Offseason Update: Nov. 2, 2014

With the clocks turned back and the World Series in the books (no, they should have not have sent Gordon), baseball winter is upon us. But it’s Sunday — my day to publish — so let’s take a spin through the Nats minors news and notes in the new weekly format.

• Tony Renda was the sole National to appear in the AFL “Fall Stars” showcase last night, going 1-for-2 with a strikeout at the plate while making a putout and an assist during his four innings on defense. He’s currently riding a 10-game hit streak, over which he’s posted a .341/.349/.463 line with 14 runs scored and seven RBI.
• Matt Grace and Derek Self both turned in scoreless outings, while Neil Holland was scorched for three runs last Monday in a 3-3 tie between 1st-place Salt River and 2nd-place Mesa.
• Felipe Rivero continues to struggle, giving up two runs on two hits over ⅔ an inning on Thursday. He was lifted after throwing 31 pitches, just 16 for strikes.
• Spencer Kieboom and Pedro Severino both collected two hits and two RBI in their two starts during the week.

The final two winter leagues began play on Friday, though I’m sure someone will note that it’s spring in Australia. My kids were toddlers when the Wiggles came to power became popular, so I’m well aware of it, having endured a holiday DVD set on the beach. As expected, there are no 40-man guys playing down under while the list for the Puerto Rican Winter League contingent is merely two — Xavier Cedeno (Santurce) and Tyler Herron (Mayaguez).

Later this week, we’ll get the official list from Baseball America of this year’s crop of minor-league free agents, which includes the 2008 draft that has produced two players on the 40-man: Danny Espinosa and Tyler Moore. Just three other draftees remain: Paul Demny, Destin Hood, and Jose Lozada, who, along with IFA Adrian Sanchez, re-signed in October. Perhaps we’ll learn who else may have elected to stay before that list is released, though I’d put more stock in guys who’ve had a chance to look elsewhere re-upping than Hood or Demny turning down their first chance as free agents. Update: In its Nov. 3 dispatch, BA is reporting that Washington has (despite the info below) re-signed RHPs Paolo Espino, Scott McGregor, James Simmons along with UT Josh Johnson.

Hide your kids, hide your wife, hide your pets, and put down anything sharp or heavy. Hopes were high when the roster was revealed in late March, as it was loaded with high-profile prospects (six BA Top 20s, 17 of this site’s watchlist) and salted with several of the 2013 Potomac Nationals that won 84 games (42 in each half). It took more than three weeks for a starter other than A.J. Cole to win, nearly ten weeks before they won three games in a row. Only a win on the final day of the season prevented them from tying the 2004 edition for the worst-ever won-loss mark.

Injuries were a major factor: Sammy Solis, Matt Purke, Felipe Rivero made 19 starts combined, with Solis making just one. This led to in-season free-agent pickups starting 54 of 142 games and the team finishing dead last in pitching. Take away Paolo Espino, who was league-average, the foursome of James Simmons, Zach Kroenke, Scott McGregor combined for an ERA of 5.81 and a WHIP of 1.59 (gee, why were these guys available?) — and that ain’t gonna get it done. That’s especially true when the offense was, as is often the case with last-place teams, was also near the bottom of the pack, averaging 4.08 runs per game despite finishing second in walks drawn and third in stolen bases.

This leaves us, for the third straight year, with a combined list of pitchers and position players. But it’s still an obligatory Top 5 List:

1. Michael Taylor, CF — .313 GPA, 22HR, 34SB, 130K in 98G
2. A.J. Cole, RHP — 2.92/2.58/1.32, 1.9 BB/9
3. Matt Skole, 1B — .258 GPA, 78BB in 132G
4. Cutter Dykstra, IF — .255 GPA, 12E in 87G at 2B
5. Kevin Keyes, 1B-OF — .247 GPA, 20HR, 64RBI

It’s a sad state of affairs when I can only list one pitcher and two position players who are under 24. Quincy Latimore (.267 GPA) outperformed everyone not named Michael Taylor, but he turns 26 in February and may already be a free agent. An honorable mention goes to Drew Vettleson, who finished an injury-plagued season with a .274/.300/.453 mark in August (27G). If you’ve got the stomach, you can see the full team statistics here.

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.

22 thoughts on “Offseason Update: Nov. 2, 2014”

  1. Luke, I am glad Demny sticking around
    One more campaign to see what his
    Talents level out to. Same with Hood.
    Nothing like being in a foreign country
    During fall back time change. Lol.
    I was bored the other day so I surfed
    Through the ASU SunDevil roster. Wow!
    Nice LHP depth chart with two 1-2 starters to
    Possibly consider in next June draft .
    Could I ask a straw poll since we are near
    Mid- term elections ? Who would like to see
    Brian Goodwin stick around another season
    Just to see if he works himself into big club
    Bench need??

    1. The 40 man roster already has 39 on it and the Nat’s haven’t even added the newly eligible yet. It will be an interesting 4 weeks. Could be a bloodbath.

  2. Just curious … Do the Nats retain control of Hood if they put him on the 40 man? Or does he have the option to become a free agent at this point regardless of what the Nats do? As Mark, said, I’m thinking that there could be some significant turnover on the 40 man this year, and after a better year last year from Destin, was wondering if the Nats would try to keep him another year.

  3. Hood’s power may be emerging. His manager felt his power potential was there. They added Steven Souza to the 40 Man last year to prevent his becoming a minor league FA. While Demny is expendable, why take the risk of regretting the loss of Hood with the roster at 39?

    Bob Miller hired today. Luke or anyone else, some inside skinny on him?

    1. I guess they liked Eric Fornataro (???) better than Hood, or at least felt like they needed a pitcher more than another OF. I’m with you tho … was hoping Hood could find his mojo here as he matures.

  4. Forensic one miller the contract guy who
    Gave Nats fans indigestion with the Homer
    Bailey contract
    BA reports brass has retained our guy Pablo
    Cruise Espino , James Simmons and Scott
    McGregor. JJ joins lozada and Sanchez as
    Sage vets for upper levels
    Now we just have to wait to see how Spin
    Works with Purke and Solis in the off season
    We know those Senators fans are expecting
    80-85 wins this upcoming summer. Lol!

  5. Jeff, I know you are high on Espino so I was happy to see that. Cue Pat Metheny The Way Up 🙂

    BA had a feature on Wander Suero, whose A- was whole lot better than his A+ (which was like Barrett in the playoffs). Wonder what will get him over the hump?

    Daubach and company were very impressed with McGregor and expressed surprise that the Cards gave up on him. Well now the Nats will get closer reads on him as OG fodder vs. reclamation.

    Love JJ and glad he can keep doing it.

    Wonder if Miller has some voodoo on the Cuban prospects? There is that outstanding Cuba 2B now being worked out in Guatemala. Perhaps a matter of time before we hear whether there is any Rizzo interest? Cannot argue with Miller’s track record with the DBack farm system while Rizzo was there.

  6. For Bob miller curiosity. Cue miles Davis
    Chasing the voodoo down.
    Nats due for a bite on Cuban fishing rod.
    Carlos Rivero heads out to Seattle / PCL
    Possibility .

    1. Spann, Bacus, and Dickson are the best candidates among the starters; Mendez and Harper are the most likely relievers.

  7. No easy prediction for the Harrisburg starting staff. Purke, Solis, and Rivero are all back (in theory). Simms and Voth are back as well. So whomever earns the bump from A+ will be competing (that includes Hector Silvestre).

    Dupra may be destined for the bullpen, along with Self and Benincasa. But you cannot count out Mirowski and Manny Rodriguez, if because of age as well. And then there is Jake Walsh from the left side.

    So the competition will be tight, especially since nobody at AA earned the push upward to AAA.

  8. We cannot rule out as swing guys. Backus and
    Spin Spin will be working his tail off getting those
    Three lefties aligned right like a good chiropractor
    ( saw mine today ).

  9. Dear Santa Claus: for x- mas I would like
    Moncada added to nats farm system and
    Roy Haynes CD Legend

    1. Menhart did break in with the Blue Jays in 1995 if that’s what you’re asking about re: Toronto. An interesting factoid about that is that Randy Knorr caught Paul’s MLB debut.

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