'A blessing': Nats' No. 3 prospect learning from big leaguers  

March 18th, 2023

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- In a typical Spring Training, very little happens that’s accidental. So it’s no coincidence that Elijah Green has regularly received invitations to slide over from Minor League camp to join the Nationals’ big league squad for games this spring.

Green, the No. 5 pick in last summer’s Draft, made his fourth Grapefruit League game appearance of the spring on Saturday in Washington’s 7-0 loss to the Marlins. And although he didn’t get an at-bat or fielding chance, it was another sign that he’s on the radar. He’s 2-for-5 with a triple in those appearances, but it’s not at all about the results. It’s about the experience for MLB Pipeline’s No. 46 overall prospect.

“It’s definitely a blessing,” Green said, “but I just treat it as another baseball game. Not try to think of the moment as too big, because that’s when the emotions kick in and that’s when you don’t succeed.”

Green, who turned 19 in October, is one of the youngest and least experienced players anywhere in the Washington complex. But he also has some of the loudest tools. He’s the kind of player who can catch your eye on a ground out. In fact, he did just that earlier this week, flashing his plus-plus speed.

“You watch him…” said manager Dave Martinez with a laugh. “I watched him run just on a groundball the other day, home to first, he was getting after it. It’s fun to see. I watch him in the outfield when he’s out here, reading balls off the bat. He anticipates balls being hit and his first step is pretty good. But he’s still got to play a lot of baseball.”

Green, the son of former star NFL tight end Eric Green, has tremendous speed, a strong arm and good actions in the outfield. He has plus raw power. He still needs to show he can make enough contact in pro ball, but he’s full of promise in just about every area.

The Nationals' No. 3 prospect is getting valuable experience from taking at-bats against big league pitchers and playing in front of Grapefruit League crowds, of course. But he points to the time before he even gets in the game as being just as valuable.

“Just sitting through the first five, six innings, learning pitch sequence, what they’re trying to do to batters,” he said. “How they’re trying to attack us and how they’re trying to get us out. … It’s [valuable] just being around the guys, picking their brains, just watching. And then when you finally get your opportunity, take advantage of it.”

Green remains a very long way from Major League regular season games. He spent the end of last season in the Rookie level Florida Complex League. He has yet to take a single at-bat in a full season league. When the Nationals watch him, when they bring him to camp, it’s an investment in a relatively distant future.

But be assured, it’s a future they’re excited about.

“I know he’s young, but he’s handled himself really well being here,” Martinez said. “As we all know, he’s got to go down and get 5-600 plate appearances this year, but we feel like he’s going to have a really bright future and probably sooner than we think. He’s really adapted well this spring and showed the ability to do a lot of different things. So it’s been a lot of fun working with him, talking to him. Hopefully he goes down there and knocks the door down.”