Nationals Unveil “Accelerated Camp” Roster

accelerated-camp
For the minors fans, the news is sparse this time of year, but thanks to MASN’s Byron Kerr, we can at least discuss the annual list of minor-leaguers who’ve been asked to come to camp early, a.k.a. “accelerated camp.”

This is the analog to the Fall Instrux – extra time for instruction, etc. And, of course, a chance for the Nats to make sure everyone’s moving in the right direction.

As I’ve previously noted, it’s difficult to make realistic inferences from who’s been invited or not, but I have marked up the list…

RHPs LHPs CATCHERS INFIELDERS OUTFIELDERS
Joan Baez Grant Borne Raudy Read Osvaldo Abreu Telmito Agustin
Ryan Brinley Matt Crownover Jakson Reetz Zack Cox Rafael Bautista
Weston Davis Taylor Guilbeau Matt Reistetter Anderson Franco Blake Perkins
Matt Derosier Taylor Hearn Jorge Tillero Kelvin Gutierrez Victor Robles
Wirkin Estevez Tyler Watson Edwin Lora Andrew Stevenson
Erick Fedde Bryan Mejia Rhett Wiseman
Koda Glover Jose Marmolejos-Diaz
Cody Gunter Stephen Perez
Jake Johansen Shawn Pleffner
Andrew Lee Ian Sagdal
Reynaldo Lopez Max Schrock
Tyler Mapes Drew Ward
Luis Reyes
Mariano Rivera III
Jefry Rodriguez
John Simms
Luis Reyes
Phillips Valdez
Austen Williams

… with red for guys not on the watchlist, blue for 2015 Draft picks, with purple for those are both, while resisting the urge to demarcate the surfeit of soap-opera first names (e.g. 80% of the LHPs. Just sayin’).

This time around perhaps the only unfamiliar name to the non-regulars is Zach Cox, who’s probably this year’s Mario Lisson – a veteran being asked to “plug and play” at either Harrisburg or Syracuse and probably both by year’s end.

Also, as usual, there are a couple of veteran names to remove a little bit of doubt as to who’s had their last gasp, which is also an unfortunate part of both spring training and the offseason.

Until next time — or when the games begin…

Sickels Releases Top 20 Nats Prospect List

Last night, John Sickels released his Washington Nationals Top 20 prospects list for 2016. Here’s how it breaks down by letter grade:

A Lucas Giolito
A- Trea Turner
B/B+ Victor Robles
B Reynaldo Lopez, A.J. Cole
B/B- Erick Fedde
B- Wilmer Difo, Anderson Franco, Austin Voth
B-/C+ Andrew Stevenson
C+ Osvaldo Abreu, Rafael Bautista, Christopher Bostick, Pedro Severino, Max Schrock, Rhett Wiseman
C+/C Raudy Read, Abel De Los Santos, Koda Glover, Andrew Lee


Let’s revisit my explanation for the layout…

The primary focus here is on letter grades, not numerical rank, which if you must know, you can get by going top to bottom, then left in each row. Lucas Giolito is #1, Trea Turner is #2, Victor Robles is #3… Koda Glover is #19, Andrew Lee is #20.

The secondary focus is on improvement by letter grade, which you can see by the color red. The opposite, i.e. folks who have dropped a notch, are in blue.

Top 20 guys from 2015 are in bold. Guys who played their way onto the list are in italics. Draft picks from last June are in green.

The last category is interesting because there are two ways of looking at it: (1) the system was so weak that the new talent simply looks better in comparison (2) the Nats drafted really well.  I’ll leave that up to the draft gurus to debate in the comments, but I think I have to lean towards the latter when I look back at previous iterations of this post and realize there’s never been this many just-drafted picks to make the Top 20 (hence the Kermitization 😉

It’s also interesting that Sickels is outlining the guys that are straddling two grades, which he also points out with nos. 11-7 (the C+ guys and Raudy Read):

Significant cut-off here: slots 11-17 could be ordered in many different ways with valid logic. Look at this like tiers.

Other thoughts…

…Clearly Sickels is higher on Cole than others, especially when you consider that he’s ranked him above Fedde. His comp is to Jake Odorizzi in terms of prospect fatigue.

…Speaking of comps, let the hype begin if Reynaldo Lopez is likened to Luis Severino.

…Andrew Lee appears to be his next Austin Voth: A sleeper pick that becomes a workhorse with stuff that’s neither exceptional nor weak.

As always, I encourage folks to click through to the first link above and read John’s comments on each player. Then discuss in the comments (a.k.a. the opposite of MASN).

2016 Spring Training Thoughts

Bulldog-Hates-SnowIt’s hard to imagine with the ice and snow we’ve been having lately, but pitchers and catchers do report to Viera on Friday. Allegedly.

And, according to some dispatches, it’s the last one at Space Coast stadium. So we’ve got one more year of beat writers bitching about Panera.

Yesterday, we got the news as to who the non-roster invites will be, though more than a few outlets chose to highlight Lucas Giolito.

While it would be quite a story if Giolito were to break camp with the big club, what may be more likely is top position prospect Trea Turner being handed the starting shortstop job. Of course, the presence of multiple veteran options gives cover to the Nationals if they decide to send one or both back to the minors to delay the arbitration clock for more seasoning.

Aside from those two, it would appear that it’s the usual drama for prospects/minor-leaguers: Who, if anyone, might surprise us and become the 12th man in the ‘pen or the last bat off the bench? Injuries forced an awful lot of promotions last year, but if everyone’s healthy, then could the opposite occur? Could we see Michael Taylor or Matt den Dekker sent down “so they can play everyday?”

I’ll freely admit that spring training coverage on this site is self-serving and specious, at least now that the Nationals are playoff contenders. It’s an excuse to get back into the habit of writing every morning in preparation for the minors’ regular season, which begins in (ugh) seven weeks.

And with that, I have to call it a day and get to work…

Nats Make a few Minor-League Signs

minor leagues signs 2
As some have already noted in the comments, there’s finally some movement on the transaction front with the Nationals signing two career minor-leaguers and a former major-leaguer to a minor-league contract.

First, the guys we might see this summer:

• LHP Robert Fish – Hasn’t pitched since 2013. While he’s already succumbed to Nationals elbow (2012), the inference that he’s had another round would certainly be logical, but there’s little to found on the southpaw since his release.

• C Nick Rickles – Released in October by Oakland after a lackluster 2015 spent at three levels, but mostly at High-A. He missed all of 2014 with a torn labrum.

Both would seem to be look-see candidates with only a small chance of sticking, which should be obvious given the lateness of the offseason; most guys signed this late are released within 6-8 weeks.

The former major-leaguer is Brendan Ryan, who was also given a non-roster invite and will compete for a bench job as a utilityman and, if he loses, will look to hook on elsewhere.

Watchlist Player Reports Are (Mostly) Finished

With John Sickels’s prospect book still a month out or so, I decided to finish the Watchlist with the BA book and hold out on a couple of guys that I think (hope) he’ll cover. One’s a 2015 Draft pick, the other’s a 40-man guy that I want his opinion on before I weigh in. (No, I’m going to tell you; you have to go look so I can get more pageviews 😉

The Baseball America transaction reports have been disappointing of late, at least in terms of giving us something to talk about. Sorry, veteran has-beens signing minor-league contracts doesn’t cut it for me. This is not unusual, but frustrating nevertheless.

Folks interested in why “Orange” didn’t make the cut can read Byron Kerr’s interview with BA’s John Manuel. TL; DR — the boys in Durham think Marmolejos-Diaz cheats too much on fastballs and will get exposed at the upper levels of the minors.

Finally, while it’s old news, it’s still worth passing along while things are slow. The Suns and Hagerstown may actually extend the lease without a threat to leave. This may be a realization on the part of the Suns ownership that if they want to please both the parent club and their current landlords, a more cooperative approach is necessary; not to mention a five-year run as the Sally League’s least-attended club.