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Washington Nationals Minor League Notes: Nats’ 2019 Arizona Fall League class...

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Adam McInturff of 2080 Baseball provides video and breakdowns of the Nationals prospects headed to the Arizona Fall League.

Adam McInturff of 2080 Baseball provides video and breakdowns of the Nationals’ prospects headed to the Arizona Fall League.

All video is provided by 2080 Baseball.

Luis Garcia, SS/INF, Harrisburg Senators

Ht/Wt: 6’0” / 190 lbs. B / T: L / R Age (as of September 1, 2019): 19y, 3m

Video #1 | Video #2

With Juan Soto and Victor Robles well-entrenched in Washington’s long-term plans and Carter Kieboom soon to graduate from prospect status, Garcia will soon be the organization’s top minor leaguer. The 19-year-old infielder has scuffled this year in his first taste of Double-A, though it’s important to remember he is easily the youngest qualified hitter in the Eastern League and only turned 19 midway through this season. Garcia hasn’t missed any time with injuries in 2019, so his Fall League assignment seems centered around simply getting him more reps against advanced competition.

Though his offensive output with Harrisburg this year doesn’t immediately show it, scouts agree that Garcia’s best attribute is the hit tool. He’s comfortable in the box and displays very advanced bat-to-ball skill, rarely striking out and able to use all fields. Though there’s certainly still time to improve his selectivity—at least to some degree—Garcia’s long term offensive profile will likely rely heavily on BABIP success. This puts more pressure on his power output, a part of his game that is still in the earlier stages of development. Given Garcia’s youth and grounder-heavy contact profile, there’s reason to project more ability to drive the ball with natural gains in strength and overall swing lift. Garcia lines up mostly at shortstop for now, with coordinated actions and a sound game clock that help finish routine plays. His arm grades above-average and is enough for the left side of the infield, though a thick lower half and range that’s more average than plus could ultimately move him to another infield position.

Garcia’s bat can carry him to the big leagues no matter where he winds up on defense. The ceiling is an offensive-minded infielder that could wind up a solid everyday regular on the strength of his hitting ability.

Sterling Sharp, RHP, Harrisburg Senators

Ht / Wt: 6’4” / 170 lbs. B / T: R / R Age (as of September 1, 2019): 24y, 3m

Sharp will head to the Fall League after missing most of the second half with an oblique injury. The 24-year-old repeated Double-A to begin 2019 and was off to a strong start there prior to hitting the IL. Sharp’s style is fairly unorthodox, but he has succeeded throughout his time in pro ball on the strength of movement, deception, and ability to induce grounders. He will be Rule 5 eligible after this season, and his time in Arizona will give the organization a longer window to evaluate Sharp’s roster status heading into 2020.

His fastball tops out in the low-90s and often sits in the upper-80s, though he hides it well behind a closed front side and gets above-average sink that’s tough for hitters to lift. Sharp’s changeup easily grades as his best off-speed pitch, getting excellent velocity separation without sacrificing armspeed at release. Though he has made strides with a breaking ball, the fastball/changeup combo is what gives him a chance at a big league role. The best-case upside is a funky #5 starter, though for a perennial contender like the Nationals, Sharp is more likely to enter the Major League mix in a swingman/spot-starter or multi-inning relief role.

Nick Raquet, LHP, Potomac Nationals

Ht / Wt: 6’0” / 215 lbs. B / T: R / L Age (as of September 1, 2019): 23y, 8m

Raquet was Washington’s third round pick in 2017 from the college ranks. He split last season between two A-Ball levels, spending all of 2019 back in the Carolina League with Potomac. The 23-year-old lefty has worked exclusively as a starter in pro ball but might profile better in relief, a transition that likely played a role in his Fall League assignment despite logging over 120 innings for the second consecutive season.

Raquet’s fastball peaked in the mid-90s in college, and though he now sits 88-to-91 mph as a starter, there’s reason to foresee a tick more velo coming back in short stints considering he’ll touch 93-94 mph early in outings. His deceptive delivery hides the ball well, pairing with his fastball’s late sink to induce an above-average rate of ground balls. Raquet works with a full off-speed mix, with his slider and curve both grading ahead of a changeup that he has seemingly used less this season. Both breaking pitches could be viable big league offerings, especially to lefties, who Raquet has held to a paltry .213/.268/.339 line in 2019. The realistic ceiling is a middle reliever, potentially one that could record more than three outs at a time if needed.

Jacob Condra-Bogan, RHP, Harrisburg Senators

Ht / Wt: 6’3” / 220 lbs. B / T: R / R Age (as of September 1, 2019): 25y, 0m

Condra-Bogan signed from Indy ball with the Royals prior to the 2018 season. He was dealt to the Nationals a few months after, the team’s return for outfielder Brian Goodwin in a one-for-one trade that July. The 25-year-old reliever has spent all of this season with Double-A Harrisburg.

Condra-Bogan has plenty of arm strength, sitting in the mid-90s and frequently touching 97-98 mph. The heater doesn’t have overwhelming movement, and despite its velocity and above-average control numbers, his heavy reliance on the fastball allows hitters to sit on the pitch. He has tinkered with his arsenal since coming into the organization, moving away from a fringy slider in favor of more emphasis on a split-like changeup in the mid-80s. Condra-Bogan doesn’t miss as many bats as you’d expect with his power fastball, somewhat limited by off-speed stuff that’s a bit short overall. He’s the type of relief prospect that profiles as upper-level ‘pen depth, with some chance to pop up in the big leagues in a 4A/cup of coffee role.

Cole Freeman, 2B/OF, Potomac Nationals

Ht / Wt: 5’9” / 175 lbs. B / T: R / R Age (as of September 1, 2019): 24y, 11m

Freeman was the Nats’ fourth-rounder in 2017 from Louisiana State. He has moved through the system fairly slowly for an SEC college prospect, yet to crack Double-A despite the fact that he’ll turn 25 midway through the Fall League season. Freeman is coming off a big year with Potomac and was named an all-star in the Carolina League both during and after the season (the circuit releases a postseason all-star team in addition to a traditional mid-season list).

Though he offers little in the way of power, Freeman’s hit tool and ability on the bases impressed throughout 2019. He boasts a very disciplined approach—walking nearly as much as he struck out this year—while making consistent contact and impacting the running game. Primarily a second baseman entering this season, the Nationals now have him splitting time between the keystone and outfield. That defensive transition, paired with the need to get Freeman reps against competition closer to his age and level of polish, likely played a role in his assignment to the Fall League.

Nick Banks, OF, Harrisburg Senators

Ht / Wt: 6’1” / 215 lbs. B / T: L / L Age (as of September 1, 2019): 24y, 9m

Banks was a member of USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team prior to his junior year at Texas A&M, but a down spring caused him to slide to the fourth round in 2016. He hasn’t done a ton to elevate his prospect status since entering pro ball, and recently cracked Double-A for the first time at the age of 24. Initially seen as a hitterish lefty swinger as an amateur, Banks’ game has upped its emphasis on power after a few years in the minors. He’s likely a tweener at the highest level, lacking the thump for a corner and blow-the-doors-off speed for a center-diamond profile. Banks will be Rule 5 eligible this offseason but seems unlikely to crack the team’s 40-Man Roster.

Jakson Reetz, C, Potomac Nationals

Ht / Wt: 6’1” / 195 lbs. B / T: R / R Age (as of September 1, 2019): 23y, 8m

Reetz was a third round pick from a Nebraska high school in 2014, though his struggles at the plate quickly dropped him from the prospect radar. That largely hasn’t changed, though he has enjoyed a resurgence in the power department this year with Potomac and was named a Carolina League All-Star at midseason. He will give the organization’s pitchers a familiar backstop to throw to this fall in Arizona.

Andrew Lee, RHP, Harrisburg Senators

Ht / Wt: 6’5” / 225 lbs. B / T: R / R Age (as of September 1, 2019): 25y, 9m

Lee was drafted by the Nationals in 2015, moving slowly up the ladder due to missed time with injuries. He cracked Double-A for the first time in 2019 as a 25-year-old, working in a spot-starter role for Harrisburg while also making appearances in relief. The burly righty works in the low-90s with his fastball, occasionally topping out at 93-94 mph with iffy life or control/command. His best off-speed is a shapely curveball, backed up by a below-average changeup that lacks much distinction from the heater. He’s an organizational veteran that profiles as a depth piece at the upper levels.

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.