Nationals Arm Race

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

Baseball America Nats top 30 Prospects for 2024


Jacob Young gets some prospect love. Photo AP via WashPost

The first major shop to release a significant ranking for the 2024 prospect season has come out, and it is the standard bearer Baseball America. This year i’ll keep a running list of every ranking that i’ve seen and just build on it as i post. So far, here’s what we’ve seen:

Here is a list of Every Nats prospect list i’ve ever captured. It was last uploaded 1/25/24 to capture the data from last June to today. There’s now 223 ranking lists in this xls, dating to the Baseball America Nov 2004 ranking for our 2004 prospects (#1 prospect for the system in Nov 2004? Mike Hinckley. ouch).

Here’s the pre-2024 list of prospect ranks that have been published so far.

  • BA’s pre-read top 10, announced 11/6/23 (link now defaults to top 30 released today; no changes from the top 10 in Nov to now, a slight indictment perhaps of the BA process)
  • Prospects361 top 10, released 11/24/23
  • MLBPipeline top 30, post rule5/pre off-season analysis released 12/7/23. Note, the MLBPipeline link always defaults to the current, but i retain the rankings at the time of the capture into an XLS
  • Baseball America 2024 top 30 1/24/24: this post

Still to come: Baseball Prospectus, MLBPipeline, Eric Longenhagen/Fangraphs, Keith Law/the Athletic, Prospects1500, Bleacher Report, CBSSports, ProspectsLive, and Prospect Digest. So, lots to come.

Here’s a direct link to the Baseball America 2024 Nats top 30, which is behind a paywall but i’m a subscriber so I’ll list them here. It has detailed scouting reports on all 30 players, which is great especially for the new IFAs.

BA top 30Last NameFirst NamePosition
1CrewsDylanOF (CF)
2WoodJamesOF (Corner)
4CavalliCadeRHP (Starter)
6RutledgeJacksonRHP (Starter)
7Hassell IIIRobertOF (CF)
8VaqueroCristianOF (CF)
9GreenElijahOF (CF)
10SusanaJarlinRHP (Starter)
11LileDaylenOF (CF)
13BennettJakeLHP (Starter)
14SykoraTravisRHP (Starter)
15HerzDJLHP (Starter)
18YoungJacobOF (CF)
19PinckneyAndrewOF (Corner)
20BrzykcyZachRHP (Reliever)
23HenryColeRHP (Starter)
26De La RosaJeremyOF (Corner)
29WhiteT.J.OF (Corner)
30ParkerMitchellLHP (Starter)

Here’s some analysis, going from top to bottom.

  • BA has the same basic top 4 for us as nearly every other shop at this point.
  • Cavalli is now 25 and is the oldest guy on the top 30. A big portion of our future fortunes sit on his shoulders and his ability to come back at the #2 starter that he was purported to be prior to TJ.
  • Morales up to #5 is great to see, especially given our (crummy) track record of 2nd round picks.
  • Rutledge at #6 is great news. A year ago he was in the mid-teens at best on most lists. Now he’s on the verge of losing his rookie status in 2024. Based on where he was in 2022, even if he’s a 5th starter that’s found gold.
  • Green down to #9. Ok so 139 strikeouts in 75 low-A games isn’t a good thing. His scouting report at BA is an interesting read. Here’s how they grade his tools: Scouting Grades Hit: 30 | Power: 60 | Run: 70 | Field: 55 | Arm: 60. that’s two 60s and a 70. Nobody has 60 power and 70 run; that’s like Eric Davis type combos. He’s a project.
  • Our two big IFA signings this month (Victor Hurtado and Angel Feliz) come in at #12 and #24. Ok that’s good. They were both reasonable signings for IFAs; not the $4M for a 16yr old kind.
  • We also picked up a new prospect with our Rule5 draftee, Nasim Nunez. Coincidentally, I wonder if Nunez’ drafting spells the end for Kieboom; he’s got no options, they’ve bought a starting 3B and a starting 1B, and he can’t play middle infield like Vargas and Nunez. Heck, even Alu has more positional flexibility than Kieboom.
  • Both Bennett (TJ – out all of 2024) and Sykora (prep kid who threw zero innings in 2023) are ahead of DJ Herz. Herz, lest anyone forget, is just 23, solved AA, is on the 40-man roster and is certain to get looks this year. Um. what are we looking at here boys?
  • Jacob Young at #18 … well I should hope so!! All he did was rise 3 levels last year and may very well be the starting CF if Robles gets hurt, again.
  • Pineda and Millas back to back at 21 and 22. I think the BA staff has guidelines that say, “ok when you get to the mid 20s, just throw in their top-level catcher depth b/c we know they’ll get looks eventually).
  • Kevin Made absolutely fell apart after we acquired him, and plummeted down the list. Hope he can recover.
  • Mitchell Parker bringing up the rear at #30. So, #30 is where you put polished lefties who are on the 40 man who have solved three minor league levels by the age of 24. Got it

Missing names of note:

  • Andy Acevedo and Edwin Solano; both were $1.3M IFA signings last January, and who did near nothing all summer in 2023.
  • Brennar Cox. As high as #11 on some lists last year. Geeze. Why do we ever draft prep kids?
  • Andry Lara; finally someone ranks him realistically.

All in all, not much to complain about with this list.

Written by Todd Boss

January 24th, 2024 at 8:31 pm

Posted in Prospects

8 Responses to 'Baseball America Nats top 30 Prospects for 2024'

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  1. Why do we draft prep kids? Brady House says hello …

    The reason that Jacob Young and DJ Herz don’t get much prospect love is that most prospect lists seriously groove on potential/ceiling. Have a couple of high end tools that they can dream on (Green) and they will drool over your best case scenario.

    For me the most encouraging sign for the system is the depth. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still top heavy and needs work. But it wasn’t long ago that most of the guys in the teens on this list would have been at the middle/back end of the top ten.

    John C.

    25 Jan 24 at 11:31 am

  2. this system bear no resemblance to any list compiled since 2005. while it can be attributed in a great deal to the Soto haul for me it also indicates that we’ve moved on from the win now at all costs approach. the fact of the matter is that approach reached its goal. I’m confident the Rizzo team can succeed in the future as well.


    25 Jan 24 at 11:44 am

  3. JohnC … ok i should have written that throw away line as, “Why do we draft Prep kids who aren’t consensus 1-1 candidates/obvious 1st rounders?”

    I’m ok with 1st round prep uber talents: House, Giolito, Green, Denaburg, Kieboom.

    I’m less-ok with 2nd/3rd/4th round “buy them out of a div 1 scholarship” kids like: Cox, Sykora, Lile, Infante, Luzardo, Perkins, Reetz, Ward, Cole, Hood.

    So, what i’ve done there is list basically every HS kid we’ve taken in the top 3 rounds going back 15 years. From the first category, The team absoltely seems to have “hit” on House and Giolito. Jury still out on Green. they totally missed on Denaburg, though injuries had a lot to do with that, and Kieboom … well i dunno what the hell happened to that guy. He was an all minor league top 20 prospect in AAA and then went poof.

    But look at the list of those kids taken in the second category. One after another, its a disappoitnment. And yeah, Sykora and Lile are in that category right now. Anyone remember Infante?? Remember Reetz? 3rd rounder. AJ Cole? made it to the majors but never gave us anything. Destin Hood?

    Todd Boss

    25 Jan 24 at 1:12 pm

  4. How’s this for depth: I’d venture that every player ranked #15 through #23 on this list spends at least some time in the majors (unless Cole Henry’s arm falls off). I’m not discounting those above them, but all 15-23 have already played at AA or higher.

    Now, I don’t have nearly as much confidence in the depth or ceiling of the pitching depth as I do the hitting depth, but we’ll see how it plays out.

    My pick for most undervalued asset would be Andrew Pinckney at #19.

    Drafting high schoolers: it’s situational. I was thrilled that House fell to them at #11 but thought Green was a reach at #5 with his well-known contact issues. Luzardo and Sykora were highly valued and seemed worth the risk in the 3d round. Infante and Cox were ranked well below where the Nats picked them and have struggled thus far.


    25 Jan 24 at 1:33 pm

  5. Add Robbie Ray, 12th round pick bought out is a college commitment.

    John C.

    25 Jan 24 at 1:34 pm

  6. I was writing at the same time as Todd. Thinking back to my initial reactions: although I HATE taking high school pitchers high in general, I was OK with the Giolito pick because he was thought to be a generational talent. I didn’t like the Denaburg pick at all, though, all the more coming on the heels of the risky Romero pick a year earlier. I was skeptical about Kieboom, but it was a high-school heavy draft, and he was taken about where he was valued. I liked getting Luzardo in that same draft. I didn’t understand the Andrew Perkins pick at all though, particularly since they had just taken Stevenson. I was OK with the Lile pick but would have preferred a collegian. He’s been progressing well after missing a year with injury.

    I know that some will point out that nearly everyone Todd mentioned eventually made the majors. To me, the bigger rub is the investment, in both signing bonus and development time, as it took most of them a long time to click, and hardly any of them became stars. Kieboom probably had the most direct progression through the minors but seems incapable of taking the last step. House and Lile are progressing reasonably well.

    Of course there have been PLENTY of college washouts taken in the top five rounds as well. I freely admit that I was really excited to land Wiseman, Banks, and Mendoza, among others. Ricky Hague was a tremendous college hitter. The ones who made less sense were guys who hadn’t been good in college (Johannsen) or had a very obvious limited ceiling (Renda, Freeman, Boissiere).


    25 Jan 24 at 1:50 pm

  7. It took Ray and Giolito until their 8th professional seasons (counting draft summers) to get good in the majors. Yes, they both turned out good, but that’s a lot of developmental time and struggle.


    25 Jan 24 at 2:01 pm

  8. James Andrews is horrified about younger pitchers throwing harder. I couldn’t read this without thinking about Giolito and Denaburg in particular, who had such fabled velocity in high school but broke soon after being drafted. Denaburg really has never recovered:

    “I started following the injury patterns and injury rates in the year 2000,” Andrews says. “Back in those days, I did about eight or nine Tommy Johns per year in high school aged and younger. The large majority of Tommy Johns were at the Major League level, then the Minor League level, then the college level and then just a handful of high school kids.

    “In today’s situation, the whole thing is flip-flopped. The largest number is youth baseball. They’ve surpassed what’s being done in the Major Leagues. That’s a terrible situation.”

    Andrews says the obsession with velocity and spin at the youth level is having a devastating impact on arms and the game itself.

    “These kids are throwing 90 mph their junior year of high school,” he says. “The ligament itself can’t withstand that kind of force. We’ve learned in our research lab that baseball is a developmental sport. The Tommy John ligament matures at about age 26. In high school, the red line where the forces go beyond the tensile properties of the ligament is about 80 mph.”

    Andrews has met countless parents who think that if their sons have Tommy John at age 14 or 15, it will improve their chances of reaching the Major Leagues.

    “It’s just the opposite, believe me,” he says. “When they get hurt early in their baseball career, they miss a lot of development, and the parents don’t have a clue about how that affects their career and their ability to move up the ladder.”


    27 Jan 24 at 1:40 pm

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