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.

Dec 122015
 

Favorite-Arms2
With the winter meetings over, a “meh” Rule 5 draft (unless you dig de facto FA signings), and a trade not with the A’s, we shift to the follow-up to the favorite Nats bats: The favorite Nats arms.

As in previous polls, send your Top 10 list to enfieldmass-top10arms[at]yahoo[dot]com (link will open your preferred email client) or post them in the comments.

As we just did, I’ll tally the votes, weighting them in reverse order (#1 = 10 points, #2 = 9 points… #9 = 2 points, #10 = 1 point) and then post the results along with the requisite comments and/or snark.

Just a reminder: Joe Ross has exhausted his rookie status is therefore no longer a prospect. Likewise for newly acquired Trevor Gott. Folks with a southpaw fetish can vote for both Sammy Solis and Matt Grace, but both will enter 2016 at the age of 27 and wouldn’t be considered a prospect in most organizations.

It pains me to write that, but I’ve been doing this long enough to know that pitchers often elicit emotions that cloud rational judgment. I’ll leave it at that rather than rant about recent examples or even old ones (*cough* Chad Cordero *cough*).

As always, feel free to discuss in the comments… but keep it civil and focused on what they do on the mound. The players, their friends and families, and their agents are reading along, too.

Dec 092015
 


The trend of a consensus on a handful then free-for-all returns with the latest iteration of the NationalsProspects.com Top 10 Position Players list.

This year 21 players were named on 10 ballots (including mine). It was 24 a couple of years ago but only 15 last year.

The top two picks were either #1 or #2 in nine of the 10 ballots, as was the #1 pick. Without further ado, ze list:

  1. Trea Turner
  2. Victor Robles
  3. Wilmer Difo
  4. Anderson Franco
  5. Andrew Stevenson
  6. Christopher Bostick
  7. Pedro Severino
  8. Rafael Bautista
  9. Osvaldo Abreu
  10. Spencer Kieboom

Others receiving votes: Brian Goodwin, Drew Ward, Jose “Orange” Marmolejos-Diaz, Isaac Ballou, Blake Perkins, Jakson Reetz, Rhett Wiseman, Telmito Agustin, Max Schrock, Bryan Mejia, Matt Skole

My prediction that half the names from last year’s Top 10 would be gone proved to be true, though just two could be attributed to trade (Steve Souza) and graduation (Michael Taylor). It would be difficult to characterize the disappearance of last years nos. 4-7 (Drew Ward, Jakson Reetz, Brian Goodwin, and Matt Skole) as anything other than disappointment with their 2015 seasons.

One other interesting trend that ought to be obvious: the Dominican pipeline seems to be producing more interesting players (6 of the Top 10, 8 of the twenty) than the domestic draft.

Next up: The pitchers, which I suspect will be a similar case of three or four that everybody agrees on… then a lament of the lack of lefties… and then complaints about age…

Dec 062015
 


Well, it’s that’s time of the offseason where I turn to my readers to help generate pageviews fill the void of the offseason, which seems slower than usual this year.

For the folks who aren’t familiar – or have forgotten – here’s the deal: Send me your Top 10 list of minor-league position players (40-man guys are eligible as long as they have rookie status) to enfieldmass-top10bats[at]yahoo[dot]com (link will open your preferred email client) or submit them in comments.

I’ll compile the votes and weight them in reverse order (#1 = 10 points, #2 = 9 points… #9 = 2 points, #10 = 1 point). When it feels like I’ve got a sizable number of submissions, I’ll update this post to let people know I’ve ready to write the “Top 10” post.

This will create the sixth annual NationalsProspects.com Top 10 Bats list. A reminder: “Bat” is a term I use as shorthand for position player. This is not to diminish the meaning of defense, though I caution folks to infer too much from defensive stats.

Raudy Read, recently featured by Byron Kerr, is a good example. On virtual paper, his .993FA and 37% CS rate look good. After seeing him those five games at Potomac, I’m trying to figure out how he only had 22 passed balls (aside from bad official scoring, natch).

Anyway, please factor in defense, which I suspect many of you will be since offense was hard to find this past summer. The theory is that collectively we’ll put together a better list than any one of us can (or at least me).

But more importantly, I’m hoping to bide the time and reinforce this community until the Winter Meetings, which begin today in Nashville, get into gear.

UPDATE: I’m calling and will post the Top 10 shortly.

Dec 042015
 


Things have been slow on the minor-league front, but yesterday we got news on who the coaches will be for 2016:

SYRACUSE
Manager – Billy Gardner, Jr. (returning)
Pitching Coach – Bob Milacki (returning)
Hitting Coach – Brian Daubach (reassigned from Harrisburg)

HARRISBURG
Manager – Matthew LeCroy (reassigned from Washington)
Pitching Coach – Chris Michalak (returning)
Hitting Coach – Brian Rupp (promoted from Potomac)

POTOMAC
Manager – Tripp Keister (returning)
Pitching Coach – Franklin Bravo (returning)
Hitting Coach – Luis Ordaz (promoted from Hagerstown)

HAGERSTOWN
Manager – Patrick Anderson (returning)
Pitching Coach – Sam Narron (returning)
Hitting Coach – Amaury Garcia (promoted from Auburn)

AUBURN
Manager – Jerad Head (Coach at GCL in 2015)
Pitching Coach – Tim Redding (returning)
Hitting Coach – Mark Harris (reassigned from Harrisburg)

GCL
Manager – Josh Johnson (new hire)
Pitching coach – Michael Tejera (returning)
Hitting coach -Jorge Mejia (returning)

DSL
Manager – Sandy Martinez (returning)
Pitching Coach – Pablo Frias (returning)
Hitting Coach – Jose Herrera (returning)

This may sound odd, but I think there’s something to the lack of a massive “reorg.” The Nationals claimed they wanted continuity with their longtime coaches when they sent Matt Williams and his staff packing in October. With just one new hire to the primary trio of managers and coaches — longtime minor-leaguer Josh Johnson, who spent six of his 12 seasons with the Nationals — we’re seeing the action that backs up those words.

Nov 292015
 


Well, here we are again for the sixth pass at the next season’s watchlist, which seems to get smaller every year as the big club continues to deal away guys and/or drafts lower. Now, for the obligatory explanation of its origin and tenets…

Prospect rankings to me are like listicles — yes, they are effective in generating pageviews, but they often lead to pointless arguments about whether [your favorite player] is better than [the other commenter’s favorite player].

So five years ago, I came up with this idea of listing the players that have shown some promise for one reason or another, listing them out by position. Guys that were worth watching a little more closely than the others.

Longtime readers know I do not care about draft position or how much a player’s bonus was. Both are a function of the game that’s played each June between the players, the clubs, the agents, and the rules. I am aware there are other factors; I understand higher-drafted player get more chances.

Now for the caveats…

It’s not a depth chart. It’s ordered by the highest level played to date. The guys at the top of the column are not necessarily better than the guys at the bottom.

It’s (mostly) based on 2015 usage. The Nats don’t have a lot of CI prospects and have a history of both rotating MIs between 2B and SS as well as trying to develop utility players.

It’s preliminary. I can’t spend the time that I used to on this site, so I’m now relying on folks to call me out in the comments. That doesn’t mean that I’ll take every suggestion and/or accede to every complaint, but I’ll “listen.”

So without further ado, here’s the list, ready for your dissection discussion.

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 Vettleson
Voth Bach
Ventura Y. Ramirez J. Rodriguez Mesa
Simms
Guilbeau Medina Chu
Baez Wiseman
De Los Santos Borne Evangelista
Duran Serrata
Reetz
Mapes
R. Lopez
A. Williams
P. Valdez
A. Lee
Fedde
Rivera
Peterson
DeRosier
Valerio
Harmening
Nov 262015
 


It’s hard to tell whether this is a slow offseason so far or if my offline life has pushed this little hobby of mine to the backburner, as the expression goes. Probably both.

The chatter in the comments is centered on the big club, and while sometimes that bothers me, if there were an alternative topic to discuss… I would chime in to direct traffic, but there isn’t. My default position is that we’re more likely to see prospects be dealt away to shore up big club, so the conversation isn’t really all that far off.

Besides, the prospect writers haven’t written much about the Nats thus far, which isn’t really all that unusual since the cheerleaders at Baseball America are focused on producing the 2016 Handbook when they’re not straining for a new angle to produce pageviews (Yes, I’m aware of the irony/hypocrisy of both mocking them and helping them).

Shifting gears to the headline…

Today is Thanksgiving and it’s the first one in a few years that I’ll be home all day, and you’d better believe I am thankful for that. It’s just the Mrs. and I along with the four kids — two with two legs, two with four legs — and we’re staying put in our little enclave in Western Fairfax County.

As I’ve done for the past six Novembers, I’d like to express my gratitude for this community of fans who come here on a regular basis — even as the site has changed over the past 14 months. It’ll never be what it once was (and for that I’m thankful, too; it’s nice to be doing what I used to do before the site came along) but I appreciate the chance to pass along news and information the way that I want to.

And now for the annual reminders…

  • Travel safe
  • Show some plate discipline
  • Call your mother
Nov 222015
 

Monday Morning Box Scores
Time for our first update on how the Nationals’ minor-leaguers are doing in the winter leagues thus far. All statistics as of 11/22/2015.

BATTERS

PLAYER LG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO AVG OBP SLG SB
Rafael Bautista DWL 26 91 12 27 5 1 0 6 9 11 .297 .360 .374 5
Brian Goodwin VWL 20 75 13 21 5 1 1 11 10 16 .280 .365 .413 3
Reegie Corona VWL 20 65 10 12 3 0 0 3 10 15 .200 .307 .246 1
Jose Lozada PWL 16 54 9 22 5 0 0 9 10 5 .407 .493 .500 1
Pedro Severino DWL 19 49 8 12 4 0 2 4 1 11 .245 .260 .449 0
Jose Marmolejos-Diaz DWL 1 4 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 3 .250 .250 .250 0

PITCHER

PLAYER LG W L SV ERA G GS IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
Paolo Espino VWL 2 2 0 4.41 8 8 34⅔ 39 20 17 5 15 27 1.56


I thought last year’s group was small… but this is three fewer players and just one (1) pitcher. Not sure what to make of it aside from that it may be an indication of how desperate I am for offseason topics. 😉

Most folks will probably (and rightly) be obsessed with how Bautista and Goodwin are doing. Indeed it’s good to see both players putting up numbers that are closer to their reputation and/or capabilities.

But, a reminder that winter-league pitching varies widely in quality (Low-A to AAA) is in order, and that plenty of players have had monster winters with zero carryover into the next winter (e.g. Tyler Moore in 2014, Sandy Leon in 2013, Jesus Flores, 2011).

So take these numbers for what they’re worth: A chance to look at some stats when the news is slow (though maybe not this slow).

Nov 202015
 

Drew-Ward-11-20-15The Salt River Rafters scored single runs in the 2nd, 3rd, 5th, and 7th innings and withstood a late rally from the Scottsdale Scorpions finish the 2015 campaign with a 4-2 win.

As you might have guessed, just one National got into yesterday’s game: Drew Ward (pictured).

The turns-21-next-week Oklahoman was the designated hitter but did not get a hit. He struck out three times in four plate appearances, but did draw his 11th walk in 12 games this fall (versus nine K’s). He finished with an average of just .097 (3-for-31), but had a respectable on-base percentage of .326.

Salt River finished the year 16-13, 1½ games behind Scottsdale. With that the 2015 season — the sixth this site has covered — officially comes to a close.

#          #          #

In what now seems rather anticlimactic, last night the Nationals added three from this year’s AFL contingent to the 40-man roster: Christopher Bostick, Spencer Kieboom, and Nick Lee.

Bostick, who was originally drafted in the 44th Rd. by the Oakland A’s as a HS pick in 2011, and Kieboom (5th Rd., 2012) were both in their first year of Rule 5 eligibility. Lee, however, was in his second year of eligibility as an 18th Rd. 2011 pick (and drafted 38th but did not sign in 2010).

A common thread through all three picks is the shoring up organizational depth. With the departure of Ian Desmond and the continued fragility of Anthony Rendon, the Nationals will need a backup to the backup of Wilmer Difo for 2016.

Kieboom is also an addition to a catching corps that has been thinned by trades and the Rule 5 draft over the past few years. Like Bostick, he’s the backup to Pedro Severino.

Lee, of course, is a bit of a surprise given that he’s already been passed over for the Rule 5 and a good but not great 2015 regular season. But he’s still lefthanded and throws strikes (though he has yet to tame his tendency to issue walks) and will be the backup to Matt Grace as a situational southpaw.

As for projections, it might be safe to say that this trio will be teammates in Harrisburg next season with the players in front of them moving up (or returning) to Syracuse. But there’s a long offseason to go and Washington has a GM that “kinda, sorta” likes to make trades.

Nov 192015
 

Christopher-Bostick-11-19-1The Solar Sox posted a picket fence to take a 3-1 lead in the middle innings, then put the game away with a three-spot in 6th for a 6-1 win over the Rafters.

It may seem like all Christopher Bostick, all the time, but when he’s the only National to appear in the game…

Bostick once again batted second and played second base. At the plate, he was 0-for-2 two with two walks drawn and stole a base, his sixth of the fall. In the field (pictured), he had a putout and three assists, including the pivot on a 6-4-3 double play.

The 2015 AFL season concludes for the Salt River Rafters with an afternoon game against the AFL East champion Scottsdale Scorpions.

Nov 182015
 

Christopher-Bostick-11-18-1Salt River scored twice in the 1st and held on to the lead for a 4-2 win over Mesa to stave off elimination.

Two Nationals appeared in the game.

John Simms got the start and went three innings, allowing one run on four hits and a walk while striking out two. He threw 45 pitches, 33 for strikes. He was credited with the win, his fourth in five starts for Salt River, and has posted an ERA of 1.88 and a WHIP of 1.21.

Christopher Bostick had another strong game. Batting second and playing 2B, the 22-y.o. walked, doubled, and homered in four plate appearances. In 19 games this fall, he’s posted a line of .275/.324/.565 with four HR’s, five SB’s, and 12 RBI.

The two teams switch venues for this afternoon’s game. Scottsdale, which must lose for Salt River to have a shot at the title game, hosts Peoria tonight. The Rafters and Scorpions close out the fall season with a game tomorrow afternoon.