Elijah Green is one key to the Washington Nationals success!

WEST PALM BEACH, FL; Aug 2022, Elijah Green batting; Photo by Forensicane for TalkNats

On July 29 of last year, first round pick Elijah Green was at Nationals Park to sign his contract. The first player who greeted Green in the Washington Nationals‘ clubhouse was Juan Soto. It felt like a passing of the torch. There was no secret at that point that Soto was going to be traded. Crudely, it felt like it was — in with the new and out with the old. But not so fast, never believe a door is shut to the old ones in baseball, and Soto will be far from old when he is eligible for free agency after next season. You just never know.

Most evaluators believe that James Wood is a future superstar, and coincidentally was Green’s teammate at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida in 2021. That IMG team was stacked. The pair was also teammates with Jayson Werth‘s son, Jackson, as the trio talked about the Nationals often. Who knew at the time that Wood and Green would end up in the same Nats’ system. Wood grew up close to Nationals Park in nearby Montgomery County, Maryland, and attended Nats’ games as a child.

BRADENTON, FL June 2021; Pictured James Wood (left), Elijah Green (center); Photo from IMG Academy via Elizabeth

We could probably do a fun game of Six Degrees of Green to get to some interesting names. Green’s father, Eric Green, was a two-time NFL Pro Bowl tight end with the Pittsburgh Steelers. You know he has some good stories. There was a time that the younger Green was an aspiring football player until he decided to make baseball his only sport.

“It was just a love for baseball for me,” Green said. “The game of football took away baseball for me for half the year. So quitting football just showed my true love for baseball. It really was a tough time for me because my dad played in the NFL, but he has supported me through it all.”

Selected in the 1st round (No. 5 overall) of the 2022 MLB Draft by the Washington Nationals for a slightly over slot $6,500,000 bonus, Green got his pro career started in the Florida Complex League (FCL) for the Nats in August of last year. In his first game, he clubbed a booming home run. But he also K’d three times in that game. There is a reason why the evaluators cannot agree on Green who just turned 19 in December, and it is that K rate. In a small sample size in the FCL, Green put all of his tools on display on his way to a .302 batting average and a lofty .939 OPS. But that 40.4% K rate in the FCL has soured some of the evaluators. Kiley McDaniel of ESPN left Green off of his Top-100 but he was somewhere un-numbered in McDaniel’s Top-129 as part of 29 prospects along with Brady House.

“Brady House and Elijah Green — the Nats’ past two first-round picks — both have sky-high ceilings and could slide onto my next [Top-100] list with a hot month or two,” McDaniel wrote on the pair.

Last weekend, general manager Mike Rizzo said that Green should start this season on the Fredericksburg Nationals’ roster in Class-A. Green should have some hot months for sure, and he will get instruction from manager Jake Lowery who returns as the FredNats’ manager for the 2023 season along with hitting coach Delwyn Young, and development coach Carmelo Jaime.

For Green, a key will be getting to a two-strike approach where he can produce more contact. In all of his 21 counts of 1-2 or 0-2 in the FCL, Green struck-out per the stats. Making adjustments is part of baseball. When behind in a two-strike count, the top prospect needs to show better results. If he can do that over time, the sky’s the limit for Green!

“This is the most lush and successful prospect list that we’ve ever had,” Rizzo said last week. “It’s the most talented players we’ve ever had in the farm system at one time.”

Much of the pressure will be on Lowery and his staff to get the desired results in the development of these top prospects. While we expect Wood, T.J. White, and Jeremy De La Rosa to start at High-A, Green, House, Roismar QuintanaDaylen Lile and Armando Cruz should all start the season at Fredericksburg along with pitchers Jarlin Susana and Jake Bennett. The Single-A teams, between Fredericksburg and Wilmington, are both off of I-95 and 150 miles separated between hopes and dreams of future stardom.

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