SPRING BREAKOUT exhibition game today!

The Washington Nationals and New York Mets Spring Breakout showcase game starts at 3:10 PM EDT with a big league game following in a doubleheader. The “Spring Breakout” game, which is a new concept this year, fields rosters of team’s future stars for a showcase in the middle of the Spring Training schedule. Teams are paired against nearby teams in the Grapefruit and Cactus leagues, and the Nats prospects are at Clover Park in Port St. Lucie to face the Mets’ top prospects today.

“The poise and professionalism of these young kids is really something that was exciting for me to see.”

— general manager Mike Rizzo said on Tuesday

The event’s concept is to showcase each organization’s best prospects against another team’s in a game that’s part of a doubleheader with a regularly scheduled Spring Training game. The fans will get to see the future of their team in these prospect games that are being played by every team in MLB.

The only downside to this is taking top prospects out of Big League games against top MLB pitching in the Spring Training schedule. But for most top prospects, they are out of sight on the backfields at the team’s Spring Training complexes — and this will put them front-and-center.

“Spring Breakout will provide a new opportunity to showcase the future stars of the game as they continue on their journey to the Major Leagues.”

“Our fans will get unique opportunities to meet our best prospects, get autographs, and see the next generation of Major Leaguers up close.”

“We are thrilled that Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball and all of our Clubs are working closer than ever to grow the game and to shine a brighter light on our future All-Stars.”

— MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement

The Washington Nationals might have inspired this idea when they announced that they were doing an exhibition game on March 26th of their top prospects versus Nats’ MLB players in an exhibition game called “On Deck: Nationals Futures Game”. By the way, tickets are on sale now on this link.

For the “Spring Breakout” games, MLB envisioned in-person autograph sessions and other meet-and-greet opportunities with the prospects and the fans. This is a chance to broaden baseball’s appeal with the stars of tomorrow. Certainly, a perfect time to travel to Spring Training to see this game or you can watch and listen via MLB Digital (MLB.TV, MLB.com, MLB App), SNY, Nationals.com audio webcast, ESPN+, Gameday

The Nats lineup could look something like this:

1. Dylan Crews CF

2. Brady House 3B

3. James Wood RF

4. Yohandy Morales 1B

5. Andrew Pinckney LF

6. Elijah Green DH T.J. White

7. Trey Lipscomb SS

8. Darren Baker 2B

9. Drew Millas C

UPDATED: The actual lineup is close to this with 1. Crews 2. Wood 3. House 4. Morales 5. Millas 6. Lipscomb 7. Pinckney 8. White 9. Baker and Rutledge as the starting pitcher. The big surprise is Green not in the starting lineup. And obviously Pinckney subbed in for the injured Hassell.

The Nats chose to go with the maximum of 27-players on their roster and teams had to select no less than 23 players on their roster. Not all of the players will appear in the game due to injury or their pitching schedule. The Nats decided to go with the maximum of 27 prospects. Here’s the Nationals’ Spring Breakout roster with MLB Pipeline’s rankings:

Jarlin Susana, RHP, No. 10
Travis Sykora, RHP, No. 11
DJ Herz, LHP, No. 12
Jackson Rutledge, RHP, No. 15
Mitchell Parker, LHP, No. 22
Cole Henry, RHP, No. 25
Dustin Saenz, LHP, No. 29
Andrew Alvarez, LHP, NR
Lucas Knowles, LHP, NR
Andry Lara, RHP, NR

Drew Millas, C, No. 20
Israel Pineda, C, No. 26
Maxwell Romero Jr., C, NR

Brady House, 3B, No. 3 (MLB No. 48)
Yohandy Morales, IF, No. 5
Trey Lipscomb, IF, No. 16
Kevin Made, SS, No. 23
Darren Baker, 2B, No. 27
T.J. White, 1B, No. 30
Armando Cruz, IF/OF, NR

Dylan Crews, OF, No. 1 (MLB No. 7)
James Wood, OF, No. 2 (MLB No. 14)
Elijah Green, OF, No. 6
Daylen Lile, OF, No. 7
Robert Hassell III, OF, No. 8
Cristhian Vaquero, OF, No. 9
Andrew Pinckney, OF, No. 17

For the first time, we might get to see Travis Sykora in a game as he was a 2023 draftee who didn’t pitch in any games last season. Daylen Lile, who was injured in a scary looking tumble over the outfield wall is on the roster, and he is still day-to-day with a back contusion. Hopefully he plays today. One prospect who is out today is Robert Hassell III who is nursing a groin injury and is day-to-day. Other top prospects you won’t see are Jacob Young, Nasim Nuñez, RHP Zach Brzykcy and RHP Cade Cavalli (the RHPs are recovering from UCL/Tommy John surgery nearly a year ago).

The Mets will feature newbie outfielders Drew Gilbert and Ryan Clifford, and infielder Luisangel Acuña who were all acquired by trades last year. Some of their other top prospects with Colin Houck, Brandon Sproat and Nolan McLean as draft picks last year, and top prospects Jett Williams and Kevin Parada are all scheduled to play for the Mets.

Between members of the 40-man roster and Major League Spring Training invites, Washington has had 16 of its MLB Pipeline-ranked top 30 prospects in big league camp.  

Nearly one-third of those players — Crews, Wood, House, Hassell, Herz, Lipscomb, Nuñez, Brzykcy, Parker, and Baker — could make their MLB debuts at some point during the 2024 season, and maybe others surprise like Young did last year.  Nuñez, a Rule-5 player, is the only one expected to be on the Opening Day roster.

“These guys are not only young baseball-wise, but chronologically some of them, too, and these guys handled themselves like professionals. As far as performance on the field, nobody’s been overmatched, nobody’s been in awe. I think they’re realizing, ‘Man, I do belong here. This is where I belong.’ And they’re fighting to stay here.” 

“It’s just going to be fun to see all those young, hot-shot prospects play on both teams. … I think it was a great idea by MLB to do that because it’s Spring Training. It’s tough to see a game like that because all the prospects are spread out all over the place. To kind of bring them in — and us against them, our prospects versus your prospects, I think it’s going to be fun.” 

— Rizzo said this week

Nats’ fans have been able to see James Wood, Dylan Crews, Hassell III, and Brady House extensively in big league Spring Training games, and they have held their own against legit MLB pitching. We have only been able to see glimpses of some of the other prospects, and as a group, all of these players have never been in one game together.

Spring Breakout should be fun as Rizzo said. It brings prospects off of the backfields and all in the same dugout and the same game to continue what is building as a future together, and that togetherness. It cannot be understated that this is the future of the Washington Nationals as they transition to a contender.

“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. I think the vibe that that coaching staff, and even the facilitating staff, brings to the clubhouse is very family-oriented. I think it’s very comfortable down there, I think that guys feed off that.”

“Usually you get a little pack here, a little pack there. These guys are running in big packs, and they always seem to be together, and they’re always bouncing around with a smile on their face.”  

“You can’t say enough about youth and exuberance, man. They’re fired up to be here. They’re taking every moment of this thing and sucking it up.”

— Rizzo said this week

This is a “must see” game, and that is what MLB wants. If this works out well, expect it to be expanded in 2025.

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