After the Washington Nationals’ general manager, Mike Rizzo, called this the best prospect grouping he has ever had in his tenure with the Nats, it was good to see Keith Law of The Athletic rank five Nats’ prospects in his Top-100 including Brady House.
Last week, MLB Pipeline unveiled their Top-100, and overall were more bullish on the Nats’ prospects than Baseball America’s ranking of the same four Nats prospects on their 2023 Top-100 rankings.
Baseball America was higher on James Wood than MLB Pipeline, but much lower on Robert Hassell III and Elijah 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. The consensus is that Wood is in that elite class of prospects.
“This is the most lush and successful prospect list that we’ve ever had,” Rizzo said on Saturday. “It’s the most talented players we’ve ever had in the farm system at one time.”
Let’s look at House in particular. In April of last year, House was dominating Class-A with a slash of .341/.424/.471 and an OPS of .895. His numbers were the best on that Fredericksburg team. He looked like a man amongst boys at the ripe age of 18. This is the same player who smashed FCL pitchers in 2021 after the draft, and slashed .322/.394/.576 with a .970 OPS. A year ago, House was in every evaluator’s Top-100 and was in the Top-50 on The Athletic and MLB Pipeline’s list.
Then House got sick with COVID and missed time and scuffled in his return, and during the month of May was hitting just .180 with little power. By June, his season ended abruptly with a back injury. The back injury just zapped his power, and you have to wonder how long he was playing through that back injury. In 2019, there were evaluators who saw House as the №1 high school prospect for a sophomore then he dropped in the rankings before the 2021 draft due to some downgrades on his hit tool, but was still the third highest ranked draft prospect in the high school ranks and sixth overall. House remained as Perfect Game’s №1 prospect in the 2021 draft.
Brady House with the walkoff!!!! pic.twitter.com/MhsHE9QTOd
— Talk Nats (@TalkNats) April 15, 2022
Let’s not forget how good House was in 2021 and to begin his Class-A level. He showed an advanced level of bat control to hit to the opposite field with ease. That is impressive to see from a teenager. But as often happens, evaluators ding players hard when they are injured, and especially when they miss most of the season as was the case with House. The whispers were that House had no power. Uh, he had plenty of power in that stint in the FCL in 2021 and was Fredericksburg’s top power hitter in the cooler weather in April 2022.
After 12 days off to recover from COVID in May of last year, we pinpointed May 20 as the game that House sat out, and we believed he hurt his back the game before. His numbers torpedoed after that. Of course his power fell off after he hurt his back. Also, they didn’t send him anywhere to rehab his way back after his return from COVID, and it hurt his May stats as he was thrusted back into the Fredericksburg lineup and essentially rehabbed there. Clearly, he was playing hurt. House didn’t forget how to hit. He was the Nats first round pick in 2021 and taken with the 11th overall pick from Winder-Barrow High School in Winder, Georgia.
Like Hassell, the results matter, and many evaluators don’t care if you played through an injury or what the circumstances are with the drop in production. The season of 2023 will be a key for both Hassell and House to show that they can dominate their level(s) when healthy.