It wasn’t long ago that the Nationals had a depressing system. The system still lacks depth but it now has some prospects with impact potential.
The Graduate: Brian Goodwin, OF: The Nationals may lose Bryce Harper to free agency after the 2018 season but take a quick glance through this review and you’ll see the names of five intriguing outfield prospects. Goodwin will likely slide into a fourth outfielder role long term but he could fill in as a regular until the wave of younger outfielders is ready to infiltrate the majors. He struck out a lot in his rookie season (almost 25%) but he took some walks and also took advantage of the juiced ball to show a lot more power than he ever did in the minors (.247 isolated slugging). With regular playing time, Goodwin could be a threat for a 15-15 (HR-SB) season.
First Taste of The Show: Andrew Stevenson, OF: This speedy outfielder had a terrible first stab at the majors with 20 strikeouts in 57 at-bats but he has all the makings of an excellent platoon or fourth outfielder. He doesn’t swing for power but he can spray the ball and use his legs to make things happen. He could steal 20+ bases in The Show while playing plus center-field defence. He just needs to trim the strikeouts and look to take more walks. His outstanding make-up should help him squeeze all the potential out of his tools.
The Stud: Victor Robles, OF: Robles is another ultra-talented prospect and his make-up could help him develop into one of the top stars in the Majors. His power is still developing but he should be a five-tool player (six if you count his make-up). He could steal 30+ bases in the Majors while playing gold glove defence in center field. The Nationals are set in the outfield for the beginning of 2018 but struggles from Michael Taylor or an injury to any of the outfielders could create an opportunity for Robles. He’ll help take the sting out of a potential loss of Bryce Harper after 2018.
The Draft Pick: Wil Crowe, RHP: Seth Romero was the club’s first selection but I’m going to focus on second-rounder Crowe as the former’s makeup issues concern me and make it less likely that he’ll realize his full potential. If his elbow holds up (after 2015 Tommy John surgery), the burly right-hander has a chance to be a mid-rotation, innings-eating arm. He can hit the mid-90s with his fastball and three average or better secondary offerings.
The Riser: Juan Soto, OF: An injury pretty much ruined Soto’s season but he showed exciting talents prior to hurting his ankle. He hit .360 with 10 walks and just eight strikeouts in 23 low-A games as an 18-year-old and should return to that level in 2018. He has the potential to develop into a power hitter capable of slugging 20+ homers and also hitting for average with a strong on-base showing.
The Sleeper: Daniel Johnson, OF: Johnson could end up being a real steal for the Nationals after they selected him in the fifth round of the 2016 draft. Johnson has lots of tantalizing tools but he was quite raw for a college player when he was drafted. He’s already showing solid improvements but he needs to continue to tighten up his approach at the plate. Split between two A-ball levels in 2017, he was a power-speed threat with 22 homers and steals. If he can get on base more consistently and polish his base running, he could be an everyday player in the Majors.
Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.