By Spencer Impellizzeri @Spence_I on April 29, 2014
The Washington Nationals have experienced a lot of recent success as a number of prospects have blossomed into key roles with the big league club. At the center of that has been the pitching staff. Stephen Strasburg gave the team an ace to build their staff around upon his arrival and the Nationals have followed that by calling up some young pitchers, such as Taylor Jordan. Here's a look at the top five pitching prospects still in the minors.
Purke was a first round pick for the Texas Rangers back in 2009, but opted to attend TCU, where he went 16-0 as a freshman. Injuries have plagued Purke ever since. He showed his potential at Single A last year, going 1-1 with a 2.68 ERA and a 12.7 SO/9 rate, but has struggled this season. A 5.5 BB/9 ratio is a major reason why. Purke has shown he has the potential to be great and just needs to put it all together.
Johansen makes this list because of his upside. A second round pick in 2013, Johansen is still a work in progress. Johansen has a solid fastball that sits in the mid-90's, but his off-speed stuff is still lacking a bit. If he can improve his off-speed pitches and improve his command, he could be a solid pitcher for the Nationals.
Injuries have been the Achilles' heel for Sammy Solis. Solis looked to be on the fast tack to the majors in 2011, but Tommy John surgery derailed that plan. Fully recovered this season, Solis was in the mix for a bullpen spot, but a back injury derailed that plan. If Solis can stay healthy, he could be pitching for the Nationals in the near future.
Cole is widely considered to be one of the Nationals' top prospects and has lived up to that billing. He has been great at the Double A level, going 4-2 with a 2.18 ERA in seven starts last season and 2-1 with a 3.63 ERA in four starts this season. Cole should be one of the key pieces of future Nationals rotations.
Just 19 years old, Giolito is flashing his big potential this season. Playing at the Single A level, Giolito is 1-0 with a 2.95 ERA and a 10.1 SO/9 rate through five starts. This comes after Giolito went 2-1 with a 1.95 ERA in 11 short season starts last summer. There is no reason to rush Giolito along, but he does have a bright future at the major league level.
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