Scouting the Nationals’ top international signings Cristhian Vaquero, Armando Cruz

Scouting the Nats’ leading global finalizings Vaquero, Cruz initially appeared on NBC Sports Washington

The baseball offseason might have been required to a stop due the continuous lockout, however one winter season occasion still handled to go on without a drawback: the start of the global finalizing duration.

Among the groups that made a splash were the Nationals, who tattooed 17-year-old Cuban outfielder Cristhian Vaquero to a team-record $4.925 million finalizing reward. The offer came one year after Washington snagged another leading global possibility in shortstop Armando Cruz, whose $3.9 million was connected for the Nationals’ greatest global finalizing reward ever granted till Vaquero occurred.

Between Vaquero and Cruz, the Nationals’ global pipeline has some prominent skill making its method to D.C. Last week, Baseball America’s possibility press reporter Ben Badler took a seat with NBC Sports Washington to speak about state of the Nationals’ farm system and a few of their greatest potential customers. In a three-part series, we break down a few of the greatest subjects talked about throughout the interview.

Due to take a trip limitations triggered by the pandemic, Badler has yet to see either Vaquero or Cruz play personally. He has, nevertheless, had the five-tool Vaquero on his radar for many years and enjoyed movie on him both at the plate and in the outfield. It appeared to Badler early on that he was going to be among the more extremely sought after gamers of his class.

“[Vaquero is] 6-foot-3, he’s strong but lean, athletic and he can really run,” Badler stated. “He’s at least a plus-runner, he glides around in the outfield. He has a strong arm there, too. So I think it’s just the combination of size and athleticism and physical upside. Once he continues to fill out, you’ll see his power go up. I think there’s already probably some power in there but there’s just a lot of really exciting explosiveness and athleticism and physical upside there.”

Nationals Assistant GM of International Operations Johnny DiPuglia explained Vaquero as a gamer “born a wide receiver at the University of Alabama” due to his large skillset and strong physical profile. Badler revealed a comparable belief. Vaquero is 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds. Luther Burden, a Missouri devote ranked by ESPN as the No. 1 general WR of the 2022 recruiting class, is noted at 6-foot-1, 195 pounds.

But enough of the football contrasts. Vaquero gives the Nationals a five-tool skillset the group hasn’t seen in its gamer advancement system because Victor Robles was an agreement top-10 possibility in 2018. Although Robles’s imperfections at the major-league level might not be motivating, Vaquero has whatever a scout searches for in a possibility: a repeatable swing, the frame for power capacity, game-changing speed, natural impulses in the field, a strong arm and, according to DiPuglia, an excellent mindset.

As for Cruz, his advantage lies more on the protective side while his striking is an operate in development. Cruz made his expert launching in the Dominican Summer League in 2015, publishing a .232/.292/.305 slash line with one crowning achievement, 8 doubles, 11 taken bases, 16 strolls and 27 strikeouts in 48 video games. He likewise tape-recorded 9 mistakes in the field, revealing that he still has a lot to deal with.

“Ever since [Cruz] was an amateur, it’s really been his defense, his glove, in particular his hands, that have stood out more than anything,” Badler stated. “I think it’s more of a defensive-minded profile whereas I think Vaquero has more of a chance to hit toward the top or the middle of the lineup if everything clicks. So I think there’s still a lot of defensive ability with Cruz and defensive upside with him. He puts the bat to the ball but he’s gonna have to get stronger to be able to drive the ball with some more impact if he’s going to develop into an everyday guy. Because the raw defensive skill that he has, [Cruz] has a chance to be pretty exciting. But obviously, he has to perform better than what he showed last year.”

If there was ever a fancy protective possibility, it’s Cruz. The Dominican infielder reveals fast response time and currently has a strong understanding of the principles at shortstop. He’s a bit undersized at 5-foot-10, 160 pounds, however he offsets it with remarkable variety. His arm grades out about typical today in regards to strength and there’s space to grow there as he ages.

However, if Cruz is going to be a daily gamer, his bat will require to establish too. The Nationals aren’t going to anticipate him to be a power player by any ways, however his fast hands must provide hope that he can produce as a contact player. Cruz is heading into his age-18 season and will likely make the shift to the U.S. eventually in the spring.

The Nationals do boast other global potential customers with high advantage, consisting of outfielder Yasel Antuna and right-handed pitcher Andry Lara — both of whom rank amongst the Nationals’ leading 10 potential customers. Antuna has actually currently been contributed to Washington’s 40-man lineup while Lara will be 19 years of ages pitching in the lower levels of the minors this year.

As the Nationals continue their effort to reconstruct their company and restock their farm system, the costly finalizings of Vaquero and Cruz loom big. It’s going to be a couple of years prior to either of them is all set for the majors, however both potential customers have the prospective to be stars on their existing trajectory.

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