There were no surprises; these players have been career minor leaguers or are prospects who were expected to begin the year somewhere in the system.
“Sent some young guys down, just to go down and get some more reps,” Nationals Manager Dave Martinez said Friday morning. “Most of these guys made a good impression — really all of them. So we were really excited to see those guys play a little bit.”
Read is the only one of the seven with major league experience: The 25-year-old played eight games for the Nationals in 2017. He was suspended 80 games last season after testing positive for Boldenone, a performance-enhancing drug. He is one of five catchers on the team’s 40-man roster — joining Yan Gomes, Kurt Suzuki, Spencer Kieboom and Pedro Severino — but Severino is out of minor league options and is unlikely to make the club out of camp. That means the 25-year-old would be placed on waivers and, if he is not claimed by another team, can opt for free agency or to remain in the Nationals’ system. If Severino does not remain with the Nationals, Read is in line to become the franchise’s fourth catcher behind Gomes, Suzuki and Kieboom, who was the backup to Matt Wieters for most of last season.
After Read, Crowe and Bourque seem to be closest to their first call-up. Crowe, a second-round draft pick in 2017, was named the organization’s co-minor league pitcher of the year last season. He shined as a starter with Class A Advanced Potomac — going 11-0 with a 2.69 ERA — before fatigue caught up to him and he struggled in Harrisburg. He started the Nationals’ “B game” exhibition against the New York Mets on Thursday and, at 24, remains one of their top pitching prospects. The Nationals are sending Crowe to minor league camp now so he can start more games and get stretched out.
Bourque, 25, is a former starter whom the Nationals selected in the 14th round of the 2014 draft. He hit his stride last season by posting a 1.70 ERA across two levels, making 26 relief appearances in Potomac and 15 more in Harrisburg. He had 76 strikeouts in 53 innings.
The Nationals now have 51 players in major league camp and will look to chisel that number down to 25 ahead of Opening Day on March 28. The only roster battles appear to be in the bullpen, especially with righty Koda Glover sidelined with a forearm strain.