Nationals Fringy Prospect Update

Two weeks ago, I took a look at my pre-season top 15 prospects and how they performed through April. Now it's time to take a look at the second half of my top prospect list, mostly filled with fringe prospects and long-shots.

16) C Jhonatan Solano - With Wilson Ramos going on the DL again, Solano will get a second crack at the ML roster in 2013. He went 1/6 in three games for the Nats in April and isn't hitting much better in Syracuse - .167/.200/.208 (albeit only in 50 plate appearances). He was just reinstated from the Syracuse 7 day DL (ankle injury) yesterday, just in time to be called up.  TRENDING: DOWN

17) OF Michael Taylor - Taylor has already surpassed his 2012 HR total with 4 this season and is more than halfway to defeating last year's SB total as well with 10 so far. His triple slash doesn't look great at .234/.309/.393, but his wRC+ is 98, so he's at least close to league average. Taylor has time to figure out his game, though, as he just turned 22 in March; as Luke Erickson of Nationals Prospects said about a week ago, "Folks that haven’t seen him in person are dismissive, but those of us who have can understand why he’s been touted." TRENDING: SAME

18) OF Destin Hood - Those who expected Hood to regain the power that disappeared from his bat in 2012 are starting to get nervous; Destin only has 7 extra base hits thus far and no home runs, leaving him with an ISO of .058. He is young for AA still (turned 23 in April), but lucky that the Nationals don't have a ton of lower-level OF talent to push him out of the Harrisburg lineup.TRENDING: DOWN

19) LHP Brett Mooneyham - The 0.63 ERA in three starts looks fantastic. The 9 BB/6 K in 14 and 1/3 innings looks awful. Expect both to regress to the mean when he returns from the DL - he's spent almost a month there now due to arm discomfort. TRENDING: DOWN (INJURED)

20) OF Billy Burns - Thank goodness someone on this list finally gives me some hope. Burns continues to live up to his reputation as an on-base machine, hitting .289/.422/.352 in 165 plate appearances. He needs to continue blowing by people on the basepaths (21/23 SB this season) and getting on base to get a shot at the Majors, but he's done nothing but that thus far in his minor league career. TRENDING: UP

21) LHP Robbie Ray - Ray has rebounded nicely from a dismal 2012 season where he put up a 6.56 ERA in 105 and 2/3 innings. This year, he has thrown 42 innings of 2.36 ERA ball with 11.8 K/9. Ray's lack of top-end velocity could make it hard to keep up high strikeout numbers as he climbs the organizational ladder, so he needs to cut down his walks (currently 4.3 BB/9). Still, it's good to see the 21 year old lefty put the past behind and pitch well. TRENDING: UP

22) IF Rick Hague - I was expecting big things out of Hague in 2013, but he has disappointed me thus far with a .240/.298/.333 triple slash and 74 wRC+ for Harrisburg. I still believe in his ability to hit for at least contact at higher levels, but his power has been nowhere near what I expected it to develop into over the years after his solid 2010 rookie campaign. TRENDING: DOWN

23) RHP Blake Treinen - Despite his 5.04 ERA, I like where Treinen is at right now. He's been pretty hittable (10.3 H/9 allowed), but per his career norms has limited his walks (2.0 BB/9). I would prefer an uptick in strikeouts (7.3 K/9 this year), but am comfortable enough with his 3.6 K/BB ratio to predict some improvement from him for the rest of the year.TRENDING: SAME

24) OF Brandon Miller - The 2012 NCAA Division 1 leader in HR picked up right where he left off, with 7 HR in 34 games thus far in 2013. Unfortunately, that's about all he's doing right; Miller is striking out in one out of every three at-bats, and as a result is hitting a pretty non-unlucky .229/.279/.473. The raw power and raw arm are exciting to watch, but don't expect huge things until he can learn to control the strike zone. TRENDING: SAME

25) 1B Chris Marrero - Chris Marrero is currently just doing what Chris Marrero does (well, minus getting hurt). His .292/.336/.500 triple slash and 7 HR to start the year are looking good. With Tyler Moore and Chad Tracy currently struggling at the ML level, I would not be surprised to see Marrero get a call-up at some point soon to pinch hit off the bench and spell Adam LaRoche against lefties. TRENDING: UP

26) LHP Kylin Turnbull - Turnbull has brought it upon himself to give free souvenir baseballs to bleacher bums across the minors this year, allowing 2.2 HR/9 so far (4 HR in 24 and 1/3 innings). with mediocre BB and K numbers (3.7 BB/9, 4.8 K/9) to go with his 10.36 ERA and 2.014 WHIP, he's fallen off of my personal top 30 and could fall off of the prospect radar all together if he doesn't improve soon.TRENDING: DOWN

27) OF Wander Ramos - One of my personal favorites due to having a solid track record and a pun-friendly first name, Ramos is currently hitting .230/.389/.486 for Hagerstown through 24 games after battling through a hamstring injury in early April. His 28.4 K% is a little less scary when you pair it with a 20% BB rate; all-together, Ramos has walked, struck out or homered in 52.6% of his plate appearances this season. Meet your new Adam Dunn. TRENDING: UP

28) UTIL Steven Souza - Currently on the DL due to shoulder soreness, which is a shame due to his hot start (albeit in just 9 games): .370/.528/.667. Souza hit 23 homers last season in just 97 games after homering 37 times in 444 career games from 2007-11. It's way too early to draw any conclusions on him based on those 9 games, but the early power/speed combination is a good sign. TRENDING: UP (INJURED)

291B Shawn Pleffner - There's nothing all that sexy about a first baseman with a career ISO of .135, but I really admire Pleffner's on-base abilities. His .288 batting average is boosted by his .362 BABIP (and last year, he had a .329 average and a .386 BABIP) and he's not exactly a burner out there, so expect some regression there. Still, there's something to like about a guy who can get on base at a .390 or higher clip, even if it's with average power. TRENDING: UP

30) IF Carlos Rivero - The beginning of 2013 has not treated Rivero well. I figured he would have been claimed off of waivers by a team like the Marlins or Astros when the Nats removed him back in late March, but he was not so fortunate. He is only hitting .225/.308/.275 in 30 games so far in Syracuse. I like his 10.3% walk rate, but that is sure to drop as the season goes along. I am concerned about his .049 ISO. TRENDING: DOWN

31) RHP Aaron Barrett - It's good to see Barrett have early season success in Harrisburg as their closer. He made great strides with his command in 2012 and has continued with the improvements thus far in 2013 (3.4 BB/9, which pairs just fine with his 12.1 K/9). At 25 years old in his first year of AA ball, the Nats could push him to AAA this year with a potential cameo in the DC bullpen late in the season or next spring. TRENDING: UP

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