Minors Pitching Staff Analysis, pt. 1

With spring training finally here, it’s time for us to find/create stories as the pitchers and catchers filter into camp (along with a few position players, who are universally praised for showing up early; never mind they may just be bored). The retirement of Mike Cameron has added some intrigue… for the fourth or fifth outfielder’s spot, creating an opening for a outfield prospect or a AAAA guy to make the club.

In terms of what makes or breaks any baseball team — you guessed it: pitching — little has changed. The Nats still have a perceived surplus, and as discussed last week in the options post, quite a selection of pitchers that can be added to the 40-man with, in essence, three open slots with Cole Kimball a virtual lock to be added to the 60-day DL while he recovers from shoulder surgery.

But options aside, there seems to be consensus that the parent club’s five-man rotation will be Strasburg-Gonzalez-Zimmermann-Jackson-Wang with the bullpen being LHPs Detwiler-Burnett-Gorzelanny and RHPs being Lidge-Storen-Rodriguez-Clippard. John Lannan seems to be the trade bait with Ryans Perry and Mattheus and Craig Stammen on the outside looking in.

Which brings us to Syracuse.

Last year, Yunesky Maya, Ross Detwiler and Craig Stammen opened the season in the Chiefs’ rotation (along with Tom Milone and Garrett Mock). Two of those pitchers appear headed back to upstate New York. But how will the staff fill out from there?

Yunesky Maya Craig Stammen Ryan Perry
Erik Arnesen Austin Bibens-Dirkx* Ryan Mattheus
Matt Buschmann* Ryan Tatusko Atahualpa Severino
Mitch Atkins* Rafael Martin
Gaby Hernandez* Waldis Joaquin*
Mike Ballard* Josh Wilkie
Jeff Mandel
Lee Hyde
Bold = On 40 Man Roster Italics = Non-Roster Invitee * = ’11-’12 Minor-League FA Signing

That’s 17 pitchers for 12 spots. I’m already presuming that NRIs Chad Durbin and Jeff Fulchino are likely to be cut loose rather than accept a position in the minors. Unfortunately, while it’s tempting to simply state that the five guys that don’t make it to Syracuse will necessarily get pushed down to Harrisburg, the harsh reality is that it’s also a possibility that some will be released, too.

I’ve handicapped the field with bolding, italics, and asterisks to indicate some obvious tea leaves (presence on the 40-man, an invite, new to the organization). The category of “swingmen” is simply a hedge: Guys that have both started and relieved and could be used in either capacity.

Let’s discuss in the comments where you think the chips will fall. Next up: Harrisburg.

Author: Luke Erickson

Since 2009, Luke Erickson has been chief writer, editor, and bottle-washer of NationalsProspects.com. 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.

12 thoughts on “Minors Pitching Staff Analysis, pt. 1”

  1. I presume that if the Yankees return Brad Meyers before Opening Day (or later for that matter) he would be among the prospective AAA starters.

  2. Regarding R Tatusko, in ’11 the Chiefs used him primarily as a reliever (just 2 starts in 23 appearances), yet when he played in VWL, he was used as a starter. His results weren’t all that spectacular there (7 starts, 0-5 W-L, 6.10 ERA, 2.0 WHIP, 1.0 K/BB, 0.94 K/9, 0.94 BB/9, .265 BAA, but 0 HR though 😉 ) . Post-VWL, Ryan says on his blog that he thinks the Nats plan to use him as a reliever, but he’s not sure. I wonder if starting him in VWL was simply the Nats way to see what they have in him as a starter??? I would surmise he’ll end up as a RHRP in SYR.

  3. You have to remeber that some will be in the land of XST too(see Roark, Tanner) instead of cut loose. I think that Maya, Arnesen, Stammen, Severino, Perry, Mattheus, Martin, Wilkie, Mandel, and Tatusko are all locks to stay in the system. Dont forget Christian Garcia, or Cory VanAllen as possible AAA guys. I will figure out my final roster predictions soon, and post them here. Still have no clue what to do with Lannan

    1. Have to assume Johnson will want a lefty power pitcher to go with Gonzalez. Just as in 2011 his preference will likely be Detwiler. So sans injuries Lannan gets optioned to AAA and asks for a trade. The Nats oblige at some point just before the All Star break.

      1. Peric — when you say Davey will want a lefty to go w/Gio, do you mean as the 5th starter or out of the pen / spot starts? If you’re suggesting Detwiler as the 5th, wouldn’t that mean both Wang and Lannan are men without a slot?

  4. I don’t know what will happen to Lannan, Peric, but I believe his going to the minors is the least likely scenerio. I just don’t think there is any chance of this occurring.

    1. That’s precisely what I’d expect from a 26-y.o. in his 4th season at AA. You have to take Kerr’s stories with a grain of salt because they’re almost always based on an interview with Nats brass and are rarely, if ever, critical of a player.

      1. Van Allen improved alot last year. I’ve seen him pitch for many years now, and would often cringe when he went into games. It seems that he has finally overcome the change in delivery he was asked/required to do, and has regained confidence to become a decent lefty out of the pen. He might have a chance at Syracuse.

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