Washington Nationals Top 5 Prospects Post-Trade Deadlineby John Lepore August 17, 2021 0 comments
The Washington Nationals had an incredible run to the World Series in 2019 after going 19-31 in their first 50 games. This year looked questionable as to whether they would possibly do the same thing and be buyers entering July with a 40-38 record. Unfortunately, they started the month 5-16 and did the smart thing selling off some of their valuable pieces.
They improved their farm system considerably, especially at the top, trading Max Scherzer and Trea Turner to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Of the players Washington received through their multiple trades, eight of them slot immediately into their top 30 according to MLB.com. Let’s take a look at who makes the top 5.
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The switch-hitting catcher was one of the key pieces in the Scherzer-Turner deal. He has had a couple of cups of coffee the past two years with the Dodgers accumulating only 15 plate appearances. At Triple-A this season between Oklahoma City and Rochester, Ruiz is slashing .296/.363/.592 with 17 homers and 20 doubles in just 267 PAs. His plate discipline is also quite impressive with 25 walks to only 31 strikeouts.
Defensively, Ruiz has a solid arm and moves well behind the plate. While he may never be a Gold Glove catcher, the Venezuelan could turn into an above-average backstop. However, it will be his bat that keeps him in the lineup, especially as he ages. With plenty of power, while still maintaining excellent pitch recognition at this level, Ruiz will be an All-Star for years to come.
Josiah Gray RHP
The second major piece in the Dodgers-Nationals deal was Gray. He has started three games so far for the Nats and has looked good aside from having trouble keeping the ball in the yard. He has allowed five homers in just 16 innings but also has an impressive 18/4 K/BB rate. Gray is a former shortstop who converted to pitching at Le Moyne College in Syracuse after struggling to hit. That athleticism shows in his easy and repeatable delivery. The right-hander is still refining his repertoire, but you can expect him to be near the top of Washington’s rotation for a while.
Cade Cavalli RHP
The Nationals’ first-round pick last year has looked excellent at two stops this season. Between High-A Wilmington and Double-A Harrisburg, Cavalli sports a 2.33 ERA and has struck out 139 in 89 innings. He has also surrendered only two home runs. The big right-hander started his college career as a two-way player at Oklahoma but has been pitching exclusively since 2019.
Cavalli’s fastball sits in the mid-90s and he can reach back for a little more when needed. All three of his secondary offerings are above-average now with his curveball being the best of them. He throws it in the low-80s with late movement and mixes it well with his fastball. If he shows continued improvement, Cavalli could be in the Nats’ rotation by next year.
Jackson Rutledge RHP
With the 17th overall pick in 2019, Washington drafted Rutledge out of San Jacinto College. So far this season, the flamethrower has battled a few injuries. He is currently on the IL with a blister that limited his last start to five batters. In the outing before that, Rutledge looked great going five innings, striking out seven, and only allowing two hits. His fastball is elite sitting mid-90s with great spin. At 6-foot-8, the right-hander gets great extension and pairs his heater with a nasty slider. If he can develop one of his other breaking pitches to an above-average offering, Rutledge will be in the Nats’ rotation soon.
Cole Henry RHP
Henry was looking very good at Wilmington before an elbow issue sidelined him back in May. He has a 35/8 K/BB rate in just 24 innings of work to go along with a 3.00 ERA. The second-round pick out of LSU last year and while he won’t blow up the radar gun sitting in the low-90s, Henry has two fastballs that he commands well. To complement them, he has a good 12-to-6 curveball and a changeup with plenty of fade. Injuries have held Henry back a bit in his young career, but if he can stay healthy, the right-hander should join the three pitchers ahead of him on this list in the Nationals’ rotation.
What Does the Future Hold?
While Washington has their starers of the future in tow along with a franchise catcher, they also added a big bat to keep an eye on. Brady House was their first-round pick this year and at just 18 years old already looks like a full-grown man at 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds. He is a power-hitting shortstop right now and although the Nationals hope he stays there, he may be destined for third base. You can check out his profile here and House’s ridiculous numbers in High School.
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