Washington Nationals Minor League Update

by Josh Stevens
Washington Nationals Minor League Update

Welcome to our Washington Nationals Minor League Update. Like the previous two entries to the list, the Nationals have also won hardware recently, winning it all in 2019. Despite the loss of Bryce Harper in free agency before the start of that season, the Nationals were able to win it all on the backs of great pitching and young superstars.

However, just a few years later, this all came crashing down. Juan Soto, Trea Turner, and Max Scherzer were traded. Anthony Rendon signed with LA, and postseason stars like Stephen Strausburg and Howie Kendrick retired.

This sent Washington into a spiral, as the main pieces that they received in the trades weren’t performing. However, guys such as CJ Abrams and Mackenzie Gore are hitting their stride, leading to hope in D.C.

Another source of hope? Washington’s farm system. This farm system, headlined by two top outfield prospects, isn’t too far away from propelling Washington back to the top of the NL East to compete with Philly and Atlanta.

Just like in every farm system, Washington has top prospects, overachievers, and underachievers. In the Washington Nationals Minor League Update will look at some in each category here.

Washington Nationals Minor League Update

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The Top Prospects

Dylan Crews, OF (2nd in Nats Org/6th Overall)

Crews capped off an incredible college career in which he never hit below .300 in a season with an astounding 2023. In this season, Crews hit .426, with a mind-boggling .567 OBP and 1.280 OPS, cementing his spot as the best collegiate position player in the country.

Crews wasted no time getting to work after getting drafted, going 3-3 in his only game in rookie ball. He didn’t stop after getting promoted, as he raked to the tune of a .355 average and five homers in 14 games in A ball.

Although he struggled a little in AA, there is no doubt that Crews is one of the best prospects in all of baseball right now.

In 2024, Crews is hitting .274 with five homers in 51 games.

While not extremely impressive, the five-tool ability of Crews can’t be denied. His projectability led to a call-up to AAA Tuesday. If Crews can cut back on his strikeouts (50 in 51 games against just 16 walks), look for him to join Washington as the everyday center fielder by August or September.

James Wood, OF (1st/4th)

Wood was another member of my top ten outfielders list. Like Crews, Wood is looking to lead a new wave of young Nationals stars, and propel them back to their 2010s form.

Out of all of the prospects I’ve written about, Wood is the guy I would bet on first to hit 30 or 40 homers in the MLB. The physically imposing (6’6 and 240 pound) lefty has a beautiful swing that generates a ton of power.

In 128 games between A and AA, Wood belted 26 homers and 28 doubles, good for an OPS north of .900.

This power production also hasn’t come in the way of average, as Wood has hit .291 across the minors so far. While strikeouts are a big concern for Wood, he has time to fix that problem to the next level.

In 2024, Wood has torn up minor-league pitching. So far, he’s hitting .351 with nine homers in a 1.053 OPS in AAA. With this production, it’ll be extremely tough to keep Wood down in the minors for long. He carries a hefty price if you don’t have him already, but James Wood is worth it.

How Long Can You Wait?

Elijah Green, OF (6th)

There’s no doubt that Elijah Green is oozing with tools. He has all the speed, power, and arm strength you could ever want.

The number one player in the class of 2022 earned high praise from Perfect Game.

“Ran a 6.16 in the sixty-yard dash. A primary outfielder, absolutely explosive through his approach with good glove placement and excellent instincts with his angles/timing. Good arm strength with more to come. Can make all throws and solid one-hop accuracy to the bases. A right-handed hitter, easy plus bat speed from a simple setup and small leg lift trigger. The ball explodes off the bat to all fields. Hit one off the catwalk of Tropicana Field. Elite run and power tools and very good eye-hand coordination.”

However, Green has struggled so far in A ball. In 2023, he hit .210 with 139 strikeouts in 75 games, while only hitting four homers.

Yes, Green was only 19, and likely in over his head a bit. However, striking out almost two times a game is inexcusable.

This hasn’t gotten a lot better in 2024. Green is hitting a mere .162 with 109 strikeouts in 54 games and hasn’t earned a promotion to AA.

The good news, Green’s tools haven’t gone anywhere. He still can hit the ball a mile, although he just has five homers this year. He also has 50 stolen bases in 130 career AA games, a blistering pace.

However; this is overshadowed by Green’s 248 strikeouts in 129 games. Fortunately, Green is still young, and a great investment if you can wait a few years for him to mature before breaking into the MLB.

Jarlin Susana, RHP (10th)

What do you think people from 70 years ago would think if they saw a guy like Jarlin Susana?

It’s a question I think about a lot in various sports. Could you imagine if someone in the 50s saw Wemby or Mahomes play? It would be insane.

Susana has a similar kind of awe to his physical abilities.

Via mlb.com, “The 6-foot-6 right-hander’s fastball is the star of the show, typically sitting 97-99 mph but reaching as high as 103. It’s an absolute laser of a heater in more ways than one; it comes in blazing fast but fairly straight, which keeps it from being a true 80-grade pitch. He drops in a high-80s slider that also draws plus grades and forbids anyone from thinking they can sit on straight heat. His changeup and curveball still need work, but the former at least helps his starting chances.”

The limitations of his third and fourth offerings are what keeps Susana in this tier. Right now, he has all of the tools to be a top-end reliever with his triple-digit heater and solid slider. If Susana can develop either his curve or change up to be an above-average offering, look out.

The Overachiever

Drew Millas, C (Outside of top 30)

It’s always fun to see unheralded guys amongst superstars and well-known names on the leaderboards.

The guys who have played in games this year for AAA Rochester are some of the more recognizable names you’ll find when looking at a minor league team’s game logs.

Besides the aforementioned Crews and Wood,  established players such as Joey Gallo, Victor Robles, and Carter Kieboom have all spent time in Rochester.

However, it is Millas who is among the most consistent performers. In 2024, he hit .308 with five homers and an OPS above .850, all while playing respectable defense behind the plate (a notoriously weak fantasy position).

Millas had a cup of coffee in the MLB last year, hitting .286 with a .375 OBP in 11 games. He was just called up to Washington this past week, where he will try to make a name for himself as the everyday backstop in D.C.

The Underachiever

Yohandy Morales, IF (4th/88th)

Ok. What’s up with Morales’s power?

Morales wasn’t exactly Jac Caglianone in college, but he had a very respectable power output. Morales hit 49 homers in three college seasons, capped off by a 20-homer season as a Junior.

Yes, it’s easier to hit for power with metal bats. However, absolutely none of this power has translated to the minors for Morales.

2023 wasn’t all negative for Morales, or even close to being all negative. The Miami product was fast-tracked from the draft through AA, having spent just 36 games in Rookie ball and A ball.

Morales even put up a .349 average in these games. While he didn’t walk much (19 walks), he also didn’t strike out more than any other recently drafted player (35 in 42 games). These are all positives for the infielder.

However, Morales failed to hit even one homer last year. While he hit 15 doubles and got on base a lot, the drop in power was very concerning at that low of a minor league level.

Yohandy has spent more time on the struggle bus in 2024. While Morales has gotten on the board with two homers, his average has fallen more than 100 points, now below .240. While there’s still time for the pure-hitting infielder to figure out his stroke, some concern has to be setting in for the Nats organization.

That's all we have for the Washington Nationals Minor League Update! Be sure to check out our latest drop list for Fantasy Baseball!

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