The Washington Nationals are betting on Elijah Green as their next superstar player after selecting the IMG Academy outfielder with the fifth overall pick in the 2022 Major League Baseball draft.
Washington Nationals @Nationals
With the 5th pick in the 2022 <a href="https://twitter.com/MLBDraft?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@MLBDraft</a>, the Washington Nationals select…<br><br>Elijah Green – OF (IMG Academy)<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NATITUDE?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NATITUDE</a> <a href="https://t.co/jzfOtZb7TE">pic.twitter.com/jzfOtZb7TE</a>
In a draft class full of legacy players, including Druw Jones (son of Andruw Jones), Justin Crawford (son of Carl Crawford) and Jackson Holliday (son of Matt Holliday), Green also comes from a family of athletes. His father, Eric Green, had a 10-year NFL career as a tight end and made the Pro Bowl twice (1993, 1994).
Elijah has the frame to play football at 6'3" and 225 pounds, but he is one of the best athletes in the 2022 MLB draft class. The 18-year-old has been on the prospect radar for years, with his arrival really coming during the 2020 Area Code Games.
Area Code Baseball @ACBaseballGames
3️⃣-4️⃣ Elijah Green’s hits left the yard at <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ACGames20?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ACGames20</a> 😳<br><br>...and he’s still only 16!<br><br>Excited to see what the 6-3, 215 <a href="https://twitter.com/elijahgreen1204?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@elijahgreen1204</a> does for an encore at <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ACGames21?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ACGames21</a> 🤯 <a href="https://t.co/l61gUqSfWi">pic.twitter.com/l61gUqSfWi</a>
Green does have a commitment to play college baseball at the University of Miami, but there's been no indication he will be a difficult sign.
MLB.com ranked Green as the No. 3 prospect in this year's draft class, behind Jones and Holliday. He has four plus tools, including plus-plus speed and terrific raw power.
According to MLB.com:
"Green is an elite-level runner who can steal bases and cover a ton of ground in the outfield, where he should be able to man center field, with a plus arm, for a very long time to come. His complete toolset doesn’t come around very often, so it’s likely someone in the top of the first round will call his name even if there are remaining questions about his hit tool."
Finding a true centerfielder who can potentially hit for power is a rare commodity. As long as Green can develop his hit tool in order to tap into that power potential, he could turn into a future All-Star.
The Nationals have completely fallen apart since winning the World Series in 2019. It's understandable because general manager Mike Rizzo was often aggressive in adding talent to the MLB team in an attempt to win, but the organization has been hit hard with losses recently.
Anthony Rendon, Max Scherzer and Trea Turner are no longer with the team. Stephen Strasburg hasn't pitched since June 2021 because of an injury that required surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome.
On top of all that, Nationals fans have had to endure rumors that Juan Soto might get traded. Those rumors picked up steam on Saturday when Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported the team will at least explore dealing the two-time All-Star after he turned down a 15-year, $440 million contract extension.
While there's still a lot of work for the Nationals to do to rebuild their farm system, adding Green to the mix is a great step in the right direction. He alone won't change their fortunes, but having a potential superstar is a nice starting point.