A torrid 80-game stretch (54-26) to finish the 2019 regular season helped the Nationals secure the top National League Wild Card spot with a 93-69 record. From there, they defeated the Brewers, Dodgers and Cardinals in consecutive playoff series before finally edging Houston in Game 7 of the World Series to claim the city’s first title since the 1924 Senators.
While the cost of remaining competitive and ultimately winning a World Series title can be seen in the Nats’ lack of depth on the farm, the club does have a pair of Top 100 prospects in Carter Kieboom, who made his big league debut last year, and Luis Garcia, while 2019 first-rounder Jackson Rutledge may not be far behind.
Pitchers occupy eight spots in the Top 10 and more than half of the club’s Top 30 list thanks to three consecutive pitching-heavy Drafts which have flooded the system with arms. However, there aren’t any potential impact bats in the system outside of Kieboom and possibly Garcia.
That the Nationals’ Top 30 list is entirely homegrown speaks to the organization’s ability to identify and develop young talent. That is especially true when it comes to international prospects, a group which comprises more than a third of this year’s list, including seven spots in the Top 15.
The majority of those players are, of course, many years away from contributing in D.C., but the Nats should receive some help in 2020 from players such as Kieboom and right-hander Wil Crowe, as well as several relievers who enter the season with upper-level experience.
Here are the players whose ranks changed the most from the 2019 preseason list to the 2020 preseason list:
Jump: Eddy Yean, RHP (2019: NR | 2020: No. 6) -- Pitching as an 18-year-old between the Rookie-level Gulf Coast and New York-Penn Leagues last season, Yean ran his fastball up to 97 mph and flashed potential with two promising secondary pitches while compiling a 3.50 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in 10 starts between the two stops.
Fall: Gage Canning, OF (2019: 10 | 2020: NR) -- The 2018 fifth-rounder batted .239 with a .650 OPS and 28 percent strikeout rate over 111 games between Class A Hagerstown and Class A Advanced Potomac in his first full season.
Players are graded on a 20-80 scouting scale for future tools -- 20-30 is well below average, 40 is below average, 50 is average, 60 is above average and 70-80 is well above average. Players in parentheses have the same grade.
Hit: 60 -- Kieboom
Power: 55 -- Drew Mendoza
Run: 65 -- Cole Freeman
Arm: 60 -- Jackson Cluff (Garcia, Israel Pineda)
Defense: 60 -- Garcia (Tres Barrera)
Fastball: 70 -- Rutledge
Curveball: 65 -- Tim Cate
Slider: 60 -- Rutledge
Changeup: 55 -- Seth Romero (Crowe, Eddy Yean, Steven Fuentes)
Control: 60 -- Cate (Crowe)
How they were built
Draft: 19 | International: 11
Breakdown by ETA
2020: 9 | 2021: 9 | 2022: 8 | 2023: 2 | 2024: 2
Breakdown by position
C: 4 | 1B: 1 | 2B: 0 | 3B: 0 | SS: 4 | OF: 5 | RHP: 12 | LHP: 4