Nationals Organizational Update - Post '23 MLB Draft

Quick disclaimer: This is based off a combination of different scouting reports (, Fangraphs, Prospectslive, etc) and my personal opinion. Others may have prospects in different positions, but based on what I could find in scouting reports, plus their performances/injuries this year, this is where I have guys listed. I've tried to break things down into tiers, with the first option being their 'ceiling', and the second option being the bottom of the current tier. Note: 'All-star to average' starter is the largest distance, but I think the breakdowns do a decent job of sorting out which side I think they are closer to. Enjoy!

Outfielders: Without a doubt the deepest position in the organization. Headlined by James Wood, Cristhian Vaquero, and now Dylan Crews who could each be bonafide 5-tool center fielders (I would lean towards Crews-Vaquero-Wood left to right in the dream scenario that all three reach their potential). Hassell is really struggling this year, though he is coming off a couple injuries, including a hamate which is known to sap power for a time. I’d like to think he can pull a Brady House-like comeback, but time will tell. Green is trending down quickly with now half of his 254 minor league ABs resulting in strikeouts; plus-plus speed is the only tool he’s shown so far unfortunately. Lile lost a key development year to TJ, but so far this year is crushing the ball while still playing a year under most competition. He’s the #1 candidate to jump up into ‘Average Starter’ or better tier guided by his hitting, with a good current comp being what Lane Thomas is doing this year. 4th round pick Andrew Pinckney is rated as having ‘some of the best all-around tools in college baseball’, highlighted by his speed and power. Similar to Lile, but less hit tool - more fielding and athleticism.

All-Star to ‘Average’ Starter Tier

1. James Wood (20, AA)

2. *Dylan Crews (21, #2 Draft Pick)

3a. Elijah Green (19, A)

3b Robert Hassell III (21, AA)

4. Cristhian Vaquero (18, FCL-RK)

5. Jeremy De La Rosa (21, A+)

‘Below Average Starter’ - Bench Tier

6. Daylen Lile (20, A)

7. *Andrew Pinckney (22, #102 Draft pick)

8. Jared McKenzie (22, A+)

9. Brenner Cox (19, FCL-RK)

10. Andy Acevedo (17, DCL-RK)

1B: Easily the weakest position in the Nationals organization. TJ White is the closest to a starting level player, but will need to fully tap into his power potential to get there. Quintana recently moved from the OF, and has struggled with the bat. Frizzell has put up nice numbers, but so far its been against competition he’s 2+ years older than. Given the general dearth of average or better projection at 1B for the Nationals, I expect this year's round two pick ‘Yo-Yo’ to move across the diamond to 1B sooner than later. He has the hit+power, and glove to make the transition.

All-Star to ‘Average’ Starter Tier

1.*Yohandy Morales (21, #40 Draft pick)

2. TJ White (20, A+)

‘Below Average Starter’ - Bench Tier’

3. Roismar Quintana (20, A)

4. Will Frizzell (24, AA)

2B: The second weakest position in the Nationals organization, without Luis Garcia in DC, Nationals would be in a bit of a dire situation. Baker is hitting at a high level, but without much pop; and his slim profile suggests there isn’t much more power to tap into.

‘Below Average Starter - Bench Tier’

1. Darren Baker (24, AAA)

3B: Talk about what a bill of clean health can do. House was crushing the ball in A, now the former #11 pick is destroying it in A+ against competition that’s 2+ years older on average. Second round pick Yohandy Morales injects more depth into this group, though I’m not sure he stays at 3B. Lipscomb has the defensive ability to play third, a bigger question was his bat. Since moving to AA, he’s put up his best offensive numbers. Alu profiles as a lefty bench option.

All Star - ‘Average Starter Tier’

1. Brady House (20, A+)

2. *Yohandy Morales (21, #40 Draft pick)

‘Below Average Starter - Bench Tier’

3. Trey Lipscomb (23, AA)

4. Jake Alu (26, AAA)

SS: Similar position to 2B, with more Bench+ tier options. Ochoa Levya was drafted in the 6th round out of HS and has the most interesting set of tools. Could potentially move up a tier if the bat+power develops. Brown

‘Below Average Starter - Bench Tier’

1. Nathaniel Ochoa Leyva (19, FCL-RK)

2. *Marcus Brown (22, #138 Draft pick)

3. Armando Cruz (19, A)

C: Similar profiles for both Pineda and Millas. Both project as backup catchers. Pineda’s strongest traits being his arm and power, though he has dealt with a couple injuries this year, including an oblique that has sidelined him for the past month or so. Millas was hitting well above his projection at AA, but has cooled down a bit at AAA. Backup catchers don’t need big bats to be successful, but if Millas can continue to hit above his projection, he becomes a more interesting prospect.

‘Below Average Starter - Bench tier’

1. Israel Pineda (23, A+)

2. Drew Millas (25, AAA)

SP: For now, we can only hope Cavalli can return to the dominant streak he was on when he returns from TJ in ‘24. Susana is the most interesting pitching prospect for the Nationals with the widest variance of projection (similar to Vaquero). If he can harness control, and add another pitch with his Fastball+Slider, he could move up higher in projections. In a similar profile, this years third round pick Sykora can also hit triple digits, while mixing in a slider, splitter; has shown better control than Susana (albeit not in the minors). Bennett doesn’t have overpowering stuff, but his pinpoint control allows it to play even better. He’s dominated lower levels so far, curious to see how he does when he makes the jump to AA. Rutledge seemed like he was heading to the bullpen, but has easily put up his best numbers at AA this year, and could work his way into the back of the Nationals rotation. Cole Henry has probably the nastiest stuff of any Nationals pitcher, but has yet to pitch more than 47 innings through three seasons. Hopefully he can stay healthy now, and if so, could move up a tier based on the quality of pitches. This years 19th round pick, Ellwanger is a big righty (Rizzo loves his 6’ 4’’ plus pitchers) who increased his velocity the past season. Body filling out could add to his projection, one to watch out for.

‘Middle Rotation Starter’

1.Cade Cavalli (24, AAA/MLB)

2. Jarlin Susana (19, A)

3. *Travis Sykora (19, #71 Draft pick)

4. Jake Bennett (22, A+)

‘Back End Starter’

5. Jackson Rutledge (24, AAA)

6. Cole Henry (23, AA)

7. James Ellwanger (19, #555 Draft pick)

The ‘Current Core’ in Washington

SP: Josiah Gray(25), MacKenzie Gore(24), Jake Irvin(26) (eventually I think he shifts to long relief)

RP: Mason Thompson(25), Jose Ferrer(23), Amos Willingham(24)

C: Keibert Ruiz (24)

2B: Luis Garcia (23)

SS: CJ Abrams (22)

You could also argue that Lane Thomas (27), Hunter Harvey (28), Riley Adams (27), and Stone Garrett (27) belong on the list, and wouldn’t get pushback from me. Though, I could easily see Thomas, Harvey being seen more as trade pieces depending on the return.

The current core in Washington is something to build on. Nationals have 4 very exciting offensive prospects in Woods, Crews, House, and Vaquero. If Green and Hassell can sort things out, I would add them as well. Cavalli, Susana, and Bennett are my strongest bets to impact the Nationals rotation in the next few years. If Henry can find a way to stay healthy, he elevates up to a middle rotation starter with how nasty his stuff is. Nationals this year drafted a handful of big pitchers that could potentially make an impact, with the most interesting names to watch for me being Sykora, Ellwanger, and Adams.

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