Player Previews: ML-Ready Position Players

In past years, the Nats have struggled to develop internal hitting depth. This year, the depth looks to be fairly solid, with three top 15 hitting prospects being (fairly) ML-ready in Difo, Bostick, and Severino, and a few others sleeper candidates in den Dekker, Goodwin, and Kieboom hoping to take the next step and contribute in the big leagues.

 2B Wilmer Difo
S/R, 6’0”, 195 lbs., 24 years old on Opening Day
Highest 2015 level reached: MLB
Signed by Washington as an International Free Agent in 2010 ($20,000 signing bonus)
Best Anagram Name: Weirdo Film

I don’t know what it is about Wilmer Difo, but I still am not sold on him as a future ML starter. He showed enough at AA in 2015 for me to not write off 2014 as a fluke year. I'm not super pleased about the dip in BB% and raise in K%, but not super concerned either. There's nothing specific about his swing, skills, or minor league numbers that really set off a red flag for me, but the overall package still looks like a future utility or semi-regular guy to me. The Nats would be wise to give him a full year between AA and AAA this year to hone his skills against better pitching rather than stashing him on the ML bench.


2B Chris Bostick
R/R, 5’11”, 185 lbs., 23 years old on Opening Day
Highest 2015 level reached: AA
Drafted by Oakland in 2011 (44th round, 1336th overall, $125,000 signing bonus)
Traded to Texas on 12/3/13 with OF Michael Choice for OF Craig Gentry and RHP Josh Lindblom
Traded to Washington on 12/12/14 with RHP Abel De Los Santos for LHP Ross Detwiler
Best Anagram Name: Orbits Chicks

A lot of people move Bostick down their lists because he’s not a physical freak or a shortstop, but nonetheless he’s a guy who I really like. The former 44th round draft pick was added to 40 man roster after an impressive .268/.333/.549 performance with 10 extra base hits and 6 SB in just 78 PA in the Arizona Fall League. He hit a more pedestrian .258/.312/.398 in 2015 with 12 HR and 31 SB, and the power/speed combo is nothing new, as he’s put up 11+ HR and 24+ SB in each of the last 3 years. I like that Bostick has shown a willingness to play all over the field, with starts at 2B, SS, LF, and CF in 2015. I think he can develop into a nice utility player that can provide speed and power off of the bench, with the upside of becoming a more agile version of Ronnie Belliard (who was a lot more useful than you probably remember). To be honest, if I’m Mike Rizzo, I probably use Wilmer Difo as a trade chip and develop Bostick into the utility guy.

 

C Pedro Severino
R/R, 6’2”, 200 lbs., 22 years old on Opening Day
Highest 2015 level reached: MLB
Signed by Washington as an International Free Agent in 2010 ($55,000 signing bonus)
Best Anagram Name:  Porn Video Seer

Seemingly every year, the Nats have a young catcher whose defense is ML-ready but their bat is still not there. It’s easy to get bored with this profile of a player, but backup catchers with strong defensive abilities do have value (just not fantasy baseball value). While Severino’s batting profile didn’t improve in 2015, it didn’t fall apart completely against stronger competition; his isolated power fell back in-line with his pre-2014 career norm, but his batting average, BABIP, and BB/K ratios were pretty much the same as in 2014. I want to see him for one more season at AA/AAA before dropping him too far on my personal list.


OF Matt den Dekker
L/L, 6’1”, 210 lbs., 28 years old on Opening Day
Highest 2015 level reached: MLB
Drafted by New York (N) in 2010 (5th round, 152th overall, $110,000 signing bonus)
Traded to Washington on 3/30/15 for LHP Jerry Blevins
Best Anagram Name: Tanked Med Trek

Den Dekker is definitely not a prospect anymore, but his flashes of power in 2015 reminded folks that he’s a useful 4th outfielder (or 5th on a team that has Michael A. Taylor as the 4th outfielder). He’s never going to be a super useful everyday option, as he struggles to hit anything that isn’t a fastball, but he can put the ball over the wall with his bat and keep it in the yard with his glove. Not someone you want to rely on in your starting lineup, but a solid 5th option.

 

OF Brian Goodwin
L/R, 6’0”, 190 lbs., 25 years old on Opening Day
Highest 2015 level reached: AA
Drafted by Washington in 2011 (Supplemental 1st round, 34th overall, $300,000 signing bonus)
Best Anagram Name: Rainbow Dingo

Once an exciting prospect, injuries and strikeouts have curbed Goodwin’s rise towards the big leagues. He’s still fast and solid defensively in CF, but his bats seemingly have holes in them, with a .223/.306/.336 triple slash over the last two seasons in AA and AAA. The now-25 year old got a little bit of wind back in his sails with an impressive .316/.401/.459 with 5 steals and 3 HR in 35 Venezuelan Winter League games this year, and survived the winter still on the 40-man roster, so maybe this will be the year he finally breaks out. Maybe this will be the year I’ll hit the lottery, too.

 

C Spencer Kieboom
R/R, 6’1”, 230 lbs., 25 years old on Opening Day
Highest 2015 level reached: A+
Drafted by Washington in 2010 (5th round, 174th overall, $200,000 signing bonus)
Best Anagram Name: Beckon More Pies

Cool name? Check. Catchers gear? Check. 40-man spot? Check. Those are the three factors that merit Kieboom’s inclusion on prospect lists this year. I’m hesitant to put much backing behind a guy who has only played in 203 minor league games in four seasons (none above A+), so he’s lower on my personal list than on the lists of many others. That being said, he’s a good defensive catcher, supposedly a good locker room leader, and has a pretty good grasp of the bat (career .279/.352/.410 triple slash, 36 BB/30 K ratio in 2015). All-in-all, he’s a longshot to be anything more than a career backup at the MLB level, which is still a good outcome for a 5th round draft pick.

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