Happy Holidays


With the blitz of retailers trying to “make up” for the shortened holiday season, let’s hope that by the time you read this, you’re done with all your shopping and are somewhere safe and away from the throngs, enjoying the company of whomever you choose (or not) while celebrating in moderation.

And as you should each and every day, be grateful for what you have, spare what you don’t need to those who do, and just be kind to others (even if they’re related to you 😉

Transaction Update

Transactions for NPP 2There have been two transaction posts this week, no doubt yesterday’s coming early thanks to the forthcoming holidays. Here’s a rundown of the guys that were signed for the period of Dec. 6-20:

  • RHP Angher Cespedes
  • LHP Melvin Morel
  • C Mitch Canham
  • SS Emmanuel Burriss

Given the surname and the lack of any listing on baseball-reference.com, the presumption is that Cespedes and Morel are IFAs, but absent any biographical data, that’s the extent of any inferences thatn can be reasonably made.

Canham was originally drafted and signed by the San Diego Padres in 2007 but has played the past three seasons with three different organizatons, as well as sizable stint with the Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League in the summer of 2012.

Burris is also a AAA veteran who’s spent most of the past six seasons at the level for San Francisco and Cincinnati, batting .241/.294/.266 in 108 games (the most played in a single season since 2007) for Louisville.

Nationals Announce 2014 Farm Managers, Coaches

With the exhaustive search for a trading partner to move Corey Brown completed, the Washington Nationals announced the 2014 lineup for their affiliates’ coaching staffs today (new hires in red, returnees in blue):

SYRACUSE
Manager – Billy Gardner, Jr. (new hire)
Pitching Coach – Paul Menhart (promoted from Harrisburg)
Hitting Coach – Joe Dillon (new hire)

HARRISBURG
Manager – Brian Daubach (promoted from Potomac)
Pitching Coach – Chris Michalak (promoted from Potomac)
Hitting Coach – Mark Harris (promoted from Potomac)

POTOMAC
Manager – Tripp Keister (promoted from Hagerstown)
Pitching Coach – Franklin Bravo (promoted from Hagerstown)
Hitting Coach – Brian Rupp (promoted from Hagerstown)

HAGERSTOWN
Manager – Patrick Anderson (promoted from GCL)
Pitching Coach – Sam Narron (promoted from Auburn)
Hitting Coach – Luis Ordaz (promoted from Auburn)

AUBURN
Manager – Gary Cathcart (returning)
Pitching Coach – Tim Redding (new hire)
Hitting Coach – Amaury Garcia (promoted from GCL)

GCL
Manager – Michael Barrett (new hire)
Pitching coach – Michael Tejera (returning)
Hitting coach -Jorge Mejia (promoted from DSL)

DSL
Manager – Sandy Martinez (returning)
Pitching Coach – Pablo Frias (returning)
Hitting Coach – Jose Herrera (new hire)

Byron Kerr has the skinny on the new hires in his article today. Otherwise, it’s as surmised in the comments: with the reassignments of Matt LeCroy (Washington bullpen coach), Tony Beasley (co-field coordinator), and Troy Gingrich (hitting coordinator), the Nationals have promoted en masse — 12 of the coaches listed here, including the entire staffs of Hagerstown and Potomac to the next level.

The 2014 NationalsProspects.com Watchlist

Photo Credit: TVtropes.org

With the completion of the Rule 5 draft, what we hope to be a break in the trades, it’s time to unveil the fourth edition of our look at the Nationals prospects that we’re keeping an eye on, a.k.a. watching. This is my alternative to doing a large mixed list, which, like cable news, may generate a lot of viewers and discussion but serves little purpose otherwise.

My apologies to the longtime readers, but a few caveats for the folks who are unfamiliar with how this works…

• It’s not a depth chart — Players are listed first by the highest level at which they played significant time, then alphabetically. This mostly applies to the pitchers and outfielder nowadays, but folks should not infer that the player at the top of the list is necessarily better than the guy at the bottom.

• It’s not a prediction of usage — As noted during the preliminary posts, there are players that have played multiple positions and could be easily placed in more than one column. Naturally, I’m exploiting that for aesthetic purposes, but not to fantasy-baseball extent (e.g. he played one game at the position there).

• It’s not fair — There are players here that I wouldn’t list otherwise were it not for lack of position depth or dexterity. We’ve already seen that there’s a bias towards established players, though I’ve made a couple of changes that may very well be overcorrections to offset that.

I did indeed scrap the M*A*S*H category in favor of breaking apart the DSL bats and arms (which sounds more painful than what I mean) to keep the design intact. I created the category to acknowledge that the DSL is purely a scouting-by-box-score exercise. Truth be told, this is also true of the GCL and NYPL, too, but I’ve resisted the very tempting idea (from a workload perspective) of dropping coverage of one or more of the short-season leagues because I want to be as extensive as possible with this site.

Without further ado…

C 1B 2B SS 3B OF
Leon Skole Kobernus Walters Dykstra E. Perez
P. Severino Pleffner Hague Difo J.C. Valdez Goodwin
Reistetter Marmolejos-Diaz Renda Masters Gunter Souza
Read D. Eusebio Mejia Abreu Ward Taylor
B. Miller
W. Ramos
E. Martinez
Wooten
Ballou
Lippincott
Zebrack
Bautista
R. Encarnacion
RHPs LHPs DSL Bats DSL Arms
Notable Bats Notable Arms
Karns Solis Corredor M. Sanchez Bloxom Garcia
Barrett Purke Gutierrez Yrizarri Hood E. Davis
Hill Mooneyham Ortiz Reyes Martinson Rosenbaum
Cole Lee Mota Torres Oduber Holland
Mirowski Orlan Florentino Valerio Keyes Grace
Schwartz Napoli Ramsey Rauh
Benincasa Silvestre Manuel Dickson
P. Encarnacion Ott Kieboom R. Pena
C. Davis Walsh Yezzo Bacus
Mendez Franco Spann
Johansen
Voth
Hollins
Simms
Pivetta
Giolito
Suero
J. Rodriguez
P. Valdez

Nationals Extend PDC With Syracuse Through 2018 Season

Photo Credit: Syracuse Chiefs Official Twitter Feed
The Syracuse Chiefs and Washington Nationals announced a four-year extension of their player-development contract through the 2018 season. Perhaps not coincidentally, the move comes less than three months after what BallparkDigest.com called a “housecleaning,” as former GM John Simone was ousted following the retirement of his father, Tex.

The move will obviously bolster the financial prospects of the franchise, which has been struggling financially (claiming a $505,146 loss for the 2013 season) and at the gate (345,047 claimed paid attendance, the lowest since its current ballpark opened in 1997).

While the move may be positioned as “how much the Nationals organization values the Chiefs and the Syracuse community,” it’s also about ensuring that the Nationals would not be the odd man out in the next affiliate dance in September 2014. As Adam Kilgore wrote yesterday:

“If the Nationals tried to find a new affiliate, they could be stuck with an undesirable, far-flung city. Teams and Class AAA affiliates match up in the fashion of musical chairs, and some organizations are left with choices they loathe – the Mets, for example, use Las Vegas against their wishes.”

Prior to this move, just four of the eleven* remaining International League teams were eligible to swap affiliations following the 2014 season, with six already extended through 2016 and a seventh, the Charlotte Knights, extended through 2020 in conjunction with its new ballpark set to open next April.
* The Gwinnett Braves are wholly owned by Atlanta while the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRilders are co-owned by the Yankees and Mandalay Enterprises.

Bullpen Banter Ranks The Nats Top 10 Prospects

Top prospect lists are the filler essence of the offseason and today the folks at Bullpen Banter have released their latest estimation of the top of the Nats crop (last year’s ranking, where applicable, in parentheses):

No. Player Pos.
1. Lucas Giolito (2) RHP
2. A.J. Cole RHP
3. Brian Goodwin (3) CF
4. Jake Johansen RHP
5. Nathan Karns RHP
6. Steve Souza OF
7. Matt Skole (5) 1B/3B
8. Sammy Solis LHP
9. Michael Taylor (11) OF
10. Taylor Jordan RHP


This is the third time I’ve featured BB’s work because (A) I believe it’s important to see what folks outside our usual haunts have to say about the Nats (B) like fertilizer salesmen, they know their sh… stuff. As such, you should click through to see their commentary and check out the scouting video.

Al Skorupa (@alskor on Twitter) and Jeff Reese (@Ioffridus) maintain their position that the Nats have become a system of a few premiere prospects supplemented by bevy of projects, most of which are drawn from the collegiate ranks. This, of course, is old news to us, but bear in mind that they’re writing for a different audience, one that’s arguably more interested in the players themselves since their readers’ favorite team may actually be a composite (if you know what I mean).

Aside from including Taylor Jordan, which if you’re not using the 50IP limit is a fine selection, there aren’t a whole lot of surprises here. It does seem to me that the three “Other Prospects of Note” (Tony Renda, Brett Mooneyham, and Drew Ward) get the benefit from being scouts’ favorites, but as we saw a couple of weeks ago when I released the preliminary 2014 Watchlists, “notable” is often in the eye of the beholder.

Winter League Update

Winter Baseball Update
Time for our semi-weekly update on how the notable Nationals minor-leaguers are doing in the winter leagues. All statistics as of 12/14/2013, 1:38 a.m. EST.

BATTERS

PLAYER LG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO AVG OBP SLG SB
Francisco Soriano DWL 14 16 5 3 0 0 1 1 2 7 .188 .278 .375 0
Oscar Tejeda DWL 22 64 7 15 4 1 2 7 3 21 .234 .269 .422 1
Eury Perez DWL 16 48 8 10 0 0 1 2 4 8 .208 .296 .271 4
Jose Lozada PWL 8 5 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 0
Michael Taylor PWL 29 118 16 44 7 1 2 8 5 33 .373 .408 .500 3
Adrian Sanchez VWL 23 51 5 11 3 0 0 3 1 10 .216 .245 .275 0
Sandy Leon VWL 28 88 14 27 6 1 1 9 15 22 .307 .410 .432 1

PITCHERS

PLAYER LG W L SV ERA G GS IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
Manny Delcarmen DWL 0 2 0 1.88 12 0 14⅓ 14 4 3 1 4 18 1.26
Paul Demny DWL 0 0 0 0.00 3 0 3⅓ 0 0 0 0 1 4 0.30
Kelvin Perez DWL 2 3 0 0.00 6 0 6 1 0 0 0 4 2 0.83
Tyler Herron PWL 1 0 7 0.52 15 0 17⅓ 8 1 1 0 7 18 0.87
Gabriel Alfaro VWL 2 1 0 4.50 20 0 18 12 14 9 0 10 15 1.22


A few additions, thanks to MLFA signings… and a few subtractions, though all but Yunesky Maya appear to be due to the player no longer playing since our previous edition. Most of the leagues will finish up in two weeks, after which we’ll have a final wrapup of all the Nats stats from the winter leagues.

Catching Up On Transactions

Catching Up On TransactionsWith the signing of OF Nat McLouth, OF Corey Brown has been designated for assignment, perhaps ending a three-year run as talk radio’s “that guy in Syracuse we should call up.” Brown was acquired along with H-Bomb, er, Henry Rodriguez in December 2010 for OF Josh Willingham in one of the first A’s-Nats trades executed by GM Mike Rizzo.

Brown, of course, could be outrighted which has been the fate of several of the last few DFAs, including Tyler Robertson, who was moved along with Fernando Abad to make room for the trio of Aaron Barrett, Steve Souza Jr. and Michael Taylor at the Nov. 20 deadline.

Yesterday, the Nationals formally announced the signings of RHP Manny Delcarmen, 1B Brock Peterson, and C Brian Jeroloman to minor-league contracts with invites to spring training. Since our last transaction post, the Nationals have also signed 2B Oscar Tejeda and RHP Kelvin Perez.

Delcarmen is arguably the most notable of the bunch, thanks to his tenure with the Boston Red Sox and having once possessed an upper-90s fastball, that has eluded him since his trade from Boston to Colorado in August 2010. Not coincidentally, the 31-y.o. (turns 32 in February) has bounced from the Mariners to the Rangers to the Yankees to the Orioles over the last three seasons, pitching at the AAA level. His 48 appearances for Norfolk is the most since his final MLB season in 2010.

Tejeda, who turns 24 on Boxing Day, is the youngest of the bunch and is most likely ticketed for Harrisburg while the 30-y.o. Peterson seems a near-lock to assume 1B/DH duties for Syracuse. Perez and Jeroloman fit the description of interchangeable between AA and AAA, though both 28-y.o.’s have spent more time AA than AAA thus far in their careers.

Nats Lose One, Pick Up Two In Rule 5 Draft

For the third consecutive December, the Nationals have had a player taken in the MLB phase, as the Chicago White Sox selected catcher Adrian Nieto with the No. 3 pick.

The selection is the classic gamble with that the Nationals were able to pull off with Jesus Flores in 2006, as the White Sox will have carry the 24-y.o. as a backup on their 25-man roster for the duration of the season, unless the two teams can work out a trade.

Nieto has yet to play above High-A during the regular season and has only had one year with more than 80 games played (2013), so it’s also a gamble that Nieto’s development won’t be thwarted should he not be returned before the minor-league season begins, which was the case for both of last year’s selections (Danny Rosenbaum, Jeff Kobernus).

In the minor-league phases, the Nationals had no players taken but instead selected two during the AAA phase: OF Theo Bowe from the Reds and RHP Martires Arias from the Mets.

Bowe’s calling card is his speed, as the 23-y.o. rivaled Billy Hamilton for the designation of Fastest in the Organization, winning the title in 2009 when both players turned 19 late in the season. The 23-y.o. Delaware native stole 70 bases between Low-A and High-A in 2012, but posted an anemic .206/.260/.307 line with 13 swipes in 99 games for AA Pensacola.

As Doug Gray of RedsMinorsLeagues.com wrote:

Bowe found himself in a crowded Pensacola outfield and despite hitting very well in the 2012 season, he didn’t get consistent playing time and never really got going in 2013.

Very little can be found on Arias, aside from his statistics from five years in short-season ball — two in the DSL, one in the GCL, two in the Appy League, which is considered a half-step below the likes of the NYPL and the NWL — and his vitals of 6’7″ and 207 lbs and a November 10, 1990 birth date in the Dominican Republic.

Nats and A’s Make Trade, Sun To Set Tonight In The West

For the fourth time this year — and the sixth time since 2011 — Washington and Oakland have consummated a trade. This time, it’s 2013 Minor League Player of the Year Billy Burns headed for the Left Coast in favor of lefthanded reliever Jerry Blevins.

It’s hardly been a secret that the Nats have been pursuing a major-league southpaw for more than a year now, signing the likes of Fernando Abad and Bobby Bramhall last offseason, trading for and promoting Ian Krol, and claiming Xavier Cedeno and Tyler Robertson on waivers during the season. Only Cedeno and Robertson remain from that quintet (sextet, if you want to include the midseason dalliance with J.C. Romero).

As is common with Rizzo trades, Blevins remains under team control for another two seasons — like Doug Fister, who was acquired less than three weeks ago, he’s arbitration-eligible — as the A’s seemed willing to part with the 30-y.o. veteran as a cost-savings measure, despite having made 281 appearances over the past seven seasons for Oakland.

While it may appear that Rizzo has gotten his man, I wouldn’t rule out Washington acquiring one or more southpaws in tomorrow’s Rule 5 draft (don’t forget the PTBNL in the David DeJesus flip was a LHP), even if neither Matt Grace nor Danny Rosenbaum are taken.