Washington Nationals Top 10 Prospects Chat
Teddy Cahill: Welcome to the Nationals' prospects list chat. Things have changed a little bit with this system over the last week, so let's get to your questions.
Mick (Chicago): Might you have an explanation of the seemingly obvious to everyone but Mike Rizzo trade for Adam Eaton? I haven't heard one analysis from one baseball talking head expert that doesn't think the Nationals were bamboozled. Teddy Cahill: Let's address The Trade first, because that obviously dramatically changed the way the top 10 and the whole system looks. I don't know specifically which experts you're referring to, but the trade of Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning for Adam Eaton has been received, at best, skeptically. My general thinking is that while I'm not sure I would have made the same move, the Nationals acquired a really good player on a really, really good contract. There's a lot of value in that. And to get something of value, you have to give something up. At this point in his career, I think Mike Rizzo has earned some benefit of the doubt when it comes to trades. We'll see if this one turns out as well as some of his others.
Tim (San Dimas): I've heard Robles being comped to Andrew McCutchen. It seems aggressive - but is it fair? A little less power? Teddy Cahill: While I don't much like player comps, I think Victor Robles could end up being similar to McCutchen. That's incredibly lofty, of course, but you're talking about a potential five-tool, athletic center fielder with more hit than power. That also is somewhat similar to Starling Marte, who, like Robles, doesn't have great walk/strikeout numbers. But Robles is still a ways away from reaching that kind of ceiling.
DrewNats (Richmond): If the Nats keep Stevenson and Robles, which plays left and which plays center? The thought of Turner, Eaton, Stevenson and Robles playing together is pretty enticing. Speed to burn. Teddy Cahill: That lineup would indeed be a fast one. In that scenario, where everyone has reached their ceiling, I think you'd be looking at Robles in center, Stevenson in left and Eaton in right (I guess Bryce Harper is a Yankee in this scenario?). Robles has a plus arm, while Stevenson's is more fringy. And while both Robles and Stevenson are potentially plus defenders, Robles is generally seen as being a bit better defensively, so he would man center. No matter how that shakes out, however, not many fly balls would be dropping in that outfield.
Nick (Boston): It appears Difo is blocked, at least for the next 2 years. Can he play anywhere else or is he a Utility guy until a trade outta Washington? Teddy Cahill: Well, more than just the middle infield is blocked for the next two years in Washington. He has played third in the big leagues and I'm sure he could handle first, but that's not really going to help him crack the lineup with Anthony Rendon and Ryan Zimmerman in Washington. For now, it looks like his best path to the Nationals lineup is as a utility player. That's the downside to trying to break into the big leagues with a team that is intent on contending for the pennant.
Gerald (NY): Do you think Koda struggled last year because it was his first exposure to the majors or because of the hip injury? With the Nats bullpen being so bad, do you think he will be the closer at some point this year? Teddy Cahill: I think both factors played into Glover's struggles. He started off well in the big leagues before falling off in September. I'm sure part of that was his injury and part of that was the league adjusting to him. While there is reason to believe he can close in the big leagues, I doubt it happens this year. It's just hard to imagine the Nationals let the rest of the offseason go by without acquiring a veteran option for the back end of their bullpen.
William (Pensacola, FL): Any close to the majors bats in the 11-20 slots of the Nats system ? Seems the young bats position wise in the Top 10 are not going to be debuting in DC for awhile. Teddy Cahill: Andrew Stevenson shouldn't be far away. He spent the second half of last year in Double-A and finished the year with a strong showing in the Arizona Fall League, which should help propel him toward the big leagues. Aside from Stevenson, Osvaldo Abreu, Rafael Bautista and Drew Ward are probably the best position players in the upper levels of the minors who have yet to reach Washington. Bautista got added to the 40-man last month, so he'll likely be the first you'll see in the big leagues, potentially as soon as this season.
Michael Stern (Rochester NY): What are you hearing about OF Rafael Bautista? Anything here besides big time speed? Is there a possibility of becoming an everyday player eventually or is he destined to be more of a utility/4th OF? Thanks for the chat ! Teddy Cahill: Speaking of Bautista...he has a chance to be an everyday player. Everything starts with his speed, but he defends well in center field and has done a better job of adjusting his offensive approach to take advantage of his speed to get on base more often. With his speed and defense he should at least be a fourth outfielder, with a chance to take on a bigger role.
Brian (Detroit): Thanks, Teddy! What are the chances that Erick Fedde tastes the majors in 2017? Another nice arm in the Washington system. Teddy Cahill: Because Fedde isn't on the 40-man, the depth of the Nationals' pitching staff and their generally cautious approach with pitchers who have had Tommy John surgery, I think it is unlikely that he makes his big league debut this year. That said, Fedde has the kind of tools that give him a chance to really take off and force the issue with his performance in the upper minors.
Andrew (New York): Does the Nats' system allow for Rizzo to make another big trade, for say a closer at the deadline or a big bat if someone gets hurt, without giving up Robles? Teddy Cahill: Yes, particularly if you're willing to wait until July to make a trade. At that point he'd be able to trade international bonus pool money (and the Nationals will have limits on their spending next year after breaking their pool this year) and would have had a draft to help restock the system. Going into this offseason, the Nationals' system was deeper and less top heavy than it had been in recent years. Rizzo still has attractive trade chips with which to work.
Ryan (Abingdon, MD): Why is Luis Garcia ranked ahead of Carter Kieboom? I get that they're ranked together, but is Garcia's upside really that much greater than Kieboom's to get him placed ahead even though I assume he'll have a considerably later ETA. Teddy Cahill: It was difficult to order Garcia and Kieboom. They have the same BA Grade and the difference between them is slim. I think Garcia's ceiling is higher than Kieboom's, partially because he has a chance to be better defensively. I hesitate to call Kieboom the safer of the pair because no teenager in the complex league is "safe", but he might have the higher floor (though part of the attraction of Garcia is how advanced he is for a 16-year-old). I don't think Kieboom's ETA is much ahead of Garcia's. He's two years older and has made his pro debut already, but it's not like he's in line to play in the big leagues in 2018. It's going to take them both some time to get to Washington, and it will be interesting to watch them develop.
theaman (College Park, Md.): Jose Marmolejos seemed to come out of nowhere to win organizational player of the year and seemed like a surprise addition to the 40-man roster. What do the Nats have there? Enough pop to play 1B in the majors? Teddy Cahill: Jose Marmolejos has been a fascinating player to evaluate for the ranking, especially after the Nationals added him to the 40-man roster last month. He has really performed the last two years, winning org player of the year twice. But he doesn't really profile as a first baseman because he doesn't have that kind of power. But as a lefthanded hitter that a good, disciplined approach at the plate, I think he can find a way to help a team off the bench or maybe as a platoon option. The bottom line is if he keeps hitting as he advances in the minor leagues, they'll find a way to use him.
CVD (Gaithersburg, Md.): Sometimes when I get sad at night, I look at Juan Soto's GCL slash line. I am so IN on him. He seems like a pure bat. How quickly can he move up the system? Teddy Cahill: It really was an impressive pro debut for Soto. He's already moving quickly, having skipped the DSL and getting to Auburn by the end of the season. How the Nationals handle him next year will be very interesting. He'll be 18 for all of the 2017 season, and he'll be one of the youngest players no matter whether he goes back to Auburn or whether he goes to low Class A Hagerstown. But if he keeps hitting like he did last year, he'll keep moving up. He's very advanced and the Nationals aren't afraid to challenge their young hitters.
Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware): With a wealth of shortstop prospects ( C. Kieboom, Jose Sanchez, Yasel Antuna, Luis Garcia), who do you foresee as the Washington shortstop of the far future? Teddy Cahill: The great thing is that we don't have to figure that out now. Those guys will all be given a chance to develop over the next few years and the answer will present itself to us. It's unlikely that all four of them stay at the position in the long run anyway. Sanchez is the best defender of the group, but Garcia and Kieboom rank the highest on this year's list. It'll be interesting to see where they all are three years from now.
HogieLuvsTurge (Garyland, MD): This team has done a good job turning low-level international signings into legit prospects. What do you know about Telmito Agustin? Quietly did well at Low A despite being very young for the level. The next Robles? Teddy Cahill: Agustin is definitely an interesting player. He was banged up this year, but there are some intriguing tools there for sure. I'll be very interested to see how he bounces back in 2017 and if he's able to cut down on his strikeout rate going forward. But he's another exciting, young, toolsy, athletic outfielder in a system that is loaded with them.
Joey (N.J.): Is Drew Ward ever going to develop power? Had a solid AFL campaign. Sometimes I want to give up on him, but then I remember how young he is and that his trajectory through the system is in line with his age. Teddy Cahill: His power is there, it's really a matter of getting to it in games. And he's starting to do a better job with that. But, as you mentioned, he is still young. He didn't turn 22 until last month and has already reached Double-A. He played well in the AFL and I think his performance there really impressed some people. No reason to give up on him yet.
Andrew (Providence): Is Tyler Watson a top-30 guy in the system? He had great results in the low minors. Teddy Cahill: Tyler Watson will be in the prospect handbook. It was a great first full professional season for the projectable lefthander. I'm very intrigued by his upside, particuarly if he is able to add some velocity as he physically matures. I think the Nationals' scouts did a great job getting him signed in the 34th round last year and he's certainly a player in the low minors to watch.
John (NJ): How close was Anderson Franco from the top 10? It seems like his skills are incredibly raw at this point and time. What is your analysis on him? Thanks! Teddy Cahill: Franco, who was No. 10 on the list a year ago, slipped a bit this year as he dealt with back injuries that really limited his time on the field. He's still got tools, he just needs time to develop them. Hopefully he's able to stay healthy this year so he can get those at bats he needs. He won't turn 20 until August, however, so he's got plenty of time to get back on track.
Dan (Augusta, ME): Two years in, what do you make of Blake Perkins? He's so toolsy but his struggles have been pronounced. Are they just normal growing pains for a player of his type ? Thanks Teddy Cahill: The Nationals have several really interesting, really toolsy players in the low minors that just haven't produced yet. Perkins is one of them. It's nothing overly concerning yet, you're talking about a guy that played all of this season (his first full season of pro ball) as a 19-year-old and who is learning to switch hit. It's going to take him some time to develop, which the Nationals knew when they drafted him a year ago. He's raw, but the tools give him a chance to really break out if/when he puts it all together.
Lars Markusson (Stockholm): A.J Cole, not regarded as a prosepct anymore or just not good enough to make the list? Or both? Teddy Cahill: Cole retained his prospect eligibility - barely - this year. He just didn't quite crack the list this year. He's not that far off, but his last two years haven't been inspiring.
Dan (Rockville, MD): If Ross/Strasburg get hurt again, who is the call up? Fedde or Voth? Teddy Cahill: That said - Cole remains on the 40-man and has a fair amount of big league experience. So if there are injuries or early needs, you're probably looking at Voth or Cole. Fedde could be an option in the second half, but as I said earlier in the chat, I think his ETA is more 2018 than 2017.
Mick (Chicago): There was a report the Nationals looked into trading for Jurickson Profar putting him at short and leaving Turner in CF before the Eaton trade. Is that a sign that Turner will be on a short critical leash at that position and there's significant doubt he can handle it just like Padre GM Preller believes? Teddy Cahill: At the outset of the offseason, the plan, as I understand it, was to acquire either a center fielder or a shortstop. Depending on who they acquired, Turner would either stay in center or move back to short. So, if anything, the Eaton and Espinosa trades would seem to be an endorsement of Turner as a shortstop. But, regardless, the Nationals believe Turner can play shortstop.
Andrew (Maryland): Rank these three: Jakson Reetz, Jose Marmolejos, Daniel Johnson. Teddy Cahill: While those are three very disparate prospects, that order looks good to me.
Dan (Rockville, MD): Who is this year's Koda Glover? Agustin? Wilson? Teddy Cahill: I'll assume by this year's Koda Glover you mean biggest riser, as opposed to Guy Who Shoots From Potomac To Washington In Three Months or Guy In The Handbook Who I Was Clearly Too Light On. Tyler Watson is probably best positioned for that kind of move, but there are several young, toolsy guys who could make big moves on the list if they start to put things together in 2017.
Mitchell Parker Shows Swing-And-Miss Stuff
The 2020 fifth-rounder used his four-pitch mix to good effect in the early part of the season for Low-A Fredericksburg.
Teddy Cahill: We'll leave the chat there for today. Thanks for all your questions. I know I didn't get to all of them, so if I didn't answer yours, you can leave it in the comments and I'll come back and answer there. Up next are the Phillies and Ben Badler will be here Thursday to talk about their Top 10.