Minors Pitching Staff Analysis, Part One

Now that we’ve taken a swag at the position players, it’s to time to project the four full-season pitching staffs. This is only the third time I’ve attempted this and I’m reminded every time I work the board why I resisted trying this in the first place: It’s really difficult.

The previous two times, I hedged by “overpicking” — naming more guys than the typical 12-man staff. This year, I decided just to go with the gut and stop at 12. This doesn’t necessarily mean that I think a guy at given level will be released (though that’s always a concern with picking the “A” teams) it just means I’m on the fence about where he fits in the organization’s plans, which I’m not privy to (and if I were, it wouldn’t be guessing!)

I also skipped anybody coming off surgery or that I believe has had surgery or was hurt. This is simply prudent: The only way we know a guy is healthy is when he pitches. Thus, by exension, I’m not designating anybody on the D.L. as I did a year ago.

With the caveats spelled out, let’s review how I picked the 2013 Syracuse pitchers…

Yunesky Maya Ryan Tatusko Erik Davis
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

Missing on roles doesn’t bother me much because pitchers are moved in and out of the bullpen all the time in the minors, which is part of what the farm is for — finding a role that suits a pitcher so he can contribute when the big club calls him up.

One of the two that I got entirely wrong started at AA (Lehman) and never made it up, the other was released (Pena). All things considered, this is probably as good as it gets for an exercise like this. Still, I’m aware of some the ones I got right were just barely… McCoy and Perry, for example, were demoted in April and June respectively; Cole Kimball was in Viera until late June.

Finally, here’s my projection for the 2014 Syracuse staff, without the cushion of extra picks or the track record of spring training usage:

Taylor Jordan Ryan Tatusko* Aaron Barrett
Nathan Karns Matt Swynenberg Tyler Robertson*
Danny Rosenbaum Daniel Stange*
Chris Young* Zack Jackson*
Blake Treinen Neil Holland
Bold = On 40-Man Italics = Non-Roster Invitee * = ’13-’14 MLFA

Obviously, I feel the least amount of confidence in the starters… Taylor could win the #5 starter’s job in DC… Young could be released before the Ides of March… Rosenbaum could be converted to relief in an effort to buy more time for Sammy Solis to develop… not to mention any number of possibilities resulting from how the “Big Nats” pitching staff is constructed.

Next up: The 2014 Harrisburg Senators.

UPDATE: Karns was traded literally while this was being written. Given the nature of such a post (a speculative prediction), I’m leaving it as is until more details of the trade are available.

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.

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

    1. Great trade for Karns insofar as Durham in April is nicer than Syracuse in April (although today it’s probably a wash). Otherwise he’s AAA depth in either scenario, and I doubt he’s getting the first call when the Rays get around to trading Price.

  1. Karns is relief for Hendrickson going unde knife
    This trade reminds me of the Ivan P- Scott
    Hairston deal. One chip for two or three.
    My beef is that Karns is a season ahead of
    Barrett and Benincasa. Unless treinen. Surprises.
    Jose L is a stiff. Sandy L should get PT
    Billy Gardner advice on two kids coming over?
    Get. Guy named Spick to go with Spann!

    1. Hill may be the beneficiary of this trade, but I’d be surprised if the Nats put a 22-y.o. in AAA after just seven starts at AA.

    2. What about Bradley Meyers who obviously isn’t getting any younger? Wouldn’t he be considered a potential starter in Syracuse or do you think he may be done?

      1. “I also skipped anybody coming off surgery or that I believe has had surgery or was hurt. This is simply prudent: The only way we know a guy is healthy is when he pitches.”

        This more or less applies to Meyers, Anderson, and Estevez

  2. Reports are that the Nats are getting two prospects in addition to Lobaton for Karns, so let’s not jump on this trade until it’s official

    1. As Luke stated you really can’t analyze the trade until the 2 additional players are identified.

      Karns was a pretty decent overslot signing as all should admit to by now. Right guys? He does have talent. He may be
      talented enough to be a major league starter but he didn’t express that talent in the majors last season as well as Taylor
      Jordan and even better Tanner Roark.

      Rizzo must believe he’s set. Plus there’s the Giolito factor. What will they do if he starts marching through the system like Strasburg did? Start converting the others to relief and perhaps that has already happened in the case of Detwiler and Roark who can pitch both ways. Its why Rizzo didn’t pony up the 16 million the Phillies did for Burnett.

  3. Anybody that has followed karns knows he’s a slow starter with lousy debuts at every level..three games isn’t a chance….

  4. Is Rivero the bat boy from Charleston??
    Yorkis Perez re incarnated??
    Maybe a guy to plug the vacuum of the
    Guys moving up to Harrisburg?
    Especially if Dixon Anderson and Nic Lee
    Repeat Hagerstown although I doubt Lee will
    Miss Potomac list in April
    The third guy should be an infielder

  5. Luke. Hot fudge sundae bet as Bob trumpey always said:
    Taylor Hill may have moxy to handle AAA
    . Vanderbilt may be better than some AAA clubs???

    1. Putting Davis on the DL to make room for Rivero on the 40-man kind of reduces the number of real bullpen possibilities coming from Syracuse. Unless as has been mentioned they decide to covert both Rosenbaum and perhaps even Meyers? Given that Purke has yet to make it all the way back from his shoulder surgery you have to wonder if his conversion is in the cards this season? Plus that possibility has to exist for Solis I suppose? Hill, Cole, and Jordan appear destined to start in the upper minors. Now they have Rivero as well.

  6. The Nats were obviously looking for more offense from their backup. Both Solano & Leon are better defensively than Lobotan, but there’s been serious worries whether they can hit at the major league level.
    Jeff’s right about Lobotan being a stiff at throwing runners out. 16% (blech)
    The real conversation here, since this IS a prospects site, is how good are these guys coming over. It looks like they’re both going to start in Harrisburg. To me, it always hurts to lose a player I’ve been following for a couple of years. Karns is a high effort delivery guy who seemed destined for the bullpen and he gets a better chance to start with Tampa Bay. I wish him well.
    I’ll defer to Luke right now on how good these new guys are.

    1. I guess we found out Rizzo definitely filled a couple of needs with those prospects! Either Harrisburg or Potomac get the ambidextrous ex pitcher now outfielder with two cannon arms and a coveted left-handed bat. That would be Vettleson ranked in the top 20 by most experts. Plus Rivero a left-handed starter who made an appearance at the futures game. Has some nice heat and at least one decent breaking pitch. Either Harrisburg or Potomac as well.

      Nice haul for a guy many thought was a lousy pick. And after that sort of injury? Says a lot for both Karns and the organization.

      And Ross? Sorry dude but I’ve been in the Nate Karns fan club longer than you, just ask Luke or Suedinem 😉

    1. Well I don’t recall you on here and the live chats pestering everyone including the beat reporters for a progress report when he suddenly disappeared getting the surgery? They like to keep things very close to the vest at Nat’s Park.

      Plus there’s the long discussion of whether he was a reliever/closer or a starter that oft ensued.

  7. Vettleson makes the deal real interesting
    Luke- asking but pondering too- start @ Potomacdespite 400 plus AB @ 2013 Charlotte
    Vettleson , Mesa, Ramos , maybe Cat Ballou
    Potnats OF??? Saves time for Lippencott.

    1. If Goodwin moves to Syracuse no left-handed bat in H’burg other than Skole. Be interesting to see where he lands. And Bloxom probably deserves a promotion.

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