NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. - The Arizona Fall League today announced its 2016 Top Prospects Team, which included two top Nationals offensive prospects, third baseman Drew Ward and center fielder Andrew Stevenson.
“We are proud of how all of our players went about their business, how they work and represented the Nationals organization in Arizona this fall, and are excited to see both Andrew Stevenson and Drew Ward recognized for thier accomplishments by being named to the AFL Top Prospects Team,” said Nationals director of player development Mark Scialabba.
Ward had at least one hit in 19 of his 21 games for the Glendale Desert Dogs, who came within one game of reaching the AFL title game. He started the AFL campaign with a 13-game hitting streak and finished with a .309 average with 25 hits, 13 runs, six doubles and eight RBIs. MLB.com ranks Ward as the No. 10 Nationals prospect. Ward was one of two third baseman selected to the All-Prospects Team.
“Drew’s approach continues to evolve with his improved strike zone discipline,” Scialabba said. “He has a knack for barreling up the ball, is improving his bat path through the zone and showing the potential to develop into an impact bat. Defensively, he’s improved his footwork with tremendous work ethic and continues to showcase solid average arm strength with accuracy from third base.”
Stevenson was the AFL leader in hits with 30, finished second in batting (.353), and ranked third in runs scored (18) and total bases (44). Stevenson had nine stolen bases and an OPS of .934. He had a five-hit performance Nov. 7 against Peoria. The LSU product ended up with four doubles, two triples, two homers and 12 RBIs in 21 games.
Stevenson’s is the Nationals’ No. 8 prospect, as ranked by MLB.com, and was one of six outfielders selected to the postseason honors list.
“Andrew continues to make strides by making the necessary adjustments at the plate,” Scialabba said. “He has the potential to hit at the top of the lineup and is demonstrating the ability to drive the ball to the gaps more consistently. He’s a dynamic athlete that impacts the game with his legs on both sides of the ball and has above-average skills and instincts in the outfield.”
* New Colorado Rockies manager Bud Black met with the media to start off the managers news conferences at the Winter Meetings. Black was a big story last offseason in the D.C. area when he was reportedly the choice as Nationals manager before negotiations broke down and the club moved on and selected Dusty Baker.
Black was asked if that experience altered the way he went about negotiating with the Rockies this time around.
“Not really, no,” Black said. “I’ve been through a couple of interviews, even going back 10 years ago. I think any experience you go through it helps you.”
Black believes the Rockies are “trending up” and smiled when asked about the status of star Carlos Gonzalez. “He helps us win a lot,” Black said. “So our mindset as relates to him is he’s here. He’s a Rockie. He’s going to help us win 2017.”