the Nats are trying to take advantage of every inning he can give them. Fedde has yet to notch a major league win, taking the loss in three of his four starts, although his most recent was considered a “quality start” (three or fewer earned runs given up in six or more innings). His bugaboo continues to be traffic on the basepaths, as he pitched to a 4.76 ERA with a concerning 1.48 WHIP over eleven games with Triple-A Syracuse before nearly replicating that statline in the majors, where he’s put up a 5.32 ERA and 1.50 WHIP. Fedde has a long way to go before comparisons to Ross c.2015 are earned. The Nats hope his most recent start augurs better things to come.
#5 ROMERO. After a strange and disappointing start to the year, Romero is back in action and trying to pitch his way back into the picture for the Nats. Romero, 22, was suspended for repeated team rule violations during spring training and sent home to Texas. The Nats finally let him out of the doghouse and assigned him to Single-A Hagerstown, a level above where he finished out 2017, earlier this month. Romero continues to be an odd case, though. He has posted crazy strikeout totals, punching out 19 in just 13⅔ innings this month, but he’s also let up four home runs and has a 5.27 ERA and 1.24 WHIP over four games. Romero is still getting back on track for the season, although he did get some time in extended spring training before his assignment to Hagerstown. Time will tell if the Nats’ 2017 first-round draftee will find his way and figure out how to harness his talent. But he figures as a candidate to drop a few spots in the midseason prospect rankings.
#6 GARCIA. Another case of a middle infield prospect starting cold but gradually heating up, Garcia — who just turned 18 a few days ago — remains an intriguing player in the Nats’ farm system. While his offensive numbers aren’t wowing at Single-A Hagerstown, where he has a .289/.723 line, they’ve risen following a hot May and a decent June. While Garcia has gotten plenty of playing time at third base, a new position for him this year, his error totals have mounted at the position and he may simply be a better fit up the middle. Garcia stole 11 bases in 13 tries last season, but in a larger sample size this year, he’s been successful just 7 out of 12 times so far; that part of his game will simply need to improve. The Nats are unlikely to deal Garcia as his value is continuing to develop. He will be a player to watch in the future.
#7 ANTUNA. Less successful than his counterpart, the 18-year-old Antuna will likely see his stock slide at midseason. While in the Gulf Coast League last year, Antuna edged Garcia with the bat but ran up 26 fielding errors in 36 games, this year at Single-A, Antuna has fallen off at the plate while cleaning up his act a bit in the field (16 errors in 56 games so far). He’s gotten most of his time at shortstop, but his .206/.582 batting line is decidedly unimpressive and his impressive plate discipline from last season (23 walks to 29 strikeouts in 48 games) has declined as well (26 walks to 64 strikeouts in 66 games). It’s too early to pronounce Antuna finished, and the $3.9 million signing bonus the Nats paid him in 2016 certainly counts in favor of him getting as many chances to turn the corner as possible. But he looks right now like the latest young Dominican infielder who is headed the wrong direction as he climbs the organizational ladder.
#8 CROWE. Here’s the weird thing about pitcher wins/losses as a stat: They tend to tell you more about the kind of run support a pitcher gets than how effective he has been. When a starting pitcher gets the win, it’s because he pitched at least five innings through which his team scored more runs than he allowed to the other team, and the lead held through the duration of the game. So Crowe can simultaneously have a sparkling 9-0 record and be off to a good-but-not-great season. The big right-hander has put up a strong 2.44 ERA in twelve appearances for High-A Potomac, eleven as a starter, but his 1.25 WHIP — while far from abysmal — is less eye-catching, and his 60 strikeouts over 66⅓ innings are similarly fine but unspectacular. The fairest thing to say is that the jury is still out on Crowe. The Nats’ 2017 second-round draft pick has done enough this season to keep moving up through the ranks, but he hasn’t been so impressive that general manager Mike Rizzo is likely to hang up on a prospective trade partner who wants the 23-year-old righty. Crowe recently hit the disabled list with an undisclosed injury, so his progression appears to be on hold for now, at any rate.
#9 JOHNSON. Yet another curious case this season, Johnson put up eye-popping numbers last year in a 22-homer, 22-steal season that saw him rocket up the prospect charts, finish out the year with High-A Potomac, and win Organizational Player of the Year honors. This year, Johnson has pretty much repeated all of those great offensive numbers — except that the home runs have completely dried up. Johnson has one homer in 52 games at Double-A this season, although he’s taken extra bases in other ways, with 11 doubles and an impressive six triples, as well as 16 steals in 19 attempts. His .286/.763 batting line is still pretty good, especially for a speedster with a strong arm who continues to profile as a major league center fielder. But the over-the-fences power has done a vanishing act. There may be an explanation for that, as Johnson reportedly underwent hamate surgery this month; that’s an injury that has been known to sap strength, although it’s unclear how long Johnson has been dealing with it. The Nats will certainly be watching closely to see what Johnson has upon his return to action, as the 22-year-old still has five-tool potential if he can tap back into the prodigious power he displayed last year.
#10 READ. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Read has had an odd start to his year. Suspended 80 days just before spring training for a positive Boldenone test, Read has just recently started to play in minor league games again on a “rehab assignment” as he nears his return from the restricted list (due to come later this week). Read turned heads last year by putting on a lightshow, blasting 17 home runs with Double-A Harrisburg in by far his best offensive season to date. Fair or not, that number is now a tainted one. Read will have to prove that his breakout season wasn’t a PED-aided fluke. With Nats catcher Matt Wieters injured and fill-ins Severino and Kieboom failing to make strong cases for themselves, Read could get the chance sooner than one might expect. He’s got a .205/.647 batting line with one home run over 11 games split between Double-A and Triple-A this year on his rehab assignment. Compared to the numbers Severino and Kieboom have put up, even that meager production could be a godsend if Read can replicate something like it at the major league level. We will see very soon whether he is afforded the opportunity.
#11 REYES. Another unsung prospect who exploded into the upper echelons of Nats prospect-dom as ranked by MLB Pipeline, Reyes has unfortunately not done much to back up his lofty ranking. He’s dealt with injuries this season, going on the disabled list earlier this month, coming off it to make one strong start, then immediately returning to the DL. Overall, he’s got a 5.18 ERA and 1.54 WHIP over twelve starts, with a 32-to-36 walks-to-strikeouts ratio that pretty much tells you all you need to know about how he’s looked this season. At 23 years old at Double-A, Reyes is still of prospect age, but based on his performance to date, it seems like a good bet he’ll see his ranking fall next month.
#12 TETREAULT. A string-bean righty drafted in the seventh round last year, Tetreault is another pitching prospect that MLB Pipeline liked preseason but has not shown the results in 2018 that he or his ballclub were hoping for. After turning 22 this month, Tetreault is getting a bit long in the tooth to still be “working on things” in the South Atlantic League, and his ghastly 5.37 ERA and 1.51 WHIP, with a .296 batting average against, certainly suggest he still has things to work on. One bright spot for Tetreault has been a strikeout rate that has hovered at about nine per nine innings this season. With his slight 6′ 5″ and 170-lb frame, Tetreault could be a candidate to shift onto a relief track, but his 12 starts this season have not produced much to write home about.
#13 RAQUET. The Nats’ third-round draft pick from 2017 has been perhaps the most impressive left-handed arm in the system to start the 2018 season. Raquet has freshly earned a promotion to High-A Potomac after putting up a 2.79 ERA and 1.27 WHIP in 12 starts for Single-A Hagerstown. Like Crowe, Raquet’s WHIP and strikeout numbers (56 over 67⅔ innings) have been more OK than amazing, but on the whole, he’s having a nice season that could earn him a little more love from the evaluators. It will be interesting to see how he fares at the new level.
#14 RODRIGUEZ. As with Read, it wasn’t quite clear what the Nats could expect from Rodriguez after he served an 80-game PED suspension last season. But “J-Rod” has brought the goods this year, providing Double-A Harrisburg with a useful 3.31 ERA and 1.22 WHIP over 13 starts while striking out more than a batter per inning. He’s pitched his way into being somewhat ahead of schedule, as he made his major league debut with a strong long relief outing earlier this month and has since made two (less effective) starts in place of Hellickson, totaling a 5.93 ERA and 1.54 WHIP in 13⅔ major league innings before being optioned to Triple-A Syracuse this week. Obviously, those MLB stats are not very good. But Rodriguez has shown good mound presence and intriguing stuff, with a fastball that can touch 98-99 mph. Some evaluators have suggested his highest and best usage would be as a high-octane reliever, but so far this season, the Nats have needed him stretched-out and ready to step in if a starter goes down due to injury.
#15 KLOBOSITS. While most 22-year-olds drafted in the 36th round don’t end up rating as one of their organization’s best prospects after less than a year in pro ball, that’s what happened with Klobosits, a towering 6′ 7″ 270-lb reliever. Klobosits came out throwing strikes and ended 2017 with Single-A Hagerstown. At High-A Potomac, he displayed some worrisome command issues that led to a 1.53 WHIP over eleven appearances, but he continued to demonstrate a knack for not letting runners across home plate with a 2.20 ERA. Unfortunately, we don’t know which way the numbers would have ultimately broken. Klobosits went to the DL with an undisclosed injury last month, and there has been no news on a timetable for his return. Klobosits’ season basically merits an “incomplete” ranking to this point.
#16 REETZ. “Always the bridesmaid and never the bride” has sort of summed up Reetz’ career. Perpetually ranked since being drafted in the third round back in 2014 as one of the Nats’ top catching prospects, but not the top catching prospect, Reetz’ progression through the minor league levels has basically stalled out at this point. Judging by his output this season, that’s not likely to change anytime soon. Now 22, Reetz has produced just a .221/.639 batting line across 39 games at High-A Potomac, where he finished out the 2017 season as well, and he’s been effectively splitting time with Barrera behind the dish. This year’s preseason prospect rankings might mark the last in which Reetz earned high billing among Nats’ catching prospects. He looks like a real long-shot from here.
#17 MARMOLEJOS. And then there’s Marmolejos, twice the Nats’ Organizational Player of the Year, with the dubious distinction of being the only player on the team’s 40-man roster who has yet to be listed on a major league lineup card. The consensus has always been that if Marmolejos made it to The Show, it would be on the strength of his bat rather than by virtue of his fielding. But while it’s one thing to be a man without a position — plenty of major league players have made that work, with the defensively challenged but offensively outstanding Soto perhaps the most recent example — it’s another to be a man without anything to offer at all. That might sound harsh, but Marmolejos has been playing just about every day for Triple-A Syracuse this season and has just a .233/.621 batting line to show for it. He’s shorter than optimal for a major league first baseman at 6′ 1″, and he lacks the speed and arm to be more than an average-ish corner outfielder. Those are premium offensive positions where he just doesn’t appear to offer any premium offense. Marmolejos is 25 now, and as younger, less experienced prospects fly past him into the major leagues, it’s begun to look like he is little more than an organizational player. He’s as close as it gets to a mortal lock to move down in next month’s re-ranking.
#18 SANCHEZ. It’s just too early to tell what kind of year the 17-year-old Sanchez will have. He’s hit .304/.652 across eight games for Short Season-A Auburn. Sanchez, who turns 18 next month, probably won’t make it to full-season ball to join Garcia and Antuna this year, but either way, his set of tools means he’s worth keeping an eye on. Another “incomplete” for the season, but a definite “to be continued…”
#19 HILL. The Nats have only gotten four starts between Single-A Hagerstown and the Rookie-class Gulf Coast League from their 2017 fifth-round draft pick this year, as Hill has dealt with some injury issues. Perhaps they have affected his performance, as his 3.77 ERA and 1.81 WHIP across just 14⅓ innings aren’t standout numbers. Hill earns an “incomplete” so far, as we stand to get a better picture of what this right-handed starter can do as the season progresses. But Hill turns 23 next month, and he will need to show signs of improvement and continue moving up from the low levels he’s been competing at if he wants to stay in the prospect picture. He is definitely a candidate to move down the rankings next month, fair or not.
#20 ALASTRE. Another pitching prospect who came out of nowhere to place among the Nats’ top 30 on MLB Pipeline‘s preseason list, like Reyes, Alastre hasn’t done much to reward Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo’s confidence this season. The right-hander has compiled a 4.68 ERA and 1.59 WHIP in twelve Single-A starts, with discouragingly low strikeout numbers (just 39 in 59⅔ innings of work). The good news is that Alastre is 20, so while the likes of Reyes, Tetreault, and Hill are at risk of creeping into the “danger zone” of being older-than-level prospects whose body of work doesn’t support a promotion, he has a bit more time to right the ship. Listed at 6′ 4″ and 170 lbs, he certainly has room to add to his frame.
#21 FREEMAN. In one of the odder subplots of the 2017 minor league season for Nats affiliates, Freeman signed out of Louisiana State as the top Nats position player draftee, going in the fourth round, and then simply didn’t make his professional debut. Whatever happened last year, Freeman is a full participant in the organization this year, but unfortunately, he doesn’t have much to show for it yet. Freeman has a .219/.620 batting line for Single-A Hagerstown while exclusively playing second base. He skipped over the short-season levels, which perhaps shows the organization’s confidence to hit the ground running, but running is pretty much all he’s done: 13 stolen bases in 16 attempts, a nice addition to a Hagerstown offensive unit that has been lacking since Soto vacated the premises. Having been thrown straight into full-season play after missing the back half of 2017, it might be unfair to judge Freeman too heavily for his minimal output at the plate so far. But we could see some slippage here in the rankings as he blends in with a humdrum Hagerstown backdrop.
#22 WARD. An interesting case this season, the longtime third-base prospect Ward has finally made the near-full-time move across the diamond to first base, where evaluators have been pegging him for years to end up. Unfortunately for Ward, between some injury issues (including offseason wrist surgery) and a general decline in performance over the past couple years, he’s in his third straight year of treading water at Double-A Harrisburg rather than making an impact by now in The Show. The 23-year-old has seen his hitting numbers tick up over the past month and a half following a truly brutal start to the season, and his .239/.782 batting line has made him start to look like he could be a call-up candidate if Nats first basemen Matt Adams and Ryan Zimmerman don’t return soon. Although it seems like Ward has been around forever (he was drafted out of high school in 2013), he’s still young and effective enough to be considered a prospect. Whether he makes it all the way is yet to be seen.
#23 AGUSTIN. What to make of Agustin? Another longtime Nats prospect who is still in his early 20s (he’s 21), Agustin has battled injuries in recent seasons, a trend that has continued this year. He spent time on the disabled list with a finger injury, rehabbed with Short Season-A Auburn, then landed back on the DL after just one game back with High-A Potomac. It’s frustrating, because when healthy, Agustin has flashed an intriguing bat; in fact, he was hitting .386/1.070 across 25 games before he dislocated his finger last month. Agustin still has time, but he has less of it than he did before all the injuries. Nonetheless, he should be among the risers in the midseason rankings.
#24 VOTH. The season of a young man who not-too-long-ago ranked among the Nats’ top 10 prospects has been a total mystery so far. For the month of April, prospect-watchers were gaping at “Videogame Voth”, a right-hander who befuddled opposing hitters to the tune of a 0.96 ERA, 0.70 WHIP, and .169 batting average against that put him on the cusp of the majors for the first time in more than a year. Then it all came crashing down, with a dreadful May spiking his season ERA as high as 5.58 before a more recent string of quality outings settled it back down to a less garish 4.06 (accompanying a still-decent 1.23 WHIP). Voth turns 26 years old today, and with the Nats bullpen exhausted by a string of abbreviated starts, it’s possible that he could get his fourth call-up of the season and perhaps make his first major league debut. Now on the wrong side of 25, it’s time for him to either sink or swim; at that age, a prospect ranking really doesn’t matter much anymore.
#25 FRANCO. An injury-prone infielder from the Dominican program who has steadily seen his stock drop over recent seasons, Franco is back on the disabled list after running up a .223/.655 batting line over 45 games. Especially for a 20-year-old who is, after all, still only at Single-A, those numbers wouldn’t be awful for a middle infield prospect. Unfortunately, Franco is limited to corner positions, and he’s gotten the bulk of his time at first base this season, where that kind of production just doesn’t cut it. Like Alastre, Franco has yet to age out of prospect consideration and still has some time to get things together. But since a strong 2014 and 2015, he’s spun his wheels in the Nats’ farm system, and with his physical health a repeated issue, he no longer looks like a slam-dunk to keep climbing the ladder. He’s likely to continue slipping down the prospect rankings.
#26 JOHNSTON. A swingman this year for Single-A Hagerstown, Johnston’s most recent appearance was a beaut of a start, as he threw up six zeroes on the board to lead a shutout yesterday even as the major league club was getting a bagel itself. The 21-year-old was the Nats’ sixth-round draft pick last year, and he’s turned in better numbers on the season than some of his more-touted draft “classmates”. Johnston owns a 3.15 ERA and 1.31 WHIP across sixteen games, five of them starts, and he’s striking out a little over a batter per inning while keeping walks down. As 2018 draftees percolate upward from the Gulf Coast League and Short Season-A Auburn, the likes of Johnston could find themselves finishing out the season with High-A Potomac. That would be a good test of Johnston’s ability to stick in either a starting or bullpen role.
#27 UPSHAW. This 22-year-old outfielder has basically one trick: stealing bases. Even by the 2018 Hagerstown Suns’ anemic standards, Upshaw’s contributions with the bat have been nearly microscopic this year, amounting to a .200/.557 batting line that will not play at higher levels even for a speedy center fielder like him. Once he reaches, though, like his teammate Freeman, Upshaw can be an asset. He’s ripped 14 bases in 17 tries. But that single ability won’t be enough to keep Upshaw, already a fringe prospect, in the MLB Pipeline top 30. He is a safe bet to fall out of the top 30 next month as Callis and Mayo re-evaluate the Nats’ farm system.
#28 BAEZ. “Diamonds and Rust” is a pretty succinct description of Baez’s production as a starting pitcher. Across 13 starts this year for High-A Potomac, Baez has a 4.20 ERA with a 1.37 WHIP. Neither number stands out. But Baez has flashed genuinely good performances, like a seven-inning, three-hit start earlier this month, and a five-inning start in which he allowed just one hit and struck out six back in April. He’s also been hit hard at times, and the result is another statline that just hasn’t stood out. At 23, Baez is starting to get old for a pitching prospect who has yet to rise above the low minors, but his sluggish pace of progression through the system and his unexciting season numbers haven’t kept him out of at least the periphery of the Nats’ top prospect rankings so far. Why would anything be different now?
#29 GUSHUE. The 24-year-old Gushue has become an actual prospect after being acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates back in 2016 as part of a spare-parts transaction (the Bucs received utilityman Chris Bostick, who has since put up pretty good numbers as well but has struggled to find major league playing time). The caveat is that he’s still not a particularly elite prospect. Gushue has slouched to a .233/.703 batting line this year and still doesn’t grade out as particularly good behind the plate. Those numbers aren’t catastrophic for a second-string catcher, as Gushue projects to be if he reaches his ceiling, but the Nats seem in no hurry to promote him even as their major league catching situation deteriorates. Already on the edge of the top 30, he’ll probably fall off it again next month.
#30 BARRERA. Perhaps the only Nats catching prospect on this list who might be heading in the right direction, Barrera has impressed with a .267/.724 batting line and reputedly sound work behind the plate this season. The problem, of course, is that Barrera turns 24 in September and he’s still in High-A. It’s a bit of a surprise he didn’t move up along with some of his Potomac teammates like Kieboom, although it’s possible that after Read comes off the restricted list, a spot could open for Gushue at Triple-A and Barrera could slide into his position at Double-A. Catcher development is made complicated by things like this. We’ll see what happens for Barrera.
Last year’s midseason prospect rankings were published on July 24, a couple weeks or so after the All-Star Game. We’ll be on the lookout at TalkNats for the new list, which should feature newly drafted prospects like second-round lefty Tim Cate and fifth-round center fielder Gage Canning, may feature some intriguing new international signees like center fielder Braian Fernandez and right-hander Rodney Theophile, and might feature some fringier prospects who have posted eye-catching results this year like infielder Jake Noll and wiry righty Sterling Sharp.
The Nats’ prospect rankings will likely change again before the midseason list is published, as Soto and Fedde are rapidly approaching the point at which they will no longer be considered prospects by MLB Pipeline. Stay tuned.