Welcome to the seventh edition of this category, which became necessary after the first two years when it was apparent there were a group of players that were either old (ok, mostly), on the cusp (but still old), or had simply been in the system for a long time.
The arms have a slightly better track record, though only one of the handful that have made it to the majors has seen time as a starter (Jefry Rodriguez), and he was well below-average (75 ERA+, -0.2 WAR). The rest have been relievers with a dozen or so innings (Cole Kimball, Erik Davis, Jimmy Cordero). Two this year are draft picks, which means they have a slightly better chance than the rest…
Like common sense, southpaws are in short supply in Washington. That’s why Crownover has returned to this category, which he appeared on for the 2016 edition after a 1-4, 3.81/3.40/1.17 debut season in 2015. He tore through Hagerstown in 2016, hit a wall in Potomac after a promotion, then repeated the pattern in 2017 with High-A and AA. He dropped down to Potomac again in 2018 but, aside from one particularly good outing, was below-average despite his repeating the level for the second time.
Baez is also repeat to this category (2016, too) and has been a watchlist RHP despite production that seems to beg the question of “why is he here?” The answer is that Baez throws mid-90s heat like he’s playing catch. When he’s on, he’s unhittable. When he’s off, he’s unwatchable. While it’s tempting to say, “Eh, put ‘im in the ‘pen and see what he can do when he can really let loose,” a career mark of 4.9BB/9IP says that might not be wise.
Mills is a reclamation project, having flamed out of the Astros system after three seasons (2013-15) and spent a summer in the independent leagues (2016). He worked his way from Low-A to AA over the last two summers as a side-winding lefty, and it seems like his destiny will be as a LOOGY as he relies on deception and a arm-side slider to LHBs.
Guilbeau had bounced between starting and relieving since his college days, until the Nats decided to use him strictly in relief in 2018, where he was particularly effective against LHHs (.184/.298/.184). As is their custom with Rule 5 guys, the Nats sent him to the AFL for further evaluation and he responded with strong results: with two runs on six hits and six walks allowed in 10⅓ innings, including a walkoff HR in the AFL title game. Scouts saw mid-90s heat for the first time in Arizona, so expectations are for him to repeat those numbers in AA in ’19.
Irvin pitched just 20⅔ innings across 11 appearances in the GCL and NYPL but the cheerleaders from Durham liked him enough to anoint the Nats’ 4th-Rd. pick as the #10 prospect for 2019. His arsenal is mostly a low-90s FB and low-80s SL and a very occasional CH. The guess here is that he’ll go to Hagerstown if they want to use him as a starter, Potomac if they want him to become a reliever.
Schaller was drafted ahead Irvin in the 3rd. Rd. as a draft-eligible freshman out of Vanderbilt. Yes, that means he’s already had TJ surgery. A similar arsenal to Irvin, but throws harder (95-97). The Nats used him strictly as a starter for the G-Nats and Doubledays and went longer than Irvin (40⅔ IP). Unlike Irvin, he was hit hard at Auburn (30H, 19R in 19IP) with a very low K rate (4.97).