Washington Nationals Prospect Spotlight: Daylen Lile
By Reese Evans
One year removed from Tommy John surgery, Nationals 16th-ranked prospect Daylen Lile has had an impressive Spring Training thus far.
The 20-year-old from Louisville, Kentucky, is currently hitting .625 with RBIs this spring, according to baseball-reference.com. Lile's displaying the abilities that made him a second-round pick in the 2021 MLB Draft. He's worked hard to reach this point, adding strength and quickness post-surgery.
A two-time Gatorade Player of the Year selection in Kentucky at Trinity High School, Lile was among the best high school hitters in the 2021 MLB Draft at 6-foot, 195-pounds. The Nationals selected him with the 47th overall pick and signed him to a $1.75 million, above slot value for his draft position.
As an 18-year-old in the Florida Complex League in 2021, Lile showed flashes of his skills in 19 games. He hit .219 with 10 RBIs with a .363 OBP, impressively drawing 15 walks in just 80 plate appearances. He struck out 20 times, so reducing that number will be critical in Lile's development. Nonetheless, an 18-year-old reaching base at a .363 clip is impressive enough to mark his FCL experience as successful.
March 2022 was the date of Lile's Tommy John Surgery, resulting in him losing a year of development. Injuries are a part of the game, and Lile is still just 20 years old and hitting the ground running this spring. He hasn't skipped a beat at the plate and seems ready for his first professional season.
Developmental Expectations and MLB ETA
Lile has the tools to become an above-average hitter at the Major league level. Power will be an aspect of his game that develops later in his career, but it won't be nonexistent. Senior year of high school, Lile launched 18 home runs for Trinity, according to maxpreps.com. He has pop in his bat but will need to continue to add strength to tap into it. Lile could be a .275 hitter with the power to hit 15 home runs at his peak.
Washington has lots of talented outfielders in the minor leagues. Prospects James Wood, Robert Hassell III, and Elijah Green ranked higher on Washington's Top 30, so Lile might have to force his way into the conversation. Daylen should begin the 2023 season in Fredericksburg, a part of an exciting outfield that will likely include Elijah Green.
Lile could be in contention to make the Nationals' opening-day roster in 2025. Daylen would be 22 years old with two full minor league seasons of experience. His health and performance will dictate the date of his debut in the Majors. Lile looks ready for the season to begin as he's hit the ground running in Spring Training for the Nationals. He is one of the most intriguing players to follow in Washington's minor league system in 2023.