Whatever your felicitation — Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Solstice, Festivus — please make it safe, healthful, and enjoyable for you and yours across the Natmosphere. It’s been an eventful week, if not an interesting year, and a pleasure to use my profession to share my passion with all of you in 2011.
semi weekly look at the Nationals players in the Winter Leagues, with all statistics as of 1:40 a.m. on December 23, 2011.
As you might have guessed, this feature got bumped with the slew o’ news this week. The Dominican Winter League regular season ended this week, the Venezuelan League wraps up next Friday, and the Mexican League finishes the first week of January.
Hope this finds everyone well as they
hide from their families take a break from their holiday festivities.
Multiple online sources are reporting that the Nationals have traded four prospects for LHP Gio Gonzalez, a package that’s said to include RHPs Brad Peacock and A.J. Cole, LHP Tommy Milone and C Derek Norris.
While you might think that my initial reaction might be that we gave away the farm (hence the pic), I am personally pleased for Milone and Norris, both of whom will now be in a better position to make the majors. The American League has long rewarded lefties with good control and sharp breaking stuff (see Wells, David; Pettitte, Andrew). Norris now can be used as a DH if need be (Scott Hatteberg comparisons in 3… 2… 1…).
Both Milone and Norris were blocked to some extent by Wilson Ramos and/or Jesus Flores and Ross Detwiler and/or John Lannan. Note those “and/or’s” because Rizzo may not be done dealing, especially since Detwiler is out of options. As we saw earlier this month with the Perry-for-Balester trade, Rizzo is quite willing to make a trade to get that roster flexibility (insert Garrett Mock joke here) he covets.
So it’s Peacock and Cole for Gio, essentially, with Norris and Milone as insurance. If Gio does indeed improve his control while maintaining his GB rate and K rates, then this could be a trade that works out for both organizations.
I now return you to the howling on Twitter.
UPDATE — The trade also included 24-year-old RHP Robert Gilliam, who is not in the upper echelons of Oakland’s prospects. The best that I could find on him came from a fantasy baseball site, Razzball.com:
Pitched well in an extreme hitting environment – High-A Stockton (California League). In 164⅓ innings, Gilliam had the following ratios: 8.5 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, 1.3 Hr/9, 4.30 FIP, .307 BABIP, 1.30 WHIP. Those aren’t fantastic numbers, but they are noteworthy due to the environment. Could receive a late season call-up if he continues to pitch this well.
Considering that Cole was nearly a lock to move up to Potomac, it would appear that Rizzo has lined up his replacement.
The Washington Nationals have claimed SS-3B Carlos Rivero on waivers from the Philadelphia Phillies.
Like Baltimore’s Billy Rowell, Rivero has been stuck at AA for the past three seasons with the obligatory “but he’s still young” caveat attached to him. This past season Rivero finally did well enough (.270/.326/.440) to get a cup of coffee at AAA where hit hit just .185/.233/.444 in seven games.
The knock on Rivero is that his defense has been suspect (.949FA in 497G as a SS) despite having a strong throwing arm. The shift to 3B has been unsuccessful (.908FA in 142G) and to paraphrase the pholks at Phuture Phillies: “It’s a loss after a good rebound season, but he remains a deeply flawed prospect.”
Rivero coincidentally was the subject for PhuturePhillies.com’s look at the flip side of drafting international talent.
I’ll expand on this later, but I wanted to put this up ASAP so folks can discuss in the comments. Here’s the summary:
|B||A.J. Cole, Brad Peacock, Brian Goodwin, Derek Norris, Alex Meyer|
|B-||Matt Purke, Tom Milone, Steve Lombardozzi, Sammy Solis, Destin Hood, Robbie Ray|
|C+||Chris Marrero, Danny Rosenbaum, Michael Taylor, David Freitas|
|C||Rich Hague, Matt Skole, Jason Martinson|
That’s 13 of 20 prospects graded B- or better. Last year, it was 12 of 20 that were C+ or C. This is huge because Sickels is a notoriously tough grader.
I’ve bolded the 2010 Top 20 picks that improved their standing and italicized the prospects that played their way on to this year’s list. The point? This isn’t just Bryce Harper and the 2011 Draft — 40% of this list are guys that were already in the organization and got better.
UPDATE: As promised, some thoughts on the Sickels Top 20.
…Now I’m rooting for Rendon to make it to Potomac next summer. Sickels downgraded the likes of Purke, Solis, Hague due to injury concerns and while he undoubtedly did here, too, it’s clear that he fell from Harper heights, whereas I would have guessed dropping from a B+ to a B.
…Naturally, I am psyched that he has become a Milone believer and thinks Rosenbaum could be following the same path, with Dupra, Hill, and Turnbull the possible next wave
…Not surprised that Kobernus, Moore, or Perez didn’t make the cut. All three aren’t much for walking. Moore didn’t get filleted at AA, but his walk totals have fallen each of the past two seasons while the strikeouts have risen. Kobernus and Perez don’t have the power to make you look the other way, and while both have speed, Perez is still one of the system’s true CFs.
…Pay attention to the “needs to show skills higher than” caveat that keeps recurring; seems to apply to nearly all of the Suns contingent and Skole. Luckily, we do have some coverage at Potomac *rimshot!*
…Sickels still believes in Norris, but downgraded him from B+ to B. The comp to Mickey Tettleton and/or Mike Napoli seems to be de rigeur nowadays, though I think that underrates his throwing arm, not to mention that he’s athletic enough to transition to 1B or LF in a very short time.
…Cole is likely to get the bump up to B+ per Sickels himself in the comments to his article: “I’m about 90% sure Cole is going to get a B+ when all is said and done. I got some mixed reports about his changeup and some velocity fluctuations but overall I love the guy. I want to do some comparisons with other guys in the same grade range and see who I like better.”
…Last but not least, Sickels hinted that the system itself may be entering the Top 10 for all of MLB. I know some folks get pumped over that whereas I’m more likely to remember the #10 ranking from early 2008 by BA after the Detwiler/Smoker/McGeary draft that dropped right back to #21 in early 2009.
Yesterday, the Nationals finally announced the 2012 lineup for their affiliates’ coaching staffs:
Manager – Tony Beasley (promoted from Harrisburg)
Pitching Coach – Greg Booker (returning)
Hitting Coach – Troy Gingrich (promoted from Harrisburg)
Manager – Matt LeCroy (promoted from Potomac)
Pitching Coach – Paul Menhart (promoted from Potomac)
Hitting Coach – Eric Fox (new hire)
Manager – Brian Rupp (new hire; managed Wilmington ’09-’11)
Pitching Coach – Chris Michalak (promoted from Hagerstown)
Hitting Coach – Marlon Anderson (promoted from Hagerstown)
Manager – Brian Daubach (returning)
Pitching Coach – Franklin Bravo (promoted from Auburn)
Hitting Coach – Mark Harris (reassigned from Potomac)
Manager – Gary Cathcart (returning)
Pitching Coach – TBD
Hitting Coach – Luis Ordaz (returning)
Manager – Tripp Keister (new hire; previously coached at Wesley College)
Pitching coach – Michael Tejera (returning)
Hitting coach – Amaury Garcia (promoted from DSL)
Manager – Sandy Martinez (returning)
Pitching Coach – Pablo Frias (returning)
Hitting Coach – Jorge Mejia (new hire)
The coordinators are nearly all the same with the exception of Calvin Minasian, who replaces John Mullin as the Clubhouse and Equipment Manager. The most significant changes come at Potomac, where Brian Rupp was lured away from the Kansas City organization to become the P-Nats field boss and Mark Harris was sent to Maryland to assume the hitting-coach duties for Hagerstown. Most of the other moves are promotions from within.
As was the case last year, most of this was not a mystery, given the early news on the AA and AAA staffs last month, and a commenter in the know (Get 42 Off 1st) informing us in September of the removals of Jerry Browne (AAA hitting coach), Bobby Williams (DSL manager), and Sergio Mendes (DSL hitting coach). I’m sure we’ll get some opinions as to why Harris and Anderson swapped spots, though my first inference is that they wanted to keep him and Michalak together.
Yesterday, John Sickels released his preliminary prospect list — a precursor to the release of his Top 20 list, which should come this week.
Since last year he released his preliminary list prior to the selection of our 2012 Watchlist, I’ll list the omissions instead of the overlap:
|Paul Applebee||Joel Barrientos||Corey Brown|
|Paul Demny||Wilmer Difo||Diomedes Eusebio|
|Marcos Frias||Matt Grace||Junior Geraldo|
|Neil Holland||Greg Holt||Hendry Jimenez|
|Taylor Jordan||Nathan Karns||Jose Marmolejos-Diaz|
|Estarlin Martinez||Gilberto Mendez||Narciso Mesa|
|Christian Meza||Justin Miller||Adrian Nieto|
|Bryce Ortega||“Fred” Ortega||Arialdi Peguero|
|Ivan Pineyro||Wander Ramos||Caleb Ramsey|
|Manny Rodriguez||Adrian Sanchez||Steve Souza|
|Hector Silvestre||Matt Swynenberg||Jean Carlos Valdez|
Not too difficult to see the pattern here: Too old for the level by his standards or players from the Dominican Republic that haven’t played north of Florida. Omission may also be too strong a word — if I were to slice our watchlist in half, I’d probably do the same, especially if I had to put a few hundred of them in a book that’s going on sale next month.
The only name that was on his list but not ours was Deion Williams, a.k.a. the lone HS position players signed from the Nats 2011 draft.
This year, you’ll recall, I made a conscious effort to be more exclusive than inclusive and one of the areas in which I thought that I was too “easy” last year was the three-letter leagues (DSL, GCL). It’s a balancing act between identifying guys that caught my eye while doing the season reviews and being a homer. So if I get kudos for picking out “For The Weekend,” I deserve the Red Foreman treatment on the likes of Nick Serino.
I did, however, make the case on his board for the Adrians (Nieto and Sanchez) and Taylor Jordan, with an honorable mention for Justin Bloxom. I’m sure most of you can make the case for others, and encourage you to comment both here and there.
It’s mostly quiet on the minor-league front, but since our last post there have a been a few signings:
- UT Andres Blanco (Texas)
- RHP Jeff Fulchino (Houston/San Diego)
- 2B Manny Mayorson (Toronto)
- OF Jason Michaels (Houston)
- 1B/3B Tim Pahuta (re-signed)
- RHP Luis Chirinos (McAllen, NAL)
- RHP Marcel Prado (Margarita, VWL)
- IF-OF Chad Tracy (Japan, ’11; Cubs/Marlins, ’10)
- OF Xavier Paul (L.A. Dodgers, Pittsburgh)
As you can see, most of these moves fall into either the category of roster-filling or spring-training competition. Unfortunately, I am also awaiting the inevitable BA transaction post in which we’ll learn about some of the releases and retirements.
In other news…
Byron Kerr has tweeted that he expects an announcement regarding the minor-league coaching staffs early next week. I’ve heard nothing definitive elsewhere.
Lastly, there are rumblings from Hagerstown about upgrading Municipal Stadium (or else). Our favorite Hagerstown blogger makes some very good points in his latest post (and open letter) to the county officials.
UPDATE: Baseball America has issued its latest transaction update, and in red are two names that were added. Both pitched in the Venezuela Winter League on the same pitching staff as Ryan Tatusko this offseason. Chirinos pitched in the independent North American League this past summer, while Prado pitched in the Golden Baseball League in 2010.
UPDATE #2: A few more minor-league signings in blue, with the requisite invite to spring training (plus Brett Carroll), which was also extended to Sandy Leon, Cory Brown, and Rafael Martin.
As predicted yesterday, multiple sources are reporting the Nationals have made a couple of minor-league free agents: RHP Waldis Joaquin and IF Jarrett Hoffpauir.
Naturally, you’re as shocked as I am that both are formerly of N.L. West organizations — Joaquin from the San Francisco Giants, Hoffpauir from the San Diego Padres.
Joaquin is a hard-throwing righthander (95-98 m.p.h.) from the Dominican Republic that was a B- prospect for John Sickels in 2010, but has struggled in his three September callups (5.40 ERA, 1.800 WHIP) despite having modest numbers at AAA the past three seasons (3.63, 1.580), though his K rate drop from ’10 to ’11 (8.6 to 4.9) is definite red flag. He turns 25 on Christmas day.
Hoffpauir was originally drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2004, rising to AAA by 2007, where he has languished ever since despite a career .287/.365/.445 line at that level for St. Louis, Toronto, and San Diego. The catch, you may ask? The 28-year-old doesn’t, as he’s been described by FutureRedbirds.net as a “glove o’ lead.”
semi weekly look at the Nationals players in the Winter Leagues, with all statistics as of 12:59 a.m. on December 14, 2011.
The past few days have reminded me of what it was like to be a small-town sports reporter during mud season (March) in New England: nothin’ going on and nowhere to go. (Don’t ask about basketball; this was a football town that fielded a hoops team to keep the WRs and DBs in shape).
This, unfortunately, got lost in the holiday shuffle and doctor’s appointments (not to worry, Spike is fine).
A few names have gotten dropped, since it appears they’ve either gone home or been cut. One notable addition is the recent Rule 5 pickup Matt Buschmann, pitching in the Mexican Winter League.
I’m still hopeful to report on some new Nats signings and to get an announcement regarding the coaching staffs, which came last year almost immediately after the Winter Meetings wrapped up. Sickels, Baseball Prospectus, and Bullpen Banter have all yet to name the 2012 top prospects lists for the Nats, and as much as I hate the bickering over who got ranked higher than whom, it does light the proverbial hot stove.
And if the past is prologue, posting today will mean that a flurry of news items will surface in the next 12-24 hours
UPDATE: Top Prospect Alert Minor League Blog has posted its Top 15 for the Nationals. It’s a curious list, but the disclaimer goes a long way towards explaining inclusions of Matt Skole and Taylor Hill.