Finally, we have MLB Pipeline’s Top-30 prospects for the Washington Nationals. Evaluations are all over the place with respect to the 2023 prospects in baseball, and with independent thinkers, you would expect that past the top five or six prospects that evaluators would have their differences. We got Baseball America’s Top-30 prospects last week. In baseball, MLB Pipeline and Baseball America are the standards for rankings. At MLB.com, they of course use their own site to quote from; however we have seen Baseball America rankings used when it gives a better picture.
While Baseball America ranked the Top-2 international free agents signed last month in their Top-30 with Andy Acevedo and Edwin Solano, MLB Pipeline stayed with all players above the Dominican Summer League roster except for Cristhian Vaquero. And certainly Vaquero could start his 2023 season at either the Florida Complex League or Class-A Fredericksburg. There are other differences such as Jake Bennett made the MLB Pipeline Top-10 and Jake Alu was excluded from the Baseball America list and made the MLB Pipeline list.
For Nats’ general manager Mike Rizzo, he had this to say last year at a VIP event:
“…Our objective we have is to win championships — not to be №1 in Baseball America,” Rizzo said to applause and laughs by the fans gathered at the Ballpark Bash event.
Maybe Rizzo should order his rankings from the ala carte menu and take the best from each.
“I’m optimistic. I’m excited about this time in our developmental curve with the organization,” Rizzo said last week. “When you guys do get out there on the [Minor League side of camp], those prospects — it’s an exciting time. It’s the best group of upside players we’ve ever had here. I’ve been here since ‘day one’, and I’ve never seen it like this before.”
“You filter in — there’s 22, 23 and 24 year-olds [on the MLB roster], I think you see what we’re trying to accomplish here. That’s the first rung on the ladder to get back to a championship.”
Last month, Rizzo used the word ‘lush’ at his Hot Stove event to describe his farm system, and said it was the best prospect group the team has ‘ever’ had.
“This is the most lush and successful prospect list that we’ve ever had. It’s the most talented players we’ve ever had in the farm system at one time.”
Here is a look at where MLB Pipeline sees the Nats starting position players in two years:
Look at that graphic above. Maybe that first baseman will be T.J. White or if the Nats choose a college position player in this year’s draft, can Dylan Crews play some first base? Also consider that Cristhian Vaquero, Jeremy De La Rosa, and Armando Cruz will be pushing for spots on the roster. A rotation with MacKenzie Gore, Cade Cavalli, and Josiah Gray are also part of that equation. Here is where Baseball America sees the Nats position players in three years:
Reading the Nationals’ Top 10 Prospects for the NOV issue of @BaseballAmerica—preorder your copy today!—I see Washington has a nice position core forming
C Keibert Ruiz
1B TJ White
2B Luis Garcia
3B Brady House
SS CJ Abrams
LF Robert Hassell III
CF Elijah Green
RF James Wood
— Matt Eddy (@MattEddyBA) October 26, 2022
At Baseball America, they also projected a starting rotation and closer for 2026 with their ages in parentheses in 2026:
No. 1 Starter: Cade Cavalli (27)
No. 2 Starter: MacKenzie Gore (27)
No. 3 Starter: Josiah Gray (28)
No. 4 Starter: Jarlin Susana (22)
No. 5 Starter: Jackson Rutledge (27)
Closer: Jose Ferrer (26)
What they did not do at Baseball America or MLB Pipeline on their 2025/2026 roster projections is to name a free agent acquisition or even factor in the №2 draft pick. If that pick is a college player, you would expect a quick path to the Majors like we saw with Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper, and Anthony Rendon. So clearly some of those projections will change, and it helps that free agency after this season is deep with starting pitchers. What a time it will be if the Nats start spending big again in free agency.
To say the future is bright depends on your standpoint on optimism. Certainly the evaluators think the Nats are set up well especially when you consider that the Nationals have no long-term contract commitments beyond the 2024 season except for Strasburg who will have just two seasons remaining on his contract after the 2024 season. As former Nats’ GM Jim Bowden sees it, the Nats are following the playbook that they did in their first rebuild from 2007-2011, and he thinks this one could go better!
Jim Bowden says,
James Wood is Giancarlo Stanton.
Robert Hassell III is Christian Yelich.
Elijah Green is Marcell Ozuna.
Steve Phillips says James Wood is Aaron Judge.
— Talk Nats (@TalkNats) February 24, 2023