The Washington Nationals selected the contracts of infielder Jake Alu, left-handed pitcher Matt Cronin, outfielder Jeremy De La Rosa, left-handed pitcher Jose Ferrer, right-handed pitcher Jake Irvin and right-handed pitcher Jackson Rutledge on Tuesday. Additionally, the Nationals designated right-handed pitcher Tommy Romero for assignment while outfielder Yadiel Hernandez, left-handed pitcher Evan Lee and right-handed pitcher Jackson Tetreault cleared outright waivers and were assigned to Triple-A Rochester. On Monday, Nov. 14, the Nationals requested unconditional release waivers on left-handed pitcher Seth Romero. On Thursday, Nov. 10, catcher Tres Barrera and left-handed pitcher Francisco Pérez cleared outright waivers. Nationals President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo made the announcements.
Alu, 25, led Washington’s Minor League system in average (.299), slugging percentage (.506), OPS (.871), doubles (40), extra-base hits (62) and total bases (254) and tied for first in RBI (81) in 2022. He ranked second in on-base percentage (.365) and hits (150) while appearing in 132 games between Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Rochester.
The left-handed hitting Alu finished the 2022 campaign on a season-high 20 game on-base streak, hitting safely in 19 of the 20 contests. He recorded two separate hitting streaks of 14 games from June 28-July 16 and Sept. 11-Sept. 27.
At third base, Alu led all of Minor League Baseball (infielders and outfielders) with 17 defensive runs saved, according to Baseball Info Solutions. In addition to his 114 games at third base, Alu also spent time at second base (9 games) and designated hitter (6 games).
Alu was selected in the 24th round of the 2019 First-Year Player Draft out of Boston College. He was signed by Nationals scout John Malzone.
Cronin, 25, went 4-1 with a 2.42 ERA in 48 games between Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Rochester in 2022. He struck out 56 batters, surrendered just three home runs and held opposing batters to a .191 average in 52.0 innings. He did not allow an earned run in his first 16 appearances (18.1 IP) from April 9 through May 30. Cronin struck out 24 batters and allowed just seven hits (.117 opp. AVG) over this stretch.
Since being taken in the fourth round of the 2019 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Arkansas, Cronin has pitched to a 2.25 ERA with 147 strikeouts, six home runs and a .184 opponents’ average in 88 professional outings (104.0 IP).
Cronin is rated by Baseball America as the No. 17 prospect – and top left-handed pitching prospect – in Washington’s system. He was signed by Nationals scout Jerad Head.
De La Rosa, 20, was Washington’s Co-Hitter of the Year in 2022 after batting .280 with a .358 on-base percentage and a .436 slugging percentage with 23 doubles, three triples, 11 home runs, 67 RBI, 48 walks, 66 runs scored and 39 stolen bases in 101 games between Single-A Fredericksburg and High-A Wilmington. He was one of only 12 players in all of Minor League Baseball to put together a slash line of .280/.358/.436 or better to go along with 39 stolen bases.
De La Rosa ranked in Washington’s Minor League system in stolen bases (T2nd, 39), on-base percentage (4th, .358), batting average (5th, .280), OPS (5th, .794), RBI (T5th, 67) and total bases (6th, 173). He set career highs in nearly every statistical category. Following the season, he was named a Carolina League All-Star.
De La Rosa is rated by Baseball America and MLBPipeline.com as the No. 10 prospect in Washington’s Minor League system. He was signed as an international free agent on July 2, 2018, by Nationals scout Modesto Ulloa.
Ferrer, 22, enjoyed a breakout season in 2022, going 3-2 with a 2.48 ERA in 48 relief appearances between Single-A Fredericksburg, High-A Wilmington and Double-A Harrisburg. He recorded 78 strikeouts and just 11 walks in 65.1 innings between the three stops. Ferrer recorded 11 saves, third-most among Nationals Minor Leaguers. He was selected to participate in the 2022 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game.
A left-hander, Ferrer’s best stretch of the season came June 5 to Aug. 11. In 22 games, he went 2-0 with six saves and a 0.86 ERA (3 ER/31.1 IP) while pitching for High-A Wilmington. This included an 18.2 scoreless innings streak from June 5 to July 10, the longest scoreless innings streak among South Atlantic League pitchers in 2022.
Ferrer was signed as a non-drafted free agent on July 2, 2017, by Nationals scout Moises De La Mota.
Irvin, 25, went 0-4 with a 3.83 ERA and 107 strikeouts in 24 starts between High-A Wilmington and Double-A Harrisburg. His 24 starts were tied for the most of any Nationals Minor Leaguer, while his 107 strikeouts ranked sixth in the system.
Irvin posted a 1.50 ERA (5 ER/30.0 IP) with 29 strikeouts and no home runs allowed in nine starts with Wilmington before being promoted to Harrisburg on June 2. He allowed zero or one earned run in 12 of his 24 starts.
Irvin was selected in the fourth round of the 2018 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Oklahoma. He was signed by Nationals scout Ed Gustafson.
Rutledge, 23, went 8-6 with a 4.90 ERA in 20 starts for Single-A Fredericksburg in 2022. His eight wins were tied for the most in Washington’s Minor League system. He struck out 99 batters in 97.1 innings pitched.
The 6-foot-8 right-hander finished the season strong, going 5-1 with a 2.72 ERA (13 ER/43.0 IP) and 47 strikeouts in his final seven starts of the season. He tossed a career-high 8.0 innings on July 30 vs. Salem (BOS) and struck out a career-high 10 batters on Aug. 17 at Lynchburg (CLE).
Rutledge is rated by Baseball America as Washington’s No. 9 prospect and by MLBPipeline.com as the No. 12 prospect in the system. He was selected in the first round (No. 17 overall) of the 2019 First-Year Player Draft out of San Jacinto (Texas) Junior College. Rutledge was signed by Nationals scout Brandon Larson.