Offseason Update: Sept. 30, 2017

We’re down to the final weekend, wondering not who the big club will play in the NLDS, but when. Is it okay to root for an odd start time in hopes of snagging a ticket on the resale market? Asking for a friend.

Alas, plenty o’ places to discuss that, but we’re just little ol’ minors site…

BA TOP 20 LISTS
As expected, Victor Robles also made the Carolina League Top 20, albeit as only the #2, and was joined by Daniel Johnson at #18. Double-dipping is what BA does, and thus Johnson also made the Sally Lg. top 20 at #13. Carter Kieboom’s incumbency and an impressive showing in an abbreviated season (210 of 255PA at Hagerstown) made him the #8 pick. For those who obsess over the departed, Sheldon “Come On Feel The” Neuse was the #20 pick but McKenzie Mills was not ranked.

A couple of tidbits from yesterday’s chat:

Noel (Portland): Is Kieboom likely a 2b in the bug leagues?
J.J. Cooper: More likely a 2b or 3B than SS, but he has enough feel to maybe make SS work for a while.

Nats Fan (DC): When comparing Victor Robles to Juan Soto, it’s obvious that Robles is the far superior defender. However, when comparing them offensively, is it fair to say that Robles profiles as a #2 spot hitting CF who will hit .280 with 12-15 HRs a year while Juan Soto is your prototypical #3/#4 who in his prime should be hitting .300+ with 25-30 HRs?
J.J. Cooper: I’d say that’s fair. A lot of projection involved here, but Robles’ value comes more from speed/defense. Soto is a bat-first prospect.

Soto did not have enough at-bats to qualify for the list.

TRANSACTIONS
It’s a Yukon Cornelius week.

THE 2017 GCL NATIONALS
Thanks to the suggestion to stop covering the Chiefs, the G-Nats were watched the most closely since 2014. Perhaps not coincidentally, it was another playoff run, as they made it to the GCL Finals but lost the best-of-three series 2-1 to the G-Yankees East. Pitching carried this team, as they were the fifth-best team at 3.95 R/G and had just a slightly-better-than-league-average offense (4.57 vs. 4.51 R/G) while the defense was below-average.

What’s perhaps most encouraging is that the four most-used players on offense were 17 or younger and were in their first professional season. Two of them were even better than the league average, which is impressive for any first-year player, never mind one too young to vote in this country (if he was a U.S. citizen, natch). And while Yasel Antuna may have been a running joke for his 20 errors in 21 games at SS, methinks they’ll find position for his .301/.382/.399 bat stay in the lineup.

Now, for the reminder that the sample sizes here are small, as are the odds of many of these guys to rise above Low-A.

TOP 5 BATS TOP 5 ARMS
1. Justin Connell, LF
.274 GPA, .407 OBP
1. Tomas Alastre, RHSP
2.55/3.38/1.02, 6.2 H/9IP
2. Yasel Antuna, SS
.272 GPA, 23BB
2. Angel Guillen, RHRP
3.42/3.00/1.18, 1.9 BB/9
3. Luis Garcia, 2B
.245 GPA, .387 SLG%
3. Jackson Stoeckinger, LHSP
4.73/2.49/1.31, 10.46 K/9IP
4. Jamori Blash, 1B
.237 GPA, .985 FA
4. Darly Infante, LHRP
4.43/3.69/1.39, 10.48 K/9IP
5. Juan Evangelista, RF
.235 GPA, 3HR
5. Jose Jimenez, LHRP
1.35/3.87/1.13, 1.9 BB/9

The hype went to the IFAs but the most production came from 18-y.o. Justin Connell, an 11th Rd. pick from Pembroke Pines, FL. Honorable mentions go to 35th-Rd. pick Jackson Cramer, who turns 23 in December, and 22nd-Rd. pick 19-y.o. Nelson Galindez at 1B and RHSP respectively. The full team’s statistics can be viewed here.

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.

21 thoughts on “Offseason Update: Sept. 30, 2017”

  1. Gotta love Cramer with his switch hitting potential
    Wow Stanford released from AA with all his speed. Interesting who org. Signs for bench @AAA/AA 2018.
    Amazing year. Eaton trade then Eaton lost … club wins division going away despite DL list and the
    Results from Cole, Jackson , Fedde, but Baker must be proud of Taylor AND Goodwin filling in with almost 30 HRs between them. Difo matures , A Sanchez utility role value increases , THE bullpen deal with Oakland …Suero proves you can find a diamond in the DSL from another org.
    This was Bakers best managing job in his career beyond having the horses on the mound !!

      1. 32 base runners stranded in season finale. Somebody on Cubs will beat the brunt of that karma .
        Fitting Robles last regular season batter for Nats. ( Where will he land next April? Burg or Cuse?)

  2. You overlooked Jose Cabello, who had a very fine season. Sure, he’s a little old for the level (20), but as a catcher age is a bit easier to ignore. He batted .245/.431/.367, walking more than he struck out (12:15). He also seemed to play well defensively, catching 7 of 15 attempted base stealers, and only allowing 3 passed balls.

    Unfortunately, Cabello only played 20 games, largely due to another catcher, Israel Pineda, taking his playing time. Pineda, another 17 year old, had a very respectable season, batting .288/.323/.441. He also seems to have a good arm, catching 9 of 21 attempted base stealers.

    Both guys are ones to watch next season.

    1. I’d be more upbeat if (A) he hadn’t repeated the DSL (B) wasn’t splitting time with two other catchers (C) wasn’t considered good enough to be used at DH or 1B. This is what makes stateside short-season ball so frustrating because the rosters are so huge and there’s always several rehabbers who come through. But he wasn’t overlooked because he was by no means whatsoever one of the five best position players last summer.

      1. Curious what you see in Evangelista or even Jackson Cramer or Blash over Cabello. Cabello was, by almost every metric (AVG, OBP, SLG, defensive positioning), better than Cramer or Blash, plus he’s two and one years younger, respectively. Hence why I suspected you overlooked Cabello. I can see an argument how one might prefer Evangelista, even if I’d prefer the catcher with a good bat, over a corner outfielder with questionable offensive skills (an OPS .100 lower than Cabello’s).

        But with that said, why not include Pineda? He’s extraordinarily young, put up solid offensive numbers, plays a premium position, and skipped DSL altogether, and has the pedigree (signed for $450k).

        1. In a word: usage. Guys who are used more are generally used more for a reason.

          That said, we are really splitting hairs here. I’d welcome your input when it comes time to build the 2018 watch List because little-used, unranked (by me) get overlooked. Lord knows the Nats could use a true two-way catcher.

  3. The GCL is so tricky to judge because you’ve got guys playing regularly who range in age from 17 to 22. They come from very different backgrounds — college, JUCO, HS, DSL, and Latin kids skipping the Dominican league. Generally to me, the most impressive are the 17-year-old Latin kids who hold their own because they’ve got the least developmental background. The Nats had four 17-year-olds and one 16-year-old who got significant playing time this year. No one posted Soto-like numbers, but Antuna, Garcia, Pineda held their own. Antuna may have led the team in errors, but he also led the squad with walks (23) to go with his impressive hitting line. I’d keep him at SS now, as he’s still got plenty of time to get over the fielding glitches. In addition to good average, Garcia also flashed some speed (11 SBs).

    Connell surprised me. His HS stats were not impressive, but he got off to a good pro start, albeit with not a lot of power yet. The biggest disappointment was that Eric Senior got dinged and only played in six games. He’s on the Instructional League roster, though, so the injury must not have been anything serious. Blash did play but disappointed in his lack of power for a guy 6-4, 225. He turns 22 next month so will need to start showing more sooner rather than later.

    Like Blash, Stoeckinger will turn 22 before next season. He flashed some positives (10.5 K/9), but the clock be ticking a little faster on him as well, particularly with so many college arms from the same draft who are around the same age and already ahead of him in the pecking order.

    Galindez was the youngest pitcher on the roster, and even he turned 19 during the summer, so the Nats didn’t have nearly as many as young arms as they did young bats at this level. I believe Galindez was the only HS pitcher the Nats drafted in 2017. He held his own in his first pro experience.

    1. Well written !! Well said !
      And Galindez part of that lefty legion
      Good to see Cody Gunter catch on with Colorado chain .
      Brass should push the envelope with some guys next April. Antuna April start @ Hags.? Cole Freeman paired with either Lora or Obreau @ Hags ?
      Franco should bump up to POTNATS since Anderson will have plenty of work for Scudder/ Meregildo or one of the Latin infielders from Auburn .
      I just don’t see much production from PP/BB for Anderson unless he mixes in Caufeld Antuna . Many here don’t like this path but if Lora has to repeat A plus then why not pair him with Kieboom??
      Stuck with my cell phone to the world tonight. Time for my dog to walk me

      Luke: further org guy signings ?
      Jospeh , Fulu, Snyder , Soto, Gamache ? Meijia should return since Silvestre and Jefry- Rod are still around from famed GCL club Difo also on.

      I was in Chicago a few days ago chatting with a hotel clerk wearing a Cubs jersey. I shared with her the opinion that this year was Dustys best managing job in his career . Period. And he won’t win skipper of the NL but did the job for it
      I did not say to her that I wished for a repeat of a Wil Clark explosion with giants late 80s vs Cubs @ Wrigley by somebody 2-6 in Nats lineup. We know Turner will sprout more silver hairs in his beard. That’s a given. Go Nats !
      And Max lay off the high octane coffee!!

        1. That’s a huge leap to expect for Freeman with no minor-league experience. I’d say he will be at Hags paired with Kieboom, unless they feel like Kieboom has done enough to start at Potomac. I do hope that we see both Kieboom and Soto at Potomac at some point in 2018.

          Is it possible that Antuna or Garcia would leap to start their second season at Hags, like Soto did? Or do they want them to face some top college kids at Auburn first?

          1. As for the question in the text of the piece about whether Kieboom will/can stay at SS, the big club is set at SS for a long time to come with Trea. As much as I’d like to see it, they probably won’t extend Murphy at 2B, but it’s doubtful that Kieboom would be ready for the majors at the start of 2019. Unless they extend Rendon, there’s an opening at 3B in 2020. That’s a more likely timetable for Kieboom, but I think/hope they make a strong bid to retain Two Bags.

          2. There is that April to June time for guys who are expected to play SS Auburn do XST is silly for the three bonus babies infielders .
            Freeman truly is an interesting
            Talent . If he does end up @ Potomac then we are admitting Lora joins Abreau on Senators DP combo
            This Syracuse is left with resigned org guys like Perez Joseph and fulu.
            Hmmmm time to pull the forks out of Austin Voth. Four guys called up to watch playoff games vs Cubs ??

          3. I have the memory of how fast John VanderWal raked from NYPL to JaxXpos in a season .
            Freeman should be fun to watch.
            I have no qualms with bringing Voth back for Vuck to work with on special assignment if Livian is too busy with other projects

          4. You’ve got a lot more confidence in Freeman’s prospects than I do. I see a small 23-year-old with very limited power, no utility flexibility as a 2B-only, and no pro experience yet. I thought he would have been a good pick several round later, not in the 4th. On the plus side, Freeman gets on base, doesn’t strike out much, and is a SB threat (although with an underwhelming success percentage). For better or worse, he also seems to have a Robles-like magnetic attraction to pitches, with 21 HBP this season.

            We’ll see. I would think the most optimistic comp I could put on him would be Renda, although Renda was a better college player than Freeman was. As I always say, though, I hope Freeman proves me wrong!

    2. Just trying to spark off season talk .
      Diminutive infielders do resemble Renda comps. We all know the future of A level infields will be based around the three bonus babies we saw @ GCL. Caufeld , Freeman and even the kid OF out of Fresno State remind us how brass went for inexpensive NCAA OBP tablesetters in one or two hole roles for future farm affiliates.
      Anderson just might be working with Choruby, Guibor, Pryor Esthay
      Lineup top since Soto should pole jump up to Potomac .
      KelvinG and A. Franco on same Potomac team next April ?? Kelvin G
      Hopefully will develop some HR pop to stay away from Estarlin Martinez comp.

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