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Revisiting the 2023 Nationals MLB Draft class after the conclusion of the minor league season.
Best Pure Hitter: There was no better pure hitter in the 2023 draft class as a whole than outfielder Dylan Crews (1), so he’s the clear and obvious slam dunk favorite for this category. Crews is an elite pure hitter with double-plus bat speed, excellent vision and the ability to use all fields and react to all pitch types.
Best Power Hitter: On top of elite pure hitting ability, what helps make Crews (1) such a dynamic prospect is his tremendous raw power. It’s nearly double-plus raw juice and he has consistently managed elite exit velocity metrics, both in college at LSU and in his pro debut. He averaged 93.3 mph in exit velocity with a wood bat this summer in pro ball which was nearly three mph better than the next best hitter from Washington’s debut class.
Fastest Runner: Both Crews and outfielder Andrew Pinckney (4) are above-average runners, but outfielder Elijah Nunez (14) turns in plus times out of the lefthanded box and has a quick first step when going down the line.
Best Defensive Player: For many, Crews entered the spring (1) with some questions about whether he was a better fit for center field or right field, but he quietly was one of college baseball’s best defensive outfielders. He moves well, has great reactions and route-running ability, a quick first step and he also has a plus throwing arm. He has above-average defensive potential in center and plus or better defensive upside in a corner if he does move.
Best Fastball: Righthander Travis Sykora (3) is your stereotypical Texas arm with a big, 6-foot-6 frame and plenty of gas out of his right hand. He was throwing 100 mph as an underclassman and has been up to 101, with a fastball that’s routinely in the upper 90s and overwhelms lower-level hitters.
Best Secondary Pitch: Washington had a hitter-heavy 2023 draft, so Sykora (3) is also the pick for best secondary pitch. He has both a slider and a changeup that are solid, but unusual offerings, with the mid-80s split-change being potentially the better option currently with above-average potential that could play nicely off his fastball.
Best Pro Debut: Third baseman Yohandy Morales (2) didn’t homer in his pro debut, but he excelled in virtually every other area. He slashed .349/.423/.494 with four triples and 16 doubles, with strong exit velocity data and also moved from Rookie ball to Double-A Harrisburg. His on-base skills and a 19% walk rate were encouraging for a player who had contact and chase questions from college.
Best Athlete: Crews’ (1) combination of speed, power, quick-twitch hands and physicality makes him an easy selection here. He’s the sort of player who makes everything look easy on the baseball field, and his ability to generate force even with a spaced out stance in a two-strike count is quite special. Sykora (3) would be a solid option here as well, as the big righty was also a talented shortstop.
Most Intriguing Background: Sykora’s two-way ability and the fact that he was throwing in the upper 90s as a junior in high school after playing a full game as a shortstop speaks to how special his arm talent is.
Closest To The Majors: Crews (1) is likely the most big-league ready all-around player in the 2023 draft class not named Paul Skenes. Among hitters, it’s hard to find a player who is as physically advanced and as skilled as he is. He was the No. 1 player in an above-average draft class for a reason.
Best Day Three Pick (Or NDFA): Righthander Austin Amaral (16) made an impressive transition to the starting rotation with Stetson this spring, and he threw the hardest fastball among Washington debuts this summer, with a 94-mph heater that touched 95-96. He has some funk in his delivery and will need to improve his control, but he posted a 3.38 ERA over eight innings with 13 strikeouts and five walks.