Washington Nationals: Top 40 Prospects

WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 13: Josiah Gray #40 of the Washington Nationals pitches in the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park on August 13, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 13: Josiah Gray #40 of the Washington Nationals pitches in the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park on August 13, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images) /
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The Washington Nationals logo on the scoreboard after a baseball game against the New York Mets at Nationals Park on September 27, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /

6.Yasel Antuna


At this time everyone knows Luis Garcia, but it was actually Yasel Antuna that was the prize of that international signing class for the Nationals. They signed him out of the Dominican Republic in 2016 for $3.9 million. This was at the time a Nationals record for international spending and has since only been tied by a player a little lower on this list. Antuna has been dealt a difficult hand when it comes to injuries and was most recently sidelined due to Tommy John in 2018 and leg issues in 2019.

He seems to be back and he looks to be past his health issues. After a rocky start, he is now hitting .363/.448/.582 over the last month. Due to the injuries, Antuna is still only at High A ball, but he is still only 21 and has one of the best bats in the system. Antuna will not be able to stay at short in the big leagues and it will be his bat that gets him a job likely at a corner infield spot.

7.Andry Lara

Next in the line of very good pitching prospects for the Nationals is also the youngest. Andry Lara is only 18 years old and has a fastball that already touches 96. He was signed out of Venezuela in 2019 and if it was not for the global pandemic Lara may actually be in High-A or AA by now. Lara is racking up the strikeouts as we speak in the Florida Complex league and his ability to live up to expectations comes down to his control. The stuff is already there and at only 18 years old Lara should be able to tame his pitches a little more and help out in DC by 2023.

8.Cole Henry

Henry is the final pitcher in our top 10 and if this farm was not so pitcher heavy he would likely be much higher. Henry was drafted by the Nationals in the 2nd round in 2020 after spending the year being the LSU Tigers Friday night pitcher or ace. Henry relies on a four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, curveball, and a change-up. Henry’s spot in the Nationals future plans will depend on his ability to stay healthy. He was added to the 60 day IL on August 3rd and will likely miss the rest of the 2021 season. 2021 was looking great for Henry before landing on the IL. Hopefully, he will spend this offseason getting healthy and pick up where he left off.

9.Cristian Vaquero

Okay, I am cheating here as this signing is not quite official yet but I just cannot contain my excitement on this one. It might as well be completely official as Vaquero is already at the Nationals Baseball Academy in the Dominican Republic and practicing in Nationals gear. Vaquero is currently ranked number one on Baseball America’s International Big Board. That list is ranked by expected signing bonus but there is no doubt he is a top 5 international talent.

Vaquero is a center fielder and at 16 years old has all the tools to project to be a legitimate five-tool player. He is already 6’3” with solid speed and a plus arm on the defensive side of things. With the bat, he has an advanced swing on the left-handed side and recently became a switch hitter. Being 16 years old practicing mostly in the DR it is not easy to find much film, but what we have seen so far is promising.

His nickname is the phenomenon and he certainly looks like he will live up to that. I have to mention the possibility that the CBA negotiations could introduce an international draft that could impact this signing. I believe if there is an international draft it will not impact this signing class as the vast majority of the big names are already unofficially committed to a team.

For the Nationals who have done great on the international scouting side since the Smiley Gonzalez incident and the international draft could hurt them in the future.

10.Armando Cruz

Armando Cruz is tied for the biggest international signing bonus in Nationals history with Yasel Antuna. Unlike Antuna, Cruz will almost certainly stay at shortstop. Cruz already has the glove skills at 17 years old to look like he belongs on a major league field. The bat and its improvement over time will determine if he is an everyday starter or a defense-first bench player. I think his bat will come along just fine over time, however, I do not expect him to develop into much of a power hitter. Currently, he just does not have the size to project as a power hitter but he could be an elite fielder and above-average hitter like Andrelton Simmons in his prime.