Washington Nationals: The organization’s best prospect at each position
By Blake Finney
Catcher – Israel Pineda
Next up: Raudy Read, Tres Barrera, Tyler Cropley
The Washington Nationals have had a few solid but not spectacular catching prospects come through the ranks in recent seasons. But now, Israel Pineda is likely the team’s best catching prospect since they acquired Wilson Ramos from the Minnesota Twins back in 2010.
After a brief but impressive pro debut in the Gulf Coast League in 2017, Pineda spent 2018 with the Auburn Doubledays in short-season A-ball. With the Doubledays, he posted a solid .273/.341/.388 slash line while impressing defensively with a strong arm behind the plate, earning him New York-Penn League All-Star honors.
Unfortunately, his season was cut a bit short by a broken left hamate bone which forced him to miss the last few games of the year. it will be interesting to see if the team eases him back in to start next season given his growing stature within the organization.
Pineda could realistically start the season with the Single-A Hagerstown Suns as the Nats may want to let him loose in full-season ball as the next step in his development. He has a chance to keep ascending prospect rankings and could conceivably be a top five prospect in the organization this time next year.
Behind Pineda, it’s a mixed bag with Raudy Read as a bat-first catcher, the glove-first Tres Barrera coming off of an All-Star season in Potomac and the recently drafted Tyler Cropley. The catcher position has long been a problem area in the minors for the Nationals, but they at least seem to be developing prospects in that area now, with Israel Pineda the shining light.