MLB Pipeline recently released its annual Top 30 International Prospects list for players eligible to sign in the 2020-21 signing period. These young players are the game’s international stars of tomorrow and are following in the footsteps of thousands of international players who laid the groundwork before them. One day, these young men could be remembered among the best players in team history.
These are the top five international prospects of all-time in the Nationals/Expos franchise.
1. Vladimir Guerrero, Dominican Republic
A future Hall of Famer joined the Expos organization on March 1, 1993. Montreal signed Guerrero as an amateur free agent, beginning what would become an illustrious 16-year Major League career for the right fielder. After his first eight seasons with the Expos, Guerrero went on to play six for the Angels, with whom he captured the 2004 American League Most Valuable Player Award. He suited up for his last season in '11 as a member of the Orioles, capping off his career with a .318/.379/.553 slash line, .931 OPS, 2,590 hits, 449 home runs and 34.7 bWAR. The nine-time All-Star and eight-time Silver Slugger with a unique, glove-less batting approach was inducted into the Hall of Fame in ’18.
2. Larry Walker, Canada
Nine years before the Expos signed Guerrero, they found another Hall of Fame talent in Walker, who signed with Montreal on Nov. 14, 1984, and made his Major League debut in '89. Walker played his first six seasons with Montreal, then really made his mark over the next 10 years in Colorado. His resume features the 1997 National League MVP Award, seven Gold Gloves, five All-Star honors, three batting titles and three Silver Sluggers. Walker, who played right field and first base, hit .313/.400/.565 with a .986 fielding percentage over 17 seasons. He was elected into the Hall of Fame in 2020, his final year of eligibility on the ballot.
3. Juan Soto, Dominican Republic
Some prospects take time getting adjusted to the Majors. That wasn’t the case for Soto. Signed by the Nationals on July 2, 2015, the outfielder made his big league debut in ‘18. In only three seasons, Soto has established himself as a centerpiece of the Nats and as a National League MVP Award contender. In '20, he became the youngest player to win the NL batting title by hitting .351 at 21 years old. Soto broke out during the Nats’ 2019 World Series quest, when he belted five postseason homers.
4. Andres Galarraga, Venezuela
Jan. 19, 1979, marked the beginning of Galarraga’s 19-year Major League career when he signed with Montreal. “The Big Cat” became an accolade-winning first baseman, tallying up five All-Star selections, two Gold Gloves, two Silver Sluggers, two Comeback Player of the Year Awards and the 1993 NL batting title. In total, he hit .288/.347/.499 with 399 home runs and a .991 fielding percentage. Galarraga had two stints with the Expos -- from 1985-91 and in 2002 -- and he also played for the Cardinals, Rockies, Braves, Rangers, Giants and Angels.
5. Victor Robles, Dominican Republic
Robles joins Soto on this list of recent standout international prospects. The Nats signed him on July 2, 2013, and he made his Major League debut in September 2017. Last season, Robles finished sixth in NL Rookie of the Year Award voting, as he hit 255/.326/.419 and ranked fifth in the NL in stolen bases. He also smacked his first postseason homer during Washington’s title run. At just 22, Robles was a Gold Glove Award finalist last season, leading all center fielders in defensive runs saved (22).