Nationals add Casey, Lee to 40-man roster

The Washington Nationals selected the contracts of outfielder Donovan Casey and left-handed pitcher Evan Lee on Friday. Nationals President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo made the announcement.

Casey, 25, was Washington’s Minor League Defensive Player of the Year in 2021 after showing versatility and strong defensive ability following the trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers that brought him to the organization. He is listed by Baseball America as the “Best Athlete” in the Nationals’ Minor League system and is the №18 prospect in the organization according to MLBPipeline.com.

In his first 25 games in the Nationals organization, Casey hit .337 with a .373 on-base percentage and a .568 slugging percentage. He recorded eight doubles, one triple and four home runs in those 25 games. He appeared in 14 games for Double-A Harrisburg before being promoted to Triple-A Rochester on Aug. 17. All told, Casey hit .224 with 11 doubles, one triple, five homers, 19 RBI, three hit by pitch, 10 walks, seven stolen bases and 21 runs scored in 50 games between the two clubs.

Casey joined the Nationals after hitting .296 with 15 doubles, one triple, 11 homers, 36 RBI, 26 walks, 15 stolen bases and 51 runs scored in 73 games for Double-A Tulsa this season. His 89 hits ranked tied for sixth in all of Minor League Baseball at the time of the trade. For his efforts prior to the trade, Baseball America rated him as the “Best Defensive Outfielder” and having the “Best Outfield Arm” in the Double-A Central League in 2021.

A native of Stratford, New Jersey, Casey was selected by the Dodgers in the 20th round of the 2017 First-Year Player Draft out of Boston College. He’s hit .278 with a .338 on-base percentage and a .462 slugging percentage in 355 games across four professional seasons. He’s recorded 65 doubles, 16 triples, 53 homers, 199 RBI, 116 walks, 52 stolen bases and 253 runs scored along the way.

Lee, 24, went 4-3 with a 4.32 ERA in 21 games (20 starts) for High-A Wilmington in 2021. He struck out 104 batters in 77.0 innings pitched while issuing 32 walks and allowing just six home runs. He finished the season strong, going 3-0 with a 2.83 ERA, 46 strikeouts and a .174 opponents’ batting average in his final eight starts of the season.

Lee ranked among Nationals Minor Leaguers (min. 70.0 IP) in strikeouts per 9.0 innings (3rd, 12.2), opponents’ batting average (3rd, .239), home runs allowed per 9.0 innings (3rd, 0.70), fielding independent pitching (3rd, 3.60), groundball rate (4th, 47.8%) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (5th, 3.25). He is currently ranked by MLBPipeline.com as the №21 prospect in Washington’s Minor League system.

In three professional seasons, Lee has pitched to a 3.83 ERA with 11.9 strikeouts per 9.0 innings in 35 Minor League games (23 starts). He began his career as a reliever before making 20 starts in 2021.

A native of Bryant, Arkansas, Lee was selected in the 15th round of the 2018 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Arkansas. He was signed by Nationals scout Ed Gustafson.