The Top 10 Pitchers

Fear not, seamheads. The list will be here before the weekend.

The turnout the second time around was a little less — 17 vs. 19 — and lot closer. Twenty different hurlers got a vote, with four named on every ballot. No perfect score this time, which was not a surprise. Without further ado, the results in reverse order with points in parentheses:

10. Rafael Martin (14)
9. Danny Rosenbaum (28)
8. Brad Meyers (44)
7. Robbie Ray (68)
6. Alex Meyer (90)
5. Matt Purke (106)
4. Tommy Milone (110)
3. Sammy Solis (114)
2. A.J. Cole (142)
1. Brad Peacock (166)

Others receiving votes: Kylin Turnbull (13), Wirkin Estevez (11), Taylor Jordan, Josh Smoker, Paul Demny, Taylor Hill, Atahualpa Severino, Marcos Frias, Cole Kimball, Pat Lehman

As you’ve probably already surmised — and the mathmetically inclined, deduced — Peacock, Cole, and Solis were the every-ballot picks; Ray was the fourth. Purke, Milone, and Alex Meyer were named on 16 of 17 ballots. After that, it’s scattershot.

Unlike the bats, I think this list shows our biases, Brad Meyers and Rafael Martin in particular. I called out the votes for Turnbull and Estevez because you can see that just one or two more votes would have put them in the list. I voted for “For The Weekend” because he’s one of the handful of Nats’ teenage pitchers that have pitched north of Viera, but didn’t for Turnbull because he’s thrown less than a 100 innings since H.S. and the guess is that he’ll be used as a reliever not a starter.

Unfortunately, the starter vs. reliever bias is probably hurting Josh Smoker the most, but like favoring youth, it’s prospect prejudice that’s right more often than it’s wrong. I’d have probably voted for Jordan if he’d finished the season at Hagerstown, but fair or not, my inclination is to hold injuries against a pitcher until he proves that he’s healthy. And I write that having had some of the problems (back, hip, knee) that come with the pitcher’s physique without any of the incipient stress (or talent) of actually throwing a baseball.

Have at it in the comments. The winter meetings start next week and finish with the Rule 5 draft. Yesterday, we got a little touch of the hot stove and let’s hope it burns steadily for the next two months.

Author: Luke Erickson

Since 2009, Luke Erickson has been chief writer, editor, and bottle-washer of Potomac is his home base as a season-ticket holder, but he has visited every affiliate north of Florida at least once, with multiple trips to Hagerstown and Harrisburg.

33 thoughts on “The Top 10 Pitchers”

  1. While I am not a regular contributor here, I am a regular reader and I don’t study the prospects the way others do, BUT, I am going out on a limb and predicting that R. Martin will pitch in the majors before most of those ahead of him. I realize Peacock and Milone have already reached that level but I have enjoyed watching Martin have success at every level. He doesn’t throw hard but it appears he does his job which is keep runners from scoring. Thanks to all of you (especially Sue for increasing my knowledge).

  2. With pitchers, I always assume there’s two ways to define someone as a “prospect.”
    1. they are close to making the major leagues, or
    2. they “project” a certain way.

    This distinction is important. Who is a better “prospect?” Matthew Purke or Tommy Milone? Milone clearly is closer to making a 25-man major league roster …. but inarguably a healthy Purke has better “stuff” and projects far higher than Milone (who seems like a #5 starter to me).

    For me, the projection is more important than the actual, thus I went Purke-Cole-Peacock 1-2-3.

    1. Todd: There are other factors that can be applied to compile prospect lists – 1) Regardless of age, does the player have less than five years of documented Professional experience? 2) What is their ‘projection value’ (High/Low)? 3) How high have they advanced in the system(s) they’ve played in? 4) What is the probability that they’ll have an impact at the top level, before losing that 5-year window?

  3. I certainly hope Milone is not our fourth best pitching prospect. If he is the Nats are in trouble. Ditto on B. Meyers and Rosenbaum.
    As you said, Sue, the pitching choices are a lot more controversial.

    1. It’s a question of definition: if you define “prospect” in a way other than where the pitcher’s ceiling is, then choosing Milone as the #4 prospect is not a bad thing. Given the numbers that Milone has put up through the minors, the fact that he’s no higher than #4 could even be seen as an indication of strength.

    2. I had Milone 3rd and don’t feel the least bit bad about it. If you watch this guy pitch enough I think you’ll see he has it. Topping out at 88-90 has not been a problem for Buehrle or Hamels and I don’t think it will be for Milone either. I really hope he makes the club out of ST as our #5 starter

  4. Surprised to see Milone at #4 and Brad Meyers #8 (Ithought both would have washed out a bit higer) and I am also surprised to not see Smoker in the top ten.

  5. Here’s my ballot:
    Brad Peacock
    Tommy Milone
    Sammy Solis
    AJ Cole
    Matt Purke
    Robbie Ray
    Alex Meyer
    Daniel Rosenbaum
    Marcos Frias
    Brad Meyers

    I tended go with production over potential and put the draftees lower than some of the other lists. Smoker was no. 11 for me. It was kind of a pick ’em between Frias, Meyers, and Smoker at the bottom of my list but I went against the reliever.

    I’m trusting others on Purke and Meyer. There supposed to be pretty good, but I haven’t seen them pitch yet and don’t follow college ball at all. I thought Robbie Ray had a pretty good season. I didn’t understand the downgrades people had of him. He still played out as a high schooler who seemed to handle A ball pretty well.

    Looking forward to seeing what others have to say about the various ballots.

  6. “I thought Robbie Ray had a pretty good season. I didn’t understand the downgrades people had of him.”

    Well, it can’t possibly be that Ray failed to live up to some unreasonable expectations, could it?

    I had Ray 5th, behind Solis, Cole, Milone, and Peacock (in that order) with Estevez, Rosenbaum, A. Meyer, Purke, and B. Meyers rounding it out. Like you said, the last position is flip a coin, so I gave the nod to the most experienced pitcher that I had seen in person.

  7. Here my list. I looked at really how close they are to the majors, and what kind of potential they have

    1. Brad Peacock
    2. A.J. Cole
    3. Matt Purke
    4. Robbie Ray
    5. Alex Meyer
    6. Sammy Solis
    7. Tom Milone
    8. Danny Rosenbaum
    9. Wirkin Estevez
    10. Rafael Martin(this was a toss up, and I wanted to convince SueD that Martin is a prospect)

  8. Sue an everyone else would Manno be on this list if he was still with us, and how did he stack up against Smoker and Van Allen(leftys)

  9. Sue and everyone else would Manno be on this list if he was still with us, and how did he stack up against Smoker and Van Allen(leftys)

    1. I only got to see that one time and liked what I saw. If he had put up the kind of numbers he did in the Cal Lg for Potomac, I can’t see how I’d be able to overlook him. But that’s all hypothetical at this point…

  10. My ballot: Purke, Cole, Peacock, Solis, Meyer, Milone, Ray, Rosenbaum, Turnbull, Meyer, with my hon mentions being Selik, Smoker, Pena, Hansen, Jordan, Grace. Focus on “projectionability.

    No Martin; why is he a “prospect” if he’s 27 and hasn’t made the majors yet?

    1. because he started when he was 24 or 25, and hasnt put up bad numbers in his entire time with the Nationals. I think if it wasnt for his injuries he would have been called-up instead of Mattheus.

  11. I think if it wasnt for his injuries he would have been called-up instead of Mattheus.

    Mattheus is far and away the better pitcher. Better velocity and command of his pitches. That was proven when he became the Syracuse AAA closer … he was a shutdown closer in that role. Martin has yet to get past AA ball does not have the same velocity nor repertoire of pitches.

    Martin looks like a middle relief guy where as Mattheus can anchor the back of the bullpen and be a closer or setup guy.

    Mattheus also suffered an injury and definitely affected his pitching when he came back. Instead of sterling and very promising stats there was some back sliding.

  12. FWIW (not much :-), my top ten of the Nationals’ pitching prospects:

    (1) Brad Peacock
    (2) A.J. Cole
    (3) Sammy Solis
    (4) Tom Milone
    (5) Alex Meyer
    (6) Matt Purke
    (7) Brad Meyers
    (8) Danny Rosenbaum
    (9) Kylin Turnbull
    (10) Robbie Ray

    As you can tell, I value starters over relievers (as everyone should). The only relievers that I even considered were Cole Kimball (the shoulder injury is obviously a factor), Pat Lehman and Rafael Martin. Oh, and Smoker, but him only briefly – I’m definitely at the “show me” stage with the reinvention project. I do factor in how close to ML ready a pitcher is – Meyer and Purke have much more upside than Tom Milone, but Milone has already produced everywhere along his route to his ML debut this year. But it’s not determinative – A.J. Cole has won over enough pundits that I take him very seriously, and Sammy Solis was doing well enough even before he had such a strong campaign in the hitter-dominated AFL that I gave both of them the nod over Milone. Meyers is right behind them, with a very impressive walk rate and K/BB ratio but a rather less impressive WHIP. It will be interesting to see whether he can keep the control while bringing the hits down – I have to wonder if he was just unlucky at BABIP to produce the 10.3 H/IP. I like Rosenbaum (whether he is Milone II or Lannan III), but he hasn’t gotten quite close enough to the big leagues to push the high profile draftees farther down. I have this feeling about Turnbull; he got some buzz after the draft and Sickels had him as a sleeper pick. It’s just enough of a gut feeling to list him ahead of Ray, although Ray was OK in 2011.

  13. I think we can group Tom Milone & Rafael ‘beer league’ Martin together. They are the exact opposite of sexy, the opposite of a Nook LaRoush type of player.

    I’m sorry, doesn’t a player have to falter or fail at some level before someone can say they’re not so good.
    I’ve been hearing for 3 years now that Milone will falter at the next level. Still hasn’t happened yet. Next we’ll see that Milone faltered at the All Star Game, and all these people will say, “I knew it all along”.
    If you can’t root for a Rafael Martin type of story, then you need switch your allegiances to a front runner team & be a Yankees fan. 🙂

    1. BTW, it was Eppy “Nuke” LaLoosh. You ended up with what looks like a mashup of Nook Logan / Adam LaRoche / & the aforementioned character.

      It’s OK, I think we still got it.

  14. Here was my top-10, fwiw…
    1) Milone, Tommy
    2) Peacock, Brad
    3) Cole, AJ
    4) Solis, Sammy
    5) Purke, Matt
    6) Ray, Robbie
    7) Meyers, Brad
    8) Jordan, Taylor
    9) Meyer, Alex
    10) Smoker, Josh

  15. I favored the starters as that is what the Nats seem to always need the most of … and too many have been ineffective … of course those are no longer with the team. Sue I am certain is happy to see the age of the prospects at all levels dropping down to where it should be.

    I still like who I like and that means guys who have put their time in the Org and worked their way up : Milone, Meyers and Peacock.

    1. Brad Peacock
    2. Sammy Solis
    3. Tommy Milone
    4. Bradley Meyers (soon gone I guess)
    5. AJ Cole
    6. Matt Purke
    7. Alex Meyer
    8. Dan Rosenbaum
    9. Paul Demny
    10. Robbie Ray

  16. After reading all these well thought out answers, I’m left to wonder………. Brad Meyers was left off the 40 man but Doug Slaten is still on?
    Not sure what the F.O was thinking, but I’ll have what they’re smoking!

  17. With Slaten, it’s not a question of why not but more a question of when (December 12th, IIRC). Rizzo could be doing him (& his Agent) a favor by carrying him to accrue roster / service time. If he’s still on the roster after the end of the Winter Meetings, I’d have to wonder if Rizzo has gone “LH crazy”.

  18. Boy oh boy, sure hope you guys are right about Milone,especially you, BinM. If he turns out to be better than Peacock and Cole, for example, I’m sure as heck missing something. I’ve seen or heard nothing to indicate he’s much different from Lannan, a soft thrower who has great minor league stats–a major leaguer, maybe, but no better than a number four on a good staff.

    1. The biggest advantage to Milone as a Lannan clone (hey, that rhymes) is that it would give the Nats the option of trading Lannan. If I’m an opposing GM, that’s my angle… hey, Mike you got a kid that could slide right in… but

      I’m also hearing that the Nats are going after a number of FAs, though that needs to be taken with a Scott Boras-sized grain of salt because nearly everybody is using the number of Boras clients as the basis for that speculation. There’s also talk that this year’s winter meetings will be more trade-intensive given the new CBA, but I think that’s the old-timers showing their bias for pre-FA days.

    2. Milone is NOT a Lannan clone, as Lannan walks a ton of people. A better comparison is Milone-Buehrle and Lannan-Rosenbaum

      1. Not my comp, mind you, but I was working so hard for the joke that I blew it. What I meant is that there are folks that are speculating that Lannan is blocking Milone under the false logic that they’re both lefthanded “soft-tossers.” I must have missed that chapter in the Joe Morgan book about the limit to the number of archetypes you can have on a pitching staff.

    3. My thoughts on Milone were 1) his ‘projection range’ is both lower & narrower [#4SP top, MR bottom], and I felt he has a higher probability [90%] of meeting the high end than others on the list, based on numbers to date. Plenty of other prospects project higher, but come with lower probability of success, imo.

  19. As far as the recently drafted guys, I heard Turnbull was less than impressive based on talking with a few of his teammates. Meyer has a high ceiling, but needs more work than some of the others on the list. Purke looked ok but defnitely not worth what we paid him yet. Dupra may be a valuable reliever and I think Monar could be the steal of the draft.

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