Federal Reserve: Futures Game and Minor League Notes

On Tuesday, MLB announced its rosters for the 2014 All-Star Futures game and the Washington Nationals will be represented by two of their top prospects: Low-A Hagerstown righthander Lucas Giolito and Double-A Harrisburg centerfielder Michael Taylor.

While a brief shutdown in May has resulted in Giolito’s relatively-low innings total of 48 and 2/3, he has still shown flashes of his potential during that stretch. The former top pick is 2-2 with a 2.59 ERA, 4.14 FIP, and 52:20 K:BB ratio over the span of 11 starts. Giolito is currently the Suns active leader in strikeouts (the recently-promoted Austin Voth is the overall leader), thanks in large part to his high-90’s fastball to go along with a solid off-speed repertoire that includes a curveball and a changeup.

With his production for the Senators this season, Taylor arguably holds the claim as the Nationals’ best position player prospect. In 316 plate appearances, he is batting .327/.408/.571 with 17 home runs, 52 RBIs, and 20 stolen bases in 25 attempts. Along with his offense, Taylor continues to be cited as one of the best defensive centerfielders in the minors, showing plus speed, improving instincts, and a solid arm.

The game will be a good showcase for the Nationals, as Giolito and Taylor are perhaps the top two players in the system. Giolito entered the season as the consensus top prospect in the system and has done nothing supplant that status, while Taylor is currently in the midst of his best professional season. His increased power (he already surpassed his previous career high in home runs) makes him the only Nationals prospect to showcase true five-tool potential. It could be argued that teammate A.J. Cole belongs ahead of him, but it is hard not to be intrigued by a player that flashes the all-around ability of Taylor.

For both players, the Futures Game selection is one of the higher honors. Unlike individual league All-Star games, which tend to reward the best players in the present, this contest is a showcase for the game’s top prospects across all levels of the minors. Members of the Nationals major league squad that have appeared in past Futures Games include Bryce Harper (2011), Danny Espinosa (2009 and 2010), and Gio Gonzalez (2006).

Both Giolito and Taylor will be members of the U.S. roster in the contest, which will be held at 5 PM on Sunday, July 14 at Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins. MLB Network will be televising the game.

Minors Notes:

  • In a move that corresponded with the activation of Jeff Kobernus from the 60-day DL, the Nationals announced on Wednesday that reliever Christian Garcia had been released. Garcia’s release was probably the furthest thing from the minds of many observers in 2012, when he posted a 0.86 ERA and an 11.4 K/9 rate between Harrisburg and Syracuse before earning a September call up. Since then, however, the righthander has struggled with injuries and was on Syracuse’s DL at the time of his release.
  • Steven Souza Jr. continues to post big numbers at Triple-A Syracuse, including a .369/.463/.576 triple-slash line. He has been particularly potent this month with a 1.125 OPS in 93 plate appearances.
  • Austin Voth made his debut for the High-A Potomac Nationals on Tuesday, earning a win in a 10-1 defeat of the Salem Red Sox. Between Potomac and Hagerstown, the righthander has a 9.5 K/9 rate in 75.2 innings.
  • A quick reminder that next week the Federal Reserve will unveil the pitcher and hitter of the month honors for June. Back-to-back pitcher of the month Taylor Hill made his major league debut on Wednesday, throwing 3 and 1/3 innings of relief during the Nationals loss at Milwaukee.

About Zach Spedden

Writer for Federal Reserve section of The Nats Blog and co-founder of Hagerstown Suns Fan Blog