Welcome to the saltines of the seven-course meal that is the Nationals minors — something that cleanses the palate before we get a taste of Auburn, where the more appetizing draft picks are usually sent.
What’s perhaps more frustrating is that despite being the oldest team in the league for the past three seasons, the GCL Nationals have been cellar dwellers. The pitching and defense were close to league-average (4.05 R/G vs. 4.00; .964FA vs. .963) but the offense was below average (3.72 R/G, 3rd worst). Winning and performance are supposed to be secondary to learning and indoctrination, but must they be mutually exclusive?!
Breaking it down statistically vs. the rest of the GCL…
In a sample size of just 60 games, there are bound to be some anomalies. Such as the offense being above-average in most every major category but scoring runs, hitting for power, and staying out of the double play. The pitchers gave up more hits and homers than average but were also tied for giving up the fewest walks (in another oddity, the K and BB numbers of the team they tied, the GCL Rays, were identical) in the GCL. They also gave up the fewest balks and threw the fewest wild pitches.
Those are the kinds of things you hope to find when taking a closer look at the numbers — like the DSL, this is an exercise of scouting by boxscore. Now, let’s take a look at the Top 12 batters in terms of plate appearances, listing their position(s) in terms of games played. Players with an asterisk played in the DSL in 2011 or 2012; Players with a double asterisk are GCL repeats from 2011; Players with a carat(^) are NDFAs; Players with a plus symbol were promoted to Auburn and/or Hagerstown. The full statistics for the team can be found here.
Like last year, there were three GCL repeaters (Difo, Valdez, Severino), two of which were promoted in-season from the DSL. Unfortunately, of those three only Severino showed any significant statistical improvement. But Narciso Mesa is a good reminder that these numbers shouldn’t be taken as gospel — his line for 32 games looks bad (.229/.262/.297) yet in 32 games at Auburn he lit up the NYPL (.343/.391/.400). Therefore, it’s quite possible that next year this trio will go to Auburn like Estarlin Martinez, Wander Ramos, and Mesa did this year.
The two NDFAs — Matt Foat and Will Piwinica-Worms — are also intriguing players. Both were defensive standouts and both received more playing time than any other 2012 draftees (though the counter-argument is that they got Mock/Chico treatment). Unfortunately, both are 22 and even if that’s a “young” 22 (both born in 1990), it can’t be ignored entirely. Of the two, I lean towards Foat perhaps going a bit further up the ladder, though that’s based purely on his strong offensive numbers (.333/.404/.401).
On to the pitchers, listing the Top 12 in terms of innings pitched…
The most encouraging thing I saw here was how many of these guys were promoted during the season — three of the Top 12, six overall (Blake Schwartz, Leonard Hollins, and Michael Boyden were the others). Some of this, no doubt, was planned (e.g. Pineyro, Anderson) but after seeing so many rehabbers the past two seasons, it’s almost novel.
Four pitchers made the jump from the DSL, with two of them (Pineyro, Mendez) getting a look in Auburn. On the flip side, four were repeats from 2012 and only one (Heredia) made noticeable (on a numbers basis) progress, the others taking a step back or possibly getting hurt (2011 Watchlister Anthony Marcelino made just one appearance). If last year is any guide, we’re likely to see Vasquez and Barrientos pitching in Auburn next summer.
OBLIGATORY TOP FIVE LISTS
I’m probably going to get burned again, but I’ll pick two lists of five this year after dropping down to one list last year.
Top 5 Batters
1. Matt Foat
2. Wilmer Difo
3. Diomedes Eusebio
4. Bryan Lippincott
5. Will Piwinica-Worms
Honorable Mentions: Pedro Severino, Mike McQuillan
Top 5 Pitchers
1. Ivan Pineyro
2. Will Hudgins
3. Gilberto Mendez
4. Joel Barrientos
5. Daury Vasquez
Honorable Mentions: Blake Schwartz, Inocencio Heredia