Washington Nationals Dynasty Sleepers, Breakouts, and Busts
Discover sleepers and breakouts from the Washington Nationals for dynasty fantasy baseball both on the MLB and prospect side.
With dynasty season ramping up, it is time to talk about some sleepers, breakouts, and busts for each team. You can find our rankings and reports to see how we at the Dynasty Dugout value players for your dynasty leagues, but I also feel like it’s helpful to truly identify whether I believe a player can be a breakout or not. Here is where we call our shots on players, I think, require a call to action in dynasty, whether it be to buy or sell that player.
Washington Nationals Dynasty Sleepers, Breakouts, Busts
MLB Sleeper: Keibert Ruiz, C
I am not sure many appreciate Ruiz’s season enough with what he did in 2023, especially in the second half. The power was distributed pretty evenly as he hit nine home runs in both the first and second half. But the first half slash line sat at .226/.279/.360 and in the second half it jumped to .300/.342/.467.
Ruiz made contact on pitches in the zone 92.1 percent of the time and had an overall rate of 86 percent, both of which are in the top-three percent of the league. His sweet spot percentage of 39.4 percent was also 94th percentile among all hitters, meaning Ruiz hit the ball at ideal angles very often.
The power numbers won’t wow you under the hood, but due to ideal launch angles, Ruiz could find himself hitting 15 or more home runs again in 2024. The batting average also feels like it could tick up given the quality of contact and his low BABIP of .263 in 2023.
Ruiz is a strong investment at the catcher position that will likely return much more value than the cost to acquire him.
MLB Breakout: Cade Cavalli, RHP
There has never been much doubting of Cavalli’s stuff dating back to his days at Oklahoma, but the durability is somewhat concerning. In his first pro season in 2021, Cavalli made it to Triple-A and had the most successful season of his career as he pitched 123.1 innings with a 3.36 ERA and 175 strikeouts.
His Triple-A numbers in 2022 were also strong as he struck out 104 batters across 97 innings with a 3.71 ERA. Unfortunately, Cavalli had Tommy John surgery after a strong Spring Training in 2023, pushing his return toward June of 2024.
When healthy, Cavalli has a fastball sitting near 96 and touching near triple digits while featuring a curve, slider, and changeup. The curve is his most used secondary, which sits in the mid-80s and averages nearly 50 inches of vertical break. The slider and changeup sit in a similar velocity band in the upper 80s, having over 25 inches of separation between the two.
With health, Cavalli could take off as a starting pitcher, but there are risks given Cavalli’s health track record and durability. When he returns is still up in the air, but he did start throwing again in September 2023, leaving plenty of time for him to recover and be back pitching in Washington by at least June or July.
MLB Bust: Josiah Gray, RHP
Gray appeared to be breaking out last year as he posted a 2.77 ERA across his first 11 starts, but the underlying data showed regression. A 4.47 FIP and a 5.00 xFIP screamed sell and hopefully you did.
Over Gray’s final 19 starts, he pitched a 4.62 ERA across 97.1 innings with a 1.49 WHIP. The four-seam and sinker were both hit around hard and Gray got burned by the home run ball much like he has throughout his career.
Even with the transformed pitch usage and an added cutter, there are too many risk factors here to be in on Gray for fantasy purposes. He is just 26 years old and we see many guys evolve, but I just don’t see it happening with Gray.
Prospect Sleeper: Andrew Pinckney, OF
Pinckney was the National’s fourth-round pick in 2023 out of the University of Alabama. Throughout most of his career, Pinckney appeared to be a hit-over power profile but saw a massive power breakout in 2023 as he mashed 18 home runs and had 33 extra bases in 64 games. The profile seemingly shifted as Pinckney posted a 107 mph 90th percentile exit velocity and just a 69 percent contact rate.
The good news is that Pinckney made contact on pitches in the zone at an 83 percent clip and chased just 24 percent of pitches out of the zone. The 2023 breakout continued post-draft, as Pinckney slashed .321/.415/.457 across four levels of the Minors, which saw him reach Double-A as he hit four home runs and stole 11 bases in 41 games.
If Pinckney continues the 2023 success moving forward, he is going to soar up this board, but considering the body, athleticism, and performance, Pinckney is a sneaky FYPD pick up someone I want to invest in right now in dynasty leagues.
Prospect Breakout: Yohandy Morales, 3B
Morales was a polarizing player around the industry coming into the 2023 MLB Draft due to his hit tool concerns. There is massive power in his 6’5”/225 lb frame, and he posted some big exit velocities last year at Miami(94 mph average/109 mph 90th percentile).
He has a long swing and has some swing-and-miss issues against breaking balls, but he quieted some of the concerns in his impressive debut, which saw him play at four levels, starting at the Complex and jumping to Double-A by season’s end.
Across the four levels after being drafted, Morales slashed .349/.423/.494 with 16 doubles and four triples in 166 at-bats. Surprisingly, Morales did not hit a home run but posted strong exit velocities across the board, with an average exit velocity of 91 mph. His contact rate of 75 percent surprised some, especially with his aggressive approach, swinging at over 50 percent of pitches that he saw, but Morales still walked over ten percent of the time.
If Morales continues to perform at a level in 2024 with solid underlying data, he could soar into the top 100 overall and could challenge Brady House as the third-best prospect in the Nationals system. The time to buy is now.
Check out our Nationals Top Prospect lists here!