Baseball America released their list of the Top 100 prospects in baseball for 2022 on Wednesday, and the Washington Nationals landed three players on this year’s list...
No. 59 - Brady House:
“We were super-excited he was there when we picked,” Washington Nationals’ Assistant GM and Director of Scouting ops, Kris Kline, said of the club’s 2021 1st Round pick Brady House, the shortstop who was the No. 11 overall selection in this past year’s draft.
“He’s a high school kid that has great size, really strong, big power, a well-above average arm strength, and for a guy his size [6’4’’, 215 lbs] he can really really run. Got chance to see him maybe three times this year, and met the kid, talked — mostly about his truck, but he was a nice, personable kid, really good makeup, hard-worker, and high school shortstop now.
“There’s a part of me that thinks that he can maybe stay there, you know, but he might get too big and end up at third base, where he’s got a chance to potentially win a Gold Glove.”
Talking on the night of the draft, House told reporters he was determined to show he could stay at short in the pros.
“100%,” House said, “... that’s what I work towards every day, is just beating everyone out at short and just proving that I can stay at short, because that’s where I feel comfortable, that’s where my bread and butter is, and I feel like I can stay at short for sure if I keep up the work there.”
In his first taste of professional baseball, House did play shortstop, over 16 games down in the Florida Complex League, where he put up a .322/.394/.576 line with three doubles and four home runs in 66 plate appearances.
In ranking House at No. 59 on their list of the Top 100 prospects for 2022, Baseball America scouts wrote that he “made his presence known” with his work in the FCL, and, they said, he is, “blessed with a big league body and power to dream on,” and he, “has a chance to be a middle-of-the-order, power-hitting third baseman at his peak.”
Keep fighting the good fight, Brady.
Asked for models of shortstops his size this past July, the Nationals’ top pick in this year’s draft picked a good one:
“I’d compare myself a little bit to Trevor Story. You know he’s a bigger shortstop too that hits, got a lot of power, hits for contact, and I’ve been compared to him, so yeah, I’d say Trevor for sure.”
No. 27 - Cade Cavalli:
Washington’s 2021 1st Round pick (No. 22 overall), Cade Cavalli, put up a 1.77 ERA, 12 walks, and 71 Ks in seven starts and 40 2⁄3 innings pitched at High-A Wilmington in the Nationals’ system before the club promoted him to Double-A Harrisburg in mid-June.
Cavalli, 23, made 11 starts at Double-A, with a 2.79 ERA, 35 walks, and 80 Ks in 58 IP, earning his second promotion of the season, and he ended his first full pro season (after he spent the 2020 campaign working at the club’s Alternate Training site, during the COVID season), at Triple-A Rochester, where he put up 7.30 ERA, 13 walks, and 24 Ks in six starts and 24 2⁄3 IP, finishing the year with a combined 3.36 ERA, 60 walks (4.38 K/9), and 175 Ks (12.77 K/9) over 24 starts and 123 1⁄3 IP.
What happened when he got to the Nationals’ top minor league affiliate and struggled a bit?
“I’ve seen every start he had this whole season on video,” Nats’ GM Mike Rizzo explained at the end of the 2021 campaign, “and my assessment is that he wore down at the end of the season.
“Better competition, worn-down pitcher — but the developmental part of Cavalli could not have gone better. He made every start, he threw deep into games every time he pitched, his stuff was crisp, and it was good and he’s finishing the season with the same stuff that he started it with after — a guy who did not pitch much last year.
“Obviously, in 2020 there was no [minor leagues], and he did not pitch much, so you’ve got yourself a good young arm — that’s a fresh arm, that got through a full season starting in A-ball and ending in Triple-A, it couldn’t have gone better for him.”
In ranking Cavalli the top pitcher in the organization, and the 27th prospect on their Top 100 for 2022, Baseball America’s scouts wrote that the right-hander “dazzled” in 2021, and “used a dynamic four-pitch mix to jump all the way to Triple-A and lead the minor leagues with 175 strikeouts.”
Will he get a shot this spring, in the Nationals’ rebooting organization, to earn a spot in the big league rotation?
“We’re going to take the best 26 players out of Spring Training next year,” Rizzo said, “... and if he’s one of those, we’ve never been afraid to move young players or to start service clocks or that type of thing. We’re going to go with the best 26, and if he is one of the best five starters that we have the plan is in place for to him start we’ll certainly consider it.”
No. 11 - Keibert Ruiz:
“A switch-hitter with plus contact skills from the left side, growing power and improving defense behind the plate,” Baseball America’s scouts wrote in ranking Nationals’ catcher Keibert Ruiz No. 11 overall on the Top 100 prospects list for 2022, “Ruiz has the potential to be a foundational player in Washington’s rebuild.”
Ruiz, 23, put up a .308/.365/.577 line with six doubles and five home runs in 20 games and 85 plate appearances at Triple-A Rochester in the Nationals’ system, following the trade to Washington from the LA Dodgers this past July, then came up and put up a .284/.348/.395 line with three doubles and two home runs in 23 games and 89 PAs in the majors over the final month of the season.
He finished the year with a 13-game run over which he was 19 for 48 (.396/.453/.563).
“I want to keep getting better,” Ruiz told reporters in September.
“Keep working hard, and just keep working hard at every at bat, be focused, and hopefully I can have some more [good] results.”
Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo liked what he saw from the catcher he described as the main cog among the four players acquired in the trade that sent Max Scherzer and Trea Turner to Los Angeles at the deadline.
“I like the way he’s progressed,” Rizzo said. “Ruiz has shown me things that we didn’t see when we scouted him. His attention to detail in the clubhouse with the pitcher duties that he has, and the way he really cares about calling the game has been refreshing. Henry [Blanco] has had a really good — been a really good mentor to him, and Ruiz has been a hungry [student]. That’s really impressed me about him.
“As far as offensively, he doesn’t strike out much, even at this level, and he shows that he could be a force offensively — that doesn’t come as a surprise.”
While he was stuck behind Will Smith in LA, Baseball America’s scouts wrote, Ruiz will get a chance to be the everyday catcher in D.C. in 2022.