Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

Archive for March, 2024

Opening Day Starting Pitchers Trivia for 2024


Grey gets the opening day nod for the Nats in 2024. Photo via WP

I have somewhat of an obsession with Opening Day Starters, and have tracked them on a spreadsheet for, well, for a long time. 20 plus years. I also love Opening Day Starter Trivia, which we’ll cover here in a moment.

Now that the 2024 Opening Day is past us, and I’ve updated the XLS for this year’s starters and done some housecleaning of now-retired starters, here’s some useless Opening day starter trivia for you.

My Opening Day Starter XLS is uploaded here to Google Sheets. It is also worth noting that Baseball Reference of course maintains similar information. Here for example is the canonical opening day list of lineups (pitchers and players) for the Washington Nationals franchise. And here’s the list of all 30 teams’ opening day lineups for the 2024 season, with similar data for all past seasons). I can’t quite find a similar resource to just the starters across all 30 teams, but I’m sure it’s there somewhere.

Ok, that being said, here’s some useless trivia related to Opening Day Starters:

  • First time Opening Day Starters for 2024: 14 of the 30, including our own Josiah Grey who takes over for Corbin, who had done the past couple. This number is down from last year’s 9 first timers, which was the lowest I had on record going back a decade. This number was artificially inflated a bit over what was expected due to spring training injuries to presumed opening day starters for teams like Aaron Nola, Gerrit Cole, and Sandy Alcantara.
  • Current active Leader of Opening Day Starts: Justin Verlander, with 12. He did 9 in Detroit, then another 3 in Houston. Others in the conversation are Kershaw (9), Scherzer (7), Julio Teheran (6), and Nola with 6 (see next)
  • Current Active Consecutive streak: Bieber in Cleveland with 5 consecutive opening day starts. Nola was the previous holder at 6 straight.
  • Current Leader of Consecutive Opening Day Starts: both Verlander and Kershaw at one point made 7 straight opening day starts for their teams, and are the current leaders in that category.

Historical records:

  • Most Opening Day Starts in History: Tom Seaver (16).  Tied for 2nd place with 14 is Jack Morris, Randy Johnson, Steve Carlton, Walter Johnson
  • Most Consecutive Opening Day Starts in History Jack Morris; all 14 of his starts were in a row, Mr. Durability.

Lastly, here’s some interesting team observations

  • Washington went a decade with just two different pitchers (Scherzer or Strasburg) doing the duty.
  • Texas, your defending WS champs: 8 different opening day starters in the last 8 years. And it’s even crazier than that: They’ve had 15 different opening day starters in the last 16 seasons, dating to 2009! Only one guy has repeated: Cole Hamels in 2016 and 2018. That’s amazing, that Texas basically hasn’t had a long-term Ace on their staff for nearly 2 decades.
  • Los Angeles Dodgers, despite being probably the league’s best team over the past decade or so, has had 6 different guys make their last 6 opening day starts, them the least consistent of any team. Interesting.
  • Other teams who have not really been able to find a consistent starter: Cincinnati: 5 straight different opening day starters. NY Mets: 4 straight different opening day starters. Baltimore: 8 different starters in the last 9 years. Tampa: 6 new in last 7 years. Angels: 7 new in last 8 years.

Written by Todd Boss

March 29th, 2024 at 2:37 pm

Posted in Majors Pitching

Spring Training 2024 NRI Disposition


Derek Law was with us so briefly i couldn’t find a picture of him in a nats uniform. Photo via

In an annual tradition that, unfortunately for the likely record of the team, seems to be pretty popular with the current incarnation of the Nationals, as we approach the end of spring training its time to start naming Non Roster Invitees (NRIs) to the 40-man/26-man active roster because they’ve made the team. This post continues the tradition of looking at the NRIs the team had this year and talking about how they fared.

Here’s past posts on the same topic by year: 2023, 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015.

So, who were the NRIs this year? We actually didn’t have that many, initially announcing on 2/15/24 a list of just 11 players (as compared to the cattle calls of 30+ NRIs of years’ past). Now, eventually we added a few others of note, as we always do throughout the spring, and apologies if i missed some (I’m not counting the slew of minor leaguers that were temporarily ‘assigned to Washington’ as NRIs), but here was the list of NRIs all told.

By position:

  • Starters: Davies
  • Righty Relievers: Bleier, Gsellman, J.Barnes, M.Barnes, Law, Perdomo
  • Lefty Relievers: La Sorsa
  • Catchers: Lindsley, Pineda
  • Infielders: Yepez, Baker, Diaz, House, Lipscomb
  • Outfielders: Crews, Wood, Hassell, Rutherford, Winker, Rosario, Blankenhorn,

When the Nats announced the 26-man opening day roster, we had a slew of NRIs who made the team.. Here’s the 2024 Opening day NRIs to make roster and the circumstances behind each:

  • Matt Barnes: Signed on 2/17/24, just after the initial Nats announcement, and who outpitched some other Nats relievers during spring and made the team. He was Boston’s closer in 2021, but now will slot in as a 6th/7th inning guy. Not a bad pedigree to have, and could be useful if he can keep his ERA down as a trade piece mid-season.
  • Eddie Rosario earned a spot on the team ahead of Call and Young, somewhat surprisingly, and gets a chance to rebound a little bit. He was basically a starter for Atlanta last year and wasn’t bad; 100 ops figure and 20 homers for a playoff team. How was he a MLFA? crazy. Anyway, he’ll slot in as starting LF, while Young returns to AAA despite his performance last year. Call rockets to the top of my “next guy to get cut” list, now that he’s seemingly 7th out of 7 outfielders on the 40-man with a slew of OF prospects rising fast.
  • Jesse Winker was an all star two years ago when he put up a scathing 143 OPS season, can play a little RF, and probably mixes in with Meneses into the DH. He’s all lefty. I wonder who actually starts between him and Rosario; Winker has better up-side and is younger, but Rosario was better in 2023.
  • Derek Law won the last bullpen spot, beating out a couple of other of NRIs and some of our bullpen holdovers from 2023.

Now for some discussion on a few of the players who did NOT make the team as NRIs ( by category)

  • Starters: Davies: was given full opportunity to go head to head with Trevor Williams for the 5th starter spot and did not earn it. Released on 3/22/24 with a few days to go in Spring when it became clear.
  • Righty Relievers: some of the veteran FA MLFAs/NRIs like Perdomo, Bleier, Gsellman, and Jacob Barnes competed and lost out to others. Perdomo was released on 3/24/24, probably because he was going to refuse the AAA assignment. The others remain to be seen whether or not they take the assignment to AAA. Jacob Barnes in particular pitched really well, but seems to have lost out in a h2h competition with Matt Barnes (no relation).
  • Lefty Relievers: La Sorsa was probably never really in the mix to beat out Robert Garcia, but when Ferrer hurt his back the chance was there. We picked him up on Waivers last year and he’s likely to be a solid option in 2024.
  • Catchers: neither LIndsley or Pineda were really in the mix to make the team, especially Pineda, who we just snuck through waivers and now can keep off the 40-man but in the system. You always need extra catchers in spring training.
  • Infielders: House the obvious top-end prospect, but the Nats MO isn’t to give opening day spots to these guys when you can bury them for a little while to get a year. Repeat this for Wood and Hassell later on. Baker and Lipscomb are lesser heralded prospects, but both seem like they’ve got a future with this team. Lipscomb was the last guy cut, really pushing for a spot at the expense of Rule5 guy Nunez, or maybe even the lackadasical Luis Garcia. So you can put Lipscomb on the short list of guys who are probably coming up soon. Yepez and Diaz were in the category of “big bats off the bench” competition and seem to have lost out to the likes of Rosario and Winker here.
  • Prospects Wood and Hassell probably up to get reps with their very-soon-to-be future teammates. Blankenhorn and Rutherford both hit well last year and re-signed; they’re good corner 1B/LF/DH type reserves to have in AAA.

Which of the rest of the NRIs might we see this year? We probably will see some of the RH relievers who stick around, its likely we get MLB debuts in 2024 from Crews, Wood, Lipscomb, maybe Baker.

Written by Todd Boss

March 27th, 2024 at 9:19 am

Posted in Nats in General

Final QO Free Agent signs, 2024 Draft Order finalized


Super agent Scott Boras seems to have over-played his hand with his stable of FAs this off-season, leaving them with shorter deals, less guaranteed money, and far too little spring training to get ready. Photo via LA Times.

If you had March 18th for a two-time Cy Young award-winning free agent to sign, then you won the Scott Boras 2024 off-season bingo game. Blake Snell, who had this stat line last year as a 30yr old: 14-9, 2.25 ERA, 1.189 whip, 234/99 K/BB in 180 innings/32 starts, finally signed just a couple weeks before the season starts, virtually guaranteeing that he misses time for his new club San Francisco. He gets a handsome pay day for 2024 on a short-term gig (2yrs/$62M) but fails to secure the long-term deal that he probably expected coming off a Cy Young winning age-30 season, and probably heads back into FA next off-season w/o the qualifying offer dragging him down.

This is a two-part post. One briefly about the draft, then one about the QO in general.

2024 Draft Order. With Snell’s signing, the 2024 draft order is (finally) finalized. The Giants give up a 3rd rounder to sign Snell, and with it barring any additional last minute penalties we know how things are going. Here’s a link to the 2024 Draft order worksheet (with sources and past years all in the same place), showing the original order and how the various teams picked up or lost picks. Quick summary of movement:

  • Arizona, Baltimore: got supp-1st picks for having top-performing rookies
  • Minnesota, Los Angeles Angels, Toronto, and Sandiego: picked up picks at various points for losing QO-attached FAs.
  • St Louis, San Francisco, Los Angeles Dodgers, Houston: lost picks for signing the same QO-affiliated guys.

The Nats started with the #10 overall, then #48, #88, #118, #148 and so on. After all the movement, we now sit with #10, #44, #79, #108, #140, #169, #199 and so on. So we improved 4 spots in our 2nd rounder, 9 spots for our third rounder, 10 spots for the 4th rounder, and 9 spots for each round going forward.

Qualifying Offer recap for 2023 off-season

Ever since the Qualifying Offer system was introduced in 2012, i’ve hyper-tracked the players who have gotten tagged with them to gauge impact to their free agency. Here’s a Link to my Qualifying Offer Tracking xls. This past off season saw a massive drop in spending from teams, as typical big-money spenders sat out the off-season, were already maxed out and sitting at luxury tax penalties, or had serious revenue concerns with all the RSN issues we’ve been having. However, we also saw that Boras’ three QO-tagged agents sit and wait for months into the off-season before signing.

  • Cody Bellinger: didn’t sign until 2/24 for 3yrs/$80M
  • Matt Chapman: didn’t sign until 3/3 for 3yrs/$54M
  • Snell as discussed; didn’t sign until 3/18 for 2yrs/$62M

As others have pointed out, that’s less guaranteed money for those three guys than some guys got by themselves this off-season. None of them get the kind of 9-figure career-setting payday they probably wanted, but at least all three get opt-outs in case they blow up 2024 to try it again.

Snell therefore is the first QO-assigned player who I think was really hampered by the tag in years. When it first came out, several mid-level free agents took the QO confidently thinking they’d get t heir money like they always did, and got hurt by it. In fact, probably the worst example of the QO screwing a player involved one of our own, Ian Desmond, who declined a 1yr $15.8M deal but couldn’t find anything on the market and ended up taking a 1yr $8M deal three weeks into spring training that year. Now, Desmond eventually got paid by Colorado in a weird contract that turned out to be awful for the team, and of course all these guys are millionaires, so i’m not crying too much for them, but this analysis is more about players getting (or not getting) their worth.

The two sides had their chance to get rid of the QO, but bailed on it in the last CBA negotiations because the owners tied an International Draft to it, which is kind of ridiculous on both sides. QOs impact just a handful of the 1200 union members every year … and owners are just being stupidly short-sighted if they demand an international draft so that they can save a couple million dollars a year. But that’s a topic for another day.

At least these QO Boras clients can go into next off-season knowing they can’t get the offer again, which will free up their markets considerably.

Written by Todd Boss

March 19th, 2024 at 11:32 am

Your 2024 AAA Rotation Revealed Early?


Thaddeus Ward should get stretched out in Rochester this year. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

On March 11th, all on the same day, the Nats optioned the following arms to AAA:

  • Cole Henry
  • Mitchell Parker
  • DJ Herz
  • Thaddeus Ward
  • Joan Adon

If this was a Jeopardy answer, the question would be, “What is, the Rochester 2024 opening day rotation for $100, Alex?”

(Note: Adon’s option confirmed his previously unknown “4th option,” given for reasons unknown. Maybe its because he was so young when added. He doesn’t seem to have missed enough time in any season since he got added in Nob 2020 to qualify per the previously understood rules. Beats me. It works to our favor absolutely, in that we get one more season to see if he can turn into something useful).

Now, odds are that at least one or two more starters will be joining the party in AAA, including one Jackson Rutledge, which would push one of these guys out, presuming Rochester is doing a 5-man rotation. The only other 40-man starters still on the active spring training MLB roster (Strasburg and Cavalli) both should be getting sent to the 60-day DL soon.

Plus, we still have two veteran NRI MLFAs in camp in Spencer Watkins and Zach Davies who could stick around, but neither of these guys are going to supplant the progress of the above five arms. My guess would be that the team retains one of Watkins or Davies, pushes Ward and Henry to AA as starters, then your AAA rotation is Parker, Herz, Adon, Rutledge and Watkins/Davies.

Of course, this also overloads AA, who (according to big board right now) already has 4 starters in Luckham, Saenz, Alvarez, and Cuevas. So we’ll see.

More to the point, for the first time in a while the AAA rotation looks like it’s mostly home-grown, actual prospects instead of being filled with 30-something MLFAs. Here’s a quick look going backwards a few years at the opening day AAA rotations:

  • 2023: Adon, Irvin, Espino, Abbott, Peralta; That’s 2 prospects, two MLFAs/Waiver claims, and one org guy
  • 2022: Tetreault, Sanchez, Cavalli, Reyes, JRodriguez. That’s one prospect, one rehab guy, and three org guys.
  • 2021: Nolin, Fuentes, Braymer, JRodriguez, Armenteros: that’s three org guys and two MLFAs.
  • 2020: Covid
  • 2019: McGowin, Copeland, Voth, Espino, Dragmire: that’s one prospect, one org guy, and three MLFAs.
  • 2018: Voth, Milone*, Fedde, EJackson, Vargas: that’s 3 prospects and two MLFAs.
  • 2017: JRoss, Turner, THill, Voth, Cole: finally back to a time when we had mostly prospects: this is 4 prospects and one MLFA in Turner.

We’ll see what 2024 starts with but it could be 4 prospects and a MLFA, or possibly even 5 prospects. And with the planned rise of AA’s stars to AAA this year, we’re not dependent on a gazillion retreads to fill the field either.

Written by Todd Boss

March 15th, 2024 at 11:43 am

Nats 2024 Top 60 Prospect List from Nationals Arm Race


This is your pundit for today.

So, after a dozen posts reviewing other people’s Nats prospect lists, here’s me putting my money where my mouth is. For the first time ever, I offer to you my list of our top prospects.

I’m not just stopping at 10 (that’s easy), or even 30. I was going to publish 50, but found I had 10 “honorable mentions” so i went ahead and ranked them too. Here’s my top 60.

60 prospects is, well, its a lot. Teams can only have 165 total domestic (non DSL) players even rostered, so ranking 60 deep is really a large percentage of our entire minor league system. It includes nearly every starting position player in AA, High-A and Low-A and most of our starting pitchers at these levels.

My methodology: with the benefit of seeing how all the other scouting pundits have ranked these players, I tweaked my rankings per player up or down all spring. If I initially was way off on a guy, I’d use his scouting reports from MLB pipeline or Baseball America to get a fresh opinion. I use the Nats Big Board, which now has direct links to the stats page for every single player in our system to go eyeball stat lines and progression.

My approach to ranking prospects: I’m bearish on DSL players in general at this point; we’ve seen millions of dollars be spent on 16yr olds who went nowhere. I’m not impressed by guys who are already relievers in High-A. I’m skeptical on young arms until they actually do something and generally rank them lower. I probably give more credit than may be due to guys who are in AA or AAA but who don’t light up the stat line. I do have some favorites who I over-rate, like everyone. I try to be honest about that.

I have not seen all of these players in person. In fact, I have not seen most of them. I’m not a professional scout. I’m just a fan of the Nats and want to see these guys matriculate so we can start to win again. So, here goes.

Nationals Arm Race/Todd Boss top 60 Nats prospects for 2024:

NAR RankLast NameFirst NamePosition
1CrewsDylanOF (CF)
2WoodJamesOF (Corner)
4CavalliCadeRHP (Starter)
6Hassell IIIRobertOF (CF)
7LileDaylenOF (CF)
8GreenElijahOF (CF)
9VaqueroCristianOF (CF)
10HerzDJLHP (Starter)
11BennettJakeLHP (Starter)
12RutledgeJacksonRHP (Starter)
13YoungJacobOF (CF)
14SusanaJarlinRHP (Starter)
15SykoraTravisRHP (Starter)
16PinckneyAndrewOF (Corner)
18HenryColeRHP (Starter)
20LaraAndryRHP (Starter)
22De La RosaJeremyOF (Corner)
25QuintanaRoismarOF (CF)
26ParkerMitchellLHP (Starter)
28AlvarezAndrewLHP (Starter)
29SaenzDustinLHP (Starter)
32WhiteT.J.OF (Corner)
34RamirezAldoRHP (Starter)
35McKenzieJaredOF (CF)
36CuevasMichaelRHP (Starter)
37BrzykcyZachRHP (Reliever)
39AldonisPabloLHP (Starter)
40YoungLukeRHP (Starter)
41SchoffTylerRHP (Reliever)
44ShumanSethRHP (Starter)
45TheophileRodneyRHP (Starter)
47LuckhamKyleRHP (Starter)
51GuaschRichardRHP (Reliever)
53KnowlesLucasLHP (Reliever)
54CroninMattLHP (Reliever)
55AgostiniGabrielLHP (Reliever)
59ThomasJohnathanOF (CF)
60CoxBrennerOF (CF)

Ok. here’s some thoughts going through to walk you through how I ended up with these guys where they are. This is going to be really, really long analysis, as I try to really capture why I put each guy in each spot. So, strap in.

  • Same top 4 as everyone else. Yes, I think Crews > Langford 🙂
  • I’ve got Morales at #5. Is it good to have two top-end 3B prospects? Both he and House are basically the same size (6’4″ and between 210-225). Both are big enough to slide to 1B and be a pretty good defensive player there. Both he and House have identical defensive grades (60 arm, 50 field), both were oversized SS in high school. Could one or the other be a 6’4″ second baseman? I can’t really find too much evidence of 2B that big, even though we have plenty of taller SS these days (Tulowitzki, Seager, Ripken, and A-Rod were all 6-3 or 6’4). I suppose this is a good problem to have, having two potentially solid 3B racing to get to the majors first. The scouting report does note that the Nats played Morales some at 1B this year, probably tipping their hand as to where he’ll play if House owns the position as we expect he’ll do. There’s also always the DH spot but that’d be a waste for a decent fielder, which he seems to be.
  • From #6 to #9 I have four straight Center Fielders. I have Hassell over Lile, despite the multiple conversations we’ve had about the topic. They’re really close, but I’m skeptical about Lile’s size and his ability to stay in CF. I do believe Hassell will return to form after the hamate bone bugged him for a big chunk of 2023. I’m also now skeptical about Lile’s durability; a TJ and now a potential back issue on his resume will hamper his development. Not his fault, but that’s the breaks.
  • I have Green #8; he started at #5 for me this offseason, but discussion and other shops have convinced me to drop him based on swing and miss concerns. Yes, I know the team is messing with his swing, and I have not lost faith. Maybe he’ll blow up in 2024, jump two levels, and suddenly he’s in the top 50 for the entire league. It isn’t often you see a guy with his combination of tools (60 power and 70 run? That’s like Willie Mays tools)
  • Vaquero? I mean, he’s basically a high school grad last year hitting .197 in Low-A; can’t fault that. But i’m starting to get the opinion that he’s in the top 10 on the basis of his signing bonus ($4.9M) more than his skills or capabilities. MLB pipeline scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 55 | Run: 70 | Arm: 55 | Field: 55 | Overall: 45. Compare that to Green: Hit: 40 | Power: 60 | Run: 70 | Arm: 60 | Field: 60 | Overall: 50.
  • #10 through #12 I’ve got three straight starters. I went Herz, then Bennett, then Rutledge. Herz is a lefty who just dominated AA at the age of 23 and could very well replace Corbin as the token lefty 4th starter in our rotation. You could make an argument that Bennett should be a little lower; he’s missing all of 2024 with TJ and he (at the same age as Herz) couldn’t get guys out in High-A, but his ranking is consistent with his pedigree and other shops, so we’ll go with it. Rutledge i’ve historically been down on, but you can’t argue with his 2023. Can he succeed in the majors? Jury is out; he has four pitches, two of them plus, which usually screams reliever. If he goes to AAA and makes either his change or his curve more useful, then he’s got something to keep MLB hitters at bay as a 5th starter to start. That’s the hope.
  • Young at #13: I’m higher on him than anyone else besides Ghost. Call me crazy, but if you push your way up 3 levels AND you don’t hit .180 in your MLB debut, i’m sold. If we didn’t have Robles on the hook for multiple millions and a hope that he’ll be a trade candidate in July, i’d say go with Young on opening day. But, i’d rather see him start and play in AAA unless there’s an injury or one of our presumed starters (Garrett?) isn’t ready to answer the bell. You tell me: i’m sure Young would rather ride the pine in the majors collecting a salary instead of riding the buses in AAA and playing in 30 degrees all April. Young at #13 is actuals over potential analysis. I think a guy like Young doesn’t get prospect love b/c he projects as a 4th outfielder. Well, at least he’s made it to the show; that’s worth more than the guy who is 25 in High-A who also projects as a 4th outfielder.
  • I’ve got Susana and Sykora 14/15, thinking right now they’re basically the same guy; 18-19yr old with big arm and shiny scouting report. I’m lower on these guys than probably anyone else (McDaniel had Susana #5 of all things), but i’ve just completely worn out any confidence that any prep pitcher ever pans out for us. I hope i’m wrong; i hope these guys rocket up the system and turn into the next coming of Doc Gooden. But their wash out rate is so high its hard to be confident.
  • I probably begrudgingly have Pinckney at #16, and started with him much lower. He was an under-slot senior sign last year who went 102nd overall. Is it possible every team in the league who passed on him three times just missed on a bargain? Something tells me he’ll plateau and wash out before he gets to AAA. Baseball Prospectus had him ranked 9th, by way of comparison. SSS: he has looked relatively overmatched in limited ST at-bats.
  • Lipscomb quietly at #17, despite solid production since the moment he was drafted. He’s an NRI this spring and he was hitting well while playing multiple infield positions. I mean, is this guy our starting 2B of the future? He exuded confidence on the field in AA, clearly a team leader for that squad of top-end prospects.
  • Henry at #18: this is kind of splitting the difference between a complete TOS wash-out and remaining hopeful he returns to form. Remember, this guy used to be ranked as high as our #2 prospect just a couple years ago. He may be a long-shot to turn into the #2 starter projection he used to be, and maybe his worst case is a top-quality back of the bullpen guy (alongside Rutledge?). The big test is past; his velocity is all the way back post TOS, so now its just refinement.
  • Nunez at #19: another one I could argue two different ways. He seems to be 100% glove without much in the way of a bat. Well, we’re about to find out since the rule5 draftee seems set to be one of the two utility infielders on the big club all year. Can he actually hit? Is 19 too high? could be. A brief ST glimpse shows he’s really, really tiny. Like, he looks like your kid brother put on your uniform and hit the field. Good glove though, and has made some solid contact.
  • Andry Lara at #20. Here’s the first place where we see a major deviation between the other shops. Lara has some of the easiest velocity out there. He’s always been young for the level, and even though he was in High-A rotation all year he was just 20. His monthly splits show he finished well … even if he was only pitching 4 innings a start. I’d like to see him pitch deeper into games, turn lineups over a third time maybe, and dominate Wilmington for a couple more months before coming up to AA. But if he’s 21 and holding his own in AA, that’s better than a #20 prospect. MLB didn’t even have him in their top 30, which I think is a mistake. Nats: PLEASE don’t shove him to AA; let him get stretched out and succeed in High-A for a couple months.
  • Kevin Made: no idea what we have with him. Law ranked him #9 (!), Ghost didn’t even have him in his top 30. So there’s huge variation here. But he’s super small (just 5’9″) without any power projection. So he’s going to have to be a high OBP plus defender type to make it, and he’s got work to do.
  • De La Rosa at 22 and Quintana at 25 are kind of the same analysis: they’re both relatively young IFAs with decent but not flashy numbers and are corner OFs. Quintana is lesser regarded and didn’t even make MLB’s top 30, but I’ve got him mid 20s for a reason; he’s got some pop and could be a sneaky riser in the system.
  • Hurtado, our big money 2024 IFA signing, slotted in at #23 (Our other top ranked/big money 2024 IFA signing Feliz comes in at #30). That’s well below anyone else who actually included 2024 signees in their lists, and he’s this low because i’m cynical about the capabilities of these guys til we see them.
  • Catchers: I’ve got Millas at #24, Pineda at #33. Is Millas even a prospect anymore? He just turned 26, has been in the system for years. He’s never projecting to be anything other than a backup Catcher. Pineda i’m including as eligible by lack of ABs and not looking at service time manipulation. He’s 3 years younger and had really done well in AA a couple years ago as a 21yr old, but took a step back this year. I think Pineda has a chance to still be a “prospect” but can he supplant Riley Adams? Seems doubtful. I hope Pineda rebounds this year and gives the team some options in case we suffer a Catcher injury in the Bigs.
  • Parker at #26: I like this guy and think he should be higher. But scouts seem doubtful that his stuff will play at higher levels. We’ll see now that he’s on the 40-man. I saw him pitch for AA and was impressed. He’s been solid at every level he’s pitched; he just keeps moving up and moving on.
  • Baker at #27: the definition of a guy who has no flashy tools but probably ends up with a decent MLB career as a career utility backup guy. And the way that Garcia looks this spring, it may not even be that far off. If Garcia can’t hit, and continues to be such a defensive liability, the team may cut bait and try someone else.
  • Andrew Alvarez at #28. Our 2023 minor league pitcher of the year ended the year in the AA rotation after cruising in High-A all year. I’m one of the few to even mention the guy; the only other shop to list him is BA at #30. Not even Prospects1500, which spent most of its 40-50 range guys listing 16 yr olds who hit .150 in the DSL after signing for $5 grand didn’t list him.
  • Saenz at #29. Honestly he should be higher. 3.43 ERA in a full season starting in AA. Problem is, he doesn’t light up the scoreboard, so nobody thinks he’s a prospect. But he’s a lefty, like Alvarez, and you don’t have to throw mid-90s to be an effective lefty in the majors.

So, that’s the top 30 with discussions on nearly every guy. We still have 30 to go. I’ll kind of do short comments on random players the rest of the way out so this isn’t 5,000 words.

  • TJ White at #32: I’m not as bullish as Ghost (who had him at #19); i just want to see him rebound.
  • Aldo Ramirez at #34: this guy used to be a top 10 prospect; he should be higher and could jump 20 spots in a season if he can show he’s healthy. Lets hope so; our SP prospect depth is shaky.
  • Cuevas at #36: ok the guy is 22 and spent the whole season in the AA rotation. Even if he wasn’t great, that’s one of the youngest guys in the league. If he had an era in the 3s he may be a near top 10 prospect. Maybe he should be higher.
  • Brzycky at #37: this is as high as I’m willing to go for a reliever. I don’t care how good he is. There’s a couple more relievers on the list, but i’m a follower of the adage that you can find relievers from your failed starters.
  • Infante at #38: hopefully this is the last of our long-line of failed 2nd round draft picks.
  • Schoff at #41 kind of quietly has made his way to AAA as a reliever only guy from the start.
  • Seth Shuman should be higher. But he’s now 26 and he missed all of last year with injury. He has a career minor league ERA of 3.28. He’s just lost so much development time.
  • Jordy Barley seems like he should be higher; he’s the starting SS in AAA at 24 and was a mid 20s prospect a couple years ago. But this year i’m the sole person to list him anywhere.
  • Will Frizzell at #48 may be too high. I think he’s a lingering prospect due to a good season a couple years ago.
  • Andy Acevedo at #49 is here solely because the team gave him $1.3M last year. Same with Solano at #57. These are guys who got a ton of money and hit in the mid .150s last year but who will be kicking around the system for years thanks to their signing bonus “investments.”
  • Suggs at #50 is the sole other catcher on this list. That’s crazy; we have zero catching depth.
  • Lucas Knowles; all he did was worm his way up to AAA as a rubber armed lefty reliever. Lots of value there if he can sling it and get people out. But does this kind of guy play in the majors? I feel like there’s a “minor league type” of arm who every team in High-A and AA loves, who can gets guys out when the starter blows up and keeps teams in games, but never gets any prospect love and has little shot of ever making it.
  • Cronin at #54: man what happened to this guy? On the 40-man, then pitched so badly that he got outrighted and then pitched even worse. Kind of like Evan Lee a couple years ago, who has regressed so badly he’s not even in the top 60.
  • Elian Soto is ranked solely because of who his brother is.
  • Carlos Batista at #58 is the sole hitter from the 2023 IFA who even had something close to a respectable batting line in DSL last year. Doesn’t make him a prospect; it makes him the shiniest egg of a bunch of rotten eggs.
  • Brenner Cox finishes it out at #60. He’s looked overmatched from the moment the team signed him. Probably should have gone to college.

Who did I miss?

  • Prospects1500 listed a whole bunch of 23IFAs in its 40-50 range; none of them are better than the relative journeymen we have in our 50-60 range even.
  • A couple of 2023 upper teen picks Liam Sullivan and Nick Peoples got some prospect mention elsewhere; i wasn’t impressed.
  • Tim Cate is still in the system. Not even in the top 60.
  • Brandon Boissiere; i used to like this guy, but he’s struggling to hold on to a job.
  • Holden Powell: man, hard to believe he was a 3rd rounder.

Phew. that was a lot. Thanks for reading and this probably concludes prospect season. I’ll recap Fangraphs whenever it comes out because I can’t help myself, but time to move forward.

Written by Todd Boss

March 11th, 2024 at 9:06 am

Posted in Prospects

MLB Pipeline Nats top 30 for 2024 review


Wood's blast was the highlight of the night for Harrisburg. Photo via milb
Wood has been tearing up spring training; could he actually make the team? Photo via

The last of the major pundits (that i’m waiting for, ahem Fangraphs) has dropped their Nats prospect rankings for the new season. Here’s a review of the MLBPipeline Nats top 30, done by MLB’s scouting pundits Jim Callis, Jonathan Mayo, and Sam Dykstra.

Here’s a list of all the ranking lists i’m aware of and/or have reviewed this spring so far, in order of their release (and if I reviewed them, a link to that recap):

Lastly, here’s a link to my Nationals Prospect Tracking XLS, which has all the above ranks, along with more than 230 historical rankings dating back to the very first Baseball America ranking in January of 2005 for the franchise just after moving here.

On with the review of MLB Pipeline. Here’s their top 30 in tabular format:

MLB rankLast NameFirst NamePosition
1CrewsDylanOF (CF)
2WoodJamesOF (Corner)
4CavalliCadeRHP (Starter)
6GreenElijahOF (CF)
7LileDaylenOF (CF)
8Hassell IIIRobertOF (CF)
9VaqueroCristianOF (CF)
10SusanaJarlinRHP (Starter)
11SykoraTravisRHP (Starter)
12HerzDJLHP (Starter)
14BennettJakeLHP (Starter)
15RutledgeJacksonRHP (Starter)
17PinckneyAndrewOF (Corner)
18YoungJacobOF (CF)
21BrzykcyZachRHP (Reliever)
22ParkerMitchellLHP (Starter)
25HenryColeRHP (Starter)
28De La RosaJeremyOF (Corner)
29SaenzDustinLHP (Starter)
30WhiteT.J.OF (Corner)

And here’s some thoughts.

  • This is probably the list that I most agree with so far. When I put this top 30 end to end against my list (which will be forthcoming soon) it’s pretty amazing how well it lines up.
  • Same Top 4 as nearly everyone else.
  • Morales seems to be settling in as the near consensus #5 prospect in the system.
  • I can’t argue with the set of players ranked 6th to 9th, all of whom are Center fielders. Green above Lile and Hassell kind of ignores his 2023 struggles a bit; I have him below Lile/Hassell. Vaquero at #9 seems pretty consistent; nearly every other pundit has him in the 7-9 range.
  • Comment on Lile: man I hope he’s ok and doesn’t have any long term damage.
  • Susana and Sykora 10-11: so now we’re starting to see a bit of the methodology that MLBPipeline adheres to; they’re a little heavy on ceiling and potential. This is probably why Green is higher than his actual on-field performance earns him right now. I like Susana and Sykora, but they’re both 19yrs old with mostly big fastballs and shiny scores on a scouting report.
  • The two 2024 IFAs come in: Hurtado at #13 and Feliz at #24. I think Hurtado is a bit high at 13, but a couple others had him in that range, so it isn’t egregious.
  • I’m a little higher on Young and Nunez than they are, but again its within the mid-teen range and splitting hairs to criticize that they’re ranked 18 and 19 instead of 13 and 14.
  • Brzycky at #21? Don’t get that one. An injured reliever ahead of a 40-man starter in Parker?
  • Kevin Made at #23 shows the drastic variations of opinion: they’re right in line with what BA said, but echelons below what guys like Law and McDaniel said.
  • Henry at #25 is pretty much low man amongst the professional pundits. Ghost had him at #30 for reasons he explained post review. They are not bullish on his return from TOS.
  • Can’t really complain about anyone in the 25-30 range.
  • TJ White is their biggest faller from last year, as noted in the writeup.

biggest misses?

  • Andry Lara; outside top 30. I’m not sure i agree with that, even with as much as I’ve criticized his placement.
  • Quintana out of top 30; not egregious, just noting that most shops have him in the 19-20 range.

Written by Todd Boss

March 4th, 2024 at 11:49 am

Posted in Prospects