In a couple weeks, we should learn who the six or seven guys that will get named to the Arizona Fall League for Washington. Bryce Harper is the no-brainer, especially since Nationals GM Mike Rizzo has made it clear that that’s part of the plan. The one player allowed below AA should be Destin Hood, but his nagging injuries, his age (21) and Rizzo’s proclivity for following the letter of the rules first, the spirit second (don’t get me wrong, there’s value in that mindset, even if it drives me crazy).
It would not surprise me in the least if Rizzo were to send nobody from Potomac or Hagerstown. The single-A exception is just that: an exception, not a requirement. I think if he could get away with it, he’d send Paul Demny (Rule 5 eligible) or, but more likely is that Josh Smoker, along with Pat McCoy, gets sent in much the same way that Adam Carr and Cole Kimball went last fall, since lately the AFL has become a means for GMs to get a last look at Rule 5-eligible guys
After that it gets fuzzy real fast. Most of the Rule 5 candidates are either knocking at the door (e.g. Tom Milone, Brad Peacock, Steve Lombardozzi) or went last year (Derek Norris). The rest are on the margins (Chris Curran, Steve Souza, Stephen King, Jose Lozada, Paul Demny, J.R. Higley) or hurt (Jack McGeary).
No, I’m not forgetting about Tyler Moore. That’s one where I say this is why GMs get paid to make hard decisions. We don’t know where Tyler Moore fits in the long-term plans, and you can certainly make the case Moore is blocked by Marrero, who in turn, is blocked by Mike Morse currently and Adam LaRoche next year.
The question is whether sending Moore to the AFL makes him more of risk to get taken in the Rule 5 draft. Answer: probably not, but we certainly hope that Moore gets the honor/exposure that he’s earned with his performance this year and last.
Then there’s Danny Rosenbaum, who got the bump in late July and has had two strong starts thus far for Harrisburg. The timing would suggest that that was done to qualify for the AFL, but my gut says “no” because he’s not the prototype to get converted to relief. I also think that if Tom Milone wasn’t sent, neither would Rosenbaum — even if Danny throws harder.
Lastly, the recent draft picks. I’d have to say Alex Meyer and Anthony Rendon are the most likely to get sent. But I’m not convinced that either (or any) will go. The big X factor in all this is that the Nationals aren’t the only organization supplying the roster for this year’s team, the Scottsdale Scorpions. The only thing I’m certain of is that somebody, somewhere will be disappointed in the selections.