Nats prospects savor first "Spring Breakout" game experience (updated)

Cole Henry spring training

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – T.J. White thought this might as well have been a real major league game. Cole Henry was thrilled when Drew Millas successfully got a ball turned into a strike with a formal challenge. Travis Sykora was so amped up, he couldn’t hold a cup of water without spilling it.

The first “Spring Breakout” game in Nationals history this afternoon was unlike anything these prospects had been a part of before. And though they took a 4-2 loss to the Mets’ top prospects in the seven-inning exhibition, that result didn’t diminish the experience.

Every team in the sport is participating in one of these games this week, in this case as an opening act to tonight’s Grapefruit League contest between the Nationals and Mets. Many of the Nats prospects who played today have been in big league camp all spring, so the experience might not have been unique to them. But for a host of younger kids who have been in minor league camp, this was a big deal.

“To me, it kind of felt like playing a real MLB game,” said White, who drove in both of the Nats’ runs with a pair of two-out RBI hits. “It kind of felt like getting my first big league hit, almost. It was just a surreal experience.”

Davey Martinez, who managed this game and will let bench coach Miguel Cairo handle the nightcap, noticed how amped up some of the players were. He put his hand on Sykora’s chest and said it was “going 1,000 mph.”

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Sykora has high ceiling as high school draft pick

Travis Sykora


Age on opening day 2024: 19

How acquired: Drafted in third round in 2023 from Round Rock High School in Round Rock, Texas

Ranking: No. 11 per MLB Pipeline, No. 11 per Baseball America

MLB ETA: 2027
* Projected by MLB Pipeline

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Crews tops latest Nats prospect ranking

Dylan Crews Fredericksburg

MLB Pipeline released its midseason rankings of the top 100 prospects in baseball and the top 30 for each major league team, adding the 2023 draft class and trade deadline moves, and there’s no surprise who tops the Nationals’ list.

Dylan Crews, the No. 2 overall pick out of LSU, is the Nationals’ new top prospect, coming in at No. 1 on the team’s top 30 and No. 4 overall in the sport.

The outfielder was MLB Pipeline’s top-rated position player in this year’s draft, so it’s no wonder they hold him in high regard. But it was going to be a close call between him and fellow outfielder James Wood, who has been the Nats’ top prospect since the end of last season.

Wood is now the Nats No. 2 prospect (such a big drop) and the No. 7 overall prospect in baseball per MLB Pipeline. Both he and Crews have a major league ETA of 2024.

Third baseman Brady House is now the Nats’ No. 3 prospect while also becoming one of the highest-ranking newcomers in the top 100, landing at No. 43 after his promotion to Double-A Harrisburg earlier this summer. He rounds out the Nationals prospects in the top 100.

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Recapping Nats' second day of MLB Draft

MLB Draft 2023 generic

The Nationals made eight picks between the third and 10th rounds of the MLB Draft yesterday. They’ll conclude this year’s draft with 10 picks this afternoon, spearheaded by vice president of scouting Kris Kline and assistant director of amateur scouting Mark Baca.

Of their first 10 selections, the Nationals have selected two outfielders, four infielders, one catcher, two right-handers and one left-hander. Righty Travis Sykora, the third-rounder, was the only pick out of high school, with the other nine coming out of college.

“I think we did a super job,” Kline said on a Zoom call with reporters after the 10th round last night. “Everybody in there making our pool money work to the best of our ability and that kind of translated into three first-round picks at the top of our draft. So it was a good day. Good first two days for us. So pretty good.”

Because of the high number of college players and even with the lone high schooler, the Nationals feel confident they will sign all 10 of their picks from the first two days: “Yeah, we feel confident we'll have that all taken care of,” Kline said.

A lot has already been written about the No. 2 overall selection and No. 40 pick Yohandy Morales, both of whom are two of the next top Nats prospects.

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Draft tracker: Nats kick off Day 2 of 2023 MLB Draft (final update)

Nats 2023 Draft generic

The 2023 MLB Draft continues with Rounds 3-10 this afternoon and the Nationals are set to kick everything off with the first pick of the third round, 71st overall.

The Nationals, of course, lost to the Pirates for the No. 1 overall pick in the inaugural MLB Draft Lottery despite having the worst record in the majors last year by five games. But the draft’s subsequent 19 rounds revert back to the traditional order of worst-to-first, meaning they will have the first pick in each remaining round.

With the No. 2 overall pick last night, the Nationals selected Louisiana State University outfielder Dylan Crews, widely considered to be one of best prospects – if not the best prospect - in this year’s draft as the Golden Spikes Award winner.

“He's got a great skill set,” general manager Mike Rizzo said. “I think he's a guy that's going to fit right in here and be one of the leaders of the core group of guys that's going to be part of the next group of championships that we have here."

To start the second round, the Nats selected University of Miami (Fla.) third baseman Yohandy Morales with the 40th overall selection. The Nationals were surprised the 6-foot-4, 225-pounder was available to them that late, as he was ranked as MLB Pipeline’s 20th best draft prospect.

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