The Washington Nationals landed three prospects on ESPN's Keith Law's list of the Top 100 Prospects in baseball for 2016, all of them in the top 50, and each of them, in one way or another, a steal for the organization.
Now-former Assistant GM Roy Clark described Lucas Giolito (no.3 overall and the top-ranked pitching prospect on Law's list) as a "no-brainer" for the Nationals at no.16 overall when they selected him in the first-round of the 2012 Draft in spite of the fact that they knew he would likely need Tommy John surgery.
He did need it, of course, but he's come back strong and as Law wrote today, with his mid-to-high 90s fastball, power curve, changeup and two-seam fastball, which he was restricted from throwing before he made the jump to Double-A, he has "four legitimate major league pitches."
As Law sees it, the Nationals will have another ace-like arm in the rotation along with Max Scherzer in the near-future.
Giolito is going to report to Spring Training with the rest of the major leaguers on February 18th after a 2015 campaign which saw the 21-year-old right-hander go (3-5) with a 2.71 ERA, a 1.96 FIP, 20 walks (2.58 BB/9) and 110 Ks (11.11 K/9) in 13 games, 11 starts and 69 ⅔ IP at High-A Potomac before he jumped to Double-A Harrisburg, where he was (4-2) in eight starts with a 3.80 ERA, a 3.18 FIP, 17 walks (3.23 BB/9) and 45 Ks (8.56 K/9) in 47 ⅓ IP.
Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo mentioned Giolito this winter as being part of the next wave of Nats' pitching prospects who could be major league-ready as early as mid-2016.
Also expected to have an impact at the major league level this season is shortstop Trea Turner, who is the second-highest ranked Nationals' prospect on Law's list at no.28 overall.
Turner, 22, who debuted in the majors last August and stayed up through September, "... should be the Nats' Opening Day shortstop" in Law's view, "regardless of all the veterans on the roster," since, as he sees it, the San Diego Padres' first-round pick (2014), acquired in the three-team trade with the Tampa Bay Rays last winter along with Joe Ross in a deal that's looking more and more like a heist every day, "is the best defensive option on the team" and "probably will post the best OBP of anyone they've got."
Law thinks the deal was an "absolute steal" for the Nationals, who received a starter who figures to be part of the Nats' rotation going forward in Joe Ross (also just 22) and a potential replacement for Ian Desmond at short.
Though Turner, may not be a star, in his view, Law writes that, "he's an everyday shortstop for the Nats for several years to come."
The third, and final Nationals' prospect on Law's Top 100 is 18-year-old outfielder Victor Robles (no.49), who signed out of the Dominican Republic for just $225K in July 2013, which is looking like a savvy deal as he continues to develop.
Robles played for the Gulf Coast League Nationals and the New York-Penn League's Auburn Doubledays last season, putting up a combined .352/.445/.507 line, 11 doubles, five triples, four home runs and 24 stolen bases in 61 games and 261 plate appearances.
Law writes that Robles has "quickly become one of the best teenage prospects in baseball with four tools that are or will be plus," adding that he has speed, range and a "plus arm" in the outfield and a good "understanding of the strike zone." Robles, he notes, "looks like the player Ben Revere was supposed to be," with his ability to play "great center field" get on base and steal bases, and if he ends up developing power, Law adds, "he's a potential All-Star."
That's it for Nationals' prospects on the list, however, though three in the Top 50 isn't bad.
In his write-up on the top farm systems in baseball, which was published yesterday, Law ranked the Nats 15th overall, writing that the Nationals' system was "top-heavy" with a "couple of potential stars", but a "quick falloff after the first eight to 10 names."
Check out Law's entire Top 100 Prospects list for 2016 through the link below: