The strength of the future team for the Washington Nationals appears to be in their outfield. But certainly some could argue an infield of Brady House, CJ Abrams, Luis Garciaand TJ White could be very good too with Armando Cruz in the mix. Today, MLB Pipeline published their list of the Top-10 outfield prospects in all of baseball with some honorable mentions, and the Nats were all over the rankings.
The Top-9 (ETA)
1. Corbin CarrollD-backs (2023)
2. Jordan WalkerCardinals (2023)
3. Jackson ChourioBrewers (2024)
4. Drew Jones, D-backs (2026)
5. James WoodNationals (2025)
6. Zac VeenRockies (2024)
7. Pete Crow-ArmstrongCubs (2024)
8. Sal FrelickBrewers (2023)
9. Robert Hassell III, Nationals (2024)
With two Nats in that Top-10, MLB Pipeline also named Elijah Greenthe team’s first round draft pick in 2022, as an honorable mention as a player to keep an eye on, “Green had the highest ceiling in the 2022 Draft with a combination of double-plus raw power and speed to go with plus center-field range and arm strength. The son of former NFL Pro Bowl tight end Eric Green does come with swing-and-miss issues and had a 40.4 percent strikeout rate in his rookie-ball debut.”
With all due respect to the person who wrote that about Green, his sample size was all of 52 plate appearances, and he was an 18 year old facing more seasoned pitching. What MLB Pipeline left out was that Green dominated in an all-or-nothing approach and finished with an impressive power display and a slash of .302/.404/.535 with a .939 OPS. He did strikeout too much as his two-strike swing was as fierce as it was on the first pitch in the at-bat that he swung at. Yes, the rub on Green is that he K’s too much. But if he can be a dominant hitter with a high K rate, you just hope he can continue to improve and evolve to at least shorten that swing with a two-strike approach to increase his contact rates.
On the Nats’ FCL squad of new players, only the 23 year old Will Frizzell bested Green’s slashline in 2022. Green was the second youngest player on the FCL Nats last year. As the fifth overall pick in the 2022 draft, Green is the player the Nats hope can emerge as a star to form an incomparable outfield with Wood and Hassell. The system also boasts two other outfielders in the team’s Top-10 prospects per Baseball America with Christian Vaquero and White. It is expected that White will see some time this year at first base and possibly at third base.
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
— Matt Eddy (@MattEddyBA) October 26, 2022
In case you are someone who follows the Nats’ prospects, you can appreciate what a lineup like that could look like in a short time. Everything really depends on the player development system to elevate these prospects into MLB stars.
It should not be a stretch to imagine, as Baseball America does, that the Nats’ future outfield will have Green in center field, Hassell in left field, and Wood in right field. If Vaquero is as good as some think he will be, one of those outfielders could be playing some first base or DH. That would be a good problem to have.
Add to all of this, the Nats draft at the #2 spot in the 2023 draft and should come away with a player that will impact this team for years to come. Right now it looks like the Nats would snag either Dylan Crews or Chase Dollander in July’s draft after the Pirates pick first in the draft. Some have said that this is the best draft in years. Of course time will tell on that. Crews is a right-handed outfielder and Dollander is a right-handed pitcher. Both could be quick to the Majors like Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper were after the Nats picked each at the top of their respective drafts.
That lineup in 2025 would only have one player older than 25 on Opening Day of that year, and that player is Keibert Ruiz. That lineup would also have some cost certainty for the Nats if everything goes right. The team would certainly have the payroll flexibility to spend big for an ace pitcher or two, and some long-term extensions for some of these youngsters.
MLB Pipeline will reveal its 2023 Top-100 Prospects list at 7 pm ET tomorrow with a one-hour show on MLB Network and MLB.com. Keep in mind that Baseball America published their full list a week ago, and ranked four Nats prospects on their 2023 Top-100 rankings:
Baseball America also acknowledged that House, Vaquero, and Susana are just outside of the Top-100 prospects. We will see where MLB Pipeline ranks them!