Nationals Arm Race

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

Baseball America Updated Nats top 30 Reaction


How about a Grand slam in your 4th professional game? Photo screen grab from

The major shops are starting to read in the 2023 draftees (and 2023 trade deadline acquisitions) to each team’s farm system rankings. As we did ahead of the season, when a major pundit drops an updated ranking i’ll list it here. Technically Fangraphs’ “Big Board” database was the first to publish, since its essentially a running database of every player, amateur or prospect, but their rankings are wonky (as we discussed yesterday), so we just did a brief review. MLBpipeline dropped overnight, so we’ll talk about it next. Baseball America published a couple days ago behind a paywall, so lets review.

Here’s BA’s updated top 30, which includes some re-ranking, new draftees, and new trade acquisitions.

BA Rank 8/9/23Last NameFirst NamePosition
1CrewsDylanOF (CF)
2WoodJamesOF (Corner)
4Hassell IIIRobertOF (CF)
5GreenElijahOF (CF)
6CavalliCadeRHP (Starter)
7RutledgeJacksonRHP (Starter)
9VaqueroCristianOF (CF)
10BennettJakeLHP (Starter)
11SykoraTravisRHP (Starter)
12SusanaJarlinRHP (Starter)
13De La RosaJeremyOF (Corner)
14LileDaylenOF (CF)
16WhiteT.J.OF (Corner)
17HenryColeRHP (Starter)
19LaraAndryRHP (Starter)
20FerrerJoseLHP (Reliever)
22BrzykcyZachRHP (Reliever)
24YoungJacobOF (CF)
25HerzDJLHP (Starter)
27QuintanaRoismarOF (CF)
29CroninMattLHP (Reliever)
30ParkerMitchellLHP (Starter)

So, Here’s some thoughts on the new names and changes from the pre-draft BA rankings.

  • Dylan Crews comes in as our new system #1, which was hard to do because at the time of his drafting we already had a top-5 prospect in James Wood.
  • The last time the Nats had two prospects even in the top 10 of the minors was at the very edge of Bryce Harper‘s eligibility, when Anthony Rendon was also ranked highly. The best we ever did while Stephen Strasburg was still eligible seemed to be Drew Storen ranked in the 50-range. So, having a 1-2 punch of Crews and Wood both top 5 is amazing.
  • Brady House and Robert Hassell switched spots, probably because House is clearly outperforming Hassell right now. In fact, Hassell basically has stopped hitting after we acquired him; he went from a .290 hitter to a .220 hitter in our organization. I’m not sure what special sauce San Diego gave him, but we need to figure it out.
  • Yohandy Morales slots in at #8, between Rutledge and Vaquero. Crews is getting all the attention so far with his hot start in Low-A, but Morales has been there for a week and a half and has a .925 OPS.
  • Travis Sykora comes in at #11, right between Bennett and Susana. Hopefully, he’s more like Bennett (well, in as much as he gets to AA quickly, not the “where the heck has Bennett been for two months part) and less like Susana (who has a 5.14 ERA in low-A this year in his age 19 season).
  • Trey Lipscomb has been bumped up a couple of slots in the last month thanks to his promotion to AA in his age 23 season and his solid offensive line. However, he’s now bumped from his regular 3B slot by House, who is also in AA, and has been bouncing around to find playing time. He’s got starts at 1B, 2B and SS now, replacing lesser prospects in Harrisburg each time. I sense his eventual spot may end being 2B, replacing the .215 hitting JT Arruda in the lineup. Cluff is also hitting about .215 but plays a true SS, which i’m not sure Lipscomb can do long-term. The situation may work itself out if House keeps mashing his way up the system.
  • Jacob Young has been bumped up a few slots. He’s in danger of falling down the depth chart of outfielders given who we have coming up, but for now he’s holding his own and earning promotions.
  • Trade acquisition DJ Herz slots in at #25. Lets see how he fares. He got smacked around in his debut, but he’s 22 in AA as a starter, so that doesn’t suck.
  • Roismar Quintana dropped from 22 to 27. He’s only slugging .358 this year as a 1B/DH type; that’s not going to cut it.
  • Mitchell Parker‘s AA performance has dropped him several slots to just barely holding on to the top 30. I wonder when he’ll convert to relief … and then how quickly he’ll be in the majors after that as a lefty reliever who can get guys out.
  • Darren Baker up a couple slots; the guy’s nearly hitting .300 in AAA as a 24yr old, not sure what else you want from him. Most of the 2021 draft class is still in High-A, if they’re even still here.
  • Dustin Saenz, Andy Acevedo, and Edwin Solano: were ranked 28th-30th before and now have gotten bumped with the new additions.
  • Jake Irvin was ranked 16th; he now has 17 starts under his belt in the majors and has lost his rookie eligibility.

Written by Todd Boss

August 11th, 2023 at 9:48 am

Posted in Prospects

8 Responses to 'Baseball America Updated Nats top 30 Reaction'

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  1. Man, I think putting Drew Millas at 28th is MORE crazy than putting him at 9th. (Personally, I’d have him somewhere in the low teens), but 28th is pretty crazy.

    He’s a catcher with good defence, so he doesn’t need to hit to have a successful career. Jeff Mathis managed to have a 16 year career with a batting line of .194/.252/.299!

    What makes Millas such a special player is that he also has a very good eye in addition to the good defence. His career BB% is 14%, so even if his bat is a big of a dud as Mathis’, you’re still looking at a player with a >.300 OBP (a threshold Keibert Ruiz was only able to pass two days ago). Steamer (FanGraphs’ player projection tool) projects Millas to put up .229/.313/.341 or a 80 wRC+, if he were to play in the majors rights now. Add to that average defense, and you get a 1.0+ WAR player. If Millas’ defense is actually a bit above average, and he ends up hitting in line with his minor league average (.261/.370/.383) then you begin to get the outline of a 3.0 WAR player. Alejandro Kirk, for example, has batted .257/.345/.354 with above average defense this season, and he’s been worth 1.6 WAR in 86 games. If he manages to hit as well as he’s currently batting in AAA (.280/.374/.435), then he starts to look like Adley Rutschman (who by the way is hitting .276/.373/.440 at the moment).

    This kind of player is super exciting to me, and I find it strange that BA (and for that matter) keep underrating Millas (the same goes for Alu). BA and other prospect watchers often get too preoccupied by potential and have a blindspot for guys without pedigrees, who still manage to churn out results. I think this is what FanGraphs is kind of attempting to counterbalance, but perhaps being too extreme about it.


    11 Aug 23 at 10:47 am

  2. Millas: yeah, just doesn’t make sense does it. Solid stat line this year, known defensive capabilities, 25yrs old in AAA. He’s completely blocked right now, but useful to keep around b/c of catcher attrition.

    do we flip Riley Adams and bring Millas up? the reverse?

    Todd Boss

    11 Aug 23 at 11:24 am

  3. In some ways this list is as weird as FanGraphs’, but for some different reasons.

    Not weird but interesting: Crews > Wood. About the only place where Crews outranks Wood is on the hit tool, but he may be a 70 while Wood projects as perhaps a 50. So it’s a big plus for Crews there. Wood has 40+ HR power. I honestly don’t know about Crews. We keep mentioning him with a Rendon comp, so more the 25 HR level. If they both max out their potential, happy days will return to Half Street.

    I’m not sure why they have Cavalli behind Hassell and Green, neither of whom have done anything to improve their stock his season. I see Cavalli as the clear #4 in the system, then as I noted yesterday, you can sort of throw darts after that.

    With the large caveat that he’s still only 21, I think the ship is sailing on Jeremy de la Rosa having an MLB future. I sure wouldn’t have him listed ahead of Lile and Lipscomb at this point. Except for JDLR’s time repeating the A level last year, boosted by .408 BABIP luck, he’s never been particularly good. I have no idea why they added him to the 40-man. I’d buy a lot more stock in someone like Andrew Pinckney right now than I would JDLR.

    I’m willing to cut Hassell some slack because of his injuries. He may have been pushed to AA too soon as well. He has homered in his last two games, so fingers crossed that he can end the summer strong.

    The other thing working against Hassell is his lack of power. Folks were willing to think of him as OK as an MLB CF with 15-20 HR power. But if Wood or Crews is in CF, that level of power isn’t going to cut it for Hassell at a corner OF slot.

    With the pitchers, who really knows? Bennett has entered witness protection, and Rutledge has hit a well at AAA (after being strong at AA). Henry still isn’t fully back from injury . . . if he can ever be.


    11 Aug 23 at 11:47 am

  4. The “secret sauce” that the Padres used for Hassell was “not breaking his hamate bone.” Hassell got off to a dreadful start while working his way back. They say that the power is the last thing to come back with the hamate bone and Hassell is certainly an example of that. He’s hit six of his eight HRs in the last 28 days. His OPS the last 28 days is .729, and in his last seven days it’s 1.091.

    Remember all of the handwringing about Brady House last season? Let’s give Hassell a chance to work his way back before getting salty about what the Nats are or aren’t doing with him.

    Yes, Darren Baker is hitting .293 in AAA right now. For whatever reason offense is way up in the International League this season, and Baker has shown little power (.089 ISO). His split of .293/.365/.381/.747 is only just league average. Ish. (99 OPS+/93 wRC+). So, not embarrassing, but with his defensive limitations he’s not exactly forcing the Nats to move him up yet.

    John C.

    11 Aug 23 at 8:33 pm

  5. I guess the biggest question for the front office, in looking at guys in the pipeline and already getting looks in the rotation, is how much they trust where they are in starting pitching. Rizzo has said that he hopes to get back to .500 in 2024. The current club is actually only one game below .500 across July and August, so it’s not an unreasonable thought.

    Beyond just wanting to upgrade, starting pitching is an immediate question because there’s going to be such a good, deep crop of starters in free agency. The Nats have PLENTY of money to spend. Adding a couple of starters easily could boost them 10 wins or so in 2024.

    In the field, Dom Smith is a sucking offensive hole at 1B. Unless they play Meneses at 1B, they really don’t have any pipeline options there who are close. Vargas is a negative as well, but there’s no reason to spend for 3B when House is close. It will be interesting to see if Alu can look like something while getting his chance right now, for either 2B or 3B next season. They have 2B options with Garcia, Alu, Lipscomb, Blankenhorn, and (maybe) Baker, about whom I share John’s skepticism. And of course Carter Kieboom is still trying to get things together (a good reminder that there’s NO GUARANTEE with anyone on the prospect lists).


    12 Aug 23 at 12:14 pm

  6. Why not move Riley Adams to DH and bring up Millas?


    12 Aug 23 at 10:34 pm

  7. I wonder who would be the bigger defensive liability at 1B between Meneses and Adams. The Nats played Adams at 1B for a full game in 2022. There would seem to be an argument for having Millas on the active roster over Downs for sure, so Ruiz and Adams could be in the lineup together more often. They’re not playing Downs at all, and Vargas is a ready reserve for SS.


    13 Aug 23 at 9:59 am

  8. And then Downs goes and finishes the incredible comeback with his first hit as a Nat. LOL.

    Nats now above .500 for July and August, only a half game behind Team $343M. Sure would love for them to catch the Mets.


    14 Aug 23 at 8:29 am

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