The Nationals had the most active Trade Deadline in team history leading up to 5 pm on July 30. In all, eight Nats players were traded and we detail the 12 players the team received back. Some fans knew the trades were coming and inevitable, yet when it happened they were angry seeing beloved players traded away.
General manager Mike Rizzo traded basically anybody worth value not named Juan Soto. However, it is not all bad news when you look at how it strengthened this team for the future, as the team got some significant prospects in return for their veterans.
Some of the newly acquired players are already on the team. Josiah Gray, Mason Thompson, Riley Adams, and Lane Thomas all appear to be here to stay, while others are working their way up to The Show. It is important to track the progress of these players, and how they have been doing in the Nats’ system.
Josiah Gray, RHP:
Josiah Gray has easily been the best prospect who has appeared for the Nats so far. Gray is electric and every one of his starts have been must watch. Even though the surface numbers might suggest that he has been nothing out of the ordinary, a lot of advanced metrics dispute this notion. He recorded 20 swings and misses against the Braves on August 7th, tying him for the most for the Nats this year. He has incredible tools for such a young pitcher. His breaking pitches are so deceiving that he can generate a lot of uncertain swings.
Gray’s slider-curveball combination both register in the 83-86 mph range. Hitters have very little time to decipher between the two pitches, making it a guessing game once a hitter sees the ball out of his hand as the ball darts either straight down and spiked in the dirt or sweeping right to left with a drop below the normal bat path.
The most exciting thing about Gray is not what he currently is, but what he projects to become. His floor is no less than a middle of the rotation starter for the Nationals. His ceiling is, pun not intended, through the roof. He has been victimized the home run ball and all but one have been off of his fastball that has missed it’s spot. There is very little room for location mistakes on 4-seam fastballs. One suggestion is to throw 2-seamers when the intention is to pitch it over the plate and stick with the 4-seamers for swing and miss at the top of the zone. As mentioned, he is a great changeup away from becoming that № 1 starter as he could use that pitch coming out of that same arm slot. Easier said than done.
He really has unmatched skills and poise for such a young pitcher. Furthermore, he is one of the most likeable players between his social media presence and fun personality in the dugout. Gray is one of the best players for the Nats to build around for the years to come.
Keibert Ruiz, C:
The second one of the prized prospects that came from the Dodgers, Ruiz has not gotten off to a great start with AAA Rochester, but he is showing signs that we can see his potential. He had killed it with AAA OKC in the Dodgers organization, and his transition to Rochester should just be a tiny blip on the radar. That being said, it has not been easy for him to adjust, and he has shown signs of turning a corner with the team.
The switch-hitting catcher could be a future star in the middle of the Nats order for years to come. He could be a callup in September. We will see where this goes as he is already on the team’s 40-man roster.
The organization remains very confident that he will turn things around. His plate discipline is something that has remained steady. He does not swing at many pitches outside the strike zone. The Nats seem to have a thing for players with a good idea of the strike zone, with Juan Soto being the tip of the iceberg. Every person within the Nats organization has been excited to see more of Ruiz.
Donovan Casey, OF:
This player was covered extensively earlier today. Another player that was acquired from the Dodgers in the blockbuster deadline trade. Casey has been lighting it up in AA. To say that he has been a spark plug for the team would be an understatement. He is hitting .347 for the Senators, and has mixed in some power to go with that average.
Casey will probably get his chance in the MLB by the end of the season or early in 2022. He looks, if nothing else, ready to be moved up to AAA to see how his bat plays at the highest level of the MiLB. Casey is seen by many as a comparable player to Andrew Stevenson, but he might be a little bit more than that because of his strong arm and power. The good news is he is right-handed and could be a complementary piece to Stevenson.
He is far from being a throw-in as part of the blockbuster trade, and he is proving exactly why the Nats were smart to acquire him.
Gerardo Carrillo, RHP:
Carrillo is the final piece that the Dodgers sent to the Nats. He has been playing in Harrisburg with Casey for the Senators. He has had some more troubles than his fellow former Dodger, but has shown a lot of good abilities. His velocity has been very good. However, he has not been able to go deep into games. In two starts, he only has logged 10.1 innings. The Dodgers saw him as more of a bullpen piece, and he looks exactly like one. Additionally, his K/9 is only 5.74 with his K/BB at 1.50. Those numbers are not the best to look at, but he still has a lot of promise and a lot of buzz around him suggests that he has been better than stats imply. Many people in the Harrisburg area that have seen him pitch describe him as a very talented pitcher with some great pure stuff.
Riley Adams, C:
The only piece that the Nats received in exchange for Brad Hand, Adams has been about as advertised. He is a massive target for pitchers, and has been average behind the dish. Adams has a tendency to use his glove more than preferred as opposed to dropping and blocking pitches in the dirt. He did, however, hit his first home run in the biggest moment possible: in the ninth inning to give the Nats the lead in their most recent victory over a week ago against the Braves. Even though, he has the single home run, but has still displayed some great power in batting practice and even in some of his outs. Overall, the floor for him is the same as before: backup catcher, but the ceiling is an average MLB catcher. The Nats are hoping for the latter.
Aldo Ramirez, RHP:
The Nats got Ramirez in exchange for Kyle Schwarber. This trade is one that has been marred by injuries. Schwarber has just recently made his debut for the Red Sox, nearly two weeks after being traded there. Conversely, Ramirez has been working out in West Palm Beach for the FCL Nationals. There are no stats about how he has done down there as it is a lot of developmental work, but he most likely will report to either High A or AA in his next move.
Mason Thompson, RHP:
Thompson came tot he Nats in the Daniel Hudson trade. The big reliever is one of the players who Nats fans have seen a lot of in late game bullpen appearances. Thompson has impressed a lot of fans. He combines his big frame with an even bigger fastball. Thompson has devastating movement on his mid to upper 90s heater that makes hitters look foolish as it tails in on right handed batters. He recently had a game against the Mets that saw him lose his control a little bit, and then lose the game overall. That should not be a big red flag in the long run. Thompson looks like a future stud in the bullpen for the Nats.
Jordy Barley, SS:
Barley was part of the deal for Hudson and came over in the trade with Thompson. He has been on a very strange run of late. He has performed similarly in the Nats’ system as he had with the Padres, but he has really become even more of a three true outcome player. He has hit three homers so far for Fredericksburg, but is only hitting .178 and has 17 strikeouts. In a strange twist of statistics, his OBP is nearly double his batting average, sitting at .339. Barley is simply a project player, and he might be able to harness his abilities in time, but for now needs a lot of seasoning to even make it to the upper levels of the Minor Leagues.
Lane Thomas, OF:
Lane Thomas might be one of the biggest steals for the Nats if he pans out. He was at one-time a top-10 prospect for the Cardinals. He came at the small cost of Jon Lester, one of the worst qualified pitchers this season. Thomas was tremendous in AAA for the Nats in a small sample size. But he really has been a good minor league player, and not so good in his MLB time with the Cardinals.
Immediately, Thomas got two hits in his first two at-bats with the Nats and showed the ability to go the other way. Thomas looks to get some more playing time as the season continues and splits time with Yadiel Hernandez and possibly even Victor Robles.
While Thomas might not be an everyday starter in the foreseeable future, he is still a very good complementary depth piece that every organization needs in order to win games when injuries occur. Considering what the Nats gave up in order to get him from the Cardinals, this is a highway robbery if Thomas plays above average baseball.
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Richard Guasch, RHP:
The Nationals traded Yan Gomes and Josh Harrison for three players, all of whom currently are in Wilmington, playing for the High-A Blue Rocks. Guasch is a 23 year old starter who has made only two starts. He is 0-1 with a 2.35 ERA. These are not bad numbers per se, but he has only gone 7.2 innings in those starts. His BB/9 is the same as his K/9: 7.0. That stat will have to change in short order if he wants to move up the ranks. He is most likely not going to sniff the MLB for quite a while, if at all.
Seth Shuman, RHP:
Shuman was the second righty that Oakland sent to the Nats in exchange for the veterans. His numbers, like Guasch, are underwhelming. Yet Shuman is posting different types of results as compared to Guasch. While Guasch is being victimized by his control, Shuman has been giving up hits at a higher rate. Ironically, he is striking out 9.0 batters per nine innings. However, he has been able to complete 11.0 innings in his two starts. He is still a project like Guasch, but he has shown a lot more promise in High A.
Drew Millas, C:
Perhaps the best player that the Nats received from Oakland, Millas has been pretty impressive for Wilmington in High-A ball. He has hit a sweet .360 with six RBI for the Blue Rocks. In strange fashion for a catcher, he is also 2/2 in steal attempts, showing some good baserunning.
Millas was placed on the Nationals’ top prospects list upon being acquired, so it is not too surprising that he is doing so well, but it is interesting to know where he ranks in terms of the catchers that the Nats acquired. Clearly, Ruiz is the future, but they have a lot of options in their system now. Once a system weakness as Israel Pineda slid down the prospect ratings, and the team could no longer wait for Jakson Reetz, the Nats made three trades that included catchers and have now made it a depth position instead of a weakness. With Tres Barrera moving up and impressing, and Riley Adams big bat, the team looks like a mix of Ruiz, Barrera and Adams. Nobody would be surprised if Adams isn’t working out with a first baseman’s glove at some point.
Nonetheless, Millas is about two years away from being close to the MLB. He needs to refine a lot of his game, but he is definitely on the right path.
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Through everything that the Nationals accomplished over the course of the Trade Deadline, they have revitalized their farm system. Recently, the system was ranked at #23 by Baseball America. That is not great, but much better than #30 which is where it stood prior to these moves.
In addition, the Nats had a great international signing period earlier in the year adding Armando Cruz and others, and a strong draft with Brady House and Daylen Lile, so expect the Nats to continue to rise in those rankings when they add Cristian Vaquero in the upcoming international signings.
It is possible that some of these prospects named here will move to rookie status with either 130 at-bats as a position player or 50 innings as a pitcher in Major League service. One other way to lose the prospect status is to spend a total of 45 total days on an active Major League roster prior to September 1 in any season. It is very possible that Gray could move off of the prospect rankings.
In conclusion, the Nats added a lot of great depth to their system. While not all of them will make it to The Show, some of them will, and become household names in the coming years.