Nationals' Top 25 Prospects

These rankings are the product of a passion project on which I have been working for several years. The rankings are derived from a variety of inputs, including traditional tool grades on the 20/80 scale as well as factors such as injury history, proximity to the majors and others. 

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1. Elijah Green

Position
Affiliate
Acquired
Outfielder
FCL Nats (Rookie)
2022 Draft, Round 1 (No. 5 Overall)

Pros: Green offers the most exciting package of tools for a Nats prospect since Bryce Harper. Simply put, there's a 40-homer Gold Glove center fielder here if the Nats can develop him. His tools are so loud that he has a chance to be a regular MVP vote-receiver even with high strikeout numbers. Think Ronald Acuna Jr. and Byron Buxton.

Cons: Despite posting some gaudy numbers in his pro debut in the FCL, it did come with a 40 percent strikeout rate. He'll have to get that into the lower 30s as he progresses to become a star. The Nats' woeful developmental track record is a reason for concern.

Nats Comparison: Bryce Harper

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2. James Wood

Position
Affiliate
Acquired
Outfielder
Fredericksburg (A)
From Padres in 2022 Juan Soto trade

Pros: The best comp I've heard on Wood is "Baseball Giannis." He has unicorn potential. A 6-foot-7 center fielder with power? We just don't see profiles like this. On top of his mnstrous power, he showed incredible improvement with his plate discipline in 2022. He doesn't overswing and he has a good feel at the plate. There is superstar potential in Wood. And he gets bonus points for being from the DMV.

Cons: Realistically, he's almost certainly not going to stick in center field very long. The track record for hitters so tall is not great, as he will have to cover a huge strike zone that better pitchers will try to exploit. If he keeps growing, he may have to move to first base, where he could put together a career similar to ...

Nats Comparison: Josh Bell

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3. Robert Hassell III

Position
Affiliate
Acquired
Outfielder
Harrisburg (AA)
From Padres in 2022 Juan Soto trade

Pros: Hassell possesses excellent bat-to-ball skills combined with adequate speed and defensive range to stick in center field for now. He recognizes pitches well and will work counts and get on base. His frame has potential to add strength and lead to more power in the future.

Cons: Hassell's power is still hypothetical as so far he is more a top-of-the-order contact bat. He struggled mightily initially after being acquired in the Juan Soto trade and then suffered a hand injury immediately after the start of Arizona Fall League play.

Nats Comparison: Adam Eaton

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4. Cade Cavalli

Position
Affiliate
Acquired
Righty Starter
Washington (MLB)
2020 Draft, Round 1 (No. 22 Overall)

Pros: Cavalli has the pure stuff of a No. 1 starter, with a triple-digit fastball and two offspeed pitches that seem to defy physics at times. He's a big, strong kid who should be able to maintain high workloads as he builds up endurance. He's a great athlete who has only been pitching exclusively for four years, so you can dream there's more development to come. He also keeps the ball in the park and doesn't get barreled up often.

Cons: At times, Cavalli has seemed incapable of throwing strikes, but he started to figure that out midway through the 2022 season at Triple-A Rochester. It's a little worrisome that he got injured after his Major League debut and never made his way back.

Nats Comparison: Lucas Giolito

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5. Jarlin Susana

Position
Affiliate
Acquired
Righty Starter
Fredericksburg (A)
From Padres in 2022 Juan Soto trade

Pros: Susana was not a household name before the Juan Soto trade, but word got out fast that he was one of the most electric pitching prospects in rookie ball. He has gotten top-100 overall buzz in some places. Even in this day of high velocity, guys who throw 103 mph don't grow on trees. He has the makings of a plus slider and changeup early on, as well.

Cons: As exciting as Susana's raw stuff is, it's very hard to project someone with this profile too far ahead. While he displayed some dominant stuff at times at Low-A Fredericksburg last season, he didn't generate as many whiffs as you would expect against that competition and he got hit hard at times, including his Carolina League Playoff start to end the season in which he didn't make it out of the first inning. Worst case, he's a scattershot reliever who throws 103.

Nats Comparison: Blake Treinen

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6. Brady House

Position
Affiliate
Acquired
Shortstop
Fredericksburg (A)
2021 Draft, Round 1 (No. 11 Overall)

Pros: House has the skillset to be 30-plus homer guy who plays excellent defense at third base. He has huge raw power and put up eye-opening numbers in his FCL debut in 2021, leading to some top-30 overall buzz entering the 2022 season.

Cons: Unfortunately, House experienced almost a completely lost season in 2022. After a good first week, he contracted COVID, returned and then suffered a back injury that ended up costing him the rest of the season. His numbers were terrible and he hit for no power when he was in the lineup. Now, we have to wait to see if that can all be attributed to illness and injury. If he's healthy, he could make a big leap back into national rankings. But he's a bit of a mystery at the moment.

Nats Comparison: Ian Desmond

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7. Cristhian Vaquero

Position
Affiliate
Acquired
Outfielder
DSL Nats (Rookie)
2021 International Signing ($4.9M)

Pros: Vaquero was rated the second-best international prospect in the 2021 class out of the Dominican Republic by way of Cuba. While extremely young and a ways away from the majors, Vaquero has the raw tools to become a player who impacts the game in every facet. 

Cons: While he did exhibit good plate discipline and contact ability, Vaquero's raw power never made its way into the box score. However, that's not terribly uncommon for such a young player. But going forward, his ability to translate power into production will determine his ceiling.

Nats Comparison: Alfonso Soriano

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8. Jeremy De La Rosa

Position
Affiliate
Acquired
Outfielder
Wilmington (A+)
2018 International Signing ($300K)

Pros: Despite signing for a moderate $300K in 2018, De La Rosa generated early buzz within the organization. He has a five-tool arsenal, but was negatively impacted by COVID perhaps more than any Nats prospect, resulting in a poor full-season debut in 2021 at Low-A Fredericksburg. However, De La Rosa rebounded in a big way in 2022, earning Nationals Minor League Player of the Year honors and a spot on the 40-man roster.

Cons: Despite his immense talent, De La Rosa'a on-field production has overall been a mixed bag, most recently with a slow start following his promotion to High-A Wilmington and an injury that cut his 2022 season a little short.

Nats Comparison: Roger Bernadina

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9. Armando Cruz

Position
Affiliate
Acquired
Shortstop
Fredericksburg (A)
2021 International Signing ($3.9M)

Pros: Cruz signed for a then-club record $3.9 million bonus in 2021 primarily based on his elite defensive profile with hopes his bat would develop in time. Fortunately for Cruz, Major League Baseball's rules changes just made Cruz's profile much more valuable as light-hitting, rangy vacuum shortstops who can run will be more useful going forward.

Cons: Cruz's defense will have to be elite to become a starter in the majors, as offensively he still looks like a No. 9 hitter who could steal some bases when he gets on base.

Nats Comparison: Alcides Escobar

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10. Jake Bennett

Position
Affiliate
Acquired
Lefty Starter
FCL Nats (Rookie)
2022 Draft, Round 2 (No. 45 Overall)

Pros: With his advanced repertoire at a powerhouse program such as Oklahoma, Bennett could be one of the first pitchers from the 2022 Draft to make it to the big leagues. His excellent changeup makes him effective against right-handed batters with a developing slider to use against lefties.

Cons: While Bennett could make it to the majors fast, he's not an overly dominant pitcher, which could limit him to a middle-to-back rotation piece as opposed to a top-line starter. A heavyw orkload at Oklahoma cost him a chance to pitch professionally after being drafted in 2022.

Nats Comparison: John Lannan

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11. Andry Lara

Position
Affiliate
Acquired
Righty Starter
Fredericksburg (A)
2019 International Signing ($1.3M)

Pros: The Nats' top international signing in 2019, Lara has the requisite stuff to develop into a mid-rotation starter in the future. He's ahead of the game, debuting in Low-A Fredericksburg in 2021.

Cons: Lara is still learning to pitch well consistently. His game-to-game performance is erratic, which is perfectly normal at this stage of development, but he didn't take as much as a step forward in 2022 as hoped.

Nats Comparison: Livan Hernandez

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12. Jackson Rutledge

Position
Affiliate
Acquired
Righty Starter
Fredericksburg (A)
2019 Draft, Round 1 (No. 17 Overall)

Pros: Rutledge still possesses the raw stuff that prompted the Nats to take him with the 17th overall pick of the 2019 Draft. He has a high-90s fastball and swing-and-miss breaking stuff that could lead to a mid-rotation starter role with an alternate path as a late-inning reliever.

Cons: Despite his raw stuff, COVID and injuries have severely hampered Rutledge's development. He was way too old to be pitching in Low A all of the 2021 season. Now that he's on the 40-man roster, it's time for the Nats to push him aggressively going forward. It's time to find out what they have here.

Nats Comparison: Lucas Giolito

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13. Israel Pineda

Position
Affiliate
Acquired
Catcher
Washington (MLB)
2016 International Signing ($450K)

Pros: It took Pineda a while to have his breakout season after signing for $450K in 2016, but his breakout did come in 2022, riding a hot stretch midseason that propelled him from A ball to the big leagues in short order. Pineda has a loud bat and a rocket arm he uses to shut down the running game. With base-stealing about to become more prominent due to MLB's rule changes, a big-armed catcher with power is a valuable commodity.

Cons: Despite his loud bat, it's fair to wonder if he'll make enough contact to put it to use. His foray in the big leagues exposed some of his weaknesses, but in fairness he probably should not have been promotes as early as he was.

Nats Comparison: Wilson Ramos

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14. TJ White

Position
Affiliate
Acquired
Outfielder
Fredericksburg (A)
2021 Draft, Round 5 (No. 143 Overall)

Pros: The Nats have not hit on a non-first-round pick in many years (and not many first-rounders either), but White could change that. One of the youngest players selected in the 2021 Draft, White has exceeded expectations thus far. A physically imposing specimen who profiles as a corner outfielder or first baseman, White is more than just a slugger. He does strike out plenty, but he has a good feel at the plate and IDs pitches well.

Cons: His power didn't translate into as many home runs in 2022 as it did in 2021, but he was the youngest player in the Carolina League on Opening Day. Given his size, it's uncertain how much if any defensive value he will add down the line.

Nats Comparison: Michael Morse

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15. Thad Ward

Position
Affiliate
Acquired
Righty Reliever
Washington (MLB)
2022 Rule 5 Draft (No. 1 Overall)

Pros: Although Rule 5 Draft picks rarely stick and often get sent back to their original team, Ward seems a good bet to make it through the 2023 season in Washington. Armed with a mid-90s fastball and 60-grade slider with good control, he profiles perfectly as a guy the Nats can use as a mop-up guy, opener or fill-in starter in doubleheaders or as an injury replacement. Beyond that, he has the stuff to be a back-rotation starter or slider-heavy late-inning guy. He’s viewed as one of the best Rule 5 talents in several years.

Cons: History is undefeated, and the vast majority of Rule 5 draftees get returned. It’s extremely rare for Rule 5 picks to develop into plus big leaguers. Although he has a very good opportunity to stick in Washington, history says he’s unlikely to play a significant role.

Nats Comparison: Craig Stammen

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16. Cole Henry

Position
Affiliate
Acquired
Righty Starter
Rochester (AAA)
2020 Draft, Round 2 (No. 55 Overall)

Pros: This is simple: When healthy, Henry has been dominant in professional baseball and looked like a No. 2 starter. He appeared on the doorstep of making his Major League debut midseason 2022. BUT ...

Cons: The dreaded words: Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. Henry has been hampered by injuries his entire career, which is the only reason he wasn't a first-round pick. Pre-TOS diagnosis, Henry was a top-five prospect in the system.

Nats Comparison: John Patterson

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17. Roismar Quintana

Position
Affiliate
Acquired
Outfielder
FCL Nats (Rookie)
2019 International Signing ($820K)

Pros: While not overly tall, Quintana is an impactful athlete who looks like a football player who smokes baseball in his spare time. Next year will tell us a lot more about his ceiling when he presumably is starting at Low-A Fredericksburg.

Cons: Quintana hasn't played full-season ball yet, so much of his hype is still hypothetical.

Nats Comparison: Jose Guillen

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18. Daylen Lile

Position
Affiliate
Acquired
Outfielder
FCL Nats (Rookie)
2021 Draft, Round 2 (No. 47 Overall)

Pros: One of the top prep bats in the 2021 Draft class, Lile has the pure hitting skills to be an everyday player in the big leagues, although his power is a question mark. 

Cons: Due to injuries, Lile has never played in the field as a professional. He was limited to DH only in 2021 in the FCL and missed all of 2022 with Tommy John surgery, so he's behind schedule.

Nats Comparison: Brian Goodwin

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19. Zach Brzykcy

Position
Affiliate
Acquired
Righty Reliever
Rochester (AAA)
2019 Undrafted Free Agent ($20K)

Pros: Brzykcy (pronounced Brik-see) may be one of the best finds for the Nats in recent years. Brzykcy couldn't throw strikes at Virginia Tech and went undrafted. However, he was considered an interesting UDFA due to his raw stuff, despite the lack of results. He has harnessed that as a professional, improving his control without sacrificing his swing-and-miss stuff. He will pitch in the majors soon and could settle in quickly as a late-inning option.

Cons: Brzykcy is a pure reliever so he'll need to earn a high-leverage role to make a significant impact.

Nats Comparison: Tanner Rainey

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20. Jose Ferrer

Position
Affiliate
Acquired
Lefty Reliever
Harrisburg (AA)
2017 International Free Agent

Pros: Ferrer was more of an intriguing arm to watch heading into last season than he was a prospect. But that changed immediately. His triple-digit fastball was unhittable in Low A, so Ferrer continued to deal at High-A Wilmington, earning a trip to the Futures Game and eventually a late-season promotion to Double-A Harrisburg. Ferrer and Zach Brzykcy could create a formidable lefty-righty power duo late out of the bullpen in D.C.

Cons: Ferrer still hasn't pitched much past A ball, and pure relievers like him have a narrow path to Major League success.

Nats Comparison: Felipe Rivero

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21. Mitchell Parker

Position
Affiliate
Acquired
Lefty Starter
Wilmington (A+)
2020 Draft, Round 5 (No. 153 Overall)

Pros: Parker has been one of the Nats' most effective starters in the minors over the past couple seasons, blowing away batters with a sneaky fastball that plays better than the radar gun suggests.

Cons: Despite mostly good numbers, advanced stats aren't as kind. He really struggles to throw strikes and his stuff isn't explosive enough to sustain success in the upper minors unless he refines his command. He is likely a reliever long term, and he doesn't have a dominant secondary out pitch at this point.

Nats Comparison: Ross Detwiler

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22. Brenner Cox

Position
Affiliate
Acquired
Outfielder
FCL Nats (Rookie)
2022 Draft, Round 4 (No. 111 Overall)

Pros: Cox is the type of electric high school athlete the Nats either haven't pursued in the past or didn't have the bonus money to sign out of a college commitment. Cox was a high school football star in Texas who had a chance to play both sports at the University of Texas. He has the size and skills to be a five-tool player, but he will need time to develop. That said, he exceeded expectations in his FCL debut in 2022 and should start 2023 at Low-A Fredericksburg, putting him ahead of schedule.

Cons: There's a lot to like from an athleticism standpoint, but baseball history is filled with football players who couldn't translate their athletic gifts into baseball success. In short, he's still very much a mystery.

Nats Comparison: Brad Wilkerson

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23. Jake Alu

Position
Affiliate
Acquired
Third Baseman
Rochester (AAA)
2019 Draft, Round 24 (No. 723 Overall)

Pros: Alu garnered no attention after being selected 723rd overall in the 2019 Draft out of Boston College. However, he's done nothing but force himself into the mix since. He has continued to hit from the left side and play a solid third base. He is a legit candidate to be the Nats' Opening Day starter at third base in 2023 and figures to factor into the big league equation in some way.

Cons: The biggest issue with Alu is that he will turn 26 when the 2023 season starts, which is quite old for prospect status. He's a fun story, reminding me of another Jake from Nats prospectdom past.

Nats Comparison: Jake Noll

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24. Trey Lipscomb

Position
Affiliate
Acquired
Third Baseman
Fredericksburg (A)
2022 Draft, Round 3 (No. 84 Overall)

Pros: Lipscomb blew up as a senior on a loaded Tennessee team in 2022, transitioning from career backup to third-round pick. Originally from Maryland, Lipscomb has all the tools to be a big league third baseman and played well in his pro debut in 2022.

Cons: Other than one season, there's not a long track record to go by. He was also very swing happy at Low-A Fredericksburg, meaning he could be a good average/low on-base/solid slugging type player who should stick at third base fine.

Nats Comparison: Carter Kieboom

jared-mckenzie profile.jfif

25. Jared McKenzie

Position
Affiliate
Acquired
Outfielder
Fredericksburg (A)
2022 Draft, Round 5 (No. 141 Overall)

Pros: McKenzie was receiving some first-round buzz heading into the summer of 2021 as one of the best outfielders in college baseball. He possesses an excellent swing that is more contact over power, but showed promising signs of emerging power in his pro debut. There's a chance the Nats got an absolute steal in the fifth round.

Cons: In his final year at Baylor, McKenzie's numbers went down and his strikeouts went up. This came after a poor year in the wooden-bat Cape Cod League, so he was baffling to evaluators. Despite his production as a pro so far, he did strike out a lot and didn't offset it by drawing walks.

Nats Comparison: Ryan Church