The Minor League Baseball season gets underway today, April 5, with Triple-A Rochester opening its season at Toledo. The rest of the full-season affiliates will follow suit on Friday. On Monday, NexGenNats released its joint top 25 Nats Prospects Rankings with Nats Farm. Today, we'll expand on it a little with five quick predictions for Nats prospects in 2022.
Which prospect will raise his stock the most?
It may seem counterintuitive to go with Brady House here, given he is already the team's No. 2 prospect and a nearly unanimous top-50ish national prospect who turned heads last year. But I am a big believer in House. If I had to bet the farm on one Nats prospect to become a Major League star right now, I would roll with House, even over top prospect Cade Cavalli. I'm predicting by season's end, House is a -- dare I say it -- household name and a top-10-20 overall prospect in baseball.
Which prospect will disappoint?
As much as we like to daydream about all prospects panning out and living up to their hype, the cold hard fact of prospect followerdom is that you know most do not. For me, the most confounding highly ranked Nats prospect is right-hander Gerardo Carrillo, my No. 7 prospect. Carrillo was one of four players who came over from the Dodgers in the Max Scherzer-Trea Turner deal. He was billed as nearly MLB-ready, considering the Dodgers thought highly enough of his promise to add him to their 40-man roster and protect him from the Rule 5 Draft. He's billed as live arm with a starter's repertoire, highlighted by a fastball that flirts with triple digits and a wipeout slider.
However, I have seen very few glimpses of that in my viewings of his games, both last year at Double-A Harrisburg after the trade and this spring in Grapefruit League action. The fastball for me has always been in the 92-93 range, though he has shown flashes of the wipeout slider, albeit inconsistently. He's not a starting pitcher, and the Nats likely know that, too. The question is if they will use him as a starter to begin 2022 to get him more reps or start the process of converting him to a reliever immediately. Perhaps his stuff will play up once that transition occurs.
Which prospect will have the biggest MLB impact in 2022?
For me, this was surprisingly easy, though maybe not in the way you think. I understand there's an impatience to see what top prospect Cade Cavalli can do at the Major League level. I have been very consistent with my opinion that Cavalli is not nearly as MLB-ready as the majority of fans believe. He's still very raw as a pitcher. He was a two-way player until two years ago and has only one full baseball season as a pitcher under his belt. His stuff is galactically good, but he is not ready yet. He needs to throw more strikes and experience success at the Triple-A level first.
Given that explanation, it may seem odd for me to go with No. 6 prospect Joan Adon here. Adon actually has less experience above A ball than Cavalli, but he also does have the benefit of a good Major League start against an excellent lineup under his belt. And he's just more polished than Cavalli at this point. Adon is seemingly in the mix to make the Nats' rotation and break camp with the big club. But even if he doesn't, I suspect we will see him soon and I predict he will perform well once given the chance.
Which prospect is the most interesting?
I absolutely cannot wait to see what No. 21 prospect TJ White has in store for us this summer. White is a raw, physically imposing slugger the Nats selected in the fifth round last year. He went on to slash .283/.356/.547 with four homers in only 15 games in the Florida Complex League. He does have plenty of swing and miss in his game, but he balances it with an advanced approach at the plate for a guy who won't turn 19 until July. The Nats simply haven't had a guy like this in a long time. Their farm system was completely devoid of power until the Nats added Brady House and White last summer. And it sounds like White is continuing to turn heads this spring.
Which prospect is flying under the radar?
Combined with the cancellation of the Minor League season in 2020 due to COVID, followed by Tommy John surgery in October of that year, 2018 fourth-round pick Jake Irvin is a case of out of sight, out of mind. Irvin, a Friday night starter at Oklahoma, hasn't appeared in a box score in 2 1/2 years, so it's unsurprising people have forgotten about him, despite a pretty promising start to his pro career.
When he was drafted, Irvin was considered more a pitchability, depth starter type, despite being the top dog for a powerhouse program like OU. However, you started to hear murmurs last summer that Irvin was back and throwing harder than ever, supposedly in the upper 90s at times. While he will be on an innings limit and the team will be conservative with him, don't be surprised if this a name that starts to jump off the page this year. I'm very curious to see where he starts the season.