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
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
Guilbeau Medina Chu
Baez Wiseman
De Los Santos Borne Evangelista
Duran Serrata
R. Lopez
A. Williams
P. Valdez
A. Lee
Nov 152015

Christopher-Bostick-11-14-1After battling back from 5-1 down to tie it in the bottom of the 9th, the Rafters coughed up the lead in the 10th and couldn’t respond for a 6-5 loss in extra innings.

Christopher Bostick (pictured) was the only Nationals player to appear in the game. As per usual, the 22-year-old batted second and played 2B for Salt River. He was 1-for-5 with a double and three strikeouts at the plate and on defense he had a putout, an error, and two assists.

Salt River has an off day today before entering the final week of the Arizona Fall League. They have four games left and train Scottsdale by two, with a tragic number of three.

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Last week, BA released its list of the 2016 minor-league free agents, a day after noting that player-coach Andruth Ramirez, RHP Scott McGregor, and UT Jose Lozada had re-signed. Without further ado, the rest of the former Nationals:

RHP – Rob Gilliam, Jeff Howell, Connor Overton, Kevin Perez, and Sam Runion
LHP – Matt Purke
C – Brian Jeroloman, Steven Lerud
IF – Mario Lisson, Scott Sizemore, Josh Johnson
OF – Darin Mastroianni, Derrick Robinson

Obviously, the the most notable name among those is Matt Purke, who the Nationals gambled would be healthy after being beaten like a rented mule by TCU in his freshman year, and never regained that promise. Otherwise, it’s the usual suspects in terms of minor-league veterans who’ve been serving as organizational soldiers.

Nov 082015

Last night was the AFL Fall Stars Game, which saw the West defeat the East, 8-3. Surprise: Abel De Los Santos (pictured above) did appear. Not a surprise: He was touched for a run on two hits and was the losing pitcher.

For those wondering, winter league updates might not be a staple post this offseason given how few Nats farmhands are playing. Nevertheless, here’s a quick rundown on the non-AFL guys:

  • Paolo Espino – VWL        1-2, 4.50ERA, 1.46WHIP; 26IP, 27H, 16R, 13ER, 11BB, 22K, 3HR
  • Reegie Corona – VWL    .157/.271/.216, 0HR, 2RBI, 1SB in 15G, 51AB
  • Brian Goodwin – VWL     .222/.300/.389, 1HR, 6RBI, 2SB in 9G, 36AB
  • Rafael Bautista – DWL    .415/.466/.528, 10R, 4RBI, 2SB in 15G, 53AB
  • Pedro Severino – DWL    .265/.265/.529, 2HR, 4RBI, 0SB in 11G, 34AB
  • Jose Lozada – DWL        .476/.500/.619, 0HR, 3RBI, 1SB in 6G, 21AB

Back to the AFL… second-place Salt River has ten games remaining and will rematch against first-place Scottsdale tomorrow on the road. If the rotation holds, John Simms will most likely next pitch on Wednesday.

Nov 072015

Fallball2014Well, perhaps it was too much to expect a bevy of Nats to appear in the AFL for a third straight game, so yesterday there were none in Salt River’s 5-4 loss to Scottsdale.


Minor-league free agency has begun, and while BA has yet to release its compilation, here’s what I’ve culled from

  • RHPs – Bruce Billings, Juan Gutierrez, Tim Alderson, Paul Demny
  • LHP –Richard Bleier
  • IF –Cutter Dykstra
  • OFs –Tony Gwynn Jr., Theo Bowe
  • C –Dan Butler

Now for the annual reminder that this is not necessarily a reflection of the value the organization places on the players, but the reality that players are effectively indentured servants for seven seasons after they’re drafted. For some, this is their only chance to go elsewhere without the stigma of having been released.

On to the final affiliate review…

After fielding a contender in 2014, it was a reversion to the mean in 2015 – a team stocked with veterans that could be easily passed through waivers or lost if need be. The Chiefs had the second-oldest collection of bats, the third-oldest set of arms. Neither were particularly good, with the offense averaging 3.69 R/G and the defense yielding 4.06 R/G against league averages of 3.97 R/G.

Like last year (and the year before, and the year before that…), the true prospects are few; basically, Trea Turner and A.J. Cole. As in previous reviews, it’s worth noting that perhaps the obligatory list would be longer if there weren’t players who lost their rookie status (Felipe Rivero, Joe Ross) or hadn’t been previously been listed (Matt Skole). Instead, it’s just four and were it not for the dexterity of the final two, I’d skip the list entirely:

1. Trea Turner, SS — .267GPA, 14SB in 48G
2. A.J. Cole, RHP — 3.15/3.90/1.18, .470OPS against in August
3. Matt Grace, LHP — 2.40/3.14/1.21, .543OP against LHBs
4. Sammy Solis, LHP — 2.03/2.86/0.98 in 13⅓ IP

If you have a morbid curiosity you’re interested in seeing the full team statistics, you can find them here.

Nov 012015
Abel-De-Los-Santos-2015-2 Nick-Lee-AFL-10-31-15

Just two Nationals relievers appeared in Salt River’s 6-5 win over Surprise — Abel De Los Santos and Nick Lee.

The clean outing continues to elude De Los Santos as he gave up a run on a triple and a sacrifice fly during his lone inning of work in the 7th. In four appearances, he’s been strafed for nine runs on 10 hits over four innings.

Lee was dinged for a leadoff HR in the 8th but then retired the next three batters on a flyout and two grounders.

After three straight wins, Salt River is tied with Scottsdale at 9-6 in the AFL East. It’s a five-game slate before next Saturday’s “Fall Stars” game (rosters to be announced tomorrow), which will be held in Salt River.

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Just a couple of items to tack on to the AFL dispatch…

Not sure if this is the 2015 postseason or the 2016 preseason edition or just Baseball America trying to make its October online pageviews, but the latest BA Top 10 for the Nationals is out. Without stealing the thunder of Byron Kerr, I’ll reveal that Trea Turner is the No. 2 prospect.

The 2015 edition couldn’t help but be better than the 2014 disaster, though that’s a lot like having better hair than Mike Rizzo. (Thanks, I’m here all week). Due in large part to the injury shuffle from the big club, the rotation was in flux all season long, with only Austin Voth making more than 15 starts. The pitching was a shade better than league average (4.06 R/G vs. 4.08) and the offense was a little worse than that (4.00), hence the eight-games-below .500 mark of 67-75 that missed its pythaogeran projection of 70-72.

As has been the case since 2012, it’s a combined Top 5 for the ancillary purpose of generating the 2016 Watchlist:

1. Austin Voth, RHP — 2.92/3.07/1.11, 148K in 157⅓ IP
2. Wilmer Difo, IF — .279/.312/.387, 26SB, 79K in 87G
3. Abel De Los Santos, RHP — 3.43/3.39/1.13, 4.59 K:BB ratio
4. Matt Skole, 1B — .232/.332/.398, 12HR in 90G
5. Isaac Ballou, OF — .304/.383/.494 in 49G

Obviously, I’m excluding Joe Ross because he’s lost his rookie status and Lucas Gioltio because he’s already appeared on a Top 5 list. Skole and Ballou are included mainly because the organization is starved for power and outfielders at the upper levels. Even then, I’m not sure (De Los Santos getting lit like a Christmas tree isn’t terribly convincing, SSS or not). This next watch list may be the smallest yet.

As always, folks who’d like to see the full stats can find them here.

Oct 242015
Yes, I know Santos pitched Thursday, but folks like Lee's pics!

Yes, I know Santos pitched Thursday, but folks like Lee’s pics!

Four strong innings from John Simms and a pair of two-run rallies early helped the Rafters eclipse the Solar Sox, 5-1 and stop a three-game slide.

Simms allowed the lone Mesa run on a solo shot in the 3rd and three hits total. He walked one and struck out four and threw 57 pitches during the outing, his second for Salt River.

Christopher Bostick returned the lineup and played second base. He batted ninth and reached base twice with a single in the 6th and drew a walk in the 8th to go 1-for-3 overall. Defenisvely he had a putout and four assists.

Salt River wraps up the week with a day game today at home vs. Mesa.

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It’s a two-fer today, so let’s jump into the usual weekly post…

The following players have appeared in Mexican Pacific League and the Dominican Winter League:

Rafael Bautista, Bruce Billings (Escogido, DWL)
Pedro Severino (Cibao, DWL)
Richard Bleier (Oriente, DWL)
Paul Demny (Culiacan, LMP)

Like the Hagerstown Suns, Potomac went from contender to pretender to post a losing season for the first time since 2012. It’s tempting to compare this team to that team, but there are two key differences: (1) this team did no better on the road than it did at home (2) this team didn’t feel like it had underachieved. Obviously, #1 is objective — to paraphrase the grossly overrated Bill Parcells, your record is your record. And #2 is subjective — part of underachieving is a disconnect between expectation and actual performance, perceived or actual.

Lucas Giolito and Wilmer Difo were “as advertised”; Reynaldo Lopez was not. Drew Ward was a mixed bag. Rafael Bautista was hurt. This can be argued (and probably will be in the comments), but most of the other names either weren’t as highly regarded outside our bubble or there were reservations already about their prospect status.

The 2015 crew felt to me very much like the first couple of seasons I watched this team (2006, 2007): A couple of true prospects and a handful of maybes mixed in with “OGs” (organizational guys). This may be “old world order” returning, and with the parent club now drafting in the lower third, it might not be all that surprising.

And with that, I present the obligatory Top 5’s:

1. Christopher Bostick, 2B, .253 GPA, .344 OBP 1. Lucas Giolito, RHP, 2.71/1.96/1.22, 11.11 K/9IP
2. Spencer Kieboom, C, .241 GPA, .346 SLG% 2. Tyler Mapes, RHP, 2.38/2.78/1.22, 8.54 K/9, 4.18 K:BB
3. Drew Ward, 3B, .237 GPA, 29E in 95G 3. Reynaldo Lopez, RHP, 4.09/2.95/1.22, 5HR in 99 IP
4. Estarlin Martinez, OF, .238 GPA, .711 OPS in 2nd half 4. Austen Williams, RHP, 2.59/3.22/1.09, .215 OBA
5. Rafael Bautista, CF, .224 GPA, 23SB in 52G 5. Phillips Valdez, RHP, 3.77/3.26/1.44, 58.1 LOB%

No honorable mentions as we’re now well past the point of ignoring a player’s age or having repeated the level. Folks interested in seeing the entire team’s stats, can find them here.

Oct 172015

With yesterday’s game between Salt River and Peoria rained out, we turn to the weekly post to fill the time…

Again, still quiet on this front — just the election by Emmanuel Burris for free agency, a move that will only shock the MASN Commenters of the Natmosphere.

Trea Turner, who was the #4 guy in the Texas League after 58 games, was also #4 in the International League despite having played just 48 games there. Turner is obviously an unusual case and will be expected to take over the starting SS duties from Ian Desmond in 2016. As we saw this year, the Nats aren’t afraid to go with rookies who have graduated AA. It should prove to be interesting, however, should Turner struggle in the spring while incumbent infielders do well.

The four-year run of winning baseball and three-year streak of making the playoffs ended with a sub-.500 campaign of 68-70 — 35-33 in the first half, 33-37 in the second. The Suns’ status as the worst draw in the Sally League continued, though the claimed attendance improved nearly 10% [insert joke about extra Thirsty Thursday here] from 979 to 1,073 per date. The next-worst team averaged 1,962. SSDY.

The offense was slightly better than the league average (4.49 R/G vs. 4.39) but the pitching was worse: 4.70 vs. 4.39. The team was fourth in defense on the basis of fewest errors and fielding percentage, while the catchers were tops in the league at CS% at 38% – 3% better than the second-best team. Like many of the teams reviewed thus far, the contingent from the D.R. helped to offset the older players, but as a team they were older than the league average for both bats (22.5 vs. 21.5) and arms (22.4 v. 22.0).

Now, for the comment, Top 5’s:

1. Jose Marmolejos-Diaz, 1B, .285 GPA, 11HR, 87RBI 1. Austen Williams, RHP, 2.10/2.81/1.10, 4.5 K:BB ratio
2. Bryan Mejia, 2B, .305 GPA, .924OPS 2. Andrew Lee, RHP, 2.15/2.19/0.92, 10.43K/9IP
3. Osvlado Abreu, SS/2B, .264 GPA, 30SB, 30E 3. Koda Glover, RHP, 2.25/2.19/0.92, 10.13K/9IP
4. Andrew Stevenson, CF, .239 GPA, 16K in 35G 4. Philip Valdez, RHP, 1.47/4.08/0.93, .189 OBA
5. Alec Keller, RF/CF, .255 GPA, .995FA overall 5. Connor Bach, LHP, 3.85/4.08/1.49, 5.65 BB/9IP

Honorable mention to Andrew Stevenson, who put up a .242GPA in 35 games as a 21-year-old in his first pro season. For the pitchers, there just wasn’t one who had both good production and was closer to 22 than 26. For those who’d like to see the full team stats, click here.

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.

Sep 252015

Now I can follow last year’s digital size 13’s, so here goes…


All seven affiliates had losing records and missed the playoffs. Obviously, that’s not the only measuring stick or even the most important one. But I’ve long felt that the reflexive, “stats are meaningless in the minors” trope by baseball folks to be disingenuous. I’m sure many of you had this reaction at least three times a week when looking at the daily rundown. Like a taxi on a rainy night, offense (age-appropriate or not) was hard to find. A lot of you are pinning your hopes on the influx of talent from the D.R. and I have little reason to disagree.

Victor Robles was named the #2 prospect in both the GCL and the NYPL (remember Baseball America loves to double-dip) and was joined by Erick Fedde (#4). That, of course, means there’s a small chance that Fedde will make the cut for the Sally Lg., too. Aside from Lucas Giolito, I have little confidence we’ll see many more.

The logical inference from the previous two items is that the watchlist has become a depth chart. This has always been my worst fear, and it makes me less interested in creating a 2016 edition. This is not necessarily a result of a disappointing season; a year ago I wrote that I knew the list will become smaller and less comprehensive, but I was hoping not to scrap it altogether. Perhaps I’ll feel differently in a few weeks, or someone can make a case in the comments for a way to preserve this.

After years of being one of — if not the — oldest teams in the DSL, the 2015 edition had the youngest set of position players in the league (average age: 17.6 vs. 18.3) and the fourth-youngest pitching staff (18.3 vs. 19.0). But being young is only a part of the equation; were they any good? In the 38-team DSL, the bats were 29th (4.46 R/G vs. 5.02) and the arms were 33rd (5.74). The defense was also below average with a .947FA (.952).

So, no, not really.

The million-peso question is how many of these guys will repeat, with the follow-up of how many will be let go. We won’t know until next May. But the hope is that those that do repeat — and are still age-appropriate — will improve dramatically.

Without further ado…

1. Aldrem Corredor, 1B/OF, .289 GPA, 39 BB 1. Pedro Avila, RHSP, 2.26/1.87/1.06, 13.1 K/9
2. Luis Perdomo, LF, .275 GPA, 16 2B 2. Francys Peguero, RHRP, 1.82/1.99/0.84, 13.5 K/9
3. Edwin Ventura, RF, .265 GPA, 15SB 3. Yonathan Ramirez, LHSP, 2.75/2.91/1.12, 1.7 BB/9
4. Roberto Medina, C, .278 GPA, .442SLG% (34G) 3. Gilbert Chu, RHRP, 2.55/2.90/1.09, 11.0 K/9
5. Juan Evangelista, CF, .258 GPA, 108 TB 5. Warner Duran, RHRP, 2.67/2.35/1.22, 0HR in 33⅔ IP


Honorable mentions go to 17-y.o. Omar Meregildo, who led the team in slugging at .443 (but also faded badly, .450 OPS in August vs. .643 in July and .885 in June) and 18-y.o. RHRP Angel Guillen, who had a very respectable 3.02 FIP and an extremely unlucky .423 BABIP, which can be obscured by his ERA (6.08) and H/9IP (10.8). Folks interested in seeing the entire team’s stats can find them here.

Sep 172015

Uninspired for NPP
We’re in a weird place right now. Whenever I would hit a lull like this, I would quite literally see what I posted this time a year ago. Well, can’t really do that since a year ago today I made the decision to dial back (if not off) this site.

I appreciated the kind thoughts at the season’s end. I’ve also appreciated the break from the daily grind over the last week and a half. So even though I plan to resume covering the Arizona Fall League — which doesn’t start for nearly a month — I will need to resist the temptation to do more than that.

Hence, today’s post to reset the hot stove comments and let folks know we’re still here; we’re just back to weekly (or semi-weekly) posts.

Now, for a couple quick hits…

• For those that missed it, Byron Kerr posted a list of who’s been assigned to the Fall Instructional League. Like the Rule 5 Draft, this mole hill becomes a mountain when the parent club isn’t doing well and we’re desperate for discussion fodder. The first year of this site a commenter broke it down. Five years later, I see little reason to disagree.

• Our Hagerstown guy has his takes on the Suns’ hitters and Suns’ pitchers. The only thing I have to add or object to is the characterization of Raudy Read’s defense as being anything other than subpar. The kid can hit, but a catcher he is not.

Until next time…