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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. 

James Wood AA.jpeg

1. James Wood

Position
Affiliate
Acquired
Outfielder
Harrisburg (AA)
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 monstrous 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: 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, but thus far he is more than handling himself out there. His strikeout rate was quite high in Double-A, but he shows enough feel at the plate to believe he will keep improving in that regard. He has a good eye and often falls victim to poor Minor League umpiring.

Nats Comparison: Bryce Harper

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2. Dylan Crews

Position
Affiliate
Acquired
Outfielder
Harrisburg (AA)
2023 Draft, Round 1 (No. 2 Overall)

Pros: Crews is one of the best all-around Draft prospects in several years. His tools aren’t as loud as James Wood or even Elijah Green for that matter, but Crews is one of the safest projections in a long time. He does everything well even if he doesn't make your jaw drop all the time. He walks more than he strikes out. He barrels the ball consistently to all fields. He's a fast and instinctive runner on the bases and in center field. And he will hit the ball over the fence. Crews also possesses natural leadership traits and should become the face of the franchise from Day 1. He may not win MVP Awards, but he is likely to produce at a high level consistently at a premium position, consistently garnering All-Star consideration.

Cons: There is not much on which to ding Crews, but defensively he's more adequate in center field than he is plus. He also hit the ball on the ground around 50 percent of the time at LSU, which is high but not unheard of among elite hitters. With Crews' speed, those grounders resulted in plenty of hits, but will turn into more and more outs as he moves up levels. He might be more a consistent high-level performer than an elite player. Crews got off to a slow start once promoted to Double-A, but that is likely small-sample noise.

Nats Comparison: Anthony Rendon

Brady House AA.jpeg

3. Brady House

Position
Affiliate
Acquired
Third Baseman
Harrisburg (AA)
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. Early 2023 returns show a guy who is healthy and once again a premier prospect.

Cons: There is some swing-and-miss to House's game, which is not unusual for a power-hitting corner-infield prospect, but he made real progress with the whiff rate down the stretch. He should be able to harness it with more experience. He also does not tap into his pull-side power much, with most of his extra-base hits going to right-center field. It would be nice to see him turn on pitches a little more often.

Nats Comparison: Ryan Zimmerman

Morales Wil.jpeg

4. Yohandy Morales

Position
Affiliate
Acquired
Third/First Baseman
Harrisburg (AA)
2023 Draft, Round 2 (No. 40 Overall)

Pros: Morales possesses the raw power profile the Nats' system has desperately needed for years. That said, Morales' first foray into professional baseball didn't play into his scouting report as a power over hit guy. Morales scolded the baseball and worked his way to Double-A despite not hitting one home run. But he was a double machine who made consistently strong contact and limited the strikeouts. He's capable at third base, but seems a lock to move to first base.

Cons: Like similar sluggers of this ilk, Morales has been prone to chase chasing outside the zone. He can punish high-velo fastballs, but his spin recognition seems to need plenty of seasoning. At his size, he likely will move to 1B or a corner-outfield spot, putting more pressure on the bat to produce big swings.

Nats Comparison: Michael Morse

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5. Cade Cavalli

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

Pros: Cavalli has the pure stuff to be a top-rotation 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 a relatively short period of time, 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. And now Tommy John surgery has wiped out a crucial year of his development after a promising Spring Training.

Nats Comparison: Jordan Zimmermann

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6. Daylen Lile

Position
Affiliate
Acquired
Outfielder
Wilmington (A+)
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. Lile improved his stock arguably more than any prospect in 2023, healthy and impacting all aspects of the game. He's among the best pure hitters in the system and should start 2024 in Double-A.

Cons: Injuries cost Lile his first season and a half in the system, so hopefully durability will not be a long-term concern. Defense and power are the two biggest question marks, but he alleviated those somewhat in 2023. 

Nats Comparison: Brian Goodwin

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7. Jackson Rutledge

Position
Affiliate
Acquired
Righty Starter
Washington (MLB)
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. In 2023, Rutledge has displayed durability and the ability to pitch deep into games without diminishing stuff.

Cons: Despite success in Double-A, Rutledge doesn't throw a lot of strikes. His stuff has gotten him out of trouble, but he will get punished by better hitters until he hones his command. His K rate is also lower than it should be due to working from behind in the count regularly. Despite the improvement, it still may be a bit before he really excels. There is high reliever risk.

Nats Comparison: Lucas Giolito

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8. Robert Hassell III

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

Pros: Hassell has possessed excellent bat-to-ball skills combined with adequate speed and defensive range to stick in center field, but he went backward in every regard in 2023. 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. His last two weeks at Harrisburg provided some hope he turned a corner and could reassert himself as a top prospect in 2024. He's still plenty young.

Cons: Hassell's prospect profile is entirely based on what he did in San Diego's system as his Nats tenure has been a nightmare over the first year-plus. Beset my multiple injuries, including a broken hamate bone, Hassell has not hit for power or average and since being promoted to Double-A, he is striking out at an astronomical rate and pounding the ball into the ground. Like Elijah Green, Hassell's star is fading. But also like Green, there is plenty of time to reclaim it due to his age. 

Nats Comparison: Adam Eaton

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9. Elijah Green

Position
Affiliate
Acquired
Outfielder
Fredericksburg (A)
2022 Draft, Round 1 (No. 5 Overall)

Pros: Green offers the most exciting package of tools for a Nats prospect this side of Bryce Harper. There are so many tools to dream on with an athlete of this caliber, even though it could take several years to manifest. His non-hit tools showed up big-time on the field. It will take patience, but with a guy like Green you're envisioning what he could look like when he's 22-23, not now. Because right now, it's very much hopefully a rough draft of a better final product.

Cons: There is no sugarcoating it; Green's first full pro season was a worst-case scenario and national stock has turned almost nonexistant. His swing-and-miss issues were known when he was drafted, but the problem has worsened significantly in Low A. Even worse, he's not balancing it out with power production. There is basically no track record of success for a prospect who strikes out at this level in the low minors.

Nats Comparison: Michael A. Taylor

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10. Cristhian Vaquero

Position
Affiliate
Acquired
Outfielder
Fredericksburg (A)
2022 International Signing ($4.9M)

Pros: Vaquero was rated the second-best international prospect in the 2022 class out of the Dominican Republic by way of Cuba. Vaquero displays excellent on-base and bat-to-ball skills for his age, and he should be a weapon defensively with the ability to play multiple positions and give baserunners second thoughts with his big arm. 

Cons: While he does exhibit good plate discipline and contact ability, Vaquero hasn't hit for any power as a pro. Going forward, his ability to translate power into production will determine his ceiling. Despite good overall numbers in 2023, the lack of damage with the bat is a concern and may make him more a speedy on-base player instead of a five-tool phenom.

Nats Comparison: Victor Robles

Trey Lipscomb AA.jpeg

11. Trey Lipscomb

Position
Affiliate
Acquired
Infielder
Harrisburg (AA)
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 leaguer. Lipscomb reached Double-A with a big season in 2023, becoming one of the best hitters in the system and showed an ability to move around the field. His future is probably as a versatile infielder who moves around.

Cons: Despite possessing a quick , powerful swing, Lipscomb performed as a contact-heavy, low on-base batter in 2023. After a really strong showing, Lipscomb did limp to the finish line a bit, but could be in the Major League plans pretty soon.

Nats Comparison: Carter Kieboom

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12. Travis Sykora

Position
Affiliate
Acquired
Righty Starter
FCL Nats (Rookie)
2023 Draft, Round 3 (No. 71 Overall)

Pros: Sykora is the type of pitching prospect you can dream on. At 6-foot-6, 230 pounds with a frame to hold more weight and a triple-digit fastball already, he looks like he was created in a lab for the prototypical power pitcher. His heater has natural run to it, and he throws a splitter as his best secondary pitch, which is very uncommon for a prep arm. He also has the makings of a good slider. High school arms are hard to project, but Sykora is a first-round talent with the ceiling of a No. 1 starter.

Cons: Simply put, high school pitchers represent a risky and volatile Draft demographic. There's no telling how this turns out and in the best-case scenario, you're probably four years away from knowing what you have here. Sykora is not necessarily an analytics darling given his age for his class and lack of a traditional secondary pitch for a power pitcher. He will require patience. Despite being added to the FCL roster this summer, he did not appear in a game.

Nats Comparison: Lucas Giolito

Herz AA.png

13. DJ Herz

Position
Affiliate
Acquired
Lefty Starter
Harrisburg (AA)
2023 Trade for Jeimer Candelario

Pros: Herz racks up strikeouts at a prolific rate despite mostly throwing in the low 90s as a starter. He pairs that fastball with an excellent changeup that will negate playing a platoon advantage against him. Herz profiles as a likely reliever long term, but with a funky delivery and the ability to throw it by righties and lefties, there's potential to be a very good late-inning reliever. But the Nats are in a position to be patient and continue evaluating him as a starter. 

Cons: Herz is a classic high-strikeout, high-walk lefty. He does not provide length and likely will move to the bullpen as a result. He'll have to develop into a reliable weapon out of the bullpen to warrant being the key return for Jeimer Candelario. He is also Rule 5-eligible after the season, meaning the Nats will likely have to start carrying him on their 40-man roster soon.

Nats Comparison: Ross Detwiler

Jake Bennett Wilmington.jpeg

14. Jake Bennett

Position
Affiliate
Acquired
Lefty Starter
Wilmington (A+)
2022 Draft, Round 2 (No. 45 Overall)

Pros: With his advanced repertoire at a powerhouse program such as Oklahoma, Bennett was on track to potentially be in the big leagues by 2024, but a midseason injury believed to be minor turned into Tommy John surgery that will wipe out his 2024 campaign entirely. When. healthy, Bennett's excellent changeup makes him effective against right-handed batters with a developing slider to use against lefties. Prior to the injury, Bennett was the best pitcher in the system by far in 2023 and statistically one of the best pitchers in all of the minors. His ability to miss bats indicated he may be more than just a back-rotation pitchability guy when he returns.

Cons: Bennett is not an overly dominant pitcher, which could limit him to a middle-to-back rotation piece as opposed to a top-line starter. That's nitpicking a bit, though. He's a refined pitcher who could be more than just a mediocre back-rotation starter. Tommy John surgery puts a real damper on his trajectory, as he was on a fast track to the majors.

Nats Comparison: John Lannan

Jarlin Susana.jpeg

15. 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. 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. He is extremely young for a pitcher at his level and is a long-term stock.

Cons: As exciting as Susana's raw stuff is, it's very hard to project someone with this profile too far ahead. While he is young for the level, Susana has been spotty so far as a pro with the occasional eye sore of an outing. The performance is inconsistent, but the talent is evident. 

Nats Comparison: Blake Treinen

pinckney A+.jpeg

16. Andrew Pinckney

Position
Affiliate
Acquired
Outfielder
Harrisburg (AA)
2023 Draft, Round 4 (No. 102 Overall)

Pros: Despite being an older college player when drafted at 22, Pinckney has louder tools than a typical senior sign. Pinckney makes hard contact and has the athleticism to play all three outfield positions. His arm-power combo portends a future in right field. As a premier player from an SEC power, Pinckney is already moving fast through the minors. Pinckney famously went 3-for-3 with a home run in his only matchup against No. 1 overall pick Paul Skenes of LSU.

Cons: Pinckney fits the profile of many a Mike Rizzo pick: athletic, strong and ... prone to strike out at a high rate. Pinckney struggled with breaking stuff in college and he will have to make adjustments as he moves up the organizational ladder against better competition. This profile of player has not been developed well within the Nationals' system in recent years. But even with the strikeout concerns, Pinckney has enough tools to profile as a versatile bench bat with pop.

Nats Comparison: Steven Souza Jr.

jacob young mlb.jpeg

17. Jacob Young

Position
Affiliate
Acquired
Outfielder
Washington (MLB)
2021 Draft, Round 7 (No. 203 Overall)

Pros: Speed. Young is not just fast, he's a brilliant baserunner. His baserunning is his calling card and with the Nats failing to take advantage of the new rules making base-stealing easier than ever, there's an obvious place for Young as a bench player going forward. The only question about Young has been if he could hit enough to advance through the minors. He answered that question in 2023, flying through the system, going from Wilmington to the big leagues. He has shown exciting flashes in D.C. that reinforces his future value as a depth player.

Cons: There aren't many cons. Young has a great profile for a fourth or fifth outfielder, but will not be an everyday player for a contending ballclub. 

Nats Comparison: Nook Logan

Millas MLB.jpeg

18. Drew Millas

Position
Affiliate
Acquired
Catcher
Washington (MLB)
From A's in 2021 Gomes/Harrison Trade

Pros: Millas is an excellent athlete and strong defender in all aspects behind the plate. Offensively, he has excellent contact skills and plate discipline, leading to solid on-base skills. He has a nice skillset for a career as an MLB backup catcher. The bat picked up in 2023, earning Millas a big-league promotion. He is also an excellent athlete for a catcher who can run really well.

Cons: Millas is never going to be an impact hitter and Keibert Ruiz has the starting catcher role locked up for a long time, so Millas is left to fight with Riley Adams and Israel Pineda for the opportunity to back up Ruiz in Washington.

Nats Comparison: Robert Fick

Victor Hurtado.jpg

19. Victor Hurtado

Position
Affiliate
Acquired
Outfielder
TBD
2024 International Signing ($2.7M)

Pros: Already 6-foot-4, 180 pounds at 16 years old, Hurtado looks the part physically with an impressive set of raw tools. But evaluators also praise Hurtado for his advanced instincts and baseball acumen. If Hurtado continues to fill out his impressive frame without a loss of athleticism, there's a very exciting prospect here.

Cons: The con with any teenage international signing is that the baseline expectation should be that any 16-year-old is unlikely to become an impact Major Leaguer. It's a complete guessing game. There are no overt warning signs until he Hurtado suits up as a professional and ca be evaluated on performance and development there. 

Nats Comparison: Rick Ankiel

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20. 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 has potential closer written all over him.

Cons: On the field, Brzykcy has been a great find. Unfortunately, his career has been put on hold due to Tommy John surgery that kept him out for the entirety of 2023.

Nats Comparison: Tanner Rainey

Nasim Nunez.jpeg

21. Nasim Nunez

Position
Affiliate
Acquired
Shortstop
Washington (MLB)
2023 Rule 5 Draft (No. 5 Overall-Miami)

Pros: Nunez has a specific skillset that gives him a good chance to stick on the Nats' roster throughout the season -- he's an excellent defensive shortstop with great speed. In the DH era, it's easier for National League teams to stash a guy like Nunez. He can back up both middle infield positions defensively and he can steal a base off the bench or pinch-run in late innings. The Nats don't have anyone in the system near MLB-ready who can back up CJ Abrams at shortstop. The Nats decided to fill that hole in this manner instead of free agency. 

Cons: Despite Nunez' athletic gifts that translate to the field and basepaths, he simply has not hit anywhere. And he's not going to improve receiving as few at-bats as he will likely receive if he makes Washington's roster out of Spring Training. But if you accept that and utilize him as a role player, Nunez can be a helpful bench player you hope gradually improves with the bat.

Nats Comparison: Alcides Escobar

Mitchell Parker.jpeg

22. Mitchell Parker

Position
Affiliate
Acquired
Lefty Starter
Rochester (AAA)
2020 Draft, Round 5 (No. 153 Overall)

Pros: Parker has been one of the Nats' most overpowering starters in the minors over the past couple seasons, blowing away batters with a sneaky fastball that plays better than the radar gun suggests. He's a slightly lesser version of DJ Herz.

Cons: Despite some exciting 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

Andry Lara.jpeg

23. Andry Lara

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

Pros: The Nats' top international signing in 2019, Lara has the requisite stuff to develop into a back-rotation starter in the future. Lara has solid stuff, enough to be a big leaguer with refinement. It's not an exciting pitch mix, but usable. 

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 and his stock definitely tumbled in 2023. 

Nats Comparison: Livan Hernandez

jeremy de la rosa.jpeg

24. 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 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. His struggles continued early in 2023 though he does still flash serious talent. He strikes out way too much. He probably is not consistent enough to be more than a backup outfielder.

Nats Comparison: Roger Bernadina

Jorgelys Mota.jpeg

25. Jorgelys Mota

Position
Affiliate
Acquired
Infielder
Fredericksburg (A)
2022 International Signing ($250K)

Pros: Mota's signing didn't garner much attention in January 2022 considering most of Washington's international budget went to Cristian Vaquero for $5 million. But Mota has done nothing but perform at a really young age for the levels at which he's played. Mota, who mostly plays third base for now, won't turn 19 until mid-2024, so the fact that he has already advanced to full-season ball is very exciting. 

Cons: Mota is a raw defensively and is so young it's hard to know how he will profile defensively, long term. He struck out a lot, but so would most players his age relative to the level. He's still somewhat of a mystery and he very well could fizzle out at some point.

Nats Comparison: Wilmer Difo

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