Now that Thanksgiving is behind us—but a month of Mariah Carey ahead of us—it’s time to take a look at who will make the 2024 edition of the NationalsProspects.com watchlist, an honor that will impress tens of people outside of the DMV!
As the old-timers know, I’m not big on ranking guys 1-XX. I’m sure that’s cost me some pageviews, which have become a little more important as costs continue to race past revenue, but I’ll cede that street corner to the SEO whores at SB Nation.
Another factor for this decision is avoiding the pointless debates of who’s ranked at X instead of Y or vice versa. This will be the 14th edition, and like the previous 13, the talent is not even close to evenly distributed across the positions. Outfielders, we got. Middle infielders, not so much.
So, let’s dispense with the caveats:
• It’s not a depth chart. It’s ordered by the highest level played to date. The guys at the top of the column are not necessarily better than the guys at the bottom.
• It’s (mostly) based on 2023 usage. The Nats have a history of rotating IFs between 2B, 3B, and SS and are usually not very strong at 1B, 3B, or the corners of the OF.
• It’s preliminary. I’m relying on my visitors and regulars to comment with omissions, criticisms, and/or suggestions because (A) my time is limited (B) the community here is smarter than the average bear (C) I’m prone to overlooking draftees because, unlike basketball or football, it happens in the thick of the season (also, see: A).
• But ___ was drafted ___ or signed for ____ Where someone was drafted or how much money was spent has more to do with the market or the Nats’ estimation thereof. The only thing that affects is how many chances a guy gets (*cough* Yasel Antuna *cough*).
• Why is ________ only a notable? It may not be fair, but it’s true: Age matters when it comes to prospects, regardless of injury or cataclysm. As previously (and frequently) written (threatened?), I still cannot institute an age limit lower than the unwritten but inarguable 27.
Alright, enough vamping…
|De La Rosa
I think you can see the reason for my angst about age and the shallowness of the pool, especially at first base. More than a couple of guys made this list only because they were on the Top 5 for their level (in case you’re like “who?”) though I tried to not list them in the position category if that were the case.
I was very wrong about Rutledge in this space a year ago… but spot-on about Mason Denaburg. Maybe that’s influencing some inclusions (e.g., Cate) but I’d like to think I can defend their presence with another reason.
As it was a year ago, there’s a “yeah, but” for almost all the pitchers: age, control, production, and of course, injury – pick one or more, you probably won’t be wrong. I included Cavalli because it’s unlikely he’ll break camp with any of the full-season teams. Henry appeared to be “working on some stuff” in almost every appearance in 2023 and gets the cover of the category for 2024.
I’m open to suggestions for the ’23 picks, some of which were deduced from usage. I know that’s flawed because some of those “promotions” were because the FCL was done but Low-A was not. The category has not been a regular feature but seems appropriate given that the draft has been cut from 40 rounds to 20 since 2021, thus increasing the attention paid to each pick.