The current farm system of the Washington Nationals has been ranked anywhere from №8 to №15 depending on where you look. The team moved into the top half of baseball after the trade of Juan Soto for an exciting package of top prospects. Depending on which ranking system you look at, the top prospects have James Wood, Elijah Green, Robert Hassell III, Cade Cavalli, and Brady House plus some exciting names after them with Cristhian Vaquero, Armando Cruz, Jarlin Susana, Jeremy De La Rosa, T.J. White, and Jackson Rutledge.
Yesterday, MLB Pipeline unveiled their Top-100 and overall were more bullish on the Nats’ prospects. Last week, Baseball America ranked the same four Nats prospects on their 2023 Top-100 rankings, and they were higher on Wood than MLB Pipeline, but much lower on Hassell and Green. Same with Baseball Prospectus where they see Wood as one of the three best prospects in baseball while they are more bearish on the others. Still Top-100 status but further back.
We have discussed before that most of the evaluators pushed Hassell back in a wait-and-see on his decreased production — but Hassell spoke about trying to playing through extreme pain in his right wrist/hand which turned out to be a fractured hamate bone that he had the surgery on in October. A source told us that Hassell tried to play through the pain since late June. Don’t be alarmed if Hassell’s 2023 season starts on a lower plane as it takes time to ramp up from a hamate bone surgery. Prospects1500 in their June 2022 rankings had Hassell as their №8 prospect in all of baseball.
Also, Baseball America acknowledged that House, Vaquero, and Susana are just outside of their rankings of the Top-100 prospects, and House was previously in the Top-100 until his 2022 season abruptly ended due to an injury in his back. Those three players could easily jump into the Top-100 with strong 2023 seasons.
Soon, there will be rankings coming from The Athletic and Prospects-1500. At that time we can revisit this again.
With the speculation on who Cavalli really is, there has been speculation that his 2022 season could have been impacted by the cold Rochester weather while Baseball America looked at his switch in his arsenal from fewer fastballs and more curveballs and changeups to go with his hard slider. The results were there. Don’t judge Cavalli by his one poor start in his MLB career. Here is a good video by Baseball America:
With Cavalli in the Top-100 and still in prospect status, and Josiah Gray and MacKenzie Gore graduated, the next pitcher in line on prospect status is Susana who will start in Class-A this year. Former Top-100 prospects Rutledge and Cole Henry will be back to prove that they can have healthy and productive seasons. Rutledge finished his campaign healthy and strong at Class-A Fredericksburg as a 23 year old. He will open his 2023 season as a 24 year old, and he was recently added to the 40-man roster as his clock is now ticking fast. Rutledge was the 17th pick overall in the 2019 draft by the Nats. Henry had thoracic outlet surgery last year, and he is back on the mound now. Henry was a 2nd round pick by the Nats in 2020 from LSU.
No. 6 prospect Cole Henry is BACK on the mound!
via his IG pic.twitter.com/LcdDht2vNH
— Nats Farm (@NatsFarm) January 26, 2023
The strength of this Nats team is in the young players aged 25-and-younger from Gray, Keibert Ruiz, Gore, Luis Garcia, CJ Abrams, and all of the aforementioned prospects. If you believe in this new Nats’ development system led by De Jon Watson, there are reasons to be very optimistic. Most evaluators think Wood is going to be a superstar. I believe Abrams could be a superstar too. Give it time and with great coaching and development, let’s see what happens!