Washington Nationals Top 32 Prospects

Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the Washington Nationals. Scouting reports were compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as our own observations. This is the fourth year we’re delineating between two anticipated relief roles, the abbreviations for which you’ll see in the “position” column below: MIRP for multi-inning relief pitchers, and SIRP for single-inning relief pitchers. The ETAs listed generally correspond to the year a player has to be added to the 40-man roster to avoid being made eligible for the Rule 5 draft. Manual adjustments are made where they seem appropriate, but we use that as a rule of thumb.

A quick overview of what FV (Future Value) means can be found here. A much deeper overview can be found here.

All of the ranked prospects below also appear on The Board, a resource the site offers featuring sortable scouting information for every organization. It has more details (and updated TrackMan data from various sources) than this article and integrates every team’s list so readers can compare prospects across farm systems. It can be found here.

Nationals Top Prospects
Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
1 James Wood 21.7 AAA CF 2025 65
2 Dylan Crews 22.3 AA CF 2025 60
3 Cade Cavalli 25.8 MLB SP 2024 50
4 Brady House 21.0 AA 3B 2026 50
5 Victor Hurtado 17.0 R RF 2030 45
6 Travis Sykora 20.1 A SP 2027 45
7 Drew Millas 26.4 MLB C 2024 45
8 Cristhian Vaquero 19.7 A CF 2027 45
9 Mitchell Parker 24.7 MLB MIRP 2024 40+
10 Daylen Lile 21.5 A+ CF 2026 40+
11 Orlando Ribalta 26.2 AAA SIRP 2024 40+
12 DJ Herz 23.4 AAA SIRP 2024 40+
13 Jarlin Susana 20.2 A SIRP 2027 40+
14 Zach Brzykcy 24.9 AAA SIRP 2025 40
15 Elijah Green 20.5 A LF 2027 40
16 Yohandy Morales 22.6 AA 1B 2026 40
17 Seth Shuman 26.5 A+ SP 2025 40
18 Jake Bennett 23.5 A+ SP 2026 40
19 Darren Baker 25.3 AAA 2B 2024 40
20 Jackson Rutledge 25.2 MLB MIRP 2024 40
21 Nasim Nuñez 23.8 MLB SS 2024 40
22 Kevin Made 21.7 A+ SS 2025 40
23 Robert Hassell III 22.8 AA CF 2025 40
24 Armando Cruz 20.4 A SS 2026 40
25 Trey Lipscomb 24.0 MLB 3B 2024 35+
26 Angel Feliz 17.5 R 3B 2030 35+
27 Andry Lara 21.4 AA SP 2025 35+
28 Brenner Cox 20.1 A RF 2028 35+
29 Jorgelys Mota 19.0 A 3B 2028 35+
30 Everett Cooper III 20.8 A 2B 2027 35+
31 Jeremy De La Rosa 22.4 A+ RF 2027 35+
32 Daison Acosta 25.8 AA SIRP 2025 35+
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65 FV Prospects

1. James Wood, CF

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2021 from IMG Academy (SDP)
Age 21.7 Height 6′ 7″ Weight 240 Bat / Thr L / L FV 65
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 70/80 55/80 60/50 45/45 40

Wood is one of only a couple minor leaguers with such immense physical potential that they have a realistic shot to be an elite, perhaps generational player, or at least a player of singular ability. Like Elly De La Cruz and Oneil Cruz before him, Wood has issues that threaten to undermine his profile, but he’s so overtly gifted that he’s one of only a few prospects with a realistic shot at being a 70-grade player or better on tools.

Wood was a divisive amateur prospect, with some scouts seeing him as a center fielder with elite raw power projection and others seeing him as an eventual first baseman with hit tool risk. He was unbelievable out of the gate as a Padres prospect; he only struck out 17.8% of the time at Lake Elsinore and hit .337/.453/.601 before the Padres traded him to Washington as part of the Juan Soto blockbuster, after which he hit .293/.366/.463. He did this amid multiple wrist injuries, which is something to keep in the back of our collective mind in the event that it becomes a chronic issue, as Wood’s wrists are an integral part of keeping his swing short enough to be manageable. Hit tool cracks were more evident in 2023, as Wood struck out in 32% of his PAs and was especially flummoxed by changeups, but he still managed to hit .262/.353/.520 with 62 extra-base hits. Early in 2024, he’s cut his strikeout rate back down into the teens during an epic April and May at Rochester.

Because of how long-levered Wood is, it’s likely he’ll always strike out a lot, but he’s surprisingly dangerous on the inner third of the plate for a guy with his build. He’s shown flashes of covering high-and-away fastballs with power, as well as an ability to alter his posture to spoil soft stuff away from him, but he does neither of these consistently right now and those are the ways in which he’s most vulnerable to whiffs. Once his wrist and forearms get stronger, he might be able to be a little shorter to the ball without sacrificing power, and early in 2024 it looks as though exactly this is happening.

Wood is also surprisingly agile on defense. He takes a little while to get his legs churning, but once he’s moving, he’s a plus runner and has generated some home-to-first times in the neighborhood of 4.1-4.2 seconds. His huge strides enable him to cover a ton of ground in center field, and it’s incredible that he not only has a chance to play there, but could be quite good for at least a little while. Wood looks super smooth going into the gaps and approaching the wall. His poise and feel for center are both currently superior to Dylan Crews’, but it’s much more typical for a compact athlete like Crews to stay up the middle for the long haul. Wood currently carries 240 pounds like a young Marcedes Lewis and is likely going to add weight commensurate with his frame as he matures, which might mean 30 pounds or more. The way that shakes out will have a significant impact on his defensive future. That said, Wood is already defying convention by looking as good as he does out there at his current size. In a lot of ways, Wood’s report reads like a young Adam Dunn’s, though we’d expect Wood to play better defense even if he ends up in an outfield corner. Admittedly a less stable hitter than a lot of the other elite prospects in baseball, Wood’s ceiling is on another planet.

60 FV Prospects

Drafted: 1st Round, 2023 from LSU (WSN)
Age 22.3 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 203 Bat / Thr R / R FV 60
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/50 60/60 45/60 60/60 40/55 55

Crews went wire-to-wire as one of the best 2023 draft prospects, if not the best. He was the top unsigned high schooler from the 2020 class, a toolshed who swung and missed on the summer showcase circuit more than teams felt comfortable with. He ended up at LSU rather than in pro ball and was immediately dominant as a freshman, generating exit velos in excess of 100 mph on 17 of his first 30 balls in play and finishing with a .362/.453/.663 line that included 18 bombs. He followed that up by slashing .349/.463/.691 with 22 homers as a sophomore before hitting .426/.567/.713 with 18 bombs and more walks than strikeouts as a junior.

Crews can punish you to all fields. He’ll get extended on fastballs away from him and crush them the opposite way, and he can also turn on slower pitches on the middle two-thirds of the plate and hit some titanic blasts to left. At times, the depth of Crews’ hand load will leave him late on fastballs, and he’s struggled pretty badly with heaters around his hands so far in 2024; he was striking out a third of the time through the first month of the season. The bend and strength in his lower body is incredible, and he might be able to shorten up what he’s doing with his hands and still get to huge power because of how special the rest of his operation is.

Crews will show you jailbreak-y, sub-4.1 run times, easily the speed to play center field, and his reads and routes (though still not great on balls hit in front of him) improved during his time in college after it first looked like he might be ticketed for right field. He sprints into the gaps with huge effort and is great at getting balls hit over his head. He should be an average big league center fielder, and his speed gives him bigger ceiling than that if his feel for the position continues to level up. Crews also does all kinds of little things well, be it procedural awareness on defense or how crisply he runs the bases. He’s tooled up and performed at the highest level of amateur baseball for three years before finally meeting some resistance this year. The issues with fastballs around his hands are a little bit of a concern, so let’s see if Crews can remedy those now that he’s being challenged for the first time in his baseball life. We think he can, and that he’ll be an impact player and franchise cornerstone.

50 FV Prospects

3. Cade Cavalli, SP

Drafted: 1st Round, 2020 from Oklahoma (WSN)
Age 25.8 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 240 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 50/55 70/70 55/55 40/45 94-98 / 102

Cavalli climbed the minor league ladder quickly in 2021, starting the season at High-A and closing it out at Triple-A, claiming the distinction of being the hardest thrower at that year’s Futures Game (he touched 102 mph) along the way. He notched over 123.1 innings of work without an IL stint, which was a welcome development considering that scouts had some injury concerns surrounding college Cavalli, whose arm action is quite long and whose delivery is pretty violent. Cavalli spent 2022 at Rochester, where he wasn’t as dominant as he was in 2021 but still pitched well, amassing a 3.25 FIP in just shy of 100 innings. He made his big league debut at the end of August, after which Cavalli was shut down with shoulder inflammation. While shoulder problems can derail a pitcher’s career, Cavalli looked fine during his first couple of 2023 spring training outings, again sitting 96-97 mph with the same powerful mid-80s curveball he’d begun to emphasize more in 2022. He seemed poised to seize an Opening Day rotation spot, but Cavalli blew out his UCL in his third spring outing and needed Tommy John, which shelved him for all of 2023. He saw game action in the FCL for the first time since his surgery the week before list publication and his stuff appears intact. Across just over 30 pitches, Cavalli sat 95-97, touched 97.5, and actually threw more of his power 84-87 mph breaking ball than he did his fastball.

That might signal an approach change here. Cavalli’s fastball plays below its velocity, but his curveball is vicious and has ridiculous depth for how hard it is. His changeup also shows bat-missing ability and when combined with the vertical curveball, gives Cavalli two weapons with which to attack lefties. Pitchers who are built like this and are this powerful and athletic tend to pan out over time, even when they have suboptimal fastball shape, with Sandy Alcantara representing the best recent example. Cavalli’s changeup and slider quality aren’t quite to that level, but at one point, neither were Sandy’s. He looks healthy and poised to end the 2024 season in D.C.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2021 from Winder-Barrow HS (WSN)
Age 21.0 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 60/70 35/60 50/50 50/60 60

House became a very prominent high school prospect as an underclassman and his performance at an early age helped solidify his draft stock even before the pandemic threw a wrench into the 2021 class’ scouting calendar. He began 2022, his first full pro season, on a tear before injuring his back in early May. House did not look the same after he returned. He struck out a third of the time and posted an OPS of just .602 before being shut down for the remainder of the season in mid-June. We thought it was safe to assume he was playing through injury, and House was left on last offseason’s Top 100 list under the assumption that he’d return healthy in 2023. He basically did, and while we still have some apprehension about aspects of his swing and his plate coverage, a fully actualized House has star-level ability, tools that give him rare enough ceiling to value him among the top 100 prospects even though he still has bust risk.

House rewarded our patience by pulverizing Low-A pitching in 2023, generating a 142 wRC+ in his first 36 games back with Fredericksburg and a 145 wRC+ in a couple of weeks at High-A Wilmington. He has plus raw power right now (48% hard-hit rate, 113 mph max exit velo) and should grow into more as he fills out. His contact and chase rates (68% and 36%, respectively) are suspect, and some of what we’re seeing with House’s swing does give us pause about him continuing to make sufficient levels of contact now that he’s reached Double-A. He’s got a very upright base when he swings and tends to step in the bucket, both of which leave House’s plate coverage lacking. His poor breaking ball recognition compounds this, and he’s going to have to do a better job of either closing his front side during his swing so he can contact sliders on the outer edge, or laying off them entirely. House definitely did a better job of pulling the ball in 2023, and he’s still played so few pro games due to injury that we’re bullish on his ability to make adjustments, even though we’re quite sure he’s going to need to soon.

The oppo power and chase combo here isn’t all that different from same-aged Josh Jung. Perhaps most impressively, House’s defense has been fantastic. Because he’s so big, House (who was a high school shortstop) was sometimes projected to right field, as it’s rare for athletes his size to stay on the infield. But his ability to bend and move at his size is incredible, he has plus hands, he can throw on the run, and his feeds to the other bases are accurate and timely. He not only looks like a sure bet to stay at third but is potentially an impact defender there, which is especially impressive considering he’s not all that far removed from a season-altering back injury. There’s still a ton of volatility here, but the power upside is significant, and House’s defense gives him another tool that’s relatively resistant to slumping and should help keep his profile afloat if it turns out his hit tool is a long-term problem.

45 FV Prospects

5. Victor Hurtado, RF

Signed: International Signing Period, 2024 from Dominican Republic (WSN)
Age 17.0 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr L / L FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/50 50/70 25/60 50/50 35/55 60

Among the most exciting 2024 international amateur signees, Hurtado inked a deal for $2.8 million in January. He is an ultra-projectable left-handed hitting outfield prospect with a lovely swing, one that features power-promising loft without compromising contact. He is as loose and flexible as any prospect in this class, and the way his body moves when he’s throwing from the outfield is reminiscent of Ichiro. Hurtado’s swing has some length, but it’s likely to shorten up as he gets stronger and doesn’t have to use his whole body to ignite it. Because the Nationals aren’t likely to trade prospects, their 2024 DSL team will probably be lightly scouted by the rest of the industry and we may not have a meaningful update on Morales’ look until he comes stateside, hopefully next year for extended spring training and the FCL.

6. Travis Sykora, SP

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2023 from Round Rock HS (TX) (WSN)
Age 20.1 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Splitter Command Sits/Tops
60/60 55/60 40/55 30/50 93-97 / 98

One can’t help but malaprop Sykora into “Sequoia” because at 6-foot-6 and 220 pounds, Travis is the size of a tree. He overpowered high school hitters with a downhill, upper-90s fastball and promising split changeup, and the Nationals gave him $2.6 million in the third round of the 2023 draft.

As an amateur, Sykora touched triple-digits with his fastball and tended to sit between 94-98 mph. So far in 2024, his fastball has averaged 95 mph and topped out at 98. Sykora’s height and high three-quarters arm slot create a downhill angle that causes his fastball to play down when it finishes in the meat of the zone, but his fastball command is fairly advanced for a pitcher his size and age, and he tends to live around the top of the zone where his heater plays best. His above-average extension helps the fastball, too. His splitter is a low-to-mid-80s offering that can vary greatly in quality from pitch to pitch at present. Developing consistency here is going to be key for Sykora to hit his mid-rotation ceiling. At its best, the splitter will show late bottom action, while at other times, it has minimal movement altogether. His slider (80-84 mph) has a lot of depth along with late tilt when he stays on top of it, and it’s generating a miss rate north of 50% as of list publication. Sykora’s arm stroke is perhaps a little bit late, but he’s never had issues repeating it. He carries some amount of relief risk just because he’s a young pitcher, but he would project to have setup man stuff if that occurs. His ceiling is as a mid-rotation stalwart with three above-average pitches.

7. Drew Millas, C

Drafted: 7th Round, 2019 from Missouri State (OAK)
Age 26.4 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 198 Bat / Thr S / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/45 45/45 30/40 55/50 55/60 55

Acquired from Oakland as part of the Josh Harrison/Yan Gomes trade, Millas got into 11 games at the major league level last season in addition to 83 games split between Harrisburg and Rochester, where he slashed .291/.390/.442 and drew 42 walks while only striking out 49 times over his 328 plate appearances. Injuries have been a frequent part of Millas’ prospectdom. Dating back to college, he’s had elbow, wrist, oblique and hip issues that have sidelined him at various points. He has the tools and skills of a primary backstop, but smaller-framed catchers like this tend to end up playing backup roles, especially if they’ve been injury prone.

Millas is a plus catch-and-throw athlete with a great arm and amazing lateral quickness. He’s a very rangy ball blocker and quickly recovers whatever he doesn’t smother. He has a real knack for framing borderline pitches down in the zone. Millas’ exchange is a little slow because he flips his hips and tries to have a clean, complete motion on every throw down, so he “only” posts average pop times even though his pure arm strength is plus. He used to throw from his knees quite often but that appears to have changed in 2023. Millas’ 87 games caught last season was a career high for him, and he’s closer to checking the box of durability.

His biggest asset on offense is his feel for the strike zone, though Millas can also do some low-ball damage against breaking balls that don’t quite finish. From the left-handed side, he employs a compact, contact-oriented, all-fields swing, while from the right side, his swing has a loftier path with more intent to elevate. He has a hole at the top of the zone big enough that big league pitchers will feel comfortable approaching him up there. With so much invested in Keibert Ruiz, and with the hard-swinging Riley Adams playing fairly well, the Nationals have a crowded group of young catchers on their 40-man. We think Millas has the look of a low-end regular or a premium backup, but because Ruiz is out of options and Adams has just one remaining, Millas is probably going to be stuck at Rochester unless the Nationals go out of their way to move one of the incumbents.

Signed: International Signing Period, 2022 from Cuba (WSN)
Age 19.7 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr S / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/30 45/60 20/50 70/70 40/50 70

Vaquero is getting wrecked by full-season pitching so far in 2024, and the way you line him up on this list depends on how much you want to bet that he can grow into his body and become more coordinated. Without the benefit of context, you could reasonably be inclined to absolutely whack him here. His in-zone contact rates are south of 70% and many of his swings look totally disconnected and awkward. For the last couple of years, Vaquero has arguably been the prospect with the widest range of possible outcomes in pro baseball. He is built like an NFL wide receiver prospect at an extremely projectable 6-foot-3, 180 pounds, and he not only had the most traditionally projectable frame in his entire 2022 amateur class, but arguably has the best frame of any prospect to enter pro baseball since Elly De La Cruz. The mere possibility that Vaquero could end up as a powerful, switch-hitting center fielder separated him from most of the prospect population even though he had Schrödinger’s Hit Tool. This is a little bit different than Erick Peña and Robert Puason because Vaquero is overtly explosive in every way, he just lacks any modicum of feel to hit, especially from the left side. Indeed, he may be a candidate to scrap switch-hitting at some point in the next couple of years.

Everything else Vaquero does is incredibly exciting. When he runs into one, he has uncommon power for a hitter his age, he runs close to 4.00 flat from the left side, and he has a huge arm. If he can manage even a 30 hit tool, he’s going to be a good big leaguer so long as Vaquero is getting to power and playing center field. His ball skills need polish, but he has the range to play center, though Elijah Green has been taking the lion’s share of the center field reps at Fredericksburg so far in 2024. The Nationals have nothing to do but give Vaquero all the runway they can to let him develop. We still value him in this FV tier even though he currently looks a mess because Vaquero’s physical tools are deafening.

40+ FV Prospects

9. Mitchell Parker, MIRP

Drafted: 5th Round, 2020 from San Jacinto JC (TX) (WSN)
Age 24.7 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 224 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Splitter Command Sits/Tops
45/45 45/50 55/55 55/60 40/40 89-94 / 96

Parker is a lefty with a due north arm slot who creates plus riding life on his low-90s fastball. His velocity has been hovering in the 90-92 mph range since he was in high school, but he’s capable of missing bats at the letters despite the below-average velo, and his fastball pairs nicely with his 12-to-6 curveball, a pitch Parker has added velocity to since turning pro. Parker also added a new slider in 2023 and his mid-80s splitter is arguably his most consistently located weapon. It’s a starter’s mix of pitches, and Parker’s elaborate delivery (which generates nearly seven feet of extension) is deceptive, but it’s also hard to repeat and he has been projected as a reliever here at FanGraphs for his lifetime as a prospect. The way Parker’s fastball plays doesn’t require him to have precise command, but his feel for location is south of what we feel comfortable projecting as a long-term starter, or as a starter on a contending team. Parker is still an impact arm of sorts, but more as a luxury swingman and long reliever like Nick Martinez or Josh Winckowski. Parker has been surprisingly efficient as a big league starter so far and had a dandy start just before list publication, but that sample is rather small compared to his historically walk-prone style and we anticipate he’ll back into something closer to the double-digit walk rate he showed over the previous several seasons. He’s still a great guy to have on your pitching staff, especially for a fifth rounder.

10. Daylen Lile, CF

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2021 from Trinity HS (KY) (WSN)
Age 21.5 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/50 40/50 30/45 60/60 30/45 40

Lile looks incredibly cut and is running much faster in 2024 than he has previously. His routes and ball skills in the outfield are still not very good, but recall that he has missed two of the last four seasons because of the pandemic and a Tommy John, which are good reasons to lack polish. At the very least, Lile, who is putting up some sub-4.1 run times from home to first, has given himself a shot to develop in center field, which would be a boon for his overall profile. He’s making roughly average rates of contact at High-A Wilmington so far in 2024. His sweet looking swing succeeds more because of its compact nature than Lile’s barrel feel, and he remains likely to struggle with velo up and away from him as he climbs the minors. The physical transformation here not only gives Lile a better shot to play center field, but now he has room for muscle on his frame as well. He’s probably still going to be a part-time outfielder, but there are more outcomes with meaningful upside in play for him now.

11. Orlando Ribalta, SIRP

Drafted: 12th Round, 2019 from Miami Dade CC (FL) (WSN)
Age 26.2 Height 6′ 7″ Weight 245 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Splitter Command Sits/Tops
55/55 55/60 60/60 30/35 93-97 / 99

Ribalta has been a notable prospect at the very bottom of Nationals lists since 2019, when the 6-foot-7 righty was first drafted out of a Florida junior college. Guys with XXL size like this sometimes take a long time break out and in Ribalta’s case, it has taken him deep into his 20s. Ribalta has shown a two-tick velocity spike this year, sitting 93-97 and touching 99. His secondary stuff is missing bats at a comfortably plus rate, and both 82-85 mph pitches flash plus. His feel for locating them is not consistent, and we can’t imagine that they will continue to perform at the ridiculous level they have so far in 2024 (his changeup’s miss rate is above 90% as of list publication), but we’re open to the possibility that Ribalta will continue to refine his feel for location as he gets better feel for his new arm strength. He’s a little too inconsistent for us to slam dunk as a setup man or better, but Ribalta has the tools to avoid platoon vulnerability and could absolutely be the third- or fourth-best reliever in a contender’s bullpen.

12. DJ Herz, SIRP

Drafted: 8th Round, 2019 from Sanford HS (NC) (CHC)
Age 23.4 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/50 40/45 70/70 30/40 90-93 / 94

Herz came to Washington in the Jeimer Candelario trade with the Cubs last July, and he spent the 2023 season in the starting rotation for both organizations’ Double-A clubs, tallying a combined 94.1 innings. Over those frames, Herz fanned 32.4% of batters, walked 13.9% and only allowed 67 hits on his way to a 3.43 ERA.

Herz has an extreme crossbodied delivery that aids in deception and makes him a nightmare for lefty hitters to pick up. His stride direction looks more like Andy Pettitte’s pickoff move than it does a traditional delivery. His huge extension and deception allows a fastball that averages 91.5 mph to play above its radar reading when it’s located in the upper quadrants. Herz throws from a high three-quarters slot with a lengthy arm circle and a pronounced wrist hook. It’s tough for him to repeat, and he struggles with walks. His slider ranges between 81-86 mph; it’s a short, quick offering that is more effective at staying off barrels than it is generating high whiff totals. The headliner here is Herz’s changeup, which routinely has 10 mph of velocity separation from his fastball. It’s thrown with identical arm speed, has late depth, and is capable of regularly slipping under the bats of both righties and lefties. His overall command falls short of a long-term starter role (though he continues to start in 2024), but Herz’s plus-plus changeup and passable fastball/slider give him leverage-reliever upside.

13. Jarlin Susana, SIRP

Signed: International Signing Period, 2022 from Dominican Republic (SDP)
Age 20.2 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 235 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 60/70 40/45 30/45 20/40 96-99 / 103

While he was still an amateur, Susana had a very, very late velocity spike and progressed from throwing in the mid-80s to the mid-90s in a very short period of time. Because he popped up late relative to his peers, most of the pool money when he was first eligible to sign had already been committed and he opted to wait a year so that more teams could pursue him with a meaningful bonus. The Padres signed him for $1.7 million and pushed him to camp in Arizona during 2022 minor league spring training, much earlier than other teams tend to move their recent signees (though of course, he was a little older). Susana had only pitched in eight official games on the complex before the Padres traded him to Washington as part of the Juan Soto deal. In 2023, he made 17 starts at Fredericksburg, where Susana struggled with walks and had an ERA north of 5.00. The same has been true in 2024 as he repeats Low-A.

Susana’s fastball features elite velocity, but its downhill angle and lack of movement make it shockingly hittable for a pitch that peaks at 103. It’s not a given that the physically mature Susana will be able to sustain this level of arm strength when he’s working a full slate of innings, but he has now shown he can hold it across a typical reliever’s load. It’s likely Susana will need to pitch more heavily off his slider in the future because of his heater’s vulnerability. When it’s right, his slider is already a plus pitch in the upper-80s, and it should mature as a plus-plus offering. Susana can vary his breaking ball shape and he has a splitter. Any realistic path to starting for Susana includes him developing much better feel for that splitter than he has right now. It makes sense for the Nationals to develop him as a starter for as long as possible, but it’s much more likely that the barrel-chested Susana becomes a reliever akin to Brusdar Graterol.

40 FV Prospects

14. Zach Brzykcy, SIRP

Undrafted Free Agent, 2020 (WSN)
Age 24.9 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 232 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Command Sits/Tops
60/60 55/55 30/35 94-98 / 99

Brzykcy (pronounced “brick-see”) was a power reliever at Virginia Tech and became one of the first 2020 undrafted free agents to emerge as a real prospect. He quickly went from sitting 94-95 mph out of the Hokies bullpen in his first 2020 appearance to sitting 96-98 and touching 99 in his last few just before the COVID shutdown. Brzykcy dominated the lower minors and kissed Triple-A at the very end of 2022, and he seemed poised to make his big league debut late the following year. Instead he blew out and needed Tommy John in mid-April. He rehabbed throughout 2023 and made his 2024 rehab debut the week prior to list publication, where Brzykcy’s velocity was intact as he sat 94-96 in his first inning of work.

Brzykcy does not have good fastball control. He’s a grip-and-rip type of guy whose heaters often sail to his arm side because they have so much carry. His low-80s power curveball flashes bat-missing depth and his upper-80s changeup will occasionally have enough arm-side action to do the same, but Brzykcy’s feel for both is even less consistent than that of his fastball. Monster uphill fastball carry is the driver of his profile and he doesn’t have to be fine with his location for it to play. The heater alone should make Brzykcy a good middle reliever, though the inconsistent release that impacts the location and quality of his secondary stuff may prevent him from claiming a late-inning role.

15. Elijah Green, LF

Drafted: 1st Round, 2022 from IMG Academy (FL) (WSN)
Age 20.5 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/20 70/80 25/60 50/50 30/60 40

The son of two-time Pro Bowl tight end Eric Green, Elijah became “draft famous” during his junior year, homering a couple of times in high school tournaments held in big league parks and looking much toolsier than all but a couple of the prospects who were a year older than him. He was seen a ton as a junior because he played at IMG, which was home to a lot of 2021 draft prospects and served as competition for others. Scouts were blown away by his power and speed, but Green’s swing-and-miss issues were a huge concern. He struck out in a third of his varsity at-bats in 2021, and swung and missed more than he put balls in play during that year’s summer/fall showcase circuit. Things improved during his senior year much in the same way you’d expect them to if a player were repeating a minor league level for a second consecutive season, but there was still a ton of strikeout-related bust risk here. Enamored with his tools, the Nationals drafted Green fifth overall and gave him just shy of $6.5 million to sign.

He has struggled badly with strikeouts so far in pro ball, punching out over 40% of the time. When he does make contact, Green is vaporizing the baseball, producing elite peak exit velos for a hitter his age, but there’s virtually no precedent for a hitter striking out this much in A-ball and succeeding in the big leagues. Only a few current major league hitters have in-zone contact rates as low as Green’s (his 53% contact rate is even worse than Cristhian Vaquero’s) and none of them struck out anywhere near this much in the low minors, instead seeing their strikeouts tick up as they climbed and reached the big leagues where the best pitchers live. Especially because Green, who would produce the occasional 70-grade run time in high school, has already filled out and looks like he has no chance to stay in center field (though he plays his ass off), it feels like he’s already on thin ice. You’re essentially hoping Green turns into a righty-hitting version of Joey Gallo, where there’s enough power to support a 20-grade hit tool. That’s feasible, but isn’t likely.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2023 from Miami (WSN)
Age 22.6 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/35 60/60 35/55 45/40 45/55 60

Morales arrived on Miami’s campus with a ton of profile because 6-foot-3 infielders with plus power and arm strength don’t typically make it to school. After a somewhat disappointing freshman season, Morales improved in each subsequent year and finished his career in Coral Gables with a god-like .408/.475/.713 line. His early pro look has been somewhat troubling. Morales has been chase prone, has underlying contact issues, and has quickly trended down the defensive spectrum. Now playing first base most often, Morales grew to about 225 pounds at Miami, and his large, strong, nearly maxed out frame could make a regular return to third base difficult. There’s notable length in Morales’ swing and he employs a low-slot hand entry that greatly hinders his ability to adjust within the zone. His chase and contact rates have both been comfortably below average so far as a pro and Morales has had trouble getting to his home run power, though we believe that part of his profile is still strong and a key to him having any big league role at all. Nearly all of Morales’ profile hinges on his in-game power production, and it’s hard to see him putting up the necessary offense to warrant an everyday role at first base. Morales is tracking towards a bench corner-infield role long-term.

17. Seth Shuman, SP

Drafted: 6th Round, 2019 from Georgia Southern (OAK)
Age 26.5 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
40/40 55/60 45/45 45/50 50/60 90-93 / 94

Part of the 2021 Josh Harrison and Yan Gomes trade with Oakland, Shuman is a pitchability righty up to 94 mph who has command of four serviceable pitches and especially precise feel for a tight 82-85 mph slider. He was carving at High-A in 2022 when he was shutdown in July, then he had Tommy John in March of 2023 and missed the whole season. He threw a complex rehab outing the week before list publication and his fastball lived in the upper part of his usual velo range, 93-94. Don’t sleep on this guy because he’s 26 — he’d probably be a big leaguer already if not for the timing of his TJ. Shuman has never walked batters at a clip greater than 6.6% at any stop during his pro career. His stuff isn’t sexy, but he’s super consistent and projects to have plus command, pointing toward a low-variance back-of-the-rotation role once his innings are built back up.

18. Jake Bennett, SP

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2022 from Oklahoma (WSN)
Age 23.5 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 234 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/45 50/50 55/60 35/55 90-93 / 96

As if they’re required to draft all the giant pitchers from Oklahoma, the Nationals popped Bennett in the 2022 second round, and he was very good across 15 starts during his 2023 pro debut before he blew out and had Tommy John in September. It will cost him all of 2024.

Bennett has a huge, statuesque frame, and his delivery is silky smooth despite a longer arm swing. He’s so big and gets so far down the mound that his low-90s fastball can sneak past hitters even though it doesn’t have huge life or velocity. He touched 98 mph at Oklahoma and sat 92-95, but settled back into his usual 90-93 last year before he was shut down. It’s fine — Bennett locates his fastball up and to his arm side where it plays best with great regularity, and he’s a high-probability starter prospect in part because of his excellent fastball command. Bennett has an east/west operation aided by the movement of his slider and changeup. They’re both nastier than Bennett’s fastball. His slider plays against lefties in part because his arm slot is tough for them to pick up, while his mid-80s changeup has plus fade; both pitches hover in the 80-84 mph range. It’s fifth starter stuff with little bursts where Bennett is throwing harder and looks a bit better than that.

19. Darren Baker, 2B

Drafted: 10th Round, 2021 from Cal (WSN)
Age 25.3 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
55/60 30/40 20/35 50/50 40/50 40

Baker began to see time in the outfield in 2023, and he’s now a pretty good defender at both second base and in left field. Now 25 years old, the late-arriving strength projection we hoped for from Baker in past list cycles seems unlikely to materialize, and he’ll probably have a one-note offensive profile driven by his bat-to-ball skill. Some of Baker’s best swings look explosive, but he tends to have a conservative oppo line drive approach to contact. Baker does a lot of little things right on the baseball field; he is a competent and experienced bunter, and a heady base runner. We think he’d perform at an above-replacement level if given long-term big league run, but these 2B/LF profiles without power can be tough to roster.

20. Jackson Rutledge, MIRP

Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from San Jacinto JC (TX) (WSN)
Age 25.2 Height 6′ 8″ Weight 251 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 50/50 55/50 45/45 40/45 94-96 / 97

Rutledge was the Nationals’ first-round pick in 2019 out of San Jac and got his first taste of the big leagues in 2023, throwing 20 frames over four starts in which he struck out 12 and walked six. He also threw 119 innings between Double- and Triple-A last season, fanning 21.3% of batters, walking 11.1% and posting a 3.71 ERA. Rutledge works with both a sinker and four-seamer, with the former showing solid tail and sinking action, while the latter has average carry and run. Rutledge’s curveball is a vertical, 12-to-6 shaped pitch that ranges from 79-82 mph and regularly has above-average bite, but his inability to consistently command it limits its effectiveness. The slider is a shorter, two-plane breaker that tends to blend in shape with the curveball when he gets on the side of the latter. Rutledge’s best changeups have notable fading action with a hint of late depth, while typically coming in between 87-90 mph. Rutledge’s fringe-average command and lack of a consistent plus pitch will make it difficult to regularly turn over lineups multiple times in a starter role. He’s tracking to fill a multi-inning relief/swingman role, similar to former Nat Austin Voth.

21. Nasim Nuñez, SS

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2019 from Collins Hill HS (GA) (MIA)
Age 23.8 Height 5′ 9″ Weight 168 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 30/30 20/30 60/60 60/70 50

Washington’s Rule 5 selection this past winter, Nuñez has stuck on their roster but has barely played; as of list publication, he has fewer than 10 big league plate appearances. Nuñez is a twitchy, glove-first middle infielder with virtually no power. Long-term, he projects as a team’s sixth infielder, a slick-fielding defensive replacement and runner. For how little power he produces, Nuñez maintains a good feel for getting his bat on the ball, with a swinging strike rate under 10% in 2023. He buoys his overall profile with a ton of speed, to the tune of 52 stolen bases last year and 70 the year before. Nuñez will have some situational utility when his team needs a ball in play or a pinch-runner, but it’s his incredible hands, range, athleticism and infield versatility that should drive a John McDonald-esque career.

22. Kevin Made, SS

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Dominican Republic (CHC)
Age 21.7 Height 5′ 9″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 40/50 30/40 55/55 45/50 55

Made is a projectable shortstop prospect who has been barbecuing in A-ball since the Cubs were forced (by the glut of young infielders they suddenly had after the Yu Darvish trade) to rush him into full-season ball when Made was 18. He has been slowly improving since coming to Washington in the Jeimer Candelario trade and has an OBP-driven wRC+ of about 120 at High-A Wilmington as of list publication.

Made is an average shortstop defender with an above-average arm, and that ability is what’s driving his projection as a big league role player. He hasn’t played any third base since coming to Washington’s org, but defensive versatility is going to be a big part of what makes him rosterable. Made’s swing is quite grooved and he’s likely to mature into a well-below average hit tool, but his patience and projectable power should make him dangerous enough to hold down a fifth or sixth infielder role, especially if he can learn to hunt the pitches he can damage.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2020 from Independence HS (TN) (SDP)
Age 22.8 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/45 40/45 30/40 55/55 45/50 55

Hassell’s 2023 was spent primarily at Harrisburg, where he posted a .225/.316/.324 slash line, struck out in 31.9% of his trips to the plate, and walked at a 10.9% clip while getting a lot of time playing all three outfield spots. He also got 82 plate-appearances in the Fall League, where he had a 10/21 BB/K ratio. Hassell is back in Double-A to begin this season, where his hit tool has shown more signs of life, but he’s still greatly lacking in terms of extra-base production because of his inability to consistently elevate the baseball. He’s an above-average runner, but his routes are often inefficient and he’s more of an average defender at all three outfield spots, lacking profile-carrying center field ability. It’s been a while since Hassell’s hit tool has looked good enough to project him as a corner regular with medium power. He looks like a fifth outfielder.

Signed: International Signing Period, 2021 from Dominican Republic (WSN)
Age 20.4 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/45 20/30 20/30 55/55 45/60 50

Cruz was the consensus best defensive player in the 2021 international amateur class, a flashy and acrobatic shortstop defender. He was tough to strike out in the 2021 DSL and 2022 FCL, with eyeball reports throughout that period indicating he needed to get much stronger in order to be a viable offensive player at the upper levels even though his bat-to-ball data was promising. After he looked physically overmatched in 2023 and hit a paltry .190 at Low-A Fredericksburg, Cruz was sent back there to start 2024 and has improved. He’s noticeably stronger, he’s back to making a plus rate of contact, and he’s playing solid defense at short. Cruz’s excellence at short is dependent on quickness and actions rather than a big arm. He projects as a low-impact utility guy.

35+ FV Prospects

25. Trey Lipscomb, 3B

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2022 from Tennessee (WSN)
Age 24.0 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/45 45/50 30/40 50/50 40/50 50

Lipscomb didn’t really break out until his fourth year with Tennessee, when he first began getting regular playing time and hit .355/.428/.717 with 22 bombs. The track record for hitters who perform at an elite level a year after they are first draft eligible isn’t great, but Lipscomb certainly looked the part of a big leaguer athletically, and it was feasible that the pandemic and the depth in front of him while he was an underclassman had obscured his true ability when he was first draft eligible. He was FanGraphs’ 85th ranked amateur prospect before the 2022 draft and was selected 84th overall, signing for about $750,000.

Lipscomb was perhaps the most unlikely 2024 Opening Day rookie. He spent most of 2023 at Double-A, where he performed slightly above the league average despite pretty terrible plate discipline. He swung at a 58% clip last year, which is very concerning, though he covers enough of the zone to have kept his strikeout rate down below 20%. While his feel for oppo contact is aesthetically pleasing, it’s tough to project enough offense here for him to profile at third base. He has fantastic range at the hot corner, but his arm isn’t great. Lipscomb one-hops a lot of throws and often takes an extra beat to get rid of the baseball, which you don’t have the luxury of doing at the big league level. He played both middle infield positions during spring training and has a shot to develop into a viable second baseman. He was demoted back to Rochester a couple weeks prior to list publication and needs to add defensive versatility to his game in order to be rosterable.

26. Angel Feliz, 3B

Signed: International Signing Period, 2024 from Dominican Republic (WSN)
Age 17.5 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/30 45/60 20/50 40/40 30/50 55

Feliz is a lanky, broad-shouldered, slower-twitch athlete with some swing length and stiffness. The Nationals signed him for $1.7 million in January. Teams tracking bat-to-ball performance have a better eval on Feliz’s hit tool than one might based on eyeball looks at his swing. This is the second consecutive year Washington has a big bonus player coming out of the Dominican “Banana Academy,” a group that sometimes showcases in Arizona. There are teams that liked Feliz’s hit/power combo enough to project him as a third base regular. We’re a bit more apprehensive, but see the power/projection elements here.

27. Andry Lara, SP

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Venezuela (WSN)
Age 21.4 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/45 60/60 40/50 45/55 92-95 / 96

Lara was a bigger, mature-framed teenage pitcher with good present velocity for a prospect his age, but without typical physical projection. He has continued to sit in the 92-95 mph range as he’s aged. He endured a pretty severe strikeout regression in 2023 but came out in 2024 commanding a plus slider with robotic consistency. This mid-80s slider has allowed Lara to strike out more than a batter per inning at Wilmington and earn an early promotion to Harrisburg; the pitch is generating a swinging strike rate north of 25% as of list publication. It’s the lone impact pitch in Lara’s repertoire, which will likely limit him to low-leverage relief.

28. Brenner Cox, RF

Drafted: 4th Round, 2022 from Rock Hill HS (TX) (WSN)
Age 20.1 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 45/55 30/45 50/50 30/50 55

Cox was signed away from a Texas commitment with a cool million as a fourth rounder. He has a gangly 6-foot-3 build and a classic lefty swing, and he showed proclivity for low-ball lift and airborne opposite-field contact in high school. He’s become significantly stronger as a pro. He already has raw power that approaches the average big league and has posted a hard-hit rate north of 40% as of list publication, but his bat-to-ball skills are tracking below what was expected of him coming out. His combination of power and selectivity give him a shot to be a corner platoon guy despite Cox likely maturing into a below-average hit tool.

29. Jorgelys Mota, 3B

Signed: International Signing Period, 2022 from Dominican Republic (WSN)
Age 19.0 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/35 45/55 20/50 50/50 35/55 60

Mota signed for $250,000 in 2022 and had two strong statistical seasons to start his career, including a .296/.381/.439 line in 2023. He was sent back to the complex to begin 2024 and isn’t off to a great statistical start, but the tools and athleticism from last season are still here. Mota has filled out quite a bit since he was a contact-oriented amateur shortstop with a lovely swing. He’s much thicker in the lower body and has moved to third base, where his hands are inconsistent but his bend and actions are sensational. Mota swings hard for a player his age and is among the system’s leaders in hard-hit rate early in 2024, but strikeouts have been lurking below the surface while he has performed on the complex and he’s being punished more for them now. He’s a power-hitting sleeper near the bottom of the system, with early-career hit tool red flags preventing a heftier FV grade.

Drafted: 16th Round, 2022 from Pro5 Baseball Academy (SC) (WSN)
Age 20.8 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 184 Bat / Thr L / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/60 30/35 20/30 60/60 40/50 40

Cooper has emerged as a bat-to-ball sleeper near the bottom of Washington’s system. He signed for the Day Three chalk amount of $125,000 last year rather than head to Old Dominion, and so far, he’s shown an exciting combination of plate discipline and bat control. Cooper is a smaller guy and requires a lot of effort to swing hard, but he still moves the bat around the zone even though he sometimes looks out of control. He’s a rangy second base defender with below-average hands, and we’d like to see Cooper eventually get some run in center field. He’ll show you 4.1 second home-to-first times and has the speed to give the position a try. Defensive versatility is going to be a key part of Cooper’s rosterability because he lacks everyday player power projection. Out of the gate, Cooper looks like one of the better Day Three high school picks from last year’s draft.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (WSN)
Age 22.4 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/30 55/60 30/50 60/60 45/55 55

De La Rosa has had long documented swing-and-miss issues, but it’s still surprising that things cratered as badly as they did for him in 2023, when he struck out 33.7% of the time at High-A. He was demoted back to Low-A to start 2024 and has had a substantial rebound. His swing has changed some, especially the way De La Rosa’s hands set up initially, the angle of his bat, and the height of his load. He is elevating more to start 2024 but is still chasing a lot below the surface. He was kept alive in this FV tier last year despite his struggles because De La Rosa simply has too much lefty power to scrap as a prospect before he’s allowed to make some adjustments, and those have occured. We want to see him continue to perform after he’s promoted to Wilmington before considering him anything more than a post-hype guy to monitor, however.

32. Daison Acosta, SIRP

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (NYM)
Age 25.8 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Splitter Command Sits/Tops
50/50 50/50 60/60 35/35 93-95 / 96

Acosta last made a prospect list in 2017 when he was a projectable GCL starter in the Mets system. He was one of Washington’s minor league Rule 5 picks during the offseason and is having a strong 2024 at Harrisburg. Acosta will flash a plus slider and split. His command limits their consistency and will likely relegate him to an up/down role, but for a minor league phase Rule 5 selection, that’s pretty good.

Other Prospects of Note

Grouped by type and listed in order of preference within each category.

One-Tool Position Players
Jackson Cluff, SS
Andrew Pinckney, 3B
T.J. White, 1B
Israel Pineda, C

Cluff is a 27-year-old org shortstop with unbelievably quick defensive actions. He’s a 30 hit/40 power guy and should get a cup of coffee at some point. Pinckney, a 6-foot-4 2023 draftee out of Alabama, is a plus runner with a 30 hit tool. White is a switch-hitter with power and a 20 hit tool. Pineda looked like a workman’s backup as a young prospect, but he’s been at or below the Mendoza Line three of the last four years; he was outrighted off Washington’s roster and went unclaimed during the offseason.

Throwing Hard
Brendan Collins, RHP
Marc Davis, RHP
Samuel Vasquez, RHP

Collins is a 24-year-old righty with a drop-and-drive delivery that gives his mid-90s fastball flat angle. He’s missing a ton of bats at High-A and has peaked at 98 mph. Davis is a deceptive righty with a vertical fastball that tops out at 96 and plays with his breaking ball at the top of the zone in a confounding way. A minor league Rule 5 pick from Cleveland, Vasquez’s mid-90s fastball is surprisingly hittable.

Projectable Pitching
Darrel Lunar, RHP
Leuris Portorreal, RHP
Brayan Romero, RHP
Leodarlyn Colon, RHP

Lunar is an athletic, projectable righty who has been up to 96 during DSL tune ups. Portorreal is a very projectable 18-year-old righty currently sitting in the 88-91 mph range with a combination of rise and run that doesn’t miss bats. He’s mechanically smooth and has four pitches already, but he’s given up almost twice as many hits as innings pitched so far in 2024 in part because his fastball is pretty hittable. Romero is a Colombian righty sitting 93-96 with sink and tail on the complex. He’s thrown strikes so far this year, but he’s 22 and we want to see him perform against full-season bats. Colon is a big, 6-foot-4, 19-year-old righty sitting 88-92 with huge extension and big downhill plane.

Older or Injured Pitching
Thomas Schultz, RHP
Dustin Saenz, LHP
Brad Lord, RHP
Marquis Grissom Jr., RHP
Cole Henry, RHP
Aldo Ramirez, RHP

Schultz is a 6-foot-6 2023 senior sign out of Vanderbilt who is having success in a multi-inning relief role while sitting 92-95 and mixing in three different breaking balls. Saenz is a changeup-oriented 24-year-old pitchability lefty who sits about 90. He hasn’t pitched yet in 2024 due to injury. Lord is a low-release maven with a rise-and-run fastball that plays up around the hands of righty batters. Grissom was Washington’s 2022 13th rounder out of Georgia Tech. He has a changeup-driven profile and is having success at Wilmington despite none of his other pitches generating much swing-and-miss. Henry was once a Top 100 prospect but injuries seem to have taken their toll, as his stuff is down compared to the three-pitch monster he was at peak. Acquired from Boston in the 2021 Kyle Schwarber trade, Ramirez hasn’t pitched since September of that year but looked like a potential no. 4 starter when he was healthy.

System Overview

Monitoring Washington’s rebuild goes beyond just the farm system and extends to the big league roster, where many of the Nationals’ former high-profile prospects have been growing and learning for the last couple of years. CJ Abrams began to turn a corner last season and that has continued in 2024, as he looks like the rare power-hitting shortstop that was foretold when he was acquired. MacKenzie Gore has taken a step forward this year, Luis García Jr. (who’s still just 24) is finally producing above the league average on offense, and Lane Thomas has been good since coming over from St. Louis for Jon Lester in 2021. Keibert Ruiz has been a bummer on both sides of the ball, but for the most part, Mike Rizzo and Co. have hit on the centerpieces of the trades they’ve made since they began to tear down the World Series roster of a half decade ago.

The problem is that two juggernauts sit atop the division and show little to no sign of slowing down. Even if every single highly regard prospect above pans out exactly as hoped, Washington still needs depth (especially on the pitching side) that this system is not yet in a position to provide, both to weather injury attrition (which it is already experiencing) and to facilitate the trades that would truly enable Washington to contend. Maybe Elijah Green and/or Yohandy Morales (who Eric was sky-high on prior to last year’s draft — this is a pretty extreme re-eval for him) will produce commensurate with their bonuses, but the opportunity cost of those two picks looms large in this top-heavy system, which has high-end impact at its apex but below-average overall depth.

Things are getting better here. With Wood and Crews approaching prime time, it’s an exciting time to be a Nationals fan. It will probably take the Phillies and Braves aging out of contention to truly clear a path for this team, but within the next three years or so that feels plausible. Recall that Rizzo’s ability to pick veteran pieces to plug in around his young stars has tended to be very good (Josh Harrison, Asdrúbal Cabrera, Howie Kendrick, etc.), so while you have to squint to see an entirely homegrown contending lineup and rotation here, we’re inching closer to a moment when the Nationals can start quilting those guys into their younger core.





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broeygallo
15 days ago

I can’t quite wrap my head around House being a 50 and Shaw being a 55, especially given Eric’s known love of power bats. Two years younger, similar WRC+ in AA, nearly twice the homers, better defense per the scouting report. If anything I’d expect to see the superior defense leading to the plus grade when comparing the two, with House “fantastic” and Shaw needing “substantial development”, per Eric.

EonADS
15 days ago
Reply to  broeygallo

The difference is the hit tool. Shaw’s zone contact rates (91% between High-A and AA) are absurd. And House’s are average, plus he strikes out a lot more at the same levels. Defense can get pretty inconsistent in the minors and both still have time to develop. There’s also some bust risk with House’s defense because of the concerns with his frame, though he’s allayed them consistently so far.

wadz
14 days ago
Reply to  EonADS

Good analysis.. Ive only seen overwhelmingly positive reports of Houses’ 3B defense..

On the House-Shaw thing… all true.. you dont think that House playing in a harder to hit AA league having yet to take a single PA as a 21 year old makes any difference in the argument? So much can happen from 21-22.. Shaw is a college product whos 18 months older.. its a big difference. I think its an upside vs floor distinction. House has more room to grow into his flaws.

Both great prospects.

EonADS
14 days ago
Reply to  wadz

I do think there’s a difference, but not as much of one as some would believe. The K/BB difference between the two is, as Cool Lester Smooth noted, enormous. That speaks to more than a difference in experience, and add in the contact in favor of Shaw, it becomes more in favor of it being an approach issue. House is always going to have issues with lever length, also, whereas Shaw has a very compact swing without sacrificing any power. It’s not necessarily a matter of age, but a matter of body type. Some things, you just can’t do with certain body types. That House has managed to adjust effectively speaks very well of him, but the swing-and-miss is a part of his game to its roots.

House is also a 50-grade runner to Shaw’s 60, so the speed floor for Shaw is much higher.

Regarding his defense, House has done amazingly well as a defender thus far, but as noted in the profile, he’s big for an infielder. And he has yet to totally grow into his frame as well. It could result in an eventual downgrade as it has for guys like Oneil Cruz and EDLC, just because he’s so large. No indications yet that’s he’s anything other than a unicorn in that regard, but it’s worth keeping an eye on.

For what it’s worth, House looks like a pretty surefire everyday player with potential All-Star upside at peak. I do believe in him. I just can see exactly why the scouts prefer Shaw. His bat is about as close to a sure thing as you’re likely to find in a guy who hits everything that hard, combined with sure plus speed.

I also don’t think Shaw is going to be as bad defensively as his current 30/35 grade would indicate; he has all the tools to be successful and was a decent defender at SS in college.

EDIT: Shaw being rated as a 35FV defender doesn’t make sense to me. He’s nowhere near that bad, just unused to the position. Honestly thought he was rated as a 40 with room for improvement.

Last edited 14 days ago by EonADS
Cool Lester Smoothmember
14 days ago
Reply to  EonADS

Yeah, I like House a lot…but it’s important to bake in the Domingo Santana/Nick Castellanos risk, given his profile.

EonADS
14 days ago

Santana and Castellanos are weird comps, but House is kind of an odd player tbh. It’s rare to have a power-over-hit guy of his size stay at 3B to begin with, let alone with the defensive ability House has. Usually those guys end up in the corner outfield or at 1B. House’s defense might turn him into a Josh Donaldson clone if he can keep hitting, or it might make him Matt Dominguez. The error bars are wide with the general profile, though I’d lean more towards a higher-end outcome.

Last edited 14 days ago by EonADS
wadz
14 days ago
Reply to  EonADS

Seems like a Matt Chapman profile… likely not reaching the defensive heights.. but still

EonADS
14 days ago
Reply to  wadz

Maybe if he can tighten up his chase rates. Chapman strikes out a lot because he’s overly passive, House strikes out a lot because he chases everything. Chapman is also much smaller than House from a build perspective. House has four inches on Chapman and commensurately longer limbs.

Cool Lester Smoothmember
14 days ago
Reply to  EonADS

Yeah, Chapman is my pie-in-the-sky for House, but they have very different profiles.

kingharbaughmember
14 days ago
Reply to  EonADS

I bet the limb difference could be measurable.

EonADS
14 days ago
Reply to  kingharbaugh

“Commensurately” means corresponding or proportionally.

Cool Lester Smoothmember
15 days ago
Reply to  broeygallo

It’s only 18 months, and Shaw has literally double the BB/K of House.

sadtrombonemember
14 days ago
Reply to  broeygallo

I don’t know about Shaw as a comparison point. He is a very different sort of player.

For the other comparisons: House and Marcelo Mayer and Jordan Lawlar are always going to be linked in my mind. I liked them in order of House, Mayer, and Lawlar because I thought House was going to hit for a ton of power and his hit tool was good enough.

As of now, it looks like Lawlar is the guy because he’s hit well and has excellent shortstop defense. But Mayer and House have done far better this year—they were young and they clearly needed to repeat a level to figure some things out. These guys seem like they have the upside to be very good MLB players but it’s not going to be a smooth ride.

One thing that all three of them have going on is a rash of injuries. I have no idea what to make of that, but it is something to monitor.