Minors Pitching Staff Analysis, Part One

After taking a guess at which position players will end up where, last year I tried it for the pitchers for the first time and now it’s time to see how I did.

Of course, with the roles of “Big Nats” largely set going into camp, this was not exactly courageous of me. But the goal is not about being right so much as keeping the conversation going (though being right is nice!).

So, let’s take a look at who I picked last February:

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

Granted, no matter what I was going to be wrong on at least five because I “overpicked,” selecting 17 names for roughly 12 slots. I did this at every level because that’s the nature of the beast; pitchers and catchers report first because there are always a lot more of ’em than spots available.

I got nine wrong — two made the big club (Stammen, Mattheus), two started the season at AA instead (Mandel, Ballard), a third joined the Senators a couple weeks later (Tatusko), and the rest never played for the Nationals in 2012. The most obvious thing as I apply that 20/20 hindsight is that it appears I put too much stock in the FAs (though I might have gotten Zach Duke right had he been signed in the offseason). Otherwise, I pretty much feel like Blinkin.

We’ll see next year if I do any better with this set of picks:

Yunesky Maya Ryan Tatusko Erik Davis Brad Meyers
Ross Ohlendorf* Fernando Abad* Pat Lehman  
Tanner Roark   Pat McCoy  
Jeff Mandel   Hassan Pena  
Matt Torra*   Cole Kimball  
Ryan Perry      
Bold = On 40-Man Italics = Non-Roster Invitee * = ’12-’13 MLFA

This time around, I’m hedging my bets a lot less. I added a “DL” column as a nod to the M*A*S*H unit on this year’s Watchlist. And I’m leaning back towards the “OGs” and away from the FAs — especially the retread relievers such as Jeremy Accardo and Will Ohman, who I think are longshots (Bill Bray is probably the NRI with the best chance).

“Swingmen” isn’t a literal or old-school definition — basically, it pitchers that can (or have) start(ed) or relieve(d), or I feel may be changing roles — especially in the lower minors. A kind of neither-here-nor-there category, if you will.

The top-to-bottom order is intentional — which does mean that I was on the fence about Ryan Perry beginning at Syracuse or Harrisburg, but with Cole Kimball it’s more a gut feeling that he may not be fully healthy yet. Shoulders, as the old saw goes, are harder to fix than elbows.

Finally, a shout-out to Ben Meyers at the Auburn Citizen, who also took a stab at the candidates for the Syracuse Chiefs’ pitchers and position players.

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.

11 thoughts on “Minors Pitching Staff Analysis, Part One”

    1. I don’t believe he’s as “plug & play” as some folks seem to think — transitioning to starter from relief is not easy (certainly not as compared to vice-versa); just ask Ryan Perry. Plus, he hasn’t started more than five games in a season since 2008. He’s thrown a grand total of six (6) AA starts and zero (0) AAA starts. I just don’t see it happening without some significant time (10-12 starts) in the minors, and I have to wonder if it’s worth the risk versus him pitching in relief where he can be more readily monitored and contribute immediately.

      1. Seems awfully similar to the justification for Karns becoming a reliever as opposed to a starter?

        Rizzo, Clark, Minitti et al PREFER power pitchers in their rotation. They aren’t big fans of soft-tossers like Lannan, Maya,, Stammen, Meyers, and unfortunately, Milone as starters in the rotation … fifth starters given the signing of Dan Haren … perhaps.

        So, let’s see who the true power pitchers currently that are projected starters? Ryan Perry, Christian Garcia (if they proceed with their plans) and Nate Karns. And that’s pretty much it from what I can see.

        At some point they get AJ Cole and Giolito further down the line …

        1. For the record, when I was suggesting that Karns might be converted to relief, it was after the 2011 season and he was turning 24 — and for the very reason you cite: the Nats like hard throwers. He hadn’t pitched full-season ball yet and it seemed more plausible that if he might be switched to accelerate the timeframe. Also, this was in the context when it seemed that the Nats were more likely to be serious contenders in 2013 vs. 2012.

          Hey, I make mistakes — we all do — and I’m pretty sure I’ve given credit to your faith in Karns 😉

  1. I have to say, an OF of Brown, Perez and Komatsu is pretty good for AAA. I just wonder if Syracuse has enough pitching to be good (from a W/L perspective, as opposed to a talent cache/development perspective)

  2. I think Luke has relayed some stats (and therefore his projection about Garcia remaining in a reliever role I assume) that don’t bode well for 2 time TJ’ers coming back to a SP role. But I wonder if his reportoire will eventually (sooner rather than later?) push the Nats to stretching him out for a SP role. Guess we’ll know more in the next 30 days. 😉

    Also for Luke, what’s the latest on the return timeframe for Brad Meyers? Do you recall when his surgery was? Maybe someone down in Viera can give us a heads up on any ‘Meyers sightings’. Am hoping that he’s made a complete recovery and can contribute from the get go this season.

    1. It’s my understanding Meyers had surgery late last summer, which means that’s he’s unlikely to pitch north of Viera this year. The recovery time for labrum surgery is roughly a year, but the success rate isn’t as “automatic” as fans seem to think it is. We can hope for a Karns-like recovery, but if Adam Carr is any guide, Meyers will have to bounce back quickly if he’s to stick with the organization past 2013.

      1. That’s a tough break — and apparently a tough injury to recover from. I think most would wish for even an ‘almost Karns-like recovery’ if that’s available!

      2. Again, keep in mind, Karns is a pretty talented power pitcher and starter.

        Meyers is not.

        Carr was a decent power pitcher reliever before the injury. One has to wonder if the same fate is in store for Cole Kimball.

        1. Unfortunately, one cannot help but wonder if Kimball and Carr were pushed just a little too hard in 2010. Yes, they were older guys, but both were coming off career highs in appearances, too.

          1. Meh. Pitchers get hurt. Just because B follows A doesn’t mean that A caused B. It’s easy to assume that Kimball and Carr were pushed too hard because hey, they got hurt. But it’s about equally as likely that they would have gotten hurt anyway.

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