Muñoz worth the waiver claim with electric stuff


Age on opening day 2024: 23

How acquired: Claimed off waivers from Braves, July 2023; originally signed as international free agent by Braves from Dominican Republic, June 2018

Ranking: No. 30 per MLB Pipeline, NR per Baseball America

MLB ETA: 2024
* Projected by MLB Pipeline

Signing bonus: $30,000

2023 levels: Rookie-level Florida Complex League (Braves), Double-A Mississippi (Braves), Triple-A Gwinnett (Braves) and Triple-A Rochester

2023 stats: 4-6, 5.42 ERA, 34 G, 14 GS, 78 IP, 70 H, 51 R, 47 ER, 11 HR, 53 BB, 81 SO, 4 HBP, 1.577 WHIP

Quotable: “He’s a young pitcher, throws really hard. He’s up in the 98-100 (mph range). Needs to throw more strikes, walks a lot of guys. But we like him. We think we can help him here, get him in the strike zone. He’s got electric stuff. We’re excited we got him.” – Davey Martinez after Nationals claimed Muñoz

2023 analysis: Muñoz was signed for just $30,000 as an 18-year-old from the Dominican Republic right at the end of the 2017-18 signing period because the Braves weren’t allowed to spend more than $300,000 on an international prospect since they went over their bonus pool allotment the previous year.

The right-hander worked mostly as a starter during his early years in the Braves system and reached Double-A in 2022, prompting the organization to put him on the 40-man roster to protect him from that year’s Rule 5 draft.

The Braves moved him to the bullpen this year, and he posted a 3.89 ERA, 1.424 WHIP, 40 strikeouts and 26 walks in only 39 ⅓ innings over 22 appearances (four starts, three of which came in the FCL).

While the strikeout numbers were good (23.4 percent), Muñoz also walked a lot of batters (15.2 percent). Those control issues along with a roster crunch in Atlanta led to him losing his roster spot. The Braves designated him for assignment and then tried to sneak him through waivers near the end of the All-Star break. But he caught the Nats’ attention and they claimed him the following week.

After Muñoz reported to Rochester, the Nats tried to stretch him back out as a starter. Over 12 games, 10 starts, with the Red Wings, he went 1-3 with a 6.98 ERA, 1.733 WHIP, 41 strikeouts and 27 walks in 38 ⅔ innings.

2024 outlook: Muñoz is the Nats’ top 30 prospect you probably never heard of.

And why would you? He was a mid-July waiver claim to fill an empty 40-man roster spot after the Nats hadn’t made a previous move and he only cracked MLB Pipeline’s top 30 list near the end of the season after some graduations.

But that doesn’t mean the right-hander doesn’t bring value to the organization.

At 6-foot-2, Muñoz has swing-and-miss stuff with his fastball-slider combination. His four-seamer and sinker both sit around 94-96 mph, but they have also been clocked near 100 mph. His low-90s slider is a great out pitch that is well above average, moves like a cutter and gets a lot of whiffs. His changeup stays around 90 mph as his third-best option.

Control has been the big issue with Muñoz. His 9.5 K/9 rate is great, but his 6.3 BB/9 and 9.3 H/9 rates are too high. Once the Nats get him in the zone more, his top two pitches project him best as a long-term bullpen arm, though they still might give him a chance to start.

In whatever role Muñoz pitches, he’s worth the claim for the rebuilding Nats, who can be patient with the 23-year-old’s development.

Can Ferrer be Nats' trusted lefty reliever of the ...
Alvarez hopes to carry Pitcher of the Year momentu...

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to