Nationals Arm Race

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

MLB Pipeline new top 30 for Aug 2022


Green’s pick may have been polarizing, but the MLBpipeline staff is not concerned, ranking him immediately #2 in the system. Photo via

The MLB pipeline team (Jim Callis, Jonathan Mayo, etc) has just released an updated version of the top 30 for all teams, and instead of just plugging in trade acquisitions and 2022 draft picks, they’ve also taken the time to adjust players up/down based on their 2022 seasons. So this is a refreshing look at where we are right now as a system without having to make excuses for odd rankings that date to last off-season.

The Nats now have four players in the top 100 of all of baseball:

  • #23 Hassell
  • #29 Green
  • #35 Wood
  • #58 Cavalli

Abrams has just graduated. Cavalli was ranked #53 in July and has gotten bumped a bit (probably to make room for 2022 top-end draftees). However, House was ranked #53 in July by this squad and has now gotten knocked entirely out of the top 100 thanks to an injury filled 2022 and the influx of a ton of 2022 draftees. That’s a huge move down for House, who this same group had ranked as high as #44 in May of 2022.

Anyway, lets look at the Nats top 30. Here’s the full list, with some comments below:

mlbp rankLast NameFirst NamePosition
1Hassell IIIRobertOF (CF)
2GreenElijahOF (CF)
3WoodJamesOF (Corner)
4CavalliCadeRHP (Starter)
6HenryColeRHP (Starter)
7VaqueroCristianOF (CF)
8SusanaJarlinRHP (Starter)
9BennettJakeLHP (Starter)
10De La RosaJeremyOF (Corner)
12RutledgeJacksonRHP (Starter)
13LaraAndryRHP (Starter)
14CarrilloGerardoRHP (Starter)
15LileDaylenOF (CF)
16QuintanaRoismarOF (CF)
18RamirezAldoRHP (Starter)
19AntunaYaselSS/OF (Corner)
20WhiteT.J.OF (Corner)
21CoxBrennerOF (CF)
22McKenzieJaredOF (CF)
23FerrerJoseLHP (Reliever)
24BrzykcyZachRHP (Reliever)
25CroninMattLHP (Reliever)
27ParkerMitchellLHP (Starter)
29LeeEvanLHP (Starter)

Thoughts/comments on the guys who have moved up or down significantly, as well as general comments.

  • 8 of our top 30 are newly acquired: 3 from the big SDP trade, 5 from the draft.
  • A comment here; if MLBpipeline has ranked our top 5 draft picks from 2022 … why would Baseball America have only ranked one of them? MLBpipeline has our 2nd rounder Jake Bennett ranked as the 9th best guy in the system; BA didn’t even have him in their top 30. I could understand not quibbling/splitting hairs on guys in the 20s, but Bennett is a significant prospect.
  • Green comes in at #2 from the start. By way of comparison, Fangraphs has him #8 in the system.
  • They’ve jumped up Jeremey De La Rosa 6 slots from just two weeks ago, despite his slow start in High-A. But this is recognition of his dominance of low-A as a 20yr old. We don’t talk about De La Rosa a lot, but the guy could be a sneaky good prospect for us, combining power (10 homers in 63 games in Low-A this year) with speed (26 SBs in that same period) and defense (a true CF, though with a ton of errors and few assists).
  • Cristian Vaquero has stayed at #7 despite getting “layered” by a few prospects above him entering, meaning they’ve increased his rank. I’m not entirely sure why; he’s got kind of middling DSL stats this year, has hit just one homer in 50 games, and his slugging is lower than his OBP. The guy is 6’3″ … where’s the power? He has almost no XBHs all year.
  • They’ve dropped Rutledge a few spots, from #6 to #12. Finally recognizing that this guy may just not have it to be a starter. He’s just too inconsistent. One night he’s giving up 4 hits through 8, the next he’s giving up 8 runs through 4.
  • They’ve jumped up Roismar Quintana a bunch of slots; he’s had a very solid FCL season slashing .315/.367/.481 as a 19yr old. Unfortunately, there’s nowhere for him to go, because the low-A outfield consists of White, De La Cruz, and Wood, with McKenzie trying to find ABs. This is a prime example of why teams really could use those short-season A squads. Not to mention the fact that there’s now (if the Big Board is accurate) 48 players on the FCL roster.
  • Yasel Antuna now down to #19. Thank gosh the team has all sorts of 4-A/veteran MLFA types on the 40-man, because Antuna’s spot should have long ago gotten cleared. This didn’t stop the team from promoting him to AA this week, which seems to be kind of “social promotion” to cover for a cascading set of moves freeing up LF spots at AA and AAA.
  • T.J. White moving up; now #20 from #27.
  • Our 3rd, 4th and 5th rounders (who BA couldn’t find room for) are ranked 17th, 21st and 22nd in the system as they start to slot in.
  • Matt Cronin and Mitchell Parker both take dives in the rankings, due to layering and performance.

The following guys were bumped entirely off the top 30:

  • Brandon Boissiere: was #19, that’s a big drop. He’s just not doing anything special in AA while playing primarily 1B.
  • Donovan Casey: was #21, then got DFA’d, unclaimed and was outrighted. That’s … not good for your career.
  • Jackson Cluff: was #24, and we’ve had discussions questioning why he’s ranked in the first place. He’s the backup SS in Harrisburg and is hitting .191 this season.
  • Dustin Saenz: was #25, hasn’t done anything wrong; he earned a promotion to High-A but has struggled since.
  • Jordan Barley: was #28. You can’t hit .203 and be a prospect.
  • Mason Denaburg: was #29. Hey, at least he’s pitching. he’s made 10 starts for low-A with decent numbers so far.
  • Jake Irvin: was #30. I’m happy with his numbers in AA this year; again nothing earth shattering but after not pitching an inning since 2019 this is solid.

Written by Todd Boss

August 17th, 2022 at 9:39 am

Posted in Prospects

17 Responses to 'MLB Pipeline new top 30 for Aug 2022'

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  1. Accounting for MLB Pipeline’s well-known bias toward newly drafted players, this looks all right. I would still have Carrillo lower; I’m not sure what more Alu has to do to break onto one of these lists; and I continue to think Frizzell is underrated as well. But I mostly get it, and it’s certainly a more robust list than it was a few weeks ago.


    17 Aug 22 at 9:54 am

  2. Ive said this before but ….
    Isreal Pineda is a 22 year old catcher who’s hitting .905 at AA and throwing out 40% of baserunning. And he’s ranked 26th. Just stupid.

    Zach Brzykcy is finally getting the love he deserves.

    Mark L

    17 Aug 22 at 10:34 am

  3. bad news for Cole Henry, Thoracic outlet syndrome surgery needed.


    18 Aug 22 at 8:55 am

  4. Yeah, that list is already obsolete as Cole Henry is no longer a prospect. Too bad for him.

    Mark L

    18 Aug 22 at 9:19 am

  5. Re Cole Henry, more evidence (did we need any?) that there’s no such thing as a pitching prospect. Gotta feel bad for him, but he’s a non-prospect now.


    18 Aug 22 at 11:26 am

  6. Todd Boss

    18 Aug 22 at 5:15 pm

  7. I’ve been completely out of circulation for a couple of weeks. You guys catch me up on what I’ve missed. Just trying to quickly look over the stats of the new acquisitions.

    Yes, huge loss of Cole Henry. He had high school and college arm issues, though, so once again they danced with that devil and lost. As I’ve said since their draft day, Henry was a more effective pitcher in college (and pros) than Cavalli when he’s been healthy. But now he probably won’t be healthy until at least 2024 . . . (sigh)

    On down the ranks, quick agreement with Sao that Frizzell is sliding under the radar. After a late start due to injury, he’s clobbering A ball. He’s already significantly better than Boissiere, who looks like a(nother) wasted 3d rounder.

    At the top, who knows? Setting aside Cavalli, the Nats supposedly have five stud hitters: Hassell (VERY slow start with Nats), Green (18 Ks in 10 games), Wood (strong start at Fburg), House (season mostly lost to injury), and Vaquero (still the age of a high schooler and not showing much power yet). I have my doubts that Hassell will fully live up to the hype, as he’s Robles type who needs all five tools to show up in some quantity to be the whole package. My doubts about Green have been overly expressed since before the draft. Wood seems to be the real deal at the plate, but it seems likely that size will eventually move him into LF/1B/DH territory. And Vaquero is still really an unknown quantity.

    That leaves House. I know it goes against the grain of just about everything, but I’d still be willing to bet on him achieving a higher level of his potential than most of the rest. He was as advertised in April before injuries caught up to him. Of those five hitters, I like the chances of special things from House and Wood above those of the others. But I’ll also freely admit that’s a wild guess.

    From my viewpoint, de la Rosa’s skills set is similar to Hassell’s — interesting players, but all the skills will have to click to add up to something. Quintana has done nothing wrong but got dropped due to hardly playing last year. He’s good quality under the radar. I think his potential ceiling is probably higher than de la Rosa’s, but that’s also a guess.

    Lipscomb intrigues me. Much like Frizzell, he had a huge senior season in college after not doing much previously. I like taking shots on such guys. He’s off to a very good start at Fburg. The caveat is that Tennessee’s stadium is a band box, so we’ll have to wait and see if that 22 HR power translates to pro fields.


    21 Aug 22 at 4:50 pm

  8. Curious note that may interest only me: the Nats’ record is exactly in line with their Pythagorean expectation, 41-82. They can’t pitch and they can’t score. And with Henry’s injury, they only have one starter anywhere close to MLB-ready, a revolting development for an organization that has prioritized the drafting of pitchers for years and years. In fact, the way things are trending, they will end up having to trade some of these young hitters to accrue enough pitching to be competitive.

    It’s not just the failure of their pitching prospects, of course. Robles doesn’t looking like someone who should be an everyday player in the majors, Kieboom hasn’t proved yet that he can even stick in the majors, and Antuna is a very expensive international bust. You can’t stay competitive if you can’t develop cheap, controlled talent, and the Nats have really come up empty in that regard.


    22 Aug 22 at 1:40 pm

  9. They’ve drafted a gazillion pitchers …. but they’ve also traded away a gazillion of them too to get where they are.

    Starting in 2016 when they sent Giolito, Lopez and Dunning out the door … there’s a huge list of prospect arms we’ve turned into assets: McKenzie Mils, Felipe Rivero, Taylor Hearn, Nick Pivetta in 2015 should count, Wil Crowe, Pedro Avila, Kyle Johnston, Hunter McMahon, Mick Van Vossen, Yohanse Morel, Jefry Rodriguez, Blake Treinen, jesus Luzardo, Taylor Guilbeau.

    In fact, you can make an entire MLB active rotation out of prospects we’ve traded away in Giolito, Dunning, Crowe, Hearn, and Luzardo. And a pretty good one at that: Luzardo and Crowe are both sporting 120 ERA+, Giolito has gotten Cy Young votes the last three years, Dunning is solid, and Hearn isn’t half bad himself.

    So, yeah we’re barren now. But we’ve traded away a ton.

    Todd Boss

    22 Aug 22 at 3:49 pm

  10. We don’t need to re-litigate some of the flags-fly-forever trades, but it is important to note that you’ve GOT to do a good job of evaluating what you’re trading. They could have traded mediocre Fedde instead of several of these who turned out to be better. I wrote at the time of the Giolito/Lopez/Dunning trade that they had just bet big on Fedde. Bad, bad bet. They insisted to trading Robbie Ray instead of the legendary Taylor Jordan. They traded Crowe instead of Romero. They could have traded A. J. Cole many times in the later 2010s instead of some who they did. They appear to have held onto Rutledge too long while his value has tanked. (With a similar player, they made a very good call in trading Alex Meyer for a quality guy in Span.) In short, they have a long history of falling in love with the wrong guys. Poor internal evaluation is just as damning as poor evaluation of prospects to draft.

    They did similar things with hitting prospects. They held onto Robles when they already knew that Soto was significantly better. They had many opportunities to trade Kieboom while his prospect value was high. They’ve got a ton of outfielders now, some of very high value at the moment. Make some proper evaluations and move a few while they’re worth something.

    Look at the OF list: Hassell, Wood, Green, Vaquero, de la Rosa, Quintana, White, Lile, Cox, McKenzie, et al. That’s 10 guys with value, some very high value. Odds are that half of them won’t even make the majors. But you could get something for any of them right now. Beyond the first four, it’s unlikely that you’re trading a potential star, but you never know. After all, the gurus of the world universally had Robles ranked ahead of Soto.


    22 Aug 22 at 7:10 pm

  11. reading that you’d never think the Nats won more games from 2012-2019 than all but two teams (I think that’s right) and the WS! why would you think anybody wanted Taylor Jordan, or Romero or even Fedde? Robles produced 4.4 WAR in 2019 behind only the big three pitchers, Rendon and Soto (I know that’s right). Rutledge hadn’t even pitched 100 innings before this year, what did you want them to do with him, release him? Trade him for a bag of balls. Forget the fact that he is finally showing some promise and remains highly ranked in their system.

    I understand the fans right to second guess but when all you do is criticize every move you don’t really establish much credibility. I respect your passion and don’t mean to come off as superior to you or any other poster but there are many teams trying to win that haven’t enjoyed the success of the Nats. Yes it crashed quickly but it had to be built quickly as Ted was 90. Decisions that were made were done with the goal being in a very small window.


    23 Aug 22 at 8:19 am

  12. Dr. Fred nailed it.

    Mark L

    23 Aug 22 at 9:06 am

  13. KW – you called that Soto would be better than Robles *at the time both were prospects* and you deserve credit for getting that right. At the same time, it’s revisionist history to suggest that the Nats *knew* Soto was better than Robles at any point prior to some time during 2019. Recall that Soto was called up in 2018 only because of injuries, and specifically because of an injury to Robles. If Robles wasn’t injured, he would have had Soto’s MLB roster spot in 2018 full stop. Presumably Soto would have played his way onto the 2018 MLB roster at some point, but not when it happened. Also, pre-2018, Robles played in the Arizona Fall League during the same season as Acuna, and I recall scouts saying that those two were clearly the best two players in the league at the time (though everyone said Acuna was better).

    Also, I think you are drawing the wrong lesson from the Soto v. Robles experience. You write “I have my doubts that Hassell will fully live up to the hype, as he’s Robles type who needs all five tools to show up in some quantity to be the whole package.” That’s backwards to me. The value of a guy who might be good at a lot of different things is that he can produce value in different ways, whereas a guy who’s good at only a few things actually has to be good at those things to produce any value at all, because he can’t rely on being good at other things to compensate. The jack of all trades is simply less risky than the master of one.

    For me, the correct lesson to draw from the Soto v. Robles experience is that all five tools are not of equal importance, and, really, there is one tool that stands head and shoulders above the others: the hit tool, which Soto has in spades, and Robles does not. The truth is, the other four tools just don’t matter much if your hit tool is good enough (Soto) or bad enough (Robles). But if your hit tool is just ok, then the other four tools matter a lot.

    Let’s do a little thought experiment. Soto has a career 155 WRC+ whereas Robles’s is 80 (vomit emoji). If you take 20 pts of WRC+ from Soto and give it to Robles, you’ve completely transformed the value of the two players. Robles would become similar to Kevin Kiermaier (97 WRC+), and Soto would become similar to JD Martinez (though probably with better defense) and Giancarlo Stanton (though probably with worse defense but better health).

    For me, it is per se unreasonable to predict that *any* prospect is going to hit like Soto has during his first four big league season at his age. Absolutely nobody pre-2018 would have stood up and said “Juan Soto is going to be a 155 WRC+ hitter in the big leagues for the next four years.” A scout *might* have said he would be a 135 WRC+ hitter, but that definitely would have been pushing it at the time Soto was called up. And Robles’s prospect pedigree was such that 100 WRC+ would have been a low estimate for him.

    The truth is, Robles can’t hit. And because he can’t hit, it just doesn’t matter how good he is at the other things. The same is true of Hassell – if he puts up a 80 WRC+ in MLB, he won’t be a valuable player. But the fact that Hassell is good at other things makes him more valuable, not less valuable. I have no idea whether Hassell will hit in the big leagues, but I’m glad he does other things well too.


    23 Aug 22 at 10:18 am

  14. LOL. I totally supported the go-for-it trades at the time and understood they were critical to that seven-year run of success that culminated in a championship. I’ve defended the concept of the Eaton trade many times (he was never the 6 WAR player he was in Chicago, but he slashed .320/.433/.560 in the World Series), and I’ve explained to others that Luzardo (or some piece like him) had to be included in the trade for Doolittle and Madsen because of the years of control who were coming back in return.

    My point here is that while they were going for it, they made some poor personnel evaluation decisions that eroded the system that could have sustained the franchise’s transition better, even as the stars started leaving. Yes, they were drafting later after they started winning. But they got very, very little out of those drafts for years. They also didn’t evaluate some of their talent well. You could have substituted Fedde for Dunning or for Luzardo in either of those trades, for example. (And I laughed when I saw that tonight’s match-up is Fedde vs. Robbie Ray.)

    And yes, it’s all water under the bridge now. But there’s a reason the Dodgers and Cardinals keep winning year after year while the Nats fell off a cliff. They restock internally better than the Nats do. (And yes, the Dodgers have plenty of $$$, but they also have a never-ending stash of players in their system.)

    Re Soto vs. Robles, Derek nailed the fundamental point that hit tool is way, WAY more important anything else. That’s the biggest thing that concerned me about the Green pick this year.

    Derek’s point about the wider range of ways to succeed reminds me of a comp I made when Robles was coming up that his path to success might look like Lorenzo Cain’s. A couple of folks totally jumped on me, saying that Robles was going to be way better than Cain. Well, Cain has posted 38.3 bWAR despite never hitting more than 16 homers in a season. I think we’d all be thrilled now if Robles could turn into Cain.

    I’ll add that the Nats are far from the only ones prone to exaggerated thinking about certain players. One predraft eval of Green, from a respected source, said that he could be a 40-homer centerfielder in the majors. Do you know how many 40-HR seasons Mike Almighty Trout has? Two. The ceiling comp I put on Green is Justin Upton, who has an impressive 325 career home runs . . . but is still six wins behind Cain in career bWAR. Yes, there are plenty of different ways to make your skills count.


    23 Aug 22 at 2:04 pm

  15. BTW, there was A LOT of buzz about Soto in the Nats’ spring camp in 2018 even though he was going to be starting in the low minors. People knew about him. Players knew about him. The Nats knew what they had. They just thought Robles also was a star.

    One of the things with Robles is that he not only stopped making contact, he stopped hitting the ball hard, and that has to be head-scratching to everyone. His hard contact % in 2018 was 35.4%. It’s never been above 25% since then. His ISO in the majors in 2018 was .237, then .165 in 2019 and below .100 ever since.


    23 Aug 22 at 2:16 pm

  16. oh Crash, you do make speeches!


    23 Aug 22 at 3:59 pm

  17. More like a filibuster.
    Reminds me that fan is short for fanatic.

    Mark L

    23 Aug 22 at 5:50 pm

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