Nationals Arm Race

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

MLB Pipeline Nats top 30 for 2024 review


Wood's blast was the highlight of the night for Harrisburg. Photo via milb
Wood has been tearing up spring training; could he actually make the team? Photo via

The last of the major pundits (that i’m waiting for, ahem Fangraphs) has dropped their Nats prospect rankings for the new season. Here’s a review of the MLBPipeline Nats top 30, done by MLB’s scouting pundits Jim Callis, Jonathan Mayo, and Sam Dykstra.

Here’s a list of all the ranking lists i’m aware of and/or have reviewed this spring so far, in order of their release (and if I reviewed them, a link to that recap):

Lastly, here’s a link to my Nationals Prospect Tracking XLS, which has all the above ranks, along with more than 230 historical rankings dating back to the very first Baseball America ranking in January of 2005 for the franchise just after moving here.

On with the review of MLB Pipeline. Here’s their top 30 in tabular format:

MLB rankLast NameFirst NamePosition
1CrewsDylanOF (CF)
2WoodJamesOF (Corner)
4CavalliCadeRHP (Starter)
6GreenElijahOF (CF)
7LileDaylenOF (CF)
8Hassell IIIRobertOF (CF)
9VaqueroCristianOF (CF)
10SusanaJarlinRHP (Starter)
11SykoraTravisRHP (Starter)
12HerzDJLHP (Starter)
14BennettJakeLHP (Starter)
15RutledgeJacksonRHP (Starter)
17PinckneyAndrewOF (Corner)
18YoungJacobOF (CF)
21BrzykcyZachRHP (Reliever)
22ParkerMitchellLHP (Starter)
25HenryColeRHP (Starter)
28De La RosaJeremyOF (Corner)
29SaenzDustinLHP (Starter)
30WhiteT.J.OF (Corner)

And here’s some thoughts.

  • This is probably the list that I most agree with so far. When I put this top 30 end to end against my list (which will be forthcoming soon) it’s pretty amazing how well it lines up.
  • Same Top 4 as nearly everyone else.
  • Morales seems to be settling in as the near consensus #5 prospect in the system.
  • I can’t argue with the set of players ranked 6th to 9th, all of whom are Center fielders. Green above Lile and Hassell kind of ignores his 2023 struggles a bit; I have him below Lile/Hassell. Vaquero at #9 seems pretty consistent; nearly every other pundit has him in the 7-9 range.
  • Comment on Lile: man I hope he’s ok and doesn’t have any long term damage.
  • Susana and Sykora 10-11: so now we’re starting to see a bit of the methodology that MLBPipeline adheres to; they’re a little heavy on ceiling and potential. This is probably why Green is higher than his actual on-field performance earns him right now. I like Susana and Sykora, but they’re both 19yrs old with mostly big fastballs and shiny scores on a scouting report.
  • The two 2024 IFAs come in: Hurtado at #13 and Feliz at #24. I think Hurtado is a bit high at 13, but a couple others had him in that range, so it isn’t egregious.
  • I’m a little higher on Young and Nunez than they are, but again its within the mid-teen range and splitting hairs to criticize that they’re ranked 18 and 19 instead of 13 and 14.
  • Brzycky at #21? Don’t get that one. An injured reliever ahead of a 40-man starter in Parker?
  • Kevin Made at #23 shows the drastic variations of opinion: they’re right in line with what BA said, but echelons below what guys like Law and McDaniel said.
  • Henry at #25 is pretty much low man amongst the professional pundits. Ghost had him at #30 for reasons he explained post review. They are not bullish on his return from TOS.
  • Can’t really complain about anyone in the 25-30 range.
  • TJ White is their biggest faller from last year, as noted in the writeup.

biggest misses?

  • Andry Lara; outside top 30. I’m not sure i agree with that, even with as much as I’ve criticized his placement.
  • Quintana out of top 30; not egregious, just noting that most shops have him in the 19-20 range.

Written by Todd Boss

March 4th, 2024 at 11:49 am

Posted in Prospects

26 Responses to 'MLB Pipeline Nats top 30 for 2024 review'

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  1. Not a lot of surprises here, but I have to day that having Nunez ahead of Millas makes no sense to me. I like Millas’s game behind the plate, and his bat is OK for a catcher. I think that he’s in line for a decent career as a journeyman backup catcher. Whereas for all his slick fielding Nunez just hasn’t hit much even in the minors. He’s go to be the second coming of Ozzie Smith to make that profile work.

    John C.

    4 Mar 24 at 2:06 pm

  2. I’ve been hinting about this before, but early results from the spring show that Wood is ahead of Crews. Wood is eight months younger, and if he can make contact (which he really seems to have worked on), his ceiling is about as high as a ceiling can be. This isn’t to put Crews down so much as to say that Wood may be one of the best. (Fingers crossed.)

    (And will we end up with buyer’s remorse for not taking Langford over Crews? I hope not, and Crews is certainly better defensively, but Langford is making a case to be in the lineup of the World Champs.)

    I’ve been concerned about Hassell, but if we’re treating these guys like stocks that fall and rise, he may be back up to #5 or #6 now that he looks healthy. Again, it’s early, and very small sample size, but he’s a lot closer to the majors than Green or Lile.

    You could probably make a good bet that Millas and Young will post more MLB WAR than at least five or six guys ahead of them on this list, maybe more. They’ve already made it to the 40-man and perhaps AAAA status. I happen to think more of Young’s chances of contributing as a speed-and-D guy than I do Nunez’s, as I think Young will hit more. The problem is that the Nats have a million outfielders but virtually no upper-minors depth in the middle infield. (Lipscomb has been showing well in camp so far, though. I’d sure bet on his stick more than I would Nunez’s, Made’s, Baker’s, . . . or Kieboom’s.)

    I agree that Lara should be on the list. He’s a weird case where he hasn’t lived up to the organization’s super hyping of him, and perhaps over-aggressive advancement. But his numbers aren’t terrible, particularly when you factor in that he’s been “playing up.”

    If Henry truly can get (and stay) healthy, he’s in the top 10. If he can’t, then he’s not even worth discussing. He got a bit of a bumpy ride on Sunday after the long delay with Lile’s injury.


    4 Mar 24 at 9:21 pm

  3. Interesting note from the Green write-up: “The Nats have cautioned anyone who would listen not to give up on Green because of just how loud four out of his five tools have been.” Look, I sure hope the kid turns it around and makes it big. I’m rooting for him. But it’s really funny to read that the team is having to tell people “not to give up” on the #5 overall pick after just one season. That’s what happens when you K 42% of the time. Sure hope he’s put in the work this winter.


    4 Mar 24 at 9:32 pm

  4. Langford over Crews: this is the definition of over-reaction to a small sample size. Both players had scouts able to watch them for dozens of games and thousands of hours in college. There’s no argument that Crews was the better prospect out of college, else Langford would have been above him on draft boards and scouting boards. He wasn’t, and he isn’t. Langford is a corner OF while Crews is a CF. Langford and Crews have comparable hit tools, Langford has a bit more power, while crews has more speed and slightly better projected bat. The entire hubabalo about Langford is due to a month of superior performance in the minors last year. that’s it. A complete over-reaction to anyone who has elevated Langford over Crews in their rankings.

    Wood; well we knew he was the jewel of the Soto trade, and man he’s proving it. I don’t value him as highly as Crews, simply because of the extra positional flexibility Crews provides.

    Todd Boss

    4 Mar 24 at 11:29 pm

  5. This list is a good combination of hype and results. They still definitely overvalue hype (see: Green, Sykora, Susana, the ’23 IFAs, etc.), but I can’t get too annoyed because they also give space to low-hype guys like Herz, Millas, Young, etc.

    Also cool to see one of several low-hype SPs (i.e. Alvarez, Young, Luckham, Lord, Cornelio) with solid results make a list. Congrats Dustin Saenz!


    5 Mar 24 at 4:31 am

  6. Re: Crews vs Langford – I wouldn’t be so definitive to say that there was “no argument that Crews was the better prospect”. I think there was consensus – but not unanimity – that Crews was superior, but there were definitely arguments in favor of Langford. Just look at’s last mock draft, where both Callis and Mayo has Langford going #1:

    “There were scouts who felt Langford was just as good as Crews — or at least close — and would sign for less.”

    I won’t lose too much sleep over this. In fact, I’d be more worried if the Nats continued to buck conventional wisdom on their draft picks. Rizzo, for far too long, has thought he’s been smarter than the rest of the league drafting semi-broken pitchers, players with character issues or players with massive-question-marks-in-their-swings (“But I can change him!!”), and look at how that has worked out. Even if Langford ends up being a better player than Crews, I’m happy that the Nats went with the safer, consensus choice. Even if it leads to lower upside, what we need right now is draft picks contributing positively at the major league level, and right now we have a 25 man roster almost completely devoid of that.


    5 Mar 24 at 4:41 am

  7. Sorry, last post for now: who should be debating “why didn’t we take Langford?” is the Tigers. Taking Clark (who looks to be a fine player) over Langford was entirely a financially motivated pick. They ended up only saving $300k though (Clark signed for $7.7m and Langford for $8m), which is the slot value of a late-6th round pick. That, to me, is inexcusable. 99% of all 6th round picks will never reach the majors, much less contribute anything positive. In taking Gavin Dugas in the 6th round, the Nats saved more money ($337k) in slot than the Tigers did in taking Clark over Langford.


    5 Mar 24 at 4:50 am

  8. Law also loved Langford and probably would have had him ahead of Crews before the draft if he wasn’t so concerned by his defensive awkwardness. He now has Langford ahead of Crews on his prospect list.

    I have no problem with having Crews, though. And with Wood and House in the mix, there shouldn’t be as much of an issue if Crews doesn’t end up showing 30-HR power. Just be the gap-power on-base run-scoring machine that he was in college.

    I agree with Will on the Tigers’ “what were they thinking” pass on Langford for Clark. That could end up being like the Royals taking Starling over Rendon (for which we’re forever grateful).


    5 Mar 24 at 8:48 am

  9. As for Langford, a great hitter who plays DH quality defense. That matters.

    Clark is much younger and can play defense.

    Mark L

    5 Mar 24 at 9:06 am

  10. Todd, your Nats Tracking XLS is a great place to get lost on a rainy Tuesday off day. many thx for all the compilations!


    5 Mar 24 at 9:22 am

  11. Will; not to be argumentative … but you explained exactly why Langfored was being considered above Crews and Skenes: the #1 team (Pittsburgh) is notoriously cheap and Langford would sign for less. That’s it. That’s the reason.

    MLB’s scouting grades for the two:
    – Crews: Hit: 70 | Power: 60 | Run: 60 | Arm: 55 | Field: 55 | Overall: 65
    – Langford: Hit: 60 | Power: 70 | Run: 55 | Arm: 45 | Field: 50 | Overall: 65

    So, Crews out grades him on Hit, Run, Arm, and Field …. yet Langford is ranked ahead??? Crews still has 60 power. Even this disproves MLB’s OWN OVERALL RANKINGS. Ok Langford’s power is 10 points higher, well Crews’ hit tool is 10 points higher AND he plays a superior defensive position.

    I got back to my original point. If you want to tell me that Langford is now a superior prospect based on one month in the minors after years of evidence to the contrary, that’s your choice.

    Todd Boss

    5 Mar 24 at 9:48 am

  12. Thanks FredMD! I should re-do my “resources post” with all the random spreadsheets I maintain all in one place.

    Todd Boss

    5 Mar 24 at 9:49 am

  13. Todd, the quote I pasted was the operative part (not the order): before the draft, there were scouts arguing that Langford was just as good as Crews, which means that there were people arguing that Crews was not the better prospect before either of them played a single minor league game. Callis and Mayo, though, were not in this contingent, hence Crews’ superior scouting report. Also, happy to be argumentative. These comment sections would be extremely boring if we all parrotted the same opinions 🙂

    I also echo Fred’s appreciation for your great databases that are extremely underappreciated (wasn’t aware of this one until now!). But I am also very appreciative of your Big Board Tracker and IFA tracker too! They’re extremely rich sources of information, and my go-to resources now.


    5 Mar 24 at 10:37 am

  14. Both Law and Fangraphs favor Langford, Law had Langford above Crews for much of the pre-draft process because he loves great athletes and views Langford as having 70 Speed and Power with a similar hit tool grade (probably half a grade below Crews to credit Crews longer track record of success). Fangraphs is wowed by the statcast data and contact rate Langford has shown in his brief minors stint where he’s walked more than he struckout while climbing to AAA with a combined 1.157 OPS across 44 minor league games; meanwhile Crews struggled in AA and his K/BB ratio underwhelmed for his reputation.
    Putting the small sample size of the minors aside…Langford is a bigger, faster, seemingly more explosive athlete than Crews and the downside that he’s a bad corner OF is not enough to dampen enthusiasm for the offense he could bring. Crews should become a very good major leaguer and his ability to play CF is a big deal for the Nationals as well as a big part of his overall profile . I don’t think drafting Crews was a mistake, but its fair to wonder if Langford will be the better player at least offensively


    6 Mar 24 at 2:16 am

  15. I didn’t mean to lob a grenade with the Langford comment, LOL. I still think Crews will be a fine player, and more valuable defensively.

    Crews’s former LSU teammate, Tommy White, is about to be another divisive prospect for similar reasons. He has awesome power but DH defensive “skills.” Many of us who were watching Crews and Skenes last year saw a fair amount of White.


    6 Mar 24 at 9:51 am

  16. Crews vs Langford. Here’s BA grades right now for both for comparison/contrast to MLB pipeline’s;

    – Crews: Hit: 65. Power: 65. Run: 55. Field: 55. Arm: 60.
    – Langford: Hit: 60. Power: 65. Run: 60. Field: 50. Arm: 50.

    A bit closer than MLB’s. Crews favored in Hit, Field, Arm. Langford pips him in Run, equal power. Still the balance favors Crews. I don’t see these grades supporting any non-quantifiable claim that Langford is “bigger or stronger or a better athlete” Power is an inherent talent; Bryce Harper had 80 power as a skinny prep kid. Playing a skill position matters; it allows Crews to play along side lesser defensive outfielders in the corner.

    I just find it amazing these shops are so over-reacting to 161 ABs in the minors, many of which were accomplished in hitter’s parks in the Texas League and PCL.

    Todd Boss

    6 Mar 24 at 10:57 am

  17. Tommy White. So, i’ve been capturing early mock drafts and the Nats at #10 have been linked to White more than a few times now. Tommy White fits the bill for a Rizzo pick in that he’s pretty famous already.

    White is bad, like really bad, at 3B. I’m not sure if he can even play 1b. So you’d be drafting a possible DH. He better continue his hitting skills into the pros if he’s looking at 1B/DH.

    Todd Boss

    6 Mar 24 at 10:59 am

  18. Closing out Langford and Crews comps, its an older school scouting view but between the listed weight 200lb Crews who looks 10 lbs lighter and Langford listed 225-230 and looking bulkier than his listing there are scouts who are going to bank on the bigger guy having more pop. Langford also rolled his CWS momentum, where he hit the 2 longest HRs in CWS history, into his minors season while Crews dealt with prospect fatigue-the price you pay for being the top prospect for 3 years straight.
    I was certain the Nats were picking one of Crews, Skenes, or Langford and would have been happy with any of them.
    Tommy White seems like a fun story for baseball mock drafters because the narrative of him joining Crews after they won the CWS together, and how automatic White was whenever he had a chance to drive in Crews is easy to enjoy. I find it hard to believe Rizzo will draft a DH only player top 10, especially given White’s athletic limitations which will hurt him more with our front office which still has lots of old school guys at the top.


    6 Mar 24 at 12:56 pm

  19. I used to curse that the Nats were drafting a pitcher every year in the first round when they needed hitters. Now it’s the reverse. Unless Susanna, Sykora, and Lara are lighting it up in the first half of 2024, and Henry looks healthy, I’m going to be jumping up and down for a college arm.

    All in all, this looks like an incredibly weak draft class compared to 2023. And yes, I could see Tommy White as a “falling star” who Rizzo might think is a “steal.” But they got a very similar player last year in Morales, who can actually field. Early reports from camp have been that they’re surprised at how good he has looked at 3B, even with the supposition that he’ll move to 1B to make way for House.


    6 Mar 24 at 3:35 pm

  20. On cue, Law has his top 30 draft prospects at the start of the season:

    (Subscription required.) His overview: “The 2024 draft class isn’t close to as good as last year’s was, lacking the up-the-middle bats and the depth in high school talent overall. Right now, the first round looks like it’s going to be extremely college-heavy, with at least the first seven to eight picks coming from the college rankings and perhaps as many as the first 10, with only a couple of high school pitchers showing well in the early going to get towards the first round or comparable bonuses.”


    7 Mar 24 at 6:09 am

  21. Law list reaction: true to form, Keith zags when the rest of the industry is “zigging” so far. He has Condon as his #1 prospect; only one other major pundit has even mentioned the guy so far in the preliminary ranks/mocks. Yes, the guy has torn up the college season so far, but call me in June. I like Cagliannoe but he won’t get to 10.

    Ironically … guess who he has at #10 where we pick? None other than Tommy White!

    Todd Boss

    7 Mar 24 at 10:55 am

  22. White’s description sent shivers down my spine:

    Tommy Tanks burst onto the scene as a freshman at North Carolina State in 2022, setting the NCAA record for homers by a freshman with 27, and then transferred to LSU for his sophomore year, where he hit just about as well in a tougher conference. He’s got power, naturally, and has posted strong batted-ball data since high school, but he’s an undisciplined hitter who swings at way more pitches than he should, with high chase rates and low walk rates throughout his college career. He’s an adequate defender at third who may end up at first. It’s a bet on power and on a player development staff to get him to swing at strikes.

    I can already see Rizzo rubbing his hands together, repeating the mantra “I can fix him” as he assembles his draft board.


    8 Mar 24 at 9:22 am

  23. I like his bat. Who wouldn’t? But he doesn’t have a position. If you saw him play last year … to say he was awful defensively was an insult to really bad 3rd basement around the world. He made 13 errors in 92 chances last year. That’s a 14% error rate, or basically one out of every 7 balls hit to him getting booted. That’s beyond awful. I can’t believe he was described as an ‘Adequeate’ fielder.

    Here’s BA’s scouting report; no grades yet. they also don’t totally think he sucks at third. Maybe i’m alone on that island.

    After a historic freshman year at NC State in which he hit .362 with 27 home runs, White entered the transfer portal and moved to LSU where he didn’t miss a beat and turned in another sensational season while helping power the Tigers to a College World Series championship. The 6-foot, 236-pound third baseman is one of college baseball’s premier sluggers. Between two seasons he has hit .368/.429/.740 with 51 home runs and 36 doubles. White is physical with huge raw power and electric hand speed that allows him to homer to all fields. What makes him particularly dangerous to opposing college pitchers are his standout bat-to-ball skills. He has an overall 75% contact rate as a college hitter, but an 85% in-zone contact rate and connects against all pitch types equally well. He loves to swing the bat and will expand the strike zone with an aggressive chase rate, which is perhaps the lone offensive question mark scouts have when projecting him in pro ball. White is a fine enough college third baseman but scouts expect him to make the shift over the diamond to first base at the next level, which will place more strain on his hitting chops. Even with a right-right first base profile, White has a chance to warrant a top-10 selection.

    And here’s MLB pipeline’s report, with tool grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 60 | Run: 30 | Arm: 50 | Field: 40 | Overall: 55 . Field 40.

    Though White produced some of the best raw power and exit velocities in the 2021 class, pro teams wouldn’t meet his asking price and he opted to attend North Carolina State. He homered three times in his first college game and nine times in his first eight contests en route to setting NCAA Division I freshman and Wolfpack records with 27 longballs. He transferred to Louisiana State as a sophomore and went deep 24 times while topping D-I with 105 RBIs and helping the Tigers win the College World Series — despite injuring his right shoulder in the season opener and requiring minor surgery during the summer.

    White continues to stand out with his huge right-handed power to all fields, which he generates with strength, bat speed and an uncanny ability to barrel balls. Known more for his slugging, he’s underrated as a hitter who makes repeated contact with impressive exit velocities. Though he’s overly aggressive and regularly expands his strike zone, he rarely swings and misses.

    As a well-below-average runner with average arm strength, White provides limited value on the bases and in the field. Mostly a DH as a freshman, he has primarily played third base since and likely will wind up at first base in pro ball. He lacks range and is erratic at the hot corner, though he earns praise for gritting through the 2023 season and filling a team need despite his bad shoulder.

    Todd Boss

    8 Mar 24 at 5:32 pm

  24. I wonder how many picks teams have spent trying to find the next Pete Alonso. But how do you identify a guy who never hit more than 14 in a college season who is going to hit 53 in the majors just three years later?

    Tommy White could well be the next Alonso . . . but he could also be the next Drew Mendoza. More than likely he’ll be somewhere in between.

    It’s a weird draft, though. A few boom-or-bust college hitters and steady, low-ceiling JJ Wetherholt. None is in the coveted SS-CF realm. There are several very large college pitchers, though, and my money is that Rizzo is watching all of them closely.

    (Alonso signed for only $9,200 more than Sheldon Neuse, who the Nats took six picks ahead of him. The Nats were looking to save money to take Luzardo in the 3d round and passed on Bryan Reynolds, who went one pick after Neuse.) (FWIW, Neuse’s career bWAR of -0.8 is higher than that of the #2 overall pick, some stiff named Senzel [-1.8]).


    8 Mar 24 at 9:49 pm

  25. Have to say that the Luzardo pick worked for the Nats, but through leveraging him into Doolittle (and Madson). They don’t win the WS in 2019 w/o Doolittle.

    John C.

    9 Mar 24 at 4:55 pm

  26. Yes, the Luzardo pick was one of the few “wounded-wing” picks that have actually been successful. Doolittle was a tremendous addition. Madson was terrific in 2017 but turned into a pumpkin the next year, which proved to be the last one of his career.


    10 Mar 24 at 8:45 am

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