7 Nats prospects to watch in '24

October 12th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Jessica Camerato’s Nationals Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

Ten prospects made their Major League debuts for the Nationals this season, and there is more developing talent on the horizon.  
The Nats continued to bolster their farm system through the Draft and at the Trade Deadline, including the addition of six prospects to their top 30 rankings, per MLB Pipeline -- outfielder Dylan Crews (No. 1), third baseman Yohandy Morales (No. 7), right-hander Travis Sykora (No. 11), shortstop Kevin Made (No. 15), southpaw DJ Herz (No. 16) and outfielder Andrew Pinckney (No. 19).  

Not only did players grow individually, they advanced through the levels together to build chemistry toward the future. At the end of the season, outfielders Crews, James Wood (No. 2), Robert Hassell III (No. 8), Pinckney and infielders Brady House (No. 3), Morales and Trey Lipscomb (No. 14) were among those playing for the Double-A Senators.  

“The best part of the Minor League season was that all the players that we really were looking forward to take a step forward, we believe have,” general manager Mike Rizzo said at the end of the season. “We think that was a success in that regard. It was fun to get all those prospects at the Double-A level at the same time and kind of have them grow with each other and kind of perform with each other, so that was something that we really enjoyed watching.” 

As we look ahead to the 2024 season, here are players to watch and a big question to be answered.

3 players who forced their way onto the radar this year

3B Brady House (No. 3)
House, 20, had a turnaround season after dealing with a back injury last year. He rose from Single-A to Double-A and earned a selection to the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game. After batting .278 last season in 45 games with Fredericksburg, House slashed a cumulative .312/.365/.497 with an .862 OPS, 21 doubles and 12 home runs in 88 games. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound House shifted from shortstop to third base, where he recorded a .946 fielding percentage.

OF Daylen Lile (No. 6)
Lile, 20, bounced back after missing all of 2022 because of Tommy John surgery to have a standout first full pro season. He appeared in 106 games at Single-A and High-A, slashing .269/.355/.452 with an .807 OPS, 27 doubles, 10 triples and 23 stolen bases. Lile also played every outfield position, noting his arm strength improved during his rehab. “I look at myself as a scoreboard changer,” Lile said in August after being promoted. “Even if I don’t hit in a game, I can still do something on defense to help the team out.”

INF Trey Lipscomb (No. 14)
Lipscomb, 23, earned the Nationals Minor League Defensive Player of the Year Award after playing every infield position in his first full season in the pros (High-A and Double-A). He improved his second and third base fielding percentage to .981, compared to .929 in 2022. Lipscomb also did not commit an error while playing shortstop for the first time on the professional level. “Coming into this season, I really wanted to push my defensive work,” Lipscomb said in September. “And I think that’s what I did.” He also led Nationals Minor Leaguers in hits and doubles while slashing .272/.311/.419.

2 possible breakout players to watch in 2024

LHP DJ Herz (No. 16)
The Nats acquired Herz, 22, from the Cubs in the Jeimer Candelario trade this summer. He went 2-2 with a 2.55 ERA in eight starts (35 1/3 innings) with Double-A Harrisburg. Herz, who was named Chicago’s 2021 Minor League Pitcher of the Year, is pitching in the Arizona Fall League as he continues to get acclimated in the Nationals organization.

3B Yohandy Morales (No. 7)
Morales, 22, was projected in several mock drafts to be selected in the first round, and the Nationals were pleasantly surprised when he was available with the first pick in the second round. In just 42 games, Morales jumped from the Florida Complex League to Double-A, slashing .349/.423/.494 with a .917 OPS, 16 doubles and four triples.

1 big question for next season: Who makes the jump to the Majors?

The Nationals Minor League system is deep with outfield prospects, and we could begin to see them in the Majors next season. Headlining that group are the Nats’ Nos. 1 and 2 prospects, Crews and Wood, who finished the season at Double-A. In 35 games after being selected second overall in the 2023 Draft, Crews slashed a combined .292/.377/.467 with an .844 OPS and five home runs. Wood, who was named the Nats’ Minor League Hitter of the Year for the second consecutive season, batted .262/.353/.520 with an .873 OPS and 26 homers in 129 games.  
When asked at the end of the season about evaluating prospects’ Major League readiness, Rizzo said, “We'll find out when they perform next year. … We've grabbed 19-year-olds and 20-year-olds, so we're not afraid to bring up one when we believe that they're ready to be here and to perform here. Getting here is one thing, and staying here for an extended period of time and giving us that longevity in that championship run is what we're looking for.”