Bullpen depth is a commodity the Nationals want to shore up in 2017. The good news is that the organization is soon going to bear the fruit of its top talent from the Dominican Republic. The Nats also have some outstanding Dominican starting pitchers building from the lower levels on the farm.
Here is a list of some of the up-and-coming hurlers in the Nationals pipeline that could make a major step forward in 2017:
RHP Jefry Rodriguez
6-foot-5, 185 lbs.
Rodriguez logged 123 1/3 innings and 25 starts for the low Single-A Hagerstown Suns. He went 7-11 and had one complete game. He allowed two earned runs or less in six of his last 10 starts.
“Rodriguez has quality angle and depth on his fastball due in part to his height and stature on mound,” said Hagerstown manager Patrick Anderson.
RHP Joan Baez
6-foot-3, 190 lbs.
San Cristobal, D.R.
Baez went 9-7 with a 3.94 ERA in 27 starts for the Suns. He struck out 119 batters in 125 1/3 frames. Baez won his last three decisions, surrendering two earned runs or less in seven of his final 10 starts.
“Baez has an electric fastball with a quality slider,” Anderson said. “His fastball is big league level tool.”
RHP Luis Reyes
6-foot-2, 175 lbs.
Sabana Grande de Palenque, D.R.
Reyes made 14 starts and registered four wins with the high Single-A Potomac Nationals. He combined for 94 2/3 innings with three teams in 2016.
“Reyes can spin it, has good curveball,” Anderson said.
LHP Hector Silvestre
6-foot-3, 180 lbs.
San Pedro De Macoris, D.R.
Silvestre put together a 1-0 record with a 1.96 ERA in his final 10 games of the season. Over his last three starts with Potomac, he allowed 12 hits in 13 innings and netted a 2.08 ERA.
“Silvestre has been very impressive,” Anderson said. “Fastball is coming back following injury. He has a quality changeup and his curveball is coming along.”
RHP Wirkin Estevez
6-foot-1, 170 lbs.
Santo Domingo, D.R.
Estevez has been highly touted with the Nats organization for a while now and this may be the season he moves up. After missing 2015 due to injury, Estevez spent 23 games and made 10 starts for Potomac last season. He pitched 59 innings and went 2-4.
RHP Phillips Valdez
6-foot-2, 160 lbs.
San Pedro de Macoris, D.R.
Valdez made 27 starts in 2016, 16 of them at Double-A Harrisburg. He went a combined 12-7 and struck out 109 batters in 152 2/3 innings between Potomac and Harrisburg.