We’re back this week with another Q&A post for your Washington Nationals, and not much was answered since last week as the Nationals didn’t give us any moves, news, or transactions in our holiday stockings. But 2023 is right around the corner, and with it means a new season of Nationals baseball with plenty of questions and plenty of baseball to answer them.
“If they don’t add another bat, who starts in LF? And who is the first of the best OF prospects (Hassell, de la Rosa, other) to crack the lineup this year, if any?” – @JFLANland
I think Robert Hassell III will be the first top OF prospect called up. It could be this year, but they could also opt to wait until 2024 – which I would be perfectly fine with. Do not rush him under any circumstances. There’s just no need to do so. However, if he displays signs of being ready for the MLB, call him up! We could definitely use him.
At this point, I’m not optimistic they add another bat – at least not one of note. So with Meneses presumably moving to 1B full time, the OF would look like:
- Lane Thomas – LF
- Victor Robles – CF
- Alex Call – RF
Stone Garrett would be the 4th outfielder, but Lane Thomas would be the back-up to Robles in CF. Pending any major developments in 2023, I wouldn’t mind replacing the entire outfield in 2024… Wood – Hassell – de la Rosa anybody???
“Does Josiah Gray make the big jump?” – @jacksonrutledge (not that one)
Short answer: I hope so. I’ve always been a huge Josiah Gray fan. I was there at his Nationals debut and have watched every start since. We even got the opportunity to interview him over on Half Street High Heat.
I know 2022 was a rocky season for Gray, but he flashed and that’s all we’re really asking of our young guys at this point. Flash the potential, and hopefully the team will give you the time, resources and patience to make you consistent. With the advancements in player development and analytics for the Nationals, I think there is reason to be optimistic. But still temper expectations for Josiah.
“Will we ever get over that MASN deal?” – @jacksonrutledge (again, not that one)
Eventually, yes. It just may not be as quickly as we would like, which would’ve been back in 2010.
The MASN deal will have to be resolved for the team to get sold. It really comes down to how motivated the Lerners are to sell, which seems iffy at best at the moment. The MLB has said they will step in, but so far nothing has come of it. The network owes the Nationals over $100 million dollars and is held up by appeals in court, so if that needs to be resolved before the Nationals can switch networks, then we’ll be here a while.
“Who are some minor league prospects we can expect to see cracking the bigs next season, and who’s the likeliest breakout candidate?” – @Ongoing_Chrisis
I think 2024 and 2025 will be much more bountiful for call-ups than 2023, but there are some to keep an eye on.
- Jake Alu flashed in AAA last season, and while Candelario seems to be at 3B for 2023 with Vargas backing him up, Alu could be the first man up if there is an injury or if there are players traded at the deadline.
- Thad Ward was taken first overall by the Nationals in this year’s rule 5 draft and could be an immediate contributor to the bullpen.
- Israel Pineda got a small shot at the end of 2022, and could be in play for the back-up catching job in 2023 if Riley Adams continues to struggle. He’s 4 years younger than Adams, so they might opt to keep him in AAA a while longer, but I don’t think Adams particularly has a long leash.
I don’t know if any of these guys truly breakout, but if they can establish themselves as quality depth pieces for 2024, then I think that is a big win.