Here's a look at the Nats' new prospects

July 30th, 2021

Blockbusters boost farm systems. Say it again, blockbusters boost farm systems. They just come with the cost of legitimate Major League stars.

The Dodgers and Nationals pulled off such a blockbuster late Thursday night with All-Stars and World Series champions Max Scherzer and Trea Turner headed to L.A. for prospects Keibert Ruiz, Josiah Gray, Gerardo Carrillo and Donovan Casey.

Ruiz and Gray -- currently ranked as MLB Pipeline’s overall Nos. 41 and 42 prospects -- give a previously lowly Washington system two big shots in the arm and round out the organization’s Top 100 contingent at four, next to No. 77 Cade Cavalli and No. 89 Jackson Rutledge. Not bad for a pipeline that ranked as MLB Pipeline’s worst coming into the 2021 season. Carrillo and Casey both easily slide into the Nats’ Top 30 list and provide much-needed depth in the Minor League ranks.

But again, these prospect additions came at the cost of a legitimate ace in Scherzer and one of the game’s top middle infielders in Turner. While it will sting to have both stars away from the nation’s capital, it might help to know that Gray and Ruiz already have Major League experience themselves and Carrillo and Casey aren’t far off either at Double-A.

Here’s a closer look at each prospect and where they rank on MLB Pipeline’s Nationals Top 30:

Keibert Ruiz, C (No. 1/MLB No. 41)

The switch-hitting backstop was known primarily as a contact hitter entering 2021. Indeed, that is still the case as he’s struck out in only 11.7 percent of his Triple-A plate appearances this season. But his power has also begun to shine through as well. Ruiz’s 16 homers for Oklahoma City already marked a career high through only 52 games, and his .631 slugging percentage represented a significant jump as well. His defense has been a work in progress, but he shows the requisite framing and blocking skills to stick behind the plate. Ruiz was just one of 12 qualified players in their age-22 seasons or younger at Triple-A this season, and his 139 wRC+ was easily the best of that bunch. The fact that he’s matured to this production level already speaks to the levels he could reach in the Nats system now that he’s out of the shadow of Will Smith and Austin Barnes in LA. Complete scouting report »

Josiah Gray, RHP (No. 2/MLB No. 42)

Gray made his Major League debut on July 20, made two appearances (one start) for the Dodgers and then was acquired by Washington. This is actually his second trade, having been moved from Cincinnati to Los Angeles in December 2018. The former Division II shortstop averages around 94-95 mph on his fastball and throws the plus pitch with plenty of riding life. His mid-80s slider is considered his better breaking pitch for its power, but he actually threw his curveball more often in the Majors. An upper-80s changeup is a decisive fourth pitch of the arsenal. Using that mix, Gray rarely has an issue throwing strikes, as he showed by striking out 22 and walking only two in 15 2/3 Triple-A innings this summer. Now recovered from a shoulder impingement that sidelined him early in 2021, the 23-year-old could conceivably move into Scherzer’s spot in the Nats rotation and be at least a No. 3 starter for years to come. Complete scouting report »

Gerardo Carrillo, RHP (No. 10)

Carrillo is the lottery ticket of the four-prospect bunch here. He’ll easily throw in the mid-90s with his fastball and has touched 100 at times in the past. The heater also stands out for its movement toward the armside. That’s huge considering his plus slider can give batters fits going the other way. The curveball and changeup give different looks but don’t receive the same stellar grades as the other two offerings. As good as his stuff can be, the 22-year-old right-hander has struggled to locate it consistently, as has continued to be the case at Double-A Tulsa this season. While he’s struck out 72 batters in 59 1/3 innings, he has walked 29 in the same span, leading to a 4.25 ERA. Unless that improves, Carrillo might be best-served heading to the bullpen and riding his fastball-slider as best he can. The Nats might want to give him a longer leash as a starter in their rebuild, though. Complete scouting report »

Aldo Ramirez, RHP (No. 11)

Ramirez was the most advanced young arm in the Boston farm system when Washington acquired him at the Trade Deadline. The righty used his downtime during the pandemic to get stronger, a strategy that paid off. In 2021 he struck out 32 and walked just eight while recording a 2.03 ERA over 31 innings with Low-A Salem. Though Ramirez went on the IL in June with right elbow tendinitis, his confidence and consistency on the mound attracted the Nationals. Ramirez throws both a four-seam and two-seam fastball -- which average 93.5 mph and top out at 96 -- working both the top and bottom of the zone. He also sports a mid-80s changeup and an upper-70s curveball that give his pitching arsenal depth. Now that he’s in the Nationals' Minor League system, Ramirez will be able to continue developing and strengthening his repertoire. Complete scouting report »

Riley Adams, C (No. 13)

With a solid IQ and game management, plus still-developing power at the plate, Adams joins the Nationals’ system with the potential to be a power-hitting backup, once he has the room and time to take on a more consistent role. The 6-foot-4, 246-pound catcher launched 14 home runs between High-A Dunedin and  Double-A New Hampshire in 2019, making his MLB debut in May with the Blue Jays. The catcher should provide Washington with added depth behind the plate, along with a power bat that hasn’t reached its ceiling yet. Complete scouting report »

Mason Thompson, RHP (No. 16)

Hit with a plethora of injuries early in his pro career, Thompson maintained electric stuff off the mound. Transitioning into a relief-only role during the Padres’ 2020 instructional camp, the 6-foot-7 righty has an upper-90s fastball, a power slider and two solid secondary pitches in his curveball and changeup. His clean delivery helps him on the mound, while his main pitches struck out 24 batters over 23 relief appearances (26 2/3 innings) with Triple-A El Paso this season. Thompson made his debut with the Padres on June 22. He recorded a 3.00 ERA over four relief appearances (three innings) while striking out two. Thompson has the potential to become a key bullpen arm for the Nationals once he has become more comfortable in a relief role. Complete scouting report »

Drew Millas, C (No. 24)

Millas entered Oakland’s organization in 2019, as arguably the top defensive college catcher in the nation, when he was drafted in the seventh round. The switch-hitting Millas shows solid power and a good approach at the plate, racking up 12 doubles and 41 walks over 59 games with High-A Lansing this season. Behind the plate, Millas has an above-average arm, good blocking skills and soft hands. Millas shows promise and should prove to be a smart get for the Nationals. Complete scouting report »

Donovan Casey, OF (No. 27)

The former Boston College Eagle has three legitimate above-average tools in his running ability, arm and glove in the outfield. More specifically, his arm can be a cannon dating back to the days when he threw 94 from the mound in college -- a skill that almost got him drafted as a pitcher. His hitting ability is more of a question mark these days. Despite a 122 wRC+ in his return to Double-A in 2021, the 25-year-old right-handed hitter strikes out and puts the ball on the ground too much to envision him being an average hitter at the top level. Unless that turns around, he projects to be an outfield defensive replacement off the bench. Complete scouting report »

Jordy Barley, SS (No.28)

Barley was initially signed by the Padres in 2017, for his plus run tool. After a few years of development, the shortstop showcased his strong offensive power with a .423 slugging percentage and a .733 OPS for Class A Tri-City. This season he slashed .236/.305/.395 with Low-A Lake Elsinore, including a 91 wRC+. Both Barley’s arm and run tools were graded a 60 from the scouting report, and as the shortstop has more time to grow in the Minors his bat should continue to improve. Barley’s K rate was 29.4% in 2021, and as he becomes more patient at the plate and develops his fielding skills, he should have more and more chances to move up in the Nationals’ farm system. Complete scouting report »

Richard Guasch, RHP (No. 30)

A right-hander with high-octane stuff, Guasch lacks the consistency needed to maintain a role as a starter. He sports an electric 83-87 mph wipeout slider -- his highest-ranked pitch -- that can be unhittable when he does land it, plus a fastball that averages 93-94 while topping out at 96. The one problem is his inability to throw consistent strikes, but his strong arsenal could shore him up as a good reliever in the Nationals’ organization.  The 23-year-old posted a 4.67 ERA over 13 games (nine starts) with High-A Lansing this season, striking out 68 over 54 innings. Complete scouting report »

Seth Shuman, RHP (unranked)

A sixth-round Draft pick from Georgia Southern in 2019, Shuman went 2-3 with a 2.25 ERA over 13 games (11 starts) with High-A Lansing this season. The righty struck out 62 over 56 innings for a 9.96 strikeouts per nine innings rate.