The July 31 trade deadline has passed, and the Washington Nationals have made their moves. Though the club did not complete a deal for a starting pitcher, it did one thing that was predictable — worked to improve its bullpen without trading one of its top prospects in the process. Sean Doolittle, Ryan Madson, and Brandon Kintzler are all Nationals, while the likes of Juan Soto, Victor Robles, and Erick Fedde remain in the organization.
In the process of completing their deadline deals, however, the Nationals did let go of a few notable prospects. To look over those players, here is a quick report on each, and what their departures mean for the organization.
LHP Tyler Watson: Traded to Minnesota Twins on 7/31 for Kintzler
A 34th-round pick in 2015, Watson had been making a name for himself, thanks in part to the Twitter feed of TNB managing editor Andrew Flax, who has tweeted about him quite a bit in the past two years. (Editor’s note: Tyler is an official friend of the blog.) His performance had backed up the positive reports, as he left Low-A Hagerstown with a 4.35 ERA, 3.39 FIP, 9.5 K/9, and a 2.3 BB/9 over 93 innings pitched.
In dealing Watson, the Nationals gave up a left-hander who can locate the ball well for a pitcher his age and could add velocity as he fills out his 6’5”, 200 lb. frame. The Twins will likely take their time with the 20-year-old Watson and hope that he develops into a capable starter.
LHP McKenzie Mills: Traded to Philadelphia Phillies on 7/28 for Howie Kendrick
Building off a solid 2016 at short season Auburn, Mills posted strong numbers at Hagerstown this year, going 12-2 with a 3.01 ERA in 104 2/3 innings with 118 strikeouts to just 22 walks. Mills had been promoted to High-A Potomac a day before the trade, a promotion that reflected his strong performance.
Mills’ fastball had been hitting the low 90’s at Hagerstown, where he also showed a reduced walk rate (a report from John Sickels at Minor League Ball attributes the latter to improved mechanics). For a former 18th-round pick that faced some struggles early in his career, Mills has made considerable progress over the past year, and will look to carry that to the Phillies’ organization.
IF Sheldon Neuse and LHP Jesus Luzardo: Traded to Oakland A’s on 7/16 for Madson and Doolittle
I gave my thoughts on both players in the aftermath of this trade, but to reiterate some of those ideas, each player comes with his own intrigue. Neuse possesses solid instincts at the plate and in the field, and has shown himself thus far to be capable of playing multiple infield positions.
Luzardo, meanwhile, arguably possesses the most upside of any prospect traded by the Nationals in July. He is, however, going to need time to develop as he works his way back from Tommy John surgery. Since the trade, Luzardo has been assigned to the A’s entry in the Arizona League, while Neuse is currently with High-A Stockton.Tags: Jesus Luzardo, Mckenzie Mills, Nationals, Nats, Sheldon Neuse, Tyler Watson, Washington Nationals