Meet the National’s top 40 prospects.
The Washington Nationals farm system was the 30th ranked system across baseball prior to the trade deadline. Since the deadline, they have moved up on most lists and added some near-ready talent to their pile of high upside very young players that they already had. This farm has the potential to make an impact next year in the bigs as well as another solid impact in the following years. There has been a lot of change recently, but the future is certainly bright in DC.
1. Josiah Gray
You could move the top three around in any order and it would be perfectly reasonable. I put Josiah Gray in the number one spot because he not only has great upside, but he has the highest floor of the three. Gray already debuted for the Nationals going five strong innings giving up only one run. While the strikeout numbers were not that great in his first start in DC he has proven that he can rack up the strikeouts having a K/9 that is almost at 13 in AAA.
The strikeout potential continued to shine in his most recent starts in DC. The reason Gray has the highest floor of the bunch is his ability to control all four of his pitches. A fastball that sits at 95, a wipeout slider, a spike curveball and a changeup he will need to improve create a solid arsenal already for Gray. In AAA this year he had a walks per nine that was just over one.
Worst case Josiah Gray will be the National’s third starter for years to come. If he is able to improve his change-up and curveball Gray has all the potential to be the Ace in DC. He is one of three prospects in the Nationals’ top 5 that have ace potential and if all goes well will create a three-headed monster for our next run.
2. Keibert Ruiz
The moment the Nationals and Dodgers trade was approved we knew we had a new top position player prospect in Keibert Ruiz. His AAA numbers are great hitting .311/.381/.631 for Oklahoma City this year. Ruiz is a switch hitter with a knack for making contact. Baseball America said
"“He has elite hand-eye coordination, can manipulate the barrel to cover all parts of the strike zone and rarely swings and misses. Those traits have long given Ruiz the potential to be a plus hitter, but his quality of contact was often lacking.”"
I am glad they made sure to state that it was lacking as he was tied for 6th in Triple-A West in home runs and is slugging .631 on the year. To add to that he homered in his debut for Rochester as well. Something has clicked this year and it has turned his consistent contact into consistent hard contact. Hopefully, this continues when he gets his call to DC in September.
While Gray has the highest floor of the bunch Cavalli has the highest ceiling. He currently leads all of minor league baseball with 125 strikeouts this year and his futures game performance had Nationals fans dreaming of a much brighter future. During that game, he was touching 100 with ease, but he normally sits at 98. He pairs that elite fastball with an above-average slider, curveball, and changeup.
His control however forces people to slow down expectations just a little bit. Since being promoted to AA Harrisburg he is walking just over five batters per nine. His last few outings have been much better though only walking less than three in each of those games. He continues to show that he is able to strike batters out and he even struck out 12 in a recent outing. If he can control all four of his pitches more consistently he is going to be an all star pitcher for sure.
The Nationals drafted Brady House 11 overall in the 2021 draft and he immediately debuted on Baseball America’s top 100 prospects at #90. They gave him a 70 power tool which is categorized as a plus plus tool that could lead to 35+ home runs at the big league level. The Nationals have not drafted a promising offensive prospect like House since Anthony Rendon. In 79 high school games House hit .629 with and an OPS of 1.497. That is absolutely absurd and he could easily be number one on this list come next year.
5. Jackson Rutledge
To round out the future three-headed monster for the Nationals we have Jackson Rutledge. Rutledge is 6 foot 8 and might be the scariest for opposing hitters to face. His height is not the only intimidating part of his game. He also has a fastball that can hit 100 and an absolutely disgusting slider. Pitching Ninja is going to have some fun with Rutledge’s slider once he makes it to the big leagues.
He has stuff that can go toe to toe with both Cavalli and Gray’s, but health is a legitimate concern with Rutledge. Rutledge has been placed on the minor league IL twice. The first stint came at the beginning of the year and was caused by a shoulder injury. The week Rutledge was placed back on the IL, but this time it is a much less concerning blister. If Rutledge can stay healthy he will certainly be a big-league starter and he has the potential to be a 2 or a 3 starter on a solid team.