Monday’s News & Notes

Team Yesterday Today Pitching Matchup
Syracuse Won, 3-0 ALL-STAR BREAK N/A
Harrisburg Lost, 8-4 ALL-STAR BREAK N/A
Potomac Lost, 7-4 @ Lynchburg,
6:30 p.m.
DeRosier (0-1, 7.27) vs.
Plesac (5-4, 4.99)
Hagerstown Won, 7-2 @ West Virginia,
7:05 p.m.
Hill (0-2, 3.18) vs.
Robles (6-5, 3.19).
Auburn Won, 4-3 @ West Virginia,
7:05 p.m.
TBD vs. Shortridge (0-1, 3.86)
GCL Nationals Lost, 3-1 OFF DAY  

Syracuse 3 Buffalo 0
• Adams (H, 1) 2IP, 1H, 0R, BB, 5K
• Suero (SV, 1) 1⅓ IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 1K, 2-0 IR-S
• Marmolejos 2-4, 2-2B, RBI
• Ward 1-4
Roster moves: OF Moises Sierra placed on the 7-Day DL; OF Jaff Decker activated from the 7-Day DL.

Bowie 8 Harrisburg 4
• Mapes (L, 1-1) 3IP, 7H, 6R, 5ER, 2BB, 3K, HR
• Bacus 2IP, 1H, 0R, BB, 4K
• Jones 3-4, BB, RBI
• Davidson 2-5, 2R, 2B, HR, 2RBI

Bowie rallied twice for three runs in the early innings and doubled up Harrisburg, 8-4. Tyler Mapes was knocked for those six runs (five earned) on seven hits (one HR) and two walks over three innings. He struck out three while losing his first AA game. Hunter Jones reached base four time with three singles and a walk while Austin Davidson doubled, homered, scored, twice, and drove in two to lead the Senators offense.

Salem 7 Potomac 4
• Braymer (L, 3-3) 4IP, 10H, 7R, 7ER, 2BB, 6K, HR, 2HBP
• Howard 3IP, 0H, 0R, 2BB, 2K
• Sagdal 1-5, R, HR(GS), 4RBI
• Masters 1-1, R, 2B, 3BB

The P-Nats made the game look a lot closer than it really was as they dropped their fourth straight game, 7-4 to close out a 1-4 homestand against the Red Sox. Ben Braymer’s streak of four quality starts was halted as he was charged with seven runs on 10 hits (six or seven of which were unaided by shoddy defense and/or scorekeeping) over four innings. He walked two, struck out six, and hit two batters. The Potomac batters were denied a hit for six and a 1/3rd innings before Jack Sundberg bunted his way on to load the bases. Salem pitchers issued a total of eight walks without having one score until the 9th. That’s when Yankory Pimental sandwiched the ninth base on balls (Sundberg) in between a David Masters double and a Luis Garcia single before coughing up Ian Sagdal’s first homer of the season, a grand slam to break up the shutout. Roster move: LHP Matthew Crownover placed on the 7-Day DL.

Hagerstown 7 West Virginia 2
• M. Pena (W, 1-0) 5IP, 4H, 0R, 0BB, 5K
• Morse 1IP, 0H, 0R, BB, 0K
• Boggetto 3-5, R, RBI
• Flores 2-3, 2B, BB, 2RBI
• Upshaw 2-4

Hagerstown broke out for three in the 8th and two in the 9th to turn a 2-0 squeaker into a 7-2 win. Malvin Pena threw five shutout innings, allowing four hits and no walks while striking out five to win his Low-A debut. Andrew Lee and Phil Morse both put up a goose egg while the elder Pena (Carlos) was knocked for the two West Virginia runs in the 8th after throwing a scoreless 7th. Branden Boggetto singled three times while Alejandro Flores singled, doubled, and walked to lead the Suns attack.

Auburn 4 West Virginia 3
• Crowe 3IP, 2H, 0R, 2BB, 1K
• Cate (W, 1-0) 2⅓ IP, 3H, 2R, 1ER, BB, 3K, WP
• C. Wilson 3-3, 2R, 3B, BB, CS
• Pascal 2-4, R, 2B, RBI

The Doubledays rallied for three in the 4th and one in the 5th and held on for a 4-3 win over the Black Bears. Wil Crowe came out of witness protection made his first appearance since June 13 with three scoreless innings, with two hits and two walks allowed and one strikeout. Tim Cate was the pitcher of record when Auburn went ahead and was awarded the “W” despite giving up two runs on three hits and a walk over two and a 1/3rd innings, though he did fan three. Cody Wilson singled twice, tripled, walked, and scored twice while Juan pascal singled, doubled, scored a run, and drove in a run. Roster move: RHP Wil Crowe reassigned from Potomac.

GCL Marlins 3 GCL Nationals 1
• Theophile 1IP, 0H, 0R, BB, 2K
• Turner (L, 0-1) 2IP, 0H, 1R, 0ER, 0BB, 3K
• N. Gomez 5IP, 5H, 2R, 2ER, 0BB, 4K
• Connell 1-3, BB
• Emiliani 2-4, 2-2B

The G-Marlins took advantage of three errors to score three runs on just five hits for a 3-1 win over the G-Nats. Rodney Theopile made the long trip from the Hagerstown roster to strike out two and issue a walk in his pro debut. The loss went to “OT” Turner, who gave up an unearned run on two errors and a passed ball over two innings. Leandro Emiliani doubled twice while Justin Connell singled and walked to lead the seven-hit, two-walk offense. Roster moves: RHP Rodney Theopile assigned from Hagerstown for MiLB rehab.

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.

47 thoughts on “Monday’s News & Notes”

  1. Luke, do you see anything from Hayden Howard that might indicate that he should be given a look as a starter? Since the beginning of June, he has pitched 17 innings and given up only two runs, so he seems to have figured something out.

    1. I wouldn’t oppose either Joan Baez or Matthew Crownover losing their spots in the rotation, so there’s certainly a spot for Howard if that were to happen.

  2. Great to see Wil Crowe back and looking sharp. It will be interesting to see whether he’s sent back to Potomac for a couple of starts, or directly to Harrisburg, where he seemed bound before the injury.

    Good to see Cody Wilson finally click at Auburn. His college background made him look as promising as Canning and Rhinesmith.

    Austin Davidson since promotion to Harrisburg: .298/.385/.512. If he was considered a “prospect,” we’d be pretty excited about those numbers.

    1. Davidson is basically not a prospect due to the Nats’ peculiar handling of him. It’s true that he started his professional career slowly, to put it mildly. 2014-2015 were poor seasons, but something clicked in 2016, where he put up a .285/.365/.473 line in Hagerstown, which reasonably quickly warranted a promotion to Potomac at age 23. And then, the powers that be just sort of forgot about him. Davidson batted a very healthy .274/.371/.416 in 167 games in Potomac. Finally, someone woke up, and Davidson got a promotion to AA, where he’s been better than ever. Unfortunately, it was about a year and a half too late, and he’s now 25 and the prospect luster has worn off a bit. In addition, some brilliant mind had the foresight to switch him off 2B/3B where he’d played every game before this season to 1B/OF. I hope he still remembers how to play 2B, because Murphy looks broken and certainly gone in the winter. And Nats brass appear perfectly content to give all 2B playing time to non-factors, Dan Gamache and Osvaldo Abreu. Another DL stint for Murphy might mean that Davidson is a lot more important than anyone had ever considered.

      1. Notice Gamache was not given bump to Cuse but to Ward. Maybe Gamache is seen as a nice AA org guy/ role model.
        The rest of summer – as Gil Grissom might say – is keen with seeing which Latin arms emerge who we have not tallied here.
        Case in point N Gomez who went stellar 5 IP for that certain affiliate I can’t recall. Lol. Monday morning
        Yes Wilson would be a revelation – R/R outfielder .
        Monday musings.
        Thoughts anyone ??
        That second base position baton being passed from Murphy to … somebody paired with Difo until Carter Kieboom. Some of us love Marlins Dietrich but jeter would want 2 farmhands.

        1. Kieboom could be ready by ST next year. But if not, Difo and Kendrick are sufficient.

          Still, for that to happen, the Nats need to actually start playing Kieboom at 2B.

          1. Maybe the plan would be to move Trea Turner to 2nd. Between Kieboom and Turner who projects as the better long term shortstop? Fair to say that Turner has more range and Kieboom has the better arm?

          2. Scuttlebutt is that Kendrick may not be ready for the start of next season, which would make the Kieboom conundrum more interesting. You know they wouldn’t bring him up until late April, and that they would prefer to wait until the Super Two date in June.

            I’ve always thought Kieboom was ticketed for 2B or 3B. Turner is turning into an above-average defensive shortstop. No need to mess with that. Per Fangraphs defensive WAR, he’s currently the #5 SS defensively in baseball, #1 in the NL.

          3. I’m betting on Kieboom at short moving Turner to 2nd base. Jump “passes” throws definitely fail the eye test for any scout looking at the shortstop position.

      2. It’s not like the stat-conscious guys following baseball didn’t notice Davidson. Carson Cistulli of Fangraphs posted this in 2016:

        https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-fringe-five-baseballs-most-compelling-fringe-prospects-78/

        I’m far, far from the regular at Potomac games that Luke is, but the few times I saw Davidson over the years, he stood out to me as someone who made a lot of solid contact (barreled up the ball, in the lingo) and rarely had a bad AB. He certainly couldn’t do as much defensively at the MLB level as Difo or Sanchez, but he could probably hit better than either of them. He’s sort of a prototypical Moneyball type player who probably will end up with the A’s one day, like his shorter comp Max Schrock did. (Alas, the A’s are sort of contending for the wild card this year and may not be willing to trade our guys back to us!)

        1. FWIW, Cistulli is the sabremetrician contrarian. He intentionally picks players who do not fit the traditional prospect mold that have been overlooked by scouts/prospect lists. Most of the time, these sorts don’t pan out (check out his end of the year scoreboards linked at the top of the page here: https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-fringe-five-baseballs-most-compelling-fringe-prospects-114/) He was super high on Sherman Johnson, who hasn’t panned out, among others, but he also called Jose Ramirez before he turned into the superstar he is now, and some other less heralded players like Chad Green. Max Schrock is a perennial favorite of his.

        1. I’m not predicting superstardom here. But if guys like Logan Forsythe and Kevin Frandsen can stick around the majors for several years, I think Davidson might hit as least as well as those guys, maybe better.

          I had forgotten that Schrock had already been traded again.

      3. I suspect Austin Davidson’s defense wasn’t up to snuff … that’s the impression I got from following this site … nice left-handed bat, potential UTL. I think of Drew Ward playing third base or the outfield?

  3. I’d love to hear any first hand accounts on Malvin Pena. Until this season, he looked like a complete non-factor, but he’s been fabulous so far this season. Did he suddenly add 5 MPH to his fastball or find another pitch?

  4. The biggest under the radar prospect in the system does actually appear to be Rodney Theophile. He finally pitched yesterday, and his assignment was clearly deemed “rehab,” that is a tuneup at GCL before starting at Hagerstwon. Just as a sense of perspective, the Nats have not even started any of their draftees from a list chock full of college arms in Hagerstown. Media accounts from the Latino press indicate that Theophile, who signed for only 20K bonus, went to spring training with the DSL class and there, the Nats determined he was not only ready for the US, but that he was ready for Hagerstown. So, wow.

    With that backdrop, we can appreciate that from year to year, certain players take developmental leaps forward. The tells, naturally, are the assignments out of spring training. But in the lower minors, the assignment to Auburn of Malvin Pena as opening night starter was the tell. And indeed, his manager observed that his performance there is what the nats have been seeing all year from him. So nothing is surprising about his excellent performance. What we have yet to learn is where he needs to ripen as he faces more advanced competition. Now he is taking on the challenge of A- long enough to see whether he should be considered for Potomac to start 2019. But the most fun of following the Nats prospects, for me every year, is the knowledge that we will be speaking about at least five names in July that no one was thinking of at the beginning of June. Pena is one of those folks.

    Davidson is a prospect. Just as Yadiel Hernandez is a prospect, just as Tanner Roark was a prospect, just as Max Muncy was a prospect. The ability of a player to demonstrate performance that will sustain itself in a major league career is what defines a prospect, not age, Keith Law, mlb.com, or anything else. Until someone matriculates to full service where he is no longer an eligible rokie, he is a prospect. The issue is, whether he is a HIGHLY REGARDED prospect or a marginal one. The role of ageism is the assumption that at some magic age, absent steroids, is unable to refine his craft to demonstrate that he can sustain performance to stay in the major leagues. False, false. For some, it;s learning the knuckleball. For Rafael Martin, it was learning the throw sliders with high degree of rotational spin. For Blake Treinen, it was finding a technique of arm strengthening that increased his velocity 6-10 MPH.

    Enter Austin Davidson. As a proven starting player at a high competitive Pac-10 program, success at A- should be a given. It wasn’t for him, and he was lucky the Nats did not give up on him. He came into the system a few years ago already, and it was only last year that he showed enough offense to guarantee that he would not go the way of Estarlin Martinez types with middlin defense, and no power. The Nats gave him a quick bump this year and he was jammed up a bit at AA. Now given the chance, his bat is hot. Good for him. Does someone like him get promoted, or Dan Gamache, who has nothing more to prove at AA? Those are intangibles within the organization. Schlabach, in an article on Garcia’s promotion this week, laid out a very sensible rationale for whom the Nationals push, and why. Not because they are a “B” with Sickels, but because the organizational eye test checks all the boxes.

    Admittedly the promotion of Ward is a curious one. Let’s see what it brings. Desmond kicked around in the minors for what seemed like awhile before being aggressively promoted. But Ward is running out of time. So is Abreu – who plays 2B while Kieboom is playing SS, even with Daniel Murphy fading away and Turner entrenched.

    As for the pitching traffic down below, it’s just going to take time to sort out. I trust the Nationals patience. Sterling Sharp was a small college afterthought in 2016. But he took his leap forward and in 2017, he was heard from. Now he is well known. Ben Braymer was similarly an 18 rounder buried in the GCL with little play. And then last year he showed up at Auburn, this year at Hagerstown, and has earned his spot at Potomac, though some will say he is an ancient 24. So the Nats have a number of folks who are swimming around and just waiting for a bigger chance (like Jared Johnson) and the folks they are waiting on may yet figure it out. Look at Jackson Tetrault, who had a miserable start. Well he sure looks relevant now. And then the flip side, look at Joan Baez – he’ll have a great game here and there, and then just look at other times like he’s reached his ceiling.

    There are many, many, many arms down in the lower minors we do not know and have not heard from. Denaburg has not even hit the field yet. Cate pops up once in a blue moon. But hey, their innings are not being taken up by Robbie Dickey or Jackson Stoeckinger. Rather, the innings are often going to Latino products that are ripening in parallel and showing up with performances we never envisioned, at 3-5 innings at a time. My forecast is that we see a lot of different arms and a lot of movement between 3-4 levels, and a very interesting fall instructional league. The remaking of the pitching future of the organization will be clear by 2020. Enjoy the ride. Pena is one of the first to lead in the effort to break out of the pack. I am still hopeful that we see the same from Seth Romero.

    1. Brilliant , Gil. You nailed every Spector to the farm pushing tragectory by 2020.
      Love the phrase ripening in parallel.
      We could also say that just because a guy comes vaunted from the three
      Major baseball cradles ( FLA, Cali or TX) doesn’t insure reached expectations
      Brilliant prose

  5. There is a grumbling from some about Weismann not getting a promotion, and I’ve been hoping Sagdal can get his. But what bugs me more is that the organization plays a guy like Nick Basto and takes away at bats from others who can rotate into the outfield and get positional experience. If you aren’t going to promote the aforementioned, why keep folks on the bench while this guy, who is “not a prospect,” can hit sub-200? Its the same criticism I have for the Senators playing Adam Walker almost every day while there is backfill in Potomac that arguably deserves a shot. Surely there is a rationale, perhaps Luke and others can weigh in, and I suspect it is the very lacking readiness of the remaining outfield talent at Hagerstown that is felt as far away as Harrisburg.

    1. Sagdal suffers from Davidsonitis, a disease shared by Alec Keller and Wiseman. They have all mirrored each other through their frustratingly slow ascent through the farm system. Sagdal is up to 178 games played in Potomac (more than Davidson!), Wiseman outdid both of them with 196 games, but Keller outdid all of them with 199 games, Sagdal hit a respectable .275/.330/.406 there (.314/.379/.420 this season), Wiseman is up to .246/.315/.439 across two seasons (though noticeably improved this season at .272/.363/.515) which is not all that different from Keller (.292/.349/.377).

      All this while the Senators gave hundreds of ABs to the likes of Walker, but also Kayyan Norfork, Neftali Soto, Stephen Perez, Darian Sandford, Corban Joseph, Mario Lisson instead. I’m in total agreement, forensicane. However, to the Nats credit, they do seem to have been more proactive this season. I hope it continues.

      1. There have been quite a number of curious promotions and non-promotions on the Potomac/Harrisburg line in the last four years or so. Of course we have no visibility on maturity/preparation/etc. I suspect someone like Perez got promoted because of defense and maturity, but he had never hit enough to indicate that he could survive at AA. Abreu had almost the same stats at Potomac as Mejia in ’16, including errors, but Abreu looked a little better on paper because he had walked more. (Admittedly, walking more than Mejia is a LOW bar!) Davidson and Sagdal generally hit better than Abreu and Mejia but fielded worse, although “worse” is also relative with all the errors Abreu and Mejia accumulated. The Nats deferred to the slightly younger Latin players in the middle infield and pushed Davidson and Sadgal to the corners, where neither had the HR power to look like a corner “prospect” (although they kept promoting Gutierrez and Marmolejos despite the same limitation).

        I dunno. I’ve scratched my head many times. Wiseman’s power surge this year is something different, though, and something very rare in this organization (the sudden Soto tsunami not withstanding). Wiseman was also a 3d-round draft pick, which you would think would get him a little more preferential treatment thank lower picks like Davidson and Sagdal.

      2. There’s always politics and perhaps veteran filler contracts which we aren’t really privvy too. Be interesting to find out how that plays a part?

    2. What is the ratio of ABs that an affiliate needs a Walker or Basto or yesterday in time Grant DeBruin
      When most guys can handle a looney or loogie Lefty ??
      Nats love to use a utility type to make a lefty honest on an odd day

  6. Jorge Castillo of the WP is reporting that the Rays had scouts at Potomac games of the past weekend. Must be kicking the tires on Garcia.

  7. I would be shocked if the Nats traded Garcia for Ramos. But if the deal included Snell, that is another conversation.

    Re Abreu- Mejia: Abreu was always regarded as defensively superior, Mejia as a bit of a man without position. Mejia’s bat this year saved him from oblivion, while Abreu is channeling Stephen Perez.

    Sagdal was out for part of the early year so I’m not sure what lingers with him.

    Gutierrez showed ever improving defense and a very strong arm, and his bat mastered every level. Marmolejos was a 2x MLPOTY. Can’t compare them to Sagdal/Davidson.

    We can and should accept individual differences and potentials. It’s why a player like Billy Burns makes the majors and another short and fast OF never comes close.

    1. Two thoughts , Gil? Will and KW:
      1). Analyzing Wiseman with his Vandy pedigree , I bring up the subject of some NCAA guys taking time to transition from aluminum to wooden bats along with the proverbial lighting in lower level
      parks . Phenoms are those who hop scotch several levels . While others don’t
      2) considering the state of the third place Nats heading towards the deadline awaiting a healthy squad ,
      I wonder if a Rays / Nats trade could evolve into a multiple ASSET deal on both sides. Would Tampa flip Snell for several arms while Buffalo would cost two and salary coverage ??
      Rizzo should think outside the box and be creative .
      No Norm Charlton for Wayne Krenchiki type flips.

      1. While I would LOVE to have Snell, he’s pre-arb, controlled for at least four more years, and would cost a mint, meaning Robles or C. Kieboom. I don’t think Garcia + Romero would be enough. I think Buffalo is more of a possibility, for a mid-level arm or so.

    2. Given the defensively superior Wieters acquiring Ramos would be a Jack Zduriencik move … I’d be thinking Archer, Eovaldi, heart be still, Blake Snell the lefty? The last more than the previous 2 for a player like Luis Garcia only 18 years old with the tools he has but if they want to rescue the season they’ll have to give to get … probably an Eovaldi rental. Perhaps Archer.

      Let the silly fans think the Nats are pushing for the Buffalo, renowned for 2nd half collapses both offensively and defensively not to mention one catastrophic, weight related, injury after another.

  8. Part of what makes the Dodgers and Yankees successful is inventory. You need depth to compete for championships and depth to trade for those megastar pieces. The Nationals need full minor league inventory to make those kinds of trades. That’s how you can spare a Souza, Brad Peacock, and other suck moves.

    I don’t like trading a Garcia whose value is appreciating vs. peaked. McKenzie Mills peaked. Taylor Hearn was appreciating.

    1. Baseball is truly a business
      Appreciating vs peaked out is brilliant
      That’s why the Roark deal for Guzman and Kendrick for mills were
      Clever.

    2. Full minor league inventory takes
      4-5 years of clever drafting every June , schrewd Intl scouting and jackpot moves in trades. And some Irish luck

      1. And drafting near the top, acquiring a few extra picks for qualifying offers … seems to help if the right FO is in place?

    3. Completely agree. Rizzo doesn’t like to leverage the future for the present and so far he really hasn’t done that … Trienan and Vazquez not-with-standing.

    1. I started hearing in my head the Toto song when Felipe B hit 99 against Reynolds
      Gil, what arms besides Seth Romero
      Reach 97 plus in the chain. Maybe even as far down the chain as DSL??

    1. S. Kieboom hit significantly better than Sevy. That’s the right call. Between not hitting and all the trouble handling the pitchers, Sevy is a bit tarnished right now. He’s just got to go to Syracuse and hit. Should be a lot less pressure there to “handle” the pitching staff.

  9. The J-Rod experiment seems to be reaching its conclusion tonight. I would not be surprised to see Voth brought up in his place to be on hand in case Hellickson is still “sick” on Tuesday. Voth made set a record for times activated without actually appearing in a game! If he doesn’t go on Tuesday, I would certainly give him the Saturday start over J-Rod.

    1. And he hasn’t pitched so he’s ready … still what of Milone who is one of the best starters in the system?

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