The Solar Sox burned the Jackson Rutledge candle at both ends of his four-inning start, getting two in the 1st and two in the 4th en route to a 9-3 win over the Saguaros.
The Nats’ top pitching prospect (for now at least) not named Cade Cavalli needed 72 pitches to get 12 outs, allowing four runs on six hits (one HR) and one walk. He struck out five and was charged with the loss.
Evan Lee (pictured above) followed with a 15-pitch inning in the 5th in which he was both perfect and untouchable while striking out the side.
Jackson Cluff was the sole Nats prospect to appear in the starting lineup, making his first appearance at shortstop. He grounded out to second in the 2nd, hit a sacrifice fly in the 4th, and drew a walk in the 6th. In the field, he had one putout and one assist.
Israel Pineda came off the bench in the 8th to catch the last two innings and had three putouts (all K’s). At the plate, he was 1-for-1 with a single.
Surprise remains home for a second straight game as they host Glendale tonight.
THE 2021 FCL NATIONALS
If there’s any one level that has been significantly changed by the MLB coup d’état, it would be the Florida Complex League. This is because the two levels above it – Advanced Rookie (Appalachian and Pioneer Leagues) and Short-Season A (New York-Penn and Northwest) – were eliminated.
We still don’t know how this will shake out long term. As noted in the comments, six organizations chose to have two complex-league teams. Five of those also have two DSL teams. The Tigers went from two DSL teams in 2019 to one this year, and three short-season teams to two.
But some organizations went from three short-season teams to one, including the Dodgers and the Reds. Others, like the Giants, merely dropped one team and still fielded eight teams between the U.S. and the D.R.
So it’s clear that there are different philosophies about how to deal with the new rules and limitations imposed on the new MiLB by the MLB overlords. In theory, every organization could field two complex teams but that would pretty much require carrying the maximum number of players (180) and, as we know all too well, injuries are not evenly distributed.
In terms of the Nationals, the GCL had been a place for DSL guys to cut their teeth and the NYPL for the high-round collegiate picks. With one less level and half as many draft picks, the dynamic changed with the FCL. This year, 13 of the 18 draft picks that signed spent some time in the FCL and a handful appeared in Low-A, with three making their debut there.
Despite the college world series still taking place in June, the Nats’ 2021 Draft picks did not surface until more than six weeks after the Draft. As per usual, there was no explanation for this. Like all things 2021, whether this is an outlier or the new world order remains to be seen.
The 2021 FCL team was a .500 team in terms of its Pythagorean projection (273 runs scored, 273 runs allowed) but finished below .500 (26-30), seven games out of 1st and a ½ game out of last. Thanks in part to an unusually low number of MLB rehabs (but offset by DSL guys being a year older than usual), the team’s average age was 21.3 for the pitchers (20.8) and 20.4 (19.9) for the hitters.
The offense was a shade worse than the league average, but the pitching was a shade batter (4.88 vs. 5.17 R/G for both). AB’s were more widespread than usual among the batters – only five batters registered more than 100PA (vs. eight in 2019) and only one pitcher exceeded 20 innings while making more starts than relief appearances (Andry Lara).
Thus, these Top 5’s should be taken with even more salt than usual because the sample sizes are smaller.
|TOP 5 BATS||TOP 5 ARMS|
|1. Brady House, SS
.321 GPA, .394 OBP, .567 SLG% in 66PA
|1. Jose Ferrer, LHRP
2.78/3.05/1.12, 11.9 K/9IP, 2.7BB/9IP
|2. T.J. White, OF
.297 GPA, .356 OBP, .547 SLG%
|2. Bernardo Hiraldo, RHSP
4.46/4.05/1.37, 1.91 BB/9IP
|3. Yoander Rivero, 2B/SS
.288 GPA, .416 SLG%, 8SB
|3. Andry Lara, RHSP
4.54/4.55/1.21, 10.66 K/9IP
|4. Andry Arias, RF/LF
.265 GPA, 5HR
|4. Bryan Caceres, RHSP
3.98/5.03/1.30, 30H in 40⅔ IP
|5. Daniel Marte, OF
.242 GPA, 24BB in 45G
|5. Franklin Marquez, RHRP
4.02/5.49/1.21, 10.3 K/9IP, 2.3 BB/9IP
I suppose an honorable mention goes to Jackson Coutts, who had a stunning 1.081 OPS in 89PA after he was demoted from Low-A, though he turned 23 on Sept. 1. It should also be noted that Jose Ferrer was repeating the level, though my guess would be that he would have been assigned to the NYPL in the “old world order.”
I’m sure we’ll spend all winter long wondering about House and White and what the Nats will do with them in 2022. On the one hand, it seems fairly clear that they’re ready for a higher level of competition. On the other hand, they’re still teenagers. It’s been 12 years since the Nats have had more than one H.S. position player sign, and that doesn’t include Bryce Harper.
Likewise, it’s the magic eight ball to project which pitchers might get the jump in 2022. Though it’s pretty safe to say no one is blocking them in Fredericksburg.