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 132013
 

Usually, what makes the Syracuse staff tough to pick is trying to divine which pitchers will miss the big club but stick on. What makes the Harrisburg staff a challenge is figuring out who’s going to get promoted from Potomac and which of the minor-league FAs will be kept and assigned here.

So how did I do picking the 2012 Harrisburg Senators?

STARTERS SWINGMEN RELIEVERS
Danny Rosenbaum Evan Bronson Pat Lehman
Paul Demny Jimmy Barthmaier Hassan Pena
Sammy Solis Cory VanAllen
Tanner Roark Patrick McCoy
Adam Olbrychowski Hector Nelo
Josh Smoker
Marcos Frias
Joe Testa
Christian Garcia

Another 50-50 proposition (8/16). I might have done better if Solis hadn’t gone down with an injury and Bronson hadn’t retired. Josh Smoker seemed a viable candidate, even with a high walk rate, because he was living up to his surname with 95-97 m.p.h. heaters. Conversely, I broke even with Joe Testa and Jimmy Barthmaier, both of whom spent more time in High-A than AA.

So what about this year? Well, one might think that having watched Potomac all last summer gives me an advantage. As we saw above, not necessarily and especially not when the P-Nats had the Carolina League’s worst pitching (yes, even with Alex Meyer and Nathan Karns). Then it becomes a challenge of setting aside the frustration/disappointment as a fan and donning the detachment of a prospect-follower.

We’ll see how it goes this time around. Like Syracuse, I’m picking fewer pitchers overall:

STARTERS SWINGMEN RELIEVERS D.L.
Nathan Karns Adam Olbrychowski Paul Demny Sammy Solis
Trevor Holder Blake Treinen Marcos Frias  
Brian Broderick   Neil Holland  
Rob Gilliam   Rob Wort  
Tyler Herron   Cameron Selik  
Matt Grace      

I’m well aware that I may have picked the wrong strong finisher named Matt (Grace vs. Swynenberg). I could be misreading Olbrychowski’s late callup (reward vs. favor). About the only thing I’m reasonably sure of are the repeats of Demny, Frias, and Selik (who is listed lower due to his lat injury) — but I was probably equally confident that Pena and VanAllen would repeat last year, too.

Like Brad Meyers, Sammy Solis is probably destined to begin the season on the D.L., though the prognosis from the scribes at Lake Wobegon* sportswriters in Viera is, of course, sunny and upbeat.
*Where the playoff chances are strong, the players are good looking, and everyone is in the best shape of their lives.

Otherwise, I will understand if folks might be less than thrilled with this collection of arms. But if I’m right about the 2013 position players, these guys won’t have to nurse a 3-2 lead as often as they’ll try to hold a 5-4 lead.

Feb 122013
 

After taking a guess at which position players will end up where, last year I tried it for the pitchers for the first time and now it’s time to see how I did.

Of course, with the roles of “Big Nats” largely set going into camp, this was not exactly courageous of me. But the goal is not about being right so much as keeping the conversation going (though being right is nice!).

So, let’s take a look at who I picked last February:

STARTERS SWINGMEN RELIEVERS
Yunesky Maya Craig Stammen Ryan Perry
Erik Arnesen Austin Bibens-Dirkx* Ryan Mattheus
Matt Buschmann* Ryan Tatusko Atahualpa Severino
Mitch Atkins* Rafael Martin
Gaby Hernandez* Waldis Joaquin*
Mike Ballard* Josh Wilkie
Jeff Mandel
Lee Hyde
Bold = On 40 Man Roster Italics = Non-Roster Invitee * = ’11-’12 Minor-League FA Signing

Granted, no matter what I was going to be wrong on at least five because I “overpicked,” selecting 17 names for roughly 12 slots. I did this at every level because that’s the nature of the beast; pitchers and catchers report first because there are always a lot more of ’em than spots available.

I got nine wrong — two made the big club (Stammen, Mattheus), two started the season at AA instead (Mandel, Ballard), a third joined the Senators a couple weeks later (Tatusko), and the rest never played for the Nationals in 2012. The most obvious thing as I apply that 20/20 hindsight is that it appears I put too much stock in the FAs (though I might have gotten Zach Duke right had he been signed in the offseason). Otherwise, I pretty much feel like Blinkin.

We’ll see next year if I do any better with this set of picks:

STARTERS SWINGMEN RELIEVERS D.L.
Yunesky Maya Ryan Tatusko Erik Davis Brad Meyers
Ross Ohlendorf* Fernando Abad* Pat Lehman  
Tanner Roark   Pat McCoy  
Jeff Mandel   Hassan Pena  
Matt Torra*   Cole Kimball  
Ryan Perry      
Bold = On 40-Man Italics = Non-Roster Invitee * = ’12-’13 MLFA

This time around, I’m hedging my bets a lot less. I added a “DL” column as a nod to the M*A*S*H unit on this year’s Watchlist. And I’m leaning back towards the “OGs” and away from the FAs — especially the retread relievers such as Jeremy Accardo and Will Ohman, who I think are longshots (Bill Bray is probably the NRI with the best chance).

“Swingmen” isn’t a literal or old-school definition — basically, it pitchers that can (or have) start(ed) or relieve(d), or I feel may be changing roles — especially in the lower minors. A kind of neither-here-nor-there category, if you will.

The top-to-bottom order is intentional — which does mean that I was on the fence about Ryan Perry beginning at Syracuse or Harrisburg, but with Cole Kimball it’s more a gut feeling that he may not be fully healthy yet. Shoulders, as the old saw goes, are harder to fix than elbows.

Finally, a shout-out to Ben Meyers at the Auburn Citizen, who also took a stab at the candidates for the Syracuse Chiefs’ pitchers and position players.

Feb 112013
 

I hadn’t necessarily planned on revisiting this, but it came up in the comments yesterday, so I figured it might be worth an update and a revisit.

During the “dark times” that preceded this site, I remember this would come up on Brian Oliver’s Nationals Farm Authority. Often (usually) in the context of when it came time to make the final cuts, there would angst over why they would be opting for the veterans instead of “playing the kids” (Justin Maxwell, we hardly knew ye). Now, I think most of us understand that (A) the kids weren’t as good as advertised (B) the system’s depth was Kardashian-shallow.

Of course, with a contender and a less barren farm, the Washington Nationals don’t have to consider choosing between youth, 4As, and fringe major-leaguers.

Let’s get to it… once a player is added to the 40-man roster during the 25-man period (a.k.a. Opening Day to August 31), he can be sent up and back to the minors for three seasons (and sometimes four) until the player accrues five years of major-league service, at which point the player can refuse (and become a free agent). Naturally, there are exceptions… a player can be sent down for up to 20 consecutive days without an option being “burned” and rehab assignments are excluded (thus, for example, Cole Kimball did not use an option at all in 2012, but did accrue MLB service time).

Before I go any further, let me give credit to the research of Todd Boss as well our volunteer who runs the Big Board, SpringfieldFan, for making this post easier, if not possible.

The list of players on the 40-man roster who are excluded from this exercise (5+ yrs MLB service) is short:

Zach Duke Dan Haren Adam LaRoche
Rafael Soriano Kurt Suzuki Chad Tracy
Jayson Werth Ryan Zimmerman  

Not much danger here, most are established veterans and the most vulnerable (Duke) is lefthanded on a team without many southpaws.

The more important list is this one — players with less than five years’ service, without options:

Roger Bernadina Tyler Clippard Ross Detwiler
Carlos Rivero Henry Rodriguez  

The scenario suggested in the comments that sees Espinosa put on the DL, Lombardozzi sliding into the lineup as the 2B, and Rivero manning the bench certainly seems possible. Unfortunately, the lack of options could keep H-Rod around, too.

Finally, there’s this list — guys with just one option left:

Corey Brown Chris Marrero Ryan Mattheus
Yunesky Maya Ryan Perry Wilson Ramos
Craig Stammen    

Maya and Perry are interesting cases in that they were added to the 40-man so soon after their acquisition that they appear to be eligible for a fourth option, which is typically granted for players with less than five years’ pro service. Technically, Bryce Harper has one left, too, but with just nine more regular-season games (139) in the majors than the minors (130) from 2011 to 2012, I’m presuming he’d get a fourth option year if it were ever needed.

I think most people would be focused on those first two names in the first row as possible trade bait, as both appear to be blocked — perhaps even by multiple players. Expectations, however, should be severely tempered — Nationals G.M. Mike Rizzo covets “contingencies” and Chris Marrero has yet to prove he’s reverted to pre-injury form.

Next up: A look at the possible pitchers for the full-season affiliates.

Feb 102013
 

Like a year ago, I’m anticipating a spring training that’s going to have very little drama in terms of the minor leaguers.

As for (melo)drama overall? Well, the heightened expectations coming off a 98-win season, Davey Johnson’s “World Series or Bust” proclamation, the revelation of Danny Espinosa playing with a torn rotator cuff, and of course, the whole cloud of suspicion hanging over Gio Gonzalez

Yeah, there might be a few instances in which the game played that day will be an afterthought.

So what does this mean for us?

Unlike last year, there’s no Bryce Harper madness. Oh, I’m sure if Anthony Rendon has a hot start there will be a drumbeat for him, perhaps even the suggestion of him replacing Espinosa as the incumbent second baseman, but I think the best that his fans can hope for is a ticket to Syracuse instead of Harrisburg. That is possible, of course, especially if Carlos Rivero is traded away (likely) or makes the 25-man roster as a reserve (less likely) because he is out of options.

There will be some interest, of course, in how and where Christian Garcia will pitch this year. Inside the Natmosphere, there’s been blather talk of him becoming a starter; outside of it, most folks seem to be aware that the track record for multiple-TJers is much more favorable towards relievers. In either case, someone might want to have a chat with him:

I have no idea. Wherever they want to put me to play I am okay with it. Whatever I can help the team, any spot they need help with I would love to help in any way I can. So if it is starting, relieving, whatever it is.

Unfortunately for Garcia, he has options left (three) which could lead to something perverse like being him sent down in favor of Henry “What’s That White Thing In Front of the Catcher?” Rodriguez. Likewise for Erik Davis (three), Cole Kimball (two) and as we discovered last November, Ryan Perry still has one option left. Obviously, much of the excitement for 2013 stems from how strong and deep the Nationals pitching staff looks like on paper, never mind the whole Stephen whatshisname thing.

Corey Brown and Eury Perez are going to have a tough time beating out Roger Bernadina and Tyler Moore for an OF spot, unless Chad Tracy gets hurt or shows sign of decline. Given his support from Johnson, his status as a Rizzo draftee, and his contract, it’s probably safe to bet Tracy won’t get cut in March. Still, with his multiple sports hernias, Brown and Perez do have youth and health on their side.

The signing of Chris Snyder as an insurance policy for Wilson Ramos does not bode well for Sandy Leon and Jhonatan Solano. While Snyder reportedly has an “out” clause if he doesn’t make the 25-man roster, he’s also an Article XX-B free agent — essentially, he has enough MLB service time to qualify for a $100,000 roster bonus if he begins the season with Syracuse and can still opt out June 1st.

Translation: If Ramos needs more time, the Nats are not going to start 2013 with a rookie as the backup.

Finally, whither Chris Marrero? There’s been chatter that he’ll be traded in Spring Training. With Tyler Moore ahead of him, and Marrero’s defensive limitations, it’s certainly possible that an American League club might be interested. There are contingencies at AAA if Marrero leaves (Mike Costanzo). But what kind of return he’d net for the Nats seems negligible at this point. Seems more likely that Marrero will start in Syracuse in the hopes of proving his health and productivity.

As always, my spring training focus is to post from the minors point of view for as long as it seems reasonable. Your mileage may vary πŸ˜‰

Feb 082013
 

In the final installment of “Guess The Rosters,” we have the Harrisburg Senators. This is just the second time I’ve taken a swag at AA, and it’s highly doubtful I’ll expand this to Syracuse anytime soon.

A Twitter follower asked if the lack of fluidity at the major-league level makes this easier or harder. I replied it was the latter because the organization seems to be more active with minor-league free agents nowadays, and lot less likely to re-up with players it originally drafted — though I have a feeling that might change, given the treatment afforded to Garrett Mock and Matt Chico early on and more recently, signees such as Matt Torra, Ray Kruml, and Micah Owings.

Let’s review my guess for the Sens in ’12:
CA – Sandy Leon
1B – Steve Souza
2B – Jeff Kobernus
SS – Chris McConnell
3B – Carlos Rivero
DH – Justin Bloxom
OF – Eury Perez
OF – Destin Hood
OF – Chris Rahl
BIF – Francisco Soriano or Tim Pahuta
BIF – Stephen King
BCA – Devin Ivany or Beau Seabury
BOF – J.R. Higley

Because it was my first crack at it, I hedged my bets on the bench, and clearly, with good reason. Souza threw me for a loop and I’ll have to admit that I very nearly put him on the 2013 roster… until I considered that Bloxom (another miss) didn’t get the bump, either (and both were/are 23-about-to-turn-24).

Rivero is easy to explain: He had played all of seven (7) games at AAA prior to 2012, and with more experienced infielders on that roster (McConnell, Jarrett Hoffpauir, Mark Teahen) it seemed unlikely for him to go to Syracuse. As for McConnell getting the nod over Josh Johnson (though the two would swap places two weeks later)? I got nuthin’

Whether or not you count my hedges as half-right (7-for-13) or half-wrong (8-for-15), my success rate is still (only) slightly better than 50/50. I guess that makes me more like Jim Cramer than Warren Buffett?!

On to this year’s SWAG:

CA – Jeff Howell
1B – Matt Skole
2B – Ricky Hague
SS – Jason Martinson
3B – Anthony Rendon
OF – Destin Hood
OF – Brian Goodwin
OF – Chris Rahl
DH/BIF – Justin Bloxom
BCA – Kris Watts
BIF – Sean Nicol
BIF – Francisco Soriano
BOF – Jimmy Van Ostrand

As I mentioned yesterday, I’m probably being too optimistic that Skole, Hague, and Martinson will all get promoted. Perhaps Francisco Soriano won’t follow in the footsteps of Jose Lozada. Maybe Stephen King will return for a third season. Last year, a lot of guys were stashed on the disabled list (e.g. Potomac, which had eight (8) on the 2012 Opening Day Roster) and/or extended spring training and I suspect (know) that will happen again.

Hope folks enjoyed this little exercise… certainly helped fill up the week. Spring Training is next week, the accelerated minors camp starts the week after, but if last year is any guide, I suspect my spring-training coverage will be another week shorter as the odds of a minor-leaguer making the “Big Nats” seem a little longer.

Feb 072013
 

Picking up from yesterday, let’s take a look at what I thought the 2012 Potomac Nationals position players would be:

CA – David Freitas
1B – Brett Newsome
2B – Adrian Sanchez
SS – Zach Walters
3B – Jason Martinson
OF – Michael Taylor
OF – Kevin Keyes
OF – Randolph Oduber
DH – Blake Kelso
BCA – Cole Leonida
BIF – Sean Nicol
BIF – Cutter Dykstra
BOF – J.P. Ramirez

Roughly the same as Hagerstown: 7-for-13, with a couple of positions wrong. Walters opened the season on the DL but was playing SS by the end of the month. We now know this was because he had a hamate-bone surgery. Kelso ended up playing 3B for roughly half the season, but this isn’t the American League, either.
The prediction of DH is one you can’t really get right or wrong in the minors because it’s not used the same way (e.g. Wade Moore was the DH on Opening Day for the P-Nats; Kevin Keyes was the LF).

Some mistakes flow from the misses I made with the Suns (Martinson instead of Rendon) but most were that I did not anticipate so many guys getting dropped down (Ramirez, Dykstra, Souza) and overestimated a couple of Hagerstown guys getting moved up (Leonida, Newsome). Nice to know now, but not sure if I’m not going to repeat those mistakes with this crew:

CA – Nieto
1B – Keyes
2B – Dykstra
SS – Ortega
3B – Sanchez
OF – Burns
OF – Taylor
OF – Souza
DH – Ramsey
BCA – Leonida
BIF – J. Miller
BIF – Kelso
BOF – Oduber

What makes this roster tough to call is that it’s the last one to get filled out. That might not make sense to the casual fan, but think of it this way: Low-A is for the draft picks in Auburn (mostly) and the GCL (rarely) that progressed as hoped the summer before. Triple-A is for the major-league replacements and the experienced prospects (some elite, some not). Double-A is for the medium-experience prospects (ideally, guys in their second full year of pro ball). High-A is something of a dog’s breakfast: the occasional elite first-year prospect, some second-year collegiate players, a lot of guys in their third year of pro ball, etc.

The net result is that there is something of a “pushdown” effect (though it tends to affect the “OGs” more than the prospects). Frequently it goes something like this: A triple-A free agent blocks a guy at AA that might have gotten a shot, who in turn, blocks a High-A guy from making the jump, etc., etc.

There are more repeats here than in Hagerstown, which may have been a mistake in and of itself, but I also went out on a limb with the trio of Matt Skole, Martinson, and Ricky Hague (spoiler alert for the next post). Odds are very good that I’m going to miss one or two there, but I’d rather skew too optimistic in this case, even if I probably ought to be more like Det. Sherman than the Littles (1:36 to 2:04).

As always, feel free to discuss in the comments. And don’t forget that the players, their families, and their agents are reading, too πŸ˜‰

Feb 062013
 

As threaten…er, promised: Time to take a guess at how the “middle minors” (A, A+ , AA) rosters will shake out in a couple of months.

First, let’s take a look at what I thought would be the 2012 Hagerstown lineup:

CA – Adrian Nieto
1B – Matt Skole
2B – Anthony Rendon
SS – Rick Hague
3B – Bryce Ortega
DH – Justin Miller
OF – Caleb Ramsey
OF – Brian Goodwin
OF – Angel Montilla
BCA – Jeremy Mayo
BIF – Justino Cuevas
BIF – Khayyan Norfork
BOF – Billy Burns

Well, there’s a reason why I use the word “guess” instead of “forecast” or “prediction” β€” just seven of the 13 were on the Opening Day roster (misses in red), and just four of the seven were in the right position/role (mistakes are in blue).

Where’d I go wrong? Easy. I underestimated the Nats’ insistence on keeping Skole at third, guessed wrong that Rendon wouldn’t crack the Potomac IF (might have helped if I knew Walters was hurt) and that his shoulder was well enough to handle 3B. I did not anticipate Hague, coming off an injury, would be slotted above Martinson.

I don’t agonize as much about the backups because it’s difficult to know (1) how the organization values Player A vs. Player B (2) who’s going to be put in extended spring training (3) who’s going to pack it in. The only surefire sign is being released or placed on the restricted list.

Without further ado, here’s my guess at the 2013 Suns:
CA – Kieboom
1B – Pleffner
2B – Renda
SS – S. Perez
3B – C. Lopez
OF – E. Martinez
OF – Ramos
OF – Mesa
DH – B. Miller
BCA – Manuel
BIF – Norfork
UT – McQuillan
BOF – Ramirez

I’m not terribly confident that I’ll do much better this time, especially with the injuries to Brandon Miller and Stephen Perez. The outfielders are a tough call, especially when I’m already sending up most of the Auburn OFs already and picking from a pool of guys like J.P. Ramirez, J.R. Higley, and Justin Miller.

It never seems to add up in early February, which perhaps is why I’m nonplussed.

Next up: Potomac. As always, feel free to discuss in the comments.

Feb 052013
 

minor leagues signs 2After a couple of uneventful weeks on the signing front, the Nationals have started back up, announcing the signing of a pitcher and a catcher with an invite to spring training this afternoon.

Former Toronto fireman Jeremy Accardo is the pitcher. The 31-year-old Accardo split time between both AAA and MLB and Cleveland and Oakland in 2012, making 27 appearances in the majors with a 4.82 ERA and a 1.554 WHIP, and posting marks of 2.25 ERA and 1.208 WHIP in 20 appearances in the minors.

Former Houston backstop Chris Snyder is the catcher. The almost-32-year-old spent 2012 as the Astros backup, slicing through National League pitching like (warm) butter with a triple-slash of .176/.295/.308 in 76 games.

Last week, the Nationals signed veteran AAA outfielder Jerad Head to a minor-league deal. The 30-year-old former Cleveland farmhand hit .268/.353/.451 in 85 games for AAA Columbus last summer. He is a career .276/.343/.495 hitter in four AAA seasons, and got a cup of coffee with the Indians with 10 games in late August/early September 2011.

All three guys are most likely destined to see time at Syracuse, presuming that neither non-roster invitee is released outright during spring training.

My apologies to anyone who might have been trying to access the site this afternoon — like Alois Bell and Applebee’s, we were having server issues. *rimshot!*

Feb 042013
 

With this year’s editions of both Baseball America and John Sickels’s prospect books received, read, and reviewed, I’ve finished the player reports for the 2013 NationalsProspects.com Watchlist.

For the newcomers, this is a list of the players that are on our radar for 2013. It’s built upon the guys that catch my eye in the course of doing the season reviews, and it’s something that I’ve been tweaking each year, making some major changes this year, which you can read about here and here.

I’m not big on prospect-ranking, but I do compile a pair of Top 10 lists, one each for the position players and the pitchers.

It’s not a depth chart or a prediction of how, when, and where guys will be used this year — though I’ll make some guesses like I did last year for the rosters of Hagerstown, Potomac, and Harrisburg. I may even take a swag at the pitchers again, especially since this upcoming spring training appears to be mostly an exercise of rounding out the bench and the bullpen, with very little prospect drama — much like last year when it was limited to whether or not Steve Lombardozzi and/or Corey Brown could make the bench (don’t make me ruin a future post!).

Ten days ’til pitchers and catchers report…

Feb 032013
 

It’s been a theme that the worm has turned when it comes to player development and the Washington Nationals. Once upon a time, it seemed like they could only develop pitchers and even then, it was back-of-the-rotation guys* and middle relievers. Before Ian Desmond and Roger Bernadina ascended in 2010, it was pretty sparse — basically Ryan Zimmerman, who spent a grand total of 67 games in the minors in 2005. *Let’s face it: John Lannan may have been an Opening Day starter, but only on a 100+ loss team.

Since then, it’s been more steady… Danny Espinosa in 2011, Tyler Moore and Steve Lombardozzi in 2012, not to mention a couple of catchers that are on the verge, albeit most likely as backups (Sandy Leon and Jhonatan Solano). I suppose some credit is due for that Bryce Harper kid, too.

This is not to say Washington has become the Cleveland of the 1990s, but to paraphrase Terry Byrom — the organization sure has come a long way since the days of Larry Broadway.

Like the pitchers, Sickels has some principles that I’d like summarize before we look at the list:

…Instead of the Five Tools, Sickels looks at what he calls the Seven Skills:
1. Controlling the strike zone
2. Hitting for power
3. Hitting for average
4. Offensive speed
5. Fielding range
6. Fielding reliability
7. Throwing utility

…Controlling the strike zone isn’t strictly not striking out (Sickels likes a batter to walk about 10% of his PAs) but also comparing BBs to Ks, which means a guy that doesn’t walk a lot is tolerable if he also doesn’t strike out much, and there are plenty of guys that both strike out a lot and walk a lot, but there are very few good hitters that don’t walk much and strike out a lot.

…Sickels likes to look at OPS and a variation of Bill James’ secondary average in relation to his batting average. His formula is basically doubles, plus twice the number of triples, plus three times the number of HRs, plus walks, plus the difference between SBs and CS, all divided by at-bats. The point? That a low-average guy that either hits for serious power or gets on base a lot is just as valuable if not more than a high-average batter with less power.
…Offensive speed is how well the player runs the bases, not how fast. The best baserunners are smart and fast, but as many of us have seen, they’re usually one or the other but rarely both.

…Defensively, Sickels freely admits that he has to rely on the scouts heavily because the more advanced defensive metrics (e.g. Zone Rating) simply aren’t available for the minors, noting that range (which ZR measures) is developmentally more important than reliability.

Here they are, listed from high-to-low letter grade first, alphabetically second:

Brian Goodwin – B+ (B) Steven Souza – C+ Chris Marrero – C (C+)
Anthony Rendon – B+ (A-) Zach Walters – C+ (C) Jason Martinson – C (C)
Matt Skole – B (C) Corey Brown – C Brandon Miller – C
Destin Hood – C+ (B-) Billy Burns – C Randolph Oduber – C (C)
Estarlin Martinez – C+ (C) Ricky Hague – C (C+) Wander Ramos – C
Eury Perez – C+ (C) Spencer Kieboom – C Caleb Ramsey – C
Tony Renda – C+ Sandy Leon – C Michael Taylor – C (C+)
Carlos Rivero – C+

The four guys that are bolded weren’t on the BA Top 31, but all are on the 2013 Watchlist (yes, I do take a small measure of pride in that). Blake Kelso, Kevin Keyes, and Justin Bloxom were dropped from this year’s while Harper, Lombardozzi and Moore graduated.

Of the nine guys that weren’t in the 2012 book, three were drafted last June (Renda, Kieboom, Miller). Two others (Burns and Ramsey) were drafted in 2011. For those wondering, David Freitas was graded a C+ while Jeff Kobernus was graded a C — both grades are the same as last year’s.

This year, the sole “sleeper” pick is Estarlin Martinez, a bat in search of a position, which seems to be LF after 30+ games at 2B, 3B, 1B, and RF. Martinez turns 21 in March and Sickels believes he’s primed for a breakout year, which will most likely begin in Hagerstown.

Most of the “bolded” guys are covered in the watchlist, which I’ll be finishing up soon, but I gotta give props for Sickels’s nickname of Spencer “Where’s The Earth Shattering?” Kieboom (link for those unfortunate enough to miss the reference), even though it’s pronounced Key-boom.

And with that, the annual review of the prospect books is complete. Two weeks to go until the full squad is due to report at Viera.