Washington Nationals Prospects: 2024 Midseason Top 30 Update


The Nationals revamped their Player Development staff in the offseason. While it’s too early to say if these hires will be the missing piece in Washington’s rebuild, it’s certainly looking that way.

Across the board, pitching development has improved with nearly every top pitcher taking a step forward. Andry Lara, who had fallen out of the Top 30, looks like a true top pitching prospect again. The organization is also developing breakout arms like Brad Lord. 

The Nationals have already called up a franchise-altering player in James Wood, and Dylan Crews is likely not far behind. If the organization can continue to develop drafted talent and make key trades at the deadline, they could be contenders sooner rather than later. 

Baseball America subscribers can see the full updated Nationals Top 30 here. Notable risers, fallers, new additions and injury updates are below.

Notable Risers 

Andry Lara, RHP

Lara has turned a lot of heads this season as he continues to impress at Double-A. The young pitcher refined his slider and is sustaining his velocity deeper into games while looking more comfortable doing it against better talent. This season is exactly what the Nationals development staff has been hoping for after two years of “learning seasons.” It’s important to remember that he is only 21 years old and is still on track with the vision the organization had for Lara when they signed him.

Robert Hassell, OF

Hassell is on the IL with a wrist injury, but his rise is a good sign. If he can return to game action soon and perform at the level he was at before, the Nationals can confidently say that this is the prospect they hoped for in the Juan Soto trade.

Notable Fallers

Elijah Green, OF

The strikeouts are an issue—period. Green is striking out in more than 50% of his at bats. The Low-A assignment to start the season was already an alert that his development was behind, and now it may be time to sound the alarm that the former first-rounder is still regressing rather than improving.

Notable New Additions

14. Andry Lara, RHP

BA Grade/Risk: 50/Very High

Track Record: Lara was the top player in the Nationals’ 2019 international class and signed for a $1.25 million bonus. After spending 2020 at the organization’s facility in West Palm Beach, Fla. and struggling at instructional league, his 2021 debut was much more promising. In 2022, he was the youngest pitcher on Low-A Fredericksburg’s roster, and that inexperience showed. The team called the 2023 season at High-A a ‘learning year.’ He refined his fastball and ended the season on a high. He continued to progress in 2024 and earned a promotion to Double-A Harrisburg after just six starts.

Scouting Report: Lara has a smooth delivery and an all-around athletic operation on the mound. Since signing with the Nationals, Lara has added strength to sustain his  mid-90s velocity throughout outings. His fastball sits around 94 mph and has touched 98. Lara’s slider is his go-to secondary and is more consistent than in previous seasons. It’s a low-80s pitch that has a slurve-like shape at times. An upper-80s changeup is his third offering, and he needs to develop more feel for it to become an average third pitch that fully rounds out his arsenal. Lara is praised for his maturity and work ethic, and he continues to be a leader in the clubhouse despite being just 21 years old.

The Future: 2024 looks like it could be considered a breakout year. The young pitcher is putting together the tools he has worked on through those “learning seasons” and it’s paying off. His fastball command is improving, and his slider is a more consistent pitch. He still needs to work on the curveball, but this is a positive sign in his development. 

Scouting Grades: Fastball: 55 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 50

29. Brad Lord, RHP

BA Grade/Risk: 40/Very High

Track Record: The Nationals selected Lord out of South Florida in the 18th round of the 2022 MLB Draft. The right-handed pitcher was a starter and praised for his control in college. He pitched well in his first season, splitting time in Low-A and High-a during the 2023 season. This season, something has clicked. After one start in High-A, he earned a promotion to Double-A Harrisburg. After 12 starts, he owned a 1.40 ERA. On June 23rd, he earned a Triple-A callup. 

Scouting Report: Lord doesn’t show flashy stuff, but his strikeouts have ticked up this year. His fastball sits 92-94 out of a low release point with a ton of arm-side run. The righthander also throws a changeup that hovers in the mid-80s and a slider that sits 82-84. Again, it’s not a gaudy repertoire, but he gets the job done and is working efficiently this season.

The Future: After working on mechanical changes to his delivery, Lord looks like a real option for the Nationals. The team has a plethora of pitching options in the major leagues, but having a homegrown option is always a good thing. It would not be a shock to see him in Washington at some point this season.

Scouting Grades: Fastball: 50 | Slider: 40 | Changeup: 40 | Control: 50

Significant injuries

Robert Hassell, OF

Hassell went on the IL in mid-June with a wrist injury. Due to his injury history with the area, the team wants to be extra cautious. There is no word on a time frame for his return. 

Yohandy Morales, 3B/1B

Morales injured his thumb while trying to score on a wild pitch. He was placed in the IL retroactive to May 20. He is back to throwing and running, and the organization plans to reevaluate him in the coming weeks. If all looks good after that check-in, he will begin hitting. 

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