Washington Nationals: 2016 Winter League Update

 Today, we get you up to date on how the Washington Nationals prospects are doing in winter ball

While the Arizona Fall League ended weeks ago, some of the Washington Nationals prospects are taking part in Winter Leagues in Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Mexico. This includes players on the 40-man roster as well as prospects looking to get more playing time.

First, let’s start with the position players. Catcher Pedro Severino has only played in two games for Aguilas Cibaenas in the Dominican League and went 1-for-6. He hasn’t played in a game since November 17. The Washington Nationals prospect who has played in the most winter league games is Matt Skole.

Down in the Mexican League for Naranjeros de Hermosillo, Skole hit .237 with three home runs and ten RBI’s. He has not played in a game since November 22. While Skole normally plays first base, the 27-year-old got some playing time at third base, a position he played 13 games last year at triple-A Syracuse.

Here is what Nats farm director Mark Scialabba told Baseball America reporter Lacy Lusk about Skole:

Some other position players who are on the 40-man roster playing winter ball are outfielder Rafael Bautista and first baseman Jose Marmolejos-Diaz (both in the Dominican League). Bautista is hitting .314 with seven RBI’s and eight stolen bases in ten attempts over 25 games. His eight steals are tied for the most on Leones del Escoogido.

Over his last six games, Bautista has nine hits in his last 19 at-bats, including two three-hit games. Right now, his 27 hits are seven more than any other player on the Escogido roster (outfielder Ruben Sosa has 20).

As for Marmolejos-Diaz, he is hitting .221 with one home run and 11 RBI’s in 23 games for Tigres del Licey. While his winter numbers aren’t great, he is still a player to watch in the Nats system going forward considering he won Minor League Player of the Year for the Washington Nationals each of the past two seasons.

One other position player to watch is Neftali Soto. The 27-year-old first baseman is hitting .307 with one home run and six RBI’s in 19 games for Cangrejeros de Santurce (Puerto Rican League). At double-A and triple-A this past season, Soto hit .274 with ten home runs and 62 RBI’s, but 55 of those RBI’s came at double-A Harrisburg.

When you look at the pitchers, the one starter to watch is right-hander Greg Ross. While Ross has lost his last two starts for Tiburones de La Guaira in the Venezuelan League, he is 3-3 with a 3.38 ERA over his ten starts. His 45.1 innings are the sixth most of any pitcher in the league.

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Ross had a good year at double-A Harrisburg in 2016 as he went 5-1 with a 0.83 ERA in ten games, but his last start of the season came on July 17. He doesn’t strikeout many batters, but he only had 2.4 walks per nine last year at Harrisburg and high-A Potomac. Plus, he does play for a Venezuelan team managed by former big league manager Ozzie Guillen.

All in all, winter league baseball is interesting to watch as some of these prospects continue to work at different positions or get some at-bats/starts to help their development as baseball players.

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