Nationals Arm Race

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

Nats 2024 Top 60 Prospect List from Nationals Arm Race


This is your pundit for today.

So, after a dozen posts reviewing other people’s Nats prospect lists, here’s me putting my money where my mouth is. For the first time ever, I offer to you my list of our top prospects.

I’m not just stopping at 10 (that’s easy), or even 30. I was going to publish 50, but found I had 10 “honorable mentions” so i went ahead and ranked them too. Here’s my top 60.

60 prospects is, well, its a lot. Teams can only have 165 total domestic (non DSL) players even rostered, so ranking 60 deep is really a large percentage of our entire minor league system. It includes nearly every starting position player in AA, High-A and Low-A and most of our starting pitchers at these levels.

My methodology: with the benefit of seeing how all the other scouting pundits have ranked these players, I tweaked my rankings per player up or down all spring. If I initially was way off on a guy, I’d use his scouting reports from MLB pipeline or Baseball America to get a fresh opinion. I use the Nats Big Board, which now has direct links to the stats page for every single player in our system to go eyeball stat lines and progression.

My approach to ranking prospects: I’m bearish on DSL players in general at this point; we’ve seen millions of dollars be spent on 16yr olds who went nowhere. I’m not impressed by guys who are already relievers in High-A. I’m skeptical on young arms until they actually do something and generally rank them lower. I probably give more credit than may be due to guys who are in AA or AAA but who don’t light up the stat line. I do have some favorites who I over-rate, like everyone. I try to be honest about that.

I have not seen all of these players in person. In fact, I have not seen most of them. I’m not a professional scout. I’m just a fan of the Nats and want to see these guys matriculate so we can start to win again. So, here goes.

Nationals Arm Race/Todd Boss top 60 Nats prospects for 2024:

NAR RankLast NameFirst NamePosition
1CrewsDylanOF (CF)
2WoodJamesOF (Corner)
4CavalliCadeRHP (Starter)
6Hassell IIIRobertOF (CF)
7LileDaylenOF (CF)
8GreenElijahOF (CF)
9VaqueroCristianOF (CF)
10HerzDJLHP (Starter)
11BennettJakeLHP (Starter)
12RutledgeJacksonRHP (Starter)
13YoungJacobOF (CF)
14SusanaJarlinRHP (Starter)
15SykoraTravisRHP (Starter)
16PinckneyAndrewOF (Corner)
18HenryColeRHP (Starter)
20LaraAndryRHP (Starter)
22De La RosaJeremyOF (Corner)
25QuintanaRoismarOF (CF)
26ParkerMitchellLHP (Starter)
28AlvarezAndrewLHP (Starter)
29SaenzDustinLHP (Starter)
32WhiteT.J.OF (Corner)
34RamirezAldoRHP (Starter)
35McKenzieJaredOF (CF)
36CuevasMichaelRHP (Starter)
37BrzykcyZachRHP (Reliever)
39AldonisPabloLHP (Starter)
40YoungLukeRHP (Starter)
41SchoffTylerRHP (Reliever)
44ShumanSethRHP (Starter)
45TheophileRodneyRHP (Starter)
47LuckhamKyleRHP (Starter)
51GuaschRichardRHP (Reliever)
53KnowlesLucasLHP (Reliever)
54CroninMattLHP (Reliever)
55AgostiniGabrielLHP (Reliever)
59ThomasJohnathanOF (CF)
60CoxBrennerOF (CF)

Ok. here’s some thoughts going through to walk you through how I ended up with these guys where they are. This is going to be really, really long analysis, as I try to really capture why I put each guy in each spot. So, strap in.

  • Same top 4 as everyone else. Yes, I think Crews > Langford 🙂
  • I’ve got Morales at #5. Is it good to have two top-end 3B prospects? Both he and House are basically the same size (6’4″ and between 210-225). Both are big enough to slide to 1B and be a pretty good defensive player there. Both he and House have identical defensive grades (60 arm, 50 field), both were oversized SS in high school. Could one or the other be a 6’4″ second baseman? I can’t really find too much evidence of 2B that big, even though we have plenty of taller SS these days (Tulowitzki, Seager, Ripken, and A-Rod were all 6-3 or 6’4). I suppose this is a good problem to have, having two potentially solid 3B racing to get to the majors first. The scouting report does note that the Nats played Morales some at 1B this year, probably tipping their hand as to where he’ll play if House owns the position as we expect he’ll do. There’s also always the DH spot but that’d be a waste for a decent fielder, which he seems to be.
  • From #6 to #9 I have four straight Center Fielders. I have Hassell over Lile, despite the multiple conversations we’ve had about the topic. They’re really close, but I’m skeptical about Lile’s size and his ability to stay in CF. I do believe Hassell will return to form after the hamate bone bugged him for a big chunk of 2023. I’m also now skeptical about Lile’s durability; a TJ and now a potential back issue on his resume will hamper his development. Not his fault, but that’s the breaks.
  • I have Green #8; he started at #5 for me this offseason, but discussion and other shops have convinced me to drop him based on swing and miss concerns. Yes, I know the team is messing with his swing, and I have not lost faith. Maybe he’ll blow up in 2024, jump two levels, and suddenly he’s in the top 50 for the entire league. It isn’t often you see a guy with his combination of tools (60 power and 70 run? That’s like Willie Mays tools)
  • Vaquero? I mean, he’s basically a high school grad last year hitting .197 in Low-A; can’t fault that. But i’m starting to get the opinion that he’s in the top 10 on the basis of his signing bonus ($4.9M) more than his skills or capabilities. MLB pipeline scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 55 | Run: 70 | Arm: 55 | Field: 55 | Overall: 45. Compare that to Green: Hit: 40 | Power: 60 | Run: 70 | Arm: 60 | Field: 60 | Overall: 50.
  • #10 through #12 I’ve got three straight starters. I went Herz, then Bennett, then Rutledge. Herz is a lefty who just dominated AA at the age of 23 and could very well replace Corbin as the token lefty 4th starter in our rotation. You could make an argument that Bennett should be a little lower; he’s missing all of 2024 with TJ and he (at the same age as Herz) couldn’t get guys out in High-A, but his ranking is consistent with his pedigree and other shops, so we’ll go with it. Rutledge i’ve historically been down on, but you can’t argue with his 2023. Can he succeed in the majors? Jury is out; he has four pitches, two of them plus, which usually screams reliever. If he goes to AAA and makes either his change or his curve more useful, then he’s got something to keep MLB hitters at bay as a 5th starter to start. That’s the hope.
  • Young at #13: I’m higher on him than anyone else besides Ghost. Call me crazy, but if you push your way up 3 levels AND you don’t hit .180 in your MLB debut, i’m sold. If we didn’t have Robles on the hook for multiple millions and a hope that he’ll be a trade candidate in July, i’d say go with Young on opening day. But, i’d rather see him start and play in AAA unless there’s an injury or one of our presumed starters (Garrett?) isn’t ready to answer the bell. You tell me: i’m sure Young would rather ride the pine in the majors collecting a salary instead of riding the buses in AAA and playing in 30 degrees all April. Young at #13 is actuals over potential analysis. I think a guy like Young doesn’t get prospect love b/c he projects as a 4th outfielder. Well, at least he’s made it to the show; that’s worth more than the guy who is 25 in High-A who also projects as a 4th outfielder.
  • I’ve got Susana and Sykora 14/15, thinking right now they’re basically the same guy; 18-19yr old with big arm and shiny scouting report. I’m lower on these guys than probably anyone else (McDaniel had Susana #5 of all things), but i’ve just completely worn out any confidence that any prep pitcher ever pans out for us. I hope i’m wrong; i hope these guys rocket up the system and turn into the next coming of Doc Gooden. But their wash out rate is so high its hard to be confident.
  • I probably begrudgingly have Pinckney at #16, and started with him much lower. He was an under-slot senior sign last year who went 102nd overall. Is it possible every team in the league who passed on him three times just missed on a bargain? Something tells me he’ll plateau and wash out before he gets to AAA. Baseball Prospectus had him ranked 9th, by way of comparison. SSS: he has looked relatively overmatched in limited ST at-bats.
  • Lipscomb quietly at #17, despite solid production since the moment he was drafted. He’s an NRI this spring and he was hitting well while playing multiple infield positions. I mean, is this guy our starting 2B of the future? He exuded confidence on the field in AA, clearly a team leader for that squad of top-end prospects.
  • Henry at #18: this is kind of splitting the difference between a complete TOS wash-out and remaining hopeful he returns to form. Remember, this guy used to be ranked as high as our #2 prospect just a couple years ago. He may be a long-shot to turn into the #2 starter projection he used to be, and maybe his worst case is a top-quality back of the bullpen guy (alongside Rutledge?). The big test is past; his velocity is all the way back post TOS, so now its just refinement.
  • Nunez at #19: another one I could argue two different ways. He seems to be 100% glove without much in the way of a bat. Well, we’re about to find out since the rule5 draftee seems set to be one of the two utility infielders on the big club all year. Can he actually hit? Is 19 too high? could be. A brief ST glimpse shows he’s really, really tiny. Like, he looks like your kid brother put on your uniform and hit the field. Good glove though, and has made some solid contact.
  • Andry Lara at #20. Here’s the first place where we see a major deviation between the other shops. Lara has some of the easiest velocity out there. He’s always been young for the level, and even though he was in High-A rotation all year he was just 20. His monthly splits show he finished well … even if he was only pitching 4 innings a start. I’d like to see him pitch deeper into games, turn lineups over a third time maybe, and dominate Wilmington for a couple more months before coming up to AA. But if he’s 21 and holding his own in AA, that’s better than a #20 prospect. MLB didn’t even have him in their top 30, which I think is a mistake. Nats: PLEASE don’t shove him to AA; let him get stretched out and succeed in High-A for a couple months.
  • Kevin Made: no idea what we have with him. Law ranked him #9 (!), Ghost didn’t even have him in his top 30. So there’s huge variation here. But he’s super small (just 5’9″) without any power projection. So he’s going to have to be a high OBP plus defender type to make it, and he’s got work to do.
  • De La Rosa at 22 and Quintana at 25 are kind of the same analysis: they’re both relatively young IFAs with decent but not flashy numbers and are corner OFs. Quintana is lesser regarded and didn’t even make MLB’s top 30, but I’ve got him mid 20s for a reason; he’s got some pop and could be a sneaky riser in the system.
  • Hurtado, our big money 2024 IFA signing, slotted in at #23 (Our other top ranked/big money 2024 IFA signing Feliz comes in at #30). That’s well below anyone else who actually included 2024 signees in their lists, and he’s this low because i’m cynical about the capabilities of these guys til we see them.
  • Catchers: I’ve got Millas at #24, Pineda at #33. Is Millas even a prospect anymore? He just turned 26, has been in the system for years. He’s never projecting to be anything other than a backup Catcher. Pineda i’m including as eligible by lack of ABs and not looking at service time manipulation. He’s 3 years younger and had really done well in AA a couple years ago as a 21yr old, but took a step back this year. I think Pineda has a chance to still be a “prospect” but can he supplant Riley Adams? Seems doubtful. I hope Pineda rebounds this year and gives the team some options in case we suffer a Catcher injury in the Bigs.
  • Parker at #26: I like this guy and think he should be higher. But scouts seem doubtful that his stuff will play at higher levels. We’ll see now that he’s on the 40-man. I saw him pitch for AA and was impressed. He’s been solid at every level he’s pitched; he just keeps moving up and moving on.
  • Baker at #27: the definition of a guy who has no flashy tools but probably ends up with a decent MLB career as a career utility backup guy. And the way that Garcia looks this spring, it may not even be that far off. If Garcia can’t hit, and continues to be such a defensive liability, the team may cut bait and try someone else.
  • Andrew Alvarez at #28. Our 2023 minor league pitcher of the year ended the year in the AA rotation after cruising in High-A all year. I’m one of the few to even mention the guy; the only other shop to list him is BA at #30. Not even Prospects1500, which spent most of its 40-50 range guys listing 16 yr olds who hit .150 in the DSL after signing for $5 grand didn’t list him.
  • Saenz at #29. Honestly he should be higher. 3.43 ERA in a full season starting in AA. Problem is, he doesn’t light up the scoreboard, so nobody thinks he’s a prospect. But he’s a lefty, like Alvarez, and you don’t have to throw mid-90s to be an effective lefty in the majors.

So, that’s the top 30 with discussions on nearly every guy. We still have 30 to go. I’ll kind of do short comments on random players the rest of the way out so this isn’t 5,000 words.

  • TJ White at #32: I’m not as bullish as Ghost (who had him at #19); i just want to see him rebound.
  • Aldo Ramirez at #34: this guy used to be a top 10 prospect; he should be higher and could jump 20 spots in a season if he can show he’s healthy. Lets hope so; our SP prospect depth is shaky.
  • Cuevas at #36: ok the guy is 22 and spent the whole season in the AA rotation. Even if he wasn’t great, that’s one of the youngest guys in the league. If he had an era in the 3s he may be a near top 10 prospect. Maybe he should be higher.
  • Brzycky at #37: this is as high as I’m willing to go for a reliever. I don’t care how good he is. There’s a couple more relievers on the list, but i’m a follower of the adage that you can find relievers from your failed starters.
  • Infante at #38: hopefully this is the last of our long-line of failed 2nd round draft picks.
  • Schoff at #41 kind of quietly has made his way to AAA as a reliever only guy from the start.
  • Seth Shuman should be higher. But he’s now 26 and he missed all of last year with injury. He has a career minor league ERA of 3.28. He’s just lost so much development time.
  • Jordy Barley seems like he should be higher; he’s the starting SS in AAA at 24 and was a mid 20s prospect a couple years ago. But this year i’m the sole person to list him anywhere.
  • Will Frizzell at #48 may be too high. I think he’s a lingering prospect due to a good season a couple years ago.
  • Andy Acevedo at #49 is here solely because the team gave him $1.3M last year. Same with Solano at #57. These are guys who got a ton of money and hit in the mid .150s last year but who will be kicking around the system for years thanks to their signing bonus “investments.”
  • Suggs at #50 is the sole other catcher on this list. That’s crazy; we have zero catching depth.
  • Lucas Knowles; all he did was worm his way up to AAA as a rubber armed lefty reliever. Lots of value there if he can sling it and get people out. But does this kind of guy play in the majors? I feel like there’s a “minor league type” of arm who every team in High-A and AA loves, who can gets guys out when the starter blows up and keeps teams in games, but never gets any prospect love and has little shot of ever making it.
  • Cronin at #54: man what happened to this guy? On the 40-man, then pitched so badly that he got outrighted and then pitched even worse. Kind of like Evan Lee a couple years ago, who has regressed so badly he’s not even in the top 60.
  • Elian Soto is ranked solely because of who his brother is.
  • Carlos Batista at #58 is the sole hitter from the 2023 IFA who even had something close to a respectable batting line in DSL last year. Doesn’t make him a prospect; it makes him the shiniest egg of a bunch of rotten eggs.
  • Brenner Cox finishes it out at #60. He’s looked overmatched from the moment the team signed him. Probably should have gone to college.

Who did I miss?

  • Prospects1500 listed a whole bunch of 23IFAs in its 40-50 range; none of them are better than the relative journeymen we have in our 50-60 range even.
  • A couple of 2023 upper teen picks Liam Sullivan and Nick Peoples got some prospect mention elsewhere; i wasn’t impressed.
  • Tim Cate is still in the system. Not even in the top 60.
  • Brandon Boissiere; i used to like this guy, but he’s struggling to hold on to a job.
  • Holden Powell: man, hard to believe he was a 3rd rounder.

Phew. that was a lot. Thanks for reading and this probably concludes prospect season. I’ll recap Fangraphs whenever it comes out because I can’t help myself, but time to move forward.

Written by Todd Boss

March 11th, 2024 at 9:06 am

Posted in Prospects

21 Responses to 'Nats 2024 Top 60 Prospect List from Nationals Arm Race'

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  1. This is a fun write-up Todd! Thanks for the work. Tell your pundit that I’m making waffles.

    John C.

    11 Mar 24 at 11:19 am

  2. Nice list! I can’t complain much, but I’ll do my best:

    “Who did I miss?”

    Max Romero Jr. – his prospect status was moderately burnished with his recent deserved inclusion in the Nats Development Showcase team. As a 22 year old, he just posted a .420 OBP in Fredericksburg, with good power to go with it (.164 ISO), for a .849 OPS. Caught my attention! Onix Vega is basically diet Romero. No power, but great OBP skills and a solid .254/.376/.295 in AA at age 24. Worth keeping an eye on too…

    Everett Cooper flew under everyone’s radar. An unlikely HS draft pick outside the top 3 rounds to sign, he posted an impressive .373/.460/.400 slash in the FCL at age 19.

    Nathaniel Ochoa Leyva is another HS pick who’s hit reasonably well, while being younger than almost all his teammates, hitting .290/.371/.366 in the FCL.

    I understand your skepticism of relievers, but I’d argue if the Nats could develop relievers with any reliability we might have won more than one World Series, and held onto a bunch of very good prospects. Their upside is limited, but then again all but like five of these prospects’ upside is limited…

    I think everyone, Nats brass included, is majorly sleeping on Marlon Perez. Check out his numbers; they’re better than any reliever in the system, Brzykcy included, and doesn’t (yet) have injury baggage.

    I’d also add Orlando Ribalta and Jack Sinclair to the list of relievers, if only because they’re reasonably advanced and still getting results. Maybe Marquis Grissom too.

    Minor quibbles with placement:

    Too High: Hassell, Green, Made, Hurtado, Feliz, Theophile, Cox and everyone not named Carlos Batista from 2023’s dreadful DSL Nats team.

    Too Low:
    Drew Millas – he’s already contributed +0.2 WAR to the Nationals, which is more than I think all but 10 prospects from the Nats in the past 5 years, and will be more than all but like 5 players on this list. If you’ve got Young so high, Millas should get similar credit.

    Elijah Nunez – no power whatsoever, but he walked more than he struck out, and plays seemingly solid CF defense (I know he’s two years older, but compare his stats in Fredericksburg to the other CF Elijah…)

    Jorgelys Mota – is he the infield version of Jeremy de la Rosa? Probably. But I’m happy to ride the wave as long as he continues to prove us wrong.


    11 Mar 24 at 1:11 pm

  3. First off, just wow and thanks. That’s a ton of work. Thanks for putting this list together and providing a space to discuss the deep cut prospects that barely get a mention from most evaluators. And thanks for including your detailed commentary. Seeing what an evaluator is thinking is much more valuable and interesting than just the raw order of names.

    I want to go through your list in more detail and see how it compares to the others (and to mine), but I’d love to just hear more about your approach. I don’t think many of us are able to watch these games in person. This exercise is mostly a meta-analysis of public reports and our own analysis of the stats. I watch a few dozen MiLB games on TV, and I sometimes get a holistic impression about a player, but I’m not a scout and I’m never going to rely on my own observations about a player’s mechanics, for example. I just think it’s a very interesting question how to best blend the various sources of information.

    A few initial observations are:

    1. I get your critique about actuals vs potential, but these lists aren’t about who has the more impressive career. It’s about who is going to deliver the most value to the major league team averaged across potential development scenarios. For example, Jake Noll indisputably had a better career than Yasel Antuna, but I’d argue Antuna was rightfully the higher ranked prospect all those years.

    2. I share your skepticism of high bonus IFAs before they produce stateside. But there’s a big difference between the low 7-figure bonuses (like Acevedo and Solano) and the multi-million ones like Vaquero and Hurtado. My rule of thumb, in terms how to infer the pro scouts’ evaluations, has been to treat it like a draft bonus of half the figure. Hurtado is a late 2nd rounder. Acevedo is a 4th rounder. Etc.

    3. I agree that you have to be especially wary of relief-only prospects. They necessarily have low ceilings and their sample sizes, even over a whole year, are so small that you can’t really trust their stat lines. But I think you risk overdoing it. Even in small samples in the low minors, off-the-charts results from a RP is more interesting to me than a middling bat. In short, I think you have Brzykcy 10-15 spots too low; I’d include Ferrer and Willingham about where you have Brzykcy (if we’re only going by 50 IPs for rookie eligibility), and then I’d add Marlon Perez, Marquis Grissom Jr and Jack Sinclair in the back end of my top 50.

    But really a solid list. Most of the placements seem about right to me and I’m going to have to think a bit more about some of the particulars where they don’t (eg I have Quintana a lot lower, but maybe he deserves another look). Thanks a ton!


    11 Mar 24 at 1:18 pm

  4. DJ LeMaihieu is a 6’4 2B.


    11 Mar 24 at 10:49 pm

  5. My approach? Well, since I’m not sitting at these games, its all meta analysis/over analysis of pundits who I trust (Law, McDaniel, Longenhagen, Mayo, Callis), then backing out their known biases (McDaniel over values prep arms as a simple example), then kind of putting in my opinion (well stated: but i’m skeptical of any IFA until they get out of rookie ball).

    Todd Boss

    12 Mar 24 at 10:14 am

  6. Will: thanks for the feedback. I think all your guys should be Honorable Mentions on the list for tracking purposes. I totally forgot about Romero and probably would have put him in the low 40s.

    Todd Boss

    12 Mar 24 at 10:16 am

  7. great compilation and thoughtful comments, much appreciate the effort.

    I am so ready for the games to begin. can some keep it up, can some revive past hopes, can some surprise?

    one story I read a short while ago contained the tidbit that Denaburg was pitching through a hernia last year. I’ll only say that his performances exposed to view an obvious injury of some sort. video posted of him working out recently at one of the pitching labs appeared to show him as recovered.


    12 Mar 24 at 1:52 pm

  8. Thanks, Todd. That makes a ton of sense, and seems like the best anyone can do without their own independent in-person scouting.

    Also, having gone through the list, here are my specific quibbles / comments:

    Wood should be over Crews. Most scouts see Wood has the upside pick, and have Crews with the higher floor. But last year in AA, Wood had an OPS 230 points higher despite being a half year younger. Everyone loves both prospects, so maybe this doesn’t matter, but higher upside plus better current production makes Wood is #1 for me.

    I have Morales at 5 too (like most lists), but one of the main inputs is his performance across 189 PAs in the minors last year. During that time he enjoyed a BABIP of .443 and managed an ISO of .145 without any HRs. I think it’s most likely that his success continues, while shifting into a more sustainable distribution, but he’s a guy who can easily slip 5 places for me if he struggles.

    Hassell at 6 is too high for me right now. I need to see him produce a 120 wRC+ in AA or AAA before I’m ready to fully credit the injury recovery narrative.

    I also think Lile is a bit too high at 7. He’s not particularly fast and has a weak arm. Most of the reports I’ve seen have him as LF-only. He did great last season coming back from his missed year, but if you put him in LF (or 1B or DH), his profile begins to look kind of shaky.

    And then, perhaps relatedly, I think you have Vaquero a few spots too low. His complex numbers at 18 are significantly better than Lile’s were. All the scouts give him a ton of physical projection, and his defense grades out just fine for CF. Huge error bars for anyone so young and far away, of course, but he held is own in his first taste of A ball late last year. He’s the most on-track prospect of this set of OFs, so I have Vaquero > Hassell > Green > Lile. (Though Hassell could rise pretty quickly with good production, and Green will fall quite a ways for me unless he shows ~5pp improvement in k% this year. He doesn’t need to be good yet, but he needs to start making progress.)

    I agree with Will that Millas is too low. He’s old for a prospect, but catchers often need that time and it doesn’t reflect as poorly on them as on other position players. He should be ranked around J Young. (I actually have him just ahead of Young, but could certainly see the argument going the other way.)

    Brzykcy is too low. Other relievers I mentioned above missing. (I know Willingham hasn’t been good during his limited time in the majors, but he’s been ridiculously lights out in the upper minors. I’m really hoping he has one more development step to make.)

    I have Mota about 20 places higher than you. No big bonus, but he’s gotten plenty of mentions from evaluators and not many 18 years olds play their way to A ball. He could rise quickly on a lot of lists if he continues to produce.

    I have De La Rosa, Quintana and Baker about 10-15 places lower. And Pineda a bit lower too (just 5-6 places, which feels very ticky-tack this far down the list, but I’m mentioning it because it fits the same pattern). Across all 4, I think I’m reacting to a down year with more elasticity than you, and many other evaluators. I’ve seen lots of prospects with strong results over a single year and/or some strong marks from scouts regress and then never bounce back. Maybe Baker and Pineda’s down years were injury based, and if they snap back, I’ll be happy to bump them up quickly. And JLDR and Quintana didn’t have bad years exactly – league average-ish production while being a year young for the level is decent – but JLDR was repeating the level and Quintana is on the bottom of the defensive spectrum, so I’m finding it difficult to keep them ranked higher than 35-40.

    I love your optimism on Ramirez, but until he actually pitches some innings, he’s 10+ spots lower for me.

    I don’t have Cuevas in my top 50. Yes, 22 in AA is impressive, even if the results aren’t great. But to me his placement reads more as the team needing innings from an org guy and not prioritizing his development. I’d be happy to be wrong, but he’ll need to show improvement for me to add him to our deep SP prospect depth (Alvarez, Shuman, L Young, Ward – who I also have on my list around 40th, though you may have him ineligible). Right now, Cuevas is a non-prospect for me.

    Lastly, I second Will on Romero, who I have around 30th, and Ochoa Levya, who just made my top 50.


    12 Mar 24 at 2:09 pm

  9. Sorry for being a little late to the party. It’s definitely a solid list. There’s plenty of minor quibbling that could be done, but as we’ve said before, once you get beyond the top four, who really knows? It becomes a game of darts quite quickly.

    If given the choice of one player to keep from among Hassell, Lile, Green, or Vaquero, who would it be? SMS put Lile last in that list, but if I had to wager on which one actually has the best chance to click in the majors, I might bet on Lile. I’ve been very pleased to see Hassell playing better in the spring, though. If Green figures out how to make consistent contact, he might be a superstar. If he can’t, he might not make AAA. Vaquero makes contact and takes walks, but until he shows any power, he’s really hard to evaluate.

    At the top of the list, I agree with SMS: as of where we are right not, mid-Spring Training 2024, Wood would rank ahead of Crews on my board. That’s not a diss of Crews, it’s an acknowledgment that Wood may have the highest ceiling of any prospect in baseball. (He’s also nine months younger than Crews and closer to the majors.) Would you trade Wood for ANY prospect in baseball right now, including Holliday, Chourio, Skenes, or Langford? I don’t know that I would, but YMMV. Others might be safer bets, but none has his potential ceiling.


    13 Mar 24 at 10:21 am

  10. Wood versus Crews. Yes, I love that Wood is exploding this spring. It doesn’t change my mind as to who is #1. If Crews hadn’t been locked into a 3 year LSU commitment, he probably would have gone pro at least one year and probably two years earlier. He slashed .362/.453/.663 as a Freshman after being a pretty decent prep prospect who just didn’t get 1st round money; he would have been a 1st rounder based on his destroying SEC pitching and proving he belonged, then he’d have had two years in the minors to get to where he and Wood both are right now: AA level players on NRI invites. Odds are he’d probably already be in the majors. Either way, its folly to trust a couple weeks of spring training ABs versus years of stats against known competition.

    Its basically the same argument I make shaming people who, on the backs of a few dozen ABs last fall in AAA, suddenly have Langford ahead of Crews. You guys had three years of SEC batting stats and like for like/apples to apples comparisons, then a couple of games where langford blows up playing in stadiums at altitude in the PCL and he’s the better prospect?? yeah right. Now, if Crews goes back to AAA and continues to hit .200 for some reason, then yes i’ll change my tune.

    Todd Boss

    13 Mar 24 at 12:10 pm

  11. Just to clarify, it’s not about ST results for me at all. It’s about Wood actually producing at AA as a 20 year old. Crews’s metal bat stats are incredible. Historic. I love him as a prospect and I don’t think he’ll struggle. But Wood’s upside plus his significantly better production in Harrisburg (despite being younger) clinches it for me.

    And I agree about Langford and Crews, with a small caveat. Some scouts did have Langford over Crews before the draft — so if those scouts want to mildly crow “I told you so” because of Langford’s incredible hot streak to start his career, I think that’s fair enough. He’s been very impressive, and I don’t begrudge them enjoying it. But I 100% agree that if you had Crews over Langford pre-draft, like most folks did, you shouldn’t be changing your projection based on 150 PAs on the back of a long season.

    @KW – I do think I might trade Wood for Holiday (SS with a 150 wRC+ in AA at 19) or maybe Skenes (just apples and oranges – frontline starters are so rare), but I think that’s the whole list for me, and I’m not a slam dunk even on those.


    13 Mar 24 at 12:45 pm

  12. I still think/hope that Crews can be a star-level player, but I think it’s going to be a Rendon-level star. (That’s still a $35M AAV neighborhood, after all!) And FWIW, I probably wouldn’t trade Crews for Langford, as Crews figures to be significantly better defensively.

    Massive power is such a rare and highly sought commodity in the game right now, though. Look at the Othani and Judge contracts. Even those who hedge their bets on Wood comp him with Adam Dunn. I would say that 462 MLB homers is a helluva floor.

    Of course nothing is guaranteed, for any of them. I’m sure there was a time when Gallo was comped with Dunn. Now he’s 30 and on a make-good contract with one of the worst teams in baseball.


    13 Mar 24 at 12:56 pm

  13. Skenes really is a rare commodity. If you look at nearly all the prospect lists, he’s the only one who projects as an ace. The pitching landscape is sort of a wasteland right now, everywhere. Of the next level of pitchers, I think Law said that Cavalli would be in that class if he had been healthy. But they’re all #2-#3 types.


    13 Mar 24 at 1:00 pm

  14. Todd Boss

    13 Mar 24 at 3:21 pm

  15. Interesting news on Kieboom, since I hadn’t heard that he had been designated for assignment. But (no surprise) he cleared waivers. I wonder if they start Kieboom at 3b at AAA with House at AA, or if they go ahead and move Kieboom to 2b since that’s more of a position of need. That would push Darren Baker somewhere though.

    John C.

    13 Mar 24 at 4:48 pm

  16. Lipscomb also needs to play somewhere, unless they have him at shortstop.

    Whatever happened to Kieboom will always be a mystery. It’s not just that he couldn’t make the last step to the majors, it’s that his power suddenly dried up in the second half of 2019, even though he was in the PCL. He had been progressing perfectly on track until then. Did he mess up his stroke swinging for the PCL fences? It’s easy to say that other teams figured him out, and that’s likely part of it, but he had time at the alternate site in 2020 to get straightened out, and didn’t.

    Beyond that, he never learned to play defense. Neither did Garcia and Antuna, who were coming through the system around the same time. What were they teaching these guys? They’ve almost completely turned over the minor-league staff since then. We’ll see if it helps.


    13 Mar 24 at 5:23 pm

  17. Very random notes:

    Guy completely missing from the list who intrigues me: Murphy Stehly. Yes, he’s already 25 and has barely played above A+. (And I second Will on some interest in Everett Cooper, for someone more age-appropriate.)

    Guy you’re really low on who I have some hope for: Marcus Brown. Legit SS, slick fielder, all he has to do is hit a little. Still waiting on Made and Cruz to hit a little. First one of the three to hit a little will move up quickly.

    Guy I share your semi-irrational enthusiasm for: Lara. The club has done him no favors by over-hyping him, and possibly over-promoting him. At least they didn’t make the Adon mistake and add him to the 40-man. Seems like a big year for him to

    Guy who has probably earned a chance of some sort but is very positionally and power limited: Darren Baker. Lipscomb may be bumping him out of his chance.

    Guy I share your conflict about but hope can be higher: Mitchell Parker. Dude certainly has gotten himself on the radar with a stellar spring so far. Lefty funk can keep you employable for a long time. Walks have been his Kryptonite, but he’s avoided them so far.

    Guy who seems too good to be true: Herz. But I hope he’s not.


    13 Mar 24 at 9:58 pm

  18. A big year for Lara to . . . take a significant step forward.


    14 Mar 24 at 7:37 am

  19. Law on 2024 impact rookies:

    Says he’d be “shocked” if Crews isn’t in DC by July 1, doesn’t name Wood to his list or mention him at all (curiously).


    14 Mar 24 at 11:38 am

  20. Herz is a guy that I’m irrationally high on. I’m a believer in deception, and think it’s underrated by scouts. He’s also young enough that some more development can be expected, and I think we’re going to see him improve his command, his third pitch or both this season. I have him ranked 7th on my list. Probably my biggest outlier.

    But I also know that I’m ignoring some red flags. Better hitters will punish his wildness. His xFIPs are quite a bit less impressive than his FIPs and, even if his HR suppression is “real”, it’s not clear he can sustain it against tougher competition. And if he simplifies his delivery to make it more repeatable, there’s a good chance that he’d also become more hitable.

    So we’ll see, but he’s definitely one of the guys I’m most hoping on.


    14 Mar 24 at 3:23 pm

  21. Catching up on comments.
    – Kieboom to AAA; where to play House? Uh, yeah, great question. House has zero left to prove in AA (.324/.358/.475 last year) and is the heir-apparent now. Kieboom can’t play SS, don’t want to move Baker off 2B. Maybe 1B or DH full time? Also in the mix is 40-man roster member Alu, who’s also gotta play somewhere and whose value resides in the fact that he can play on the dirt. Maybe Kieboom goes to 2B, Baker to SS to see if he can be a true utility infielder, Barley sits, Alu bounces around. I dunno. Maybe House just stays in AA again and is told that if/when Senzel sucks in the majors he goes straight from AA->MLB.

    – what the hell happened to Kieboom? that’s a great question. In 2020, Baseball America had him #15 prospect in all of the minors, and all the other major shops did as well. Analysis i’ve read in the past show that he just suddenly stopped squaring up balls. I can’t think of another prospect who was so highly touted who just disappeared like this on us.

    – Lipscomb: another one who doesn’t have a AAA position, unless you think he can play SS. In AA he played 1B, 2B and SS, so maybe so. The team seems high on him, he hit relatively well last year and seems to be a leader. I could see him playing SS in AAA.

    – Murphy Stehly: no offense KW, but he’s a 25yr old 1B only senior sign who got a $10k bonus and who has 2 career homers. If he had 20 homers last year I still don’t think he’s a prospect, and the team has so little invested in him that i’m shocked he’s gone as far up as he has. now his problem is that Morales likely needs to play 1B going forward, and he’s the much better prospect.

    – Lara; yes, this is a big year for him.

    – Law saying Crews (but not Wood) up by mid-year. We’d have to have multiple Outfielders fall by the wayside for that to happen really. If Robles comes out hitting .280 again, he’s not getting benched. Thomas earned his spot, he’s not getting benched. Stone Garrett was a solid bat last year and if he’s healthy, HE’S not getting benched. So, Crews and Wood both need some injuries or trades to occur … Trade deadline is 7/30, but nobody really does trade analysis until after the draft and after the ASG, so our best hope is that Robles, Thomas, and GArrett all crush it, we move them for prospects in the end of july, and then the new OF starting Aug 1st is Young, Crews, Wood with Call as the backup.

    Todd Boss

    15 Mar 24 at 10:52 am

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