Dec 242015
 

Wut doo yu meen thair for Santuh?

The weather sure doesn’t seem like it, but it’s almost time for the final Friday of December, which is Christmas for some, December 25th to others, and a day off for most people outside of the retail and restaurant industries.

As I’ve done the past few years, my post-solstice wish is that by the time you read this, you’ve checked off everything on your list, have arrived at your preferred place to be, and can spend time with folks who you want to be with (and, ideally, vice-versa ;-).

Be happy, stay safe, and be grateful. Regardless of your religion or your beliefs, it’s a sentiment that applies to everyone, everywhere no matter what the season.

Dec 192015
 

No, we haven’t gone dark… there’s just not much going on right now.

Like some of you have noted in the comments, there’s the wondering how the Nats farm will be tilled to fulfill the proposed trade for Brandon Phillips. If you want some amusement, take a look at the philistine commenting about the delay being about DC. Thankfully, he or she is getting piled on like the plates at a holiday buffet.

The hope here is that the trade will have a domino effect and will start the process of signing minor-league free agents, which has been noticeably slower this year, Bill “The Rocket” Ladson’s story this week notwithstanding. (Thanks for “ruining” the next BA post on transactions, Bill 😉

With that I return you to you families and/or loved ones on what retailers refer to as “Super Saturday.”

Dec 152015
 

 


For the fourth straight, Lucas Giolito snagged the top spot in this (quite) unscientific poll for the fourth straight year and was the unanimous choice for the second. With that suspense ruined….

  1. Lucas Giolito
  2. Reynaldo Lopez
  3. Erick Fedde
  4. Austin Voth
  5. A.J. Cole
  6. Austen Williams
  7. Koda Glover
  8. John Simms
  9. Andrew Lee
  10. Abel De Los Santos

Others receiving votes: Taylor Hearn, Phillips Valdez, Nick Lee, Mariano Rivera, Tyler Mapes, Dakota Bacus, Jefry Rodriguez, Tyler Watson, Maximo Valerio, Robbie Dickey, Joan Baez, Sammy Solis, Rafael Martin

Now, for the thoughts, as threat…er, promised:

• If the only questions regarding Giolito are his health and service time, then expect a Strasburg-esque recall from the minors in June. It’s not like Rizzo could have been just playing to the crowd with the recent “invite to spring training” comments.

• Despite a 2015 that paled in comparison to 2014, Reynaldo Lopez’s stock did not drop. Then again, it’s not like the Nats have an abundance of younger-than-the-level pitchers with his potential, either.

• Erick Fedde moved up, with perhaps a lot of folks hoping for his 2015 to equal Giolito’s 2013, which would mean a breakout 2016.

• Austin Voth held steady at #4 despite a strong showing (2.92/3.07/1.11) for a weak Harrisburg team and winning the 2015 Minor League Pitcher of the Year Award.

• A.J. Cole, who turns 24 next month, might be suffering from prospect fatigue, not to mention less-than-stellar results when he was called up.

• Austen Williams was the last of the on-every-ballot pitchers… as we often lament, after the first few, it’s a free-for-all (freefall?)

Sadly, we’re now at the point of the offsesason where it’s waiting for trades and transactions, both of which have been sparse [insert Billy Beane lost his cellphone joke here]. As per usual, feel free to discuss in the comments.

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).