Washington Nationals: Rebuild Report Cards

Luis Garcia #2 of the Washington Nationals hits a home run in the second inning against the Chicago Cubs at Nationals Park on July 30, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
Luis Garcia #2 of the Washington Nationals hits a home run in the second inning against the Chicago Cubs at Nationals Park on July 30, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images) /
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It has been just over two weeks since the Nationals did the unthinkable and blew up their roster. In a flurry of moves, the Nationals shipped off two starting pitchers including their ace, their setup man, their closer, and their starters at second, left, catcher, and short. In return, the Nationals were able to restock a barren farm system receiving 12 prospects.

Some of the players the Nationals received are still in the minors and won’t be ready for a year or two. They already promoted four players who have immediately made their presence felt. In addition, the Nationals also recalled Tres Barrera, Luis Garcia, and Carter Kieboom in order for the three to receive as much playing time as possible. With Juan Soto at the center, the Nationals have their new core in place and now they just need to develop.

How is the Nationals rebuild going? We gave report cards for all of the young players that are seen to be part of the future.

Josiah Gray

Season Stats: 0-1, 4.13 ERA, 31 strikeouts, 6.60 FIP.

Alongside Keibert Ruiz, Josiah Gray was one of the main pieces from the Scherzer/Turner blockbuster. From the get-go, Gray has impressed throwing five innings, while only allowing one run in his Nationals debut. In three starts with the team, he is 0-1, with a 2.83 ERA, 18 strikeouts, and a 5.84 FIP. Gray’s FIP does not defend his hot start, but this kid is the real deal. He will need to work on his homer problem, all five runs he’s allowed in D.C. have come via the long ball.

He has already flashed his strikeout potential, recording 10 strikeouts in five innings against the Braves. His curveball, changeup, and slider are still a work in progress, but once he gets a better feel for his secondary pitches, Gray will become a top-end starter.

Grade: B+

Carter Kieboom

Season Stats: .261 BA, 2 HRs, 9 RBIs, .719 OPS.

Entering the season, Carter Kieboom was approaching bust status, but since the rebuild started the youngster has finally started to show some improvements at the plate. A main reason for his recent success is the fact that he no longer has to worry about being demoted back to the minors if he falters.

In his most recent game against the Braves, Kieboom finished 2-5, with two RBIs. A year ago, Kieboom seemed nervous at the plate, but now he has been composed and full of confidence. Defensively, Kieboom has taken a step back at third. In 33 games last year, he recorded four DRS at third compared to -5 DRS in 20 games this season. A switch to second or short might be better for him.

Grade: B

Luis Garcia

Season Stats: .215 BA, 3 HRs, 7 RBIs, .663 OPS.

Luis Garcia debuted last year and flashed an impressive hit tool. In 40 games, he hit .276, with two homers, 16 RBIs, and an OPS of .668. He started this year in the minors so he could work on his defense and develop more power.

Garcia, who was called up at the end of July struggled in his first seven games as he adapted to MLB pitching. However, he has a hit in eight of his last 11 games and finally looks composed at the plate.

Grade: C+

Mason Thompson

Season Stats: 0-1, 2.08 ERA, 7 strikeouts, 2.60 FIP

Part of the package for Daniel Hudson, Mason Thompson will be a pivotal part of the Nationals bullpen moving forward. In 5.2 innings with the Nats, he has only allowed one run, while posting a 2.47 FIP, and striking out five. He has impressive movement on his fastball and slider and just needs more experience.

Grade: B

Gabe Klobosits

Season Stats: 0-1, 5.19 ERA, 4 strikeouts, 2.95 FIP

A 36th round pick in 2017, Gabe Klobosits dominated this season at Double and Triple-A, allowing only two runs in 32 innings. After not allowing a run in 12 innings at Triple-A, Klobosits was called up to help bolster the backend of the bullpen. The righty is going through growing pains and looks overwhelmed at times, but when he’s on, he has been untouchable. Klobosits has the makeup to be the team’s future setup man and just needs experience.

Grade: C+

Victor Robles

Season Stats: .209 BA, 2 HRs, 18 RBIs, .624.

Victor Robles’s 2021 season has been a rollercoaster ride, with some impressive highs and depressing lows. Every time the 24-year-old has been on the cusp of putting everything together at the plate, he hits a wall which is mostly due to his multiple IL stints.

In the month of May, he hit .265, with four RBIs, and an OPS of .735, but he started the month of June 0-16, with three walks before he recorded a hit. Dave Martinez had started to lose patience with the five-tool player, delegating him to a platoon situation.

Since the firesale, Robles has started to look like his 2019 self, recording a hit in seven of his last eight games. Defensively, he has 0 DRS and a 2.5 UZR which is a step up from last season, but nowhere near his 2019 season where he posted 23 DRS.

Grade: C-

Riley Adams

Season Stats: .149 BA, 1 HR, 3 RBIs, .486 OPS.

In need of bullpen help, Toronto sent Riley Adams to D.C. for Brad Hand. Adams struggled offensively with the Blue Jays and was seen expendable. In 22 ABs with the Nats, he is hitting .211, with a homer, three RBIs, and an OPS of .687,

For the first time in a long time, Washington has an influx of intriguing catching prospects, with Adams among them. He projects to be a solid backup thanks to his plus defense. But it was his bat that allowed Adams to introduce himself to the fanbase with a bang. With one on and two out in the top of the ninth against Atlanta, Adams took Will Smith deep to put the Nationals on top 3-2 for his first career home run.

Defensively, Adams has already flashed his glove. Against the Braves, Klobosits fielded a grounder but his throw to the plate was wide. Adams caught it, had to spin and dive to still tag the runner at the plate.

Grade: B+

Lane Thomas

Season Stats: .135 BA, 1 RBI, .440 OPS.

Mike Rizzo worked his magic when he was able to acquire Lane Thomas from the Cardinals for Jon Lester. Thomas struggled in 32 games with the Cardinals, but a change of scenery has allowed the outfielder to flourish. He played three games for the Nationals Triple-A affiliate, hitting .385, with a homer, three RBIs, and an OPS of 1.077 in 13 ABs. The 25-year old made his Nats debut on Sunday, going 2-4, with a walk.

Grade: A

Tres Barrera

Season Stats: .244 BA, 1 HR, 7 RBIs, .691 OPS.

Called up due to injuries to Yan Gomes and Alex Avila, Tres Barrera took full advantage of the opportunity and hit .308, with a homer, five RBIs, and an OPS of .851 in the month of July. When Gomes returned, they kept Barrera up due to his hot bat. He has cooled off soon and needs to tighten up behind the plate, but Barrera is making a legitimate case to be the backup catcher next year.

Grade: B-

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