Minor League Ball: Washington Nationals' Top 20 Prospects for 2014

Photo © and courtesy Jeremy Houghtaling (@CitizenHough)

Minor League Ball's John Sickels released his list of the Washington Nationals' Top 20 Prospects for 2014 this afternoon. As they were elsewhere, right-handers Lucas Giolito and A.J. Cole were atop Minor League Ball's list of the Nats' top prospects.

Baseball America's scouts put right-handers Lucas Giolito and A.J. Cole atop their list of the Washington Nationals' Top 10 Prospects when they released their yearly rankings this past November. BA's Aaron Fitt wrote in the article accompanying his list that once Giolito returned from Tommy John surgery and got back on the mound in competitive action last summer, he, "... showed the kind of dazzling stuff that gives him a Strasburg-esque ceiling."

MLB.com's Pipeline scouts did the same when they released their list of the Nats' top prospects for 2014, putting Giolito and Cole 1-2 on their list, and writing that if Giolito, "... can stay healthy... [he] has as much potential as any pitcher in the Minor Leagues." Cole, they noted, was drafted by the Nationals in 2010, traded to the A's in 2011 and reacquired in 2013, and if he, "...can hone his offspeed pitches, he has the potential to be the latest homegrown member of the Nationals rotation."

The 19 and 22-year-old right-handers were 1-2 on Minor League Ball's John Sickles' list of the Washington Nationals' Top 20 Prospects when he released the list this afternoon. Here's Minor League Ball's Top 10:

  1. Lucas Giolito - RHP
  2. A.J. Cole - RHP
  3. Brian Goodwin - OF
  4. Matt Skole - 1B/3B
  5. Drew Ward - 3B
  6. Michael Taylor - OF
  7. Steven Souza - OF
  8. Felipe Rivero - LHP
  9. Tony Renda - 2B
  10. Drew Vettleson - OF

Here's what Sickels had to say about the top pitchers in the Nationals' organization:

1) Lucas Giolito, RHP, Grade A-: Has the stuff to be a number one starter but I want to see how he holds up to a full workload coming back from Tommy John and how his changeup develops before going with a straight A. Even with a few questions to answer, he ranks among the very elite and with a good season he could be the top pitching prospect in baseball six months from now. Let's give him some time first.

2) A.J. Cole, RHP, Grade B: Borderline B+: Could wind up with B+ depending on how I want to slot him on the Top 50 pitching prospect list, so I should have a final grade here next week. Still some concerns about breaking ball consistency but he’s made a lot of progress over the last year and could develop into a number two starter.

Summing up the state of the Nationals' system, Sickels wrote that it's, "... a system in a transitional phase, as many of their highest-ceiling prospects are just beginning their careers."

• Check out the entire list and all of the write-ups. A link to the Top 20 Prospects list is included below:

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