Washington Nationals Prospect Spotlight: Andry Lara

The Nationals pitching development this season has been the talk of the team, but it is not just the arms in the Major Leagues that are developing. Today we take a look at a young arm in the Nationals' system that is off to a great start this season.
Miami Marlins v Washington Nationals
Miami Marlins v Washington Nationals / G Fiume/GettyImages

Washington Nationals 28th-ranked prospect Andry Lara is off to an exceptional start to the 2024 minor league season. Through nine starts in A+ and AA, Lara owns a 2.02 ERA in 49 innings pitched with 58 strikeouts. Just 21 years old, Lara was signed in the 2019 International class for $1.25 million.

When Washington signed Lara, he was the fifth-ranked prospect in the organization. Although the system has been rebuilt, it doesn't change the fact that Lara was a highly touted signing. Standing at 6-foot-4, 180 pounds, Andry is built like a front-end starter. He looks the part of the Major Leaguer on the mound. Lara's fastball can touch 96mph but sits in the 91-93mph range. If Lara adds 15 pounds of muscle to his frame, he could sit in the mid-90s. He throws a slurve and a changeup, along with his fastball that has left-to-right movement. Bottom line, Lara has the potential of a front-end starter. Here are a few of his strikeouts from a previous start.

Andry's first full season in the minors was a mixed bag, recording a 5.58 ERA in 101.1 innings pitched. He struck out 105 batters walked 44 and owned a 1.45 WHIP, as a 17-year-old in professional baseball. In his second season, Lara was almost a different pitcher. His ERA lowered to 4.58 and cut his walks down to 34, but what was odd about his 2023 season is that he struck out just 66 batters. Lara pitched to contact to an extreme, but his WHIP lowered to 1.26.

In his fourth minor league season, Lara has learned to "pitch" instead of "throw" on the mound. The strikeouts are up, the walks are down, and his WHIP is 0.98. Although it will be tough to keep this pace, Lara has already shown his improvement from last season and has to be drawing eyes from the Nationals front office. With Mitchell Parker having made his debut this season and DJ Herz following, Lara could force his hand. It's very unlikely that Lara will pitch in D.C. this season, but certainly a promotion (or even two) within the Minor League system is an option.

A more realistic timeline for Andry Lara is a debut sometime in the mid-to-late 2025 season. Judging by Lara's track record, he's pitched over 50 innings at each minor league level so far. Taking that same route would make next season the debut of Andy Lara in D.C. But, if he continues to pitch to a 2.00 ERA in AA for another two months, do you move him to AAA? Do you bring him to the big leagues? I'd send him to AAA as there's no incentive to rush Lara, but it certainly is exciting to see so many young Nationals arms blossom at the same time.