They’re a little younger and a little better than they were in 2012.
Looking back over the previous three season reviews, it’s a bit an obsession, this thing with the age of the D-Nats. That’s because in the wake of the events of the spring of 2009 — when it was revealed that Smiley was a bit long in the tooth — the Nationals had to fill out an already-old roster with players who probably would have gone unsigned (e.g. for seven of the thirty-six players, 2009 was their only pro season) or been released (for nine others, it was their last), creating the league’s oldest and nearly its worst.
Since then, the average age of the bats has gone from 19.4 in 2009 to 18.1 in 2013, a figure it’s been at since 2011. The arms have gone from 19.7 to 18.1, though the trajectory has been more erratic: 19.2 in 2010, 18.9 in 2011, 19.0 in 2012. The success of the GCL team in 2013 is significantly due to the talent that came from the DSL — five bats, six arms — and the natural hope and inference is that the international pipeline is starting to produce… despite the scandal… despite the past parsimony… despite the new CBA that has codified limited spending for contenders.
Following the format of the past three seasons, let’s take a look at how the team did vs. league averages…
* GPA = Gross Production Average
The 2013 edition, which finished a half-game better than the 2012 team (38-31 vs. 38-32), scored at a below-average clip (23rd out of 35 teams) but won more than they lost because the pitching was in the upper third of league (boy, they sure do start The Nationals Way early, don’t they?). Defensively, they were right about the league average of a .954 fielding percentage while the catchers were significantly better at throwing out runners (43% vs. 37%).
While short on power, the batters struck out at well below the league average (sixth-fewest) while the pitchers issued the third-fewest walks per nine innings. Both of those are good signs to look forward to for next year’s GCL squad as well as the guys that the organization decides needs to repeat the DSL, given that contact and control are skills that feed into attributes like power and “stuff.”
Using 100PA as the cutoff, here’s how the 2013 DSL Nationals broke down, with the primary player at each position listed under “G” and total games played “GP” (e.g. Brayan Serrata played 47 of 49 games at catcher). Fielding percentage is for the primary position played for the starters while the bench and utility guys players have their numbers combined. Folks interested in seeing the full team and its stats can click here.
|UT (2B/SS/CF)||Thomas Alvarez||18||28, 20, 11||.975||6||253||.209|
|UT (LF/RF/1B/CF)||Dionicio Rosario||19||20, 20, 3, 1||.953||4||216||.220|
|Bench (1B/C)||Yermin Mercedes||20||16, 3||.990||1||128||.249|
I think it’s interesting that the two names that I mentioned at the end of this section last year were the two guys that were used a lot, but not enough to be considered the starter for any one position. In both cases, this appears to be a good problem: more guys that can play than positions available. Alvarez, for example, appears to be the better shortstop than Gutierrez, who appears to be the better hitter.
I’d love to know what’s the deal with Rosario, who made the 2012 watchlist by posting a .229 GPA as a 17-y.o. in the 2011 DSL, then didn’t play last season. Like all things DSL, it’s a guess unless the player is high-profile (in which case there might be a story). His 2013 performance wasn’t as good, but he got lots of playing time (216PA is 5th most) and judging by his finish (.297/.352/.422 in 18G in August vs. .136/.190/.220 in 18G in July and .217/.357/.304 in 21G in June) it would appear that he may have been shaking off rust.
If you’re not intrigued by what 17-y.o. (born May 1996) Oliver Ortiz achieved in a very short period of time (July 19-August 24), you’re probably on the wrong site. Obviously, the caveats of small sample size apply — it does for everybody in the short-season leagues — but the closest performance for someone his age is Randy Encarnacion last year (when he used Novas as his last name), and that was a .257 GPA over 60 games and he turned 18 during the season. Encarnacion hung a .349/.437/.523 line in the GCL this year, so you can following the bouncing ball from there.
The three 17-y.o. OFs (Corredor, Florentino, Mota) also should engender some excitement, with two producing offensively above league average and the third just a shade shy of it. The guess here and now is that no more than two of them will get sent stateside, for much the same reason why Rosario and Alvarez were used elsewhere: there’s only so much playing time to go around.
On to the pitchers, listing the top 12 in terms of innings pitched…
|Deibi Yrizarri||18||14/13||5-3, 0||1.99||68||59||16||50||1.103||5||4|
|Maximo Valerio||17||14/13||3-4, 0||2.86||63||55||17||56||1.143||3||8|
|Mario Sanchez||18||18/5||2-3, 0||2.33||58||46||14||54||1.034||1||8|
|Jose Morales||18||16/8||4-3, 0||1.13||55⅔||35||5||37||0.719||7||1|
|Luis Reyes||18||12/12||5-3, 0||2.82||54⅓||38||20||65||1.067||11||10|
|Luis Torres||19||13/9||1-3, 0||3.91||53||54||17||51||1.340||3||7|
|John Feliz||19||20/0||4-2, 1||2.54||39||33||5||33||0.974||6||3|
|Yefri Pena||18||17/2||2-1, 2||3.62||37⅓||37||15||29||1.393||3||5|
|Yorlin Reynoso||17||19/1||1-1, 0||2.70||36⅔||27||13||31||1.091||2||7|
|Jean Ramirez||18||14/4||1-1, 0||3.71||34||32||16||27||1.412||3||3|
|Melvi Salazar||18||22/0||4-0, 13||0.98||27⅔||21||10||21||1.120||2||1|
|Ramses Rosario||17||7/2||1-3, 0||3.54||20⅓||22||6||15||1.377||2||1|
Last year’s pitching was subpar, yet five pitchers moved up to the GCL and did well. And I thought only a couple would be bumped. Granted, three of them were no longer teenagers, but the point I’m trying to make is that when you go strictly by numbers, you’re gonna be wrong. Still, it’s encouraging to see almost all of these guys with more innings pitched than hits allowed and none of them will be 21 at the beginning of the 2014 season.
Two pitchers I feel relatively confident in projecting going to the GCL are Maximo Valerio and Luis Reyes. Valerio has spent two seasons in the DSL now and made improvements year-to-year. Reyes was called up to make an additional start after the DSL season ended and was invited to Instrux — either is generally a sign that the org will move him up the following year. Beyond that, you can make a case any of the other 10 pitchers; that’s how good the pitching was.
As mentioned in the 2013 Watchlist review (and elsewhere), the DSL is where I’ve made a lot of mistakes in picking players to watch — hence the new category — but that won’t stop me from making…
THE OBLIGATORY TOP FIVE LISTS
All five of the batters I picked last year made it to the GCL this year. Two of the top five pitchers made it, too… and two were released. As written above, I don’t think I’ll be so
lucky prescient with the batters, but I’m also hoping that my streak of picking guys that end up getting released ends, if for no other reason than these kids are too young to not repeat.
Top 5 Batters
1. Aldrem Corredor
2. Kelvin Gutierrez
3. Oliver Ortiz
4. Israel Mota
5. Darryl Florentino
Honorable Mentions: Dionicio Rosario, Thomas Alvarez
Top 5 Pitchers
1. Mario Sanchez
2. Deibi Yrizarri
3. Luis Reyes
4. Luis Torres
5. Maximo Valerio
Honorable Mentions: John Feliz, Jose Morales
Next up is the 2013 GCL Nationals, which I have a feeling is going to spark some debate as I’ll be incorporating some of the thoughts I’ve already made in the comments.