2021 Washington Nationals Top 5 Prospectsby Jamie Gatlin March 15, 2021 2 comments
The Washington Nationals will enter the 2021 season with one of the lowest-rated farm systems in baseball. There is, however, hope in Washington as several of their prospects could find their way onto the top-100 list by midseason. Over the last few years, the Nationals farm system has taken a step back after winning its first title in 2019. Although the Nationals system is not one of baseball’s best, they still have some intriguing pieces to watch this season.
Make sure to check out all of our other MLB Team Top Prospects.
1. Cade Cavalli, RHP
In 2020 the Nationals continued their recent trend when they selected Cavalli With the 22nd overall pick in the 2020 MLB Draft. Cavalli was the fourth straight pitcher the Nationals used their top pick in the draft on. The Tulsa native arrived in Washington with a fastball that reaches the high 90s and an above-average slider. Cavalli dealt with injuries in college but has the potential to be a frontline starter. The former first-round pick has four pitches that he can throw for strikes and learned how to maximize his pitches last year. In first Major League Spring Training this year, he has struck out two batters in one inning of work.
2. Jackson Rutledge, RHP
In 2019 the Nationals selected Rutledge with the 17th overall pick in the MLB draft. The righty is a big power arm with the fastball that sits in the mid-’90s but has a ton of spin. Rutledge also commands the strike zone well and has an impressive slider. In his first taste of pro ball, he had a 3.86 ERA in 10 starts across three levels. Although the 2020 Minor League season was canceled, Rutledge was able to get some work in at the Nationals alternate site. The 21-year-old was impressive as a standout at the alternate site and has been able to carry that into Spring Training. In his only appearance, he had two strikeouts in one inning of work. With the Minor league season only weeks away, Rutledge will be looking to improve his changeup as he gets closer to the majors.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) March 4, 2021
3. Cole Henry, RHP
The Nationals selected Henry in the second round of the 2020 MLB Draft following a dominant stint at LSU. In Henry’s sophomore year at LSU, he had a 1.89 ERA in four games. When the Nationals drafted Henry, they got a righthander with power stuff. Henry’s fastball reaches the high 90’s, and he possesses a curveball that has the potential to be above average. He struggled to land his secondary pitches in the strike zone in college, which made his fastball easier to hit. Henry’s ability to control his secondary pitches will greatly impact where he ends up in the rotation. If Henry can stay healthy this upcoming season, his stock should only rise as the Nationals hope he can form a dominant big three along with Cavalli and Rutledge.
4. Yasel Antuna SS/ 3B
Antuna joined the Nationals in 2016 when he was signed out of the Dominican Republic. In three seasons in the Nationals system, Antuna has posted a .247 average and hit five home runs. Antuna is a switch-hitting infielder who has the best power among Nationals’ Minor Leaguers. Washington’s top-hitting prospect has impressed scouts with promising bat speed and ability to keep the bat through the zone for a long time. Although Antuna has dealt with injuries, he projects to be a solid hitter. Assuming the Nats infielder stays healthy, 2021 could be a breakout season.
5. Andry Lara, RHP
Like Antuna, Lara was signed as an international free agent. When the Nationals signed Lara in 2019, he was the 16th best prospect on the MLB”s international prospect list. Although Lara does not have a full minor league season under his belt, he did get some work at the Nationals alternate site last year. Lara possesses a mid-90’s fastball that could increase as he gets older. Lara also has a slider that he will be looking to improve in his first Minor League season. The Venezuelan native has the potential to be a No. 2 starter but needs more experience.