Washington Nationals Top Prospects for Dynasty Fantasy Baseball
Washington Nationals Top Prospects from Chris Clegg including Dylan Crews, James Wood, Brady House, Cade Cavalli and more!
Welcome to our team prospect rankings. Over the next two months, I will be pumping out team top 30 prospect rankings and evaluations for dynasty baseball. These reports are generated from live looks, film study, and advanced data analysis to bring you in-depth fantasy scouting reports on every player you need to know, with today’s being the Washington Nationals Top Prospects.
Not all 30 players in each writeup will be dynasty relevant, but many will, and if you play in a deep league, certainly most of the names will be worth knowing.
You can check out our previous Top Prospect Rankings:
The Washington Nationals top prospects list has improved in the top half, as I would put the top ten up with nearly any system in baseball, but it does lack depth.
Each player has a detailed write-up on each. The top 10 rankings and writeups are free for all, but the rest of the top prospects are for paid subs. Get an edge in your dynasty leagues and get in on some of these players first!
FFG = Future Fantasy Grade - essentially, what is the likely long-term outcome for the prospect? This is always going to be more conservative. Handing out ace tags is not something I like to do. So this is a realistic outcome.
90th Peak = If the player hits their best-case outcome, what does it look like?
Variance = How risky is this player’s profile, and how likely are they to hit their likely outcome? Low variance is good; high means more risky.
1. Dylan Crews, OF, 21, 6’0”/205
Crews put together an illustrious career at LSU, slashing .380/.498/.689 with 58 home runs across 983 plate appearances. He struck out just 15.5 percent of the time while walking 16.2 percent.
Crews has massive power and as good of a plate approach as you will find. He chased less than 15 percent of the time and posted an average exit velocity north of 95 mph. Pair those with an 85 percent zone contact rate and a near 110 mph 90th percentile exit velocity, and you have an elite hitter.
With the Nationals, we can now dream of a future outfield that includes Crews, James Wood, and maybe Elijah Green if he can figure out his swing-and-miss issues. Crews will be pushed quickly, and I won’t be surprised if we see him in Washington by late 2024.
Some may be concerned with Crews’ struggles in Double-A, but some bad BABIP luck in the worst hitters’ park in the minors can do that. Still, Crews’ debut line was .292/.377/.467 with five home runs. Crews is an incredible player who got passed by Langford, not by taking a tumble.
FFG: Top-10 Outfielder/Top 50 Overall Player
90th Percentile Peak Outcome: .290/.390 OBP/25+ HR/5 SB
2. James Wood, OF, 21, 6’7”/240
Wood is an impressive athlete considering his 6’7” frame, and many will be quick to throw an Aaron Judge comp on him, as anyone who is over 6’5” tends to get. He moves well for his size and is a fast runner once he gets going.
This season, Wood spent time between High-A and Double-A, with the majority of his season being spent in Double-A Harrisburg. Wood slashed .262/.353/.520 between both stops, with 26 home runs and 18 stolen bases. The concerns come in when you see the 173 strikeouts, good for a 31.5 percent rate. The contact rate of 68 percent leaves plenty to be desired, but there are plenty of positives to take away from the lefty with long levers.
Wood has massive power, to no surprise, as he has 41 career home runs in 850 at-bats, with 26 of them coming this season. Wood’s 90th percentile exit velocity of 109 mph shows massive power and firmly puts him in the 60-70 grade range for power. In addition to the power, Wood also shows a solid approach, chasing just 26 percent of pitches out of the zone, which is better than average, and showing the ability to mash fastballs.
A lot of the struggles came against breaking balls and changeups. Wood saw 249 changeups this season, swinging at 50 percent of them and making contact at just a 51 percent clip. Wood’s highest chase rate of any pitch is against sliders, which is just a 32 percent clip, right around an overall league average, showing his plate discipline and pitch recognition.
Wood’s speed was previously mentioned, but he is also very efficient on the base paths, stealing 18 bases in 21 attempts. Throughout his Minor League career, he has been successful with 48 steals in 56 attempts.
There is a ton of upside in Wood’s profile, but it is also quite risky. Given the performance, power, and plate discipline, considering he spent the year as a 20-year-old, it does make you feel better about Wood’s potential output. If all clicks, he could be the top prospect in baseball.
FFG: Top-20 Outfielder/Top 100 Overall Player
90th Percentile Peak Outcome: .280/.370 OBP/30 HR/15 SB
3. Brady House, 3B, 20, 6’4”/215
House has long been a known name in baseball circles, being one of the most popular players in his draft class dating back to being 15 years old. House was one of the prep players I traveled to “scout” and was thoroughly impressed.
He is physically imposing at 6’4”/215 lb but is a good athlete, but much of his pro career has been littered with injuries. 2023 was his healthiest season, and he played just 88 games, posting a .312/.365/.497 slash with 12 home runs and nine stolen bases. A .388 BABIP largely boosted House’s average, and it came with a contact rate slightly under 70 percent. House sometimes tends to get aggressive, chasing over 35 percent of pitches outside of the zone, but it does help that he makes enough zone contact.
Another concern, but a tweakable one, is his flat swing, which produces a high rate of ground balls. House hits the ball extremely hard, posting a 107 mph 90th percentile exit velocity, but it has not yet turned into home runs because he pounds the ball into the ground.
Despite the swing and aggressive approach, House still provides results on the field. With a couple of tweaks, he could become a 25-30 home run bat that is a middle-of-the-order masher.
FFG: Top-12 3B
90th Percentile Peak Outcome: .280/.360 OBP/25 HR/5 SB
4. Cade Cavalli, RHP, 25, 6’4”/230
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.
FFG: SP3 Caliber Arm
90th Percentile Peak Outcome: 160 IP/3.40 ERA/200 K
5. Elijah Green, OF, 19, 6’3”/225
Green is one of the harder players to evaluate in prospect circles due to the hype he received coming into the draft, to falling off a cliff in 2023. Coming into the 2022 MLB Draft, Green was considered one of the highest-upside players in the last few years, showing massive power and speed, and being built like an NFL tight end.
Contact skills have always been a question, and it showed this season as Green made contact on just 56 percent of pitches, leading to a 42 percent strikeout rate. Seeing Green play in person, you can see the potential, but it is rare to see players make sizeable jumps in contact, and it is a huge hill to climb for the contact rates to get into respectable ranges. The good news is that if the contact does get sorted out, there is a star player to dream on. Green posted a 90th percentile exit velocity north of 110 mph, up to nearly 118 mph for his max. His speed is arguably 70 grade when I clocked him live this year.
Green is tooled up to the max in all areas of his game and is a fun player to dream on. 2024 will be a very telling season when looking at Green’s future projection.
FFG: Power/Speed OF with Contact Skills
90th Percentile Peak Outcome: .270/.350 OBP/30 HR/25 SB
Variance: Extremely High
6. Yohandy Morales, 3B, 22, 6’5”/225
Morales was a polarizing player around the industry coming into the 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, 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.
FFG: CI Power Bat
90th Percentile Peak Outcome: .270/.350 OBP/30 HR/3 SB
7. Daylen Lile, OF, 20, 5’11”/195
Lile impressed me the most of any hitter on Fredericksburg when I got my live looks at that team for a week this season. Lile did struggle some upon his promotion to High-A, but Wilmington is one of the worst hitters parks in the Minors.
Between both levels, Lile hit .269/.355/.452 with nine home runs and 46 extra-base hits in 465 plate appearances. While being an aggressive hitter, swinging at nearly 50 percent of pitches, Lile showed strong contact by posting a 77 percent contact rate on the season, but that number ran north of 80 percent while in Single-A.
Lile is smaller but has shown the ability to get to power; he hit a massive home run in one of the games I saw off Ben Kudrna. Lile projects as a hit-over-power guy who also can steal bases.
FFG: Hit Tool OF w/Speed
90th Percentile Peak Outcome: .280/.350 OBP/15 HR/30 SB
8. Robert Hassell III, OF, 22, 6’1”/195
After being selected eighth overall by the Padres in 2020, Hassell immediately began to take the league by storm, seeing his prospect status rise to being a top-ten prospect across many outlets. In his first two seasons, Hassell slashed .303/.393/.470 with 11 home runs in 2021 and .273/.357/.407 with 11 home runs in 2022. Things seemed to change after Hassell was traded from San Diego to Washington mid-season of 2022 for Juan Soto. I gave Hassell a pass as it was a big move across the country and the pressure of performing after being traded for one of the best players in all of baseball.
Things did not get better in 2023, though, as Hassell spent time in Double-A for Washington, in which he only slashed .221/.324/.321, good for only a .645 OPS as Hassell hit just nine home runs and had 27 extra-base hits across 545 plate appearances.
It is interesting, considering Hassell’s hit tool was always his carrying tool, but this season, the contact skills took a step back, and Hassell posted a 72 percent contact rate, which is close to the league average. It also appears that Hassell looks noticeably skinnier than he has in the past, as I have seen him live in 2021, 2022, and 2023.
It is hard to pin down exactly what is going on with Robert Hassell III, but there were improvements in the power department this season as Hassell posted an average exit velocity of 90 mph and a 90th percentile of 102.2 mph. 2024 will be a big year for Hassell, but I still believe he could be an everyday regular in the Majors.
FFG: Everyday OFer
90th Percentile Peak Outcome: .270/.350 OBP/15 HR/20 SB
9. Travis Sykora, RHP, 19, 6’6”, 232
Many thought Sykora might be selected on day one of the MLB Draft, but the Nationals were able to snag him in an over-slot, third-round deal. Sykora already has an advanced body and arsenal despite being only 19 years old, standing at 6’6”/230 with great stuff.
His fastball already sits in the upper 90s and has touched 101 mph. His split-change flashes are a plus pitch and sit in the same velocity band as his slider, which could improve shape.
From a pure stuff standpoint and future body projection, Sykora looks like a starter, but he will need to prove he can consistently throw strikes and command his pitches well, which will be telling as we see him debut in 2024.
FFG: SP3 Caliber Arm
90th Percentile Peak Outcome: 160 IP/3.50 ERA/190 K
10. DJ Herz, LHP, 22, 6’2”/175
Herz was traded to Washington at the 2023 trade deadline in the Jeimer Candelario deal and proceeded to look like a different arm in the Nationals organization. Hertz was solid in Double-A with the Cubs in 2023, posting a 3.97 ERA with 80 strikeouts in 59 innings, but proceeded to post a 2.55 ERA in 35.1 innings with the Nationals with 53 strikeouts.
Control has always been a big issue with Herz, as he walked 13.6 percent of batters. He will certainly need to see improvements to his 61 percent strike rate he posted in 2023.
Herz's arsenal sees his fastball sit between 91 and 94 with decent life up in the zone, but at times, he can overthrow, leading to command issues, especially up. Herz’s changeup sits around 80 mph with nice fading action that he throws to righties most of the time. The slider keeps hitters on their toes as it has nice sweeping action, and he throws it to both righties and lefties, sitting in the mid-80s.
FFG: Back End SP
90th Percentile Peak Outcome: 160 IP/3.70 ERA/180 K
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