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Washington Nationals’ Prospect Updates: From Hagerstown, Extended Spring Training

Adam McInturff of 2080 Baseball checks on some notable low-level Nats’ prospects in Extended Spring Training and with Class A Hagerstown.

Screencap via @2080ball

PROSPECT UPDATE: HAGERSTOWN, EXTENDED SPRING TRAINING

Adam McInturff of 2080 Baseball checks on some notable low-level Nats’ prospects in Extended Spring Training and with Class A Hagerstown.

All video is provided by 2080 Baseball.

Joan Adon, RHP, Hagerstown Suns

Ht/Wt: 6’2” / 180 lbs. B/T: R / R Age (as of April 1, 2019): 20y, 7m

Video #1 | Video #2

Signed for just $50K in 2016, Adon’s stuff has turned heads through the low parts of Washington’s system. He spent his first year in pro ball in the DSL, coming stateside last summer and splitting time between the GCL and New York-Penn League. The Nationals moved the 20-year-old righty to Hagerstown’s rotation this year, and while he ultimately is more likely to wind up back in the ‘pen, facing lineups numerous times and working late into games is good for his development.

Adon’s fastball works in the 93-to-97 mph range as a starter, hinting there’s even more velocity to come if he’s back in a relief role at any point. The pitch flashes occasional lively armside run, though his command and general pitchability are still fairly raw. His primary off-speed is a hard mid-80s slider, showing tight rotation and bite at times. He doesn’t finish the pitch consistently but the signs of a playable big league breaking ball are there. Adon’s changeup is a nascent third offering that lags behind the rest of his arsenal.

The arm-strength makes him a prospect, though Adon’s lack of size, third pitch, and present mechanical effort makes him a better long-term fit in the ‘pen. He has the stuff to fit a middle relief or 7th inning setup role with more breaking ball consistency and continued control refinement.

Israel Pineda, C, Hagerstown Suns

Ht/Wt: 5’11” / 190 lbs. B/T: R / R Age (as of April 1, 2019): 18y, 11m

Video | Scouting Report

Advanced defensive ability and barrel-feel for a young catcher; adjusting to the South Atlantic League as a teenager in full-season ball, but shows tools of glove-first backstop.

Jeremy De La Rosa, OF, Extended Spring Training

Ht/Wt: 5’11’’ / 160 lbs. B/T: L / L Age (as of April 1, 2019): 17y, 2m

Video

De La Rosa signed with the Nationals for $300K in last year’s international signing period, a bonus figure that looks very reasonable considering the advanced physicality and power potential he has shown to date. He started turning heads during instructs—it was impressive enough that the team thought highly enough of him to bring him stateside last fall at all—and he has done more of the same this year in Extended Spring Training.

Listed at 5-foot-11 and 160 pounds, the 17-year-old outfielder is very built for his age with a frame that’s already fairly mature. That strength gives more present ability to drive the ball than most teenage hitters. The ball jumps off his bat with tall lines, showing towering pop ups across my two-game backfields look that hint at future power. De La Rosa has a rotational swing from a deep crouch that incorporates his lower half well, staying well-synced with his hands and hips through contact. He’s still learning to ID off-speed stuff and square up spin, like most hitters this age. Some scouts felt he could play CF early in his career, but a frame that’s already wide likely fits better on an outfield corner. De La Rosa moved between LF and RF in my looks, showing close to an average arm. Whether he throws better or worse than where he’s at now depends on how his body and flexibility develop through final physical maturity.

Most higher-level J2 hitting prospects are surefire center-diamond types, attractive because they’re athletic enough to play up-the-middle with some offensive aspect that intrigues evaluators. De La Rosa doesn’t fit that mold, as most of his future value is shaping up to be at the plate. All players in this age range and stage of development are risky—doubly true for those that will have to hit to have value. Even so, this type of power potential at age 17 is pretty uncommon, and that upside outweighs the uncertainty enough to mark De La Rosa as a prospect right now.

Tim Cate, LHP, Hagerstown Suns

Ht/Wt: 6’0’’ / 185 lbs. B/T: L / L Age (as of April 1, 2019): 21y, 6m

Video #1 | Video #2 | Scouting Report

Crafty lefty dominating the South Atlantic League like a polished college arm is expected to; last year’s second-rounder has a high floor and comes with back-of-the-rotation upside.

Andry Arias, OF/1B, Extended Spring Training

Ht/Wt: 6’3’’ / 180 lbs. B/T: L / L Age (as of April 1, 2019): 18y, 9m

Video

Arias was part of the Nationals’ 2017-2018 J2 class, signing from the Dominican Republic. He has yet to make his stateside debut but put up strong numbers in the DSL last summer, slashing .270/.360/.412 with encouraging strikeout and walk rates for his age. After solid showings during Instructional League and Extended Spring Training, Arias is starting to get some attention on the backfields of Florida.

At 6-foot-3 and 180 pounds, Arias has a tall, lean body that still has strength to gain. His actions are loose and coordinated, and though he’s listed primarily as a 1B, Arias has played corner outfield and looks athletic enough to avoid being landlocked early in his career. The only issue is his throwing arm, something he’ll need to develop to stay away from 1B-only and remain in the outfield. A smooth, balanced lefty stroke looks like it could hit for both average and power down the road. The offensive rhythm and timing were sound, allowing advanced zone awareness and a mature presence in the batter’s box. There’s reason to project power given the loose swing and rangy frame.

Still just 18-years-old, he’s far enough away that it’s tough to pinpoint exactly the type of player Arias will become. Lots will depend on how his body develops, and subsequently, what position he lines up at defensively in the long run. Even so, the tools at the plate and general offensive upside make him an interesting sleeper prospect in the lowest part of the system.

Justin Connell, OF, Hagerstown Suns

Ht/Wt: 6’1’’ / 185 lbs. B/T: R / R Age (as of April 1, 2019): 20y, 0m

Video | Scouting Report

11th round pick in 2017 from the high school ranks; emerging as an interesting prospect to follow in the South Atlantic League as a 20-year-old.

Gilbert Lara, SS/3B, Hagerstown Suns

Ht/Wt: 6’4’’ / 198 lbs. B/T: R / R Age (as of April 1, 2019): 21y, 5m

Video #1 | Video #2 | Scouting Report

Acquired in last summer’s trade with Milwaukee for Gio Gonzalez; loaded with physical tools but will need to refine approach and improve overall instincts to reach big league ceiling.

Francys Peguero, RHP, Hagerstown Suns

Ht/Wt: 6’2’’ / 170 lbs. B/T: R / R Age (as of April 1, 2019): 23y, 5m

Video | Scouting Report

Putting up big numbers in Hagerstown’s rotation as a 23-year-old that’s old for the level; projects better in relief long term and could move quickly in a ‘pen role.

Jhonatan German, RHP, Hagerstown Suns

Ht/Wt: 6’4’’ / 215 lbs. B/T: R / R Age (as of April 1, 2019): 24y, 2m

Video #1 | Video #2 | Scouting Report

Signed late, so still in A-Ball as a 24-year-old; hard-throwing reliever (T97 mph) dominated younger South Atlantic League competition before being promoted to High-A Potomac.

Viandel Pena, SS/2B, Extended Spring Training

Ht/Wt: 5’8’’ / 148 lbs. B/T: S / R Age (as of April 1, 2019): 18y, 4m

Video

Pena signed with the Nationals for a $150K bonus in 2017. He spent last summer in the DSL as a 17-year-old, faring decently at the plate while showing advanced ability to reach base via the walk. Now 18, the diminutive infielder stands only 5-foot-8 and brings most value on the defensive side of the ball. Pena moves between middle infield spots, able to play on both sides of the bag with standout actions. His hands are extremely soft, with an average arm that plays up a bit from polished footwork and a quick release. Pena’s accuracy was off at times finishing throws without his feet set, but that’s very correctable with continued reps.

Offensively, the switch hitter shows a contact-oriented approach with a flat swing plane from both sides of the plate. Like many young hitters at the complex level, Pena is learning to recognize better off-speed stuff and swings through most well-executed secondary stuff right now. He’ll never be much of a power threat, lacking the size or swing lift to drive the ball. Pena is more a follow with nice defensive ability at this point, though he could develop into a FV 40 glove-first prospect with gains at the plate.

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 amcinturff@2080baseball.com for all podcast and media requests.