Nationals Arm Race

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

Prospects361 Releases its Nats top 15 Prospect list


Cade Cavalli named #1 prospect in the system by Prospects3 61. Photo via Lookout Landing blog

Though not a big name in the prospect ranking world, it is a ranking, so lets take a look. Prospect361’s Rich Wilson published his ranking of the top 15 Nats prospects for the 2021 season today.

Prospects361 is a fantasy-focused blog, and as a result the rankings skew towards a fantasy focus of players. Specifically, it caters to those in “dynasty leagues” who are trying to get a jump on the younger prospects in their upcoming keeper league drafts. Because of this fantasy focus, there’s an over-emphasis on specific kinds of players (home run hitters, shortstops and closers) and an under-emphasis on other kinds of players (non-closer relievers, non-power hitters, younger prospects, non-SS infielders).

So, take these rankings with a slight grain of salt. Here’s their top 15.

1 Cade Cavalli
2 Jackson Rutledge
3 Cole Henry
4 Tim Cate
5 Wil Crowe
6 Armando Cruz
7 Yasel Antuna
8 Drew Mendoza
9 Mason Denaburg
10 Andry Lara
11 Eddy Yean
12 Samuel Infante
13 Holden Powell
14 Telmito Agustin
15 Seth Romero

Thoughts in rough order.

  • They pick #1 Cavalli over #2 Rutledge, as Baseball America has done. Other pundits have them reversed, such as MLBPipeline and (for the time being anyway) Fangraphs. On BA’s podcast on their release of the Nats top 10 with Lacy Lusk, he talked about how he really thought these two guys were 1 and 1a, and that there was a distinct gap between these two players and the #3 prospect on his list (also Cole Henry). He picked Cavalli though because of the overall package there now and the ceiling.
  • This ranking is super high on #4 Tim Cate, described as a pitch-ability lefty who could be like a 4th starter/Andy Pettitte kind of guy. So most other shops would have him lower.
  • He has stayed high on #5 Wil Crowe even after his disastrous debut. Honestly, i’m concerned about Crowe. His velocity was really average in his limited experiences: 92 fastball/sinker, 85 curve, 80 change, none of them with positive value. His strength is spin rate, which presumably makes his ball have better movement … but it wasn’t seen in his debut. If he can’t cut it as an effective starter, I don’t think he has any value as a middle reliever at a time when everyone starts at 95mph. I’m lower on Crowe than #5.
  • #6 Armando Cruz: who is Armando Cruz you ask? Great question, I did not know either. As it turns out, the July 2 international free agent signing deadline for 2020 got pushed to January 15th 2021, and Cruz is thought to be a guaranteed Washington National signee. Not only that, but Cruz is considered one of the absolute best players in the class, worthy of a huge $4M signing bonus. This would be the most money the team has ever spent for an IFA (Antuna got $3.9M as a 16yr old, and technically Yunesky Maya got a 4yr/$8M MLB contract that didn’t include a signing bonus like amateurs get), and I cannot remember the Nats ever being associated with such a highly ranked DR 16-yr old prospect (who normally go to the “famous” teams like the Yankees or Dodgers). Anyway; ranking this guy seems premature since he hasn’t technically signed, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see him given top-10 status as soon as he does. Even having him at #6 had he already signed would be pretty speculative; i don’t really like to even consider players until they’ve got domestic playing time.
  • They’re kind of middle of the road on #7 Yasel Antuna; BA was really bullish, most others now have him outside the top 10.
  • They’re lower on two younger Dominican arms Eddy Yean and Andry Lara for obvious reasons: they’re young, they’re arms, and they’re unproven.
  • They’re way, way high on Holden Powell, for fantasy reasons (as in, he’s a closer).
  • Lastly, they’re down on Seth Romero, interestingly, since Romero now projects with pretty similar stuff and results as Crowe.

Written by Todd Boss

December 11th, 2020 at 2:44 pm

Posted in Nats in General

14 Responses to 'Prospects361 Releases its Nats top 15 Prospect list'

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  1. To each their own, and I know we are all starved for news of any kind during this dark, bitter winter — but I tend to discount these fantasy-oriented analyses and rankings. I mean, Powell over Adon or Pineda is looney tunes, except that closers are more valuable in fantasy than back-end starters or backup catchers. And Telmito Agustin? There’s a guy I haven’t thought about in a hot second.


    11 Dec 20 at 8:44 pm

  2. Yes, I nearly fell off my chair when I saw Agustin. No offense to the (no-longer) kid, but it’s mind-boggling to think that anyone would believe that he might ever have fantasy value. There are plenty of other quibbles that could be quibbled, but listing Agustin throws the credibility of the whole thing out the window. Agustin over de la Rosa, who they had in the big-league alt-camp last summer and who is five years younger? Really? I say that as someone who doesn’t quite believe the de la Rosa hype train yet, but it’s pretty clear who the team thinks is on the express line and who it doesn’t.

    Also, Cruz hasn’t even signed yet. Yes, there’s a fair amount of hype, supposed to be one of the top five Latin players in this class. Still very young and very skinny. More of a slick fielder right now than anything else.


    11 Dec 20 at 11:05 pm

  3. Yeah, every once in a while I’ll see a prospect ranking like this that’s just way out of left field. I still track it because, well hey its still a list. πŸ™‚ I forgot to mention the omission of DLR.

    Todd Boss

    12 Dec 20 at 11:30 am

  4. Agreed. To paraphrase Monty Python, the only thing worse than a bad list is to not have any list at all.

    Things are so slow that thankfully we get to meet Armando Cruz.
    I do have one question; is Denaburg going to actually going to pitch next year?

    Mark L

    14 Dec 20 at 8:08 am

  5. Denaburg pitching; lets hope so!

    Denaburg’s struggles lead me to a fun topic. Who is our best ever HS draftee? I may put this into a blog post for the fun of it.

    Todd Boss

    14 Dec 20 at 9:45 am

  6. The Nats’ best HS draftee ever was Marcus Stroman . . . after he went to college and signed with the Jays. Otherwise, the bar is pretty low: Souza, Taylor, Norris, . . . Bryce was HS age but had already played JUCO.


    14 Dec 20 at 2:47 pm

  7. Has to be Giolito, right?


    14 Dec 20 at 10:48 pm

  8. Well, if you’re counting the Nats’ best HS pick for someone else . . .

    Of course Souza would be on that list, as he only had a diving cup of coffee with the Nats. Giolito, Souza, and Luzardo, although all of those guys brought back significant pieces of the championship run.

    Of course they’re still hoping that they get something significant out of high schoolers Kieboom and Denaburg.


    15 Dec 20 at 7:31 am

  9. Does Desmond not count b/c he was part of the Expos last draft?


    15 Dec 20 at 11:46 am

  10. I forgot about Desi. I guess he was probably the most-successful-with-the-Nats HS draftee.

    Speaking of Giolito, I saw something recently that said it was his old high school coach who finally got him straightened out, something all the pitching coaches in the Nat and Chisox organizations couldn’t do.


    15 Dec 20 at 1:08 pm

  11. I’ll publish my findings. I did not count Stroman or Desmond (2004) or Harper (juco).

    Todd Boss

    15 Dec 20 at 1:24 pm

  12. Back at the 2021 ranch, where there’s a whole lotta holes to fill, we’re midway through December, and we have, um, Sam Clay, Luis Avilan, Yasmany Tomas, Rogelio Armenteros, and the re-signing of Josh Harrison. Harrison may be the only one of those who figures in the 25-man, although I have noted that Tomas has a solid platoon split against LHP. In short, though, the Nats have essentially done nothing.

    That said, about the only higher-caliber players of note to sign thus far have been Morton and McCann (and it may be stretching it to include a career backup in that pairing). There have been some interesting overpays for Smyly, Eaton, Ray, May, and possibly McCann and Santana. That’s completely it, though. Once you get past those guys, you’re down to the $3M reclamation projects with Renfroe and Dahl. (I sure thought Eaton would be considered a $3M reclamation project as well.)

    The $64M question, though, is how many teams are actually spending. Clearly, all are (collusively) waiting for the prices to come down. But I think some players and agents are deluding themselves about what the actual market is.

    All of that said, I sure wish the Nats would go on and sign a backup catcher and reserve OF type. Get your pick of the litter now. Even if they were to get into the Realmuto sweepstakes later, they could trade said catcher later.


    15 Dec 20 at 2:23 pm

  13. KW, you’re right. This has been a disconcerting 6 weeks. Lots of holes and 6 spots available and nothing.

    Mark L

    15 Dec 20 at 3:10 pm

  14. I don’t mind the patience. This management has made more good moves from offseason patience than good moves from offseason impatience.

    If they have a flexible target list and price point, they are approaching it no differently from how you would bid on multiple houses of interest based on your budget.

    Whom have they really missed out on? McAnn? Adam Eaton? Trevor May? Drew Smyly? Naah.

    Patience grasshopper


    15 Dec 20 at 9:08 pm

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