It has been a busy period for the Nationals on and off the field, with lots of moves to both their active roster, managerial staff and their front office. On Saturday, that list grew as long-time International Scouting Director and Assistant General Manager Johnny DiPuglia resigned from his position with the Nationals, per Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post.
Even 24 hours later, the reasons are still unclear for DiPuglia's departure. With Rizzo's contract extension seemingly imminent, although still unofficial and unsigned, one would think DiPuglia would have returned as the two have worked closely together for over a decade. Now, even if Rizzo does return, the Nationals will need to address both their International Scouting Director Position and Assistant General Manager.
While this could very well have to do with Mike Rizzo's semi-uncertain status, part of me believes this is more results-based than anything. Many will credit DiPuglia for signing Juan Soto as an international free agent, and rightfully so, but the rest of his resume is not exactly impressive. Victor Robles would likely be his next best move, but he has failed to develop into a consistent Major Leaguer. That is not necessarily on DiPuglia, but whether it be the player development or on Robles himself, it has not worked out for the one time top MLB prospect. It also stings to know DiPuglia whiffed on signing Ronald Acuña Jr. as an International Free Agent back in 2014.
From there, the list drops off significantly. Players like Wilmer Difo and Wander Suero spent some time in the Majors, but were inevitably released when they could not perform well enough to stick around. Even DiPuglia's recent signings such as Yasel Antuna and Armando Cruz have significantly struggled, though they are still young and could improve. The one real hope lies with Cristhian Vaquero, but it may be several seasons before we know for certain if Vaquero will pan out.
Ultimately, the Domincan Summer League roster that DiPuglia and the Nationals assembled has been dreadful. They are 11-39 this season, which is not only last in their division, but last in all of the Dominican Summer League by a decent margin.
DiPuglia's resignation is odd timing, but I do not think it is the worst thing in the world. The Nationals can afford to get fresher thinking in their building when it comes to scouting and player development. If you pair an analytically driven, player development expert as an Assistant General Manager to GM Mike Rizzo's wealth of knowledge and experience, you might start seeing the results you desire when it comes to player development. The Nationals FINALLY started to prioritize that department last offseason with several staff and technological upgrades, but more is obviously needed for their farm system that is one of the best in baseball and features two top 10 prospects in Dylan Crews and James Wood, among others.