Feb 062016
 

With John Sickels’s prospect book still a month out or so, I decided to finish the Watchlist with the BA book and hold out on a couple of guys that I think (hope) he’ll cover. One’s a 2015 Draft pick, the other’s a 40-man guy that I want his opinion on before I weigh in. (No, I’m going to tell you; you have to go look so I can get more pageviews ๐Ÿ˜‰

The Baseball America transaction reports have been disappointing of late, at least in terms of giving us something to talk about. Sorry, veteran has-beens signing minor-league contracts doesn’t cut it for me. This is not unusual, but frustrating nevertheless.

Folks interested in why “Orange” didn’t make the cut can read Byron Kerr’s interview with BA’s John Manuel. TL; DR — the boys in Durham think Marmolejos-Diaz cheats too much on fastballs and will get exposed at the upper levels of the minors.

Finally, while it’s old news, it’s still worth passing along while things are slow. The Suns and Hagerstown may actually extend the lease without a threat to leave. This may be a realization on the part of the Suns ownership that if they want to please both the parent club and their current landlords, a more cooperative approach is necessary; not to mention a five-year run as the Sally League’s least-attended club.

Jan 312016
 

After being reminded that I have a lousy copyeditor ๐Ÿ˜‰ Here are Washington’s Nos. 16 through 31…

16. Drew Ward (8) 21. Rhett Wiseman 26. Phillips Valdez
17. Sammy Solis* (15) 22. Edwin Lora 27. Nick Lee (30)
18. Joan Baez 23. Raudy Read (22) 28. Taylor Hearn
19. Austen Williams 24. Juan Soto 29. Mariano Rivera III
20. Abel De Los Santos 25. Christopher Bostick 30. Koda Glover
* According to baseball-reference.com,
Solis has exhausted his rookie eligiblity
31. Brian Goodwin (9)


For those wondering, Juan Soto, who turned 17 in October and signed for $1.5 million — $100K more than you-know-who — was the IFA referred to in yesterday afternoon’s post. BA is projecting him to start in the GCL and has high praise for his advanced skills as a hitter, projecting him as a corner OF due to below-average speed and average arm strength (yes I’m aware the link above has him as a 60 arm).

Nearly a third of the list is comprised of the past two drafts, and it’s fair to say that BA loved the 2015 draft with six picks in the Top 30. As we usually do, let’s break down the newcomers:

2015 Draft – Andrew Stevenson (8), Blake Perkins (12), Wiseman (21), Hearn (28), Rivera3, Glover

2014 Draft – Williams (19)

Trade – Trea Turner (2), De Los Santos (20), Bostick (25)

Int’l Free Agent – Anderson Franco (10), Osvaldo Abreu (15), Baez (18), Lora (22), Soto (24), Valdez (26)

Add in the trades and that makes 14 of the Top 30 acquired since 2014. That’s particularly impressive because the Nats have been drafting from the lower half since 2012.

Finally, here’s BA 2019 projected Washington lineup, which ignores such things as free agency, injuries, or sudden declines in skills. This time, I’m including BA’s 2016 picks and MLB’s current depth chart side-by-side for reference/comparison:

Pos. 2019 2016 (BA) 2016 (MLB)
C Wilson Ramos Wilson Ramos Wilson Ramos
1B Ryan Zimmerman Ryan Zimmerman Ryan Zimmerman
2B Wilmer Difo Danny Espinosa Dan Murphy
SS Trea Turner Ian Desmond Danny Espinosa
3B Anthony Rendon Anthony Rendon Anthony Rendon
LF Victor Robles Brian Goodwin Jayson Werth
CF Michael Taylor Denard Span Ben Revere
RF Bryce Harper Bryce Harper Bryce Harper
#1P Stephen Strasburg Stephen Strasburg Max Scherzer
#2P Lucas Giolito Lucas Giolito Stephen Strasburg
#3P Max Scherzer Gio Gonzalez Gio Gonzalez
#4P Joe Ross Jordan Zimmermann Tanner Roark
#5P Gio Gonzalez Ross Detwiler Joe Ross
#5P Reynaldo Lopez Drew Storen Jonathan Papelbon
Jan 302016
 

A pleasant surprise — even if I did pay extra for expedited shipping — as the 2016 Baseball America Prospect Handbook arrived in today’s mail. This is almost a full week earlier than last year… and despite the recent snowstorm.

A bigger surprise? The folks in Durham, NC rated the Nationals as the fifth-best organization..

Obviously, having a Top 5 overall prospect in the person of Lucas Giolito helps. But they also give props to the team’s success in the D.R., noting that five of the team’s Top 11 come from the Caribbean island nation “despite a restricted international budget from ownership.”

While this doesn’t change my opinions that system is top-heavy, drafts too many college seniors, and isn’t deep at certain positions, BA sure loves what the Nats have been doing in terms of acquiring younger talent with more upside – including a high-priced 2016 IFA who has yet to play a professional game (some things never change).

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

Graduated (2) – Michael Taylor, Felipe Rivero

Traded (3) – Steven Souza, Nick Pivetta, Tony Renda

Removed from 40-man – Taylor Hill

Dropped out (11) Brian Goodwin, Hill, Jake Johansen, Jefry Rodriguez, Spencer Kieboom, Matt Grace, Matt Skole, Drew Vettleston, Hector Silvestre, John Simms, Robbie Dickey

The Top 30 is now down to two (2) older-than-25 guys — both left-handed relievers — which is something we’ve been hoping for and had suggested might happen last year.

With that, I’ll close with the Top 15 from the book and continue with nos. 16-31 in Part Two. Last year’s ranking, if applicable, in parentheses:

1. Lucas Giolito (1) 6. Wilmer Difo (7) 11. Pedro Severino (13)
2. Trea Turner 7. A.J. Cole (6) 12. Blake Perkins
3. Victor Robles (25) 8. Andrew Stevenson 13. Rafael Bautista (20)
4. Erick Fedde (4) 9. Austin Voth (11) 14. Jakson Reetz (14)
5. Reynaldo Lopez (3) 10. Anderson Franco 15. Osvaldo Abreu
Jan 272016
 

Watchlist Added3The first pass at the player reports for the 2016 Watchlist is now done. Rather than use the snowstorm to work on my novel, I tried to get as many written as reasonably possible.

Truth be told, between doing this and reading the books from Baseball America and John Sickels, this is where the real research gets done.

Until the BA book and the Sickels PDF arrive, I punt on some with a “Report Not Yet Written” with the belief hope that one or the other will list him and discuss him – especially with the 2015 draft picks and guys who I haven’t seen recently (with an exception or two).

The Baseball America handbook and John Sickels’s prospect PDF have been ordered, so now we wait until they arrive to fill in the gaps, which I’ve labeled “Report Not Yet Written,” because I believe one or the other will cover the player. Nevertheless, you’ve got individual capsules on 36 of the 51 pitchers and position players to read, plus the essays on the DSL guys and notables.

The latest BA Transaction post yielded just one new name to ponder: Darin Gorski, who fits the Rizzo mold of an MLFA that can eat innings for either AA or AAA. [Insert speculation about conversion to relief to help big club here].

As always, feel free to discuss in the comments.

Jan 202016
 

Catching Up On Transactions
Things have been slow, but with the Baseball America transaction post earlier this week, we have some stuff to discuss:

SIGNED
• RHP Boone Whiting

RELEASED
• RHP Andrew Cooper
• RHP Sam Johns
• RHP 2B Thomas Alvarez
• RHP OF Wilman Rodriguez

OUTRIGHTED TO AAA
• RHP Erik Davis
• RHP Taylor Hill

Whiting would appear to be in the mold of other AAA/AA inventory, but *gasp* not a former Arizona draft pick. He struggled in two stops at AAA, going 0-2 with an 7.77/7.10/2.32 line in seven appearances for Mempis; 4-7, 1 SV and 6.04/5.78/1.82 in 22 appearances for Colorado Springs.

Cooper’s release is a mild surprise, given he turns 24 in June and wasn’t terrible (3.53/3.63/1.40) for the Suns last summer. Johns and Rodriguez appear to be classic cases of aging out (both will turn 25 by mid-July). Alvarez, who at one point was the youngest American-born farmhand in the Nats system, looks like he simply hit his ceiling as he struggled to produce a line of .204/.332/.284 in 151 games over four seasons in the DSL and GCL.

Jan 072016
 

mehJust a quick note to let folks know we’re still here. Waiting. For. Some. News.

About the only consolation I have is that I am not alone in this situation, as witnessed by this WaPo missive, from which I barely even have to note that Erik Davis and Taylor Hill were both designated for assignment, i.e. it’s news only to F.P. Santangelo.

So while I could tell you about the work I’m doing on the site (or plan to do), I won’t because I’m sure many of you get enough of that elsewhere.

Dec 292015
 

minor leagues signs 2
After nearly three weeks, BA has finally issued a transactions post. Some of the names have been previously reported, but for the sake of discussion, I will re-post them:

RHPs: Tim Alderson, Nick Masset, Andrew Robinson, Sam Runion, Stephen Shackleford, Jon Velasquez
LHP: Aaron Laffey
C: Brian Jeroloman
1B: Marquez Smith
UT: Cutter Dykstra
OF: Zach Collier

I’ve hyperlinked the “new guys” so folks can look them up (and because time is short this morning).

Most of these FAs will fill out the rosters of Harrisburg or Syracuse; it’s folly to project to one destination or the other because GM Mike Rizzo seems to plug and play these types on an as-needed basis. But I know that won’t stop some of you from trying ๐Ÿ˜‰

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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

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

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, Iโ€™ll tally the votes, weighting them in reverse order (#1 = 10 points, #2 = 9 pointsโ€ฆ #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…