A Few More Minor-League Signs

minor leagues signs 2Baseball America released its latest transaction post, and with it comes a few more signings:

LHP Neal Cotts
Irving Falu
Alex Santana

Cotts and Falu are the classic minor-league deals with a non-roster invite to spring training, i.e. longshots who will most likely get mentioned here again when they are released in about eight weeks. They are insurance policies against injuries and folks to push the backups along with the younger players in camp.

It should come as no surprise to learn that Santana is the son of a former major-leaguer (Rafael), continuing the fetish fascination with legacy players. Santana was released at the end of spring training in 2016 by the Dodgers, who drafted him in the 2nd Rd. of the 2011 Draft. He had risen as high as Low-A, but despite his 6’4″, 200-lb size slugged just .324 in 64G at the level in 2015. He did not play professionally last summer, in which he turned 23.

Bak

Transaction Update

We interrupt your Boxing Day celebration to bring you another transaction update, courtesy of BA and MiLB:

SIGNED
RHP Gabriel Arias – Did not pitch in 2016. Unable to confirm whether he was in Dr. Andrew’s waiting room when the Nats were stopped by for their monthly meeting.

• Player-Coaches Devin Ivany & Andruth Ramirez – Presumably both will return to Harrisburg and Potomac, respectively.

C-1B Pat Leyland – As noted in the comments, the son of manager Jim Leyland, and continuing the Nats’ fetish for legacy picks. Also did not play in 2016, though he was signed and released by the Reds last spring.

TRADED
RHP Mario Sanchez – The other cleat has dropped on the Jimmy Cordero trade with Philadelphia.

Catching up on Transactions


While I clean off this egg from my face from the last post, let’s take a peek at the latest transactions, via BA and MiLB:

SIGNED
RHP Michael Broadway – If the name’s familiar, it’s because Broadway spent a year (2013) in the system as a reliever for Harrisburg and Syracuse. Since then, he’s been mostly with the Giants, with a handful of appearances for the Yokahama Bay Stars of Japan’s Central League.

RHP Kyle Schepel – a bit interesting in that he went undrafted in 2012, pitched in the independent Frontier League, then hooked on with the Diamondbacks for two seasons, then spent the last two in the Mariners organization.

LHP Tim Collins – Another NDFA, the short lefty signed with Toronto in 2007 out of a Worcester, MA vocational HS, traded twice in July 2010 to Atlanta, then Kansas City, where he was a bullpen mainstay from 2011 to 2014 (228 appearances) before suffering an elbow injury in 2015 that’s required two TJ surgeries.

RHP Jacob Turner – Journeyman RHSP who split time between AAA and MLB for the White Sox, and was ineffective at both levels.

IF Emmanuel Burriss – Another former Nats farmhand (’14-’15), Burriss also split time between AAA and MLB for the Phillies, batting .263 and .111 in 50 and 39 games respectively.

RELEASED
• RHP Matt Pirro
• C Erik VanMeetren
• IF David Kerian
• RHP Yefri Pena

RETIRED
• SS Clayton Brandt

Nats Make Second Annual Spare IF Trade to Angels for Two Pitchers

Pognophiles weep, N.L. infields a little less breezy in 2017

strictly-businessIn a move that seems a little too neatly timed, Nats Winter Fest no-show Danny Espinosa was traded to the L.A. Angels for two minor-league RHPs.

Kidding aside, as the headline suggests, it’s the second time in as many years the two teams have swapped an IF for a pair of “northpaws.” And it would appear to be the same return: one marginally major-league ready reliever, one roster-filler for AA/AAA.

Austin L. Adams is the former, and much will be made of his K rate (12.8 in ’16, 11.6 career) and velocity (95-97), while his BB rate (4.9, 6.4) gets overlooked, his age (turns 26 in May) is ignored, and inexperience (3⅔ career IP at AAA) is downplayed. He was just added to the 40-man ahead of the Rule 5 draft last month, so no space cleared on the 40-man.

Kyle McGowin is the latter, and likewise, folks will immediately gasp at the pitcher’s slashes in the PCL (6.11/5.09/1.62) but even if you’re inclined to write that off as the league, he’s had similarly subpar production at AA and lower (4.77 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, no FIPs lower than 3.53).

As folks smarter than I am about trades have noted, trading Espinosa after he had been replaced took away some leverage (counterargument: such a trade might have given opposing GMs a hint that the Eaton trade was in the works), and now leaves Wilmer Difo as the primary MI backup.

Next up (barring another trade, natch): BA will unveil its Top 10 Nats prospects, then we’ll vote on the Top 10 Nats arms.

Nats Go All in for Eaton

For those of you who work the third shift, aren’t on the Twitters, or had a date last night (hey, it could happen), Washington traded Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, and Dane Dunning for Chicago White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton.

This is hard for us as prospect followers because we become (or have become) enamored with the exploits of “our guys” and envision their future with the big club, which we saw briefly last summer with Giolito and Lopez, and were looking forward to with Dunning in 2-3 years. I’ll be the first to admit that my first thought was: “Just Adam Eaton? No PTBNL?”

That’s because I’ve become used to the consolation prize that Mike Rizzo seems to find with his trades: Joe Ross… Blake Treinen… Tanner Roark, etc.

Nope. Three maybes, two of them pretty strong, for one proven, in-his-prime major leaguer.

As the pic suggests, Rizzo appears to be going all-in for this season; at least that’s the knee-jerk narrative. But if you look more closely, and think about it a little more deeply, he’s got an OF option secured for the next five seasons at a reasonable price. This is critical because at least one of the two guys who’ll play next to him next summer won’t be here in 2019.

That’s not being Chicken Little – Jayson Werth’s skills are in decline, Bryce Harper may leave. If you’re a Pollyanna, then you look at this trade as freeing up the Cayman Island that it’ll take—and if he reverts to 2015 form, deserves—to keep Harper in DC.

If you’re bitter, or cynical, then you wonder if the Nats have soured on at least one of these three prospects and are dealing them because they’ve reached their peak and/or will get hurt. I certainly hope not because if a pattern like this emerges it will be harder for Rizzo to make trades in the future.

It’s worth paraphrasing what one scout tweeted yesterday: Prospects have three purposes (1) play for the parent club (2) use to trade for other players (3) fill out the rosters in the minors. Number one is obviously top of mind for us, but this is yet another reminder that number two may actually be number one in the minds of the Washington front office.

Last call for the Top 10 Nats Bats while we brace for the Rule 5 Draft.

Nats Make Some Minor-League Signs

As noted yesterday, the latest BA transactions post—first in nearly two weeks—was published yesterday. Here are Washington’s signees:

• RHPs – Dustin Antolin, Derek Eitel
• LHPs – Yoan Aponte, Braulio Lara
• C’s – Brian Jeroloman, Adderling Ruiz
• 2B – Corban Joseph

Antolin, whose full name (Dustin Kamakana Mai Ku’u Makualani Antolin) makes for a difficult time at the DMV, Aponte and Eitel appear ticketed for Syracuse as inventory while little can be found on Aponte, which leads to the inference that he’s low-tier IFA.

Jeroloman and Ruiz are re-signs and will likely continue in their roles as player and player-coach, respectively. Jospeh spent 2016 with the Orioles organization as a stopgap at AA and AAA and will likely do the same for the Nationals in 2017

AFL/Offseason Update: Nov. 12, 2016

The Desert Dogs got two-spots in the 5th and 7th innings to overcome a 2-1 deficit and beat the Scorpions, 5-2. Combined with a Peoria loss, Glendale returned to within 1½ games of the AFL West lead.

Osvaldo Abreu got the start at shortstop and batted ninth. He reached base three times with a single and two walks and stole his fourth base. Defensively, he committed his fourth error while collecting five putouts and two assists, including a double play.

Nick Lee made his eighth fall appearance and got four outs in relief, allowing one hit, no runs, no walks, and struck out one. In ten innings, he’s allowed four runs (two earned) on ten hits and nine walks while striking out eleven.

The two teams switch venues this afternoon to finish out the last full week of the 2016 AFL season.

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FREE AGENTS
On Tuesday, minor-league free agency began, which saw 20 guys become former Nationals farmhands, some for the first time:
RHP – Erik Davis, Justin DeFratus, Paolo Espino, Michael Brady, Mitch Lively, Sam Runion, Boone Whiting
LHP – Aaron Laffey
C – Brian Jeroloman, Devin Ivany, Andruth Ramirez, Adderling Ruiz
IF – Steve Lombardozzi, Jose Lozada, Jason Martinson
OF – Matt den Dekker, Kevin Keyes, Narciso Mesa, Drew Vettleson

It’s worth noting that Ivany and Ramirez were player-coaches, so their free agency may merely be a formality. As aforementioned, for a few of these guys it’s their chance to hook on elsewhere and get a second chance (or an easier path) to The Show.

WINTER LEAGUES

To me it seems like a smaller group than usual, but let’s a take a quick peek at how some of the non-AFL guys are doing:

DWL – Rafael Bautista, .276/.338/.293, 5SB, 6BB, 8RBI in 15G
DWL – Jose Marmolejos, .231/.268/.410, 1HR, 2BB, 8RBI in 13G
DWL – Raudy Read, 1-for-2 in 2G
DWL – Wander Suero, 1IP, 1H, 0R, 1BB, 2K in 1G
DWL – Philips Valdez, 0-0, 0SV, 0.00ERA, 1.07WHIP in 3G
MWL – Matt Skole, .237/.367/.320, 2HR, 7RBI, 24K in 27G
PWL – Neftali Soto, .442/.444/.674, HR, BB, SF, 5RBI in 10G
VWL – Aldrem Corredor, .133/.235/.133, 2SB, 2BB, in 9G
VWL – David Ramos, 1-0, 0SV, 2.45ERA, 1.23WHIP in 6G/7⅓ IP
VWL – Greg Ross, 3-1, 2.25ERA, 1.16WHIP in 7GS/32IP

Offseason Update: Sept. 27, 2016

Fallball2014A few news items to pass along “out of cycle”…

NATS TRADE BOSTICK
To the chagrin of some, the Nats did indeed trade Christopher Bostick, but to the Pirates, not the A’s. As the scouting report in the linked story indicates, the selection of a light-hitting, defensively challenged catcher seems rather odd, given the glut of the latter in the system right now.

TWO NATS MAKE THE BA TOP 20 PROSPECTS FOR THE GCL
As expected, Juan Soto – GCL MVP – made the list at #3 as did Carter Kieboom, the Nats’ 2016 1st Rd. pick, at #14. A tidbit from the BA chat:

Dan (Western MD): Might Juan Soto begin next year in Hagerstown? How does his development compare to Robles at the same stage?

Ben Badler: Yes, he almost certainly will start in the South Atlantic League next year. He’s a completely different player than Robles though. Soto is a more polished hitter than Robles was at the same age, both in terms of his swing and his approach, but he’s just an ordinary athlete at best on a corner, while Robles is one of the best athletes in the game with premium tools outside of the batter’s box.

MATT SKOLE NAMED MiLB GOLD GLOVER
The folks at Rawlings did little to diminish the perception that defensive awards are offensive awards in disguise [insert Rafael Palmeiro reference here] as Matt Skole was among the nine named for 2016. He joins Steve Lombardozzi and Taylor Hill as previous honorees. (In fairness, it’s possible he’s developed more range and quicker footspeed, but I can’t recall anyone else who has at that age/size/weight in 11 seasons I’ve been following the Nats minor-leaguers).

TRANSACTION STUFF
• Released – RHP John Feliz, SS Luis Rengel
• Re-signed – RHP Mark Blackmar, Jaron Long, and RHP Andrew Robinson

No surprises here: three veterans re-upping, two DSL guys who’ve been MIA since 2015 and 2014 (respectively).

Friday’s News & Notes — Playoff Edition

Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Potomac Lost, 6-5
(14 inn.)
@ Lynchburg,
6:30 p.m.
Crownover (4-4, 4.28) vs.
Brady (12-6, 4.95)
Hagerstown OFF DAY vs. Lakewood,
7:05 p.m.
Watson (1-1, 4.80) vs.
Taveras (8-8, 3.26)

Lynchburg 6 Potomac 5 (14 inn.)
• Silvestre 5IP, 8H, 3R, 3ER, BB, 5K, HR
• Brinley (BS, 1) 1IP, 2H, R, ER, 2BB, 0K
• Holland (L, 0-1) 1⅔ IP, 4H, E, ER, 2IBB, K
• Robles 3-6, 2B, RBI, wait for it, HBP
• Mejia 3-7, 2R, 2-2B
• Gutierrez 2-6, RBI

Lynchburg came back from the brink with a two-out run in the 12th and plated the game-winner with two down in the 14th to force a deciding Game 3 tonight with a 6-5 win over Potomac. Hector Silvestre got the start and gave up three over five innings on eight hits and a walk while striking out five. Ryan Brinley’s late-season struggles continued as he failed to keep any baserunners from reaching or scoring for the sixth straight appearance, as he blew a 5-4 lead with a run on two hits and two unintentional walks. Neil Holland took the loss as Lynchburg got the leadoff single in the 14th and pushed the runner to third on a sacrifice and an infield groundout. Tripp Keister ordered two intentional walks to two switch-hitters to get the RHP vs. RHB matchup (and an out at any base, natch) but Bobby Bradley, who’d been 1-for-7 before the 14th, got his second single to push across the deciding run. Roster move: RHP Austen Williams placed on the 7-Day DL.

Hagestown – OFF DAY
It’s do-or-die after just one playoff game, with the Suns giving the ball to 19-y.o. Tyler Watson, who’s making his fourth Low-A start versus 22-y.o. Jose Taveras in his 21st start for the Blue Claws.

Thursday’s News & Notes — Playoff Edition

Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Potomac Won, 7-0
(7 inn.)
@ Lynchburg,
6:30 p.m.
Silvestre (0-0, 2.08) vs.
Lugo (8-5, 4.04)
Hagerstown Lost, 6-1 OFF DAY N/A

Potomac 7 Lynchburg 0 (7 inn.)
• Whiting (W, 1-0) 7IP, 2H, 0R, BB, 3K
• Gutierrez 3-4, R, 2B, RBI
• Carey 2-3, R, 3B, RBI
• Page 2-4, 2R, 2B, 2RBI

Rain delayed the start and ended it early, but in between, Potomac dominated Lynchburg for a 7-0 shutout in seven innings. Staff ace Boone Whiting went the distance, allowing just two hits and a walk while fanning three to get the win. Kelvin Gutierrez led the 13-hit parade with two singles and a double, as eight of the starting nine batters hit safely while the beer man (Bryan Mejia) contributed with a pair of sacrifices.

The series now shifts to Lynchburg, where Potomac will have two chances to win one game to advance to the Carolina League Finals for the third time in four seasons. Roster move: C Jake Lowery activated from the TIL.

Lakewood 6 Hagerstown 1
• Rodriguez (L, 0-1) 4+ IP, 4H, 2R, 2ER, BB, 4K, WP
• Guilbeau 2⅓ IP, 6H, 4R, 4ER, 2BB, 1K, 2-2 IR-S
• Sagdal 1-3, BB
• Perkins 0-2, R, 2BB

The BlueClaws limited the Suns to just four hits and came up big in the middle innings for a 6-1 victory in the SLDS opener. Jefry Rodriguez pitched into the 5th, giving up a double and a walk then wild-pitching them over to 2nd and 3rd before giving way to the ‘pen. Taylor Guilbeau couldn’t get an out on his own until the third batter he faced, as he gave up a single and a sacrifice before getting a strikeout. He issued an intentional walk to load the bases then surrendered a two-run double to let in both of Rodriguez’s runs and the first of four charged to him. Hagerstown’s offense drew just four walks while striking out 12 times. Ian Sagdal (single, walk) and Blake Perkins (two walks) were the only two batters to reach base twice.

After a mandated travel day, the series resumes on Friday in Hagerstown, with the Suns needing to win both Games 2 and 3 to return to the Sally League Finals, where they lost in five games to the Tourists in 2014. Roster move: C Adderling Ruiz reassigned from Potomac.