Back on December 1, 2023, Washington's Nationals announced they would hold an exhibition game in the nation’s capital on March 26, 2024.
In lieu of the usual late-spring game as final tune-up for the regular season (and a soft-opening for the ballpark) against a rival MLB team, the club’s planning to field a team of the top young prospects in the organization to take on the major league squad in front of the hometown fans.
“We’re incredibly thankful for the continued support of our fans in D.C., and we can’t wait for them to get a look at some of the players who will make up our next championship-caliber roster,” President of Baseball Operations & GM Mike Rizzo said in a press release on the game. “Players like James Wood, Dylan Crews, Brady House, and Robert Hassell [III] have certainly received a lot of attention, and I know that once our fans have the chance to see a full lineup of the young guys in our system, there will be even more of reason to be optimistic about where we’re headed.”
The prospect roster (and the 26-man, big league roster) will be announced in late March.
A few days after the press release on the game, both Rizzo and Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez talked excitedly at the 2023-24 Winter Meetings about the prospect of seeing all of the organization’s top prospects on the field in D.C., playing and testing themselves against the big league club.
“People think they know our prospects by name and stuff like that,” Rizzo told reporters.
“But they know a handful of the more popular ones. We got a good, deep system of exciting guys that we’re going to run out there, and it’s going to be fun for them to play, and it’s going to be fun for us to sit back and watch, and it’s going to be great for the fans to finally put a face with a name and give them something to kind of track throughout the season in the minor leagues.”
Martinez said he wanted to see some of the top prospects compete in Spring Training this year and then get a showcase in Nationals Park.
“I hope they’re all in big league camp because I want to see ‘em play,” Martinez said. “They will definitely get a lot [out of being in big league Spring Training]. The biggest thing is really getting to know them and work with them and kind of give ‘em an idea of what we’re looking for and how we want to attack the game. That’s going to be the biggest thing.
“The other thing is too this year we got this prospect game that I’m really excited about. I think it will be fun for myself the coaching staff, even the fans to catch some of our young prospects. We got a lot of ‘em, so I think that’s going to be a lot of fun.
“I think it’s going to be a fun game,” Rizzo added. “I think it’s going to be great for the fans, that’s why I was all about it. I think the fans love seeing those young players that they all read about, and seeing them playing at the big league ballpark against big league competition, I think it’s going to be fun, and I think the interaction of the new and the veteran players is going to be good for them. I think it’s a win-win for everybody. It’s going to be an exciting day.”