Gore makes rehab start, Hassell heading to Fall League

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As Cade Cavalli deals with another shutdown and Josiah Gray deals with September struggles, the Nationals at least are seeing some positive signs with the third member of the young pitching trio they hope to build their rotation around.

MacKenzie Gore made his second rehab start for Triple-A Rochester on Friday and tossed 2 2/3 scoreless innings on 57 pitches, another step on his path toward making his Nats debut before season’s end.

Gore, on the 15-day injured list with elbow inflammation since late July (before he was part of the Nationals’ blockbuster trade with the Padres for Juan Soto and Josh Bell), built up both his innings and pitch count in his second rehab start for Rochester.

The left-hander did put six Lehigh Valley batters on base in his 2 2/3 innings (four singles, two walks) but didn’t allow any of them to score while striking out two. He threw 32 of his 57 pitches for strikes.

Assuming Gore came out of this outing healthy, the Nats are likely to have him make another rehab start in five or six days, building up to roughly 70 pitches. Depending on how that goes, the club could decide to activate him off the IL with enough time to make two big league starts before the season ends Oct. 5.

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Robert Hassell III promoted to Double-A Harrisburg

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After CJ Abrams was promoted to make his Nationals debut on Monday, another prospect from the trade of Juan Soto and Josh Bell to the Padres is rising through the ranks of the farm system.

Robert Hassell III was promoted from high Single-A Wilmington to Double-A Harrisburg today, as the Senators open a six-game homestand against the Erie SeaWolves (Tigers).

Currently the Nationals’ No. 1 prospect per MLB Pipeline, Hassell started 0-for-16 with the Blue Rocks before recording his first hit in the eighth inning of his fifth game in the Nats system. That started an 8-for-21 (.381) stretch over his next five games, including a 3-for-4 outing with two RBIs on Friday and a 2-for-4 game on Saturday.

Hassell, who turned 21 on Monday, finished 8-for-38 (.211) with a double, three RBIs, six walks and a perfect 3-for-3 in stolen bases at Wilmington.

The promotion to Harrisburg is a trickle-down effect from some roster moves at Triple-A Rochester aside from Abrams.

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Hassell staying present while looking forward to future with Nats

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WILMINGTON, Del. – Robert Hassell III, like many of us, was surprised when he heard his name mentioned in a potential trade package for Juan Soto just 11 days ago.

He was sitting in his apartment in Fort Wayne, Ind. when he received the call from Padres general manager A.J. Preller, who told him that he was included with four fellow prospects and Luke Voit in a deal for Soto and Josh Bell.

The trade was made official later that day and Hassell packed his bags to head to the Nationals’ affiliate at high Single-A Wilmington.

The No. 8 overall pick in the 2020 MLB Draft made his debut with the Blue Rocks two days later, batting third and playing center field. He went 0-for-5, starting an 0-for-16 stretch to begin his career with the Nationals.

But that didn’t weigh heavy on his mind. He was still processing the trade and trying to get acclimated to his new team.

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Nats now putting all their faith in restocked farm system

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Jump back in time all of one month and make a mental list of the Nationals’ top prospects.

You’d start with Cade Cavalli, include Brady House and then try to come up with the names of other kids who may or may not develop into major leaguers some day in the short or long term.

Now consider what that list looks like in the wake of a dramatic (and, yes, controversial) overhaul of the organization that culminated with last week’s trade of Juan Soto and Josh Bell to the Padres.

Cavalli and House remain on the list, but not in the top two spots. Those now belong to the likes of C.J. Abrams and Robert Hassell III, two of the six players acquired from San Diego in the blockbuster deal. Right behind them are Elijah Green and Cristhian Vaquero, teenage sensations who were the organization’s top amateur draft and international signing additions of 2022. Also include James Wood and Jarlin Susana, two more younger prospects who came over in the trade with the Padres. And then don’t forget to keep Cavalli and House, the 2020 and 2021 first-round picks, in the mix as well.

What you now see is a farm system that no longer is dependent on the rise of one or two blue-chip prospects, but has enough depth to account for the inevitable injuries and/or struggles that are bound to occur when trying to turn players right out of high school and college into big league stars.

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