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  1. 1. Keibert Ruiz | C
    Keibert Ruiz
    Born: Jul 20, 1998
    Bats: B Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'0" Wt.: 225
    Drafted/Signed: Venezuela 2014.
    Signed By: Francisco Cartaya/Pedro Avila (Dodgers)
    Minors: .310/.377/.616 | 21 HR | 0 SB | 284 AB

    BA Grade: 60/Medium

    Track Record: Ruiz signed with the Dodgers for $140,000 at the age of 16 in 2014 out of the Venezuelan academy run by former big leaguer Carlos Guillen. At the time, he was considered more of a defensive catcher, but that’s not the case now. Ruiz’s star really began to rise when he reached Double-A at age 19 in 2018. A return to Double-A the next season due to a logjam at catcher in the Dodgers’ organization slowed his progress, but a promotion to Triple-A later that year seemed to get him going again, at least up until he was sidelined with a fractured finger. Formerly the Dodgers’ No. 1 prospect, Ruiz immediately became the top prospect for the Nationals upon being traded to Washington as part of the massive deal that sent Max Scherzer and Trea Turner to Los Angeles at the 2021 trade deadline. After getting a cup of coffee in the big leagues in 2020, Ruiz saw more regular playing time down the stretch with the Nationals in 2021 and responded by showing the offensive prowess that has the organization excited about his potential.

    Scouting Report: A switch-hitter, Ruiz has long had a knack for making contact, but up until recently he had faced questions about his ability to impact the baseball. Adjustments made with the Dodgers, including getting more upright in his stance and keeping his hands closer to his body, have helped him make higher-quality contact, a trend that carried over in his small sample with the Nationals. Recent evaluations have also noted that he’s made strides in his approach and hunting for pitches against which he can do damage in the right counts. Traditionally, he’s been more effective from the left side, but recent improvements in his righthanded swing have made him much more of a well-rounded threat at the plate, where he projects to be a plus hitter with average power. Ruiz doesn’t necessarily have standout tools from a defensive standpoint, but rival evaluators are quick to praise his ability to make it work and have taken note of improvements in game calling and relationship building with his pitching staff. He blocks well and has the potential to be an above-average receiver. His arm strength is fringy, which led to a caught stealing rate of less than 20% with the Nationals last season.

    The Future: Ruiz is the Nationals’ catcher of the future, which is a change from his time with the Dodgers, where he was blocked by Will Smith. After getting a taste of regular playing time in the big leagues and getting hot down the stretch at the end of last season, Ruiz looks poised to make a name for himself in 2022.

    Scouting Grades
    Batting: 60. Power: 45. Speed: 30. Defense: 55. Arm: 50

  2. 2. Cade Cavalli | RHP
    Cade Cavalli
    Born: Aug 14, 1998
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'4" Wt.: 226
    Drafted/Signed: Oklahoma, 2020 (1st round).
    Signed By: Jerad Head
    Minors: 7-9 | 3.36 ERA | 175 SO | 60 BB | 124 IP

    BA Grade: 60/High

    Track Record: As a 2020 draftee, Cavalli’s minor league debut was delayed to 2021, though he did impress at the Nationals’ alternate training site in 2020 after being drafted 22nd overall out of Oklahoma. Once on the field this year, the righthander wasted no time making a statement, soaring from High-A to Triple-A over the course of the season. Importantly, after battling injuries in college, Cavalli stayed healthy all season and showed his ability to handle a heavy workload. He led the minor leagues with 157 strikeouts.

    Scouting Report: Cavalli’s stuff is electric. Over the summer, rival managers in Double-A Northeast voted his the best fastball and breaking ball in the league. His fastball sits 95-97 mph and has touched as high as 100 using an easy, yet powerful delivery. He throws two distinct breaking balls, a power curveball and a slider that is cutterish at times. The latter is used effectively to get off hitters’ barrels. He gets good sink on his changeup, but evaluators are less enthused about that offering. He has a sinker in his arsenal, but it’s a distant fifth pitch. Don’t be fooled by his big frame, either. Cavalli is a plus athlete who fields his position well. He struggled a bit in his short time at Triple-A, but the organization is working with him to get outs in the zone more often, a necessity against mature hitters.

    The Future: The Nationals couldn’t have asked for much more out of Cavalli in 2021, and he looks the part of a front-of-the-rotation starter whose arrival will come sooner rather than later.

    Scouting Grades
    Fastball: 70. Curveball: 55. Slider: 60. Changeup: 55. Control: 50

  3. 3. Brady House | SS
    Brady House
    Born: Jun 4, 2003
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'4" Wt.: 215
    Signed By: Eric Robinson
    Minors: .322/.394/.576 | 4 HR | 0 SB | 59 AB

    BA Grade: 55/Very High

    Track Record: House was ranked among the best prep prospects in the 2021 draft, and at one point was considered a possible top overall pick, thanks in large part to loud offensive tools. The Nationals selected him 11th overall and signed him for $5 million, the seventh-highest in the class and a little more than $450,000 over the pick value. House shined in the Florida Complex League after signing, hitting .322/.394/.576 and showing an exciting all-around game.

    Scouting Report: Power is House’s most noteworthy tool, with some evaluators believing that he could eventually have 70-grade raw power. He also earned high marks in his debut for showing the ability to hit the ball to all fields with authority. Whether he sticks at shortstop is the biggest outstanding question with House, but he showed nothing in the FCL to suggest the Nationals should look to move him anytime soon. He’s not the flashiest defender, but he makes all the routine plays look routine, has good hands, an on-time internal clock and more than enough arm for the position.

    The Future: As a player who just turned 18 in June, House has a lengthy climb in front of him. But it also would be impossible for the organization not to be enthused by what they saw in 2021. Testing himself at Low-A is due up next season.

    Scouting Grades
    Hit: 50. Power: 65. Speed: 50. Fielding: 55. Arm: 55.

  4. 4. Yasel Antuna | OF
    Yasel Antuna
    Born: Oct 26, 1999
    Bats: B Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'0" Wt.: 170
    Drafted/Signed: Dominican Republic, 2016.
    Signed By: Pablo Arias
    Minors: .227/.307/.385 | 12 HR | 4 SB | 405 AB

    BA Grade: 55/Extreme

    Track Record: Signed for $3.85 million out of the Dominican Republic in 2016, Antuna had not played much in 2019 or 2020 thanks to injuries and the pandemic, save for a very impressive stint at the alternate training site in 2020. That rust showed in a 4-for-67 start at High-A Wilmington in 2021, but a late-season push in which he hit .315 in July and August helped him finish strong and get back on track. As much as anything else, it was valuable for Antuna to get through a full season healthy and productive.

    Scouting Report: Antuna has one of the most exciting offensive profiles in the Nationals’ system. A switch-hitter who is seen as being better from the left side, his bat speed and repeatable swing from both sides help him hit the ball to all fields with authority. A couple of adjustments during the season in 2021, including getting his lower half more involved in his swing and switching from a two-handed finish to a higher one-handed finish are viewed as helping him work back from the extended slump early in the season. He’s a plus athlete, but there have always been questions about his viability as a shortstop. To that end, the organization is currently working with him on transitioning to the outfield corners.

    The Future: Antuna was always destined to be a bat-first prospect, but a move to the outfield provides clarity on his profile. As long as he hits, he will continue to move. Double-A is his next stop.

    Scouting Grades
    Hit: 50. Power: 60. Speed: 50. Fielding: 45. Arm: 50.

  5. 5. Andry Lara | RHP
    Andry Lara
    Born: Jan 6, 2003
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'5" Wt.: 235
    Drafted/Signed: Venezuela, 2019.
    Signed By: Ronald Morillo
    Minors: 3-3 | 4.66 ERA | 52 SO | 21 BB | 49 IP

    BA Grade: 55/Extreme

    Track Record: Lara signed for $1.25 million as the top player in the Nationals’ 2019 international class, meaning he had the misfortune of having his debut delayed due to the pandemic. After spending 2020 sequestered in a hotel and the team facility in West Palm Beach, Fla., and then battling through struggles at instructional league late in the year, Lara finally debuted in the Florida Complex League in 2021, pitching well enough to earn a promotion to Low-A Fredericksburg near the end of the season.

    Scouting Report: Lara has a smooth, classically beautiful delivery, clean arm action, a physical frame and the stuff to match. He gets good extension on a fastball that has made a recent velocity jump into the mid 90s. His breaking ball is a potential plus pitch down the line, and he flashes a changeup that also projects to be a usable pitch. Given his youth, it’s no surprise that Lara is still tapping into his strength, but at the same time, he is given high marks for preternaturally good feel to pitch and for being a leader by example.

    The Future: Lara may be seen as a long way away from the big leagues given his age, and that’s true from the standpoint that next season will be his first crack at a full-season league, but he possesses traits that suggest he could move through the system quickly. He has the upside to be a front-end starting pitcher if he continues to progress.

    Scouting GradesFastball: 60. Slider: 60. Changeup: 50. Control: 50

  6. 6. Cole Henry | RHP
    Cole Henry
    Born: Jul 15, 1999
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'4" Wt.: 214
    Drafted/Signed: Louisiana State, 2020 (2nd round).
    Signed By: Brandon Larson
    Minors: 3-5 | 2.30 ERA | 70 SO | 12 BB | 47 IP

    BA Grade: 50/High

    Track Record: In two years at Louisiana State, Henry had a 3.61 ERA and 95 strikeouts in 77.1 innings. As a draft-eligible sophomore, the righthander was selected in the second round at the end of the 2020 season. He debuted in 2021 and was excellent for High-A Wilmington. He missed some time in the middle of the season with elbow soreness, but upon returning, he finished the season as strong as he started.

    Scouting Report: Henry has a power repertoire, including both a four-seam and two-seam fastball that run into the mid 90s, with the four-seam fastball touching the high 90s. His changeup, which features good armside life, is currently his best secondary pitch and tunnels well with his fastball. But his curveball, a short breaker that has been an inconsistent offering for him, tightened up over the course of the season and shows signs of being a plus pitch down the line. In addition to his considerable stuff, Henry goes right after hitters, pitching with moxie and little fear. There is some reliever risk with Henry, because some rival evaluators make note of his reliever arm action.

    The Future: The organization is thrilled with where Henry is after he came back from injury strong. A healthy 2022 season will be key in his development, as it will presumably give him a chance to handle a heavier workload than he has to this point of his career.

    Scouting Grades
    Fastball: 60. Curveball: 50. Changeup: 55. Control: 50

  7. 7. Joan Adon | RHP
    Joan Adon
    Born: Aug 12, 1998
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'2" Wt.: 185
    Drafted/Signed: Dominican Republic, 2016.
    Signed By: Pablo Arias
    Minors: 7-6 | 4.97 ERA | 122 SO | 40 BB | 105 IP

    BA Grade: 45/Medium

    Track Record: Initially a $50,000 signing, Adon has already far surpassed the expectations set by his relatively modest status as part of the Nationals’ 2016 international signing class. The Nationals placed Adon on the 40-man roster after he impressed at the alternate training site in 2020. He validated the confidence the organization showed in him by climbing the ladder through High-A, Double-A and Triple-A in 2021 to make his major league debut in September, throwing 5.1 innings with nine strikeouts against the Red Sox at home.

    Scouting Report: Adon has always had a good fastball, and that pitch averaged 94-96 mph 2021 and touched 97-98. Improvement in both his slider and changeup between his last full season in 2019 and the 2021 season helped him catapult to the big leagues. He gets good depth on an above-average power slider, though some evaluators note that it’s more of a chase pitch right now than one he lands consistently for a strike. Command of this offering might be the key to further improvement. His solid-average changeup shows good armside life. Back-to-back seasons of more than 100 innings as a starter has also proven his durability.

    The Future: Adon’s experience as a reliever in 2017 and 2018 and lingering concerns about command made many consider him a future reliever. His power stuff would still make him a potentially good fit as a big league bullpen, but his 2021 season allayed many of the concerns about him and opened eyes to the possibility that he sticks as a starter.

    Scouting Grades
    Fastball: 60. Slider: 55. Changeup: 50. Control: 45

  8. 8. Gerardo Carrillo | RHP
    Gerardo Carrillo
    Born: Sep 3, 1998
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'1" Wt.: 180
    Drafted/Signed: Mexico, 2016.
    Signed By: Mike Brito/Roman Barinas/Juvenal Soto (Dodgers)
    Minors: 3-7 | 4.76 ERA | 108 SO | 50 BB | 97 IP

    BA Grade: 45/High

    Track Record: Carrillo’s velocity made a big jump after he grew three inches and put on 25 pounds soon after signing in 2016, but his quest since then has been to harness his stuff. Formerly buried fairly deep in a loaded Dodgers organization, Carrillo immediately became one of the Nationals’ top pitching prospects after coming over in the deal that sent Max Scherzer and Trea Turner to Los Angeles.

    Scouting Report: A very good athlete with a lightning-quick arm, Carrillo can pitch east to west with electric stuff. He leads with a fastball that sits 94-97 mph and has touched 99 with massive sink and run. He generates that velocity with relative ease and can hold it deep into his outings. His fastball pairs well with his best secondary pitch, a short, firm slider/cutter hybrid going the other direction in the high 80s to low 90s. He also works with a slurvy curveball and a changeup that are clearly behind the fastball and slider. Below-average command continues to be a nagging issue for Carrillo, and that limits his upside, but there’s hope that improvements still to come in repeating his mechanics and optimizing pitch usage could raise his profile as a potential starter.

    The Future: The command issues that persist for Carrillo as he works his way closer to the big leagues make a future in the bullpen increasingly likely. As a member of the Nationals’ 40-man roster and with his fantastic stuff, that future might not be that far away.

    Scouting Grades
    Fastball: 65. Curveball: 45. Slider: 60. Changeup: 50. Control: 30

  9. 9. Jackson Rutledge | RHP
    Jackson Rutledge
    Born: Apr 1, 1999
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'8" Wt.: 250
    Drafted/Signed: San Jacinto (Texas) JC, 2019 (1st round).
    Signed By: Brandon Larson
    Minors: 1-6 | 7.68 ERA | 41 SO | 20 BB | 37 IP

    BA Grade: 45/High

    Track Record: Leading with a fastball that touched triple digits, Rutledge was dominant in his one season at San Jacinto, along the way becoming the rare junior college player to be named a semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award. That performance was enough for the Nationals to draft him 17th overall in 2019. After an excellent debut season in 2019, Rutledge earned some time at the alternate training site in 2020, but he took a step back last season, thanks at least in part to shoulder tightness early in the season and recurring blisters later in the year.

    Scouting Report: Rutledge has a striking 6-foot-8, 245-pound frame on the mound and a mean fastball to match. The pitch is not only a high-90s offering that touches triple digits, but it features good cut and carry. His best secondary pitch is a slider that is at times a wipeout pitch. Currently, he’s working on learning how to manipulate his slider to better throw it in the strike zone and to give him a couple of different versions of the pitch. An average curveball and changeup give Rutledge a traditional starter’s repertoire, but concerns about consistency have made some wonder if his future is as a high-leverage reliever.

    The Future: As recently as 2020 instructional league, some rival evaluators saw Rutledge as not far off from Cade Cavalli in the prospect pecking order, but Cavalli continued to take off in 2021 while Rutledge faltered. Still, the latter’s stuff is some of the best in the system, and having a healthy 2022 season would go a long way toward getting him back on track.

    Scouting Grades
    Fastball: 70. Curveball: 50. Slider: 60. Changeup: 50. Control: 45

  10. 10. Armando Cruz | SS
    Armando Cruz
    Born: Jan 16, 2004
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 5'11" Wt.: 165
    Drafted/Signed: Dominican Republic, 2021.
    Signed By: Modesto Ulloa/Ricky Vasquez

    BA Grade: 50/Extreme

    Track Record: One of the highest-profile international players available in the 2020-21 signing class, Cruz inked a $3.9 million deal with the Nationals one day before his 17th birthday, giving him the largest bonus awarded to a 16-year-old in the class. Cruz got his feet wet in the Dominican Summer League over the summer.

    Scouting Report: Cruz is a high-end defensive player who had international scouts raving about his ability prior to his signing. He has great hands, extremely quick feet and a smooth transfer to his plus arm, which helps him make the flashy play look routine. He charges the ball well using speed that has improved from below-average to slightly above-average in recent years. Though he can dazzle with some of the tricks he can pull fielding the ball in practice, it’s not just physical tools that make him a top-of-the-scale defensive shortstop. He also gets fast reads off the bat and is an instinctive player. Offensively, he’s very much a work in progress, but the Nationals like his natural bat-to-ball skills and saw improvement at the plate as the summer wore on. He’ll undoubtedly add some strength as he matures, but power is not likely to be a part of his game in the end.

    The Future: Cruz’s defensive prowess is such that evaluators project him to be a plus defender, with a ceiling as one of the elite defensive shortstops in baseball. That will be his ticket through the Nationals’ system, with his offensive value being the icing on the cake should he come into his own in that regard.

    Scouting Grades
    Hit: 50. Power: 40. Speed: 55. Fielding: 65. Arm: 55.

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