Instructional League Roster – Final Thoughts

Last week, the Nationals released the rosters for the Fall Instructional League (a.k.a. Instrux), which were broken down by pitchers and position players. Like much of the minors offseason, inferences are often drawn because the information is sparse and/or one-sided. As noted the past two years, the invites can often be categorized as follows:

1. Young
2. Changing roles or position
3. Working on a specific skill/pitch

No. 1 is, of course, relative. Nine of the 28 position players invited, for example, are 21 or younger; twelve are 23 or older. No. 2 is always interesting, especially when the player has risen to the full-season minors. Justin Miller is indeed being tried at catcher per Byron Kerr’s article on Saturday while lumbering big man Kevin Keyes is going to try to find a home at first base.

No. 3 of course is arguably the most important and obviously the most nebulous. Here, I can’t blame the club for holding its cards close to the vest, on the off chance that the weakness isn’t obvious. My guess is that this is especially true of the short-season guys where not only are sample sizes smaller, the odds of a scout having seen it are lower for the same reason. As noted two years ago, scouts aren’t keen on Instrux because the tinkering and experimenting can obscure the very things they may be looking for — a pitcher not throwing a given pitch in favor of working on another, for example.

In years past, getting an invite was a sign that the player was moving on up, but it’s not the guarantee it used to be. In 2010, all but one of the position-player invites moved up in 2011. Seven of the 2011 invitees did not. Perhaps that’s an anomaly, but I tend to think that with fewer opportunities at the top of the ladder as well as the struggles of Potomac and Harrisburg, we could see the same thing next spring. It’s become clear that the Rizzo front office has no qualms about using free agents to plug holes, even at the AA level.

Unfortunately, with no box scores released, the stories are few and far between from the FIL. There are 14 games between Friday, September 21 and Wednesday, October 10, according to this schedule I found online. We hope to have some dispatches towards the end from one of our commenters (TBRfan).

As always, I’ll do the best I can to keep the site populated until the AFL starts up. A review of the 2012 Watchlist is probably next up, and affiliation swaps are already starting to trickle out — the only drama is whether or not the Nationals will renew its PDC with Hagerstown, which is taking the unusual step of opening up Municipal Stadium to the public to demonstrate why renovation might not be an option in its quest to build a new stadium downtown.

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.

5 thoughts on “Instructional League Roster – Final Thoughts”

  1. Not sure it’s relevant to this post, but it seems like the new CBA was successful in getting many more 2012 draftees significant innings this year. It looks like this might create somewhat of a “bubble” of folks competing for slots at lower levels (i.e., especially Low A) next year. Will be interesting to see how that plays out, and if it creates a little more “push” from below to get folks moving up (or whether folks just get “thinned out” faster). Kind of the reverse of last year where folks seemed to be held back by the need to bring in some FA minor leaguers at the higher levels. (Although I haven’t really started to think about what effect Rule 5 might have this year).

    1. Hard to say, except for the Rule 5, which has always been overrated and overstated because of its timing (early December, before the FA season heats up). A lot of folks thought that if they didn’t roll back the number of years from 5/4 to 4/3 for HS & College Picks (essentially, I’m aware there’s a DOB component) that they might eliminate it altogether.

  2. Good links on the Hagerstown situation; hope they get it done.
    Any news, Luke, from NP’s roving correspondent regarding the instructional league?

  3. In Viera on 9/18, saw Anthony Rendon, Brain Goodwin working hard before exiting for AFL. Matt Skole looks really good, arriving to camp in his Black SUV. The instructional league roster is an older group, much like our minor league system. Interested to see what the plays are for Difo. Looks the part! Saw Deion Williams in bullpen session and he is young with a live arm. A “diamond in the rough.” Games start Saturday……… Stay tuned!

  4. Total off of the subject, but I thought this is noteworthy! Hats off to the Nationals, Doug Harris and all of the staff. I brought my youngest son to the ball yard with me to see some of the players listed in the post and to get autographs. The players were GREAT! All of the players my son asked for autographs signed balls, hats, pictures nand etc…… That is a wonderful thing! Take a bow Nats executives, you guys have some great kids and role models in your minor league system. Also, my son likes to arrive early to see what cars the players drive. MY SON IS A CAR LOVER!! His personal favorite for the day was Deion Williams H2 Hummer!!!!!! Take a bow NATS organization! Keep up the good work………………………………………….

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