Ordinarily, this would probably be glossed over, but in the offseason from hell, this qualifies as news.
Here’s what the boys in Durham had to say…
The Nationals farm system has produced a steady stream of stars over the decade–Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon and Trea Turner. With Victor Robles and Jesus Soto, the Nationals have another pair of potential stars, even if their prospect depth can’t match many of the teams above them in the rankings.
The development of Carter Kieboom, Daniel Johnson, and Raudy Read was also cited in the system’s rise from #19 last year. For those wondering, the Braves were ranked #1, followed by the Yankees at #2, while the Mariners were dead last at 30, ahead of the Royals at #29. Rounding out the N.L. Least: the Phillies at #6, the Marlins at #19, and the Mets were #27.
It should be noted that these rankings can change very quickly. Just two years ago, the Nationals were ranked #5. Three years ago, the Cubs (#28 in ’18) were #1, four years ago, it was Pittsburgh (#16), and five years ago, St. Louis was #1 (#13).
My concern is precisely that which BA cited regarding the system’s depth (or lack thereof). Victor Robles is going to graduate this year, Erick Fedde probably will, too.
Even if the short-season guys (Seth Romero, Wil Crowe, Yasel Antuna, Luis Garcia) have strong seasons, that will merely continue the trend since roughly 2012: five-to-six blue-chip guys, another five that are a notch or two below, and then little-to-no difference between the #12 guy and the #42 guy.
As noted in the comments, the system is precariously short on pitching and will need several guys besides Romero and Crowe to step up in 2018. It was an embarrassment to have a mediocre 26-y.o. free-agent pitcher named as the best right-handed starter in the entire system.
We’ve been told that 2017 Draft was all about pitching. Here’s to hoping that promise will be fulfilled.