Dec 132014
 


As I expected, participation would be robust on this one — 15 ballots — and the top dog was the unanimous choice. A total of 24 pitchers were named, with four of the top five named on every ballot.

Before I continue, here’s the list:

                              1. Lucas Giolito
                              2. A.J. Cole
                              3. Reynaldo Lopez
                              4. Austin Voth
                              5. Erick Fedde
                              6. Matt Grace
                              7. Taylor Hill
                              8. Jefry Rodriguez
                              9. Felipe Rivero
                              10. Jake Johansen

Others receiving votes: Sammy Soilis, Nick Pivetta, Travis Ott, Rafael Martin, John Simms, Gilberto Mendez, Jake Walsh, Robert Benincasa, Wander Suero, Robbie Dickey, Luis Torres, Matt Spann, Matt Purke, Eric Fornataro

Now, the thoughts…

• This is the third straight year Giolito has been named the #1 pitcher, so no pressure to come to DC in 2015, right?

• Cole was also #2 for the second straight year, but turns 23 next month and we’re already seeing speculation as to when he’ll make his MLB debut. I’ll be the jerk who will note that he’d be an awfully good trade chip (see: Karns, Nathan).

• Lopez went from zero ballots in 2013 to the #3 pitcher in 2014. Saw him twice this past summer and this kid can deal. He got my #2 vote, one of two that Cole did not get.

• The other went to Fedde, who makes the list despite being in recovery from UCL replacement surgery. I’d scoff but Giolito is the knee-jerk “Yeah, but” and being the Nats top draft pick is going to carry some weight no matter what.

• As some of you noted, the list breaks down rather quickly after the first five or so names. The gap between #7 and #12 was just seven points. Until the last three or four ballots came in, there was basically a five-way tie for the last three slots.

• Grace’s addition to the 40-man is being read by quite a few of you as the lefthanded analog to Aaron Barrett from a year ago (OK, fine maybe that’s just me)

• Hill made the list despite getting hammered in two MLB starts and giving up five HR in his last 10 starts at Syracuse. He and Grace will be 26 in 2015, thus continuing the tradition of the old-guy skew

With the close of the winter meetings, which also saw the Nats go Yukon Cornelius on the Rule 5 draft, we’re now at the point where we wait for trades and transactions. In between, and as always, feel free to discuss in the comments.

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.

ARIZONA FALL LEAGUE
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.

BA TOP 20 PROSPECT LISTS
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.

TRANSACTION STUFF
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.

2014 AFFILIATE SHUFFLE
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.

THE GCL NATIONALS
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…

TOP 5 BATS TOP 5 ARMS
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.

Sep 052014
 

Our final look at the leaders, trailers, and outliers in the Washington Nationals minor leagues. Repeats from 2013 are in italics.

SYRACUSE CHIEFS
81-62, 1st place International League North, 2½ games ahead

Good Bat: Steve Souza .350/.432/.590, 18HR, 75RBI, 26SB in 96G
Arm: Taylor Hill 11-7, 1SV, 2.81 ERA, 1.56 BB/9, 144 IP
Bad Bat: Josh Johnson .622 OPS in 90G
Arm: Josh Roenicke 5.45 ERA, 1.71 WHIP in 23 appearances, 15 starts (79⅓ IP)
Interesting Bat: Emmanuel Burriss .300/.377/.412, 22SB, 22E in 116G
Arm: Rafael Martin 1-1, 10 SV, 0.80 ERA, 0.80 WHIP in 33⅔ IP


HARRISBURG SENATORS
53-89, 6th place Eastern League Western Division, 26 games behind

Good Bat: Michael Taylor .313/.396/.539, 22HR, 34SB in 98G
Arm: A.J. Cole 6-3, 2.92/2.58/1.32, 61K in 14GS (71IP)
Bad Bat: Adrian Sanchez .568 OPS, 11E in 89G
Arm: Zach Kroenke 3-9, 6.72 ERA, 1.82 WHIP, 13HR in 83IP
Interesting Bat: Kevin Keyes .740 OPS, 20HR in 114G
Arm: Matt Grace 3-1, 3SV, 1.02 ERA, 1.25 WHIP in 22 appearances (35⅓ IP)


POTOMAC NATIONALS
40-27 in 2nd half, 1st place Carolina League Northern Division, 7 games ahead
38-31 in 1st half, 1st place, 4½ games ahead
78-58 overall

Good Bat: Tony Renda .307/.381/.377, 10SB in 107G
Arm: Matt Spann 9-5, 3.81/4.09/1.38, 4HR in 106⅓ IP
Bad Bat: Justin Miller .625 OPS, 53K in 62G
Arm: Brett Mooneyham 2-4, 7.36 ERA, 2.12 WHIP in 33IP (10 appearances, 7 starts)
Interesting Bat: Pedro Severino .308/.379/.477 in 2nd half, .199/.246/.335 in 1st half
Arm: Ian Dickson 3-4, 2.64 ERA in 2nd half, 1-4, 6.25 in 1st half


HAGERSTOWN SUNS
43-27 in 2nd half, T1st place South Atlantic League Northern Division, won on tiebreaker
44-26 in 1st half, T1st place, lost on tiebreaker
87-53 overall

Good Bat: Wilmer Difo .315/.360/.470, 14HR , 49SBs in 136G
Arm: Lucas Giolito 10-2, 2.20/3.16/1.00 in 98IP (20 starts)
Bad Bat: David Masters .522 OPS, 7E in 51G
Arm: Jake Johansen 5-6, 5.19/4.05/1.74 in 100⅔ IP (29 appearances, 18 starts)
Interesting Bat: Rafael Bautista .290/.341/.382, 69SB in 134G
Arm: Reynaldo Lopez 4-1, 1.33/2.91/0.80 in 47&8531; IP (nine starts)


AUBURN DOUBLEDAYS
34-41, 3rd Place Pinckney Division of New York-Penn League, 13½ games behind

Good Bat: Raudy Read .281/.332/.462, 6HR in 57G
Arm: Travis Ott 1-2, 3.05/3.98/1.24 in 44&⅓ IP (10 starts)
Bad Bat: Osvaldo Abreu .584 OPS, 20E in 58G
Arm: David Ramos 1-2, 1SV, 7.97 ERA, 1.82 WHIP in 15 appearances
Interesting Bat: Jose “Orange” Marmolejos-Diaz .265/.341/.385 in 65G
Arm: 19-y.o. Mario Sanchez 6-1, 3.50 FIP, 1.17WHIP in 35IP (18 appearances)


GCL NATIONALS
25-35, T3rd place Gulf Coast League East Dvision, 12 games behind

Good Bat: 18-y.o. Jakson Reetz .274/.429/.368 in 43G
Arm: 19-y.o. Jean Ramirez 3-1, 1SV, 3.41/3.60/1.45 in 31⅔ IP (14 appearances)
Bad Bat: Darryl Florentino .195/.222/.273 in 43G
Arm: Deibi Yrizarri 2-4, 9.08 ERA, 1.83 WHIP, 10HBP in 36⅔ IP
Interesting Bat: 18-y.o. Aldrem Corredor .411 OBP, 25BB, 18K in 32G
Arm: 20-y.o. John Feliz 3-1, 1.08 ERA, 0.72 WHIP in 10 appearances (promoted to Auburn)


DSL NATIONALS
42-28, 3rd place, Boca Chica South Division of Dominican Summer League, 8½ games behind

Good Bat: 17-y.o. Davinson Pimentel .350/.443/.550 in 55G
Arm: 19-y.o. Joan Baez 4-1, 1.15/2.96/1.00 in 71⅓ IP (15 appearances, 14 starts – promoted to GCL)
Bad Bat: 18-y.o. Neivy Pilier .171/.265/.205 in 37G
Arm: 18-y.o. Jose Nunez 0-0, 8.25ERA, 2.50 WHIP in 24IP (12 appearances, 4 starts)
Interesting Bat: 17-y.o. Telmito Agustin .300/.413/.495, 25SB in 60G
Arm: 17-y.o. Yonathan Ramirez 3-0, 2SV, 2.63/2.59/0.91 in 27⅓ IP (11 appearances)
Aug 312014
 

The Hagerstown bullpen served as an operator, twice connecting long distance balls from home plate to the trees lining South Cannon Avenue in a 7-4 loss to Lakewood. Thanks to the Intimidators, who beat the Grasshoppers 3-1, the Suns still remain a game up with two to go in the race for the second-half division title.

It’s hard to believe, but this game was a pitcher’s duel through five innings with Hagerstown’s Reynaldo Lopez trading doughnuts with Ranfi Casimiro. The hype about the heat from Lopez? Believe it. His first five pitches were 96-96-98-98-98 in a whiff of BlueClaw leadoff man Malquin Canelo.

Part of the joy of following prospects is seeing the development, and this was a different pitcher than the one I saw in June. The curve, which might be the only thing he throws below 90mph, was more than a show-me this time around — especially when he dropped it over the back corner for a called third strike to end the 2nd.

Lopez finished with five shutout innings with one hit — by Canelo, and it was a clean single — two walks and five strikeouts. In addition to the high-90s four-seamer, he brought a mid-90s two-seamer and a Strasburg-like low-90s change. Perhaps most impressively, everything seemed to have some kind of movement — a tail, a dip, a break.

Unfortunately, Lopez had but one run to work with, which came in the 1st when Rafael Bautista doubled over the left fielder’s head, stole third after Wilmer Difo flew out to CF, then teamed up with Austin Davidson on a double steal after Davidson walked. Speed giveth, speed taketh away as Davidson was caught trying to match Bautista’s feat (feet?) to effectively kill the rally.

Ryan Ullmann was the first man out of the Suns to start the 6th, and when he threw the ball away for a three-base error, it wasn’t difficult to predict this would be a bad outing. The next batter missed a home run by about a foot to tie the game at 1-1. The third batter blasted a two-run shot to put Lakewood on top 3-1. A walk, another double — that’s five straight batters without an out — pushed the score to 4-1.

Ullmann struck out the sixth batter he faced, then induced a flyout to right before giving up his fourth hit, a single to center that Narciso Mesa managed to skip to home on five or six bounces to get the lead-footed Zach Green at home for the third out.

The Suns answered with one in the 6th on a Bautista single followed by Difo double, and tied it in the 7th with a two run golf shot by Wilman Rodriguez off the pavilion beyond LF, scoring James Yezzo who had gotten with the first of his two singles.

Justin Thomas followed Ullmann in the 7th and turned in two scoreless before giving up back-to-back singles to start the 9th, then the second Lakewood home run to Andrew Pullin for an Earl Weaver special. Thomas retired the next three in order, but it was too little, too late.

Yezzo singled again in the 9th with one out but was picked off to end the Suns hopes of yet another tie or walkoff as they fell, 7-4.

Nick Pivetta (13-8, 4.24) gets the call tonight against Lakewood’s Matt Imhof (0-2, 4.10) followed by Wander Suero (4-1, 2.13) vs. Jon Prosinski (5-5, 3.50) tomorrow afternoon as the Suns wrap up the regular season in preparation for their best-of-three playoff series against the Grasshoppers, which begins on Wednesday at the Muni.

Aug 222014
 

Our weekly look at the leaders, trailers, and outliers in the Washington Nationals minor leagues.

SYRACUSE CHIEFS 75-55, 1st place I.L. North, 2½ games ahead

Good Matt Grace .114 OBA vs. LHBs
Bad 16-19 record in one-run games
Interesting 53 steals allowed, 2nd fewest in the I.L.



HARRISBURG SENATORS 49-81, 6th place E.L. West, 22½ games behind (eliminated)

Good Matt Skole 69BB, 2nd most in E.L.
Bad Team 21 holds, 2nd fewest in E.L.
Interesting 49 wins fewest since 2007, chance to “beat” 2004 team at 52 wins


POTOMAC NATIONALS 32-22, 1st place C.L. North Division, 5 games ahead (70-53 overall)

Good Kylin Turnbull 2-0, 0.79 ERA, 1.15 WHIP in August (5 appearances)
Bad Randolph Oduber 100K, 14BB in 112G
Interesting 17-17 road record, 1st half; 16-6 road record, 2nd half


HAGERSTOWN SUNS 38-22, 1st place Sally League North Divison, 2 games ahead (82-48 overall)

Good Reynaldo Lopez 2-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.52 WHIP, 16K since return to Low-A (23IP)
Bad Suns bullpen 5.81 ERA in August
Interesting 59-18 record when scoring first


AUBURN DOUBLEDAYS 27-36, 5th place Pinckney Division, N.Y.-Penn League, 11 games behind

Good Luis Torres 1-1, 1.63 ERA, 1.16 WHIP in 10 appearances (27⅔ IP)
Bad Osavldo Abreu 17E in 47G
Interesting 45 Pitching HBP, 2nd in 14-team NYPL


GCL NATIONALS 25-28, 3rd Place GCL East, 5 games behind

Good Jakson Reetz .341/.436/.477 in August (14G)
Bad McKenzie Mills 2.10 WHIP in 20IP
Interesting 8SV, tied for fewest in GCL


DSL NATIONALS 42-28, 3rd Place Boca Chica South Division, 8½ games behind (eliminated)

Good 17-y.o. Yonathan Ramirez 29K in 27⅓ IP
Bad 17-y.o. Luis Perdomo .520 OPS
Interesting 17-y.o. Telmito Agustin, 40BB, 25SB, 7CS



Editor’s note: The next GBI will be published in two weeks, after the close of the regular season.

Jul 112014
 

Our weekly look at the leaders, trailers, and outliers in the Washington Nationals minor leagues.

SYRACUSE CHIEFS 56-37, 1st place I.L. North, 4½ games behind

Good Matt Grace 15⅔ scoreless innings in 9 appearances since promotion to AAA
Bad Will Rhymes 1-for-27 (.037) in last 10 games
Interesting 12 team pitching shutouts leads I.L.



HARRISBURG SENATORS 36-55, 5th place E.L. West, 17 games behind

Good Kevin Keyes .297/.381/.622, 4HR, 9RBI in July (10G)
Bad James Simmons 1-0, 6.58/4.76/1.29, 7HR in 39⅔ IP as a starter
Interesting Just two pitchers (Tyler Herron, Colin Bates) have been on the roster since Opening Day
(H/T Senators PR staff)



POTOMAC NATIONALS 9-9, 1st place C.L. North, ½ game ahead (47-40 overall)

Good Austin Voth (duh) 1-0, 0.47/2.72/0.53 in 3GS since promotion from Low-A
Bad Oscar Tejeda 10E in 46 games on defense
Interesting Pythagorean W-L 42-45, 19-9 record in one-run games


HAGERSTOWN SUNS 14-8, 2nd place Sally North, ½ game behind (58-34 overall)

Good Spencer Kieboom .419, 2HR, 8RBI in July (8G)
Bad Andrew Cooper 2-1, 1SV, 5.67 ERA, 1.63 WHIP in last 10 appearances
Interesting 11 holds = fewest in Sally League among teams with a +.500 record


AUBURN DOUBLEDAYS 12-15, 4th place Pinckney Division, New York-Penn League, 7 games behind

Good Reynaldo Lopez 2-2, 1.01/3.00/0.75 in 5GS
Bad Osvaldo Abreu 5E, .375 OPS in 22G
Interesting 21 pitching HBP in 27 games


GCL NATIONALS 8-9, 3rd place East Division, Gulf Coast League, 5 games behind

Good Thomas Alvarez .343/.500/.686, 11BB in 13G
Bad Jose Morales 0-3, 9.35/5.49/2.54 in four appearances (8⅔ IP)
Interesting “Fred” Aguero six doubles in 13 games


DSL NATIONALS 20-15, 4th place Boca Chica South, 4 games behind

Good 17-y.o. Telmin Augusto 20BB in 28G
Bad 19-y.o. Miguel Vargas 5.89 ERA, 1.91 WHIP in 10 appearances
Interesting 17-y.o. Nector Ramirez 15BB, 30K, 4HBP in 23IP