Nationals Arm Race

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

ProspectDigest Nats top 10 released


Armando Cruz gets high props with this list. Photo via

Even though the 2022 season has started, we’re still seeing pundit Prospect ranking lists trickle in. In fact, we still havn’t seen several major shops’ Nats list at this point, so we’ll continue doing these posts as they arrive.

Today, and its lead pundit Joseph Werner released his Nats top 10 list. .

Here’s some comments.

  • Ruiz at #1. I think Werner is following the Baseball America “rules” for eligibility, as opposed to MLBs. He’s still got Ruiz as being a prospect. Perhaps he wrote this list last fall (which may be true, given the fact that there’s mo mention of Vaquero).
  • He then has the same 2-5 names as most everyone else, in the same order: Cavalli, House, Henry, Rutledge.

After the top 5 is where his list gets, um, “interesting.”

  • Armando Cruz at #6. That’s the highest he’s been on any list since before last year’s trade deadline prospect haul. He’s an 18yr old who hit .232 in the DSL last year … this ranking is entirely on hype and scouting reports.
  • Daylen Lile at #7?? Wow, that’s way too high for his profile. I mean, everything has to go right for a 6.0″ slap hitter to make it, and his pro debut was awful (.219/.363/.250 in FCL last year). How is this guy higher than any number of other hitters we have in the system? Crazy. Plus, we now know he’s torn his UCL and is out for the entire 2022 season. So … yes perhaps late breaking news, but this list should have been adjusted.
  • Mitchell Parker at #8? This is the highest ranking I’ve seen anyone have for Parker. Look, I like Parker; but there’s no way I’d have him above Adon or Lara or Carrillo or Lee right now. Adon is in the majors for crying out loud. Lara’s got better stuff and is 3 years younger. Carrillo probably could be in the MLB bullpen right now, and Lee struck out 104 in 77 High-A innings last year.
  • Lara and Carrillo round out the top 10; don’t have any issues with those guys being around this range.

Nits: No Vaquero. they drafted him in January and its now Mid April. If you rank Cruz at #6 then you have to put in a guy who was older and better at signing time. Also, no mention of Adon despite him being in the MLB rotation.

Otherwise, not much else to note. I can’t see any other possible ommissions from this top 10.

Written by Todd Boss

April 12th, 2022 at 10:30 am

9 Responses to 'ProspectDigest Nats top 10 released'

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  1. I posted this late on an earlier prospect-discussion post and will move it forward here. There have been a few developments with some of these guys since I posted:

    Here’s a rough attempt to categorize the guys who more or less could have MLB talent:

    Star-level top-100 talent: Ruiz (graduated), House, Vaquero, Cavalli

    Possible star-level ceilings: Rutledge, Lara, White, Quintana. There is divided opinion among the gurus about Quintana. Some have him with tools close to Vaquero’s; others have him below de la Rosa. Most gurus don’t have T.J. White rated highly, and presumably there’s a reason that he fell to the 5th round. But guys with legit 60/70 power grades don’t grow on trees, and he hit well in his pro debut. There is no guarantee whatsoever with any of these players, but they have some higher-level tools.

    Talent to be quality MLB players: Henry, Cronin, Lile, Ramirez, Adams (graduated). Some might put Lile in the next category, but he’s been bulking up and is still young, so there’s time for the power to come.

    Heavily paid and/or hyped but still with a lot of ???: Antuna, Cruz, Infante, Adon, de la Rosa, Pineda, S. Romero, Denaburg, Boissiere. Most of these are self-explanatory to folks who follow the system. All could have MLB talent, or may never get close to an MLB field. I’m not quite sure that Pineda is good enough to be included in this club anymore, particularly since they felt they need to trade for three catchers at the deadline. I have Boissiere here for lack of a better place to put him. He was drafted fairly highly but may not have the power for a corner position. There’s a fine line between being the next Mark Grace and the next Jose Marmolejos.

    Boom or bust potential: Carrillo, Parker, Frizzell. Hardly anyone mentions Frizzell, who came out of nowhere to have a monster senior season at A&M. Odds are that he won’t be able to replicate that as a pro, but if he actually clicks, he’ll be a steal.

    Missing: 15-20 pitchers I could list who have MLB potential. I don’t think we’re missing the next big thing among them, though. Cate was probably the highest rated among them before last season, but he really struggled. Evan Lee got added to the 40-man, but based a lot more on potential than results. There’s a (very) outside chance that a Jake Irvin or Tyler Dyson could regain college form and emerge as a potential starter, but it’s doubtful. The same could be said for Drew Mendoza among the hitters.

    Beyond Mendoza, it’s hard to think of position players not listed who have a real shot at being MLB starters. Maybe an Alu, Barrerra, or Mendez could develop into competent reserves, or a few other guys, but regulars? Probably not.

    I should add that I’m not predicting huge success for any of these guys . . . or huge failure. It’s hard to truly be successful at the MLB level, though, no matter your tools or prospect rankings. Just ask Robles or Kieboom. Odds are that the Nats will get only a couple of everyday regulars out of all the guys listed, and maybe a starting pitcher or two. That may not sound like much, but it would beat their total drafted success from the last decade.


    12 Apr 22 at 12:58 pm

  2. A few developments: Lile had TJ surgery in March so presumably is out for the season, so he won’t be much a part of the discussion right now. T. J. White made the FredNats out of spring training for his age-18 season, so he’s definitely stamped himself as someone to watch, and likely ahead of Lile in the OF pecking order. Quintana, who has barely played as a pro, did not make the FBurg team out of the spring but presumably could be sent forward if de la Rosa does enough to get promoted. The Nats have announced that Vaquero will play in the Dominican league this season, which is disappointing. Most of their higher-level Latin signees for the last several years have debuted domestically, with the exception of Cruz last year. (And definitely count me among the Cruz skeptics at this point.)

    Frizzell didn’t make FBurg out of camp, so maybe I’m too high on him, but we’ll see. There’s not a lot of place for him to play with higher-drafted Boissiere at 1B and the OF full.

    Rutledge and Ramirez aren’t healthy, and Denaburg was kept in XST. So #1 picks from ’17, ’18, and ’19 aren’t pitching. (And Kieboom from ’16 also injured.) And Cate, a #2 pick, isn’t listed anywhere.

    On a positive note, Jake Irvin, who some remain high on, is finally healthy and had a strong start in his first outing.


    12 Apr 22 at 1:13 pm

  3. I know that Josiah Gray has technically “graduated,” but he’s still in the limbo state of not fully established at the MLB level. Sure is super encouraging to have five innings of one-hit ball from him at ATL on Wed., particularly following such an awful performance by Corbin. The Gray/Ruiz trade was a major bid in the rebuild, and we sure hope that both big chips will pay off.


    13 Apr 22 at 2:33 pm

  4. Good morning all.

    I know there’s quite a bit of skepticism regarding Yasiel Antuna’s future potential. Yet, I’m cautiously optimistic he’s a late bloomer, sidetracked by an initial agressive promotion to Low-A (Hagerstown) while 18, insistence by the organization that he stick at SS, injuries in ‘19 and ‘20, and shaking off the “rust” in ‘21. Plus, the initial culture shock for some latino players is quite significant, especially upon facing adversity. Do I predict stardom given his initial bonus projection when signed? No. But could he still be righting his track and be on his way to be a serviceable OF prospect with a good bat tool? Yes. 2022 will undoubtedly be a telling year.

    With regards to Jeremy de la Rosa, I feel somewhat the same, perhaps even giddier. Like Antuna, another potential case of overly aggresive promotion to mainland Rookie Level baseball at 17. Potentially the over hype didn’t help either. Yet, very early results could signal that he may be putting it all together. In his case, de la Rosa’s ceiling I perceive to be higher than Antuna’s.

    Let’s hope Armando Cruz, Roismer Quintana and to a lesser degree Ricardo Méndez are next.

    Le Grande Orange 2

    14 Apr 22 at 8:05 am

  5. Further comments:

    Cristhian Vaquero – Given his age, and the examples provided by de la Rosa, Antuna and Cruz, Vaquero might be better off starting at the DSL, rather than at Rookie ball. Let’s hope the developmental skills of the staff there allow Vaquero to flourish close to his potential at this early age.

    Andy Lara & Joan Adon – Most particularly in the case of Lara (though included Adon as something similar may have happened to him), I sincerely hope the minor league staff is able to nurture these two talented young hurlers and hone their skills, while dealing with overly aggresive promotions, overhype, and simply an organization that has demostrated its limitations and profound defficiencies regarding the development of talent.

    Le Grande Orange

    14 Apr 22 at 8:18 am

  6. Gray’s first two starts have been promising, IMO. I think it’s clear he can get major league hitters out consistently (unlike, say, Fedde, who just can’t do it consistently). The big questions for me are: (1) whether Gray can do it in longer than four inning stretches; and (2) whether his homeritis is going to continue. I have some confidence that the homeritis is a small sample phenomenon – it wasn’t a problem for him during his minor league career. But time will tell. His ability to get through an order more than two times is a bigger question, IMO. Still: I think he’s a good enough pitcher to contribute to a playoff team, which is good to have!


    14 Apr 22 at 10:41 am

  7. Just a reminder that Bryan Reynolds was taken one pick after the legendary Sheldon Neuse.


    14 Apr 22 at 9:05 pm

  8. I have no earthly idea why the Nats felt the urge to rush Joan Adon to the majors. He spent the majority of 2021 at the A+ level, where his numbers were mediocre at best. They’ve always had big dreams for him, though.

    Several of the guys mentioned, including Adon, Antuna, and de la Rosa, had stints at the alternative site in 2020 and wowed them for some reason. None of them have ever had particularly good real-season stats. All of them have gotten rushed. Antuna and de la Rosa are repeating levels . . . but Adon is in the majors looking like he belongs back in AA. Sigh. All of them are still young enough to grow into something useful, but the aggressive pushing of them has not helped. And Antuna and Adon had no business being added to the 40-man before last season.


    14 Apr 22 at 9:47 pm

  9. Good morning.

    KW couldn’t agree more. Plus yesterday’s start against the lowly Bucs, underscores your spot on assessment on Adon.

    My concern is the state of the Nats developmental organization. I’ve been a fan of this Organization for close to 50 years. While we were the Expos, the was a sense that the “system” at the minor league level was so good, it even provided the Mike Lansing’s, FP Santangelo’s, Mark Grudzielanek’s, Bryn Smith’s (just to name a few) with the opportunity to succeed more effectively at the MLB level than potentially otherwise would have been the case. They were similar to how the Dodgers Organization is today, but with the added reality that the developmental skills within the structure remained effective even during the dire financially tight years beyond 1994.

    Therefore, it is clear that thus is an achilles heel for our organization. Was this pre-season staff makeover a step in the right direction? It remains to be seen. But, most respectfully, this goes beyond the training aspect and into what KW alludes to, regarding for example the Organization’s proclivity to rush some prospects beyond what is fathomable.

    Mon Dieu! Go Nats!

    Le Grande Orange 2

    15 Apr 22 at 8:51 am

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