As they do every season at this time, the Washington Nationals honored three minor league players with end-of-season awards before Sunday’s season finale. Two of them, player of the year Daniel Johnson and pitcher of the year Wander Suero, wore suits on the field at Nationals Park as they accepted their plaques. The other, Bob Boone Award winner Raudy Read, was in uniform, having been a somewhat surprising September call-up after his emergent season with Class AA Harrisburg. The Bob Boone Award recognizes players for their work ethic and character.
Johnson was a fifth-round pick in the 2016 draft, at which time he pinged few radars as an elite prospect. Johnson is 5-foot-8 and was known more for game-changing speed than anything else. But in his first full season as a pro, which he split between Class A Hagerstown and Class A Potomac. He hit .298 with 22 homers and 22 stolen bases, and he finished with the third-highest average in the Nationals’ system.
While the Nationals expected him to hit for average and run the bases well, Johnson himself admitted earlier this year that he has long considered himself more of a gap-to-gap hitter than a 20-20 type. But this year, the 22-year-old seemed to find his power along the way.
“I think just repetition helped. Getting comfortable with my swing. Not trying to do too much,” Johnson said. “Not trying to be a different player — just me, the player I can be. Just trying to settle down and do what I can do.”
Suero, meanwhile, emerged as one of the better relief prospects in the Nationals’ system this year. His 2017 trajectory, which began in Class AA Harrisburg and ended in Class AAA Syracuse, was one of the more puzzling ones in the Nationals’ minor league system. He is 26, making him a few years older than many prospect types. He also fit exactly what the Nationals needed, compiling a 1.79 ERA and 20 saves as he spent most…