“Hope Row” is around the corner from Bumpy Road

Leave it to Washington Nationals manager Dave Martinez to nickname a block of lockers, belonging to his top prospects, as “Hope Row”. This is the same man who waxed poetic after his World Series win that, “Bumpy roads lead to beautiful places.”

Those “Hope Row” lockers in the big league clubhouse at the CACTI Park of the Palm Beaches belong to the following top prospects: James Wood, Dylan Crews, Brady House, Robert Hassell III, Trey Lipscomb, and Darren Baker. Those first three names belong to three of the highest rated prospects in all of baseball and are Top-100. Also, Crews and Wood are in the Top-10.

“It did not hurt — and it was no coincidence — that we had [several top prospects] play together a little bit at the end of last season [in Double-A Harrisburg]. So that was helpful to them. …”

— General Manager Mike Rizzo said this week and pictured above in the Harrisburg Double-A dugout are L-R: Brady House, Robert Hassell III, Dylan Crews, and James Wood and the photo below with L-R: Trey Lipscomb, House, Wood, and Hassell

Tomorrow is the SPRING BREAKOUT exhibition game where all of those top prospects are playing. The excitement level has never been higher internally as Rizzo has said numerous times that this is the best crop of prospects the team has ever had. The evaluators like the top of the Nats farm system.

In big league camp, it is heavy with position players as most of the top pitchers are dealing with injuries with Cade Cavalli (UCL) returning in June, Jake Bennett (UCL) out for this season, and Cole Henry recovering from TOS surgery. While Henry is pitching this spring in big league camp, his TOS recovery had him tumbling down prospect lists. He will have to prove himself. The healthy pitchers in camp are Jackson Rutledge, Jarlin Susana, and Travis Sykora.

Again, most of the focus is on the top prospect position players. When MLB Network’s Mark DeRosa asked Martinez if Wood and Crews will help his team this year, Martinez said, “I really believe that. I really believe so. They’re close.”

The full video from MLB Network is classic Davey the Optimist. He has good reason to be excited with his Spring Training roster full of talent. This should be the time of year for some shades of optimism.

While the offseason didn’t meet the average fan’s expectations, Martinez knows that he can only work with the roster that Rizzo and ownership bestowed upon him. In 2018-2021, he had very good rosters, and won a World Series in 2019 — but since 2021, the team has been in rebuild mode and four consecutive losing seasons.

Martinez has squeezed lemons into lemonade before, and he will need to do that again with his lemonade stand that sits along a bumpy road from which he can see in the distance a beautiful place known as Hope Row. And remember, hope springs eternal. That phrase appears in the second stanza of the poem “Casey at the Bat” by Ernest Thayer as “that hope which springs eternal.” Well said Mr. Thayer and Davey Martinez.

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