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2016 Nationals prospect roundup: Season preview


2016 Nationals prospect roundup: Season preview

By Cam Ellis

Welcome to the first edition of the 2016 Nationals Prospects round up! This will be a weekly look at the how the Nationals' farm system is performing, both from an individual and team standpoint. Because the minor league season hasn't started yet, this week will serve as a preview of sorts. Let's get to the prospects. 

AAA - Syracuse Chiefs

Trea Turner - SS

Age: 22

Turner, the #1 positional prospect and #2 overall prospect according to Baseball America, has seen a rapid ascent through the minors. Famously the "player to be named later" in a three-way trade with San Diego and Tampa Bay, Turner came over from San Diego and has consistently shown why he was taken with the 13th overall pick. In two years of minor league action, Turner has slashed .322/.384./454 with a .839 OPS. Turner even saw some time in the majors last season, hitting .225/.295/.325 in 27 games for the Nationals. With Danny Espinosa and Daniel Murphy starting at the major league level, Turner starts the season in Syracuse, presumably in order to get everyday at bats. Should one of Espinosa or Murphy get hurt, or the offense struggles, Turner will be the first one called up. Either way, don't expect him in Syracuse for too long. 

A.J. Cole - RHP

Age: 24

Cole's been in the Nationals system for six years, yet he's only 24 years old. After being taken in the 4th round of the 2010 draft, Cole has been long been considered part of the future of the team's pitching staff. After two seasons of putting up impressive numbers in Double-A, Cole was promoted to Syracuse and has struggled to adjust. In a little under two seasons at AAA, he's waking more, allowing more home runs and striking out less. Adjustment is the name of the game, and there's no reason to believe Cole can't figure out AAA hitters the same way he figured out A and AA hitters. He won't be the first pitcher called up, but another September call up seems probable. 

Austin Voth - RHP

Age: 23

It was actually Voth, not Giolito, Cole or Lopez, who was named the 2015 Nationals Minor League Pitcher of the Year. A 5th round pick in 2013 out of the University of Washington, Voth has put up eye opening numbers since. In 3 seasons of Minor League play, Voth has put up a 2.70 ERA with a phenomenal 4-1 K/BB ratio. In 157 innings last year at AA, Voth struck out 148 while only walking 40. Should the Nationals bullpen once again struggle this season, adding Voth somewhere down the road wouldn't be the worst decision.

AA - Harrisburg Senators

Lucas Giolito - RHP

Age: 21

The crown jewel of the Nationals farm system. The heir to Scherzer and Strasburg. The next great Nationals Prospect. Whatever you want to call him, there's not questioning that Giolito is a special player. He was the 16th overall pick in the 2012 Draft and has lived up to the billing ever since. Despite undergoing Tommy John surgery, Giolito hasn't missed a beat, posting a 2.56 ERA with a 10.0 K/9 rate over 253 innings pitched over the last 4 years. He has electric stuff and is one of the rare prospects that projects as a true ace. Because the Nationals love their innings limits, Giolito will be watched closely this season as he fine tunes his skills in Double-A before the inevitable mid-season (if not earlier) call up. Bold prediction: should the Nats make the playoffs, Giolito will start a game for them. 

Reynaldo Lopez - RHP

Age: 22

Lopez doesn't come with quite the same fanfare that Giolito does, but there are some who think that his stuff might be just as good. His fastball sits in the mid-90s and occasionally hits triple digits. In just a little under 200 minor league innings pitched, Lopez has a 3.13 ERA to go along side a 1.11 WHIP and 2.95 K/BB ratio. While he's the only one of the Lopez/Giolito/Cole three-headed pitching monster that hasn't seen any major league action, expect that to change at the end of this season or the beginning of next. 

Wilmer Difo - SS/2B

Age: 24

Difo is an interesting case. He was the shortstop of the future in DC, evident last year when the Nats brought him up to the majors after 14 games in Double-A. With Trea Turner all of a sudden the new shortstop of the future, Difo finds his path to the majors blocked by someone more highly regarded and two years younger. He's an decent hitting (.278/.345/.401 career average) with some power potential and speed, so there's still plenty of value there. Earlier this spring, Manager Dusty Baker mentioned wanting to see Difo get more innings at second base, which would be the natural change with Turner set to be the Nats' next shortstop. There's not quite the hype for Difo as there used to be, but a teams could do a lot worse than a Turner-Difo middle infield.

High A- Potomac Nationals 

Erick Fedde - RHP

Age: 23

Fedde's Tommy John surgery may have been a blessing in disguise for the Nationals, who probably couldn't have gotten him with the 18th overall pick in 2014 if not for his elbow injury. Scouts love Fedde's potential; in 2015 he pitched 64 innings with a 3.38 ERA while striking out over eight batters per nine innings with a 3.69 K/BB ratio. He's still recovering and probably over a year away, but with a ceiling like his, he's someone to keep an eye on. 

Andrew Stevenson - OF

Age: 21

Of all the top prospects in the Nationals system, Stevenson is one of the biggest projects. Coming out of LSU, the center fielder projects to be an average hitting outfielder with little power whose value lies on defense. He hit well in Hagerstown last year, slashing .285/.338/.358 over 35 games. He's a long way out, and with the Nationals outfield as crowded as it is, he could be a prime trade piece at the deadline. 

Low A - Hagerstown

Victor Robles - OF

Age: 18

Last, but certainly not least, is Victor Robles. Only 18, Robles is one of the fastest rising prospects not only in the Nationals system, but in the entire minor leagues. The outfielder has hit .334/.428/.496 in two seasons at various low-level teams, but the kids is oozing with potential. It's never a bad thing when, as an 18 year old, you're getting compared to Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo. He's a five tool player, and while the home runs aren't there yet, his power is projected to arrive with physical maturity. He's young, he's far away from the majors, but he's one of the more talented players in the Nats' system and ending the season at Double-A isn't out of the question. 

RELATED: Weather could be a factor as Nats host Marlins in home opener

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Did Max Scherzer's dance moves cause the Junkies' broadcast to lose power?

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Did Max Scherzer's dance moves cause the Junkies' broadcast to lose power?

Watching Max Scherzrer rack up Ks during a game is a usual sight for fans.

Dancing is not.

On Wednesday while the Sports Junkies were broadcasting at Nats Spring Training in West Palm Beach, we got a taste of what the back-to-back Cy Young Award winner has to offer on the dance floor. 

With just about a week left until their season kicks off, manager Dave Martinez hired a DJ for the day's workout, saying he wanted to "turn it up a notch." 

Well he turned it up a few too many notches, causing the back end of the complex where the Junkies were broadcasting to lose power.

While the Junkies were put in a pickle because of said DJ, we were able to get a glance of Scherzer dancing to Drakes' "God's Plan."


It's nice to see the usually lazer-focused pitcher let loose.

While Scherzer's dance moves didn't actually cause the Junkies to lose power, it's nice to think they were too much for the ballpark to handle. 

106.7 The Fans Sports Junkies simulcasts on NBC Sports Washington every weekday morning from 6:00 to 10:00 am ET. You can stream the Sports Junkies right here

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The sound of Bryce Harper's first spring training HR is beautiful


The sound of Bryce Harper's first spring training HR is beautiful

It's that wonderful time of year again — when baseball teams flock to warmer climates for spring training and the regular season is practically around the corner — and Bryce Harper is already killing it.

It took the Washington Nationals a few games to brush away their offseason cobwebs and get back into gear, but since the beginning of March, they're riding a five-game win streak as of Sunday the 4th.

They are 6-4-1 in spring training going into Monday's matchup against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Since Thursday, the Nats have taken down — in order — the Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, defending World Series champion Houston Astros, the Detroit Tigers and the Mets again. Sunday's 6-2 win against the Tigers was in large part thanks to Harper's bat, as the star of the team drilled his first home run of spring training. 


Turn up the volume for this one because the sound of Harper's contact with the ball is just beautiful — and perhaps enough to get you pumped for the March 29 opener.

Harper blew this ball away in the bottom of the third for a two-run homer with Howie Kendrick on base. He also had a single in the fourth and finished the game with three RBI.

Gio Gonzalez was the winning pitcher for the Nats.