Two under-the-radar prospects to watch for at Nationals Spring Training

The Nationals have some wiggle room for that are not currently on the 40 man roster to be added to the roster and potentially even the Opening Day roster. With some notable prospects receiving invites to Spring Training, could any win a roster spot?

Washington Nationals v Detroit Tigers
Washington Nationals v Detroit Tigers / Mark Cunningham/GettyImages

It is almost time for baseball at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches (now called CACTI Park of the Palm Beaches), the Washington Nationals Spring Training home field site. The Nationals' pitchers report to camp next week on February 14, and the hitters arrive six days later. Washington's Spring Training roster is taking shape, with the first wave of non-roster invites announced on January 30. Young players are especially beneficial in the spring due to exposure to Major league coaching and players. This time of the year sets the tone for some players and can sputter others.

The Nationals have a group of prospects that could evolve into well-rounded Major League players. While not necessarily no name prospects, two prospects who could raise their stock in particular within the organization with quality Spring Training performances are Trey Lipscomb and Jackson Rutledge. They are not the Dylan Crews or James Wood of the organization, but both players have the opportunity to fit into a specific role in Washington this season. How can these prospects surprise fans in just over a month at Nationals' Spring Training?

Trey Lipscomb

Lipscomb already turned heads at 2023 Spring Training, going 4-9 with a home run, double, three walks, and four RBI. Trey took that success at Major League camp and was productive in the minor leagues. At AA Harrisburg, Lipscomb hit .284 with ten home runs and 45 RBI, according to While he was making noise with the bat, his glove made even more impressions. Playing multiple positions, experts project Lipscomb as a utility man in the Majors, although he did win the Minor League Gold Glove Award for his performance at Third Base. Washington has lacked a true utility player in recent years while Trey has played each infield position this past season and gained outfield experience in college at the University of Tennessee. Lipscomb can be a literal plug-and-play type of player.

Now, Lipscomb needs a Spring Training performance that impresses coach Davey Martinez. He doesn't need to hit .400 across 30 at-bats, but Trey needs to make the correct play and be coachable. The Nats have been inconsistent defensively, often making errors on routine plays. Assuming Martinez plays Lipscomb at multiple positions, it will be up to Trey to produce.

Jackson Rutledge

Positioned on the 40-man roster, Jackson Rutledge will be present at Nationals Spring Training. Still, the 6-foot-8 right-handed pitcher has something to prove. After a shaky start to his Major League career last season (1-1, 6.75 ERA), he's looking to solidify himself in the Nationals' plans for the future. The 2019 first-round draft pick has battled different injuries but finally enters 2024 fully healthy.

Rutledge flashed potential last season, throwing 6.1 innings against the Chicago White Sox while allowing two earned runs. The rookie followed up the effective start with another versus the Braves, tossing five innings while giving up one earned run, which gave him his first Major League win. Rutledge walked three batters and struck out six across those two starts. In his two other outings, Rutledge hit two batters and walked three more. He certainly had some rookie control issues.

Where does Rutledge fit on the 2024 Washington Nationals roster? As it stands, he doesn't fit. But that certainly could change as the Nationals rotation has been one of the worst in baseball in recent seasons and the projections don't envision that changing much. Rutledge needs to force his way onto the Opening Day roster. The starting rotation "seems" to be set, but an injury could happen to a starter to open a spot for Rutledge, who would likely be the first man up. The first step for Jackson is to have a productive Spring Training, displaying control of his repertoire with improved composure on the mound.