Nationals Single-A Prospects – Reactions to Small Sample Sizes

Jeremy De La Rosa, Fredericksburg Nationals, 2022. Photo credit Talk Nats, @TalkNats on Twitter, photographer Clint Often

The 2022 Minor League Baseball season is only a few weeks old, and any stats we’re seeing right now are from a laughably small sample size. It’s unreliable and not practical to make any serious judgments about it. Despite the unreliability of these small samples, I feel that it’s always important to see at least how players begin a season and compare it with how it ends. A statline can only tell so much. You can’t see if a hitter is having trouble picking up spin, getting beat with high fastballs, or has made a mechanical change to their swing. Making adjustments in the season is key to being a successful big leaguer so seeing a player early in the season is essential.

The Nationals do not have a very deep farm system. Some of their prospects with the most potential are several years away and starting 2022 in Single-A, playing for the Fredericksburg Nationals. This is where Brady House is starting his professional career and where Jeremy De La Rosa is looking to bounce back from a poor 2021 season. Those two players are starting 2022 red hot, but they are not the only Washington prospects I’m following as the season begins.

T.J. White, .265/359/.441
Playing in full-season ball at 19 years old is quite an accomplishment. The Nationals’ front office must see something in White to be so aggressive with his minor league assignment. So far, his season has started a bit rough. After his 2021 stint in rookie ball, it was clear that swing and miss were going to be a part of White’s profile, but he could still be successful if he could just hit enough and unlock that power. Unfortunately, he’s striking out at a 39% rate and only one home run.

Simply put, White needs to make more contact. He’s aggressive at the plat and doesn’t seem to have much of a plan, just swinging at everything. Pitchers have been and will continue to take advantage of this. Until he learns to become more selective with what he swings at, White’s plus power will not carry him through the minor leagues. The good thing is that White is young for this level, so an adjustment as the season progresses is likely.

Brady House, .373/.467/.490
Like White, 2022 first-round draft pick Brady House is young for the level, but he’s been having much more success. As of this writing, he’s hitting above .350, lifting the ball (22% line drive rate), and has a good approach (9% BB%). The power hasn’t shown up in full force (1 HR and three doubles at writing) but that will come with the warm weather. One thing to watch is how House does against better pitchers. Some reports from spring training stated that House was having trouble picking up spin. However, with his age and the fact that he’s hitting for such a high average, there aren’t any alarm bells yet.

Sammy Infante, .209/.320/.465
This is a surprise. In my preseason Nationals Top 50 prospects, Infante is a Tier 4 player, but he’s starting the season showing more power than he did all of last year. He’s gone deep three times, stolen three bases, has lowered his swinging strike rate, and has increased his line drive rate. Like House, the strikeout rate is high at 34%, but Infante also walks at a solid 12%.

It’s an incredibly small sample size, but it looks as if Infante is attempting to pull the pull ball more. The percentage of batted balls hitting his pull direction is 62%, up from 49% last year. Pulling the ball is excellent for power output, but it will hurt his ability to make contact. Again, these are incredibly small sample sizes we’re dealing with. However, if Infante can keep the strikeouts in check and continue to hit for power his offensive ceiling gets much higher.

Jeremy De La Rosa, .302/.373/.547
As I said in my Nats Top 50, Washington has been very aggressive with where they have assigned De La Rosa. In 2021 he was only 19 years old and did not have a great statistical season. He’s repeating the level and is off to a fast start. The K% is down (34% to 24%), the BB% is up to 10%, and the flyball rate is up. He’s already hit three home runs, over half of the five De La Rosa hit in 2021.

This may be too small of a sample size to draw conclusions, but it’s what you want De La Rosa to be doing. He’s more age-appropriate for the level this year, and the underlying skills need to start translating to the stat line. If he can keep up the pace, he will be a fast riser.

Colin Coulahan is the Washington Nationals correspondent for Prospects1500. Colin first began covering sports as the studio producer for the University of Delaware football and basketball radio broadcasts and then for the Wilmington Blue Rocks baseball team. He graduated from Wilmington University in 2010 with a degree in Studio Production. Since 2016 Colin has been playing in multiple dynasty leagues. He is married with 2 children and can be reached on Twitter @cjc07.

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