2018 Spring Training Thoughts

Pitchers and catchers report. They’re four great words, no doubt, but as you get older they’re surpassed by things like “they made an offer” or “kids start school today” or “the test was negative.”

So whether you’re ecstatic (like Boomer) or indifferent (like Lulu), Spring Training starts today for the Washington Nationals.

Yesterday, the Half Street politburo finally released the names of the guys you’ll forget in four weeks 17 non-roster invitees with minor-league deals, and four current minor-leaguers—Jimmy Cordero, Taylor Gushue, Spencer Kieboom, and Osvaldo Abreu. It’s rather telling that just one (1) of these 21 players is homegrown and not a pitcher or a catcher.

This is not anything new, mind you. For the past five spring trainings, it’s been pretty obvious that few, if any, of “our guys” have more than an infinitesimal chance of making the Opening Day roster (which is good; teams that do have that situation are usually on track to lose 90-100 games).

No, I’m not forgetting Victor Robles, but he’s already on the 40-man roster and it seems unlikely he’ll best Bryce Harper by breaking camp with the Big Club. I do hold out some hope that they’ll repeat his treatment and call him up after 19 days in the minors, thus preserving an option.

Now the realization should set in that we’re still 11 days away the actual games, of which I’ll cover gratuitously for about 2-3 weeks to get back into the habit of writing every day, then step aside and wait for the minors’ regular season to begin (which will be complicated this year by my having my annual business trip/conference around Opening Day; don’t feel too bad, it’s New Orleans this year).

Otherwise, Happy Valentine’s Day!

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.

20 thoughts on “2018 Spring Training Thoughts”

  1. I’ll also count Bryan Harper as a Nat draftee even though they technically had to re-sign him to a minor-league deal. So two draft picks in Harper and S. Kieboom and one Latin signee in Abreu.

    I posted some of this on the last thread but will move it forward. The obvious snub is Drew Ward, and maybe Phillips Valdez, who had a much better year than Cordero. Ward was better than Abreu in 2017, but they need middle infielders with Murphy likely sitting out most of the spring. With Ward not getting this invite and with a 3B from below him in the organization (Gutierrez) added to the 40-man over him, it seems that Ward is really being put on notice.

    Beyond them, it’s hard to come up with too many others. It might have been a good attaboy for John Simms to get a look, but they’ve already got a lot of arms in camp. But really, the AA and AAA levels were pretty devoid of homegrown talent, other than the guys who got added to the 40-man.

    If Bryan Harper is there, why not Nick Lee? The Nats have seemingly been higher on Lee than Harper all along, although Harper had the better actual results in 2015 and 2016 before both got hurt. Is Lee now a minor-league free agent?

    1. Nick Lee and Tim Collins are in the same rehab schedule ??
      Springfieldfan and Luke: were Logan Darnell and Jeff Ames left off the revised big board due to just so many
      Names to add including two affiliate @ once J Wilson. Haha. We understand how much he is a AAA/AA tweener due to depth
      Luke, a question to be answered over the course of time : we know RC Orlan would be the Harrisburg lefty if not plucked in Rule 5 draft by crafty Cleveland …. what are the ETA for Jordan Mills in Harrisburg followed by Potomac receiving Jake Barnett and HHoward???

      1. Correction , Luke: bullpen lefties
        We might be talking more about former Yankees / Padre farmhand
        Cesar Vargas toiling for Tejera @ Burg.

      1. Ward stumbling around in LF might make Lind look graceful.

        The good news for Ward is that he has just turned 23 and that he more or less held his own at AA at 22. He didn’t thrive, though, and he has yet to show the power that his body type indicates that he should be able to generate (although certainly more HR power thus far than Gutierrez). There have also always been doubts whether Ward can stick at 3B defensively.

        Barring injury, the Nats don’t have a prospective opening at 3B until 2020, if Rendon leaves as a free agent, or a 1B opening until 2022. As things stand now, my guess is that the 2020 3B job is Carter Kieboom’s if he’ll step up and claim it. Ward, Gutierrez, Anderson Franco, and Antuna could all get in that mix, but as of right now, I’d bet on Kieboom.

        The earlier INF opening for the big club will be at 2B in 2019, with Murphy probably gone after this year. Kendrick is signed through 2019 and could be the “bridge” 2B, but a bridge to whom? Umm . . . Cole Freeman??? (Very unlikely.) Maybe Kieboom ends up at 2B instead of 3B? I know the Nats like Gutierrez’s arm at 3B, but it might make sense to start giving him some time at 2B, both because his lack of HR power wouldn’t be as much of an issue there and because he might end up in more of a utility role anyway.

        1. I should add that of all the guys I just mentioned, only Ward has played at AA, and only Ward and Gutierrez have played at A+. All the rest are a long, long way away. Remember when we thought Skole might be able to replace LaRoche in a couple of years after Skole had a great year at Hags? Or when Goodwin had that great year at Hags, skipped Potomac, and was sure to be pushing Span out of CF in a year or two?

          If I’m being totally realistic, I would bet the Nats make a significant bid to re-sign Rendon and that they look for a free agent to replace Murphy. (Hello, Brian Dozier?!) But the progress, or lack thereof, of all the prospects I mentioned in 2018 will certainly weigh on the Nats’ thinking and calculations.

        2. Well done KW. Switching positions for infielders always reminds me of Vance Law sliding
          To 2b to tandem with Hubie Brooks on post Dawson expos

        3. How do you figure 1B being occupied through 2021? Zimmerman’s contract is up after 2020, and that year itself is conditional on the Nats picking up a rather expensive $18 million team option. Ryan needs to stay healthy and productive for two more years, something he’s had plenty of trouble doing, just to have a shot at getting his contract picked up for 2020–which is also the year he turns 36.

          I’ve wondered whether Soto could potentially end up at 1B if Harper is re-signed. That could give them a really cheap option to keep the team’s overall payroll down even as Harper’s salary escalates into the stratosphere.

          1. You’re right — Zim’s contract is up after 2020. I don’t think they’ll buy him out; in fact, he’d be voted mostly likely to stick around longer. We’ll see. His comeback last year flipped some scripts . . . if it holds.

            I agree that Soto might be a 1B possibility. We’ll see. There seem to be conflicting reports on his defense.

            Marmolejos would be 28 in 2021, so that ain’t happening. Ward would be 26, but for him to be in contention to replace Zim, I would think that he would have had to have made the majors and produced some 20+ HR seasons. That’s what they were hoping to see when they drafted him, but they haven’t yet.

            My best guess, though, is that Zim’s ultimate replacement at 1B isn’t in the Nats’ system right now.

          2. To clarify, some 20+ HR seasons for Ward in the minors, then perhaps make the majors as a reserve/platoon guy by 2020. We’ll see. This is a big season for him. Let’s see how it plays out before projecting too much.

          3. Someone still in love with Nef Soto?? Where did he sign for a NRI from a club??
            Nobody thinks much of Cron in Anaheim . This is where the magic between the executive offices and the scouting department comes into play to
            Plug outside names on the big board.
            Could Sano fall from grace in
            Minnie ?

          4. Karl and KW. Lunchtime
            Let’s look @ how Nef Soto is still unsigned. Harrisburg can use Balbino Fuebmayor in the old Mario Lisson sage bat role
            Along with Hunter Jones coupled with Sundberg, Keller , Wiseman and eventually DJ.
            Masters on the utility infielder role .

          5. Soto will be 29 before the season begins, but he did have very good numbers for the Nats last year. With Marmolejos already on the 40-man, though, perhaps they have him penciled in at 1B in Syracuse? They already have an affinity for orange in that town . . .

    2. LuCroy will appreciate Abreau getting much more reps in camp
      to mature into greater role @ Burg.
      Hunches on the April Harrisburg OF?? KW? Anybody else ?

  2. Prospects are just prospects until they prove themselves in the major leagues. Still, I’d like to hope that some of these guys make it one of these days. Taylor, Goodwin, and Difo made their marks in 2017. I think Robles will get a full-time chance this year. I’m hoping that Collins impresses enough to make the team; little guys like him and Eaton are too few in MLB. My real long shot is Spencer Kieboom.

    1. Do we need to place an all points APB on Logan Darnell and JeffAmes??
      Marmelos yes
      But National Enquirer inquiring minds wonder how many guys from
      POTNATS 17 will make18 Burg spring ? DK Carey carry on in Senators outfield ?? Jones , DJ, Keller, F-mayor, Norfork, Sundberg .
      The baseball junkies need their fixes

  3. I see Neftali Soto mentioned a couple of times on this thread. According to his Wikipedia article he signed with the Yokohama BayStars.

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