Nats Sign Homeschool Phenom for $1M

Two-way player could be the next Giolito… or the next Harper
ENFIELD, MA — The Washington Nationals announced the signing today of Dana Prescott on his 18th birthday for a reported $1 million after a private workout for General Manager Mike Rizzo and Vice President of Scouting Doug Harris.

“It’s unusual for us to spend this much money on an amateur,” Rizzo said, “And, as you all know, I’ll be the first to admit when I’ve made a mistake, but this kid is the real deal.”

Prescott briefly pitched and played first base for Quabbin Regional High School in 2014 after his parents petitioned the local school board for what’s more commonly known as a Tim Tebow exception to allow the home-schooled student to participate in athletics.

In a late-March scrimmage against Nashoba Regional High School, Prescott is said to have struck out 21 batters while tossing a no-hitter over seven innings, which is the standard length of games in the Midland-Wachusett League.

“We realize he didn’t play much two years ago, but usually word of triple digits on the gun is enough to flood an area with scouts and cross-checkers,” Harris added. “Even if were just that one game, you’d think some other organization would have checked up on it.”

Prescott reportedly hit 100 m.p.h. the day after that game, according to QRHS coach Gil Greenwich, who says he asked the Town of Barre’s police department to take an hour off from writing speeding tickets on Rte. 122 and put the town’s chief source of income radar on his pitcher.

An undisclosed injury prevented him from appearing in the 2014 regular season. Prescott’s parents did not reapply for the waiver in 2015, and it is unknown if Prescott played anywhere else.

Besides the lightning arm and the light-tower power–he also went 4-for-4 in that game, homering three times lefthanded and once righthanded–there is also one other thing that makes Prescott unusual. He has an ugly girlfriend.

“We don’t quite understand it,” Greenwich said. “We know his vision is good because he hit everything we threw at him in BP, including the pitching machine turned up all the way to 11.”

“I don’t want to come off as sexist, ” Greenwich continued, “but usually the athletes in these parts end up with the cheerleader types, but his girlfriend? If her face was her fortune, she’d qualify for a tax refund.”

MLB officials said Prescott earned his GED last May, and in an unusual maneuver, formally declared for the Rule 4 Draft a year ago today. All 30 teams passed on him last June, which made him a free agent.

“We know we could have signed him for $1,000 and a plane ticket,” Rizzo explained. “But when I called the Lerners, they insisted on opening up the pocketbook to make sure he’d sign.”

It’s unknown where the young man, who’s listed at 6’3″ and 185 lbs, will play this year. Harris demurred on questions regarding his first minor-league destination.

“We’ll assign him to XST,” the Assistant GM said. “But you’ll be hearing from him soon.”

Transaction Update

Transactions for NPP 2
Less than a week to go before the full-season affiliate rosters are announced, but more than a week to go for “our” Opening Day.

On Monday, the Nats optioned SS Trea Turner and RHP Rafael Martin to Syracuse while picking up the contract of RHP Matt Belisle. This effectively reduces the battle for the Opening Day roster down to the last spot on the bench and/or bullpen, which can usually be handicapped by looking at the number of options left for a given player or pitcher, but may be less predictable for the latter with two to choose from (Treinen, Gott) and a southpaw who hasn’t pitched since 2014 and can become a free agent on Friday (Burnett).

In terms of what’s next, the usual pattern is for Harrisburg to announce its roster, then Syracuse, then Hagerstown, and then Potomac. I expect the press releases to begin on Tuesday morning, but it could be sooner. In 2013, for example, the news came six days ahead of the minor-league season start. But usually it’s 2-3 days before.

Reminder: Where the players are now (on paper) on the Big Board or the rosters on MiLB.com is not a guarantee of where they’ll be next week. These press releases will finalize the guessing game that our intrepid volunteer (SpringfieldFan) does during the offseason.

So Long, Boys (UPDATED)

So Long
While I’m sure many of you heard by now that Lucas Giolito was reassigned to minor-league camp – along with Erik Davis, Burke Badenhop, and Michael Brady – our resident keeper of The Big Board, Springfield Fan, alerted me to a set of releases that happened last week (H/T as always):

  • RHP Justin Amlung (Hagerstown)
  • RHP Calvin Copping (GCL)
  • RHP Ian Dickson (Potomac)
  • RHP Brian Dupra (Harrisburg)
  • RHP Scott McGregor (Syracuse)
  • RHP Drew Van Orden (Hagerstown)
  • LHP Darin Gorski (Offseason pickup)
  • LHP David Napoli (Hagerstown)
  • LHP Jake Walsh (Potomac)
  • C Zach Wright (Potomac)

No real surprises here. These are the proverbial “other shoe(s)” to drop for the minor league free agents that were signed during the offseason. Let’s not forget that for some, if not most, of these guys this means their days as a professional baseball player are over.

UPDATE
As noted in the comments, several more cuts have been posted on MiLB.com:

  • UT Ricky Hague (Syracuse)
  • RHP Jon Velasquez (Offseason pickup)
  • IF Reegie Corona (Harrisburg)
  • OF Estarlin Martinez (Potomac)
  • RHP Deion Williams (Hagerstown)
  • RHP Adam Boghosian (Auburn)
  • RHP Kida De La Cruz (GCL)

It’s always embarrassing when a watchlist player gets released (Martinez), especially in spring training, but it’s still a mild surprise because he had just turned 24 (March 8). The saga of the lone HS bat signed in 2011 (Williams; converted to RHP in 2012) also comes to a close, as does a couple of pitchers from the past two drafts (De La Cruz, 2014; Boghosian, 2015).

Transaction Update

Transactions for NPP 2
We finally made it to March. Spring Training games start tomorrow. But first, let’s take care of some housekeeping with a look at the transactions from the past two weeks, as reported by Baseball America:

• Signed RHPs Burke Bandenhop, Matt Belisle, J.C. Gutierrez, and Connor Porter
• Released C Edward Trejos

Bandenhop and Belisle are the prototpyical veteran signs who are in camp for a look-see as the big club – like all do this time of year – looks to shuffle and solidify the bullpen. Neither has spent significant time in the minors in the past five seasons.

Gutierrez is a re-sign, having made nine appearances for Syracuse last August and September. Gutierrez last appeared in the MLB during the 2014 season.

Porter has the kind of stats and specs that scream “project” – a 54.00 ERA and 6.00 WHIP in one (1) appearance in the Frontier League in 2015 and a 4.40 ERA, 1.53 WHIP in 29 appearances in the 2013 and 2014 seasons for the University of Memphis. The 22-y.o. is listed at 6’8″ and 202 lbs.

Trejos appeared in just 29 games as a 17- and 18-y.o. backup catcher for the DSL and GCL Nationals and posted a career OPS of just .613.

Nats Make a few Minor-League Signs

minor leagues signs 2
As some have already noted in the comments, there’s finally some movement on the transaction front with the Nationals signing two career minor-leaguers and a former major-leaguer to a minor-league contract.

First, the guys we might see this summer:

• LHP Robert Fish – Hasn’t pitched since 2013. While he’s already succumbed to Nationals elbow (2012), the inference that he’s had another round would certainly be logical, but there’s little to found on the southpaw since his release.

• C Nick Rickles – Released in October by Oakland after a lackluster 2015 spent at three levels, but mostly at High-A. He missed all of 2014 with a torn labrum.

Both would seem to be look-see candidates with only a small chance of sticking, which should be obvious given the lateness of the offseason; most guys signed this late are released within 6-8 weeks.

The former major-leaguer is Brendan Ryan, who was also given a non-roster invite and will compete for a bench job as a utilityman and, if he loses, will look to hook on elsewhere.

Initial 2016 Player Reports Completed

Watchlist Added3The first pass at the player reports for the 2016 Watchlist is now done. Rather than use the snowstorm to work on my novel, I tried to get as many written as reasonably possible.

Truth be told, between doing this and reading the books from Baseball America and John Sickels, this is where the real research gets done.

Until the BA book and the Sickels PDF arrive, I punt on some with a “Report Not Yet Written” with the belief hope that one or the other will list him and discuss him – especially with the 2015 draft picks and guys who I haven’t seen recently (with an exception or two).

The Baseball America handbook and John Sickels’s prospect PDF have been ordered, so now we wait until they arrive to fill in the gaps, which I’ve labeled “Report Not Yet Written,” because I believe one or the other will cover the player. Nevertheless, you’ve got individual capsules on 36 of the 51 pitchers and position players to read, plus the essays on the DSL guys and notables.

The latest BA Transaction post yielded just one new name to ponder: Darin Gorski, who fits the Rizzo mold of an MLFA that can eat innings for either AA or AAA. [Insert speculation about conversion to relief to help big club here].

As always, feel free to discuss in the comments.

Catching up on Transactions

Catching Up On Transactions
Things have been slow, but with the Baseball America transaction post earlier this week, we have some stuff to discuss:

SIGNED
• RHP Boone Whiting

RELEASED
• RHP Andrew Cooper
• RHP Sam Johns
• RHP 2B Thomas Alvarez
• RHP OF Wilman Rodriguez

OUTRIGHTED TO AAA
• RHP Erik Davis
• RHP Taylor Hill

Whiting would appear to be in the mold of other AAA/AA inventory, but *gasp* not a former Arizona draft pick. He struggled in two stops at AAA, going 0-2 with an 7.77/7.10/2.32 line in seven appearances for Mempis; 4-7, 1 SV and 6.04/5.78/1.82 in 22 appearances for Colorado Springs.

Cooper’s release is a mild surprise, given he turns 24 in June and wasn’t terrible (3.53/3.63/1.40) for the Suns last summer. Johns and Rodriguez appear to be classic cases of aging out (both will turn 25 by mid-July). Alvarez, who at one point was the youngest American-born farmhand in the Nats system, looks like he simply hit his ceiling as he struggled to produce a line of .204/.332/.284 in 151 games over four seasons in the DSL and GCL.

Finally Some Minor-League Signs

minor leagues signs 2
After nearly three weeks, BA has finally issued a transactions post. Some of the names have been previously reported, but for the sake of discussion, I will re-post them:

RHPs: Tim Alderson, Nick Masset, Andrew Robinson, Sam Runion, Stephen Shackleford, Jon Velasquez
LHP: Aaron Laffey
C: Brian Jeroloman
1B: Marquez Smith
UT: Cutter Dykstra
OF: Zach Collier

I’ve hyperlinked the “new guys” so folks can look them up (and because time is short this morning).

Most of these FAs will fill out the rosters of Harrisburg or Syracuse; it’s folly to project to one destination or the other because GM Mike Rizzo seems to plug and play these types on an as-needed basis. But I know that won’t stop some of you from trying 😉

Monday’s News & Notes

Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 4-0 vs. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre,
1:05 p.m.
Espino (8-6, 3.28) vs. TBD
Harrisburg Lost, 2-0 vs. Akron,
1:30 p.m.
Rauh (2-5, 5.25) vs.
Morimando (10-12, 3.22)
Potomac Lost, 8-0 vs. Salem,
1:05 p.m.
A. Williams (4-5, 2.22) vs.
McAvoy (11-9, 3.90)
Hagerstown Lost, 14-8 @ Lexington,
1:35 p.m.
Fedde (0-2, 5.25) vs.
Ray (5-6, 6.06)
Auburn Won, 6-1 vs. Batavia,
2:05 p.m.
DeRosier (0-1, 18.00) vs.
Holloway (5-6, 2.95)


Scanton/Wilkes-Barre 4 Syracuse 0
• Jordan (L, 5-6) 5⅓ IP, 11H, 4R, 4ER, 2BB, 4K
• Billings 2⅔ IP, 3H, 0R, BB, 4K, 3-1 IR-S
• Mastroianni 1-3, 2B, BB
• Skole 1-4, 2B

The RailRiders ran roughshod on the Chiefs for four runs and 14 hits in a 4-0 shutout. Taylor Jordan was charged with all four runs on 11 hits and two walks (one intentional) over five and a 1/3rd innings while striking out four in his sixth loss. Bruce Billings let in one of three inherited runners on the 6th and tossed two more scoreless innings in the 7th and 8th to give the offense a chance to come back. They did not. Matt Skole and Darin Mastroianni both doubled while the rest of the lineup managed just four singles.
Roster move: RHP Connor Overton reassigned from Auburn (probably a paper move to activate today’s starter for the Doubledays).

Akron 2 Harrisburg 0
• Voth 6IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 7K
• Suero (L, 1-2) 1IP, 3H, 2R, 2ER, 2BB, 1K, WP
• Corona 1-2, 2B, BB
• Bostick 1-4, 3B

A no-decision for Austin Voth? How novel. The 23-y.o. one-hit Akron for six innings as Harrisburg was shut out 2-0. He walked none and struck out seven and received neither a win nor a loss for the 14th time in 28 appearances. The loss went to Wander Suero, who allowed both RubberDuck runs on three hits and two walks in his lone inning pitched. Reegie Corona doubled and Christopher Bostick tripled for the two (2) Senators hits.

Salem 8 Potomac 0
• Dickson (L, 3-3) 1⅔ IP, 1H, 1R, 1ER, 4BB, 1K, WP
• M. Rodriguez 1⅔ IP, 1H, 0R, BB, 3K
• Mesa 2-4
• Wooten 1-3, 2B

Potomac dropped an 8-0 decision to Salem for its tenth shutout loss of the season. Ian Dickson walked only four this time out but lost again after letting in one run on one hit and four walks over an inning and 2/3rds. R.C. Orlan stranded three to finish the 2nd but was lit up for two homers in the 5th to effectively put the game away. The P-Nats bats were held to five hits total with Narciso Mesa the sole hitter to reach base twice with a pair of singles.

Lexington 14 Hagerstown 8
• A. Lee (L, 3-1) 2⅔ IP, 5H, 6R, 6ER, 3BB, 2K, 2WP, HBP
• Brinley 1IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 0K
• Mejia 4-4, R, 2-2B, BB, 5RBI, SB

The Legends put up four big innings to take an 11-3 lead early as they cruised to a 14-8 victory that clinched a losing record for Hagerstown. Andrew Lee lost for the first time in five starts and was manhandled for six runs on five hits and three walks over two and 2/3rds innings. Bryan Mejia drove five of the eight Hagerstown runs and drew his fifth walk in 67 games as he went 4-for-4 with two doubles to lead the offense.
Roster move: C Jake Mayer placed on the 7-Day DL; OF Andrew Stevenson activate from the 3-Day TIL.

Auburn 6 Batavia 1
• Baez (W, 2-2) 6IP, 3H, 0R, 4BB, 6K
• Rivera 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 0K
• Sagdal 2-2, 3R, 2BB
• Agustin 3-4, R, 3B, 3RBI
• Tillero 3-4, R

The Doubledays exploded for four runs in the 7th to break open a 1-0 lead as they took this one from Batavia, 6-1. Joan Baez evened his won-loss record with Auburn at 2-2 with six shutout innings, though he put seven runners on with three hits and four walks while fanning six. The bottom third of the order combined for eight hits, five runs, two walks (Ian Sagdal), and three RBI (Telmito Agustin) as Auburn collected 13 hits total.


Saturday’s News & Notes

Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 4-1 vs. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre,
7:05 p.m.
Lail (3-2, 3.71) vs.
Hill (3-10, 5.19)
Harrisburg Won, 7-4 vs. Akron,
7:00 p.m.
Bates (6-5, 4.19) vs.
Brown (1-3, 3.86)
Potomac Lost, 6-3 vs. Salem,
7:05 p.m.
Mapes (5-3, 2.47) vs.
Buttrey (8-9, 3.98)
Hagerstown Lost, 5-4 @ Lexington,
7:05 p.m.
Bach (6-4, 3.75) vs.
Blewett (3-5, 4.97)
Auburn Won, 5-1 @ Batavia,
7:05 p.m.
Guilbeau (2-2, 3.91) vs.
Squier (5-2, 3.69)


Lehigh Valley 4 Syracuse 1
• McGregor (L, 6-6) 4IP, 5H, 2R, 2ER, BB, 3K, HR
• Harper 1IP, 2H, 0R, BB, 0K
• Sizemore 2-4, R
• Ballou 2-4, 2B, RBI

Syracuse closed out its road scheduled with a 4-1 loss to Lehigh Valley. Scott McGregor got the nod in place of A.J. Cole and was knocked for two runs on five hits and a walk over four innings to lose his sixth game. Dakota Bacus made his AAA debut but was dinged for a two-run homer in the 5th. Isaac Ballou and Scott Sizemore both went 2-for-4 to pace the Chiefs offense.

Harrisburg 7 Akron 4
• Giolito (W, 4-2) 6IP, 7H, 4R, 4ER, BB, 4K, HR
• Corona 1-2, 2R, HR, RBI, 2BB, SB
• Vettleson 1-2, 2RBI, 2BB, SB
• Difo 2-5, 2R, 2-2B, RBI

Lucas Giolito finished up his 2015 campaign with six innings of four-run ball as the Sens beat the ‘Ducks, 7-4. Washington’s top prospect allowed seven hits, including a HR in the 6th, walked one and struck out four to finish with a mark of 4-2 for Harrisburg, 7-7 overall with a combined pitcher’s line of 3.15/2.58/1.28 with 6HR, 37BB, 131K in 117IP. Nick Lee, Gilberto Mendez, and Paul Demny each turned in a scoreless frame to earn the hold(s) and save, respectively. Reegie Corona walked twice, scored twice, and smacked a HR top lead the Harrisburg offense, which drew eight walks total.
Roster move: RHP Tanner Roark recalled to Washington.

Salem 6 Potomac 3
• Howell (L, 1-2) 1⅔ IP, 3H, 6R, 6ER, 5BB, 1K, HR, BK
• Walsh 3⅔ IP, 2H, 0R, BB, 5K
• Mesa 2-4, R
• Read 2-4

Salem scored six times in the 2nd and cruised to a 6-3 win over Potomac in the series opener. Jeff Howell gave up all six runs on five walks and three hits over an inning and 2/3rds to lose for the second time for the P-Nats. Jake Walsh and Derek Self both turned in three and 2/3rds scoreless innings to give the offense a chance to catch up, but the offense could only muster three runs on ten hits and two walks. Narciso Mesa and Raudy Read accounted for four of those hits, each going 2-for-4.

Lexington 5 Hagerstown 4
• Amlung (L, 3-4) 6IP, 7H, 5R, 5ER, 2BB, 5K
• Napoli 2IP, 0H, 0R, 2BB, 0K
• W. Rodriguez 2-3, R, HR, BB, RBI
• Abreu 3-4, 2R, 2B, HR, BB, RBI
• Marmolejos-Diaz 2-4, 2-2B, RBI

Hagerstown stranded 12 runners, five in the final three innings, as they were edged by Lexington, 5-4 in game two of the five-game series. Justin Amlung let in all five runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out five in his fourth Low-A loss. David Napoli walked two in two scoreless innings of relief. Osvaldo Abreu and Wilman Rodriguez both homered as the Suns pounded out 11 hits and drew six walks in the loss.

Auburn 5 Mahoning Valley 1
• Valerio (W, 2-0) 5IP, 2H, 0R, BB, 4K
• Van Vossen (H, 2) 3IP, 3H, R, ER, BB, K
• K. Gutierrez 2-4, 2B, 2RBI, SB
• Kerian 2-4, 2B
• Schrock 1-3, R, 3B, BB, RBI

The Doubledays scored all five runs in the first four innings as they took the game, 5-1, and the series, 2-1 from the Scrappers. Maximo Valerio spun five scoreless innings for his second NYPL win, with two hits and one walk allowed and four K’s. Mick Van Vossen lost the shutout in the 8th but earned the hold, his second for Auburn. Kelvin Gutierrez and David Kerian both went 2-for-4 with a double as the offense registered 11 hits total.