Nats Top 60 Prospect Countdown: 50-41

If you like lists, prospects, and lists of prospects, this six part series is for you. Each Friday over the next six weeks, I will be going through my list of the Nationals' top 60 prospects, counting down from 60 to (spoiler alert) Giolito.

In case you missed it – here is the link to numbers 60-51. The player profiles require a premium subscription to Scout.com, but the overall list is below:

#60 – OF Randy Encarnacion

#59 – LHP Matthew Spann

#58 – LHP Nick Lee

#57 – 1B Jose Marmolejos-Diaz

#56 – SS Edwin Lora

#55 – LHP Hector Silvestre

#54 – RHP Ian Dickson

#53 – 1B Jimmy Yezzo

#52 – RHP Steven Fuentes

#51 – LHP Jake Walsh

Without further ado, here are numbers 50-41:

#50 – OF Israel Mota

R/R, 19 years old on Opening Day
Reached R (DSL) in 2014
Signed as an international free agent by Washington, 2/10/13 ($100,000 signing bonus)

Stop me if you’ve heard this scouting report before – Mota is a fast OF with a big arm and some developing pop that could turn plus if he fills out his 6’2” 165 lb. frame. Baseball America noted that Mota’s arm is 80-grade, and his ceiling is as a 20 HR/20 SB, solid all-around right fielder.

As with all DSL guys, you can’t really tell a whole lot by the stat line with Mota. He hit .310/.355/.485 in 290 PA this season, with an impressive 8 HR and 14 SB. Mota’s K/BB ratio (17/60) isn’t fantastic, but his knocking an extra base hit in one out of every 10 PA is. 2015 should be interesting for the 19 year old, as he could be promoted aggressively to Auburn or could instead be sent to the GCL.

#49 – OF Telmito Agustin

L/L, 18 years old on Opening Day
Reached R (DSL) in 2014
Signed as an international free agent by Washington, 10/10/13 (signing bonus unknown)

I like fast guys. I like guys who can get on base. I like guys who can play center field. For those reasons, I like Telmito Agustin. The then-17 year old ran circles around the Dominican Summer League, hitting .300/.413/.495 with 25 steals and 10 triples in just 60 games. His 14.5% BB% is outright sexy. He even hits for a little bit of pop (27 XBH in 220 AB). His ability to stick in CF is in question, but if he can, that’s a fun prospect to watch.

#48 – C Davinson Pimentel

R/R, 18 years old on Opening Day
Reached R (DSL) in 2014
Signed as an international free agent by Washington, 5/14/15 (signing bonus unknown)

While Mota and Agustin are easier to project due to their ML size, Pimentel is in front of them on my list (barely) due to his position; the 18 year old spent more time at 1B (22 games) than behind the plate (14 games) in his brief stint this season, but he was still signed as a catcher and could stick there.

Pimentel’s (small sample size alert) 235 PA professional debut was pretty awesome, as he hit .350/.443/.550 with 6 HR and 4 steals. His 9.8% BB% and 14.9% K% are both solid, and he hit an impressive 26 extra base hits in 200 at bats. His small stature (listed at 5’9” and 170 lbs.) could be a roadblock to his progression, but 18 year olds have been known to grow.

#47 – RHP Neil Holland

R/R, 26 years old on Opening Day
Reached AAA 2014
Drafted in 2010, 11th round, 326th overall by Washington (University of Louisville, Louisville KY, $110,000 signing bonus)

@1neilholland

On the surface, Holland isn’t an extremely exciting prospect. He’s 26 years old and hasn’t reached the big leagues yet. He rarely tops 90 mph. He throws weird. But I still think there’s something here.

Holland’s sidearm sinker generates a lot of ground balls, and keeps the ball in the yard. While I don’t think his fastball/slider/changeup combination is good enough to suppress hits at the big league levels like he has in the minors (career 7.5 H/9), his control and command are both impressive and he excels at generating weak contact. Also to like: Holland doesn’t like putting guys on base, and has a career 3.72 K/BB ratio. Holland got hit hard in short assignments in Syracuse (9 runs allowed in 9 and 2/3 innings) and the Arizona Fall League (14 runs allowed in 11 and 2/3 innings), but his overall numbers still show him as somebody worth keeping an eye on.

#46 Derek Self

R/R, 25 years old on Opening Day
Reached AA in 2014
Drafted in 2012, 9th round, 294th overall by Washington (University of Louisville, Louisville KY, $25,000 signing bonus)

@CaptainDurrack


Self took a step forward in 2014, improving his numbers across the board despite moving up and facing tougher competition (including the Arizona Fall League). For the second straight year, Self increased his strikeout rate (this year to 8.2 K/9), all while dropping his walk rate down to 2.4 BB/9. For a ground ball pitcher, Self was surprisingly prone to the HR (1.1 HR/9, after a relatively high 0.8 HR/9 in 2013). The sinkerballer doesn't have extremely exciting stuff, but he has enough to generate grounders and strike out a handful of batters here and there, especially if he sacrifices some sink for an extra tick in velocity late in the count.

Self excelled in the Arizona Fall League, allowing just 2 runs in 15 innings. Self's strikeout and walk stats weren't out-of-this-world (5 BB/6 K), but he only allowed 12 hits. 25 year old AA relievers are generally not much to be excited about, but look for Self to keep plugging along and eventually make his case for a spot on the 40-man roster.


#45 Robert Benincasa

R/R, 24 years old on Opening Day
Reached AA in 2014
Drafted in 2012, 7th round, 234th overall by Washington (Florida State University, Tallahassee FL, $145,000 signing bonus)

@bennyndajets

After back-to-back excellent seasons to start his minor league career where he put together an excellent 5.65 K/BB ratio, 30 saves, and 3.03 ERA, it was disappointing to see Benincasa struggle in 2014. His numbers weren't bad by any means, with a 4.23 ERA, 18 saves, and a 2.32 K/BB ratio, just not up to par with his previous studliness.

Like Self, Benincasa struggled with the long-ball in 2014, allowing 1.5 HR/9. Generally a higher home run rate combined with an increase in walk rate signifies command issues, something that Benincasa did not struggle with in the past. Unlike many righty relievers, Benincasa delivers a solid three pitch mix with his fastball, slider, and changeup, and while he doesn't have the lights-out stuff to be a closer, he can get back on track to be a middle relief type if he regains his command in 2015.

#44 – 2B/3B Austin Davidson

L/R, 22 years old on Opening Day
Reached A in 2014
Drafted in 2014, 13th round, 394th overall by Washington (Pepperdine University, Malibu CA, signing bonus unknown)

The weird thing about prospects is that a guy who hits .243/.296/.385 in his debut can still be seen as a guy that profiles as a good hitter as he moves up the ladder. Davidson likely won’t be a big power guy, but he has decent plate discipline and a smooth swing that has shown signs of excellence. If absolutely everything breaks right, he could fit the mold of an offensive-minded lefty hitting second baseman like Matt Carpenter (although I don’t think his plate discipline will ever reach those levels).

Davidson needs be able to stick at 2B to be much of a prospect, because he doesn’t have the power to play at 3B. That may be a struggle, because he isn’t known to have the greatest footwork or range. His arm and instincts are decent, though, and he’s athletic enough to potentially figure it out. Davidson’s 2015 season will say a lot – if he’s able to improve at 2B and hit, he’ll move up my list. If he doesn’t, he’ll likely drop off completely by next offseason.

#43 – 1B Shawn Pleffner

L/R, 25 years old on Opening Day
Reached A+ in 2014
Drafted in 2011, 26th round, 787th overall by Washington (University of Tampa, Tampa FL, signing bonus unknown)

In three professional seasons, Pleffner has consistently hit for average and reached base (career .304/.380/.414). If only he could find a way to use his 6'5", 225 lb. frame for some power, the Nats may have something here. He’s absolutely not a flashy guy, with just 9 HR in 256 career minor league games, but excels at waiting on his pitch and taking it the opposite way. He has decent speed for a big man (26/31 on SB attempts in 3 seasons) and was named the best defensive 1B in the Carolina League by Baseball America in 2014, but Pleffner is getting old, and needs to hit for more power this year to stay semi-relevant. For whatever reason, I just can’t give up on his ability to make consistent contact from the left side, probably since the Nats’ bench has struggled to find lefty hitting guys who don’t swing and miss a million times.

#42 – 1B/3B/OF John Wooten

R/R, 24 years old on Opening Day
Reached A+ in 2014
Drafted in 2012, 37th round, 1129th overall by Oakland (East Carolina University, Greeneville NC, signing bonus unknown)

Traded to Washington by Oakland for LHP Fernando Abad, 11/25/13

If the Nats could combine Wooten’s pop with Pleffner’s contact and on-base abilities, they’d have a hell of a prospect. Wooten is a big guy with lots of power (flirted with .200 ISO in '14, 32 HR in 236 games over the last 2 years). I don’t love his plate discipline (92 BB/228 K in his career), but he has hit to the tune of a 115 or better wRC+ at each level he’s played. Wooten would be especially interesting if he can play 3B, as he did in more than a third of his games in 2014. An aggressive promotion to AA early in 2015 could really help to see if Wooten is a prospect or a suspect.

#41 – RHP Drew Van Orden

R/R, 23 years old on Opening Day
Reached A in 2014
Drafted in 2014, 5th round, 154th overall by Washington (Duke University, Durham NC, $75,000 signing bonus)

After three awful years in Durham (6.53 ERA in 146 innings), Van Orden turned things around in his senior year, tossing 87 and 1/3 innings of 3.19 ERA ball for the Blue Devils. He put together the best K/BB ratio in his career by far (3.64, with 1.79 being his previous best), and carried that with him in his professional debut (3.82 K/BB, mostly in Auburn). He’s a four pitch guy (fastball, slider, changeup, and curve) who is mainly working on the command of his low-90s fastball. Van Orden profiles as a back of the rotation starter if things break right, and could still be a decent swingman or middle reliever if his development doesn’t go as planned.


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