When one Major League Baseball team’s moves look good on paper, it makes sense to examine how other teams can learn from those successes.
With the San Diego Padres’ recent moves, we wondered what the Washington Nationals could learn from the Padres. After taking a deep dive into recent history, it looks like the main reason the Padres were able to make their recent moves was due to their Farm System’s strength.
The Padres farm system has spent the past two years ranked atop MLB Pipeline’s farm system rankings, and the farm system hasn’t rated lower than fourth, dating back to 2016. According to MLB’s pipeline rankings, the Padres have some of the best high-end talents in Baseball with five Top 100 prospects, including three prospects ranked in the top 25 and one prospect ranked in the top 50. The Padres have also landed impact prospects via the draft and also participating in the International market.
The State of the Washington Nationals Farm System
We all know that the team’s recent success has led to the team to be buyers rather than sellers. The majority of prospects and the club’s draftees are pitchers, including 13 prospects from the college ranks. Pitching prospects in the Washington Nationals system occupy each of the top 10 spots on the list and 18 of 30 spots overall.
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The Nationals do not appear to have many prospects in terms of positional players, but the farm system has a couple of big bats and a proven track record of developing them. According to MLB.com, the Washington Nationals top 30 prospects by position only include seven infielders ( one first baseman, three catchers, and three shortstop players). The last time the Washington Nationals used their top draft pick outside a pitcher was in 2016 when they drafted shortstop Carter Keiboom.
Looking forward: MLB Draft 2021
Barring any unforeseen changes, the Washington Nationals will be ideal for the 2021 MLB Draft to change their draft history. The Nationals are slated to pick at 11, and hopefully, they will use that spot to re-build their positional player prospects. While we are familiar with the fact that the draft for Baseball operates a bit differently than other sports leagues (as in baseball teams, rarely t don’t draft based upon need), it might be time for the Nationals to focus on need rather than want.
One player to be on the lookout for is third baseman Alex Binelas out of the University of Louisville.
In this episode Richard discusses the Washington Nationals and thier latest moves with Al Galdi from Team 980 right here in Washington D.C. During the conversation, Al wonders why the Washington Nationals haven’t been involved in talks to acquire free agent George Springer.
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At 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, Binelas has the body of a major leaguer. However, he did miss the start of his Sophomore year after having surgery performed on his hamate bone. During his time at the University of Louisville, Binelas hit 61 home runs, 60 RBI’s, and had a batting average of .286, a slugging percentage of .596, and an OPS of .972.
Binelas will be going through the draft process for the second time. Back in 2018, scouts projected Binelas a potential top-five-round pick in the 2018 draft. In 2018, Binelas “received a couple of calls” in the third round but “wasn’t going to settle” when it came to the signing bonus dollar amount he sought, he said. The Washington Nationals selected Binelas in the 35th round of the 2018 draft, but Binelas already had his sights set on Louisville. According to Baseball Prospect Journal.com, they have him going to the Colorado Rockies, who have the draft’s eighth pick.
If, Binelas isn’t available at 11 when the Nationals pick another infield prospect that should be taken a look at, is Henry Davis, Catcher also out of the University of Louisville. According to Baseball Prospect Journal, Davis “is a complete player. His best trait is the above-average arm strength that is accurate and has allowed him to throw out 34% of base stealers in his first two years at Louisville. He has all the traits to stick at catcher long-term. Offensively, Davis has strong plate discipline and the raw power to make an impact as a right-handed hitter.”
Either way, the Nationals should focus on the infield and hitting prospects to start the process of improving their farm system; the front office needs to step out of their comfort zone and do something different; if they want to re-create the success of the Padres most recent moves.