MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Nats prospects aiming to push for Majors jobs

Right-handers Giolito, Cole will warrant looks with a strong Spring Training

Nats prospects aiming to push for Majors jobs

The Nationals already have star players on their Major League roster such as Max Scherzer, Jordan Zimmermann and Ian Desmond. However, they also have quality players in the Minor Leagues and some of them will get a chance to display their abilities during Spring Training.

Here is a list of the Nationals prospects who could be in the Major Leagues sooner than later.

RHP Lucas Giolito: He is one of the reasons the Nationals' farm system is going strong. Ranked by MLB.com as the club's top prospect, Giolito showed he fully recovered from Tommy John surgery last year while playing for Class A Hagerstown. In 20 starts, he was 10-2 with a 2.20 ERA and 110 strikeouts in 98 innings. Giolito could be a late season callup in 2015.

RHP A.J. Cole: The No. 2 prospect had arguably his best season in professional baseball in 2014, going a combined 13-3 with a 3.16 ERA for Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse. Cole pitched 134 innings and struck out 111 batters. At 22, Cole features a mid-to-upper-90s fastball and front-end-of-the-rotation potential. He owns a career strikeout-to-walk ratio of 4.24 and has struck out 9.1 batters per nine innings over the course of his career.

Top Prospects: Cole, WSH

LHP Matt Grace: The southpaw went a combined 5-1 with three saves and a 1.17 ERA in 50 games between Harrisburg and Syracuse in 2014. He was promoted to Triple-A on June 16 and posted a 1.30 ERA and a .194 batting average against in 28 appearances. The 25-year-old features a heavy sinking fastball, and he induced ground balls at a rate of 69 percent in 2014. He was selected by the Nationals in the eighth round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft out of UCLA.

INF Wilmer Difo: He could be in the Nationals' infield by 2016. This past season, the No. 19 prospect set career marks in nearly every offensive category, hitting .315 with 14 home runs, 90 RBIs, 37 walks and 91 runs scored in 136 games for Class A Hagerstown. He was named the South Atlantic League's Most Valuable Player after leading the league with 176 hits, while ranking second in total bases (263) and stolen bases (49), and fourth in RBIs and runs scored.

AFL Report: Washington Nationals

C Pedro Severino: The Nats are very high on Severino, who is considered to be an exceptional defensive backstop. While playing for Class A Hagerstown in 2013, he threw out 40 percent of would-be basestealers. But that number doesn't tell the whole story about the 21-year-old, who has impressed with his game-calling ability and is considered a leader when dealing with a pitching staff. Severino is ranked as the No. 11 prospect in Washington's system, and he advanced to Class A Potomac last season, hitting .247 with nine home runs and 36 RBIs in 94 games.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.