Wil Crowe, RHP:
Washington’s second-round selection in 2017, Crowe dominated the Carolina League before struggling through a five-start cameo at Double-A to end the year. The burly righty looked a bit tired during my instructs look, working with a few ticks less on his fastball than the regular season. Read my full scouting report here.
Mason Denaburg, RHP:
A first-round pick in this past June’s MLB Draft, Denaburg has the chance to be the top pitching prospect in the system by this time next year with a strong 2019. He didn’t pitch in the GCL this summer after signing, taking the hill in game action for the first time as a pro during Instructional League. Denaburg was shaking off the rust when I saw him, though the chance for two above-average pitches showed through. Read my full scouting spotlight here.
Daniel Johnson, OF:
Johnson reached Double-A last year, finishing the season in Harrisburg’s lineup after missing time with injuries in the middle of 2018. The athletic outfielder is showing improved ability to work counts as part of a larger overall change to his approach. Johnson is hitting for more power, though striking out more frequently as well. The Nationals assigned him to the Arizona Fall League, so I’ll get more looks at Johnson throughout the fall. Read my full Instructional League notes here.
Joan Adon, RHP:
Adon did as much to raise his prospect stock as any pitcher in the system during Instructional League. Still just 20 years old, the righty spent most of last season in the GCL before making seven appearances in the New York-Penn League. Unclear if he’s a starter long-term, but a 94-to-96 mph fastball and sharp mid-80s slider stood out. Read my full Instructional League notes here.
James Bourque, RHP:
A full-time move to the ‘pen totally changed the career outlook for the 25-year-old Bourque, who spent four years as an organizational type prospect in the low rungs of the system prior to 2018. His fastball now touches 96 and is backed up by two playable secondary pitches. He’s Rule 5 eligible, so the Nationals will need to make a 40-Man Roster decision on him this offseason. Bourque is knocking on the door to the big leagues and looks ready to compete for a middle relief spot. Read my full Instructional League notes here.
Gilbert Lara, 3B
Lara was one of two prospects returned from Milwaukee after the Brewers claimed Gio Gonzalez on August waivers. A former top J2 prospect, Lara’s hit tool hasn’t developed as hoped. He looks the part of a big league third baseman and is starting to tap into his raw power, but it won’t mean much unless Lara is able to make strides with his approach. He will be 21 years old next season and is likely ticketed for Hagerstown or Potomac. Read my full Instructional League notes here.
Malvin Pena, RHP:
Pena is another arm that stood out during camp and left Instructional League with more buzz than he had coming in. The 21-year-old dominated through four starts with Auburn before being bumped up to Hagerstown to end the year. He’s a strong-framed righty who touches 95-to-96 mph with his fastball and flashes three pitches. Read my full Instructional League notes here.
Joan Baez, RHP:
Baez looked about the same as my regular season looks, and I’m still of the belief he’ll need to move to the bullpen full-time to be a legitimate prospect. It’s looking like the Nationals are getting closer to initiating that change in roles, as Baez pitched during the middle innings this fall during Instructional League games. His live arm and flashes of spin could make him a middle reliever if he takes to pitching shorter stints. Read my full scouting report here.
Andry Arias, OF/1B:
Arias is still just 18 years old and has yet to make his stateside debut. I liked what I saw during my instructs looks, however, and he put up strong numbers in the DSL this summer (.270/.360/.412). Arias has good timing and natural rhythm at the plate in a sweet left-handed stroke. There’s a lot to project on here and he’s a player worth following in 2019. Read my full scouting spotlight here.
Frankie Bartow, RHP:
Bartow was Washington’s 11th round selection in last year’s draft, moving quickly to Hagerstown after a college career at the University of Miami (FL). No one pitch blows you away, but the sum-of-the-parts stood out to me during both the regular season and Instructional League. Bartow’s fastball sits in the 91-to-94 mph range and is backed up by two solid off-speed pitches. His slider (83-to-84 mph) and changeup (84-to-86 mph) show sharp action and play up an average heater. Read my full Instructional League notes here.
Juan Pascal, SS:
Light-hitting shortstop with terrific defensive ability. The bat is so light right now that it’s unclear if the glove is enough to get him to the big leagues, even though he’s a surefire shortstop who plays the position well. Read my full scouting report here.
Anderson Franco, 1B:
I have seen a lot of Franco the last two years with Hagerstown, and he looked like the same player during my week in Nationals camp. He is slowly moving off third base, and despite his strong throwing arm, Franco just doesn’t have the hands or range to play anywhere but first. It has been slow goings for Franco through the lower parts of the system, though he’s still just 21 years old. Read my full scouting report on Franco here.
Chandler Day, RHP:
The Nationals selected Day in the 7th round last June after the righty pitched three years at Vanderbilt. He’s a very thin 6-foot-5 and pitches with a fringy fastball (88-to-92 mph), though a quality changeup plays up the heater a bit. Read my full Instructional League notes here.
That’s all for me this time. My next prospect update will come from the Arizona Fall League, where I’ll be scouting Nationals’ prospects assigned to the Salt River Rafters’ roster. For all of our content at 2080 Baseball, be sure to check out our scouting reports, spotlight table, and video library.
A native of Washington, D.C., Adam will be periodically contributing scouting pieces on Nationals prospects for Federal Baseball. Currently, he’s the Assistant Director of Professional Evaluation at 2080 Baseball. Previously, Adam worked in the Baseball Operations departments of the Baltimore Orioles and Texas Rangers after serving as a Senior Prospect Writer for Baseball Prospectus. You can follow him on Twitter: @2080adam. Adam can be reached at email@example.com for all podcast and media requests.