Kieboom, Garcia headline Nats' list of NRIs

February 12th, 2019

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The Nationals announced their non-roster invitees to Major League Spring Training on Tuesday, a list of 19 players including some intriguing veterans and headlined by two promising young prospects.

Carter Kieboom and , the Nats' No. 2 and No. 3 ranked prospects, respectively, per MLB Pipeline, received an invite to big league camp, along with right-hander Wil Crowe, the team's second selection in the 2017 MLB Draft. A few notable veteran pitchers will also join the team for the start of camp, which begins when pitchers and catchers report on Wednesday, including , and Nats fan favorite , who has not pitched in the Majors since '15.

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Kieboom and Garcia are the 25th and 75th overall prospects in baseball, respectively. Both players play more naturally on the left side of the infield but get playing time at second base as it represents their easiest path to the big leagues.

Kieboom, 21, is closest to reaching the Majors. He advanced to Double-A Harrisburg in 2018 and through two levels of the Minors combined to slash .280/.357/.444 with 16 home runs and nine stolen bases. While playing in the Arizona Fall League, Kieboom began getting playing time at second base, a position he has not played since Little League. Washington still believes he is a shortstop, and he is expected to receive the majority of his playing time there during Spring Training and in the Minors, but with installed as the starting shortstop, the Nats want Kieboom to become comfortable at second base.

Garcia, 18, appears further away from the big leagues, but there may not be another prospect the organization is more excited about. He reached Class A Advanced Potomac last season and through two levels of the Minors slashed .298/.336/.406 with seven homers and 12 stolen bases.

The Nationals have bought themselves time to develop Kieboom and Garcia without rushing either to the Majors, but if Kieboom continues to advance, he could make his debut at some point this season. Garcia is young so he is a little further away, but his tools excite the Nats' front office, which has never been shy about moving a young player quickly through the system if it thinks he is ready to play everyday (see: Juan Soto).

The top pitching prospect in camp is Crowe, 24, the club's fifth-ranked prospect who advanced to Double-A last season. He struggled during his brief time in Harrisburg, but finished a combined 11-5 with a 3.40 ERA in 22 games (21 starts) across three levels of the Minors, and the club named him its co-Minor League Pitcher of the Year.

Barrett, 31, appeared in 90 games for the Nationals in 2014-15 as one of the staples of their bullpen before a plethora of injuries -- Tommy John surgery in 2015, surgery to remove bone spurs in his left ankle later that year and a broken right humerus in '16 -- sidelined him for all of '16 and '17. He returned to the mound to make 20 appearances at Class A Short-Season Auburn last season and posted a 1.74 ERA.

Alvarez and Nuno are the other two most promising veterans with an invitation. Injuries have prevented Alvarez from pitching a full season since 2014, when he was an All-Star. Nuno was productive during a small sample with the Rays last season and will be trying to break into a bullpen in need of lefties.

The full list of non-roster invitees includes right-handers Scott Copeland, and Ronald Pena; catchers Tres Barrera, ; infielders , Jake Noll, , Brandon Snyder and Jacob Wilson; and outfielders Hunter Jones and Chuck Taylor.