The Washington Nationals 2022 Prospect Watchlist

Prospects; Photo from the Nationals

While the top prospects get most of the page time for all teams, today we are going to look at some of the players on our watch list who could step up into the top prospects’ spotlight in the Washington Nationals system. With a revamped player development staff in place, the hopes are we can, for once, see a Nationals draft pick, who was not a Top-15 pick, emerge as a star. It has never happened for the Washington Nationals in their history. You could really say that the Nats have never had a star emerge from the draft after the 6th pick. This is why general manager Mike Rizzo finally has made drastic changes in his player development department, led by De Jon Watson. Here are five players that I have identified as “Watch List” players currently in the Nats’ minor league system:
RHP – Seth Shuman Age: 24 Highest Level: High – A   Before coming to the Nationals organization at the 2021 trade deadline in the deal that sent Yan Gomes and Josh Harrison to the A’s, Shuman had a 2.25 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in 56 innings for High-A Lansing (A’s affiliate). In High-A Wilmington (Nationals affiliate) he got roughed-up, but stayed true to his reputation as a strike thrower. The righty starting pitcher has a four-pitch mix that’s nearly ready to be considered “major league caliber” and he already throws all of them for strikes, rocking a career 20.8 K-BB% to prove it. For comparison – AL Cy Young winner Robbie Ray pitched to a 25.4 K-BB% in 2021. Currently ranked 29th by MLB Pipeline, the 6th rounder is going into his third professional season; watch for him to be tested at higher levels in 2022.
INF – Lucius Fox Age: 24 Highest Level: Triple – A   Lucius Fox was Baseball America’s No. 4 international prospect in 2015 (same signing class as Juan Soto) before signing with the Giants. He’s already been traded twice and waived twice in his seven years of professional baseball but has a lot of potential as a 24-year-old switch-hitter with 70-grade speed. In his 215 at-bats (57 games) in Triple-A Omaha (KC Royals affiliate) last season, he stole 19 bases with a .710 OPS. In 479 career games, he has 142 stolen bases while being caught 42 times. His speed brings a needed element to the (now Trea Turner-less) Nationals organization. Last season’s 2021 trade deadline left Soto in the team lead for steals. Soto only filched 9 on 16 attempts in 2021.
LHP – Jose A. Ferrer Age: 21 Highest Level: FCL – Rookie   The lefty out of Maimon, Dominican Republic has been a quiet standout in the Dominican Summer League and Florida Complex League since his professional debut in 2018. In 17 games last season Ferrer logged 35.2 innings hurling 82% of pitches for strikes, an astronomically high number compared to Julio Urías’ league leading 70%. And he threw quality strikes posting a 2.78 ERA and 1.12 WHIP with 47 strikeouts and only nine walks. In three seasons, he’s tossed 87.1 innings with a 12.78 K/9 while keeping his average pitches per inning pitched at 8.90. Ferrer is an efficient southpaw that could see Fredericksburg (Low-A) to start the season and should be moving up the ranks quickly if he can keep up the momentum in 2022.
RHP – Jackson Tetreault Age: 25 Highest Level: Triple – A   Tetreault, a seventh-round-pick in 2017, ended 2021 in Triple-A Rochester after having some injury trouble throughout the season. He only managed two Triple-A appearances – the first coming as an unexpected injury replacement. It went well, striking out seven in five scoreless innings. Jackson has posted solid numbers in 381.1 career innings, including a respectable 3.80 ERA. He sits 91-94 MPH with his fastball but can get up to 97 when he wants and is a guy who exemplifies pitchability. He’s a candidate to see major league time next season, however, expect to see him start 2022 in Triple-A.
OF – Justin Connell Age: 22 Highest Level: High – A   The Nationals eleventh-round-pick in 2017, Connell slashed .293/.356/.398 with 21 stolen bases in 372 at bats for High-A Wilmington in 2021. Despite a low slugging percentage, he hit 11 doubles, 5 triples, and 6 homers. His time in the field was split between the corner outfield positions and ended the season with eight outfield assists. With Double-A Harrisburg lacking outfield depth, the 2021 organization all-star (according to MiLB) could see a promotion soon.
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