Where Nationals' top prospects are opening 2024 season

After making a point to keep a group of their top prospects together in the minors late last season and throughout big league camp this spring, the Nationals have split those players up to begin 2024.

James Wood, Trey Lipscomb, Dylan Crews, Robert Hassell III, Brady House and Yohandy Morales all finished the 2023 season with Double-A Harrisburg, an arrangement that allowed all to get comfortable playing with each other and to grow together on their eventual path to D.C.

But as the 2024 minor league season was set to begin, Wood and Lipscomb were bumped up to Triple-A Rochester, while the others all were re-assigned to Double-A for the time being.

Lipscomb, of course, never even played a game at Triple-A, promoted to make his major league debut after Nationals third baseman Nick Senzel fractured his right thumb during fielding drills prior to Thursday’s season opener in Cincinnati.

So it’s Wood all alone among the prospects in Rochester, though there are several other intriguing names playing for the Red Wings to begin the season.

The Triple-A rotation has more prospects than has been typical in the past, with Jackson Rutledge joined by DJ Herz, Mitchell Parker, Joan Adon and Thaddeus Ward. The bullpen features several veterans who agreed to report to Rochester after not making the Nats’ Opening Day roster: Jacob Barnes, Richard Bleier, Robert Gsellman and Joe La Sorsa.

Catchers Drew Millas and Brady Lindsly are paired together, and the infield includes Darren Baker, Juan Yepez, Jake Alu and Carter Kieboom. Wood (4-for-10 with a double, five walks and three strikeouts through his first three games) is joined in the outfield by Jacob Young, Alex Call and Travis Blankenhorn.

The Double-A roster is still littered with highly touted players, headlined by Crews, who played in 20 games at Harrisburg at the end of a 2023 season that began in college at LSU. He’s playing alongside Hassell (who spent most of last year in Double-A) and fellow 2023 draft pick Andrew Pinckney in a star-studded outfield.

House (2021 first round pick) and Morales (2023 second round pick) both return to Double-A, where House figures to get the most playing time at third base with Morales gaining more experience at first base. The Harrisburg pitching staff includes Cole Henry (who threw only 33 1/3 innings last season after returning from thoracic outlet surgery) and Andrew Alvarez (who won organizational Pitcher of the Year honors while pitching at Single-A).

High Single-A Wilmington’s opening roster includes outfielder Daylen Lile, who impressed scouts last season at the lower level in Fredericksburg. T.J. White, coming off a disappointing season, returns to Wilmington for the second straight year.

Flamethrower Jarlin Susana, toolsy outfielders Elijah Green and Cristhian Vaquero and 2018 first round pick Mason Denaburg all are opening the season at Low Single-A Fredericksburg.

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