After a disappointing season, finishing with a 55-107 record, the Washington Nationals left the fans with little to be excited about heading into the 2023 season. However, having the worst record in baseball does guarantee you one thing, a shot at landing the number one overall pick in the 2023 MLB Draft. Thanks to the MLB implementing the use of a lottery system to decide the first six picks in this year’s draft, the Nationals, along with the other two worst teams in baseball (Pirates and A’s) had a 16.5% chance at landing the top pick. In the end, it was the Pittsburgh Pirates, who finished the season with a 62-100 record, that walked away from the lottery with the coveted 1st pick. While the Nationals will not get to choose first in the upcoming draft, they still will get an opportunity to come away from the draft with a blue chip prospect, as they will choose 2nd overall, fairing much better than the A’s (Sorry Oakland) who will pick 6th. Lucky for the Nationals the top two prospects in this year’s draft are two guys that they would both be ecstatic to add to their roster. Those two prospects being RHP Chase Dollander and Outfielder Dylan Crews.
Let’s start with Dollander, the 21 year old 6’3 pitcher, was absolutely lights out for the Tennessee Volunteers last college season, posting a 10-0 record. Dollander threw 108 strikeouts last season (including 12 in a game against Rhode Island) and had an ERA of 2.39. Some have called Dollander a “generational type” pitcher who could boost any bullpen. It is no secret that the Nationals have struggled to find consistency within their starting rotation. Going into 2023 the only two starters that have any sort of intrigue are Josiah Gray and Mackenzie Gore (who was acquired as part of the Juan Soto trade). While Gray (154 Strikeouts, ERA 5.02) put up decent numbers last year, he still needs to work his way up in the rotation. Meanwhile Gore (72 Strikeouts, ERA 4.50) is coming off an elbow injury that prevented him from appearing in any games for the Nats last season. The Nats could definitely benefit in adding another young talented arm in Dollander to the bullpen in order to secure some pitching stability for the future.
Rob Friedman posted this video to Twitter which shows how much heat Dollander has:
On the other hand the Nats could potentially be in position to select the best bat in this year’s draft in Dylan Crews. The LSU outfielder proved to be one of the most electrifying players in all of college baseball season posting a .349 BA with 22 Homers and 72 RBIs on 87 hits. 22 home runs on 87 hits is an absolutely insane stat. Basically 1 in every 4 of his hits was a homerun last season. For a team like the Nats who lacks a consistent homerun hitter, Lane Thomas led the team last season with 17, a player like Crews could almost instantly jump start a somewhat stagnant offense. The Nats also have a need in the outfield, the recent signing of Corey Dickerson appears to be nothing more than a one year rental, and Crews shapes up to be a player who could fill that spot for years to come. He has a career fielding percentage of .990 and only has 3 errors over his two year college career. Crews has the potential to quickly become the new fan favorite player, if he can carry his success into the majors.
Tyler Jennings posted this video of Crews with Team USA:
Obviously the Nationals will have to see who the Pirates take with the 1st pick before they can start to get too excited about either one of these prospects. Fortunately for them, whichever one of these two is still on the board Mike Rizzo will be able to come out of the draft having filled a position of need for his squad. When grouped in with current Nationals prospects such as Robert Hassell lll, James Wood, Brady House and Elijah Green either one of these young prospects would make the future of the Washington Nationals that much brighter.
College and Professional Statistics provided by: Louisiana State University Athletics website, University of Tennessee Athletics website and MLB.com