Nationals Arm Race

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

Four Full Season Rosters Now Available


2024 AAA’s opening day starter Joan Adon. 2nd year in a row he’s done the deed. Photo via

The four minor league full-season affiliate rosters are now available, and all four rosters are updated in the Big Board.

Thanks to Luke Erickson who found all the links directly and summarized them this morning at The MILB transaction pages aren’t updated yet. Direct links to each roster announcement:

Here’s some observations on the four rosters, dividing up outfield players and pitchers.

AAA non Pitchers:

  • The pushing down of both Alex Call and Jacob Young may have impacted the call-up of guys like Crews or Hassell, but probably not. I don’t think Crews “earned” his way to AAA based on his AA performance at the end of last season, but I also think he’ll work his way up soon.
  • I commented on the logjam of middle infielders on this roster at Luke’s site, but i’ll comment here again. So AAA has Alu (2B, 3B, LF), Kieboom (3B only), Baker (2B only), Dunn (SS and 3B), and Mejia (SS primarily) as its middle infielders. Alu is a 40-man roster player, so he kind of has to play. But if he plays 2B or 3B, then one or the other of Kieboom or Baker is sitting. If you put Alu in left field, then suddenly one of Call, Young, or Wood is sitting; that’s two 40-man players and our 2nd best prospect. So … where the heck are all these guys going to play? Are we just going to rotate them in and out of DH (so Blankenhorn sits)? It just seems like they need to make an adjustment here somehow. This will become a major issue soon if/when Brady House has to be promoted.
  • Millas the starter, Lindsly the backup Catcher. Lindsly continues to hang around.
  • The team retained Yepez and Blankenhorn to serve as 1B/DHs, they “beat out” a couple other guys in spring training and keep their hopes up of making their way to the MLB roster if and when we trade the likes of Gallo, Meneses, or Thomas.

AAA Pitchers

  • I posted about it when they all got optioned together 3/15/24, but the AAA rotation has been known for a few weeks now. Love it. First time (as i noted in the above link) we’ve had so many prospects in a AAA rotation in a decade or more.
  • The back-end of the bullpen includes at least two guys i’d keep an eye on: Jacob Barnes looked great in spring training, and 40-man member Willingham.
  • The rest of the bullpen in AAA is the expected collection of MLFAs, Waiver claims, etc. Tim Cate was at one point a prospect; maybe he can make it as a loogy (in as much as a “Loogy” even exists anymore with the 3-batter minimum rule).

AA non-Pitchers

  • Lots of prospects here. Too bad Harrisburg doesn’t visit my hometown of Richmond until very late in the season; i’d love to see the collection of 1st and 2nd rounders here.
  • Pinckney will take Woods’ spot in the outfield, to go with Crews and Hassell. I know many like Pinckney as a low-profile prospect, and he did get a NRI and got some ABs against major leaguers this spring … and looked really overmatched.
  • House still here, but … as per the above 2B/3B log jam, there’s really nowhere for him to go. Something is going to have to give, soon. House really should be in AAA.
  • Barley got demoted to be the starting SS in AA; he needs to hit more.
  • The rest of the bench are all 26-27 yr olds who are probably on their last lifelines; Wilson, Cluff, Arruda, Garcia, and Witt. None of these guys are really prospects; just org guys filling spots until guys earn their way up from High-A.
  • No Trey Harris anywhere, so he’s in XST land, either hurt or with the team trying to figure out how he fits in.

AA Pitchers

  • I’m guessing on the rotation, since most of the pitching staff on 2024 opening day was there on 2023 closing day. I think we’ll see Henry, Saenz, Alvarez, Cuevas, and Knowles. Obviously everyone’s got their eye on Henry, and if he starts out hot he might really force the Nat’s decision making process on what to do with Joan Adon in AAA in particular. I think its time for Adon to move to the bullpen, and a promotion could be the catalyst.
  • Also interested in 2023 pitcher of the year Alvarez, and to see if 22yr old Cuevas can push for a promotion mid-season
  • A couple of noteworthy relievers to watch in Sinclair, Schoff, and Ribalta. The rest of the AA bullpen are mostly over-age 27-28yr old/MLFA types who are now org-arms soaking up innings until they get released.
  • Where did Luckham go? He should be in this squad, perhaps he’s nursing an injury in XST because he didn’t get demoted to High-A.
  • Both Reid Schaller and Zach Brcycky are on the 60-day DL, seemingly out the entire year. Both are valuable back-of-the-bullpen arms who have performed well, and are one of the reasons it was such a cattle call for RHP relievers in spring training.

High-A non-pitchers

  • Because of the AAA->AA outfielder log jam. Daylen Lile starts in High-A again. He really needs to move forward, perhaps he’s still recovering from his scary Spring Training incident.
  • High-A has a log-jam of 1B/DH types that probably gets cleared up soon: Boissiere, Frizzell, Stehly, and TJ White only have so many ABs to share and all seem to play the same position. This may be the year that Frizzell and Stehly get cut; they’re both 25, both hit in the .230 range last year, and it may be time.
  • A couple of interesting middle infielders here: Infante was a 2nd rounder who hasn’t done much, and Kevin Made is very high on prospect lists.
  • The big name missing here is De La Rosa, who’s a top 10 prospect. MLBpipeline reported he has a “shoulder injury” right now. Great.

High-A Pitchers

  • I count Seven guys who were primarily starters last year in High-A; some of them are going to have to go to the pen. I’m guessing the team keeps Lara, Lord, Caceres, Theophile, and Luke Young in the rotation, sends Cornelio and Gausch officially to the pen, where they’ll join other former starters like Huff and Collins.
  • Not really much in the way of bullpen arms to keep an eye on here; if you’re already in the pen by High-A, it’s going to be really tough to make your way further up. Grissom, Marlon Perez two possible names to keep an eye on.
  • There’s a few high-A names completely missing that we should have heard about: Zinn, Cronin, and Lee. Zinn was a 2022 NDFA who’s had some success but who is off all the full season rosters. Cronin and Lee are both former 40-man lefties who have badly regressed, and may be in XST as a weigh-station before getting released.
  • Four Arms sit on the 60-day/all year DL already. Jake Bennett will miss the whole year after injuring his arm mid-season then waiting until September to get TJ surgery last year. Yet another 2nd round Nats draft pick who is in serious danger of not turning into anything. More interesting is Seth Shuman, who missed half of 2022 and all of 2023, now sits on the 60-day DL to start 2024. Great numbers, hasn’t pitched in nearly 2 years.

Low-A Non-pitchers:

  • Like the AA lineup, there’s lots of high-potential batters in Low-A. The middle of their order: Cruz, Vaquero, Quintana, and Green is something scouting guys can dream on. The rest of the lineup are mostly NDFAs and lesser prospects, kind of looking to see who can stick.
  • There’s a slew of guys here who are already 23 or 24, way too old for the level, and something will have to give (Baca, Dugas, Glasser, and Pimentel).
  • Brenner Cox made the team, which is great to see. Still hasn’t turned 20 yet.

Low-A Pitchers

  • Like with most of these lower end rosters, the 2024 opening day looks similar to 2023 closing day.
  • The rotation looks like its probably going to five from Agostini, Sullivan, Tepper, Polanco, Susana, and Sthele. If they go 5-man rotation it could be any of these who drops.
  • The bullpen is a mismash of IFAs, rule5s, and failed starters, most of whom are already 24.
  • Two big names not making it out of XST/FCL: Travis Sykora and Aldo Ramirez.
  • Four arms on the 60-day DL already, including two starters who have some promise in Aldonis and Tolman.

That’s it for now. I count 29 names “on” the FCL roster right now and another 16 in XST, which puts the domestic rosters way over the 165 player limit. So I’d imagine some cuts are coming at some point. Also, I have more than 50 names on the DSL roster, so i’d expect some serious shedding there come July.

Let the games begin!

Written by Todd Boss

April 2nd, 2024 at 4:01 pm

7 Responses to 'Four Full Season Rosters Now Available'

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  1. Thanks for compiling all that.

    I actually think the players are pretty much all correctly assigned. Other than Quintana (103 wRC+, and his .090 ISO doesn’t exactly scream that he’s ready for Wilmington), all the repeating bats either had results worse than their league average or were promoted late in the year and have had less than 150 PAs at the level, and in many cases both. And none the repeating pitchers had a FIP or an ERA under 4. So repeating levels seems perfectly appropriate to me.

    I was hoping Sykora might start in Fredericksburg, but I can’t really fault the team for holding him back a few months.

    The only borderline case is House, but I think there is plenty in his peripherals to justify giving him more time in AA, even if there weren’t a crunch at 3rd in AAA.

    The issue isn’t the initial assignments; it’s that there’s not enough slack in the system. It might all end up working out timing wise depending on trades / cuts at the ML level, but it might also get very awkward. I don’t think there’s much lost by holding folks at AA dev-wise, but there’s a chance Lile or White or Vaquero could suffer a bit if they’re dominating their levels right off the bat but have to wait until mid July instead of being promoted in early June.

    Actually, there is one guy who was mis-assigned: Marlon Perez. He was lights out in A+ last year and 100% should have been promoted to AA. I know most good arms stay starters longer, but you can’t fake a 23% k-bb rate. That ranked second in our whole system last year, min 20 IP. He could certainly bust, but he hasn’t busted yet and there’s nothing left for him to do at Wilmington. But other than that, I think it looks great and can’t wait for these kids to start playing.


    3 Apr 24 at 12:15 am

  2. The Nats seem to like the staggered promotion schedule, where instead of starting a year at a new level they promote mid-season, then have players repeat that level to start the next season. Almost as if to allow players to “prove” they’ve solved a level twice.

    Todd Boss

    3 Apr 24 at 11:48 am

  3. I actually really like it because I imagine it gives prospects a good idea of what to work on during their offseason. Go up a level, get challenged, figure out your adjustments — and then you get a few months to really focus on them and do the work, before you come back and are (hopefully) ready to excel.

    Also, I wonder if all rehabbing pitchers in XST (Cronin, Ramirez, Shuman etc) are just being held out because of the weather. I mean, maybe there haven’t been setbacks but instead the team just thinks this is the best way to get them 70%+ of the season.


    4 Apr 24 at 10:28 am

  4. Nice analysis of the assignments, Todd. A difference in the logjams at IF and OF I think would be the quality of the depth being jammed. I don’t anticipate that Kieboom and Alu will block House and I don’t have much expectation either is much more than a backup guy in the Nat’s plans. I don’t see the quality pressing for higher assignments, other than House. Maybe Made shows enough at A+ to push aside Barley, but it may be telling that he’s already had a year plus at A+ and has to repeat. OTOH, the OF logjam has many of the higher regarded prospects potentially pressing soon for promotion. I don’t anticipate Call being much more than roadkill when Crews or Hassell is ready, and perhaps Young’s recall to fill in for Robles on the IL already will relieve that logjam, but as you allude to, you could see any of Lile, De La Rosa, or even Vaquero pressing for a higher assignment.

    I’m curious about your thoughts on Marcus Brown.


    4 Apr 24 at 12:02 pm

  5. The AAA logjam solved itself temporarily today as you surmised, with Young called up. Now Call goes to CF, Alu to LF, Baker to 2B, Kieboom to 3B, and they go on with life.

    Marcus Brown. slightly underslot college junior with decent numbers last year but nothing crazy. I’m not sure he’s really a prospect right now. 6′ SS, could stay there, could also play 3B and 2B it seems, but not enough pop.

    Todd Boss

    4 Apr 24 at 3:48 pm

  6. I’ve got some hopes for Marcus Brown. The Nats thought he was the best-fielding SS in the draft, so I expect him to stay at SS for the foreseeable future. The bar to hit more than Made, Cruz, and Barley isn’t high. Brown showed more gap-power pop at OK State than Darren Baker did in college, so we’ll see if he can translate any of that into the pros. Brown had decent numbers in 28 games at F’burg after the draft. He’s only 22, so the clock isn’t ticking quite as fast on him as it is on some of the older college guys.

    As for Baker, I applaud him for getting the absolute most out of his somewhat limited talent, but without SS skills or any pop, he may have gone about as far as he can go. Lipscomb seems to have swooped by a lot of folks who were in the utility derby . . . if he can keep hitting at the MLB level.


    4 Apr 24 at 8:12 pm

  7. There weren’t many real shockers to me in the assignments. I’m glad to see House, Crews, and Hassell going back to Harrisburg. AA is still the teaching/learning level, while AAA is more the stockpile level. I wouldn’t have been surprised if Wood had gone back to AA, but he mashed so much in spring training that he forced their hand.

    I hope that Morales and Pinckney can handle AA. I’m high on both of them, and they did push them through the system to a cup of coffee at AA last summer, but that’s a tough level to fully start your pro career. That said, both have power as a good part of their game, so they may also be trying to have them avoid the Wilmington graveyard.

    I have no issue with Lile going back to A+, which he didn’t master last summer (.234/.310/.357). I expect Hassell and/or Crews to move up quickly if they hit, so there will be AA slot for him by mid-summer. He’s only 21.

    I’m really quite skeptical of pitching throughout the system, particularly starting pitching. Are any of the AAA guys really going to stick in the majors as starters? They added Henry to the 40-man but then sent him to AA, not exactly showing a lot of confidence (or perhaps just not wanting his fragile arm exposed to Arctic conditions). I’ve always been a Henry fan, but if he can’t regain something this summer, it’s going to be hard to believe that he’s going to make it all the way back.

    As for Brcycky, Davey said at some point in the spring that he’s “a week behind Cavalli,” whatever that means. But there is some expectation that he’ll surface at some time in 2024.


    4 Apr 24 at 8:28 pm

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