The Nationals’ minor league affiliates are developing outfielders, and this started years ago with Billy Burns, who was used as trade bait to snag Jerry Blevins. In a subsequent trade of Blevins, Mike Rizzo traded him to snag Matt den Dekker.
Let’s review the pipeline of prospects:
* Hagerstown Low-A, Victor Robles
* Potomac High-A, Andrew Stevenson
* Harrisburg Double-A, Rafael Bautista
* Syracuse Triple-A, Brian Goodwin
All of those minor leaguers are currently batting over .300 and each have a unique set of tools. Each can play center field. Victor Robles is the Baseball America No. 3 prospect for the Nationals, and Andrew Stevenson is a top 10 prospect in the Nationals pipeline.
The reason this pipeline of outfielders is so important is that Jayson Werth and Ben Revere are both due for free agency after the 2017 season. The Nats control den Dekker, Michael A. Taylor and Bryce Harper for the 2018 season, and it is possible to see some of those minor leaguers in the spring training mix in West Palm Beach in 2017 and 2018 competing for spots.
There is always the possibility that Mike Rizzo trades for or signs a free agent to fill a spot, but he could also fill the spot from within the system. Further down the line is Blake Perkins, among others. The new look for these young outfielders are players with athleticism, speed, defense and on offense the ability to make contact. It is a plus to see these outfielders hitting so well, and there should be some promotions coming for all of these players in the 2016 season.
These are all players to watch, and because they can be promoted at any time, you might want to get out to a minor league game soon.
Steve Mears blogs about the Nationals for Talk Nats. Follow the blog on Twitter: @TalkNats2. His thoughts on the Nationals will appear here as part of MASNsports.com’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our site. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.