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3 Players To Watch Series

LOD’s 3 Players to Watch: Washington Nationals

For this series, LOD writers will pick three players from each MLB team that we feel are players to watch in the 2023 season.

Back in 2019, the Washington Nationals won the World Series for the first time in their history, which also includes the years they were the Montreal Expos. On that championship team, they had the likes of Max Scherzer, Juan Soto, Anthony Rendon, Tre Turner and Yan Gomes. If you look at the roster just four years later, every single one of those guys are gone and more. Over the past four seasons, they have not finished higher than the basement in the NL East and the roster resembles a younger rebuilding team. As the Nationals look to get back to winning baseball, here are the three players to watch this season that can help them win.

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Dominic Smith was drafted in the 1st round (11th Overall) of the 2013 June Draft by the New York Mets. He was showcased to be the next Mets stud first baseman in the organization and he showed signs of that during his days in the minors. But when he finally had the chance the opportunity to stick with the big club, injuries derailed his journey and the opportunity to lock down a permanent spot in the lineup. In the 2022 offseason, he signed a one year contract with the Nationals in the hopes of getting back to putting up the numbers and maybe a become a leader on the field for a young Nationals team.

During his minor league career, Smith had breakout seasons in 2016 with AA where he batted .302 with 29 doubles, 14 homes runs and 91 RBIs through 130 games. Then in 2017, he stepped up his game in AAA as he batted .330, with 34 doubles, 16 home runs and 76 RBIs through 114 games.

He made his MLB debut in 2017 with the Mets and for the next four seasons he was a utility ball player shifting from the OF to 1B, while putting up decent numbers in that role. In 2020, he played in 50 of the 60 games the team played due to the Covid-19 Pandemic that season and batted .316, with 21 doubles, 10 home runs and 42 RBIs. Equivalent to a full season, he more than likely doubles his statistical output giving him a monster year. He led the team that season in doubles, RBIs, third in hits (56), and tied for second in home runs. What a bummer to have his breakout year in a shortened season.

In 2021, he appeared in 145 games, and hit 20 doubles, 11 home runs, drove in 58 RBI’s and batted just .244. Last season he was marred by injuries that kept him off the field and out of the lineup for a good portion of the season, limiting him to just 58 games played in the majors. Due to an ankle sprain, he was put on the DL in July and after he finished his rehab assignment, the Mets decided not to call him back to the big club and he played out the rest of the season in Triple A.

Now Smith looks to rebound his career with the Nationals and help guide their young squad to big wins against their NL East foes. He definitely has something to prove, and he is in a great position and team to do so.

Stone Garrett Jupiter Hammerheads.

Stone Garrett was drafted by the Miami Marlins in the  2014 June Draft in the 8th Round, and in 2020 he elected free agency and during the 2021 Spring training he signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks. That season he showcased his power stroke with 25 home runs and 81 RBIs in Double A through 103 games. In 2022, in Triple A, he stepped it up a notch and hit 28 home runs and drove in 95 runs, through 103 games while batting .275 on the season.

The 27 year old from Sugar Land, Texas made his MLB debut on August 17, 2022 with the Dbacks, and in his first game he went 2 for 3 with two doubles and an RBI. A week later he hit his first major league home run and finished the season batting .276, with eight doubles, four home runs, and 10 RBIs through 76 at bats.

At the end of the 2022 season, Garrett elected free agency again and on November 29, 2022 he signed a contract with the Nationals.

Trying to find a path to being a mainstay in the majors, Garrett may have finally found his home as the Nats sport a rebuilding team and Garrett fits right in.

Jeter Downs Dayton Dragons.

Sticking with the younger players on the big league roster, Jeter Downs was drafted in the 1st round of the 2017 June Draft by the Cincinnati Reds as an infielder.

The Colombian native grew up in Miami and was a stand out player at Monsignor Edward Pace HS.

In 2017, he made his pro debut in the Reds Rookie team and batted .267, with six home runs and 29 RBIs through 50 games. In 2018, in Low A ball, he showed even more power as he hit 23 doubles, with 13 home runs, and drove in 47 runs, while batting .257.

In the winter of 2018, he was a part of the trade between the Reds and Los Angeles Dodgers as the Reds received Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Alex Wood and Kyle Farmer for Homer Bailey, Downs, and Josiah Gray.

In 2019, between High A and Double A, he batted .276, with 35 doubles, four triples and 86 RBIs.

One February 10, 2020, Downs was a part of another monster trade that sent Mookie Betts and David Price to LA, while sending him to the Boston Red Sox.

In two seasons with the Red Sox Triple A squad, he hit under .200, but stayed in double digits with home runs, 14 and 16 respectively.

On June 22, 2022, the Red Sox called up Downs to make his MLB debut. He went hitless that game, but two weeks later he recorded his first MLB hit. He finished his first stint in the bigs batting .154, with a home run, in 39 at bats.

With the Red Sox not looking to keep Downs, they designated him for assignment this past December, and the Nationals then claimed him off waivers.

Just like Garrett, Downs has a great opportunity to make his presence known with the big club as Washington brings in young talent to enhance their rebuilding process.


David is the Co-Founder and Executive Editor of Legends On Deck®, as well as a Co-Host on Legends On Deck Podcast. David was a Senior Editor for, and Contributor for that spanned from 2010 to 2014. David made his MLB Debut as a writer in June 2014, while covering the NY Mets at Citi Field, for David also coaches baseball for ages 13-15, a Babe Ruth League team in his local community. David's passion is coaching the game he loves to the future Legends of Tomorrow as well as making available a website that people can have fun sharing and reading. David is also passionate about his career as a Mortgage Loan Officer which allows him to help many families reach their dreams of owning a home. Connect with David via his Social Media pages as he loves to chat all about baseball.

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