Drew Ward: Checking in on the Nationals’ No. 8 prospect

pabloroa
facebooktwitterreddit

Jul 18, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals manager

Matt Williams

talks with general manager Mike Rizzo before the game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit:

Brad Mills

-USA TODAY Sports

One of the benefits of the offseason is that it gives us the opportunity to reflect on last season and to look forward to next year and beyond – a future that will undoubtedly be shaped not only by the team’s current big league stars, but also by the youngsters that are working their way up the minor league ladder.

Over the next couple of weeks, we will be counting down the Nationals’ Top-10 prospects (as ranked by MLB.com) and breaking down what they have accomplished so far in their young professional careers. We will also predict if and when they will be ready to contribute at the big league level and where we expect to see them in 2015.

More from Nationals Prospects

Some of these names are well-known throughout the baseball world, while others are players that you may never have heard of before. Regardless of how prominent these players are in the ever-evolving world of the game’s rising stars, all of them will have an impact on the future of the Nationals and it’s important to monitor their progress as they continue on their path to the big leagues.

We began our series last week with catcher Jakson Reetz and right-hander Austin Voth, the team’s No. 10 and No. 9 prospects respectively. Next up on our list is third baseman Drew Ward, the team’s No. 8 prospect.

The Nationals drafted Ward out of high school in the third round of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft and signed him with an $850k signing bonus shortly thereafter.

Ward was considered by Baseball America to be the 87th-best prospect entering the draft, but his potential was hard to measure since he had only recently decided to graduate from high school a year early and thus qualify for the 2013 draft. But Washington liked what it saw in the big third baseman from Oklahoma High School and selected him in the third round – a decision that has already started to pay off for the Nationals.

Upon joining the Nationals in 2013, Ward hit .292 with 28 RBIs in 49 games with the team’s Gulf Coast league affiliate. After an impressive – albeit, brief – showing in his first professional season, Ward was promoted to Class-A Hagerstown in 2014, where he batted .269 with 10 home runs and 73 RBIs in 115 games.

At 6-4, 210 pounds, Ward is expected to continue to grow and eventually become a slugger at the plate.

Ward’s impressive power numbers in his first two seasons are exactly what the Nationals expected to see from the third baseman when they drafted him, and at just 20 years old, he appears to be on the fast track to becoming a big league power hitter.

While Ward is still likely a few years away from joining the big league club, the only real question mark surrounding the 20-year-old is his defense.

More from District on Deck

Ward’s size allows him to hit the ball out of the ballpark with ease, but it also limits his range. A former shortstop, Ward’s poor range has already forced him to move to third base. And despite his strong arm, his poor athleticism could eventually force him to move across the diamond to first base.

Despite his defensive weaknesses, Ward’s power potential is a valuable asset in a game where true sluggers are becoming more and more rare. If Ward continues to develop into a legitimate power hitter, his pop at the plate will likely make up for any defensive flaws he might have.

He’s only been 20 years old for three days, but he’s already made his presence known in the Nationals organization and he could join the big league club as early as 2017. The Nationals have plenty of exciting young prospects to keep an eye on in the next few years, and Ward is no exception.

Check back here tomorrow as we continue our Washington Nationals Top-10 prospects countdown with No. 7 – outfielder Brian Goodwin.

facebooktwitterreddit