FORT MYERS, Fla. – As the top of the seventh ended and the crowd at JetBlue Park rose to sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” the kids came jogging out of the Nationals dugout. A host of top prospects, including several called up for the day from minor league camp, made the long bus ride over from West Palm Beach for a chance to play a few innings in a Grapefruit League game.
Brady House, the club’s 2021 first-round pick, was at third base. Elijah Green, the club’s 2022 first-round pick, was in center field, having just replaced Dylan Crews, the club’s 2023 first-round pick.
And in right field was Daylen Lile, the club’s 2021 second-round pick who may not draw the same attention as the others but is touted by some evaluators both inside and outside the organization as just as good – if not better – than the rest.
This should have been a moment for the Nationals to cherish. Instead, eternal optimism morphed into fear and concern instantaneously as Lile flipped over the short wall in deep right-center trying to rob a home run and landed on his back in the Red Sox bullpen.
Everything else that happened during the Nats’ 4-2 loss to Boston – most notably Josiah Gray’s second straight strong start – felt secondary in that moment. Still stunned after the game ended, manager Davey Martinez did offer up a relatively optimistic update on Lile, who was taken to a local hospital for a CAT scan of his lower back.