Oct 142013
 

Despite both having exhausted their rookie eligibility during the season, Baseball America has named Washington Nationals second baseman Anthony Rendon and starting pitcher Taylor Jordan to its postseason 2013 Eastern League Top 20.

Obviously, both were key injury replacements for the “Big Nats,” in 2013 with Rendon perhaps even displacing second baseman Danny Espinosa while Jordan is a strong candidate to return to the starting rotation next April, with the nos. 4 and 5 spots unsettled for 2014.

Long-term, BA believes No. 9 prospect Rendon’s future could still be at 3B while scouts still type one-handed marvel at the power:

Rendon has Gold Glove abilities at the hot corner and is more than capable at second base. Because of the vast strength in his wrists and forearms, he’s also got the potential for more than 20 homers annually and a solid average.

No. 12 E.L. guy Taylor Jordan was given props for his pitching motion — which is often compared to Angels ace Jered Weaver:

Jordan employs a sneaky delivery that includes long arm action and a stab on the back end. That deception helps his arsenal, [which] includes a low-90s heater with plenty of run, as well as a slider and a changeup, play up.

All total, eight Nationals were named in these top 20 lists, though no prospects were named at the Low-A and AAA levels. Last year, that figure was five, with Brian Goodwin named to the Top 20 of both the Sally League and the Eastern League.

Oct 122013
 

Arizona Fall League #6
The Solar Sox remain unbeaten, taking their third straight with a 7-3 decision over the Sagauros in Surprise.

Just two Nationals saw game action: outfielder Steve Souza Jr. and reliever Richie Mirowski.

With no Saturday game this week, taxi-squad player Souza made the most of his playing time on Friday night. He reached base four times (single, double, two walks), scored once, drove in three, and stole three (that’s five in two games). The 24-y.o. batted sixth and played centerfield, but had no defensive chances.

Mirowski made his first AFL appearance in the seventh. He pitched a 1-2-3 inning in the 7th for the hold and struck out one, throwing 13 pitches (seven for strikes).

Mesa (3-0-1) returns to action on Monday night with a visit to Scottsdale (1-3).

Oct 112013
 

After two successive division-winning teams in 2011 and 2012, the 2013 edition of the Auburn Doubledays hit rock bottom in 2013 with a league-worst 26-49 mark. Of course, to expect that kind of success year in and year out is foolish. But it’s also difficult as a fan to not be disappointed with a last-place finish.

Almost implicit in reviewing a cellar dweller is the hope (mission) of finding something (anything) positive amid the negative (and there was a lot). The trick is do it without looking specious, which seems to be okay in public relations.

Thanks to a small but noticeable shift towards drafting collegiate juniors and junior college players, along with some sizable movement to/from the GCL with pitchers, this edition wasn’t oldest in the league as they were a year ago (or second oldest, as they were in 2011). We can only hope that this trend (the drafting part) continues because, well, I’ve been advocating it in the past two season reviews.

Continuing with the format, gird yourself for the look at how Auburn compared to the rest of the N.Y. Penn League…

HITTING AB R H HR BB SO AVG OBP SLG GPA* SB
Auburn 2447 258 563 28 209 518 .230 .302 .315 .215 40
Lg. Avg. 2469 291 597 31 221 570 .242 .313 .338 .225 69

* GPA = Gross Production Average

PITCHING IP ERA R/G WHIP HR BB SO H/9IP BB/9IP K/9IP K/BB
Auburn 637⅔ 4.23 4.77 1.452 25 256 575 9.5 3.6 8.1 2.25
Lg. Avg. 654⅔ 3.19 3.90 1.249 31 221 570 8.2 3.0 7.8 2.58



The 2013 Auburn pitchers were (slightly) better than their 2012 counterparts. But as you might have already guessed, they were the NYPL trailers in virtually every statistical category but two rather important ones: HRs allowed and strikeouts. They were also a study in extremes — one SP had an ERA near 1.00, another more than 9.00. As a staff, they were bad, but there were some really standout individual performances, which will be discussed below.

The 2013 Auburn batters weren’t the worst in the league, but finished above 10th in just two categories — striking out (4th fewest) and getting hit by pitches (4th most). Kind of brings new meaning to contact hitter, no? Unfortunately, once you factor out the 23-y.o. players, it gets very difficult to find very much positive about this group.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at the Top 12 hitters in terms of usage. Full statistics for the team can be found here.
(# = 2012 Draft Pick or NDFA ** = DSL Graduate)

Name Age PA Position(s) G @ Pos Fld% Err GPA ISO
James Yezzo 21 263 1B 60 .993 4 .206 .071
Isaac Ballou 23 253 CF/LF 44/11 .982 2 .282 .104
Cody Gunter 19 245 3B 59 .885 20 .205 .081
Wilman Rodriguez** 22 171 SS/2B 19/9/9 .945 10 .208 .044
Jean Carlos Valdez** 20 191 3B/1B 15/9 .978 3 .224 .123
Bryan Lippincott# 23 187 LF/RF/1B 18/11/8 .978 2 .277 .181
Cody Dent 21 180 2B/SS/3B 29/21/2 .962 8 .195 .019
David Masters 20 170 SS/2B 19/18/1 .947 11 .175 .059
Matt Foat# 23 169 2B/LF/1B 21/4/1 .956 5 .195 .080
Greg Zebrack# 22 147 CF/RF/LF 28/6/4 1.000 0 .225 .056
Brenton Allen 21 140 LF/RF 33/1 .940 3 .219 .085
Wilmer Difo** 21 136 SS/2B 18/13 .961 5 .214 .116



As aforementioned, just two of these 12 were above the league average for GPA — and both guys (Isaac Ballou, Bryan Lippincott) were 23, which is old for the NYPL no matter how you slice it, dice it, or spice it. It gets a little better when you’re looking for raw power: the Dominican duo of Wilmer Difo and Diomedes Eusebio both showed above-average isolated power, which is not really that big of a surprise as one or both have been “watchlisters” since the beginning.

Defensively, the team was league-average, but a lot of that was dragged down by the team’s left-side infielders, who committed 41 of the team’s 88 errors. First baseman James Yezzo posted a below-average range factor but made just four errors, which is good because as previously reported, he’s a 1B-only project. Missing the cut in terms of usage (89PA), Matt Reistetter gets a mention here as he put up strong numbers defensively (.988FA, 8-for-16, CS-SB) and respectable offensive numbers (.254/.337/.354) — not bad for a NDFA that didn’t start playing until July 24.

On to the pitchers, the Top 12 listed in terms of innings pitched…

PLAYER AGE G/GS W-L, SV ERA IP H BB SO WHIP HR HBP WP
R.C. Orlan# 22 13/11 1-5, 0 3.65 56⅔ 54 22 47 1.341 2 4 2
L.J. Hollins# 21 23/0 1-4, 6 2.84 44⅓ 45 14 35 1.331 0 4 3
Jake Johansen 22 10/10 1-1, 0 1.06 42⅓ 22 18 44 0.945 1 1 5
Casey Selsor# 23 14/7 0-6, 0 4.29 42 56 14 30 1.667 1 1 2
Joel Barrientos** 19 11/8 1-5, 0 7.08 40⅔ 54 27 24 1.992 6 6 0
Ryan Ullmann 21 8/6 2-2, 0 5.30 37⅓ 52 10 23 1.241 4 2 0
Silvio Medina** 23 19/0 1-3, 0 4.08 35⅓ 33 25 48 1.642 2 5 8
Austin Voth 21 7/7 2-0, 0 1.47 30⅔ 21 4 42 0.815 0 1 2
Jake Joyce 21 20/0 1-3, 2 5.04 30⅓ 37 12 27 1.615 0 3 3
Mike Mudron# 23 19/0 1-3, 0 6.82 30⅓ 43 15 32 1.912 0 2 9
Deion Williams 20 8/8 0-6, 0 9.42 28⅔ 40 17 23 1.988 1 5 2
John Simms 21 11/2 0-3, 1 5.79 28 41 7 31 1.714 0 6 2



It’s not difficult to see the aforementioned standouts (I think Stevie Wonder could) when you look over this dozen. Jake Johansen and Austin Voth had ERAs that began with “1” and WHIPs that began with 0.” As the “top pick in the 2013 Draft,” Johansen gets the press, but Voth had superior peripherals — 12.3 K/9 vs. 9.4, 1.2 BB/9 vs. 3.8, 0.95 FIP vs. 2.77. This, of course, it not to diminish the big Texan but to shine a light on the underrated U-Dub product.

A healthy R.C. Orlan led the staff in innings pitched, followed by L.J. Hollins. While both were 2012 picks, it was the first year in Auburn for them as Orlan missed all of last season with TJ surgery and Hollins was leapfrogged from the GCL to Hagerstown in July 2012 and dropped down after making a single appearance for the Suns in late May 2013. While not outstanding in the traditonal sense, both were better than league average and helped offset some of the woeful pitching that’s also pretty easy to spot.

Finally, two notables that missed the cut: the sole Auburn All-Star David Napoli, who posted a line of 1.14/2.48/1.099 in 23⅔ innings, and 20-y.o. Nick Pivetta, who went 3.38/3.90/1.406 in 21⅓ innings.

OBLIGATORY TOP 5 LISTS

It was tempting to cut down to a Top 4 or combine arms and bats into a single list (all things I’ve done before and will probably do again), but I’ll stick with the format and note that inclusion here may not necessarily mean 2014 Watchlist status, sample sizes are small, your mileage may vary, etc.

Top 5 Batters
1. Isaac Ballou
2. Bryan Lippincott
3. Jean Carlos Valdez
4. Wilmer Difo
5. Greg Zebrack
HM: Matt Reistetter

Top 5 Pitchers
1. Austin Voth
2. Jake Johansen
3. R.C. Orlan
4. L.J. Hollins
5. John Simms*
HM: Nick Pivetta

* I made a choice like this in 2011 with Christian Meza based on a similar disconnect between ERA (5.79) and FIP (2.38) as well as strong perhiperals (2.25 BB/9, 9.96 K/9) and an unusually high BABIP of .438. Robert Benincasa had a similar mark last year (.409) which normalized this year to roughly .313.

Oct 112013
 

The Solar Sox scored five in the 9th on Thursday night to float away from the Rafters for an 8-1 victory.

Matt Purke allowed an unearned run on two hits and a walk while striking out two. He threw 46 pitches (30 for strikes) and was awarded the win after his teammates scored twice in the top of the 4th to take a 2-1 lead.

Matt Skole made his first appearance on defense as he played first base, handling all 12 chances without an error. At the plate, he batted eighth and went 0-for-4 with a walk and a run scored.

Brian Goodwin drove in two on fielder’s choice in the 5th and an RBI single in the 9th, finishing at 1-for-5 with a run scored. He made two putouts as the Mesa centerfielder.

The Solar Sox visit the Saguaros tonight in Surprise to finish their first week of AFL action, as the league will hold the Inaugural Bowman Hitting Challenge on Saturday night in Salt River. Steve Souza is scheduled to take part in the “zany home run derby,” details for which can be found here.

Oct 102013
 

Arizona-Fall-League-2013-2
The Solar Sox scored 11 times in their first four turns at bat as they cruised to a 13-3 victory over the Desert Dogs.

Sammy Solis got the start and the win, tossing three and 2/3rds scoreless innings with three hits and a walk allowed. The 25-y.o. southpaw struck out two in his first AFL start since November 2011.

Adrian Nieto got the start behind the plate and went 1-for-2 with a double and a run scored. The 23-y.o. drove in a run with a sacrifice fly and had no baserunners attempt to steal against him.

Steve Souza Jr. started in right field and went 1-for-5, grounding into a double play, but stealing two bases. He made four putouts in the field.

Robert Benincasa pitched the 9th for the Solar Sox but was greeted with a solo HR to the first batter he faced. He retired three of the next four batters he faced, issuing a one-out walk and striking out a batter.

The Solar Sox hit the road tonight as they visit the Salt River Rafters. Matt Purke is scheduled to make the start for Mesa.

Oct 092013
 

Arizona-Fall-League-2013-1Matt Skole launched a two-run homer in Mesa’s five-run 8th as the Solar Sox and the Glendale Desert Dogs played to an 8-8 tie in 11 innings.

Skole went 2-for-4 with a walk and run scored and three RBI total as the DH, where he’s expected to remain for the time being, though MASN’s Byron Kerr noted that he’ll play more 3B than 1B when he returns to the field.

It was the first live game action for the 24-year-old since injuring his left (non-throwing) elbow on April 5th in a collision at 1B that was initially described as a microfracture of the left wrist, but required Tommy John surgery and ended his 2013 regular season after just two games.

Brian Goodwin also saw game action and went 2-for-5 with a walk while batting second and playing centerfield, where he made two putouts. Former National Alex Meyer picked off Goodwin in the 3rd, but was otherwise hammered for three runs on five hits over three innings.

Neither Robert Benincasa nor Richie Mirowski were used in relief. Sammy Solis is scheduled to make the start today while Matt Purke is tabbed for tomorrow. Steven Souza Jr. will be eligible to play today and Saturday while Adrian Nieto awaits his chance behind the plate. Former Nationals backstop David Freitas went 0-for-4 at the plate and 1-for-4 in throwing out baserunners.

Oct 072013
 

Morning Reading 2We’re almost ready for the AFL to start, which is where we’ll lead off with this edition of Morning Reading (our fill-in post for when it’s slow on the minors front):

• This year the Nationals will fill out the roster of the Mesa Solar Sox. Nick Melotte has a preview on John Sickels’s site.

• Both Baseball America and Ballpark Digest have covered the recent front-office turnover in Syracuse. The good news? The Chiefs don’t appear to be going anywhere. The bad news? Neither story chose to discuss the role of economics or demographics.

• The Hagerstown Suns have formally applied to NAPBL and the South Atlantic League relocate to Fredericksburg for the start of the 2015 season. Worth noting — and not mentioned in the story — the Player Development Contract between Washington and Hagerstown expires after next season. While this may not prevent the Suns from leaving town, it does not preclude the Nationals from seeking a new team, either.

Oct 052013
 

Ok, so maybe it’s a little easier to place multiple players in an eight-team league, but that should shouldn’t diminish the distinction of four Potomac Nationals making the Baseball America Top 20 Prospects List — A.J. Cole (#10), Michael Taylor (#12), Robbie Ray (#16), and Billy Burns (#19).

Like last year’s contingent of Suns to get the BA badge of approval, three of the four P-Nats were promoted to the next level, led by the two pitchers, with the older of the two position players going last.

Alright, fine, you’ve probably already skipped ahead to see what the folks in Durham had to say, going from highest to lowest, beginning with #10, A.J. Cole…

Cole can command his fastball to both sides of the plate and the pitch can be explosive coming out of his long, lanky frame. The fastball, however, is the only pitch he throws with any consistency. He’s still inconsistent with a slurvy curveball, though he did begin to show better feel for it by the end of the season. His changeup remains a work in progress. One scout suggested Cole should abandon the curveball for more of a power slider.

This matches up well with what I saw in Woodbridge, but when Cole racked up W’s in three of his first four starts, such naysaying seemed out of place. Not to mention, the similar success shown by Robbie Ray after his promotion.

Taylor began to tap into his power at the plate but still isn’t disciplined enough in his approach to drive balls with regularity. At his best, he has the bat speed to turn on fastballs and the strength to take breaking balls to the opposite field. Yet he is susceptible to chasing fastballs up in the zone and curveballs off the plate. If he makes the necessary adjustments, Taylor has all-star potential. If not, he figures to be a 4th outfielder [like] Justin Maxwell.

Last year, Taylor couldn’t correct either flaw (bolded) and this year the weaknesses would come and go. No doubt he’ll be challenged with AA in ’14, but those are the kind of holes that pitchers can consistently exploit at the next level.

Ray attacks hitters with a 90-94 mph fastball and has the arm strength to add more velocity down the road. His slider grew from more of a slurvy pitch to a power one with good depth that could turn into an above-average offering. He showed feel for a changeup to keep hitters off-balance. Ray still struggles with his command at times and gets in trouble when he leaves pitches up — his nine home runs in just 84 innings were the 11th most in the league.

Quite frankly, had Ray been a righty or a year or two older, I’d have dropped him from the ’13 Watchlist — that’s how bad he looked in ’12. But after making some serious adjustments to recover from that debacle, there’s reason to hope that he can refine his game further in ’14.

Burns excels at working counts and putting the ball in play as a slap-and-dash hitter. He’s more than willing to put the ball on the ground and beat throws to first base. The natural righthanded hitter began switch-hitting in 2012, but he hit a respectable .312/.418/.383 in 266 at-bats from the left side in the CL. One scout suggested that Burns could be more of a line-drive hitter if he incorporated his powerful legs into his swing.

In his last month or so in Woodbridge, Burns certainly did appear to be working on trying to hit balls into the gaps, but with mixed success (a fair amount of weak flyballs). Given that small-ball skills — aside from speed — have fallen out of favor lately, this is Burns’s next challenge to meet if he’s to proceed beyond AA.

Quite a gap between the next BA Top 20 post for which a National may be named — next Thursday for the International League. It looks like they’re saving the Eastern League for last, on the 14th. Next up: perhaps a morning reading post before we begin following the Arizona Fall League.

Oct 042013
 

How good were the 2013 GCL Nationals?

It’s tempting to fall into the football mindset, where specious aphorisms such as “you are what your record says you are” come twelve for ten cents. This precise question was asked of Baseball America in a recent “Ask BA” column. After a breathless paragraph about Lucas Giolito, J.J. Cooper’s answer was:

Overall, the GCL Nationals impressed with a group of solid if not spectacular prospects having very good years. They had a deeper lineup and pitching staff than anyone else in the league. Many of these same players were on the Nationals’ Dominican Summer League club that went 38-32 in 2012, failing to make the playoffs. Seven of the nine regulars in the lineup came from that club, as did six of the club’s top nine pitchers. Given another chance to play together, they dominated the competition.

As I’ve written in the comments, the only thing we really do know is that the G-Nats were dramatically better than the other three teams in the GCL East. They probably would have still done very well in a more balanced schedule, but it’s hard to believe they would have won at the same clip. Ultimately, it’s a moot point. The schedule is primarily drawn up to minimize travel, not to determine who’s the best.

Cooper’s answer — aside from incorrectly implying that David Ramos was one of the the team’s best pitchers — correctly gets to what was brought up in the previous season review: It looks like the DSL Class of ’12 was pretty good, even if some of the guys were a little older. Given the organization’s poor record in developing talent from the DSL since 2006* (thus far: Eury Perez, Atahualpa Severino, and Sandy Leon have seen MLB playing time), this is the key takeaway from the 2013 edition.
* That’s the earliest roster available on baseball-reference.com

In keeping with the format, let’s take a look at how they compared to the average GCL team:

HITTING AB R H HR BB SO AVG OBP SLG GPA* SB
G-Nats 1881 319 528 15 184 392 .281 .359 .374 .255 110
Lg. Avg. 1921 251 467 18 194 447 .243 .323 .338 .230 63

* GPA = Gross Production Average

PITCHING IP ERA R/G WHIP HR BB SO H/9IP BB/9IP K/9IP K/BB
G-Nats 496 2.47 2.78 1.109 18 158 435 7.1 2.9 7.9 2.75
Lg. Avg. 508⅔ 3.55 4.20 1.299 18 194 447 8.3 3.4 7.9 2.30



If you’re looking for nits, the G-Nats didn’t lead the league in pitching strikeouts, fewest home runs allowed, fewest wild pitches thrown, doubles, triples & home runs hit, walks drawn, and total bases. They were first or second in the league in just about everything else. Ordinarily, this is where the highs and lows of the team in the aggregate are discussed, but it’s pointless in this case. There are only highs and mediums here.

Let’s drill down a little further, and take a look at the Top 12 batters in terms of plate appearances, listing their position(s) in terms of games played. Players with an asterisk played in the DSL in 2012 or 2013; Players with a double asterisk are GCL repeats from 2012; the player with a carat(^) is an IFA; The full statistics for the team can be found here.

Name Age PA Position(s) G @ Pos Fld% Err GPA ISO
Rafael Bautista* 20 254 CF/RF/LF 41/11/1 .990 1 .287 .066
Drew Ward 18 199 3B 35 .950 4 .278 .095
Bryan Mejia* 19 179 2B/3B/SS/1B 35/7/2/1 .961 8 .228 .119
Osvaldo Abreu* 19 171 SS/2B 19/9 .945 10 .261 .095
Jose Marmolejos-Diaz* 20 158 1B 37 .993 2 .276 .121
Raudy Read* 19 158 C 31 .996 1 .211 .075
Hayden Jennings** 20 154 RF/CF/LF 21/17/7 1.000 0 .227 .095
Willie Medina 22 130 SS/2B/3B 19/18/1 .965 6 .201 .009
Randy Encarnacion* 18 126 RF/LF 16/5 .947 2 .327 .174
Luis Guzman^ 17 126 LF 33 1.000 0 .191 .056
Garrett Gordon 20 119 LF/RF/CF 17/9/1 .979 1 .239 .060
Diomedes Eusebio** 20 113 1B/3B/2B 26/9/1 .990 1 .284 .120



What stood out to me among this group — aside from the DSL connection — was the amount of continuity here. Injuries, promotions, demotions, bad food at Panera Bread — these are things that usually cut into playing time. Instead, nearly 87 percent of it went to the to the top 12, instead of the usual 79 to 82 percent. None of the top 12 was promoted. The two significant repeats received less playing time in 2013 than in 2012.

Drew Ward also sticks out like a sore thumb. Under Rizzo, the Nats haven’t drafted many teenagers. When they do, they usually don’t get this much playing time period, never mind at one position. As if all of that weren’t compelling enough, Ward outhit all but a couple of his teammates, both of whom were either significantly older (Bautista) or more experienced as a pro (Encarnacion). If you haven’t read Ryan Kelley’s 2013 draft post, which I also have in the right sidebar, then check it out. Not too often you see a kid live up to the hype, especially with a fair amount of doubters, thanks to the level of competition he faced as a schoolboy.

Perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself, but I’m sure folks are wondering right now: “So how many of these guys will be challenged with Hagerstown in 2014?” I’d like to think at least half of them. Three reasons for this: 1) The Nats have been more aggressive lately 2) The Auburn guys were, by and large, disappointing 3) It’s been a long time since there’s been group this young that won so readily.

But I also can’t help but think that with so much youth there is time to err on the side of caution (so maybe just three, no more than four). It’s a lovely dilemma to have, and it’s part of what helps pass the offseason: wondering who moves, stays, and goes from the 2013 finish to the 2014 opener.

On to the pitchers, the Top 12 listed by innings pitched…

PLAYER AGE G/GS W-L, SV ERA IP H BB SO WHIP HBP WP
Hector Silvestre* 20 13/8 7-0, 0 1.82 49⅓ 33 8 40 0.831 2 1
Wander Suero* 21 13/3 8-1, 0 1.65 49 27 13 46 0.816 2 7
Jefry Rodriguez* 19 12/12 3-0, 0 2.45 47⅔ 40 20 43 1.259 6 7
Phillips Valdez* 21 14/3 3-0, 2 1.95 32⅓ 16 12 27 0.866 2 4
Kelvin Rodriguez* 19 13/1 5-0, 0 3.07 29⅓ 31 6 15 1.261 8 3
Travis Ott 18 10/7 3-0, 0 4.03 29 24 12 32 1.241 4 2
Matt Derosier 18 7/0 2-1, 2 2.67 27 24 5 20 1.074 0 1
Lucas Giolito+ 18 8/8 1-1, 0 2.78 22⅔ 19 10 25 1.279 5 2
David Ramos* 21 14/0 5-3, 1 6.95 22 23 10 16 1.500 2 3
Jake Walsh+ 22 16/0 0-0, 8 1.40 19⅓ 10 5 17 0.776 1 1
Joey Webb 22 12/0 2-0, 2 1.89 19 13 6 25 1.000 0 0
Elliot Waterman- 22 12/0 0-2, 0 1.53 17⅔ 17 9 9 1.472 2 2



In 2013, there was quite a bit of movement in both directions between the GCL and Auburn — nine guys sent up, four sent down. Most of the guys that were reassigned upwards went fairly quickly: two after just one appearance and seven after pitching less than 13 innings. The most notable, aside from that Giolito kid, were Nick Pivetta, Ryan Ullmann, and Austin Voth as that trio would form the majority of the Auburn rotation for the season, with Voth getting a second bump to Hagerstown.

Some of this, no doubt was by plan: the trip to Auburn delayed, for example, for coaching purposes. Or there were some guys that the organization misjudged. In either case, with the exception of Deion Williams — who, as a conversion project was clearly given every opportunity to fail learn — the decision was made quickly and the demoted pitched fairly well. But only one pitched enough to crack the top 12 in terms of innings pitched.

There were no repeats from last year’s GCL squad who received significant innings. Like the batters, there were a significant contingent from the DSL. If there is any cause for concern, it’s this: four of those top five pitchers spent mutiple seasons in the DSL, with the three 21-year-olds all turning 22 before the end of this year. As with the batters, this may be nitpicking, but that’s part of the point of why I do a season review: to take a closer look and point out these things, which is important whether the team is the windshield (this year) or the bug (most other years).

OBLIGATORY TOP FIVE LISTS
Thankfully, it’s plural for a second straight year.

Top 5 Batters
1. Drew Ward
2. Rafael Bautista
3. Randy Encarnacion
4. Osvaldo Abreu
5. Jose “Orange” Marmolejos-Diaz
HM: Diomedes Eusebio, Bryan Mejia

Top 5 Pitchers
1. Lucas Giolito
2. Jefry Rodriguez
3. Hector Silvestre
4. Wander Suero
5. Kelvin Rodriguez
HM: Phillips Valdez, Travis Ott

Oct 012013
 

Baseball America has issued its Top 20 prospects for the New York-Penn League and coming in at #13 is Jacob Johansen.

Thanks to the decision to sign a free-agent closer, which forfeited their 1st round pick, the Washington Nationals’ first pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft did not come until the 29th pick of the 2nd round, 68th overall. With it, the Nats chose Johansen out of Dallas Baptist — an under-the-radar pick who immediately begat comparisons to Nathan Karns, as both put up less-than-stellar numbers in college, pitched in high school and collegiately in Texas, and were power arms with control issues.

Obviously, the comparisons end with Johansen not suffering an injury and dominating the NYPL — holding opponents to a .147 BA, while hanging a 1.06/2.77/0.92 pitcher’s line (ERA/FIP/WHIP) over 10 starts. He finished the season in Hagerstown, where he was knocked around in his final two regular-season starts before tossing five shutout innings for the “W” in the Suns sole victory in the Sally League Finals against the league-champion Savannah Sand Gnats.

The knock on Johansen prior to the draft was on his mechanics and approach, which BA mentioned in the course of its writeup as such:

The Nationals got him to simplify his approach this summer, attacking hitters with power stuff rather than trying to trick them. Though his command and his secondary stuff remain works in progress, Johansen dominated this summer with a premium fastball that sat at 94-96 mph with heavy sink and topped out at 99.

The rest of his arsenal is described as CV, CH, and depending on whom you ask, a SL or CT. For a more detailed look at Johansen, check out Ryan Kelley’s take via District Sports Page from this past August.

Unlike Giolito, I don’t think Johansen will skip ahead to Potomac. With Giolito, repeating Auburn means waiting until June whereas Johansen can begin in Hagerstown and be moved up by mid-to-late May just like (aw, crap – sometimes comps just sneak up on you) Karns in 2012.

Next up: BA will be ranking the Top 20 Sally League prospects, then a look at the 2013 GCL Nationals.