The Nationals are calling outfielder Donovan Casey up from Triple-A, according to Chuckie Maggio of the Pickin Splinters website. No corresponding move has been announced, though Dee Strange-Gordon was scratched from the initial starting lineup the Nats posted earlier today for their game against the Pirates.
Casey was already placed on Washington’s 40-man roster back in November, and the 26-year-old’s fifth pro season will now include his debut as a Major League ballplayer. Selected by the Dodgers in the 20th round of the 2017 draft, Casey was acquired as part of the four-player package the Nats received for Max Scherzer and Trea Turner at the last trade deadline.
Casey is a Boston College product who has hit .278/.337/.464 with 54 home runs and 52 steals (from 63 chances) over 1563 career plate appearances in the minors. That line doesn’t include much Triple-A success, however, as Casey has a modest .190/.250/.342 slash over 172 PA at the Triple-A level. It could be that the Nationals’ hand was somewhat forced by a potential injury situation on the big league roster, yet Casey at least had a .905 OPS over his first 25 PA of the 2022 season.
Baseball America (17th) and MLB Pipeline (19th) each have Casey listed within the Nationals’ top-20 prospect rankings, and BA also gave Casey extra mention as the “Best Athlete” in Washington’s farm system. His speed and athletic ability has translated into some excellent defense in the outfield, and Casey’s strong throwing arm makes him a good right field candidate. Both BA/Pipeline scouting reports have some questions about his bat, particularly Casey’s high propensity for strikeouts.
While the situation could change based on roster moves involving Strange-Gordon or other players, Casey would seem to fit as a glove-first backup outfield type. Juan Soto, Victor Robles, and Lane Thomas make up the D.C. starting outfield, while Strange-Gordon and Yadiel Hernandez were working in a backup capacity.