With two seasons of professional baseball under his belt, Washington Nationals prospect Andrew Stevenson has found himself rising quickly through the team’s minor league system.
After losing their first round pick to the Tigers for signing Max Scherzer, the Washington Nationals were forced to wait until the second round to make their first selection of the 2015 MLB Amateur Draft. Washington selected 21-year old outfielder Andrew Stevenson out of LSU with the 58th overall pick. Stevenson, fresh off a deep run in the College World Series, reported to the Gulf Coast League Nationals for his first taste of the minors.
Stevenson, a left-handed contact hitter, is best known for his defensive skills in center field. MLB Pipeline, which named him to the 2015 All-Defense Team, gives the former Tigers’ fielding abilities a 65 on the 20-80 scale. Stevenson may not have the strongest arm, but his instincts and fantastic range make him one of the top defensive outfielders in the entire minor leagues.
LSU head coach Paul Mainieri recruited Stevenson out of St. Thomas More High School in Lafayette, Louisiana and was at the helm for each of the three years he spent in Baton Rouge. I had the opportunity to talk with Coach Mainieri this week about Stevenson and his ascent through the Nationals’ minor league system. He raved about the young outfielder’s skills as a defender.
"“He makes great reads off the bat and has tremendous angles,” Mainieri said. “I attribute a lot of that to his wide receiver skills in football. When he gets close to it he’s going to dive and see that ball into his glove … he makes some unbelievable catches.”"
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By the end of the 2015 season, Stevenson was batting leadoff and playing center field for Single-A Hagerstown. The Nationals decided that their young outfielder was ready to move up the ranks, sending him to High-A Potomac at the start of 2016. He thrived with the P-Nats, hitting .304 and he stole 27 bases in 68 games.
Stevenson’s stellar numbers at the plate earned him a promotion to Double-A Harrisburg in late June. He would finish the season there, posting a .630 OPS while smacking 15 extra-base hits in 65 games. While his .246 batting average left much to be desired, Stevenson landed eighth on MLB Pipeline’s list of the Nats’ top 30 prospects. Coach Mainieri considered him one of the best players he’s ever coached.
“I’ve had a lot of great players in 35 years of coaching,” Mainieri said. “Never had a better center fielder than Andrew Stevenson, a guy that could impact a game with just his defense. And I think if he hits consistently like I think he’s capable of then I don’t see why he couldn’t be an everyday player in the major leagues.”
Impressed by what they’ve seen out of him so far, the Washington Nationals sent Stevenson to the Arizona Fall League to give him extra work against some of the top arms in the minors. Through eight games, Stevenson is hitting .273 with three stolen bases and five runs scored.
Another productive season at Harrisburg next year and Stevenson could find himself being called up to the majors to provide a dependable glove off the bench. At only 22 years old, the Washington Nationals have plenty to be excited about with Andrew Stevenson.