The single-column format returns after a one-year break, thanks to the return of M*A*S*H and the addition of Draft Picks, at least one of which may return in 2024.
Notables is a catch-all to answer the “what-about__________?” comments. It does tend to tilt to older players for obvious reasons, and in years past, there were some guys who had been hurt… but not enough of them or high-profile enough to merit the M*A*S*H category.
I try to avoid repeats because you either you play your way back into your positional category or not (OK, fine: You can have surgery and repeat). Some do, but most don’t.
Downs is on his third organization (Cincinnati, Boston) but has played in the Majors (Red Sox) and has been a top-ranked prospect as recently as 2021. He’s one of Keith Law’s Top 20 Prospects for 2023, who believes that some of his problems may be that he was skipped past AA and suddenly became a pull-happy K machine. The Nats don’t exactly have a history of turning other guys around, but there’s a first time for everything.
Despite all his struggles in 2021 and 2022, Baseball America and/or the Nationals insist he’s still a viable prospect at the age of 25. Even Stevie Wonder can see that he’s hit the High-A wall that separates the men from the boys, and the sample size that proves this is not small (153⅔ IP).
At one point, Connell was one of five HS draft picks in the Washington Nationals minors. Alas, like Cate, he appears to have hit his ceiling after faltering in AA last summer. Unlike Cate, he’s had only one season at AA and is nearly two years younger. However, there are half a dozen younger/better OFs ready to take his spot.
Like a lot of IFAs, Antuna was added to the 40-man roster after the lost 2020 season, in which he was praised constantly by the front office for his performance in the “Alternate Training Site,” which was seen by zero scouts. It’s also worth noting that Antuna played in only three (3) games in 2019. Despite all the praise for his “power to all fields,” Antuna has yet to break .400 in SLG % at any level.
Meregildo had an impressive five-year run at 3B on the watchlist (though he actually played more games at 1B the past two seasons) and was second in the organization in HRs in 2022 and third in 2021. He turns 26 in August and will likely repeat AA in 2023.
Like Connell, Cuevas was one of the few HS guys in the system and was hyped both here and elsewhere as one to watch in 2022. While he may not have lived up to the hype, he [Billy Rowell]is still young[/young] and could very well follow in the footsteps of Michael Taylor or Jeremy De La Rosa in that he “figures it out” on his second go-round.
After a breakout 2021, Méndez faltered at High-A, as many do. If this were 2019, he’d probably still be on the watchlist but with the additions of James Wood, Robert Hassell, and Elijah Green and the ascendancy of De La Rosa and T.J. White, he’s going to have to have another breakout season just to get out of Delaware.
Boisserie dropped off the list after a mediocre showing (.247/.366/.338) in Fredericksburg despite being more than a year older than the league average. The one thing he did do very well is draw walks (66), which was second only to Antuna. Defensively, he fields what he gets to… but his range is limited.
This could be the one that gets egg on my face, but Rutledge has been “the coming thing” since 1999 and has yet to pitch in AA, which even if you discount the lost pandemic year, should have happened by now for a 1st Rd. pick. He finished the season with eight shutout innings in the playoffs (against a below-average offense) but was knocked out around in the AFL.
2022 was his first full season in pro ball after losing time to the pandemic (2020) and Nats’ elbow (2021). The Nats kept him on a short leash all season long, basically limiting him to 50 pitches per outing. He looked visibly tired in his last two outings. Elbow pain (uh oh) prevented him from using his slider very much so he may very well return to Fredericksburg in 2023 in the quest to build up stamina, presuming the Nats don’t convert him to relief.
The good news is that the 2021 pick (11th Rd.) out of Fla. SW St. College quietly had a sub-1.00 WHIP season in limited work (22⅔ IP) with more K’s than IP. The bad news is he’s now 23 and yet to pitch in High-A. However, the prevalence of relievers among this year’s RHPs could mean a move to that category in 2024 if he can improve upon his walk rate (4.4) and keep the ball in the yard (3HR).