Here are the Nationals' 2023 Top 30 prospects

February 27th, 2023

Call them the new-look Nats.

The organization that traded superstar Juan Soto at last year’s Trade Deadline better have a farm system worth boasting about (and worth pulling a blockbuster off for), and the rebuilding Nationals are on their way there.

Washington’s top two prospects entering 2023 -- James Wood and Robert Hassell III -- both joined the organization as part of last year’s mega-trade with San Diego, the deal that also netted Major Leaguers MacKenzie Gore and CJ Abrams and No. 6 prospect Jarlin Susana. No. 3 prospect Elijah Green is another fairly recent addition as last year’s fifth overall pick.

If there’s anything that links the biggest name in the Nats system these days, it’s high-ceiling yet somewhat risky profiles.

Wood feels the safest bet as a 6-foot-7 unicorn center fielder who hits for both average and power and has better wheels than expected for his size. But even Hassell, considered a plus hitter by some since his amateur days, carries some concerns about his power, while Green is as toolsy as they come in the Minors – look at how many times he appears at the bottom of this story – but comes with serious swing-and-miss issues as he proved with 21 strikeouts in 12 Florida Complex League games last season.

Similarly, 2020 first-rounder Cade Cavalli, coming off a 2021 in which he led the Minors in K’s, had struggles with command and finished 2022 on the IL with right shoulder issues after making his MLB debut. Infielder Brady House, a first-rounder in ’21, dealt with back issues that kept him out for much of his first full season, but when healthy, his plus power from his 6-foot-4 frame can rank up there with anyone else in the Nationals pipeline.

Even teenage pitcher Susana is a flashy hurler with a fastball that touches 103, but low-level pitchers with cannons for arms still aren’t sure things. Just ask Cole Henry, who could reach the upper-90s before he needed thoracic outlet surgery late last summer.

If it all hits, Washington could be looking at one of the best homegrown lineups since the early 2010s Royals with Wood, Green and Hassell all manning the grass and House finding a spot on the dirt next to Abrams. Cavalli and Gore could become stalwarts of a contending rotation, alongside Josiah Gray who came over himself in the Max Scherzer-Trea Turner deal of 2021.

That’s the dream anyways. The nightmare is the prospect risks turn into Major League problems and the departure of a potential future Hall of Famer looks worse by the day. Credit Mike Rizzo and the Nationals’ front office with this -- the group took big swings in the young players they received back and selected with last year’s Draft position. The No. 2 overall pick is coming up in July 2023, and soon, it’ll be time to swing for the fences again.

Here’s a look at the Nationals’ top prospects:
1. James Wood, OF (MLB No. 17)
2. Robert Hassell III, OF (MLB No. 35)
3. Elijah Green, OF (MLB No. 46)
4. Cade Cavalli, RHP (MLB No. 58)
5. Brady House, 3B/SS
Complete Top 30 list »

Biggest jump/fall

Here are the players whose ranks changed the most from the 2022 preseason list to the 2023 preseason list.

Jump: T.J. White, OF (2022: No. 27 | 2023: No. 10)
Last year at this time, White’s plus power helped put the 2021 fifth-rounder on the Top 30, but concerns about swing-and-miss issues in his game placed him near the tail end of the list. The switch-hitting outfielder showed signs of pop with 11 homers and a 118 WRC+ over 92 games at Single-A Fredericksburg, and while his 27.2 percent K rate was on the high side for most, it was good enough to prove that he can make enough contact to make the most of his slugging ability. This all came while White, who was young for his Draft class, was one of only four age-18 players to meet qualifying standards at Single-A. Even if a crowded outfield situation moves the teenager to first base, he has the offensive potential to work his way into the middle of Major League lineups someday.

Fall: Yasel Antuna, OF (2022: No. 12 | 2023: NR)
Washington added the shortstop-turned-outfielder to its 40-man roster after he impressed at the alternate training site in 2020. A switch-hitter, Antuna just hasn’t caught on offensively since with averages below .240 at each of his three stops over the last two seasons, culminating in a 143/.278/.220 line over 26 games with Double-A Harrisburg last year. Hopes that Antuna would generate average power have gone unrealized entering his age-23 season, and he was outrighted off the 40-man in December.

Top 30s

Best tools

Players are graded on a 20-80 scouting scale for future tools -- 20-30 is well below average, 40 is below average, 50 is average, 60 is above average and 70-80 is well above average. Players in parentheses have the same grade.

Hit: 60 – Robert Hassell III
Power: 60 – Elijah Green (James Wood, Brady House, TJ White)
Run: 70 – Elijah Green (Cristhian Vaquero)
Arm: 60 – Elijah Green (House, Armando Cruz, Israel Pineda)
Defense: 60 – Armando Cruz (Elijah Green)
Fastball: 75 – Jarlin Susana
Curveball: 60 – Cade Cavalli
Slider: 60 – Cade Cavalli (Jackson Rutledge, Thaddeus Ward)
Changeup: 60 – Jake Bennett
Control: 55 – Jake Bennett (Jake Irvin, Jose A. Ferrer, Aldo Ramirez)

How they were built
Draft: 14 | International: 8 | Trade: 6 | NDFA: 1 | Rule 5: 1

Breakdown by ETA
2023: 10 | 2024: 7 | 2025: 10 | 2026: 2 | 2027: 1

Breakdown by position
C: 2 | 1B: 0 | 2B: 0 | 3B: 3 | SS: 1 | OF: 10 | RHP: 10 | LHP: 4