Luke Erickson

Luke Erickson is a season-ticket holder for the Potomac Nationals, but makes a point of seeing games in Hagerstown and Harrisburg at least once a summer. When the PNats are away on the weekend, Luke finds a minor-league game somewhere to watch, and generally attends 70-80 baseball games a year up across several states. A former sportswriter with newspapers in Massachusetts and Oregon, Luke lives in Western Fairfax County with his wife and two sons.

Feb 062016
 

With John Sickels’s prospect book still a month out or so, I decided to finish the Watchlist with the BA book and hold out on a couple of guys that I think (hope) he’ll cover. One’s a 2015 Draft pick, the other’s a 40-man guy that I want his opinion on before I weigh in. (No, I’m going to tell you; you have to go look so I can get more pageviews πŸ˜‰

The Baseball America transaction reports have been disappointing of late, at least in terms of giving us something to talk about. Sorry, veteran has-beens signing minor-league contracts doesn’t cut it for me. This is not unusual, but frustrating nevertheless.

Folks interested in why “Orange” didn’t make the cut can read Byron Kerr’s interview with BA’s John Manuel. TL; DR — the boys in Durham think Marmolejos-Diaz cheats too much on fastballs and will get exposed at the upper levels of the minors.

Finally, while it’s old news, it’s still worth passing along while things are slow. The Suns and Hagerstown may actually extend the lease without a threat to leave. This may be a realization on the part of the Suns ownership that if they want to please both the parent club and their current landlords, a more cooperative approach is necessary; not to mention a five-year run as the Sally League’s least-attended club.

Jan 312016
 

After being reminded that I have a lousy copyeditor πŸ˜‰ Here are Washington’s Nos. 16 through 31…

16. Drew Ward (8) 21. Rhett Wiseman 26. Phillips Valdez
17. Sammy Solis* (15) 22. Edwin Lora 27. Nick Lee (30)
18. Joan Baez 23. Raudy Read (22) 28. Taylor Hearn
19. Austen Williams 24. Juan Soto 29. Mariano Rivera III
20. Abel De Los Santos 25. Christopher Bostick 30. Koda Glover
* According to baseball-reference.com,
Solis has exhausted his rookie eligiblity
31. Brian Goodwin (9)


For those wondering, Juan Soto, who turned 17 in October and signed for $1.5 million — $100K more than you-know-who — was the IFA referred to in yesterday afternoon’s post. BA is projecting him to start in the GCL and has high praise for his advanced skills as a hitter, projecting him as a corner OF due to below-average speed and average arm strength (yes I’m aware the link above has him as a 60 arm).

Nearly a third of the list is comprised of the past two drafts, and it’s fair to say that BA loved the 2015 draft with six picks in the Top 30. As we usually do, let’s break down the newcomers:

2015 Draft – Andrew Stevenson (8), Blake Perkins (12), Wiseman (21), Hearn (28), Rivera3, Glover

2014 Draft – Williams (19)

Trade – Trea Turner (2), De Los Santos (20), Bostick (25)

Int’l Free Agent – Anderson Franco (10), Osvaldo Abreu (15), Baez (18), Lora (22), Soto (24), Valdez (26)

Add in the trades and that makes 14 of the Top 30 acquired since 2014. That’s particularly impressive because the Nats have been drafting from the lower half since 2012.

Finally, here’s BA 2019 projected Washington lineup, which ignores such things as free agency, injuries, or sudden declines in skills. This time, I’m including BA’s 2016 picks and MLB’s current depth chart side-by-side for reference/comparison:

Pos. 2019 2016 (BA) 2016 (MLB)
C Wilson Ramos Wilson Ramos Wilson Ramos
1B Ryan Zimmerman Ryan Zimmerman Ryan Zimmerman
2B Wilmer Difo Danny Espinosa Dan Murphy
SS Trea Turner Ian Desmond Danny Espinosa
3B Anthony Rendon Anthony Rendon Anthony Rendon
LF Victor Robles Brian Goodwin Jayson Werth
CF Michael Taylor Denard Span Ben Revere
RF Bryce Harper Bryce Harper Bryce Harper
#1P Stephen Strasburg Stephen Strasburg Max Scherzer
#2P Lucas Giolito Lucas Giolito Stephen Strasburg
#3P Max Scherzer Gio Gonzalez Gio Gonzalez
#4P Joe Ross Jordan Zimmermann Tanner Roark
#5P Gio Gonzalez Ross Detwiler Joe Ross
#5P Reynaldo Lopez Drew Storen Jonathan Papelbon
Jan 302016
 

A pleasant surprise — even if I did pay extra for expedited shipping — as the 2016 Baseball America Prospect Handbook arrived in today’s mail. This is almost a full week earlier than last year… and despite the recent snowstorm.

A bigger surprise? The folks in Durham, NC rated the Nationals as the fifth-best organization..

Obviously, having a Top 5 overall prospect in the person of Lucas Giolito helps. But they also give props to the team’s success in the D.R., noting that five of the team’s Top 11 come from the Caribbean island nation “despite a restricted international budget from ownership.”

While this doesn’t change my opinions that system is top-heavy, drafts too many college seniors, and isn’t deep at certain positions, BA sure loves what the Nats have been doing in terms of acquiring younger talent with more upside – including a high-priced 2016 IFA who has yet to play a professional game (some things never change).

Let’s review how last year’s Top 30 fared:

Graduated (2) – Michael Taylor, Felipe Rivero

Traded (3) – Steven Souza, Nick Pivetta, Tony Renda

Removed from 40-man – Taylor Hill

Dropped out (11) Brian Goodwin, Hill, Jake Johansen, Jefry Rodriguez, Spencer Kieboom, Matt Grace, Matt Skole, Drew Vettleston, Hector Silvestre, John Simms, Robbie Dickey

The Top 30 is now down to two (2) older-than-25 guys — both left-handed relievers — which is something we’ve been hoping for and had suggested might happen last year.

With that, I’ll close with the Top 15 from the book and continue with nos. 16-31 in Part Two. Last year’s ranking, if applicable, in parentheses:

1. Lucas Giolito (1) 6. Wilmer Difo (7) 11. Pedro Severino (13)
2. Trea Turner 7. A.J. Cole (6) 12. Blake Perkins
3. Victor Robles (25) 8. Andrew Stevenson 13. Rafael Bautista (20)
4. Erick Fedde (4) 9. Austin Voth (11) 14. Jakson Reetz (14)
5. Reynaldo Lopez (3) 10. Anderson Franco 15. Osvaldo Abreu
Jan 272016
 

Watchlist Added3The first pass at the player reports for the 2016 Watchlist is now done. Rather than use the snowstorm to work on my novel, I tried to get as many written as reasonably possible.

Truth be told, between doing this and reading the books from Baseball America and John Sickels, this is where the real research gets done.

Until the BA book and the Sickels PDF arrive, I punt on some with a “Report Not Yet Written” with the belief hope that one or the other will list him and discuss him – especially with the 2015 draft picks and guys who I haven’t seen recently (with an exception or two).

The Baseball America handbook and John Sickels’s prospect PDF have been ordered, so now we wait until they arrive to fill in the gaps, which I’ve labeled “Report Not Yet Written,” because I believe one or the other will cover the player. Nevertheless, you’ve got individual capsules on 36 of the 51 pitchers and position players to read, plus the essays on the DSL guys and notables.

The latest BA Transaction post yielded just one new name to ponder: Darin Gorski, who fits the Rizzo mold of an MLFA that can eat innings for either AA or AAA. [Insert speculation about conversion to relief to help big club here].

As always, feel free to discuss in the comments.

Jan 202016
 

Catching Up On Transactions
Things have been slow, but with the Baseball America transaction post earlier this week, we have some stuff to discuss:

SIGNED
• RHP Boone Whiting

RELEASED
• RHP Andrew Cooper
• RHP Sam Johns
• RHP 2B Thomas Alvarez
• RHP OF Wilman Rodriguez

OUTRIGHTED TO AAA
• RHP Erik Davis
• RHP Taylor Hill

Whiting would appear to be in the mold of other AAA/AA inventory, but *gasp* not a former Arizona draft pick. He struggled in two stops at AAA, going 0-2 with an 7.77/7.10/2.32 line in seven appearances for Mempis; 4-7, 1 SV and 6.04/5.78/1.82 in 22 appearances for Colorado Springs.

Cooper’s release is a mild surprise, given he turns 24 in June and wasn’t terrible (3.53/3.63/1.40) for the Suns last summer. Johns and Rodriguez appear to be classic cases of aging out (both will turn 25 by mid-July). Alvarez, who at one point was the youngest American-born farmhand in the Nats system, looks like he simply hit his ceiling as he struggled to produce a line of .204/.332/.284 in 151 games over four seasons in the DSL and GCL.

Jan 152016
 

0216101852Just a quick note to update folks on what’s been going on.

Like a few years ago, one of my site plugins failed. Ironically, thanks to another plugin, the front page remained intact but anywhere else, you got an error message regarding said plugin. Well, long story short: It’s fixed and the bad plugin has been deleted.

I’ve been working on the on the player pages for the 2016 Watchlist and have put up three already (C, 1B, 2B). We’re at the stage where I skip over the ones that I believe will be written about by Sickels and Baseball America, ergo, “Report Not Written” for four thus far.

With long weekend upon us, I should have more time to work on the others, and perhaps an edition of “Morning Reading.”
Otherwise, it’s “Happy Friday!”

Jan 072016
 

mehJust a quick note to let folks know we’re still here. Waiting. For. Some. News.

About the only consolation I have is that I am not alone in this situation, as witnessed by this WaPo missive, from which I barely even have to note that Erik Davis and Taylor Hill were both designated for assignment, i.e. it’s news only to F.P. Santangelo.

So while I could tell you about the work I’m doing on the site (or plan to do), I won’t because I’m sure many of you get enough of that elsewhere.

Dec 312015
 

Final Winter League Update
In lieu of a 2015 review, for which I just couldn’t find more than a couple of truly good stories (never mind ten), here’s a final look at how players in the Nationals organization are doing in the Winter Leagues for the 2015-16 offseason. All statistics as of 12/31/2015.

BATTERS

PLAYER LG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO AVG OBP SLG SB
Marquez Smith PWL 43 136 28 39 10 1 4 27 28 29 .287 .425 .374 7
Rafael Bautista DWL 40 104 14 29 5 1 0 6 9 11 .279 .348 .346 8
Jose Lozada PWL 37 122 13 38 7 0 0 14 15 17 .311 .403 .369 1
Brian Goodwin VWL 35 133 21 42 8 1 3 18 19 28 .316 .401 .459 5
Reegie Corona VWL 30 89 12 21 5 0 0 4 12 18 .236 .327 .292 2
Pedro Severino DWL 23 58 9 12 4 0 2 4 2 14 .207 .233 .379 0
Isaac Ballou PWL 17 62 11 12 3 1 0 4 10 8 .194 .333 .274 0
Jose Marmolejos-Diaz DWL 3 9 0 3 0 1 0 2 0 1 .333 .333 .556 0
Melvin Rodriguez PWL 1 3 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .333 .333 .333 0
Estarlin Martinez DWL 1 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 0

PITCHERS

PLAYER LG W L SV ERA G GS IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
Paolo Espino VWL 2 3 0 4.28 10 10 40 48 24 19 5 18 33 1.65
Jon Velasquez PWL 1 0 4 2.03 14 0 13β…“ 9 3 3 1 5 12 1.05
Stephen Shackleford VWL 2 2 0 3.65 14 0 12β…“ 11 5 5 0 7 10 1.46
Rafael Martin MWL 1 2 0 3.60 10 0 10 7 4 4 1 1 12 0.80
Wander Suero DWL 0 0 0 5.40 2 0 1β…” 3 1 1 0 0 1 1.80

The Venezuelan and Mexican Leagues finished up on Tuesday; the Puerto Rican Winter League ends on Monday. Before folks get too excited about Lozada and Smith, both are 30 years old (Smith turning 31 in March) and are doing precisely what they ought to be against the uneven pitching found in the winter leagues. Sadly, the latter part of that caveat should also apply to Goodwin, even if it seems fairly obvious that the Nats may only value him as a trade chip at this point.

Enjoy your New Year’s Eve and stay safe. See you in 2016.

Dec 292015
 

minor leagues signs 2
After nearly three weeks, BA has finally issued a transactions post. Some of the names have been previously reported, but for the sake of discussion, I will re-post them:

RHPs: Tim Alderson, Nick Masset, Andrew Robinson, Sam Runion, Stephen Shackleford, Jon Velasquez
LHP: Aaron Laffey
C: Brian Jeroloman
1B: Marquez Smith
UT: Cutter Dykstra
OF: Zach Collier

I’ve hyperlinked the “new guys” so folks can look them up (and because time is short this morning).

Most of these FAs will fill out the rosters of Harrisburg or Syracuse; it’s folly to project to one destination or the other because GM Mike Rizzo seems to plug and play these types on an as-needed basis. But I know that won’t stop some of you from trying πŸ˜‰

Dec 272015
 

2016 WatchlistOK, fine. So it’s a little late this year—but it’s here.

Part of this is that I was waiting to see if a trade would be made that might [mess] things up, but with the spate of FA signings that seems to be highlighted by Daniel “not bad just unlucky on defense” Murphy, that seems less likely.

Thus, I present the sixth annual NationalsProspects.com watchlist. These are the folks that we’re paying a bit more attention to than the others for a variety of reasons. I am quite well aware that more than a few of them are only considered prospects in our little bubble, but I’ve never denied that there’s a fan component to this site (pro tip: check the tagline above).

Now is when we dance for the caveats…

β€’ It’s not a depth chart – Players are listed primarily by the highest level they’ve played. This mostly applies to the pitchers and outfielders, but it’s unwise to assume that the player at the top of the list is better than the guy at the bottom.

β€’ It’s not a prediction of usage – In the early iterations, I listed pitchers by whether they started or relieved. Now, I simply list them by right or left, which works until the Nats draft the next Pat Venditte. Some players could be listed elsewhere, but let’s not forget that positions changes are kind of commonplace.

β€’ It’s not fair – You may notice some names have been dropped and/or shuffled around since the preliminary list was released. This is when and where you find out if my mind has been changed. It happens.

You can see that I’ve already added it to the tab above, but I’ll repeat it below to save you a click. Over the next few weeks, I’ll work on the player capsules and hyperlink the category pages when I’m done.

In the meantime, feel free discuss in the comments (or make corrections; remember who’s my copyeditor).

C 1B 2B SS 3B OF
Severino Skole Difo Turner
Ward Ballou
Kieboom Marmolejos-Diaz Bostick Abreu Gutierrez Bautista
Read Kerian Mejia Lora Franco E. Martinez
Tillero Ortiz Dulin
Schrock Keller
Stevenson
Robles
Agustin
Florentino
RHPs LHPs DSL Bats DSL Arms Notable Arms
Notable Bats
Cole Grace Corredor Avila Br. Harper Goodwin
Giolito N. Lee
Perdomo Peguero Bacus Mesa
Voth Bach Ventura Y. Ramirez J. Rodriguez Wiseman
Simms
Guilbeau Medina Chu
Baez Reetz
De Los Santos Hearn Evangelista
Duran Serrata
Perkins
Mapes Borne
R. Lopez Watson
A. Williams
P. Valdez
A. Lee
Fedde
Glover
Rivera
Peterson
DeRosier
Valerio

Player Name = Traded or released
Player Name = Graduated from prospect status
Player Name = On the 40-man roster