Young Stars taking Advantage of Nationals’ Rebuild

From a team that won the world series in 2019 with the oldest team in baseball to a team that would finish with the worst record in baseball in 2022. The Washington Nationals are in the cusps of a rebuild. They are surrounded by multiple former top prospects and trade acquisitions who are taking advantage of the opportunity the Nationals are giving them.  

The 2023 offseason involved general manager Mike Rizzo acquiring a handful of former top prospects, including outfielder Derek Hill, who spent his first three seasons with the Detroit Tigers. Hill collected a .240 Batting average over 254 plate appearances. Hill was Detroit’s #20 overall prospect in 2020 and is primarily known for his base running ability. In late December, Washington also claimed infielder Jeter Downs off waivers from the Red Sox. Downs was a piece involved in the 2020 blockbuster trade that sent All-Star outfielder Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Downs wasn’t expected to make the Nationals’ roster in 2023 with a significant role but had a great spring with the glove. Downs was sent to Triple AAA Rochester in late March and, as Davey Martinez said, is expected to be an impactful player in the future of the Nationals. Downs has been getting starts in Rochester in the outfield, where he has never played. The Nationals hope that Jeter can learn the outfield and become a very versatile player, such as a Chris Taylor- type player. A Low-A player to look out for is infielder Brady House. House was selected with the 11th pick in the 2021 MLB draft. 

The Nationals are also stacked with young talent from trades, most notably outfielders James Wood and Robert Hassell III, who was acquired from San Diego for outfielder Juan Soto and first-baseman Josh Bell. Wood is starting the 2023 season with the Wilmington Blue Rocks, the Nationals’ High-A affiliate. Hassell, a 21-year-old left-hander, missed quite some time last season with a broken hamate bone in his right hand. Hassell is beginning the season in Double-AA Harrisburg. In 2022, the Nationals selected 18-year-old outfielder Elijah Green with the 5th overall pick. Green has been lighting it up in Fredericksburg to start the young season. Green has a .500 batting average, along with a 1.121 OPS. Green delivered a walk-off single on April 9th to give Fredericksburg a 3-2 victory over Lynchburg. 

In the big leagues in 2023, shortstop CJ Abrams and left-handed pitcher Mackenzie Gore are playing their sophomore seasons with the Nationals. Both were also acquired from San Diego. So far, Gore has been the best arm in the Nationals’ rotation. With a 2.38 ERA, followed by 12 strikeouts and six free passes, Gore has the only two registered wins for the Nationals rotation. Second baseman Luis Garcia is also playing what seems to be a “prove it” season with Washington in 2023. Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2017, Garcia made the opening-day roster for the first time in 2023. Garcia has seen samples of big-league time, making his major league debut in August of 2020 and becoming the first player born in the 2000s to hit a major league home run. Garcia has the chance to play an entire season as second base and make a name for himself in the position. Garcia has a career .263 batting average. 

For the first time in the teams history, The Nationals where placed in MLB Pipeline’s Top 10 Farm-Systems, at #10. The Nationals have a promising future ahead of them as long as the eggs they have in their basket play to all the hype. 

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