More praise for Nats prospects Ward, Marmolejos and Soto

Reviewing some of the other Nationals infield prospects we have not touched on yet, and that list must include third baseman Drew Ward. He extended his season in the Arizona Fall League, where senior writer Jim Callis got to see him play in person.

Ward-Fielding-Harrisburg-Sidebar.jpg“He’s a guy who was a high school player when they signed him,” Callis said. “Power is his tool. It’s there. It’s not always there in game action, but I think he hit 14 homers this year. His ceiling is definitely higher than that. I saw him in the fall league. I think third base is still questionable, he might be more of a first baseman. That’s a tricky one. If he can stay at third, he’s got a lot more value than if he plays at first. But he’s interesting. He’s still only 22.”

Ward hit .252 in 117 games with 14 homers and 56 RBIs for high Single-A Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg. He ended up hitting .309 in 21 games for the Glendale Desert Dogs in the AFL.

First baseman Jose Marmolejos is a two-time organizational minor league Player of the Year. Baseball America editor John Manuel had nice things to say about the 24-year-old Dominican infielder. Marmolejos hit .289 in 136 games for two teams last season, finishing with 146 hits, 13 homers and 74 RBIs. He has been on our prospect radar for a while now.

“Marmolejos is a guy that keeps overachieving,” Manuel said. “I think Marmolejos could be a big league regular. First base is harder to evaluate from a prospect writer standpoint because we have high expectations for first baseman. So you don’t usually have Lucas Duda ranked as a high prospect, (but) this is a guy that hit 30 home runs on National League pennant winner.

“That’s what we are kind of looking at: Does Marmolejos have that profile power? But sometimes for these guys, that’s the last thing (that develops). The major league ball and the minor league ball are different. The big league ball travels. It’s harder to project that power and one of the factors is those baseballs.”

Another player Manuel singled out is 18-year-old right fielder Juan Soto, who finished the season with short-season Single-A Auburn. He hit a combined .368/.420/.553 in 58 games for two teams last season.

“Juan Soto is high up our list,” Manuel said. “You are looking for upside? Soto has upside. He might next in that line after Victor Robles. A guy that came to the GCL, raked, looks to be in full-season ball (this) year and could be on the fast track.”

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