Where has Nasim Nuñez been so far this season?

The fifth overall selection in the Rule 5 Draft in 2023, Nasim Nuñez was supposed to be an exciting addition to the 2024 Nationals, but thus far has barely been seen any playing time. In this article, I identify why Nasim Nuñez hasn't been utilized much thus far, and areas in which he can offer value this season.
Nasim Nuñez during one of his few appearances so far in 2024.
Nasim Nuñez during one of his few appearances so far in 2024. / Jason Mowry/GettyImages
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As I sit here and write this, Nasim Nuñez actually just made his 7th appearance of the season and scored the game-winning run on Joey Meneses' walk-off single in the bottom of the 10th inning to beat the Houston Astros.

If you are reading this article and don't know much about Nasim Nuñez, I don't blame you, as through now 20 games this season he has only played in 7 out of a possible 20 games. Out of the 7 games he has appeared in, 4 of them have been strictly to be used as a pinch runner, in an effort to get his 70 grade speed on the basepaths (70 is the highest grade that a prospect can have for a tool). As for the rest of his prospect profile, Nuñez features the aforementioned 70 grade speed, 65 grade arm, and 70 grade fielding, and came into this season as the Nationals 18th-ranked prospect in their farm system.

As part of being selected in the Rule 5 Draft, Nuñez must be retained on the 26-man roster for the entirety of the 2024 season, or else the Nationals will run the risk of losing him back to his original team from which they made the selection, the Miami Marlins. Perhaps his most crowning achievement thus far in his career came as a member of the Marlins organization last season, when he took home MVP honors at the 2023 Futures Game in Seattle with a 3-run double and stolen base to win the award.

Nasim Nunez, Ken Griffey Jr., Tony Reagins
Nuñez after winning MVP honors at the 2023 MLB Futures Game. / Steph Chambers/GettyImages

We saw the Nats select Thaddeus Ward in the Rule 5 Draft last year and utilize him in a similar manner, with perhaps a "phantom injury" landing him on the 15-day IL amid a rookie season in which he posted a 7.12 ERA in 22 appearances before his injury. Depending on how the rest of the season plays out, it's not unlikely that Nuñez faces a similar distinction if the team plans to keep him in the organization but feels that he won't be a contributor to the Major League team. Only time will tell.

There are several factors keeping Nuñez off the field as of now, with the main one being that there is just nowhere for him to get consistent playing time with the makeup of this roster. With CJ Abrams taking a step towards becoming a superstar and Luis Garcia Jr. making the most of his final chance with the Nationals, Nuñez has no opportunity to get playing time at either of his preferred positions at shortstop or second base. With Nick Senzel battling back from injury and looking to firmly take the reigns at third base and Trey Lipscomb biding his time at AAA Rochester, Nuñez doesn't have much of a chance to get any playing time at the hot corner either. The final player keeping him from getting more playing time is Ildemaro Vargas, whose value as a true utility guy that can play almost every position on the field, the only option for Nuñez right now is to stay ready in case of an injury.

The reality of the current situation for Nasim Nuñez as of right now is that his subpar performance in Spring Training has likely sealed his fate as of right now. During Spring Training, Nuñez went 5/35 with only 1 XBH and stealing 2 bags. His slash line of .152/.200/.182 and .382 OPS likely would have not been enough to make the team over a guy like Trey Lipscomb on Opening Day, had he not been a Rule 5 Selection. His true value to this team will continue to be used as a late-game defensive replacement and as a pinch runner, where he will be able to utilize his best tools. I hope for his sake that his development isn't stunted at all and he is able to gain valuable insight and experience by watching proven big leaguers on this current roster, and will be able to remain ready should an injury or major slump come to any of the guys above him in the pecking order.

As always, feel free to let me know what you think about Nasim Nuñez and where he fits into this team long-term or anything else Nats-related by following me or tweeting at me on X, @DCBerk.

All stats in this article were provided by MLB.com and Baseball Reference.