In years past, once the calendar flipped to September, teams were free to fill their active rosters up to 40 players, but that’s no longer the case. Established after the 2019 season, the new rules that go into effect for the first time this season, state that active rosters will only expand to 28 players.
With the Nationals amidst a full-blown rebuild, an opportunity to see as many prospects as possible at the big leagues would have been very helpful. Instead, Mike Rizzo and Davey Martinez will have to think long and hard about who to call up.
With September just around the corner, the Nationals need to make up their mind on who they want to see receive reps? But which two players should be called up?
Drafted by the Nationals in 2020, Cade Cavalli quickly shot up Washington’s farm system. After starting this season at High-A, he already finds himself in Triple-A. MLB Pipeline ranked him as the team’s top pitching prospect and the 41st prospect in baseball.
He leads all Minor League pitchers in strikeouts (151) and FIP (2.44) ( minimum of 80 innings) and is fifth in K/9 (13.77). Cavalli has yet to make his AAA debut and needs to work on his control. He only walked 12 batters at High-A, but issued 35 free passes at AA. until then, he needs more seasoning before he should be given a taste of the Major Leagues.
Acquired in the Max Scherzer/Trea Turner blockbuster, Donovan Casey has been in the shadow of Keibert Ruiz and Josiah Gray. However, the 25-year-old outfielder has quickly impressed since arriving in Washington. He appeared in 12 games with the nationals AA affiliate, hitting .347, with three homers, 10 RBIs, and an OPS of .965. Washington liked what they saw and quickly promoted him to AAA.
In nine games at AAA this season, he is hitting .344, with two RBIs, and an OPS of .917. Casey has some swing and miss issues that he will need to work on (120 strikeouts in 94 games this year) in order to become an everyday player. Casey is also currently blocked with Juan Soto, Yadiel Hernadez, Lane Thomas, and Victor Robles holding down the outfield for now.
Seen by some as the National’s closer of the future, Matt Cronin is having a solid season at AA. In 23.1 innings at A and AA, Cronin is 2-0, with a 1.93 ERA and 42 strikeouts. Cronin started the season at High-A, but was promoted after posting a 1.23 ERA in 14.2 innings. Since arriving at AA, he has a 3.12 ERA in eight appearances.
Cronin is currently sidelined with an injury and will need to work back his strength.
Mike Ford started the season with the Yankees before being traded to Tampa who later DFAed him. Washington quickly scooped up the 29-year-old and sent him to AAA. In four games with his new team, he is hitting .286, with a homer, three RBIs, and an OPS of 1.018.
Ford shined during his rookie season with the Yankees hitting .259, with 12 homers, 25 RBIs, and an OPS of .909 in 50 games. He was called up due to the vast amount of injuries to the starters. After helping the team stay afloat, he has yet to replicate his 2019 success. Ford deserves another chance to start, but the Nationals currently have a crowded outfield.