Keith Law and the Nats Top Prospects

On the heels of his overall minor league top 100 and his overall organizational rankings, Keith Law just came out with his top 10 for each team, including the Nationals.

He didn’t dive into specifics for each guy, but he did for anyone who made his top 100 overall list. So, here’s a little bit of commentary for each guy he rated, with a few quotes for each one in the top 100. If you want more, well, better get Insider access.

1. Lucas Giolito (#8 overall)

Ranked as the best pitching prospect in the minors. Law seems especially impressed with how good he’s looked given how recently he had Tommy John surgery. “Giolito looks like a 220-inning, sub-3 ERA guy in the making, and he should be ready to see the majors at some point in late 2016.” I’ll take it!

2. Joe Ross (#63)

The “other guy” in the Steven Souza deal, Ross is ranked higher for Law, and thinks he could be a #3 type starter

3. Michael Taylor (#73)

Impact on defense, power, a ton of strikeouts – but Law thinks it will come with time, just as everything else has with him.

4. Reynaldo Lopez (#75)

Law really seems to like Lopez, impressed with his sometimes-100 mph fastball and great curveball. He likes him more than anyone I’ve read so far, writing “His ceiling is second only to Lucas Giolito among Nationals’ starter prospects, and the main hurdle for him to get there is to build up the stamina to be a 30-start guy.”

5. Trea Turner (#88)

This may seem low to those of you who’ve bought him as the team’s future shortstop. Keep in mind that being ranked in the top 100 means Law really likes him. He sees him as a guy who could be an above average defender, hit above .275, and steal 40 bases. That’s really really good, even if it’s not a perennial MVP.

Another level set: Baseball Prospectus said he has “potential to stick at the six spot long term while providing some offensive value through his plus-plus speed and average hit tool.” Seems pretty similar to Law’s feelings.

6. A.J. Cole (#99)

I thought, before Scherzer was signed, that there was a possibility of Cole being the team’s 5th starter after someone else got traded – that aint happening now, at least not for the opening day lineup.

7. Wilmer Difo

A young middle infielder that went from a non-prospect to a legit one in the last season. He had a .644 OPS in 2013, and a .831 in 2014. Will be interesting to see what he does this year.

8. Pedro Severino

“Severino is a wizard behind the plate, a plus framer with good blocking skills and a 70 or 80 arm who’s growing into his body”  The Nats could use more spellcasters.

9. Erick Fedde

Last year’s top pick is recovering from surgery so next year’s ranking will be of greater interest for him.

10. Jakson Reetz

Remains the most likely of all minor league catchers to share a name with someone in an Isaac Asimov novel. He’s an 18 year old catcher that had a great OBP in rookie league last season.

If you’re looking for a sleep prospect, Law really seems to be a fan of CF Victor Robles, “who has 6s and 7s all over his scouting report” and is extremely athletic.

As for the system as a whole, it’s impressive to see them ranked 9th in baseball. First of all, 6 guys in the top 100 is incredible. I’m pretty sure this is the first year the Nats have had this many in Keith’s top 100. But what’s really exciting to me is the potential pitching. The Nats already have the best pitching staff in the majors. But their within 3 or 4 years, his projections give them a number 1 in Giolito, a number 2/3 in Cole, a number 2/3 in Ross, and a 1/2 (albeit probably a boom or bust) in Reynaldo Lopez. Amazing.

But even more impressive to me is the improvement of the system as a whole. He ranked them 21st in 2012, citing the trade for Gio Gonzalez as a reason for a lack of depth. In 2013 he ranked them 21st and referred to everything after their top 5 guys as a “bottomless crevasse.” And last year he said that most of their elite prospects “graduated” already, and again lamented the lack of quality beyond the top few guys.

When a major leaegue team is full of starters they called up to the majors pretty recently, it’s not surprising that they’d lose some oomph in the minors. But to get it up to top 10 is beyond impressive, it’s a testament to just how good Rizzo is at identifying and then acquiring young talent.

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