Washington Nationals 2021 MLB Draft Report Card
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Best Pure Hitter: Shortstop Brady House (1) ranked as the No. 7 overall prospect in the 2021 class and had a fantastic spring with the bat, taking steps forward with his approach. House is probably thought of as more of a power bat given his immense capability to drive the ball long distances, but he excelled in his pro debut, hitting .322/.394/.576 in 16 games in the Florida Complex League. Outfielder Daylen Lile (2) was lauded for his pure hitting ability and feel for the barrel coming out of high school.
Best Power Hitter: House had some of the best raw power in the 2021 draft class and has a chance to develop 70-grade raw power at physical maturity. Outfielder T.J. White (5) has also received 70-grade raw power projections which will help him profile in a corner. He hit four home runs in 15 games during his debut in the FCL.
Fastest Runner: Second baseman Darren Baker (10) is a borderline plus-plus runner who went 28-for-34 (82.4%) this spring with California and Outfielder Jacob Young (7) is an above-average or plus runner who was pushed to left field at Florida thanks to the presence of Jud Fabian, but should have the speed and athleticism to give center field a shot in pro ball. He played 16 games in center, eight in left and two in right during his pro debut.
Best Defensive Player: House has long drawn concerns about potentially moving to third base given his size, but he impressed with his athleticism, body control and internal clock at shortstop this spring and logged 140.2 solid innings at shortstop in the FCL, where he continued to look good at the position. His 70-grade arm will allow him to play either left side of the infield spot if necessary.
Best Fastball: Righthander Brendan Collins (17) has a fastball that gets into the upper-90s and helped him wrack up plenty of strikeouts (13) during his 8.2-inning pro debut. This spring with UNC-Greensboro the pitch averaged 94 mph and peaked at 97.
Best Secondary Pitch: The Nationals are also high on Collins’ breaking ball, which averaged around 79 mph this spring in college and featured solid depth and tilt. Lefthander Dustin Saenz (4) has an above-average slider with moderate tilt and good feel to land the pitch.
Best Pro Debut: House stands out for his offensive performance as an 18-year-old in rookie ball. His .970 OPS was good for the 10th-best mark of any player 18 years or younger in rookie ball, with at least 50 plate appearances.
Best Athlete: House’s athleticism allows him to play a solid shortstop despite more limited quick-twitch actions and side-to-side mobility that other, smaller shortstops might have in their skillset.
Most Intriguing Background: Baker is the son of current Astros manager Dusty Baker, and he was also the three-year old Giants bat boy who JT Snow scooped out of the way near home plate during the Game 5 of the 2002 World Series.
Closest To The Majors: It’s rare for a high school hitter to take this category home, but House has an advanced approach at the plate with an impressive understanding of his strengths at the plate and how best to make adjustments to opposing arms. On top of that, he has all the physicality that you would expect of a prep player who moves quickly. That strength should allow him to more adequately handle the rigors of a professional season.
Best Late-Round Pick (Or NDFA): Perhaps with good health, lefthander Erik Tolman (14) wouldn’t have been available to the Nationals on day three. He showed an impressive three-pitch mix with Arizona State this spring in limited innings, with a fastball and curveball that played up, as well as a plus changeup. Given how Washington views Collins’ pure stuff, he would land in this category as well.
The One Who Got Away: Righthander Mack Anglin (13) is a Trackman monster with a standout overall spin profile who’s touched 98 mph and has a wipeout slider. That would have been a great grab on day three, but Anglin was one of two players—along with high school catcher Elie Kligman (20)—who Washington failed to sign in this draft class.