NASHVILLE – After making it through the entire 2023 season with a Rule 5-drafted pitcher on their major league roster, the Nationals will attempt to do the same with a position player in 2024.
The Nats selected Marlins shortstop Nasim Nuñez with the fifth-overall pick in this afternoon’s Rule 5 Draft, hoping the speedy, defensively gifted, 23-year-old can contribute enough next season to stick and perhaps someday develop into a permanent big leaguer.
Nuñez, who was set to be rated Miami’s No. 6 prospect by Baseball America, is an “elite” defensive shortstop and baserunner who draws walks at a high rate but has yet to hit consistently in the minors. The Nationals understand he’s not ready to play regularly in the majors, but they believe he provides enough skills in specific areas to give him a shot to stay on the roster the entire 2024 season.
“It’s going to be a challenge, because obviously he’s not going to get a lot of at-bats at the big-league level,” general manager Mike Rizzo said. “But I think with the coaching staff we have right now, and with the reps he will get other than gametime reps, I think we can really iron out some mechanical issues. … And I think he gives (manager Davey Martinez) an option off the bench: a defensive replacement, elite defensive skills and a baserunner. A guy that can help us win games at the big-league level.”
A second-round pick of the Marlins in 2019 out of Collins Hill High School in Suwanee, Ga., Nuñez progressed his way up the minor-league ladder and the organizational prospects list thanks to his legs, his glove and his eyes. He has stolen 183 bases in 351 professional games, including 52 this season at Double-A Pensacola. He is a strong-armed shortstop who was rated Miami’s best defensive infielder by Baseball America. He also has shown an unusual patience at the plate for a player of his age, ranking fourth among all Double-A players this year with 87 walks.