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…

Dec 062015
 


Well, it’s that’s time of the offseason where I turn to my readers to help generate pageviews fill the void of the offseason, which seems slower than usual this year.

For the folks who aren’t familiar – or have forgotten – here’s the deal: Send me your Top 10 list of minor-league position players (40-man guys are eligible as long as they have rookie status) to enfieldmass-top10bats[at]yahoo[dot]com (link will open your preferred email client) or submit them in comments.

I’ll compile the votes and weight them in reverse order (#1 = 10 points, #2 = 9 points… #9 = 2 points, #10 = 1 point). When it feels like I’ve got a sizable number of submissions, I’ll update this post to let people know I’ve ready to write the “Top 10” post.

This will create the sixth annual NationalsProspects.com Top 10 Bats list. A reminder: “Bat” is a term I use as shorthand for position player. This is not to diminish the meaning of defense, though I caution folks to infer too much from defensive stats.

Raudy Read, recently featured by Byron Kerr, is a good example. On virtual paper, his .993FA and 37% CS rate look good. After seeing him those five games at Potomac, I’m trying to figure out how he only had 22 passed balls (aside from bad official scoring, natch).

Anyway, please factor in defense, which I suspect many of you will be since offense was hard to find this past summer. The theory is that collectively we’ll put together a better list than any one of us can (or at least me).

But more importantly, I’m hoping to bide the time and reinforce this community until the Winter Meetings, which begin today in Nashville, get into gear.

UPDATE: I’m calling and will post the Top 10 shortly.

Dec 042015
 


Things have been slow on the minor-league front, but yesterday we got news on who the coaches will be for 2016:

SYRACUSE
Manager – Billy Gardner, Jr. (returning)
Pitching Coach – Bob Milacki (returning)
Hitting Coach – Brian Daubach (reassigned from Harrisburg)

HARRISBURG
Manager – Matthew LeCroy (reassigned from Washington)
Pitching Coach – Chris Michalak (returning)
Hitting Coach – Brian Rupp (promoted from Potomac)

POTOMAC
Manager – Tripp Keister (returning)
Pitching Coach – Franklin Bravo (returning)
Hitting Coach – Luis Ordaz (promoted from Hagerstown)

HAGERSTOWN
Manager – Patrick Anderson (returning)
Pitching Coach – Sam Narron (returning)
Hitting Coach – Amaury Garcia (promoted from Auburn)

AUBURN
Manager – Jerad Head (Coach at GCL in 2015)
Pitching Coach – Tim Redding (returning)
Hitting Coach – Mark Harris (reassigned from Harrisburg)

GCL
Manager – Josh Johnson (new hire)
Pitching coach – Michael Tejera (returning)
Hitting coach -Jorge Mejia (returning)

DSL
Manager – Sandy Martinez (returning)
Pitching Coach – Pablo Frias (returning)
Hitting Coach – Jose Herrera (returning)

This may sound odd, but I think there’s something to the lack of a massive “reorg.” The Nationals claimed they wanted continuity with their longtime coaches when they sent Matt Williams and his staff packing in October. With just one new hire to the primary trio of managers and coaches — longtime minor-leaguer Josh Johnson, who spent six of his 12 seasons with the Nationals — we’re seeing the action that backs up those words.

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
Stevenson
Robles
Agustin
Florentino
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
Simms
Guilbeau Medina Chu
Baez Wiseman
De Los Santos Borne Evangelista
Duran Serrata
Reetz
Mapes
R. Lopez
A. Williams
P. Valdez
A. Lee
Fedde
Rivera
Peterson
DeRosier
Valerio
Harmening
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.

#                    #                    #                    

FREE AGENTS, REDUX
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
 

De-Los-Santos-at-AFL-Fall-S
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.

TRANSACTION UPDATE

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

  • 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…

SYRACUSE CHIEFS
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…

THE BA TOP 10
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 HARRISBURG SENATORS
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.

                              #                              #                              #

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

WINTER LEAGUE SIGHTINGS
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)

THE POTOMAC NATIONALS
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:

TOP 5 BATS TOP 5 ARMS
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…

TRANSACTION UPDATE
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.

BA TOP PROSPECT LISTS
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 HAGERSTOWN SUNS
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 fodd..er, Top 5’s:

TOP 5 BATS TOP 5 ARMS
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.