Nationals Arm Race

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

Baseball America Handbook top 40 Reaction


Yasel Antuna continues to be a darling of the BA rankings. Photo via CurlyW blog

One of the biggest prospect evaluation shops has dropped its big publication; lets do a reaction to Baseball America’s handbook release and its ranking of our top 40 (!) prospects. I can’t recall the last time they extended out past 30, so bravo to them for doing a deep dive into a shallow pool of Nationals prospects.

Thanks to Luke Erickson over at for the data. See Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 for the full list of the 40 players. Here’s the full list in order 1-40:

RankLast NameFirst NamePositionYr/Acq
1RuizKeibertC2014 IFA
2CavalliCadeRHP (Starter)2020 1st
3HouseBradySS2021 1st
4AntunaYaselSS2016 IFA
5LaraAndryRHP (Starter)2019 IFA
6HenryColeRHP (Starter)2020 2nd
7AdonJoanRHP (Starter)2016 IFA
8CarrilloGerardoRHP (Starter)2016 IFA
9RutledgeJacksonRHP (Starter)2019 1st
10CruzArmandoSS2020 IFA
11ThompsonMasonRHP (Reliever)2016 3rd
12AdamsRileyC2017 3rd
13RamirezAldoRHP (Starter)2018 IFA
14De La RosaJeremyOF (Corner)2018 IFA
15CroninMattLHP (Reliever)2019 4th
16CluffJacksonSS2019 6th
17CaseyDonovanOF (Corner)2017 20th
18LileDaylenOF (CF)2021 2nd
19CateTimLHP (Starter)2018 2nd
20InfanteSamuelSS2020 2nd
21ParkerMitchellLHP (Starter)2020 5th
22LeeEvanLHP (Starter)2018 15th
23PinedaIsraelC2016 IFA
24MarteDanielOF (CF)2018 IFA
25QuintanaRoismarOF (CF)2019 IFA
26BarreraTresC2016 6th
27RomeroSethLHP (Starter)2017 1st
28DenaburgMasonRHP (Starter)2018 1st
29BarleyJordySS2016 IFA
30MillasDrewC2019 7th
31ShumanSethRHP (Starter)2019 6th
32MendozaDrew3B2019 3rd
33GuaschRichardRHP (Starter)2018 IFA
34WhiteT.J.OF (Corner)2021 5th
35BoissiereBrandenOF (Corner)2021 3rd
36PetersonToddRHP (starter)2019 7th
37BrzykcyZachRHP (Reliever)2020 NDFA
38MendezRicardoOF (CF)2016 IFA
39SaenzDustinLHP (Starter)2021 4th
40PowellHoldenRHP (Reliever)2020 3rd

So, first things first: the top 10 in the handbook are the exact same top 10, in the same order, as the BA top 10 they released back in October 2021. I reacted to that list at length last October, so I won’t repeat my criticisms too heavily here. I will say this: clearly to me the BA boys had their list back then and have not done much in the way of additional analysis, because this new list does not include our shiny new IFA Cristian Vaquero. And honestly, its a pretty big omission given the fact that he signed several weeks ago. I suppose it implies that the handbook went to print a couple of months ago … but in today’s media landscape it seems like a pretty bad miss. In the world of blogging and internet-driven media, delays due to book binding and printing can make information “dated” pretty quickly.

Anyway, one with the observations.

  • Same 1-3 as everyone else. Ruiz over Cavalli, which I’m ok with.
  • We’ve covered Antuna at #4 at length; my stance is pretty clear.
  • The Arms at 5-8 are all pretty defensible and are mostly in line with what we’ve been seeing.
  • Rutledge remains in their top 10, despite his 2021. This, believe it or not, is considered “low” on Rutledge as compared to most of the other shops so far. How are they so high on Antuna but are low-man on Rutledge?

So, here we go with the guys ranked 11-40.

  • #11: Mason Thompson. Seriously? A 5.74 ERA in AAA in 2021, then after we acquired him his MLB stat line was as follows: 4.15 ERA., 5.71 FIP, 21/14 K/BB in 21 innings to a 99 ERA+. Ok great: a below league average RH middle reliever. Is that a near top 10 prospect? I mean, Andres Machado had a far better season in 2021 as a RH middle reliever: he was never ranked in our top 10 as a prospect. We cycle in and out failed starters as 6th inning RH relievers all the time; they’re one of the most fungible assets in the game. If we’re valuing near replacement level players so highly, then why aren’t all our backup AAA catchers ranked in the top 10 too? (Ahem, see next).
  • #12 Riley Adams: not even ranked in the top 30 by some shops (including Fangraphs), but #12 in our system. I mean, if the value of a prospect is so heavily skewed towards MLB-readiness, why not just rank our entire AAA team in our top 10?
  • Lots of variation of opinion on De La Rosa: some have him top 10, others in the mid-teens. BA comes in at #14.
  • Jackson Cluff at #16, whereas he wasn’t even in the top 50 of prospects1500. Wow. That’s a lot of juice on one month-long AFL stretch, especially considering how mediocre his 2021 regular season was.
  • Tim Cate at #19; they still have some faith, at least more than other shops.
  • Romero and Denaburg together at #27 and #28: fitting. The two worst 1st round picks in our history (well, except maybe for Aaron Crowe) are still hanging on the outskirts of the top 30.
  • One of the few shops to give any love to our pair of former Oakland High-A starters Shuman and Guasch, coming in at #31 and #33.
  • T.J. White: #34. Wow. Other shops have him in the upper teens. Where’s the love for a high draft pick who actually hit this year? Why would this guy be so low, as compared to De La Rosa, who is basically the same age and was badly outperformed?
  • This is the first list naming Dustin Saenz to any spot; he was a 4th round Lefty out of TAMU who only threw a handful of pro innings in 2021; not much to go on. A 4th round SEC hurler should have more expectations.
  • Coming in at #40 is Holden Powell. Again, curious. If they like relievers so much, why not give Powell (or Cronin or a few others) more credit?

Guys completely unranked of note: Vaquero as previously mentioned. Jake Alu, Yoander Rivero. Both Irvin and Schaller are completely out of the rankings now due to lost injury seasons.

I dunno. Maybe this list isn’t too bad. Outside of a couple of curious spots in the top 10, the rest of the list is more or less pretty defendable.

More prospect rankings are coming this week, so stay tuned. Keith Law is releasing all his data this week and we’ll have a reaction piece because I like his analysis.

Written by Todd Boss

February 7th, 2022 at 9:17 am

11 Responses to 'Baseball America Handbook top 40 Reaction'

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  1. I have not understood this fascination with Mason Thompson.
    Todd, you know pitching more than me but this is a guy with only 1 pitch and with it a Nuke LaLoosh control.

    Can someone enlighten me here?

    Count me in as a fan of T.J. White. His upside is way above a lot of the players ranked above him and he turned 18 just a moment ago.

    Mark L

    7 Feb 22 at 9:53 pm

  2. I dunno.

    96.3 average MPH on his sinker, throws it 80% of the time. 13% they call it a “slider” but the delta on the mph is so large it has to be a curve (96 to 83). So yeah, basically a one pitch guy. 5.47 BB/9 is just not good.

    Todd Boss

    8 Feb 22 at 10:52 am

  3. Sorry that I haven’t had a chance to chime in. Can we start off by saying that if Antuna is still the Nats’ #4 prospect, they might as well just close down the whole system. I’m sure he fills out a uniform well, but so did D. K. Carey, who had similar MiLB batting lines to Antuna. No one ever tried to insist that he was a top prospect.

    The lack of love for T. J. White makes me scratch my head, too. But so did him falling to the 5th round in the draft. All agree that he has at least 60-grade power, and some put it at 70. He’s nearly a year younger than a lot of the draftees and already has that “Alabama receiver” body. As Todd notes, he’s the type that the prospect gurus usually drool over, so I don’t understand the reservations. Maybe he just didn’t play that much on the showcase circuit. Whatever the reason, he sure looks worth the small $400K bonus, particularly for a kid who showed up in FLA and cracked four homers in 15 games.

    I don’t know which one(s) will pan out, but the Nats now have a whole lot of supposedly talented, very young outfielders, plus Soto’s brother said to be on their list for next year. They’ve got Vaquero, White, Lile, and Quintana, the latter trio possibly appearing in Fredericksburg this summer. The prospect folks still seem high on De La Rosa and Antuna, for whatever that’s worth. Not all will pan out, of course, but if a couple do, at star level, then that’s what they need. Right now, the big club only has one above-average OF, and he may be just a bit pricey to keep three years from now, about the time all of these others start to mature.


    14 Feb 22 at 8:25 am

  4. The Nats look pretty well stocked in the OF, but far into the future. But the future is now at the catching position, thanks to last summer’s trades. I’m extremely high on Ruiz. He’s a high-contact hitter who also has some power. Adams has even more power and figures to be an above-average reserve and potential DH. The catching position looks set for years to come. Barrera has two option years left and seems to be better than most of his predecessors on the AAA shuttle. The guys lower down the system aren’t that impressive (Pineda has really stalled out, and not sure what we’ve acquired in Millas), but Ruiz and Adams are under team control for a long time.


    14 Feb 22 at 8:32 am

  5. The fact the Tetreault is not on a top 40 or even 30 list proves the list is bogus. I get it that High draft picks get the love because of the money paid out, but come on, does performance mean anything to you. Cate at #12 and others prove that because it’s certainly not have been based on “Performance”! So give me one reason why Tetreault, with a MILB career 3.80 era and dominating his end of the year 2022 two starts in AAA should not be in the top 20.


    22 Feb 22 at 11:06 am

  6. Tetreault is not ranked by anyone right now. It isn’t just Baseball America. Last time I see him anywhere on anyone’s list was BA’s mid-season 2021 list, when he was 28th and subsequently got pushed out of the top 30 after all the prospects added at the trade deadline.

    BA’s scouting report gives us some hints: ” SCOUTING REPORT: With a fast, whippy delivery, Tetreault is able to maintain the 93-95 mph velocity on his fastball, which still makes him a candidate for a starting role. His curveball is a work in progress, but it showed a later and sharper break in instructional league than it has in the past. His changeup is a fringe-average pitch. Tetreault is working on staying on the rubber longer and using more of the strength in his legs. His control is below-average.”

    So, 93-95MPH fastball is average, curve ball a “work in progress,” changeup is fringe-average, he’s got questionable mechanics and below-average control (3.28 BB/9 for his career). I sense that the “book” on him is thus destined for the bullpen … and a right-handed bullpen arm who “only” throws 93-95 without good secondary stuff is not very valuable.

    Hence why he’s not highly ranked as a prospect.

    Todd Boss

    22 Feb 22 at 1:46 pm

  7. With all due respect, they’re just as wrong also, because they don’t have all the info on Tetreault and have not seen him enough since 2019. Some numbers don’t always tell the story, but even with your negative reviews of him, he still blows the #19 guy out of the water performance wise so what does that say about how prospects are evaluated with “The Scouting Reports”. So what are the scouting report hints regarding Cate, a # 2 pick that has no velo what so ever, below avg slider, is a one/two pitch starting pitcher who has not dominated at any level in the minors, with a disastrous 6.0 ERA in AA can possibly be in #12 spot. I would love to hear your take on that and justify it. I follow a few guys closely drafted by the Nationals around 2017 and Tetreault is one of them along with Will Crowe, and Ben Braymer. Tetreault had a great 2021 season considering he had an oblique injury the first week of SST and lost the first half of the season Rehabbing. In the second half of the season, he was the 2nd strongest pitcher in AA behind Cavalli, worked his way up to AAA and outperformed Cavalli’s AAA outings in all areas, proving that pitch-ability plays a bigger role at AAA than MPH. That’s not to say that Tetreault will be the better pitcher in the long run and that remains to be seen, but when you and others ignore Tetreault’s 2021 stats and don’t compare them to others in the system is a shame. It’s a good thing DE Jon Watsun does not think of Tetreault the way you and whatever BA Scouting report says. I was told by an agent he was one of 9 pitchers in the Nats minor’s system to be invited to West Palm Beach for 4 days in Feb that looked like the who’s who of pitching, throwing in front of Hickey, Watson, Narron and others. Cate was not there.


    23 Feb 22 at 2:35 am

  8. So. Every professional scouting pundit out there is wrong because you don’t think they have all the info on Tetreault? The same pundits who actually see the players (not just look up their stats on, who talk to professional development staff in every organization, and who talk with other scouts to get their information?

    If you’re comparing to Cate … the “book” on Cate is that he has the best off-speed stuff in the system and is a lefty; if you’re going to have a failed starter there’s still scarcity value in having a lefty versus a righty. Its that simple; it comes down to positional scarcity.

    My negative reviews? I cut and pasted Baseball America’s scouting report, then provided analysis. I don’t think i’m wrong; if he is headed to the bullpen, then he’s now competing for one of the most competitive positions in the majors: right handed middle reliever. Those guys are just not that valuable. What makes Tetrault more valuable than, say, a one-year veteran FA middle right handed reliever that we’ve signed lately? Someone like Kyle McGowin or Javy Guerra or Ryne Harper? Or the guy we just signed today, Reid Garrett? You can find these guys everywhere.

    If it was just one shop that omitted Tetreault that’d be one thing to criticize. When across the board every site omits him? They’re not all wrong.

    Todd Boss

    23 Feb 22 at 10:14 am

  9. So, Fangraphs is releasing their data now. We have not seen the Nats top 30, but Fangraphs is the first shop i’ve seen to give significant top 100 credit to Cole Henry, actually ranking him above House.

    So that’ll be an interseting wrinkle when their system rankings are released.

    Todd Boss

    24 Feb 22 at 3:42 pm

  10. […] the links to past analysis: Keith Law/The Athletic, Baseball America,, Prospects1500, Prospects361. We’re still waiting for a couple major shops […]

  11. […] So what changed between this ranking and the last one (to which I reacted here?). […]

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