Nationals Name 2017 Farm Managers, Coaches


Things have been so slow on the minor- and major-league fronts that both MASN and WaPo covered the release of the 2017 coaching staffs.

TL;DR Everybody’s staying put.

Well, not entirely, but with Washington being a football town (sorry, but a real baseball town wouldn’t make comments like these) we’re told about the team’s personal trainers strength and conditioning coaches, who did shuffle around.

However, the primary trio of manager, pitching coach, and hitting coach will remain the same:

Affiliate Manager Pitching Coach Hitting Coach
Syracuse Billy Gardner, Jr. Bob Milacki Brian Daubach
Harrisburg Matthew LeCroy Chris Michalak Brian Rupp
Potomac Tripp Keister Franklin Bravo Luis Ordaz
Hagerstown Patrick Anderson Sam Narron Amaury Garcia
Auburn Jerad Head Tim Redding Mark Harris
GCL Josh Johnson Michael Tejera Jorge Mejia
DSL Sandy Martinez Pablo Frias Jose Herrera

Given the lackluster results last summer at the top and the bottom of the organizational ladder, there may be some folks who are a little surprised there were no changes. But, as noted a year ago, the front office insisted it wanted continuity after pulling the plug on the Matt Williams debacle, and this is consistent with that claim.

Transaction Update

As expected, the post to refresh the site came a few hours too early, as Baseball America released its first transaction post of 2017.

Four pitchers were listed, three of which were not previously reported:

• RHP Pedro Gonzalez
LHP Josh Outman
LHP Stone Speer

It’s not clear which Pedro Gonzalez was signed, as there are multiple candidates choose from when searching baseball-reference.com (none of the most likely candidates have been pitchers).

Outman, who was released by the Pirates organization last August, hasn’t appeared in the majors since 2014. He spent 2015 in the Braves organization, though shoulder soreness limited him to just 8⅔ innings and nine appearances. He pitched 105 innings last season combined, 85 as a starter for independent New Britain (Atlantic League), 20 as a reliever for AAA Indianapolis.

Speer also spent time in the indys in 2016, pitching 18 innings over 18 appearances for Sussex County of the Can-Am League after missing all of 2015 (unable to confirm surgery).

All Quiet on the Minor-League Front

Folks, we haven’t gone dark… there’s just not much going on. No relevant transactions – players getting assigned to a given roster at this time of the year is meaningless.

As promised, I’ve begun working on the player reports and have already knocked a couple, albeit with a couple of placeholders. Unlike years past, I would hold out hope that whatever BA won’t cover John Sickels might, but that option is gone. Now it’s a matter of guessing who might make the last 10 spots, and MLB Pipeline seems to have that largely covered.

This is the hardest time of the year for many us of anyways… holidays are over, diets have begun, and as we’ve seen this morning, cold and snow are back in the DMV (just in time for my being given medical clearance to run!). So my apologies in advance for the lack of enthusiasm. If the past is indeed prologue, something will break soon now that I’m written a post primarily designed to assure folks it’s still operating.

The 2017 NationalsProspects.com Watchlist

I know this keeps getting done later every year, but I won’t bore with you with why it’s been delayed. We’re all busy and it’s the holidays… yada yada yada.

I should be used to how trades and lower draft positions make this harder than the year before, not to mention my no longer following the lowest levels as closely. I spent a good chunk of time with a pen and a magic 8 ball notebook while bouncing back and forth between the preliminary post, its comments, and the “top prospect” posts from Baseball America and John Sickels.

So here we go with the seventh annual NationalsProspects.com watchlist. These are the five dozen or so players that we’re paying a bit much more attention to than the others for various reasons.

Few of these guys will actually make it to The Show—for Washington or any other organization—but we still watch and hope for them, just like their friends and families (and agents 😉) do.

Now for the obligatory caveats…

It’s not a depth chart – Players are listed primarily by the highest level they’ve played. This mostly applies to the pitchers and outfielders, but it’s a fool who assumes that the name at the top of the column is better than the one at the bottom.

It’s not a prediction of usage – Early on, I listed pitchers by whether they started or relieved. Now, I mostly list them by dexterity; this year I did break apart the “northpaws” because there are so damn many of them.

It’s not fair – Some names have been dropped and/or shuffled around since the preliminary list was released. Some guys get the benefit of being lefthanded. Others are listed because the position isn’t terribly deep, which unfortunately, is more common than any of us would like.

I haven’t yet added this sidebar to the right yet, but will soon. I hope my copyeditor made fewer mistakes than last month, but if you spot anything, please let us know in the comments.

The next few weeks will be spent writing the player capsules while I wait for the handbook(s) to arrive. I’ll hyperlink the category pages when I’m done and will keep you updated as usual.

In the meantime, feel free to discuss in the comments…

C 1B 2B/SS 3B OF RHRP
Severino Skole Abreu Ward Goodwin Glover
Read Marmolejos Sagdal Gutierrez Bautista Brinley
Reetz Simonetti Noll Neuse Stevenson Mendez
C. Kieboom Robles Pantoja
Agustin Peterson
Wiseman Fuentes
Johnson Howell
Perkins
Soto
Upshaw
Evangelista
RHSPs LHPs DSL Bats DSL Arms Notable Arms Notable Bats
Cole Crownover Cabello Sisneros J. Cordero Banks
Voth Borne Falcon Guillen Mapes Corredor
Fedde Guilbeau Mesa Chu A. Lee Franco
Simms Watson Morales Duran Rivera III L. Garcia
Valdez Mills Pascal J. Peguero Luzardo Antuna
Baez Y. Ramirez
W. Davis
Sharp
F. Peguero

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.

Happy Holidays

As expected, things have slowed down in our little world after an unusually busy December. With the weekend approaching—fast for the folks who’ve procrastinated, slowly for children and the folks who have to work today and tomorrow—I figured I’d post this a little earlier than usual.

Yesterday was the winter solstice, and that means that each day we’ll get just a little more sunlight than the day before. I need not remind anyone here what that means in terms of spring and baseball. (And if I do, what the hell are you doing here?!?!)

But it also signifies the beginning of some sort of holiday for multiple faiths and/or creeds for the next month. So whatever your reason for the season, please celebrate safely and in moderation.

And reach out to your friends, loved ones, and family (yes, you have to) and share what you can spare with those who have less.

The NationalsProspects.com Top 10
11 Pitchers

Much like the bats, there were handful of arms on which we could all agree, then it became a free-for-all.

This is actually par for the course – pitchers inspire a lot of strong emotions, in large part because the game begins with ’em and ends with ’em. Think about it: They’re usually the second question asked about your team (“Who are the _____ playing today? Who’s pitching?”).

Twenty-three different pitchers were named on ten ballots, same as last year. All three kinds were represented—old, young, and hurt—five, if you want to count the combinations.

Let’s do this…

  1. Erick Fedde
  2. Koda Glover
  3. Austin Voth
  4. Tyler Watson
  5. A.J. Cole
  6. Jesus Luzardo
  7. Joan Baez
  8. Weston Davis
  9. Ryan Brinley
  10. Matthew Crownover
  11. Tyler Mapes

McKenzie Mills, Andrew Lee, John Simms, Yonathan Ramirez, Nick Lee, Jaron Long, Bryan Harper, Jimmy Cordero, Steven Fuentes, Jake Johansen, Austin L. Adams, Gilberto Chu

Why 11? Well, because some idiot mixed up the days of service with innings pitched a couple of posts ago. So those of you who clarified or specified, I slotted him where you put him and if you didn’t I made him #5 since that was consensus (As it so happened, the gap between Cole and the Luzardo was so big that that maneuver made little difference).

Now for the requisite thoughts…

• Erick Fedde ends Lucas Giolito’s four-year run (which is a testament mainly to the latter’s age and hype) as the #1 pitcher in this highly unscientific poll. It would appear that two-plus years removed from TJ surgery that Fedde will be unrestricted in 2017, which is something to keep in mind if Joe Ross and/or Stephen Strasburg miss time or go under the knife.

• Most folks seem pretty confident Koda Glover will bounce back from labrum problems, which is good because he’s definitely a candidate to pitch in the late innings (don’t get me started on the whole closer misnomer).

• While Glover’s meteoric rise in 2016 enabled him to leapfrog Austin Voth, folks still believe in the Washington state native and truth be told, I wouldn’t be surprised if he got the nod ahead of Fedde, especially early in the 2017 season.

• Cole turns 25 early next month and one has to wonder how much longer the Nats will use him as a starter. He’s made 52 starts at AAA and hasn’t been significantly better than league average for the most part, with 2016 worse than 2015 and likewise 2015 vs. 2014.

• Luzardo has yet to throw a professional pitch, but folks seem very confident that he’ll recover. Just yesterday, however, we were reminded that the TJ surgery success rate is high, but it’s not (and never will be) 100 percent.

As always, feel free to discuss in the comments.

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

Vote for Your Favorite Arms

Favorite-Arms2
Well, thanks to an unusually busy December thus far (which could make for painfully longer January), we’re finally getting around to voting on Washington’s minor-league pitchers, a.k.a. the arms.

Like before, send your Top 10 list to enfieldmass-top10arms[at]yahoo[dot]com (link will open your preferred email client) or post them in the comments.

I’ll then tally the votes, weighting them in reverse order (#1 = 10 points, #2 = 9 points… #9 = 2 points, #10 = 1 point) and then post the results along with the requisite comments and/or snark.

Now, one of the things that came out of Tuesday’s post was a lovely little exchange on Twitter between myself and his holiness John Manuel of Baseball America. In case he deletes his response (folks have been known to do that), BA ignores service time in favor of ABs for position players (130), IP for starting pitchers (50), and appearances for relievers (30).

I bring this up because there is one rather notable pitcher who has exceeded his rookie eligibility – A.J. Cole. If you were under the impression that all September activity does not count, that’s not quite accurate. September doesn’t count towards service time, but IPs and ABs do.

Now, to make matters worse, baseball-reference.com is listing players that I’m 99% sure have not exceeded either limit of service or playing time (like this guy). This may very well explain why BA ignores that loophole; it is easier to calculate.

However, I still think rookie-eligible is the standard because these kind of exceptions usually aren’t a big deal. Let’s be honest: Cole and Wilmer Difo are in the conversation primarily because the upper levels of the Nationals minors have been thinned (or aged) out.

So A.J. Cole is off the table with four other pitchers are gone via trades this month, so this ought to be a very interesting exercise. So vote early (но не часто, спасибо), and let’s see how this goes.

CORRECTION
I got the 50 and 45 mixed up in my head. Cole is eligible.

Baseball America Ranks The Top 10 Nats Prospects

Baseball America for NPP
Yesterday, Baseball America released its postseason Top 10, and as already discussed in the comments, it’s full of specious goodness (last year’s ranking):

  1. Victor Robles, OF (3)
  2. Erick Fedde, RHP (4)
  3. Juan Soto, OF (’16-’17 IFA)
  4. Wilmer Difo, IF (6)
  5. Andrew Stevenson, OF (8)
  6. Koda Glover, RHP (30)
  7. Luis Garcia, SS(’16-’17 IFA)
  8. Carter Kieboom, SS(’16 Draft Pick)
  9. Pedro Severino, C (11)
  10. Austin Voth, RHP (9)

As you can see, it’s not too hard to figure out the process: Nos. 1, 2, and 5 were traded… so bump up the next three guys two slots… then slide in two of the most expensive IFAs… add the top ’16 Draft pick. Now it’s just a matter of figuring out the last three spots.

Let’s choose from the guys who were on the 25-man roster in August!

One of them has his service time exhausted? No problem, we’ll haughtily proclaim that only at-bats matter in determining prospect status; who cares if most folks use rookie eligibility? We’re the phone company Baseball America, we don’t care.

OK, end rant.

Time’s running short this morning, so tomorrow I’ll update this space with any tidbits from the chat this afternoon. In the meantime, keep the conversation going… it’s going to be cold (for DC, at least) later this week, so we’ll need the hot stove.

UPDATE:
There were a couple of tidbits from the chat worth mentioning, which answer some questions that folks had. The first relates to the two shortstops:

Ryan (Abingdon, MD): Why is Luis Garcia ranked ahead of Carter Kieboom? I get that they’re ranked together, but is Garcia’s upside really that much greater than Kieboom’s to get him placed ahead even though I assume he’ll have a considerably later ETA.

Teddy Cahill: It was difficult to order Garcia and Kieboom. They have the same BA Grade and the difference between them is slim. I think Garcia’s ceiling is higher than Kieboom’s, partially because he has a chance to be better defensively. I hesitate to call Kieboom the safer of the pair because no teenager in the complex league is “safe”,[sic] but he might have the higher floor (though part of the attraction of Garcia is how advanced he is for a 16-year-old). I don’t think Kieboom’s ETA is much ahead of Garcia’s. He’s two years older and has made his pro debut already, but it’s not like he’s in line to play in the big leagues in 2018. It’s going to take them both some time to get to Washington, and it will be interesting to watch them develop.

The second is the Nats’ reigning, two-time Player of the Year, Jose “Orange” Marmolejos:

theaman (College Park, Md.): Jose Marmolejos seemed to come out of nowhere to win organizational player of the year and seemed like a surprise addition to the 40-man roster. What do the Nats have there? Enough pop to play 1B in the majors?

Teddy Cahill: Jose Marmolejos has been a fascinating player to evaluate for the ranking, especially after the Nationals added him to the 40-man roster last month. He has really performed the last two years, winning org player of the year twice. But he doesn’t really profile as a first baseman because he doesn’t have that kind of power. But as a lefthanded hitter that a good, disciplined approach at the plate, I think he can find a way to help a team off the bench or maybe as a platoon option. The bottom line is if he keeps hitting as he advances in the minor leagues, they’ll find a way to use him.

Finally, Cahill mentioned back problems for Anderson Franco to explain his limited playing time last summer. This, as we all know, is par for the course with the Nationals when it comes to injuries (say little, reveal less). Not necessarily the wrong thing to do, especially given the spate of trades lately, but still annoying.