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Fangraphs Nats top 32 Prospects for 2024 Analysis


Victor Hurtado gets some prospect love from FG. Photo via Nats X account

As with last year, the final major scouting pundit/shop to publish their “pre-2024” list of Nats prospects is Fangraphs & Eric Longenhagen, and what a list it was.

Here’s the table of players, which is at the above link as well with more detail and FG’s FV values.

RankLast NameFirst NamePosition
1WoodJamesOF (Corner)
2CrewsDylanOF (CF)
3CavalliCadeRHP (Starter)
6SykoraTravisRHP (Starter)
8VaqueroCristianOF (CF)
9ParkerMitchellLHP (Starter)
10LileDaylenOF (CF)
11RibaltaOrlandoRHP (reliever)
12HerzDJLHP (Starter)
13SusanaJarlinRHP (Starter)
14BrzykcyZachRHP (Reliever)
15GreenElijahOF (CF)
17ShumanSethRHP (Starter)
18BennettJakeLHP (Starter)
20RutledgeJacksonRHP (Starter)
23Hassell IIIRobertOF (CF)
27LaraAndryRHP (Starter)
28CoxBrennerOF (CF)
31De La RosaJeremyOF (Corner)
32AcostaDaisonRHP (reliever)

Here’s the slot by slot analysis. Before we get started, we should probably point out that Longenhagen is absolutely the biggest proponent of “ceiling” versus “floor” in prospect analysis, and some of his rankings are clear evidence of that.

  • Top 4 are the same as everyone else. Wood gets ahead of Crews, and Cavalli presents as the rare ranking ahead of House, perhaps because Cavalli’s nearly 26 and his ETA is basically as soon as he’s done with rehab.
  • #5 is Victor frigging Hurtado. I am not kidding. Hurtado, who is given an ETA of the year 2030, who was signed to a pro contract 5 months ago and who has yet to play a single inning of pro ball, is the 5th best prospect in the system. I get it; he’s a highly regarded International signing, but there’s just no way you put a guy this far away from the majors ahead of so many other guys who are going to contribute in the next couple of years.
  • #6 is Travis Sykora, who suffers from the same issue as Hurtado. I mean, at least Sykora is playing right now. But man, this is a hefty projection based on his 2023 draft status.
  • #7 is Drew Millas. Millas! He’s already 26, he’s a AAA catcher, he’s behind both Ruiz and Adams on the pecking order, and if anyone thought he was this frigging good they’d come asking for him, since clearly he’s surplus goods for this team. I don’t see another pundit who has him higher than like 18-20 in the system, for the same reason. You’re telling me Millas is a better prospect than Mitchell Parker? Right now? The same Parker who’s got a 3.45 ERA in 8 starts right now, including wins over multiple 2023 playoff teams?? Come on.
  • The aforementioned Parker comes in at #9, which is where you’d expect him to be with the benefit of hindsight, instead of the 20-25 range most of us thought in January.
  • Orlando Ribalta comes in at #11. Ok. So now you see the problem with ordering your ranks by a FV column while also knowing that a pitcher is already a reliever. There’s NO WAY a right handed reliever in AA who’s already 26 is a prospect at all, let alone a near-top 10 prospect (Note: he’s recently been promoted to AAA, but my point is still the same). What does Ribalta project to? The 5th guy out of the bullpen? The definition of a replacement player is someone who can easily be replaced with the next guy out of AAA. I think the highest you should ever rank a reliever is in the 20s, unless they’re the next coming of Rollie Fingers.
  • Same issue as I have with Ribalta at #11, I have with Brzycky at #14. Even moreso, since the guy is on the full season DL.
  • Oh how the mighty have fallen: Elijah Green all the way to #15 here. Longenhagen gives him a 20 grade on his hit tool. 20. You and I have a 20 grade hit tool. He also gives him just a 25 grade on “game power” right now. Ouch. I mean, I get it; the guy has done almost nothing to earn his high 1st round drafting slot or his signing bonus. I would have expected some improvement by now though.
  • Morales, who is generally 4th or 5th on every other list, comes in at #16 here. Eric is pretty bearish on his progress so far, even though he started the year in AA as a 2023 draft pick.
  • Seth Shuman at #18. Really? Didn’t pitch a lick in 2023 due to TJ, currently on the 60-day DL and is 26 having never pitched above high-A. How is this a prospect at all? I mean, yes I like his stats, and if not for injury and Covid maybe we’d be having a different conversation, but he’s nearly at the end of his 6year ML tenure and he may not even get to AA this year. How is that a prospect at all? (Yes I know I already said that).
  • Darren Baker at #19, highest of anyone i’ve seen. I mean, yeah, if you put relievers just outside your top 10 you’ve gotta rate backup infielders highly too.
  • Nunez still listed despite exhausing his service time by now, though maybe Longenhagen is going by PAs for rookie status, which, if that’s the case, Nunez may not get 10 PAs the rest of the season based on his usage so far.
  • Robert Hassell all the way down at #23. Which is ridiculous. He’s got better tools across the board than players above him, he’s repeating AA at age 22 despite having hamate bone surgery last year, and he’s CF capable. His slash line is solid this year so far (.288/.380/.369) and if the only ding you have on him is his slugging/XBH tool just be patient; he slugged .470 as a 19yr old in A ball three years ago.
  • Lipscomb dumped to #25, why? Why would you have a guy who HAS been in the majors as a backup infielder behind a guy like Baker, who hasn’t?
  • Brenner Cox, who has done a ton to rehabilitate his profile so far in 2024, comes in at #28. Good for him, and good to see him hitting.
  • Jorgelys Mota gets a mention, one of the few shops to do so, coming in at #29.
  • Lastly, his #32 spot is a guy making his debut on any prospect list for this team, minor league Rule5 draftee Daison Acosta, who’s currently a 25yr old reliever in AA with solid 2024 numbers.

So, a weird list that really goes against the grain of the rest of the prospect rankings out there. Is he right when everyone else is wrong?

Written by Todd Boss

May 30th, 2024 at 3:36 pm

Posted in Prospects

18 Responses to 'Fangraphs Nats top 32 Prospects for 2024 Analysis'

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  1. Some of the outliers make sense in the context of FG steering way into upside and away from median outcomes. Hassell is pretty unlikely to be a better than average regular; the power is a fairly important issue, even with his contact improving this season. Hurtado and Sykora are easy to dream on because they haven’t failed yet, so their upside is intact. I certainly don’t agree with all or most of their choices, but I can see the logic.

    That said, I do think that there are some pretty clear internal inconsistencies. For example, most pitchers don’t lose a grade when they get injured until they come back and struggle or miss multiple years. Last year, Henry had a 45 grade and Ramirez was still a 35+ despite last pitching in 2021. Here Shuman, Brzykcy, and Cavalli all have the same FV as last year. But they knocked Bennett back a half grade and Saenz and Ferrer fell off the list despite solid results when they’re on the field. (Ferrer may have graduated off, though. I don’t think they’re super consistent about when they care about service time exclusions.) The blurbs don’t contain any information about a specific pitcher’s recovery or prognosis, so it’s either random and unjustified or they have rumors about medicals that they can’t / won’t print. Either way, I don’t really trust it.

    And you make a great point about Lipscomb. He’s ranked below multiple prospects projected on the same list as bench guys (Cruz, Made, Nunez, and Baker). If you think Cruz or Made has a higher ceiling, and you want to rank them on potential, fine, but if you’re going to write that a player should develop “enough to hold down a fifth or sixth infielder role” (Made), I just don’t see how you can grade him above someone who is already an above-replacement backup infielder. Also Lipscomb was a FV40 last year, with an upside of a multi-positional role player. How can you look at the last calendar year of his development and think that outcome has become less likely? It just doesn’t make sense to drop him to a 35+ and slot him behind that group of guys.

    FG has been on high on Millas for a couple years now and he’s been playing pretty well at AAA, so I’m not surprised to see him so high. Why aren’t other teams inquiring? I don’t know. Maybe they are. But even when he was up during Ruiz’s injury, he barely played, so it’s pretty clear that at least one of Rizzo and Martinez aren’t bought in.

    Overall, FG has interesting takes and information that you don’t get from other sources, but I think they’re a little too interested in being contrarian. My rough sense is that BA, Pipeline and most of the rest get a little caught up in groupthink, Law doesn’t read anyone else’s reports and FG does but then swerves the other way.


    30 May 24 at 6:53 pm

  2. I think Fangraph’s real issue is this: he’s so wedded to “Future Value” numbers that he no longer can make a reliable prospect ranking list. Just take the relievers; if you think Ribalta is going to be a “good” reliever, then that’s awesome. You can put a 65 FV on him … AS A RELIEVER. But the actual MLB value of a top-end reliever is a FRACTION of what the top-end value is of an out-field player. the absolute best reliever by bWAR for our team last year was Hunter Harvey with 1.9 bWAR. Meanwhile, Mithcell parker in 8 starts already has accumulated 1.2 bWAR, and jacob Young right how has as much bWAR in 2024 as Abrahms thanks to his play on both sides of the ball. That’s the fallacy of equating FV values of relievers to regulars. Same with projected middle infield depth players (Baker, Lipscomb) versus starting core players at skill positions)

    Todd Boss

    31 May 24 at 8:18 am

  3. FWIW, that’s not how FG does future value. It’s adjusted by position. Relievers cannot get a high FV. Per their scale, a “dominant bullpen piece” would get a 45, same as a 4/5 starter


    31 May 24 at 9:37 am

  4. I’d actually push back against your narrative that FG/Longenhagen are high on hype. I think he actually strikes a better balance than most of the other prospectors in this balance., actually, are most guilty of going all in on potential over production. A couple examples:

    Pre-2022 draft, Longenhagen was the only vocal critic of Elijah Green. While others were writing thought experiments of why Green could go #1, Longenhagen rated Green the 11th best player.

    Longenhagen is also the only prospector to give Drew Millas, the epitome of an anti-hype, low ceiling/high floor player, any credit. He has Millas remarkably at #7, when almost everyone else has him placed around 20th.

    With that said, he has placed a greater emphasis on IFAs here than I’d be comfortable with. Vaquero’s A ball struggles have set off blaring sirens to me, which Longenhagen acknowledges as much, and partly illustrates the problem with him being so slow to churn out these lists. He’s now judging Vaquero against his 2024 performance, when half of the other lists came out before the season began and don’t have this luxury.

    I’m also very surprised to see Hurtado and Feliz so high.

    I’ve already also posted comments on FG already, but he has overlooked a few low-ceiling, high-floor types. But he’s by no means the only one to do so. I don’t believe anyone has ranked Alvarez, L. Young, Schoff or Sinclair in their rankings, and full credit to Longenhagen, he has ranked 49 prospects! Including semi-irrelevant, but worth acknowledging, guys like Dustin Saenz, Thomas Schultz, Brendan Collins, etc.

    There are a few omissions: Jacob Young has to be here. I think he was overlooked due to the fact he’s been in the majors for so long, but still technically a rookie. I’m also surprised not to see Andy Acevedo, who he’d rated as a 40 FV last year, though Acevedo has been horrible so far.

    His report of Pinckney also sounds a bit flawed. For one, he’s labelled as a 3B, but I think he’s more interesting than a one-tool player.


    31 May 24 at 9:40 am

  5. @Anon: even equating a reliever with a 4/5 starter is way too high. And, its not consistent with the board being ordered in exact FV value.

    Todd Boss

    31 May 24 at 12:46 pm

  6. @will I have a massive problem rating a player who just turn 17 and has yet to play a single inning higher than prospects who are sitting in AA or AAA or who have MLB time already. Its a balancing act; potential versus risk getting there, and rating Hurado 5th in the system completely ignores basically ALL the risk with him.

    Here’s a list of the every $1M plus bonus that i’m aware of in the Nats era:
    1. Vaquero #4.9M
    2. Cruz $3.9M
    3. Antuna $3.9M
    4. Hurtado: $2.8M
    5. Feliz: $1.7M
    6. Juan Soto: $1.5M
    7. Smily Gonzalez: $1.4M
    8. Andy Acevedo: $1.3M
    9. Edwin Solano: $1.3M
    10. Luis Garcia: $1.3M
    11. Andry Lara: $1.25M
    12. pablo Aldonis: $1M
    13. Yunesky Maya: $1M

    how many of these guys have worked out, or are projecting to work out? 2? 3? Are you confident right now that Vaquero or Cruz is going to turn into a MLB every day player? Hurtado got half of what Vaquero got, the same Vaquero who’s hitting .136 in Low-A right now. Cruz? not much better, hitting .224 while repeating low-A. Of this entire list only 3 of them made the majors and really only Soto turned out to be a star. Garcia seems like he’s putting it together for us right now, wh ile Maya was a Cuban veteran who should never really have been considered a “prospect” that we developed. That’s it. The rest of this list is massive flameouts (Antuna, Smiley) and bit players buried in the low minors (Acevedo, Solano) .

    My point is this: I don’t think you should even rank these 16yr old signees until they show up in the rookie league and start going against affiliated ball. Otherwise you’re ranking the damn signing bonus.

    Todd Boss

    31 May 24 at 12:57 pm

  7. My very first reaction to this list, which I posted on Nats Prospects, was that a fair amount of its credibility went out the window when I saw Hurtado at #5. That’s like Vaquero-level hype, which no other site has had for him.

    We’ve scratched our heads over the mysteries of FV for various sites. One completely different way I’ve like to think about it is more like the FanGraphs annual trade value series. Would you trade Morales for Hurtado? Heck no! So Morales ranks ahead of Hurtado. And so on. (I don’t understand the low ranking of Morales at all.) Would you trade Herz for Ribalta? Of course not. Herz is three years younger, closer to the majors, and still has a chance to stick as a starter. Would you trade Lipscomb for Baker? (No.)

    Higher up the list, I personally would have House ahead of Cavalli. There’s almost a five-year age difference, and there still isn’t evidence that Cavalli can dominate at higher levels.

    And what’s the stuff in the write-up about Wood’s multiple wrist injuries? Have they conflated Wood with Hassell? At least they acknowledge that Wood has true 70+ ceiling potential, which is what I’ve been saying all along. But now that is K rate is down to 18%, can we stop with the Adam Dunn comps?


    31 May 24 at 1:43 pm

  8. @Todd – That’s a better track record that I thought we had!

    Well, I guess I just thought there’d been more failed guys with big bonuses, but if it’s just those 13, it’s better odds than a second round pick (which is the same ballpark bonus-wise).

    First off, you have to drop Gonzalez and Maya from consideration as that’s another era (plus Smily was his own very special disaster that we can all hope is never to be repeated). And you can’t call anyone a bust who is still a teenager. I don’t even love calling Cruz a bust because he’s only 20 years old and his plus SS defense will give him a long runway to learn to hit. But he is looking bust-ish, so fine. And Lara hasn’t made it yet, but he’s looking good. No way he’s a bust.

    So that’s 2 “hits” with Soto, Garcia and 3 “misses” with Antuna, Aldonis and Cruz. 40% becoming ML regulars isn’t bad at all, especially with one of the two a HOF-bound superstar.

    That’s actually making me feel better about the odds of at least one of those younger guys figuring it out. (It’s still wild to have Hurtado at 5, though.)


    31 May 24 at 2:18 pm

  9. Todd, you don’t have to convince me. I already said Hurtado and Feliz are higher than I’d have ranked them. I’m just pointing out that Longenhagen does strike a balance between rating high-upside/high-risk and low-upside/low-risk players (in addition to Millas, Ribalta and Baker also fit this profile, of whose high placement you’re also criticizing – so which is it?).

    KW, Wood did have wrist injuries, but in his days with the Padres, so it’s understandable to have missed this. He missed time twice in 2022. First in early April for 13 days, though it didn’t merit a IL stint (yet another reason why players who are injured should be forced to be placed on the IL, rather than them mysteriously disappearing for weeks on end) and then again several weeks later, which did warrant a proper IL stint of a month.

    Regarding Adam Dunn, it’s not an unfair comparison. He’s caveated it clearly to mean young Adam Dunn, who was an entirely different person to the one we knew. Young Adam Dunn stole 19 bases in his first full season, was a well above average defensive corner OF, and was only striking out about 25% of the time, feats he couldn’t have dreamt of during his time with the Nats. So I don’t think it’s the insult you think it is. For example, Dunn hit .262/.371/.578 in 66 games in his age 21 rookie season. If I offered you that line for Wood’s shortened rookie season this year, you wouldn’t consider that a wildly successful outcome? With that said, I do think Wood’s upside is better than young Adam Dunn. Wood has shown to be an above average CF, which is quite a difference, and raises his floor. It also doesn’t help that Dunn basically morphed into a wildly different player, and is much better known for that phase.


    31 May 24 at 2:52 pm

  10. I think the bonus amounts and success of IFAs needs to be put into context.

    The $4.9M we gave Vaquero is basically the equivalent of the 12th overall pick in the 1st round. Suffice it to say, if you pick a guy 12th overall you’ve got very high hopes that he’ll not only become a major leaguer, but that he’ll be an all-star level caliblre guy. That’s what we expect from 1st rounders. but I’m looking at the 8 figures we’ve laid out to the top 5 highest paid guys on that list and i’m going … sheesh. Not a whole lot to show for it. I mean, call me in 2030 when we see if Hurtado, Feliz, Acevedo, and Solano work out I guess.

    Todd Boss

    31 May 24 at 4:07 pm

  11. But first rounders fail all the time, and there aren’t 12 all-star players coming in to the league every year.

    Just look through the old drafts.

    2015 – Forget all stars, only 5 of the top 12 became above average regulars. (I’m ‘yes’ on Happ, barely a ‘yes’ on Benintendi and a ‘no’ Naylor, though if he keeps it up this year, that would flip. So if you want to push it, I’ll give you 6/12.)

    And that’s a pretty good year! None of the top 12 in 2016 meet your standard. The best among them is either Braxton Garrett or Cal Quantrill. I’m only seeing 2 or 3 each in 2017 and 2018 (though I wasn’t as careful going through them, so I might have missed one). Any more recent than that, and folks are still developing and it becomes less fair to judge.

    Look, I agree with you that you can’t pencil in a prospect for a future roster spot until, at the very least, they’re producing in AA or AAA. But I think you’re too quick to write off players who hasn’t developed *yet* and you expect too high a rate of the big swings (ie $1M+ bonuses) to be homeruns.


    31 May 24 at 5:14 pm

  12. The Nats likely aren’t going to be able to draft an All-Star at #10 this year. Of course some years are better than others . . . or at least thought to be. All in all, it’s actually really surprising how thin most drafts turn out to be.

    I’m more concerned about the Nats’ investment in #5 pick money in Green. Vaquero was probably worth the gamble when the Nats had that much international money, even if he doesn’t pan out. There was universal hype for him, just as there were universal question marks about Green.

    Of the international big bonus babies, Cruz was the one I had a hard time understanding at the time. Maybe he is a defensive whiz, but they were really doing a lot of wishful projecting that he’d ultimately hit anything close to MLB-level. Antuna turned out to be a flop, but at least he had the body and the stroke to dream on.

    As for Adam Dunn, heck yeah I’d sign up right now for his 462 homers (38th most all time). But it’s curious to have that prodigious production in one area but only generate 17.9 career bWAR over 14 seasons. We’re obviously hoping that Wood will be a much more well-rounded player, and not as much “three true outcomes.” Wood has it in him to be a 50+ WAR player, which is a totally different cat than 17.9. (Heck, Josh Harrison was 16.8!)

    I wouldn’t make too much of role players like Millas. Certainly he’s valuable to have in the organization, but there’s no way he’s as valuable as someone like Morales or Bennett if they pan out. The jury is still out on whether Lipscomb or Young can be a little more than that level. I think Lipscomb still has a chance at a Josh Harrison-type career. I don’t see that for Baker at all and don’t include him in that same level/grouping. He’s a great story to make it as far as he has, but he’s basically Tony Renda.


    31 May 24 at 8:52 pm

  13. I don’t think you can compare international bonuses to draft bonuses. MLB really really squeezes players in the draft. The same draft-eligible player would get far more if you could put them under international signing rules.

    A long way of saying that the Nats shouldn’t expect a player as good as the 12th overall draft pick for the same signing bonus paid to an international player.


    31 May 24 at 9:17 pm

  14. In the names that aren’t technically prospects but are in our system, I noticed that Yepez seems to have really turned things around the past couple of weeks. In his heater since 5/18, he’s .283 /.404 / .543 over 57 PAs, with 3 HRs, 10 BBs and 6 Ks). He’s more in direct position competition with Joey Meneses than Gallo or others, but it’s put back into play the idea of a direct swap out of Meneses for another righty bat.


    1 Jun 24 at 11:52 am

  15. In draft news, Yesavage and Burns had quite a duel going today until Burns gave up four runs in the 5th (3-run jack). Yesavage went 7.1 innings of one-hit, one-run ball against a team with two first-round hitters in the lineup. Neither hurler figured in the wild 9th inning that resulted in Wake being out of the tournament.

    I had questioned what Yesavage would do against a higher-quality team, and we got that answer. Unfortunately, so did other MLB teams that are drafting before #10. If East Carolina can get out of the regional, Yesavage may pitch again next weekend against Tennessee.

    Did Burns hurt himself enough to drop to #10? I doubt it, but you never know.


    1 Jun 24 at 10:46 pm

  16. Meanwhile, Hagen Smith of Arkansas is getting clobbered tonight by Kansas State.


    1 Jun 24 at 10:50 pm

  17. Meanwhile Andrew Pinckney, who Longenhagen doesn’t even think rates in the top 32, is now hitting .285 at AA in his first full pro season.

    Revisiting one of our offseason conversations, and regardless of the “rankings,” here’s where we currently stand in the “competition” to be the 3d OF with Wood and Crews:

    Pinckney (23, AA) .285/.333/.403
    Hassell (22, AA) .282/.375/.379

    Lile (21, A+) .291/.372/.455

    Green (20, A) .177/.282/.305
    Vaquero (19, A) .145/.269/.267
    Cox (20, A) .220/.345/.390

    The first three are on track to be major leaguers of some caliber. The next three currently are in over their heads, although Cox has shown improvement in some areas.


    2 Jun 24 at 8:35 am

  18. Burns v Yesevage: amazing that they met in the loser’s bracket. But yeah, Yesevage made himself some money while Burns cost it. Teams absolutely over-value post-season performances.

    Todd Boss

    2 Jun 24 at 10:53 am

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