Oct 102015

It’s been an interesting week to say the least. And as much as I’d like to say there’s been a lot of news, if you look more closely, there’s a hell of a lot more smoke than fire. The entire Nats coaching staff — many of whom have been mainstays in the organization before the current GM assumed his role — was “informed their contracts would not be renewed” while the Nats have reportedly “offered several jobs to several of our former major league coaches in our system.”

I’d like to know which coaches were offered which jobs. Not that for a minute would I actually believe that Rizzo or the Nationals would answer that directly or honestly, but it would nice if somebody, somewhere would ask such an obvious (and necessary) question. Maybe it was asked, but I doubt it.


Perhaps biggest “news” is that Trea Turner won’t be playing on the taxi squad after all. This never made much sense and sounds like a (yet another) tone-deaf PR maneuver. Meanwhile, Christopher Bostick replaces Wilmer Difo, who was injured last weekend. Games start up on Tuesday the 13th.

Three Nats made the Carolina League Top 20: Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, and Austen Williams. Not much argument about Giolito, but the previous accolades and perhaps a weak year seems to account for the picks of Lopez and Williams respectively. Giolito as the top dog in the Eastern League also reeks of laziness, as does the naming of Joe Ross — who is no longer an MLB rookie — at No. 8.

Let me be clear: I’m criticizing Baseball America here. Yes, we get that Giolito is a great talent, but double-dipping means that another guy elsewhere doesn’t get named. And a pitcher that made 13 starts for a second-place team might be a major-leaguer someday?
Even F.P. Santangelo could make that call.

Still fairly slow, as P.J. Walters was re-signed. That’s it.

A look over the rosters of the Venezuelan Winter League, which started up on the 7th, has turned up two pitchers and two position players who were with the organization at the end of the 2015 season:

  • Reegie Corona
  • Mario Lisson
  • Paolo Espino
  • Mario Sanchez

So far, no Nationals have been listed on the Mexican Pacific League teams, which began last night.

In 2011 and 2012, the Doubldays were contenders to win the NYPL league. In 2013, they bottomed out with the league’s worst record and worst pitching. The past two seasons, it’s been a slow climb to the .500 mark. It’s worth noting that the first two teams were among the league’s oldest while the last three have been edging towards the average, falling below this year (20.6 vs. 21.1 for bats; 21.1 vs. 21.3 for arms) with the influx of more players from the D.R.

Just two of the seven Washington affiliates surpassed the league average runs scored per game. Not coincidentally, both clubs — Auburn and Hagerstown — were the closest to a winning record. Funny how that works. The Doubledays scored 4.82 R/G (vs. 4.25), which was good for second-best in the league. The pitching and defense let in 4.88 R/G which was third-worst in both categories. Thus, the 36-38 mark is only one off from the Pythagorean projection (for the folks who still mindlessly lament the “collapse” of the 2005 parent club, look at the second paragraph under “Justification”) of 37-37.

Before I unveil the Top 5’s, a note: I’m not listing Victor Robles twice, even though he was head and shoulders above the rest (.311 GPA). If that doesn’t make sense, re-read “BA Top Prospects” above 😉

1. Max Schrock, 2B/SS, .272 GPA, .308 BA 1. Erick Fedde, RHP, 2.57/2.60/1.31, 9.26 K/9IP
2. Dalton Dulin, 2B, .273 GPA, .410 OBP 2. Mariano Rivera III, RHP, 5.45/2.70/1.64, 0.82BB/9
3. Kelvin Gutierrez, 3B, .265 GPA, 21 doubles in 62G 3. Tommy Peterson, RHP, 2.66/2.83/1.23, 1.8 BB/9
4. Edwin Lora, SS, .238 GPA, .414 SLG% 4. Taylor Guilbeau, LHP, 3.88/2.89/1.39, 1.6 BB/9
5. David Kerian, 1B, .236 GPA, .995 FA 5. Grant Borne, LHP, 3.59/2.99/1.26, 1.3 BB/9

Honorable mentions to Rhett Wiseman and Matt Crownover; the former was just a tick below Kerian, the latter because he finished very strong — 2.22 ERA and 0.82 WHIP in August. And it pained me to have to include Mariano Rivera III because I am really not a fan of legacy picks (*cough* Shane McCatty *cough*) but like Crownover, getting pounded early skewed his stats.

This is why I like FIP and include it as a “pitcher’s triple slash” because it’s less volatile. Indeed, you’ll see that a lot of the pitchers listed had one thing in common: they didn’t issue walks. We can complain that they didn’t strike out many, either, but that’s a conversation for the comments section.

As always, folks who want to see the numbers for the full team can find them here.

Oct 032015

Rained-Out-2014There’s still more than a week to go before the Arizona Fall League starts up, while the hot mess that is the 2015 Washington Nationals limps to a finish.

As much as I’d like to keep the focus on the minor-leaguers, times like these I understand why people want to discuss the parent club. It’s certainly better than in the days of the Nationals Farm Authority, where there was a sizable contingent of folks who only came to whine and campaign for replacements for the product in D.C. and bitch about the perceived lack of spending [Insert remark about Papelbon salary with rhetorical question here].

For what it’s worth, I too, worry that the proverbial window is closing and that Rizzo might not be able to trade his way out of “cleanse the palate” season (or three). But that’s as much as I think I should write about that; I’d like to shift back to why we’re here: to follow the paths of the future Nationals (and/or trade bait ;-)…

Speaking of trade bait, shortly after last week’s post went to virtual press, the Nationals announced the 2015 Organizational Awards with Jose “Orange” Marmolejos-Diaz earning the Player of the Year, Austin Voth was tabbed as the Pitcher of the Year, and Austen Williams earned the third annual Bob Boone Award. For the folks not on the inside joke, take a look at that link and scroll down: Eight of the last 17 award winners have been traded.

As expected, no Nationals made the South Atlantic League Top 20 or were referenced in its “In A Box” feature. The home office in Durham, NC chose to do the Florida State League ahead of the Carolina League, so the adulation for Lucas Giolito will have to wait until next week.

As usual, it’s pretty quiet on this front: one pitcher re-signing (Justin Amlung) another getting cut loose (Manny Rodriguez). With the free agency period starting in roughly five weeks, we may see one or two more guys re-up rather than test the waters.

For the fifth time in the last six seasons, the G-Nats finished fourth with a 24-34 record. Like most of the affiliates, they had league-average pitching (4.00 R/G vs. 3.99) and were below-average offensively (3.59 R/G). Defensively, they were a shade better (.966FA vs. .964). This is where I also remind you to not get too excited or too depressed: short-season baseball = small sample size, not to mention the bevy of pitchers recuperating from Nationals elbow.

Without further ado…

1. Victor Robles, CF, .358 GPA, 12SB in 23G 1. Matt DeRosier, RHP, 1.29/2.21/0.90, 9.4 K/9
2. Telmito Agustin, LF, .278 GPA, .446 SLG% 2. Joan Baez, RHP, 2.13/2.67/1.18, 6.6 H/9IP
3. Anderson Franco, 3B, .259 GPA, 4HR in 43G 3. Rocky Harmening, RHP, 2.86/3.26/1.14, 4:1 K:BB ratio
4. Darryl Florentino, OF, .267 GPA, .329 BA 4. Brayan Serrata, RHP, 1.80/3.26/1.35, converted from C
5. Oliver Ortiz, 1B-OF, .226 GPA, .982 FA at 1B 5. Maximo Valerio, RHP, 1.72/3.36/0.98, 88.8 LOB%

There were three players that were statistically better than 19-y.o. Ortiz, who was repeating the level, but all three were significantly older (~22 y.o.) Thus, no honorable mentions. Three of the top five pitchers were also on a subsequent tour, but unlike the 2014 staff, they were at or below league-average in terms of FIP. Folks who are interested in seeing the entire team’s stats, should click here.

Sep 052015
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 4-1 vs. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre,
7:05 p.m.
Lail (3-2, 3.71) vs.
Hill (3-10, 5.19)
Harrisburg Won, 7-4 vs. Akron,
7:00 p.m.
Bates (6-5, 4.19) vs.
Brown (1-3, 3.86)
Potomac Lost, 6-3 vs. Salem,
7:05 p.m.
Mapes (5-3, 2.47) vs.
Buttrey (8-9, 3.98)
Hagerstown Lost, 5-4 @ Lexington,
7:05 p.m.
Bach (6-4, 3.75) vs.
Blewett (3-5, 4.97)
Auburn Won, 5-1 @ Batavia,
7:05 p.m.
Guilbeau (2-2, 3.91) vs.
Squier (5-2, 3.69)

Lehigh Valley 4 Syracuse 1
• McGregor (L, 6-6) 4IP, 5H, 2R, 2ER, BB, 3K, HR
• Harper 1IP, 2H, 0R, BB, 0K
• Sizemore 2-4, R
• Ballou 2-4, 2B, RBI

Syracuse closed out its road scheduled with a 4-1 loss to Lehigh Valley. Scott McGregor got the nod in place of A.J. Cole and was knocked for two runs on five hits and a walk over four innings to lose his sixth game. Dakota Bacus made his AAA debut but was dinged for a two-run homer in the 5th. Isaac Ballou and Scott Sizemore both went 2-for-4 to pace the Chiefs offense.

Harrisburg 7 Akron 4
• Giolito (W, 4-2) 6IP, 7H, 4R, 4ER, BB, 4K, HR
• Corona 1-2, 2R, HR, RBI, 2BB, SB
• Vettleson 1-2, 2RBI, 2BB, SB
• Difo 2-5, 2R, 2-2B, RBI

Lucas Giolito finished up his 2015 campaign with six innings of four-run ball as the Sens beat the ‘Ducks, 7-4. Washington’s top prospect allowed seven hits, including a HR in the 6th, walked one and struck out four to finish with a mark of 4-2 for Harrisburg, 7-7 overall with a combined pitcher’s line of 3.15/2.58/1.28 with 6HR, 37BB, 131K in 117IP. Nick Lee, Gilberto Mendez, and Paul Demny each turned in a scoreless frame to earn the hold(s) and save, respectively. Reegie Corona walked twice, scored twice, and smacked a HR top lead the Harrisburg offense, which drew eight walks total.
Roster move: RHP Tanner Roark recalled to Washington.

Salem 6 Potomac 3
• Howell (L, 1-2) 1⅔ IP, 3H, 6R, 6ER, 5BB, 1K, HR, BK
• Walsh 3⅔ IP, 2H, 0R, BB, 5K
• Mesa 2-4, R
• Read 2-4

Salem scored six times in the 2nd and cruised to a 6-3 win over Potomac in the series opener. Jeff Howell gave up all six runs on five walks and three hits over an inning and 2/3rds to lose for the second time for the P-Nats. Jake Walsh and Derek Self both turned in three and 2/3rds scoreless innings to give the offense a chance to catch up, but the offense could only muster three runs on ten hits and two walks. Narciso Mesa and Raudy Read accounted for four of those hits, each going 2-for-4.

Lexington 5 Hagerstown 4
• Amlung (L, 3-4) 6IP, 7H, 5R, 5ER, 2BB, 5K
• Napoli 2IP, 0H, 0R, 2BB, 0K
• W. Rodriguez 2-3, R, HR, BB, RBI
• Abreu 3-4, 2R, 2B, HR, BB, RBI
• Marmolejos-Diaz 2-4, 2-2B, RBI

Hagerstown stranded 12 runners, five in the final three innings, as they were edged by Lexington, 5-4 in game two of the five-game series. Justin Amlung let in all five runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out five in his fourth Low-A loss. David Napoli walked two in two scoreless innings of relief. Osvaldo Abreu and Wilman Rodriguez both homered as the Suns pounded out 11 hits and drew six walks in the loss.

Auburn 5 Mahoning Valley 1
• Valerio (W, 2-0) 5IP, 2H, 0R, BB, 4K
• Van Vossen (H, 2) 3IP, 3H, R, ER, BB, K
• K. Gutierrez 2-4, 2B, 2RBI, SB
• Kerian 2-4, 2B
• Schrock 1-3, R, 3B, BB, RBI

The Doubledays scored all five runs in the first four innings as they took the game, 5-1, and the series, 2-1 from the Scrappers. Maximo Valerio spun five scoreless innings for his second NYPL win, with two hits and one walk allowed and four K’s. Mick Van Vossen lost the shutout in the 8th but earned the hold, his second for Auburn. Kelvin Gutierrez and David Kerian both went 2-for-4 with a double as the offense registered 11 hits total.

May 092015

A 20-y.o. pitcher making his High-A debut and first start of the season showed flashes of brilliance, but was ultimately humbled by batters four to five years older in an 8-7 loss by the Potomac Nationals to the Frederick Keys.

That’s the reality of what happened to Lucas Giolito on Friday night, but it might not play that way to the folks who have only read the breathless hype and cheerleading from Baseball America and others that’s accompanied him since he was drafted in 2012.

The Washington Nationals’ #1 prospect did not dazzle, did not blow away the competition, and ultimately lost his first start of 2015.

Did I mention he’s just 20 years old?

For the velo whores, you can unbunch your panties: Giolito was hitting the mid-90s. He had plenty of heat. What he lacked was command. It’s been written here before, but it bears repeating. It doesn’t matter how hard a pitcher throws, if a professional batter knows what’s coming, he can hit it. Low-A, High-A, AA, AAA, it doesn’t matter.

Giolito was clearly working on his changeup, his third-best pitch. His renowned 12-6 hammer was on display for a couple of whiffs in the 2nd, but for the most part, Giolito was struggling to get ahead, enabling the Keys 24- and 25-y.o. veterans to sit on fastballs in hitter’s counts and they cashed in, scoring four times on five hits in the 3rd to take a 4-2 lead and twice in the 5th (the first run was Giolito’s, the second was Justin Thomas’s) to go up 6-4.

Frederick never trailed after the 3rd, though Potomac twice pulled within one run at 6-5 and the ultimate score of 8-7.

Drew Ward (2-for-5) homered and doubled and drove in two as did Stephen Perez (2-for-3), who also walked twice as Potomac pounded out 14 hits total but also left on 10 baserunners, including the tying run in the bottom of the 9th.

The loss dropped Potomac to 11-17, four and a half games behind first-place Frederick and three and half games behind second-place Wilmington. Tonight, John Simms (0-2, 12.71) makes his third start against Jarrett Miller (0-1, 4.30) for Frederick in Game Two of the four-game series.

Apr 082015

Yesterday, the Washington Nationals affiliates officially announced the 2015 Opening Day rosters. Let’s take a look at who landed where to begin the season.

Watchlist Pitchers — A.J. Cole, Felipe Rivero, Taylor Hill, Matt Grace
Watchlist Position Players — Cutter Dykstra

Watchlist Pitchers — Abel de Los Santos, Bryan Harper, Gilberto Mendez, Joe Ross, Austin Voth
Watchlist Position Players — Pedro Severino, Stephen Perez, Tony Renda, Matt Skole, Shawn Pleffner, Drew Vettleson

Watchlist Pitchers — Jake Johansen, Nick Pivetta, Matt Spann, Wander Suero, Justin Thomas, Jake Walsh
Watchlist Position Players — Spencer Kieboom, Chris Bostick, Wilmer Difo, Drew Ward, John Wooten, James Yezzo, Isaac Ballou, Rafael Bautista

Watchlist Pitchers — None
Watchlist Position Players — Raudy Read, Austin Davidson, Jose Marmolejos-Diaz, D.K. Carey

M.I.A. — Robbie Dickey, Ian Dickson, Lucas Giolito, Cody Gunter, Brian Goodwin, Reynaldo Lopez, Jefry Rodriguez, Hector Silvestre, Sammy Solis, John Simms, Kylin Turnbull.

Obviously, there are more that fall into that last batch… but for the sake of expediency, I’m limiting my analysis to the watchlist.

• For those of you who haven’t heard, Giolito and Lopez are both being held back in XST, and that’s presumably the case with most of the other pitchers.

• If indeed Lopez and Giolito are activated in late April, the best bet is for them to debut at the Pfitz during the midweek games of the first homestand in May.

• That Brian Goodwin isn’t ready is in line with our suspicion that he’s much further behind in his recovery than team officials have stated, which is hardly a shock given the amount of time it took for them to divulge that he had labrum surgery at all.

• It’s interesting that players on the DL have not yet been identified. While not a surefire indicator, it’s a least a hint as to where they might end up.

• Folks shouldn’t read too much into Hagerstown having no watchlist pitchers — they do have five 2014 draft picks, and one of the flaws of the watchlist is that short-season guys can (and do) get shortchanged if they don’t succeed right away in the GCL or the NYPL.

• It’s tough to make out what the plans are for Matt Skole with his placement at Harrisburg, but it may be more of a comment on the club’s wanting Ian Stewart and Kila Ka‘aihue in Syracuse and available as replacements for Ryan Zimmerman and/or Anthony Rendon.

• Felipe Rivero is not starting for Syracuse; the team announced a rotation of Cole-Jordan-Hill-McGregor-Billings.

• Austen Williams is the only other Opening Day starter that’s been announced.

• Finally, longtime Nats/Expos farmhand Devin Ivany is listed as a coach for the Senators.

As always, feel free to discuss in the comments. Opening Night — weather permitting :-( — is tomorrow!

Feb 202015

Spring training has only just begun but the prospect-ranking season, which never seems to end, culminated last night as Baseball America unveiled its 2015 Top 100 List.

Lucas Giolito, the undisputed* #1 Washington Prospect, came in at #7 this year. Joining him on the list are Michael Taylor (#32), Reynaldo Lopez (#49), Erick Fedde (#90), A.J. Cole (#91), and Joe Ross (#96).* Not counting parents, significant others, and agents, natch

The six prospects on the list is indeed the most ever for the franchise since it relocated from Montreal prior to the 2005 season. The previous high was four in 2011 when Bryce Harper (#1), Danny Espinosa (#66), Derek Norris (#72), and Wilson Ramos (#96) were all ranked. Four times the Nationals had just one prospect ranked in the annual preseason ranking (2005-2007, 2009).

Giolito is marking his third year on the list, having been ranked #21 last year and #67 in 2013, which are the bookends for the Tommy John surgery he underwent in August 2012 shortly after making his pro debut. In 2014, his first full season, he won 10 of 20 starts and turned in 98 innings, with a three-start layoff in May. He struck out 110 while walking just 28 for a robust pitcher’s line of 2.20/3.16/1.00, though he did give up seven HR’s (hence the just slightly better than league-average FIP).

The $64,000 question for 2015 is whether or not Giolito will progress to High-A Potomac after winning 10 of 20 starts made for Low-A Hagerstown in 2014. It lingers because the Nats do have a history of skipping top prospects from Low-A to AA, most recently with Brian Goodwin (2012) and previously with Bryce Harper (2011) and to lesser extent, Stephen Strasburg (2010) as it’s not as unusual for a collegiate “1-1” prospect to debut at that level.

The hope here is that the Nats handle Giolito much like Jordan Zimmermann (2008) or Taylor Jordan (2013) and give him 5-6 starts before sending him on his way to Harrisburg. Potomac opens at home this season, but a case of Hellenic flu could delay his debut for a week and allow for him to start on the road on normal rest four times, should the Nationals decide to split the difference while keeping him away from the DC area, as they’ve also done with high-profile pitchers (Matt Purke, 2012-2013).

On that note, here are the expected assignments for the rest of the Nats Top 100 guys:

  • Taylor — AAA Syracuse
  • Lopez — A+ Potomac
  • Fedde — GCL Nationals
  • Cole — AAA Syracuse
  • Ross — AA Harrisburg

Feel free to discuss in the comments (and stay warm).

Feb 052015

I might not have been waiting by the mailbox as I did in years past, but the arrival of the Baseball America handbook still merits the stop-drop-and-read treatment. Over the next couple of posts, I’ll pass along my thoughts.

You’ll not be shocked to learn that — yet again — the moves the Nats made in December were not reflected in the book. As much as I understand it, I do have to wonder if the folks in Durham are doing enough to account for this. In the meantime, you’ll have to adjust your reactions to some of the rankings.

Without the Souza trade, the Nats were still ranked 12th — up from 21st in last year’s book. As you might imagine, a lot of weight is given to yet-to-throw-a-professional-pitch Erick Fedde, viewed through a prism of praise for past gambles on injury-risk players that have paid off (Anthony Rendon) or seem about to (Lucas Giolito). Obviously, the additions of Trea Turner and Joe Ross would have to improve that ranking; how much is the stuff that comment sections were made for 😉

Let’s review how last year’s Top 30 fared:

Graduated (2) — Aaron Barrett, Blake Treinen

Traded (3) — Robbie Ray, Nathan Karns, Zach Walters

Rule 5 (1) — Adrian Nieto

Waived (1) — Eury Perez

Released (1) — Christian Garcia

Dropped Out (5) — Matt Purke, Jeff Kobernus, Brett Mooneyham, Robert Benincasa, Erik Davis

Perhaps the most encouraging trend is that we’re finally seeing a Top 30 with only “one hand” of 25-or-older guys (including Souza), though eight of them will turn 24 by the end of July. So this might be a hiccup unless we see more guys from the D.R. bubble up (hey, that rhymes!) the way eight of the top 30 have over the past two years.

With that, I’ll close with the Top 15 from the book and pick up on nos. 16-31 in the next post. Last year’s ranking, if applicable, in parentheses:

1. Lucas Giolito (1) 6. A.J. Cole (2) 11. Austin Voth (15)
2. Michael Taylor (7) 7. Wilmer Difo 12.Tony Renda (13)
3. Reynaldo Lopez 8. Drew Ward (17) 13. Pedro Severino (16)
4. Erick Fedde 9. Brian Goodwin (3) 14. Jakson Reetz
5. Steve Souza (10) 10. Nick Pivetta (22) 15. Sammy Solis (6)
Dec 192014

Baseball America for NPP
Having confirmed the new list via Twitter, here’s the new-and-improved Washington Nationals Top 10 list from Baseball America (Last year’s ranking in parentheses):

1. Lucas Giolito, RHP (1)
2. Michael Taylor, OF (7)
3. Reynaldo Lopez, RHP (–)
4. Erick Fedde, RHP (’14 Draft Pick)
5. A.J. Cole, RHP (2)
6. Wilmer Difo, 2B/SS (–)
7. Drew Ward, 3B (17)
8. Brian Goodwin, OF (3)
9. Nick Pivetta, RHP (22)
10. Austin Voth, RHP (15)

If you’re a TCU an A.J. Cole fan, you’re probably wondering what he did to drop three slots, but I think the better way to look at it is that the three guys ahead of him simply have either more upside (Fedde) or were in stratosphere this past summer (Taylor, Lopez).

Steve Souza was originally the #5 prospect on this list, though I think most most folks already knew this as the top 10 list was leaked (tweeted) earlier this week.

I’m a bit curious as to why Brian Goodwin remains ranked so high, given this tidbit (italics added):

They pushed him to Double-A Harrisburg by the second half of 2012, but he followed a lackluster 2013 with a horrific 2014 campaign at Triple-A Syracuse that ended on July 1 when he tore the labrum in his left shoulder sliding into second base.

Granted, Goodwin throws righthanded, but injury experts have long held that the torn labrum is baseball’s most fearsome injury, not to mention the conventional wisdom that shoulder injuries in general are what ends or alters baseball careers.

Unfortunately, BA did not weigh in on Difo’s defensive prowess so the SS vs. 2B debate will have to wait until the book is released or perhaps John Sickels’s book is released. They did, however, note that Drew Ward may outgrow 3B, pointing to his size-16 cleats and describing his footwork as merely adequate while noting his arm was strong and accurate.

BA’s projections for 2015 were as follows:

AAA –Taylor, Cole, Goodwin
High-A — Giolito, Lopez, Difo, Ward, Pivetta
Not specified — Fedde, Voth

I still believe Giolito will be jumped to AA (and would love to be wrong) because the Nats have not been keen on letting high-profile prospects play at Potomac (see: Strasburg, Harper, Goodwin). Voth is a near-lock to return to Harrisburg, while I’d expect Fedde to follow the track of Giolito and start out at the GCL and perhaps make an appearance with Auburn late in the year.

Oct 052014

Renda-Bunting-2014I had been hoping as I plugged away at this week’s column/post during my time confetti to be able to make some reference to how the parent club is doing in the playoffs. Now, I’m just hoping this will get read between wailing and second-guessing from last night’s 2-1 loss in 18 innings.

The “other” fall baseball starts up on Tuesday, with sponsor-contrived exhibition festivities held last night (hence, the pic). It looks like there won’t be a taxi squad guy this year, as the Nationals also officially placed the seven players named in late August onto the roster of the Mesa Solar Sox.

The love-fest for Reynaldo Lopez continues as Baseball America named him the #2 prospect in the New York Penn League, citing what we all know now: a 96-99 FB, a killer 11-5 CV, and a devastating changeup. Also named (#13) was catcher Raudy Read, who may be more intriguing given how thin the position had gotten. The trio of Pedro Severino, Read and Reetz are all under 22 and should populate the rosters at AA, Low-A, and SS-A with a resurgent Spencer Kieboom the likely starter at High-A (though he’ll be 24).

BA loves to double-dip, which is why Lopez got the nod as the #3 prospect of the South Atlantic League, two spots behind Lucas Giolito. In a bigger market, or a true baseball town, these two would have a nickname by now (Giopez?) though I suspect they won’t be teammates again until they’re both in AA. Coming in at #14 for the Sally Top 20 was Wilmer Difo, which I suspect is a function of his age (22) as twelve of the thirteen players ranked above him were 21 or younger.

So far, it’s quiet, which is the norm. Thus far, two players have been re-signed for next year — IF Cutter Dykstra and RHP Sam Runion. As much as we’d like to read into that, Occam’s Razor suggests it’s simply that both the organization and the player are content to continue with the 2014 arrangement for 2015.

Thankfully, the Nats affiliates will remain the same for another two years, which is hardly a shock — even with the rumblings in Hagerstown and Fredericksburg, which continues to be more talk than walk. It does however mean that they’ll be seeing some new opponents, as the Rockies join the Eastern League and the Cubs join the Carolina League, replacing the Twins and Rangers, respectively. Jamestown will be moving to Morgantown, which will require some new scheduling for Auburn and longer bus rides for everyone.

Let’s face it: No matter what this team did in 2014, it would be a disappointment compared to 2013. It also bears repeating that folks shouldn’t get too high or too low about performance in the short-season leagues (and yes, I’ve been guilty of that “crime”). So even though the team reverted to the mean — 25-35, .417 — there’s still some kids to get excited about (ok, that sounds a little creepy).
Offensively, the team was pretty much league average (4.32 vs. 4.37) but the pitching was second-worst in the league, giving up nearly a run more per game (5.32 vs. 4.37).

Without further ado…

1. Jakson Reetz, C, .285 GPA, 26BB in 43G 1. Jean Ramirez, RHP, 3.41/3.60/1.45, 0HR allowed in 36⅔ IP
2. Kelvin Gutierrez, 3B, .250 GPA, .934FA 2. Luis Reyes, RHP, 4.42/3.86/1.42, 2.95 BB/9
3. Aldrem Corredor, LF, .256 GPA, .411 OBP 3. Yorlin Reynoso, LHP, 3.38/3.97/1.75, 73.8 LOB%
4. Thomas Alvarez, 2B, .253 GPA, 4.65 RF/G 4. Maximo Valerio, RHP, 5.23/4.28/1.45, 7.3 K/9
5. “Fred” Aguero, IF, .249 GPA, .400 SLG 5. Jose Morales, RHP, 4.68/4.58/1.68, 3.03 BB/9

I’d give an honorable mention to Edwin Lora who batted .293 and stole 13 bases, but worry about the lack of doubles (just eight out of 53 hits). It was a stretch to name five pitchers, as it seemed like the best you could say for most of these guys is that they were still teenagers. Folks who are interested in seeing the entire team’s stats, should click here.

Aug 282014

With a long weekend to get the hell of out of Dodge enjoy, league offices aren’t waiting until the regular season is over to churn out the postseason accolades.

Well, two can play at that game. Here’s a look at the how the Nationals have been honored thus far this week…

Steve Souza was named the International League’s MVP and Rookie of the Year (an award that meant more prior to expansion) while necomer Billy Gardner took home Manager of the Year honors. Souza was also named to the postseason All-Star team along with teammates Emmanuel Burris and Brandon Laird.

Amid the worst season the Senators have had since the Expos became the Nationals, Michael Taylor was a bright spot until his callup to Syracuse (and briefly, Washington) as he was named the Eastern League’s MVP and Rookie of the Year as well as a postseason All-Star.

The full list has not yet been announced, but should be soon as former National Michael Burgess was named to the C.L. Team and the Frederick folks have been quick to publicize the exploits of a 25-year-old in his fifth year at the High-A level.

UPDATE: Tripp Keister was named the Manager of the Year while IFs Stephen Perez, Shawn Pleffner, Tony Renda, and Oscar Tejeda were named to the Carolina League Postseason All-Star Team.

Lucas Giolito was named both Most Outstanding Pitcher and the Most Outstannding Prospect for the Sally League while Wilmer Difo was the third Nationals farmhand to garner an MVP title. Joining them on the All-Star team is outfielder Rafael Bautista, who leads the league with 66 steals.

The GCL, which finishes today, and the NYPL have not yet announced their postseason teams/awards.