The Washington Nationals' Best Prospect at Every Position
The Washington Nationals have some of the most exciting prospects in baseball, and contrary to popular belief, they're not all starting pitchers.
The Nationals do have a surplus at that position, but shortstop Trea Turner's late addition to the fray and the major league service that second baseman Wilmer Difo and reliever Abel De Los Santos have logged highlight the top talent in the rest of Washington's farm system.
Using MLB Pipeline's prospect rankings, here are the Nationals' top minor leaguers at every position.
Catcher: Jakson Reetz
2015 Stats (Single-A Short Season Auburn): 33 G, .210 AVG, .331 OBP, .248 SLG, 0 HR, 5 RBI
Jakson Reetz is a prodigy behind the plate.
"The stuff that he's doing is shocking," Nationals catching coordinator Michael Barrett said during the preseason, via MASN's Byron Kerr.
Reetz's bat, however, is still a work in progress. He's hitting just .210 and he's still searching for his first home run of the season. But, according to the Lincoln Journal Star's Ryly Jane Hambleton, Washington's No. 9 overall prospect has "retooled his hitting mechanics," and is working to bump up those numbers.
"It's one of the biggest things to work on, this new philosophy," Reetz said. "Consistency is the thing I'm striving for, and it's finally coming around."
This being his first full season as a pro after his third-round selection in the 2014 draft, Reetz isn't expected to reach the majors until 2018. So the 19-year-old has time to develop.
First Base: Matt Skole
2015 Stats (Double-A Harrisburg, Triple-A Syracuse): 105 G, .227 AVG, .337 OBP, .413 SLG, 16 HR, 67 RBI
The Nationals farm system isn't exactly loaded with talent at first base. As the No. 23 prospect in the organization, Matt Skole is the highest-ranked first baseman. But his stock has the potential to rise significantly.
Skole earned Nationals' Minor League Player of the Year honors in 2012, but a broken arm in 2013 effectively derailed his career. Now, after struggling through his 2014 season and parts of 2015, he's playing at the Triple-A level for the first time after a late-July promotion from Double-A.
Second Base: Wilmer Difo
2015 Stats (Single-A Advanced Potomac, Double-A Harrisburg): 81 G, .288 AVG, .333 OBP, .399 SLG, 3 HR, 37 RBI
2015 Stats (MLB): 8 G, .125 AVG, .125 OBP, .125 SLG, 0 HR, 0 RBI
Wilmer Difo tore the cover off the ball in Single-A with a .320 batting average before his promotion to Double-A. But his average has dipped to a still-impressive .279 at the latter level.
That's partially due to an unstable schedule caused by a number of major league call-ups earlier in the season, but he's been with Harrisburg since July 21, and that's where he's rediscovering his rhythm, according to Senators manager Brian Daubach.
"He's been up and down from the big leagues and back here in Double-A," Daubach said via MiLB.com's Kelsie Heneghan. "He just needs some more at-bats under his belt and (last Sunday), everything clicked for him."
Shortstop: Trea Turner
2015 Stats (Double-A San Antonio, Double-A Harrisburg, Triple-A Syracuse): 108 G, .319 AVG, .368 OBP, .461 SLG, 8 HR, 53 RBI
Trea Turner is Washington's future at shortstop, and that's a very exciting notion.
Despite a mid-season organizational change that saw him officially join the Nationals from the San Diego Padres, Turner has amassed a batting average of at least .300 with all three minor league teams for which he's played this season.
The Nationals' No. 2 overall prospect has a shot at reaching the majors this September, but you can expect to see him wearing a Curly W at some point in 2016 at the latest.
Third Base: Drew Ward
2015 Stats (Single-A Advanced Potomac): 100 G, .249 AVG, .325 OBP, .355 SLG, 5 HR, 42 RBI
Drew Ward maintained a spot in the ranks of Washington's top 10 prospects for most of the early season, but his consistently unspectacular numbers at the Single-A level have dropped him to No. 12 overall.
But, as a high school draftee in 2013 who's still just 20 years old, Ward has time on his side as he continues to improve at the professional level. He's progressed steadily in his career, advancing one level per season from rookie ball, to Single-A Hagerstown to his current station in Potomac at the Advanced Single-A level.
Outfield: Victor Robles
2015 Stats (Rookie Gulf Coast League, Single-A Short Season Auburn): 43 G, .355 AVG, .437 OBP, .555 SLG, 4 HR, 23 RBI
This is Victor Robles' first year of professional baseball in America, but he doesn't seem to notice the change in competition coming from the Dominican Republic.
At just 18 years old, Robles is having his with the pitchers of the Single-A Short Season New York-Penn League after doing the same in the Gulf Coast League.
"There are a lot of phenomenal athletes in the lower levels of Minor League Baseball, and quite a few of them are performing well," MiLB.com's Jake Seiner writes. "No prospect has combined athleticism with performance this season like Nationals outfielder Victor Robles, though."
Starting Pitcher: Lucas Giolito
2015 Stats (Single-A Advanced Potomac, Double-A Harrisburg): 3-6, 16 G, 86.1 IP, 3.34 ERA, 1.33 WHIP
Lucas Giolito's losing record and above-3.00 ERA are alarming for someone who's considered the No. 1 pitching prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline. But, despite his unimpressive season across two levels of competition, the righty did make a statement on the biggest stage he could find during the All-Star festivities in Cincinnati.
Giolito tossed two scoreless innings and struck out one batter after earning the start for Team U.S.A. in the 2015 Futures Game against the best international competition the minors have to offer.
Relief Pitcher: Abel De Los Santos
2015 Stats (Double-A Harrisburg): 6 SV, 9 SVO, 31 G, 45.1 IP, 3.38 ERA, 1.10 WHIP
2015 Stats (MLB): 0 SV, 0 SVO, 2 G, 1.2 IP, 5.40 ERA, 1.80 WHIP
Abel De Los Santos' first stint in the majors was unexpected, but it wasn't as unsuccessful as his 5.40 ERA suggests.
His major league debut saw him record two late-game outs without sacrificing a hit. His inflated ERA comes from his second and most recent MLB game in which he gave up a solo home run in one inning of work.
The righty has since rejoined the Double-A Harrisburg Senators, but with Aaron Barrett returning to the disabled list last week, De Los Santos could be on the short list for major league service time in the near future.