The bus trip, for the Washington Nationals, to Ft. Myers to face the Red Sox in a Grapefruit League game is the longest of the road trips this year. This one is 120+ miles from the Atlantic Ocean coast to the Gulf Coast via US-98 to FL-80 going east to west. Teams are required to send at least four starters on these road trips, and manager Dave Martinez loosely satisfied that rule with Josiah Gray starting along with Joey Meneses, Luis Garcia Jr., and Alex Call. But the star power in this game is the top prospects.
Dylan Crews manning center field; Photo by Sol Tucker for TalkNats
Relying on Spring Training stats they say holds a trap in statistical reliance. Process is more important than the stats. Was the wind blowing out-or-in? Was the pitcher working on mechanics and a certain pitch? Let’s face it, Forrest Wall is killing it, and so is James Wood of the Washington Nationals. Wall is 28 years old, and Wood is just 21. They are tied for the MLB lead in Spring Training homers at three each. That is more home runs than five teams have hit this Spring, and three of those teams play in Palm Beach County. The wind has been blowing in which makes the Nats home run production more impressive.
The Cardinals have zero home runs in Spring Training, the Astros have one, and the Marlins have two. That is total team production, but then you look at the teams that play on the Gulf Coast of Florida — and the ball is flying there. That will also skew the pitching stats too. We saw Brady House lose a home run to the wind pushing it back, and it didn’t help Dylan Crews going oppo on a ball that just got caught on the warning track. More important is the exit velo, and the Nats’ top prospects are excelling on that stat also.
The Washington Nationals top prospects continue to impress with Robert Hassell III taking the lead in batting average and OPS at .556 and 1.767 respectively plus he has two stolen bases and got dinged on his OPS for that Sac Fly the other day. Nipping on his heels is James Wood at .455 and 1.751. Wood turned an 0-2 game yesterday into a 1-2 when he legged out an infield single on pure hustle. The sample sizes are still miniscule — but fun to watch these youngsters. Brady House and Dylan Crews have good OPS numbers themselves at 1.125 and .830. There are others too, that are not getting the pub of that quartet.
When news broke several weeks ago that Dylan Crews, James Wood, Brady House, and Robert Hassell III were all non-roster invites (NRI) to big league Spring Training camp — the negative vibes from an offseason that did not meet expectations turned positive. In an offseason that had almost nothing to cheer about except for the new LED lights and scoreboard at Nationals Park, the NRI list gave hope for the future.
When you cheer more for the off-the-field happenings, you know your team failed in improving their roster. The future is about these top prospects and developing more talent in the farm system and better drafts. Yesterday, to see the Top-4 position players all get hits and make exceptional plays along with home runs from Hassell and House — you know it was going to be a game you won’t soon forget.
In a recent comment thread about extensions, specifically the idea of extended Josiah Gray, one of the comments was that you can’t extend everybody. But no one had suggested extending everyone.
The idea of extending everyone is somewhat amusing and makes for a great debate. Of course, you can’t extend everyone. But you can make multiple extension offers to different players. Some might be accepted; some/most/all will likely be rejected by the player even if offered.
Note: Except as noted, all the comments below were made before any of the Spring Training games.
Can we overuse that photo? The Washington Nationals are starting Robert Hassell III, Dylan Crews, and James Wood today against RHP José Urquidy who has five seasons of MLB experience. Houston’s pitcher was in pro ball in 2015 when the Nats’ trio of prospects were playing 12-U travel ball. Okay, Hassell was in the Little League World Series, but you get the point. This will be a big test to see what these young men can do against a legit starter.
The Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) that is in place now from 2022, put measures in-place to discourage service time manipulation. One measure is the Prospect Promotion Incentive and for the first time, it could impact the Washington Nationals. What impact could the PPI have on how the Nationals treat the three players that qualify in 2024 for them? Those players are pictured above in Dylan Crews, Brady House, and James Wood.
All eyes in the ‘informed’ baseball world are on James Wood as he made headlines and the lede for MLB Network’s morning show today after he obliterated two baseballs in his first five at-bats. But hey, Dylan Crews smoked to liners to the outfield that were caught. Both were well over 100 mph, and BABIP didn’t work for him — a different story for Robert Hassell III who has the highest batting average of this trio (small sample size alert) at .600. Hassell has smoked three line drives into the outfield with two going oppo.
The Washington Nationals travel to Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium and that is a mouthful. At one time it was just Roger Dean Stadium. The largest self-described Corvette dealer of the southeast is a big deal in Palm Beach County. Not a far drive for the Nats and many have homes closer to Jupiter than West Palm Beach. MacKenzie Gore is set to start this game against ex-Nats draftee Jesus Luzardo in a battle of young lefties. Game time is 1:10 pm and only on radio unless the Marlins put up a video camera like they often did last year.