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As Major League Baseball’s offseason continues to plod along at a snail’s pace despite Spring Training being about a month away, Baseball America released the 2021 preseason edition of its Top 100 Prospects list on Monday morning.
The Washington Nationals are usually no strangers to the top end of this list. From Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper to Victor Robles and Juan Soto, there has usually been a strong contingent from South Capitol Street.
However, in recent seasons that presence has dipped with players graduating from prospect status or being traded away for immediate help for the big league team.
Before last season, the Nationals had just two prospects in the 2020 edition of the list.
Those two players, Carter Kieboom and Luis García, have now both graduated from the list after accumulating enough plate appearances during the pandemic-shortened season.
Their graduations mean that there are now no Nationals’ prospects on this year’s list.
According to Baseball America, it’s the first time that the franchise, including its days as the Montreal Expos, has not had a Top 100 player since they first released their Top 100 lists in 1990.
They are also the only team that doesn’t have a player in this year’s Top 100.
The Texas Rangers, Oakland Athletics, and Houston Astros the next lowest with one apiece, while the San Diego Padres have the most on the list with seven players.
While this list is just one outlet’s take on how various prospects stack up, it’s pretty clear at this point that the Nationals’ cupboard is still pretty bare after a long window of contention.
The Nats’ prospects that are likely closest to cracking the Top 100 are Cade Cavalli and Jackson Rutledge, two pitching prospects that they have reportedly been bullish on not dealing this offseason in their quest to return to contention following a disappointing 2020 season.
Cavalli, the 22nd overall pick in the 2020 MLB Draft, is ranked as the top prospect in the organization by BA. He was also ranked 22nd in their 2020 draft rankings just behind the likes of Tyler Soderstrom and Robert Hassell who have managed to break into this year’s Top 100.
Meanwhile, Rutledge, who some outlets rate as a better prospect than Cavalli, is a pitcher that the Nationals believe can headline the rotation for several more years and carry the baton as the likes of Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Patrick Corbin wear down.
If either can have a promising season in the minor leagues — assuming at least some of the minor leagues do go ahead, that is — then they could potentially enter the Top 100 conversation.
After that, BA rates Cole Henry as the team’s third-best prospect followed by some high-risk, high-reward international players in Yasel Antuna, Andy Lara, and Jeremy De La Rosa.
There is definitely some potential lurking in the Nationals’ farm system still, especially on the international front. However, Baseball America’s top prospect list and the lack of Nats’ youngsters on it is just another indicator of the poor state the system is in as a whole.
Ah well, prospects are cool, but championships are cooler, and the Nationals used their prospects to get one of those. That makes the current state of the system much more tolerable.