Friday’s News & Notes

Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Won, 1-0
(7 inn.); PPD
vs. Norfolk,
6:35 p.m.
Voth (0-1, 12.79) vs.
Wright, M (0-1, 7.71)
Harrisburg Lost, 1-0 vs. Bowie,
7:00 p.m.
Williams (1-1, 4.09) vs.
Scott (0-0, 1.50)
Potomac Won, 8-2 @ Lynchburg,
6:30 p.m.
Baez (0-1, 7.88) vs.
Chiang (1-1, 1.46)
Hagerstown Suspended,
0-0 (Top 2nd)
vs. Delmarva,
3:35 p.m.
C. Pena (1-0, 4.00) vs.
Humpal (0-1, 2.65)

Syracuse 1 Toledo 0
• J. Turner 1⅔ IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Antolin (W, 2-1) 2IP, 2H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Bautista 2-3, R, CS
• Snyder 1-3, RBI, SB

A quintet of Syracuse pitchers made Brandon Snyder’s RBI single in the 1st stand up for 1-0 win in seven innings. Jacob Turner got the start and went an inning and 2/3rds with one hit allowed and two whiffs. Dustin Antolin followed with two scoreless for the win, Matt Grace got four outs for a hold, Trevor Gott pitched the 6th for a hold, and Austin Adams worked around a walk in the 7th for the save. Rafael Bautista singled twice and scored the lone run. Joey Butler got the fourth Syracuse hit. Rain postponed the second game until Monday, August 7th.

Hartford 1 Harrisburg 0
• Fedde (L, 1-1) 7IP, 5H, R, ER, 3BB, 8K; 1-2
• Lara 1IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 1K
• S. Kieboom 1-3
• Ward 1-4
The Yard Goats’ Yency Almonte outdueled Erick Fedde for 1 -0 shutout of the Senators. Fedde gave up the lone Hartford run on five hits and three walks over seven innings while striking out eight. Braulio Lara followed with two scoreless innings with one hit and one whiff. Harrisburg managed just five singles and one walk while striking out twelve times with no batter reaching base twice.

Potomac 8 Lynchburg 2
• Rodriguez (W, 1-1) 6IP, 7H, 2R, 2ER, 0BB, 8K
• Schepel (SV, 1) 3IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 4K
• Lora 2-3, 3R, 2B, SB
• Davidson 2-5, 2B, 5RBI, CS
• Agustin 1-3, SAC, 2R, 2B, 3RBI, SB

Austin Davidson drove in five while Jefry Rodriguez tossed six strong innings as Potomac beat Lynchburg, 8-2. Davidson connected for a three-run double in the 3rd, and a two-run single in the 9th as the P-Nats made the most of nine hits and three walks, with a little “help” from two Hillcats errors. Rodriguez gave up both Lynchburg runs on seven hits over six innings. He walked none and struck out eight while winning his first game. Kyle Schepel closed it out with three scoreless innings for the save, his first of the season. Roster move: OF Victor Robles placed on the 7-Day DL, retroactive to April 19; LHPs Taylor Guilbeau, Grant Borne reassigned to Auburn; RHPs Jorge Pantoja, Sam Held reassigned from Hagerstown; OF Jack Sundberg assigned from Extended Spring Training.

Hagerstown 0 Delmarva 0 – SUSP.
Thunder and lightning stopped the Suns-Shorebirds game with two outs in the top 2nd and a score—which a game always has—of 0-0. They’ll try to complete this one to nine innings this afternoon, then play a seven-inning game afterwards. Roster move: LHP David Ramos, RHP Steven Fuentes assigned from Extended Spring Training.

Wednesdays’ News & Notes

Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 5-4 @ Pawtucket,
4:05 p.m.
Grace (0-1, 9.00) vs.
Havliand (1-0, 6.35)
Harrisburg Lost, 4-0 vs. Hartford,
12:00 p.m.
Long (0-1, 1.80) vs.
Wynkoop (1-0, 1.42)
Potomac Lost, 16-6 @ Frederick,
11:00 a.m.
Reyes (0-1, 3.60)
vs. Akin (0-0, 81.00)
Hagerstown Won, 4-3
(15 inn.)
vs. Lakewood,
6:05 p.m.
Watson (0-1, 5.79) vs.
Romero (0-0, 9.00)

Pawtucket 5 Syracuse 4
• Cole 4+ IP, 3H, 4R, 4ER, 5BB, 6K, HR
• Antolin (L, 0-1) 2IP, 2H, R, ER, 2BB, 1K, 2-2 IR-S
• Skole 1-2, R, 2BB
• Bautista 1-4, 2R, BB, SB

The Chiefs scored three times in the first five innings, but were shut down the by the PawSox ‘pen over the last four in a 5-4 loss. A.J. Cole’s longball woes continur as he served up a solo shot in the 1st and walked five over four-plus innings. He was charged with four runs on three hits. The loss went to Dustin Antolin, who let in two inherited runners and one of his own as he was unable to hold the 4-2 lead in Pawtucket’s three-run 5th. Matt Skole reached base with a single and two walks while Rafael Bautista scored twice, reached base twice, and stole a base to led the Syracuse offense, which piled up 14 strikeouts – five by Brian Goodwin.

Hartford 4 Harrisburg 0
• Simms (L, 0-1) 6IP, 2H, 2R, 2ER, 0BB, 3K, HR
• Cordero 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 1K
• Stevenson 2-4, 2K
• N. Soto 1-3, BB

Three Hartford pitchers combined on a six-hit shutout of Harrisburg, 4-0. John Simms turned in a quality start of two runs on two hits, no walks, and three whiffs, but was charged with the loss. Andrew Stevenson had two of the six singles while Neftali Soto, Raudy Read, and Yadiel Hernandez each drew a walk to comprise the Senators offense.

Frederick 16 Potomac 6
• Estevez (L, 0-1) 4⅔ IP, 8H, 7R, 7ER, 0BB, 5K, 3HR
• Guilbeau 1⅓ IP, 6H, 8R, 7ER, 3BB, 1K, HR, 1-1 IR-S
• Davidson 3-4, R, BB
• Wiseman 2-5, R, 2B, RBI
• Robles 1-4, K, 2 OF assists, (*sigh*) HBP

Potomac battled back from a 5-0 deficit to pull within one at 5-4, and again to two at 8-6, but a touchdown in the Frederick 6th and rouge in the 7th completed the 16-6 smackdown. Wirkin “For The Weekend” Estevez was strafed for seven runs on eight hits, including three home runs, over four and 2/3rds innings to take the loss. Austin Davidson led the P-Nats attack with three singles and a walk, but the clutch hit came just twice in 16 scoring chances and led to ten men left on base. Potomac also committed three errors and had a passed ball.

Hagerstown 4 Lakewood 3 (15 inn.)
• Sharp 5IP, 4H, 2R, 2ER, 2BB, 4K, WP
• VanVossen (BS, 1) 3IP, 1H, R, ER, BB, 3K, 2WP
• Mills (W, 1-0) 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 1K
• C. Kieboom 3-7, E(2)
• Soto 2-5, 2R, 2B, 2BB
• Neuse 2-7, R, 2B, 2RBI

After blowing it in the 9th on a defensive misplay—Aldrem Corredor stepped on first instead of throwing to second to start a would-be 3-6-3 double play with one out and runners on the corners—Hagerstown got the gamewinner on a Juan Soto leadoff walk in the 15th followed by a Sheldon Neuse* double for a 4-3 win in extras. Jordan Mills got the win in relief. Sterling Sharp started and pitched five innings of two-run ball on four hits and two walks. James Bourque and Sam Held both pitched three innings of scoreless relief while Carter Kieboom and Nick Banks both had three hits.
* With just 632 listed in attendance at the start of the game, can’t really say he brought the noise.

Watchlist Reports Are Finished

As promised, I’ve taken a pass through the 2017 watchlist filled in the unwritten reports while editing a handful.

The “donuts” have been made.

It also usually means that we’re almost at the beginning of spring training, which promises (again) to be pretty quiet for “our guys,” unless (until) there are injuries. There’s already angst over who the Nationals will use for the closer, which of course, longtime readers know is bullsh!t.

For those who like to obsess over Top XX lists, Baseball America has released its latest, which finds Victor Robles at #13 and Erick Fedde at #52.

Pitchers and catchers report on Tuesday – free to discuss in the comments.

The BA Prospect Handbook, Part Two

Alright, no sense in wasting time; here’s nos. 16-31:

16. Kelvin Gutierrez 21. Osvaldo Abreu (15) 26. Jose Marmolejos
17. Sheldon Neuse 22. Raudy Read (22) 27. Tyler Watson
18. Jakson Reetz (14) 23. Edwin Lora (22) 28. Telmito Agustin
19. Brian Goodwin (31) 24. Jose Sanchez 29. Joan Baez (18)
20. Blake Perkins (12) 25. Yasel Antuna 30. Matt Skole
YOUR AD HERE 31. Nick Banks

It’s worth noting that this year there are three IFAs who are ranked in the Top 31 without playing a single inning of affiliated baseball (Garica, Sanchez, and Antuna) and five total that cost the Nationals $900K or more in signing bonuses.

Good for them, but here’s the obligatory reminder of what it’s like for the other 99% of minor-leaguers. / steps off soapbox

As mentioned yesterday, the list is now tilted towards IFAs 16 of the 31. The past two drafts is still sizable portion (seven), though it falls off precipitously (not only that Skipper, it drops off pretty quick) after that: two from 2014, none from 2013.

Here’s a breakdown of the newcomers:

2016 Draft – Carter Kieboom (8), Jesus Luzardo (15), Sheldon Neuse (17), Nick Banks (31)

2015 Draft – Tyler Watson (27)

Int’l Free Agent – Luis Garcia (7), Kelvin Gutierrez (16), Jose Sanchez (24), Yasel Antuna (25), Jose Marmolejos (26), Telmito Agustin (28)

I suppose I could further break down the IFAs by their signing year, but I also think that would be really splitting hairs.

Finally, here’s BA 2020 projected Washington lineup, which ignores such things as free agency, injury, or a sudden decline in skills. BA didn’t project the 2017 lineup in the 2014 book, which I find a bit odd since they marketed it as a “secret weapon for fantasy league success” so we’ll miss out on seeing how wrong they were three years ago. (They brought it back in 2015).

C – Pedro Severino
1B – Daniel Murphy
2B – Wilmer Difo
SS – Trea Turner
3B – Anthony Rendon
LF – Adam Easton
CF – Victor Robles
RF – Bryce Harper
#1SP – Max Scherzer
#2SP – Stephen Strasburg
#3SP – Erick Fedde
#4SP – Joe Ross
#5SP – Austin Voth
CL – Koda Glover

Feel free to discuss in the comments. By the way, is there anything on TV tonight worth watching?

The BA Prospect Handbook, Part One

As always, when I make a post to refresh the site, something comes up to predicated an additional post. As the headline gives away, the 2017 Baseball America Prospect Handbook came in the mail today.

For those obsessed with how the Washington organization ranks relative to the rest of MLB, it came in at No. 19. Considering that the Nats traded away four pitchers who would have no doubt made this year’s Top 30, that ain’t bad.

As they did a year ago, the folks in Durham continue to praise the Nationals’ efforts in Latin America, which is also reflected in roughly half of the list being from the D.R. or of Dominican descent. We’ve been seeing (and mentioning) this for several years now, so I don’t think it’s really all that much of a secret except maybe to the folks who run the MASN’s social media or F.P. Santangelo.

As we’ve done before, let’s review how last year’s Top 30 fared:

Graduated (3) – Trea Turner, Wilmer Difo, Sammy Solis

Traded (4) – Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Chris Bostick, Taylor Hearn

Waived (1) – Abel de los Santos

Dropped out (5)

That’s almost half the list. Despite an influx of some IFAs, there are four players who are or will be 25-or-older before midseason, although that includes the not-a-rookie Wilmer Difo (turns 25 in April) and just-barely-a-rookie A.J. Cole (turned 25 last month), so it’s roughly the same as a year ago with Brian Goodwin (turned 26 last November) and Matt Skole (turned 27 last July) taking the place of Sammy Solis and Nick Lee as the aging prospects.

With that, I’ll close out this post with a look at the Top 15 and continue with nos. 16-31 in Part Two. Last year’s ranking, if applicable, in parentheses:

1. Victor Robles (3) 6. Koda Glover (30) 11. Rafael Bautista (13)
2. Erick Fedde (4) 7. Luis Garcia 12. Drew Ward (16)
3. Juan Soto (24) 8. Carter Kieboom 13. A.J. Cole (7)
4. Wilmer Difo (6) 9. Pedro Severino (11) 14. Anderson Franco (10)
5. Andrew Stevenson (8) 10. Austin Voth (9) 15. Jesus Luzardo

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.

Sickels Releases Top 20 Nats Prospect List

As noted in the comments, John Sickels released his Top 20 Prospects for the Washington Nationals last night. Here’s the breakdown by letter grade:

B+/A- Victor Robles
B+ Erick Fedde
B Juan Soto
B- Carter Kieboom, Koda Glover, Austin Voth, Sheldon Neuse
B-/C+ A.J. Cole, Andrew Stevenson
C+ Drew Ward, Wilmer Difo*, Pedro Severino, Brian Goodwin, Tyler Watson, Rafael Bautista, Kelvin Gutierrez, Osvaldo Abreu, Joan Baez, Yasel Antuna  *Not a prospect by the usual definition (exceeded MLB service time limit), but Sickels is taking the “I get a lot of questions about him” copout
C+/C Rhett Wiseman

Bold = 2016 Top 20 player, higher grade
Bold = 2016 Top 20 player, same grade
Bold = 2016 Top 20 player, lower grade
Italics = Not on the 2016 list
Green = 2016 Draft pick
Purple = 2016-17 International Free Agent

I simplified the explanation with a key so I can get to the commentary…

What struck me the most is that the clump of “a notch better than average” players continues to be a hallmark of these Top 20’s. This time, it’s half the list, same as it was in Year 1 of this website. There’s some consolation in that there are no “C” players to crack the Top 20, as three did that year (2010) and as recently as 2014, there were four.

Conversely, this is the first list since 2012 that has no A- or better players, which I think is fair. Yes, we love our Victor Robles, but let’s be honest: He is injury prone, the arm isn’t quite as good as initially advertised (Sickels does acknowledge this), and there’s some doubt he’ll develop home-run power. Remember, there is significant value in considering the opinions outside our little bubble.

I am a little surprised that Andrew Stevenson didn’t bump up to at least a straight-up B-minus. Before folks start howling about he was the hit leader of the 2016 AFL, remember it’s a SSS and the pitching isn’t as consistent as it is in AA or AAA. Sickels is citing questions in Stevenson’s swing mechanics, which I’d infer comes from a scout or two.

Before folks get a case of the Mondays, Sickels is high on Soto:

I normally take a wait-and-see approach with guys like this but in my opinion Soto is definitely for real; features bat speed, raw power, sound swing mechanics, and a good batting eye; has the tools to be an excellent hitter and the skills to make those tools work are advanced; mediocre speed is the main weakness but he can handle a corner and I strongly believe in the bat. ETA: late 2020

He’s also a believer in both Glover and Voth, which is good news because the big club can use them this upcoming season. And for those wondering, LHP Tyler Watson is Sickels’s “SLEEPER ALERT” again.

Unlike MASN, I encourage you to click through to the link above—Sickels is no longer doing the BPB, so let’s give him some traffic, shall we?—and then comment below.

The NationalsProspects.com Top 10 Position Players

There are four players we can agree on: Victor Robles, Andrew Stevenson, Drew Ward, and Carter Kieboom. They’re the only ones named on every ballot. This is actually pretty normal, since the Nats aren’t typically deep in position players.

Twenty different players were named on 12 ballots (including mine), down one from last year. Robles was the clear #1 player, named #1 on eleven ballots. Juan Soto got the most second-place votes, but finished third behind Stevenson, who was in everybody’s Top 5.

Without further ado, ze list:

  1. Victor Robles
  2. Andrew Stevenson
  3. Juan Soto
  4. Drew Ward
  5. Carter Kieboom
  6. Pedro Severino
  7. Jose Marmolejos
  8. Brian Goodwin
  9. Anderson Franco
  10. Rafael Bautista

Others receiving votes: Osvaldo Abreu, Nick Banks, Kelvin Gutierrez, Yasel Antnua, Sheldon Neuse, Jakson Reetz, Raudy Read, Austin Davidson, Rhett Wiseman, Blake Perkins, Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball

For those wondering, that’s five names carrying over from 2015, same as last year from 2014. Two players graduated (Trea Turner, Wilmer Difo), one was traded (Christopher Bostick), and the other two (Osvaldo Abreu and Spencer Kieboom) dropped out.

The Dominican presence also remains strong with six of the Top 10, ten of the 20 nominees being born in the D.R. or to Dominican parents. This ought not to be a shock to the mindful watchers of the Nationals minors (a.k.a. the regulars), but given the reaction to Washington refusing to overpay for a “closer,” I feel obligated to point this out for the folks who are new (and welcome) here.

Next up: The pitchers, which just got a whole less interesting (or more difficult to pick) with four would-be nominees traded in the last week.