As the Washington Nationals pushed for a second-half advantage for the better part of the last decade, buying at the trade deadline steadily picked apart the organization’s farm system.
But with the Nationals seemingly out of playoff contention this season — and with several veterans on expiring contracts — general manager Mike Rizzo decided to revitalize the team’s prospect pool. That required trading eight veterans for a haul of prospects who immediately improved the farm system.
According to MLB Pipeline’s rankings, 10 of the organization’s top 30-ranked prospects joined last week at the trade deadline — a display of the rapid rejuvenation of young talent into a team that in the past has shipped off such prospects for veterans in a win-now approach. The top two prospects on the rankings were received from the Los Angeles Dodgers, in exchange for right-hander Max Scherzer and shortstop Trea Turner.
Here’s a look at the 12 players the Nationals received in exchange for their veterans at the deadline, with some of them already at the major-league level while others could soon follow.
Keibert Ruiz — Catcher — No. 1
When Rene Rivera went on the injured list Tuesday, the Nationals could have called up Keibert Ruiz, their top-ranked prospect. Instead, manager Dave Martinez wanted Ruiz to play every day at Triple-A, preparing him for an eventual call-up.
Ruiz should arrive in Washington before the end of the season. He’s hitting .310 in Triple-A this season, and he clubbed a home run in his first game for Rochester.
Josiah Gray — Right-hander — No. 2
Josiah Gray was the second headliner included in the deal for Scherzer and Turner, and he’s the second-ranked prospect in Washington’s farm system. Unlike Ruiz, though, Gray was immediately brought to Washington and started Monday night, throwing five innings while allowing one run.
He is considered the future of the Nationals’ rotation, with a lively fastball and the breaking pitches to back it up.
Gerardo Carrillo — Right-hander — No. 10
Gerardo Carrillo was another part of the blockbuster deal that sent Scherzer and Turner to Los Angeles. He wasn’t as high-profile as Gray and Ruiz, but the right-hander boosts Washington’s pitching depth, although his 4.25 ERA across 59 1/3 innings this season in Double-A ball isn’t eye-popping.
Still, he could be promoted to the big leagues as early as September, once the expanded rosters kick in. Otherwise, the 22-year-old could be seen next season.
Aldo Ramirez — Right-hander — No. 11
Aldo Ramirez is the right-hander the Nationals received from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for left fielder Kyle Schwarber. Ramirez likely won’t reach the majors for a few years. MLB Pipeline projects he’ll arrive in 2023 as the 20-year-old just reported to Washington’s rookie ball affiliate.
Ramirez holds a 2.03 ERA across eight starts in Single-A this season, and he sports a strong changeup to accompany a mid-90s fastball.
Riley Adams — Catcher — No. 13
When the Nationals opted against calling up Ruiz immediately once Rivera got injured, the team instead chose Adams. He’s noted for his power and ranks 13th in Washington’s farm system.
Adams arrived from the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for closer Brad Hand, and he slugged .487 this season for the Blue Jays’ Triple-A affiliate. Adams will split time with catcher Tres Barrera for the immediate future, but he might return to the minors once Rivera is healthy.
Mason Thompson — Right-hander — No. 16
The Nationals got right-hander Mason Thompson as part of the return from the San Diego Padres for reliever Daniel Hudson, and the 23-year-old was activated to the major league roster soon after. He made his Nationals debut on Monday.
Thompson, at 6-foot-7, throws his sinker frequently, and he also has a slider in his repertoire.
Drew Millas — Catcher — No. 24
Drew Millas was the third catcher Washington acquired at the trade deadline, addressing what appeared to be an organizational need. He reported to High-A ball and is projected to arrive in the majors by 2022, per MLB Pipeline.
Millas is a switch-hitting backstop batting .255 this season, with three homers and 28 RBIs. He also has 10 stolen bases, an unusually high number for a catcher.
Donovan Casey — Outfielder — No. 27
Acquired as the final piece in the deal with the Dodgers, Donovan Casey is a 25-year-old playing in Double-A ball. The 6-foot-2 outfielder is projected to arrive in 2022, and he’s batting .298 with 15 steals and 11 homers in 74 games this season.
Jordy Barley — Shortstop — No. 28
The last time the Nationals traded for a shortstop prospect from the Padres, it worked out well. That was Turner. Barley is another intriguing prospect to watch.
He’s currently playing in Single-A, and he might not arrive for a few seasons. The 21-year-old, though, has a load of speed — 35 stolen bases — and is hitting .246.
Richard Guasch — Right-hander — No. 30
Richard Guasch is in high Single-A ball with an estimated arrival of 2023. He joined Millas and Seth Shuman as part of the return in the trade that sent Josh Harrison and Yan Gomes to the Oakland Athletics.
Guasch holds a 4.67 ERA in 54 innings with a 1.54 WHIP.
Seth Shuman — Right-hander — Unranked
Seth Shuman rounded out the deal with the Athletics, although he is unranked. The 23-year-old played at Georgia Southern and has a 2.25 ERA in 13 appearances (11 starts) in High-A ball.
Lane Thomas — Outfielder — Unranked
Washington flipped left-hander Jon Lester to the St. Louis Cardinals for Lane Thomas, a 25-year-old who is unranked because he’s exceeded rookie limits.
In 32 games for the Cardinals this season, Thomas is hitting just .104. He might figure things out, though, and factor in the Nationals’ plans in the future.
• Andy Kostka can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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