'Really excited about the future here': Nats prospects add to highlight reel

Crews, Hassell and House power Nationals' Spring Training win over Astros

February 27th, 2024

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The Nationals’ coveted core of prospects has already put together highlight moments just four games into Spring Training.

After James Wood (No. 14 overall, Nats’ No. 2) homered in his first two contests and has yet to go hitless in a game, (No. 7 overall, Nats’ No. 1), Robert Hassell III (Nats’ No. 8) and (No. 48 overall, Nats’ No. 3) provided a flurry of sparks in the club's 10-3 win over the Astros on Tuesday afternoon.

“We’ve been saying it: good things are going to happen,” said manager Dave Martinez. “And we really believe that. We’ve got talented young players that are hungry, that are really starting to understand who they are.”

Tuesday marked the first start together of Crews, Hassell and Wood, offering a glimpse into what the Nationals’ future outfield could be. Trey Lipscomb (Nats' No. 14) also got the start at second base, while House came off the bench at third base.

“I’m trying to give them opportunities to come up here and play a little bit, and they’re all doing really well,” Martinez said. “I’m really excited about the future here, I really am. Things are looking bright.”

Let’s look deeper at three notable performances.

Dylan Crews
The day after his 22nd birthday, Crews stuffed the stat sheet by going 1-for-2 with a hustle double, a run scored, two RBIs and a stolen base. Crews added a head-turning diving grab in center field.

“He plays the game the right way,” Martinez said. “You saw him today: ball up the middle, double. He comes out of the box, runs hard. He gets after the ball in the outfield. He puts good swings on the ball. First ball, I know he popped up to second base, but that was a good swing. He just missed it. He’s going to be good, he really is.”

When Crews, the No. 2 overall Draft pick last year, reflects on a game, defense stands out to him the most. With the opportunity of playing together in the future, the outfielders already are establishing a rapport, as exemplified by Crews’ web gem.

“I felt like I got a good read on it,” Crews said. “We were working on our communication out there, so I told [Hassell] early that I had it, and I was able to make a good play on it. Thanks on Hassell’s part for trusting me.”

Robert Hassell III
Hassell continues to establish his offensive rhythm after dealing with lingering effects of a right hamate injury last season. With Crews on third in the third inning, Hassell rocked an oppo home run into left field off Drew Strotman, his first of Spring Training.

“I was looking for a fastball. Saw it, and I’m glad I did damage on it,” Hassell said. “It’s a humbling game -- I saw seven changeups for two strikeouts. You might only get one, and I saw that one. I was able to put a good swing on it.”

The dinger was Hassell’s second extra-base hit of Spring Training, following a triple in the opener. Hassell is 4-for-8 with three RBIs and two stolen bases in his first four games.

“Talking to some of the guys here, they’ve been really helpful with me,” Hassell said. “One of the main things is it’s OK to load too early. The first couple games, it’s harder to get your timing down. But if I’m almost loading too early for 95, 96 [mph], that personally helps me see the ball and then see the offspeed as well.”

Brady House
House started on Monday in place of Nick Senzel (illness), and he quickly adjusted to coming off the bench the following day. House entered for Jake Alu in the bottom of the sixth inning. In the top of the seventh, House sent the first pitch he saw from Joel Kuhnel to left-center field for his first home run of big league camp. He added a single in the eighth to go 2-for-2.

“Getting to kind of watch what was going on at the beginning of the game, and then getting brought in the back half of the game to help the team finish it out was great,” House said. “I was glad that I had the opportunity to go in, and then everything felt good.”

Like Hassell, House previously was hampered by an injury (back). He feels “100 percent healthy” and “ready to go” for the 2024 season. The youngest player in big league camp at age 20, he is feeding off the familiarity of his teammates.

“I played most of last year with all of these guys," House said. "And getting to come here and do big league Spring Training with them, and we’re all learning together and we’re feeding off each other, that’s the best part."