Dynasty: Washington Nationals’ 2020 Preseason Top 50 Prospects

Carter Kieboom is the clear #1, but who else might be stash-worthy in the Nats' system?

After capping off an illustrious 2019 season with an upset World Series win over the Astros, the Nationals look to contend again in 2020. However, most of the new reinforcements for another playoff run aren’t going to be found in the team’s farm system. Outside of top prospect Carter Kieboom, the Nationals are short on talent that can make an immediate impact.

The silver lining is that for what the Nationals lack in high probability contributors, the system makes up for in power pitching and interesting bats in the low minors. Most of these players won’t show up in overall top-100 prospect rankings, but there’s certainly upside to be found. Since there are few “safe” prospects, this list is weighted more towards those with high potential.

Note: These Top 50 lists are all done through a fantasy baseball-focused lens. Many players who are ranked higher or lower on other platforms will get a boost here. For example, players who profile as middle relievers or glove-first infielders likely won’t have much fantasy relevance, so they won’t be ranked as highly.

 

1. Carter Kieboom, SS

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: MLB

Despite a weak cup of coffee in the majors, Carter Kieboom is still the clear No. 1 prospect for the Nationals. There are few minor league infielders with Kieboom’s blend of contact and power ability. In AAA, he batted .303 with just a 9.0% swinging-strike rate. He also ranked 51/202 in average FB distance (sourced from Prospects Live) among AAA batters with at least 75 FB. Kieboom projects as a likely starter with the potential to be a .300 hitter with 25+ HR power as he develops in the major leagues.

The Nationals have filled out the gaps in their infield this offseason by re-signing Howie Kendrick as well as adding Starlin Castro, Eric Thames, and Asdrubal Cabrera. It’s a crowded group with Trea Turner still holding down shortstop. Regardless, Kieboom should still get an extended look in 2020 whether it’s through an under-performer in that group or an injury. When that happens, Kieboom is an instant pickup in most redraft leagues and a potential long term starter in dynasties.

ETA: 2020

2. Luis Garcia, 2B/SS

 

Age: 19

Highest Level: AA

A 79 wRC+ at AA doesn’t appear particularly exciting, but there’s still plenty of reasons not to give up on Luis Garcia. He started the season as the youngest player in AA and improved as the year went on. From June 1 onwards, Garcia batted .280 with a 98 wRC+. August was his best month with a 118 wRC+. With such a young player, the expectation is that he’ll continue to improve and Garcia already held his own at AA.

There’s upside for more power in Garcia’s bat, and he makes plenty of contact with a free-swinging approach. 2019 was somewhat of a hiccup, but Luis Garcia is still an advanced hitter who should be stashed in dynasty leagues that use AVG over OBP.

ETA: 2021

 

3. Jackson Rutledge, RHP

 

Age: 20

Highest Level: A

There’s a case to be made for Jackson Rutledge placing higher on this list. While he fell to 17th overall in the 2019 amateur draft due to a questionable medical history, he arguably possesses some of the best pure stuff of any pitcher selected. Rutledge’s fastball sits in the mid/high 90s with high spin and the ability to touch 100. He pairs that with a wipeout slider and a solid curveball. In his minor league debut, Rutledge struck out 26.1% of opposing batters but also allowed a 10.1% walk rate. Command issues could continue to plague him as he climbs through the minor leagues.

Rutledge could fly up prospect rankings with a strong 2020. It’s also possible that injuries and high walk rates stymie his growth. I’m optimistic about his development and think the difference between him and Garcia is much smaller than that of Rutledge and No. 4 on this list.

ETA: 2021

 

4. Drew Mendoza, 1B

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: A

After being selected in the third round of the 2019 draft, Drew Mendoza had a solid debut in A-ball, slashing .264/.377/.383. The approach is already solid with a 1.67 K/BB rate, and though he didn’t hit for much power, there’s reason to believe he can improve in that regard. Mendoza finished 12/212 in average flyball distance in A-ball at 304.6 feet. He’s likely stuck at first base, but the bat could make him a solid starter there if the power develops.

ETA: 2021

 

5. Andry Lara, RHP

 

Age: 17

Highest Level: N/A

The Nationals spent $1.25 million to bring Andry Lara to the organization in last year’s international signing period. He currently throws around 92-94 mph and features a two-seam fastball, curveball, and developing changeup. It’s possible he adds more velocity as he gets older, but Lara is already an intriguing prospect—albeit one we won’t see in the majors for a long time.

ETA: 2024

 

6. Mason Denaburg, RHP

 

Age: 20

Highest Level: Rookie (GCL)

We haven’t seen much of Mason Denaburg since he was drafted 27th overall in 2018. He made his debut last season with 20.1 unimpressive innings in the GCL, so this ranking is mostly a projection of his arsenal. He’s still capable of throwing in the mid-90s with a good curveball and above-average changeup. Denaburg was shut down again at the end of 2019 with a shoulder injury, but he looks to be ready to go again in 2020. There’s massive risk in Denaburg’s profile, but he also has the best mix of pitches of anyone in this system outside of Rutledge.

ETA: 2023

 

7. Tim Cate, LHP

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: A+

Tim Cate doesn’t have a blazing fastball like Rutledge or Denaburg, instead sitting in the low 90s. However, he’s had the most successful minor league career with a 3.59 ERA and 3.08 FIP across 195.2 innings since being selected in the second round of the 2018 draft. He’s done it with a standout curveball and the ability to limit walks to just a 5.9% career walk rate. Cate could run into problems at the higher levels of the minors with his lack of velocity, but he has a solid chance of being a major league contributor in some capacity.

ETA: 2021

 

8. Wil Crowe, RHP

Age: 25

Highest Level: AAA

Like Cate, Wil Crowe also projects as more of a role player than a front-line starter. He’s closer to the major leagues and has better stuff, but struggles to locate his pitches. Crowe’s track record is inconsistent—even in 2019, he was very good in AA (3.15 FIP) and very bad in AAA (5.46 FIP). Crowe needs to either miss more bats or hone his control to be relevant in 12-team leagues, but he should get the chance to do so in the major leagues at some point in 2020.

ETA: 2020

 

9. Matt Cronin, LHP

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: A

Relief pitching prospects typically aren’t highly regarded in fantasy, but this is a shallow system and Matt Cronin is a good one. Cronin pairs a mid-90s fastball with a power curveball. In his professional debut at A-ball, Cronin stuck out a ridiculous 48.2% of batters to go with a 0.82 ERA and 1.99 FIP. He’s a potential late-inning reliever who could be fast-tracked to the majors if/when the Nationals need bullpen help.

ETA: 2021

 

10. Seth Romero, RHP

 

Age: 23

Highest Level: A

Another pitcher! Seth Romero‘s stuff is up there with the best in the system, but he’s barely played since being drafted in the first round in 2017. While he missed all of 2019 with Tommy John surgery, Romero showed promise in his 47.1 career professional innings with a 34.0% strikeout rate and 2.63 FIP. It’s possible that injuries and off-field issues push him to the bullpen, but Romero could fly up rankings if nothing else goes wrong.

ETA: 2021

 

11. Eddy Yean, RHP

 

Age: 18

Highest Level: A-

A 2017 J2 signing, Eddy Yean delivered a strong performance in the GCL in his first taste of stateside baseball. He posted a 24.7% strikeout rate and 49.5% groundball rate en route to a 3.85 FIP. Yean typically sits in the low-to-mid 90’s but is still very young and can occasionally ramp up to 96. Like Lara, he has a long way to go to reach his mid-rotation potential.

ETA: 2022

 

12. Roismar Quintana, OF

 

Age: 16

Highest Level: N/A

The Nationals have been successful in identifying and developing international hitting talent with Juan Soto and Victor Robles becoming quality starters. Roismar Quintana hopes to join that group after signing for $820,000. There’s premium power in his bat, so his future will be determined by how much contact he’s able to make.

ETA: 2024

 

13. Yasel Antuna, 3B

 

Age: 20

Highest Level: A

After holding his own as an 18-year-old in A-ball in 2018, Yasel Antuna missed most of 2019 due to Tommy John surgery. He has a well-rounded skill set but isn’t outstanding in any one area. Prime major league production could look something like a .270 average with double-digit HR and SB with an optimistic view of his development.

ETA: 2022

 

14. Israel Pineda, C

 

Age: 19

Highest Level: A

Israel Pineda struggled in 2019 with a 73 wRC+ in A-ball. However, the bar for offensive production is low at catcher and there’s still reason to be optimistic that Pineda can produce at a higher level. His average fly-ball distance of 292.5 feet ranked 21/100 among qualifying hitters at Single-A. A bounce-back season would bring Pineda back to fantasy relevance.

ETA: 2023

 

15. Steven Fuentes, RHP

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: AA

Steven Fuentes was arguably the best performer in this system last season with a breakout 2019. He took quite well to a starting role in AA, striking out 23.2% of hitters with a 55.3% ground-ball rate while allowing walks just 5.5% of the time. Fuentes is very much a performance-over-tools type, but it’s hard to ignore just how good he was in a competitive environment.

ETA: 2020

 

16. Justin Connell, OF

 

Age: 20

Highest Level: A

Across his minor league career, Justin Connell has a 13.7% strikeout rate and a 11.0% walk rate. While he clearly possesses strong discipline and contact ability, Connell has been lacking in the power department, though there’s reason for optimism. His average flyball distance of 290.7 feet was above average in A-ball. If some of that carries over to in-game power, he’s a very interesting hitter.

ETA: 2022

 

17. Jacob Condra-Bogan, RHP

 

Age: 25

Highest Level: AA

If you haven’t heard of Jacob Condra-Bogan, this tweet describes him pretty well (minus the breaking ball). In spite of a 100 mph fastball, his strikeout rates haven’t been overly impressive (20.4% in 2019), but he also doesn’t hand out many free passes (4.5%). There’s further upside if he can develop a breaking ball to pair with his fastball.

ETA: 2020

 

18. Viandel Pena, 2B/SS

 

Age: 19

Highest Level: R

After a solid pro debut in 2018, Viandel Pena tore up the GCL in 2019 with a 171 wRC+. He has just 1 HR in 449 PA between the DSL and GCL, but he has an advanced feel for hitting with an 18.3% strikeout rate and 15.1% walk rate. Pena also chipped in 10 SB over that span. Despite the lack of power, Pena is worth keeping an eye on in deeper leagues.

ETA: 2023

 

19. Yadiel Hernandez, OF

 

Age: 32

Highest Level: AAA

Being 32 years old makes Yadiel Hernandez a nontraditional prospect, but he dominated AAA and might just be a good enough hitter to be fantasy relevant right now if he can find playing time. 33 HR in 505 PA is impressive, but Hernandez also ranked 2/220 among AAA hitters in flyball distance. He also batted .323. It’s unlikely Hernandez ends up in a starting role, but he’s worth a stash if he manages to receive regular at-bats.

ETA: 2020

 

20. Leandro Emiliani, 1B/OF

 

Age: 19

Highest Level: R

Leando Emiliani‘s second pass at the GCL went much better than the first, slashing .299/.467/.480 with a 175 wRC+. His 25.1% strikeout rate was on the higher side, but he also walked 19.8% of the time. Since he moved to first base full time in 2019, the bat needs to carry his profile but there’s further power upside to go along with strong plate discipline.

ETA: 2023

 

21. Raudy Read, C

 

Age: 26

Highest Level: MLB

In just 328 PA at AAA last season, Raudy Read hit 20 HR while batting .275. However, in the ridiculous run-scoring environment of the PCL, that only resulted in a 97 wRC+. Over the course of his minor league career, Read has been a strong hitter, though he’s held back by fringe defensive ability at catcher. He’s currently buried in the depth chart behind Kurt Suzuki and Yan Gomes, but could provide value in deeper leagues if he can ever find playing time.

ETA: 2020

 

22. Jeremy De La Rosa, OF

 

Age: 18

Highest Level: R

Despite a 29.3% strikeout rate, Jeremy De La Rosa had a respectable professional debut with a 108 wRC+ in the GCL. He flashed solid tools, but De La Rosa’s approach at the plate is going to need improvement in order to reach his upside. He’s worth monitoring in case that does happen.

ETA: 2024

 

23. Todd Peterson, RHP

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: A-

After being converted from a relief pitcher to a starter, Todd Peterson pitched well with a 2.67 ERA and 3.59 FIP over six appearances at the end of the 2019 season. His peripherals weren’t overly exciting (16.8% strikeout rate and 8.0% walk rate), but his fastball sits in the low-to-mid 90s with a pair of potentially above-average breaking pitches.

ETA: 2022

 

24. Tyler Dyson, RHP

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: A-

The Nationals took Tyler Dyson in the fifth round of last year’s draft and he had a solid professional debut with a 1.14 ERA and 3.97 FIP at A-. Unfortunately, behind the sterling ERA was a minuscule 11.9% strikeout rate. Dyson does possess one of the better fastballs among starters in this system though, so watch out for him to miss more bats in a full season of work.

ETA: 2023

 

25. Jackson Cluff, SS

 

Age: 23

Highest Level: A

Since he wasn’t highly regarded prior to last year’s amateur draft, Jackson Cluff fell to the sixth round before the Nationals scooped him up. He’s trending up after a solid debut at Single-A, where he posted a 103 wRC+ with 5 HR and 11 SB across 62 games. While Cluff was a bit old for the level, his approach at the plate also looked decent with a 22.5% strikeout rate and 9.3% walk rate.

ETA: 2022

 

26. Joan Adon, RHP

 

Age: 21

Highest Level: A

Joan Adon‘s conversion from relief to starting was mostly a success with a 3.86 ERA and 4.25 FIP over 105 innings at Single-A. He still struggled a bit with control, allowing a 9.8% walk rate. With that alongside inconsistent secondary pitches, it’s possible that his long-term role ends up back in relief. Either way, his fastball is a strong enough pitch to give Adon a decent shot at a major league role.

ETA: 2022

 

27. Alex Troop, LHP

 

Age: 23

Highest Level: A

After mixed results in his first few professional seasons, the Nationals experimented with Alex Troop‘s role in 2019. He pitched 2-4 innings at a time, mostly following in relief. He responded with a 30.6% strikeout rate, a 1.9% walk rate, and a 2.10 FIP in 44 innings. Regardless of his eventual role, Troop is one of the most talented arms in this system.

ETA: 2021

 

28. Pablo Aldonis, LHP

 

Age: 17

Highest Level: N/A

Pablo Aldonis received the second-largest signing bonus in the Nationals’ 2019 J2 class at $1 million. He’s a long way from the majors but has some of the most long-term upside in the system. The Nationals are clearly very high on him, so his development will be one of the focal points for the minor league staff next season.

ETA: 2025

 

29. KJ Harrison, 1B

 

Age: 23

Highest Level: A+

Despite the probability of KJ Harrison being able to remain at catcher declining to nearly zero, he still put up a solid offensive showing in 2019. In A+, he put up a 119 wRC+ with a 23.7% strikeout rate and a 12.3% walk rate. Harrison will need to tap into more of his raw power to project as a future starter at first base, but he remains one of the better bats in the Nationals’ system.

ETA: 2021

 

30. Reid Schaller, RHP

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: A

Reid Schaller‘s fastball and slider represent a pair of potentially above-average pitches, so his future as a starting pitcher likely depends on the development of his changeup. Schaller struggled with walks last season, allowing them at an 11.7% rate, though he also had a healthy 22.0% strikeout rate. He currently projects as a back-end starter but could profile better in the bullpen.

ETA: 2022

 

31. Mario Sanchez, RHP

 

Age: 25

Highest Level: AAA

Though he was signed as a minor league free agent, Mario Sanchez delivered one of the best pitching seasons in the system. At AA, he posted a 2.85 ERA and 0.98 WHIP with a 24.9% strikeout rate and a 3.8% walk rate. He hit a wall at AAA, allowing 18 earned run across 13.2 innings but showed enough overall for the Nationals to bring him back for 2020. While he’s not a traditional prospect, Sanchez is MLB-ready and could get an opportunity to start in the major leagues at some point next season.

ETA: 2020

 

32. James Bourque, RHP

 

Age: 26

Highest Level: MLB

James Bourque is the type of player who’s more valuable in real life than fantasy. He projects as a likely middle reliever with a 96 mph fastball that he throws most of the time, paired with a solid curveball. Bourque has struggled heavily with control at points in his career, including a AAA stint last season that saw him walk 14.8% of batters across 43.2 innings.

ETA: 2020

 

33. Junior Martina, 2B/SS

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: A-

Despite falling to the 16th round, Junior Martina made a fantastic impression in his professional debut. He posted an elite 180 wRC+ in the GCL with strikeout and walk rates of 16.7% and 11.9%. He doesn’t have the prospect pedigree of other players in this system, but his performance opened eyes and he’s a player to watch next season.

ETA: 2023

 

34. Jackson Reetz, C

 

Age: 24

Highest Level: A+

Jackson Reetz has spent a long time in the low minors since being selected in the third round of the 2014 draft. After repeating A+ for the second time, Reetz finally broke out offensively. He boosted his FB% to a career-high 46.7% and hit 13 HR with a 139 wRC+ in 387 PA. Reetz will need to prove it at a higher level, but he’s trending up.

ETA: 2022

 

35. Cole Freeman, 2B/OF

 

Age: 25

Highest Level: A+

While he was old for A+, Cole Freeman excelled there anyway, slashing .311/.394/.404 with 31 SB. Freeman’s 11.2% strikeout rate and 9.9% walk rate lend confidence to his approach and contact ability. He’s likely more of a bench player in the majors—with some AVG and SB upside if he does find playing time.

ETA: 2021

 

36. Nick Banks, OF

 

Age: 25

Highest Level: AA

Nick Banks delivered the best season of his minor league career in 2019, slashing .278/.338/.431 with 10 HR and 8 SB across A+ and AA. The problem is he’s already old for a prospect and doesn’t excel in any one area. The most likely outcome for Banks is that he’s a fourth or fifth outfielder, but there’s a possibility he’s a late bloomer and could produce more.

ETA: 2021

 

37. Ben Braymer, LHP

 

Age: 25

Highest Level: AAA

The start of 2019 went well for Ben Braymer, pitching to a 2.51 ERA and 3.37 FIP in 79 innings at AA. Unfortunately, his performance after a AAA promotion was disastrous. Braymer put up a 7.20 ERA and an even worse 7.98 FIP with strikeout and walk rates of 16.6% and 12.3% respectively in 60 innings. We should see him in the major leagues at some point next season, but he profiles as more of a spot starter.

ETA: 2020

 

38. Gage Canning, OF

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: A+

Much of the modest hype around Gage Canning has deflated after a disappointing 2019. He struggled to a 91 wRC+ at A+ with a 27.8% strikeout rate and just three homers in 410 PA. His hit tool has always been in question, but single-digit home run and steal totals aren’t going to cut it for a player whose calling cards are power and speed potential.

ETA: 2022

 

39. J.T. Arruda, 2B/SS

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: A-

Similar to Martina, J.T. Arruda is a middle infielder who slipped to the 11th round of the 2019 draft, but is trending up after a solid debut. At A-, Arruda had a 116 wRC+, albeit with no home runs in 229 PA. His offensive performance was bolstered by a 13.1% walk rate, which led to a .351 OBP. There’s some hitting ability here, but Arruda will need to show more at a higher level next year.

ETA: 2023

 

40. Yoander Rivero, SS

 

Age: 18

Highest Level: R

Yoander Rivero wasn’t one of the most sought after J2 eligible players in 2018, but he gave reason to be interested in him in his professional debut. Across 228 PA in the DSL, Rivero’s approach impressed with an 11.4% strikeout rate and 10.1% walk rate. However, he only hit two HR and posted an 88 wRC+ overall. Defense is Rivero’s calling card and could be the carrying tool for him to find major league playing time someday.

ETA: 2025

 

41. Felix Taveras, RHP

 

Age: 24

Highest Level: A-

He’s old to still be spending time in the GCL, but Felix Taveras has pitched a total of 12.2 innings since 2016. So why is he on this list? Taveras still possesses a mid-90s fastball with high spin and should rise quickly if he can just stay healthy. He’s a shot in the dark with almost no recent track record, though he remains relevant as a potential future starter with life on his fastball.

ETA: 2022

 

42. Nick Raquet, LHP

 

Age: 24

Highest Level: A+

Nick Raquet was productive in 2019, posting a 4.07 ERA and 3.88 FIP at A+. He mainly features a four-seam fastball and curveball, but the lack of a true third pitch leads some to believe he’s better suited for relief. Raquet is similar to some of the other pitchers in this tier in that regard, but his solid performance could hold off a move to the bullpen for now.

ETA: 2021

 

43. Kyle Finnegan, RHP

 

Age: 28

Highest Level: AAA

The Nationals signed Kyle Finnegan as a minor league free agent this past offseason after the A’s somewhat surprisingly didn’t make an effort to retain him. While he’s already 28 and has yet to play in the major leagues, Finnegan put up a 2.31 ERA and 2.75 FIP with a 34.9% strikeout rate across AA and AAA in 2019. He’s potentially one of the team’s better middle relievers right now.

ETA: 2020

 

44. Daniel Marte, OF

 

Age: 18

Highest Level: R

Daniel Marte is about as high risk as prospects get, with a 29.3% strikeout rate in his DSL debut. However, he was also just 17 and hit for a .190 ISO with 10 SB in just 255 PA. There are some interesting tools here, but Marte will have to improve his contact rate substantially to have any kind of major league future.

ETA: 2025

 

45. Mirton Blanco, RHP

 

Age: 17

Highest Level: R

Mirton Blanco is the pitching equivalent of Marte. At just 17, his fastball already touches the high 90s, but he allowed an absurd 36 walks in 28.2 innings in the DSL. In spite of that, Blanco held opposing batters to a .170 batting average and gave up 0 HR. The quality of Blanco’s fastball gives him some leeway, but he can’t be this wild.

ETA: 2025

 

46. Jhonatan German, RHP

 

Age: 25

Highest Level: AA

Since becoming a full-time reliever in 2018, Jhonatan German has pitched well, with a 24.2% strikeout rate, a 6.8% walk rate, and a 3.22 FIP over that span. Notably, his strikeout rates have dropped as he’s ascended from single-A to AA, primarily using a sinker to achieve high groundball rates. He should compete for a spot in the Nationals’ bullpen over the next couple years.

ETA: 2020

 

47. Jake Randa, OF

 

Age: 21

Highest Level: A-

Jake Randa made his professional debut at A-, where he posted a respectable 104 wRC+ with strikeout and walk rates of 16.7% and 8.8%. With below-average power and speed, Randa needs to continue to make plenty of contact to make a mark offensively. He’s among the more polished hitters the Nationals have in the low minors.

ETA: 2023

 

48. Geraldi Diaz, C

 

Age: 19

Highest Level: R

2019 went about as well as it could have for Geraldi Diaz. He emerged out of relative anonymity to produce a 133 wRC+ in the DSL with a 0.94 K/BB ratio, then continued to hit stateside with a 137 wRC+ in the GCL. In his limited career, Diaz has a 14.3% strikeout rate and a 13.3% walk rate. If he can stick at catcher, there’s potential for contact-driven offensive value.

ETA: 2025

 

49. Aldrem Corredor, 1B

 

Age: 24

Highest Level: A+

Aldrem Corredor has generally hit over the course of his minor league career, with a 118 wRC+, 17.6% strikeout rate, and 10.1% walk rate overall. The main question is if he’ll ever develop enough power to profile at first base since he’s never hit double-digit HR in a full season. The pure hitting ability at least makes him somewhat interesting from a fantasy perspective.

ETA: 2022

 

50. Malvin Pena, RHP

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: A+

The past season was disastrous for Malvin Pena, as he put up a 6.20 ERA and a 5.55 FIP in 107.1 innings at A+. However, he was once one of the more promising arms in this system and his ERA was largely the result of a poor strand rate at 60.9%. Pena’s 4.54 xFIP was more respectable and he’ll try to match closer to that in the next year.

ETA: 2022

 

Mary Holt/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Zach Ennis (@zachennis on Twitter and Instagram)

Alex Isherwood

Creator of @ProspectBot and former FantasyPros writer. Studying computer science and mathematics at William & Mary.

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