The Nationals were thrilled a couple of years ago when they were able to sign international prospects Yasel Antuna and Luis Garcia. Both have made it to the top 10 on the 2019 Nats prospects list per Baseball America.
Antuna, 19, was the publication’s No. 14 international prospect in the 2016 class, and the Nats like the power he was capable of producing at the plate. But this past season, he had Tommy John surgery and is now on the road to recovery. He has primarily played shortstop, but can work any infield spot.
Baseball America has listed Antuna as the No. 9 prospect in the Nats system. At 6-feet and 170 lbs., Antuna played in 87 games at low Single-A Hagerstown, slashing .220/.293/.331. But Baseball America national writer Carlos Collazo believes Antuna will get going again once he is fully healthy.
“He’s a guy that you look back on and you see the tools that haven’t really translated yet to this point. He’s had some struggles on the offensive side,” Collazo said. “This year, he had to undergo Tommy John surgery, but less extreme as a position player than a pitcher obviously. Still it’s not something you want to see.
“More than anything, it’s just taking away the at-bats that we would usually get to get used to professional pitching and kind of advance his approach at the plate. But you still have a guy who could have plus power in the future. He already has above average raw power. A chance to stick in the infield with an above average arm as well.”
The Nationals liked Garcia and Antuna so much they gave them enticing signing bonuses. Garcia has moved ahead of Antuna a bit, due in large part to the latter’s Tommy John recovery. But the future is still bright for Antuna and he is only 19.
“He was a guy who signed for almost $4 million in 2016,” Collazo said. “He was a guy that had the potential to be an impact bat as an infielder. He still has that potential. They’re going to need to see him get healthy moving forward. He is still very young like Garcia so there’s plenty of patience to be had with him.”