Washington Nationals Top 20 Prospects

Pedro Severino has impressed the Nationals with a strong work ethic and excellent defense behind the plate. (Credit: MLB.com)

15. Juan Soto, OF
Date of Birth:
Height/Weight: 6’1″/185 lbs.Bats/Throws: L/L
Acquired: Signed by the Nationals as an international free agent in 2015

Soto has yet to play for the Nationals, but was regarded as one of the best hitters in the 2015 international free-agent class. The Nationals rewarded his sweet left-handed swing with a $1.5 million bonus, a franchise record for a Latin American prospect.

Soto has a mature approach at the plate for a 17-year-old amateur. His bat will be his most valuable tool at this point, and he frequently makes hard contact. Soto’s defense should come around in a corner outfield spot. He’s only 17 years old and should continue to build muscle and strength. Soto is definitely one to watch at the lower levels of the Washington system. He could easily climb the prospect leaderboards after taking the field for the first time in 2016.

14. Rhett Wiseman, OF
Date of Birth:
Height/Weight: 6’0″/200 lbs.
Bats/Throws: L/R
Acquired: Drafted by the Nationals in the 3rd round of the 2015 Draft

Perhaps due to their relative lack of top-flight hitter talent at the more advanced levels, the Nationals plucked two college outfielders near the front of the 2015 draft — Wiseman and Andrew Stevenson. Wiseman played his college ball at Vanderbilt, a veritable first-round factory if ever there was one. While he went later than the likes of Dansby Swanson, Walker Buehler, and Carson Fulmer, Wiseman is still a prospect to watch.

It takes a complete player to succeed at a school like Vanderbilt, and that is what Wiseman is. While he does not have any truly elite tools, the right fielder has a very well-rounded skill profile. His power developed well over his past two college seasons, and he tied Swanson for the team lead in his final year with the Commodores. His left-handed swing can get long, especially when he tries to swing for the fences. He struck out 52 times in 54 games in the NY-Penn League. Wiseman does not have elite speed and his defensive routes in the outfield need to be smoothed out. While the 2015 draftee is somewhat lacking in the raw tools department, he does make up for it with flat-out effort.

13. Jakson Reetz, C
Date of Birth: 1/3/96
Height/Weight: 6’1″/195 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted by the Nationals in the 3rd round of the 2014 Draft

Reetz is coming off a rough offensive season in 2015. He recorded only four extra base hits in 36 games and batted .212 with a .574 OPS. A left wrist injury held the highest high-school draft pick out of Nebraska since 1996. Reetz has a strong arm that grades a 55 on the 20-80 scale. He still needs to work on his pitch receiving and blocking, but does have the raw tools that should allow him to stick behind the plate.

The weak offensive numbers from 2015 should see a boost if Reetz can stay healthy in 2016. He posted respectable numbers as an 18-year-old in rookie ball. Reetz drew 26 walks against only 30 strikeouts in his first 43 professional games while slashing .274/.429/.368. His power should continue to develop as he gains more professional experience.

12. Anderson Franco, 3B
Date of Birth: 8/15/97
Height/Weight: 6’3″/190 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Acquired: Signed by the Nationals as an international free agent in 2013

Franco was one of the youngest players in the New-York Penn League last season, over four years younger than league average. The third baseman, in his age-17 season, did struggle at the Single-A level, but has had nothing but positive results over the first two years of his professional career. In 114 games, Franco has slashed .271/.346/.383. He has not shown much power to date, but should continue growing into his 6’3″ frame. Franco has already shown a good ability to make contact while also drawing his fair share of walks. He will continue tightening his swing and tapping into his raw power.

Defensively, Franco needs to continue improving, but he does have solid baseball instincts. He has made 27 errors in 254 chances. The Nationals have tried him at shortstop, but with his size and continued growth, Franco is likely ticketed for the hot corner. He has a strong arm and good lateral quickness at third base.

11. Pedro Severino, C
Date of Birth:
Height/Weight: 6’2″/200 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Acquired: Signed by the Nationals as an international free agent in 2010

Severino has a chance to be the Nationals’ version of Salvador Perez. At 22, he is already a great defensive catcher who shows great ability as a pitch framer and blocker. His bright personality can light up a clubhouse. Severino is the type of player who could eventually become a leader in a major-league clubhouse. Over the past few years, he has worked hard to master the English language to make communicating with his pitchers easier.

The Nationals have been patient with Severino on the offensive side, and he has batted just .236/.288/.338 in five minor league seasons. He does have a smooth swing and does not strike out often. As Severino matures, he should begin making hard contact more frequently, giving his batting average a chance to rise. Even if Severino’s offense never fully comes around, his defensive abilities alone could be enough to earn him a spot on a 25-man roster for years to come.

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