Offseason Update: Sept. 23, 2017

Fall arrived yesterday afternoon but we’ve yet to see the chill rains come. The big Nats are lurching towards the postseason, the drama reduced to who will make the postseason roster (a.k.a. who’s healthy enough to play) and how he’ll be used.

100 wins? Home-field advantage? Both possible but not probable. Even Stevie Wonder can see that Dusty Baker has been managing the club to minimize fatigue, which has prompted the knee-jerk comparisons to spring training.

But we’re here to talk/read about the minor-leaguers….

STATE OF THE FARM
As noted in the comments, the Nats were near the bottom of the collective standings with a .456 winning percentage, tied with the Mets. While it’s tempting to put that all on the Syracuse Chiefs, the worst team in AAA at 54-87, the Harrisburg Senators (60-80), Auburn Doubledays (30-45), and DSL Nationals (28-43) also “contributed.”

Unlike a year ago, we can’t point to the breakthrough of a new starter or position player or even a key reliever. It was supplying the “next man up” (my apologies, but DC is still a football town) for the bevy of injuries that have dogged this team/organization like they were wearing Milk-Bone underwear even more than last season, which was a lot.

There’s still some guys to be excited about, but the vast majority of them are in the lower minors, which means a lot of the buzz is based on things that are constant variables like their age or their draft position. And if we’re honest, there are roughly half a dozen guys that wouldn’t make a Top 30 list in most other organizations.

I can’t say that the organization isn’t still meeting the bare minimum requirements of developing talent that can be useful to the big club, albeit mostly in depth and trading chips. But I can say it’s not doing much else.

BA TOP 20 LISTS
I’m sure you’ve gotten over the shock of not a single Chief making the International League Top 20 for Baseball America, but you may be a little surprised that two Nationals farmhands made BA’s Eastern League Top 20 – Victor Robles and Erick Fedde.

About the only argument you can make against Robles is that he didn’t play enough, though BA – as it usually does – sets the bar very low: just one PA or ⅓ IP per team game for position players and starting pitchers (20 appearances for relievers). Personally, I’d set it at about twice those marks, except for the relievers; that does seem about right.

Fedde, on the other hand, wasn’t exactly dominant at any level this season. Yes, I know it’s not all about stats but I do believe the two are not mutually exclusive. I’d also have to question his placement since he split time between starting and relieving for Harrisburg. But incumbency is also a BA hallmark…

I’d expect Robles to make the Carolina League Top 20, and FWIW, Carter Kieboom does have the necessary number of PAs for the Sally Lg. so stay tuned this week.

THE WATCHLIST AND THE GBI
As noted a year ago, these have become more difficult to do. The system isn’t as deep as it used to be (or seemed to be) and all the losing tends not to produce the kind of numbers or streaks that are “G-worthy.” I had forgotten about my “note to self” to drop the GBI from every three weeks to monthly. That seems about right these days, and that’ll be the goal in 2018.

As for the watchlist, it may get shorter, but it’s a core part of the offseason ritual, and it’s how I get caught up on the short-season guys, so I don’t see it going away.

TRANSACTION UPDATE
We’re now in the re-signing season, where would-be FAs opt to stick around rather than try their luck elsewhere:
• RHP Brady Dragmire
• LHP Hector Silvestre
• IF-OF Khayyan Norfork

No huge surprises here. Dragmire was (finally) starting to pitch well at the end of the season. Silvestre turns 25 in December and has yet to pitch above High-A, but between Washington’s pitching-starved upper minors, and it’s “sunk-cost” approach to Dominican prospects, he might get that chance in 2018. Norfork has made a career thus far on his versatility, and let’s face it: He could be the next Adrian Sanchez.

THE DSL NATIONALS
Despite having a handful of players in their third DSL season, the team actually had a fairly normal blend of players in terms of age. Like a year ago, the batters were a shade older than league average (18.2 vs. 18.1) while the pitchers were slightly younger (18.4 vs. 18.7).

The offense was right around league average (4.65 R/G vs. 4.60) but the pitching was 35th in the 40-team DSL and nearly a run worse (5.49) per game. The defense was also right around league average (.955 FA vs. .956). All of this is sight-unseen, strictly numbers-based observation, so take it with a fistful of salt.

Without further comment, here are the obligatory Top 5’s, excluding “three-timers” and players who were old for the level…

TOP 5 BATS TOP 5 ARMS
1. Wilmer Perez, C/1B/DH
.288 GPA, 17-2B, 4-3B, 3HR
1. Alfonso Hernandez, LHSP
2.10/2.53/1.17, 9.86 K/9IP
2. Adrian Liriano, SS/2B
.242 GPA, 15BB
2. Rafael Gomez, RHSP
4.09/2.88/1.27, 1HR in 55IP
3. Landerson Pena, RF/LF
.244 GPA, 13SB
3. Joan Adon, RHRP
3.54/3.12/0.96, 9.96 K/9IP
4. Luis Aquino, SS/LF
.240 GPA, 19SB
4. Niomar Gomez, RHSP
4.07/3.17/1.27, 2.52 K:BB ratio
5. Caldioli Sanfler, CF
.237 GPA, 58 of 60G at CF, .984 FA
5. Pedro Gonzalez, RHSP
5.30/3.51/1.63, 12GS, 52⅔ IP, turned 17 in July

An honorable mention goes to Geraldi Diaz, the analog to Pedro Gonzalez. He also turned 17 in July and appeared in 41 games behind the plate with a .989 fielding percentage while hitting .001 below the .232 league-average GPA. Folks interested in seeing the entire team’s stats can find them here.

Victor Robles Gets the Call

No, I Said The White PhoneIn a move that surprised just about everyone except the talk-radio philistines, the Washington Nationals called up their #1 position prospect, Victor Robles.

On the other hand, the corresponding news that Brian Goodwin, the erstwhile 1st Rd. (supplemental) pick from 2011 who finally realized his potential this season, was likely done for the year should also come as no surprise in a season where everyone has gotten hurt for the big club.

I had concluded my penultimate MASN column with a elbow-to-the-ribs line about Robles. So when I saw Jeff Passan’s tweet around 3 o’clock this afternoon, I felt like Harris Telemacher in “L.A. Story,” joking about his wife cheating on him… only to find it out it was actually true.

Still, the Nationals also called up Andrew Stevenson and Rafael Bautista: two outfielders with both MLB and AAA experience, of which Robles has neither (but in fairness, he has more talent than the two multiplied). This is key because some folks immediately and mistakenly made the comparison to Trea Turner and Michael Taylor as late-season callups in the heat of a playoff race (more in a bit), which ignores how much more time they spent at AA (68G, 98G respectively vs. 35G) and AAA (48G, 12G, 0G). More astute folks reference Ryan Zimmerman, who also spent 0 games at AAA, or Anthony Rendon, though he was called up in the spring and was older than all but Taylor.

And let’s be honest: with a magic number that can be counted on two hands—one if you’re Antonio Alfonseca—there’s almost no pressure on the Nats right now. Perhaps that’s why the Nats are willing to start the arbitration clock early, although it’s very hard not to be cynical and wonder if he’s being showcased for another offseason trade (is there anyone left on the A’s we want?). I hope not; I’d much rather think this is a preview of things to come.

Last Night in Woodbridge

If you’re charitable, you’d call the 1-0 win by the Wood Ducks a pitcher’s duel; if you’re cruel, you’d call it a battle of who could hit less.

The two teams combined for just 13 hits – eight of them with two outs, which probably more than anything else explains the low score.

Both teams had just one leadoff hit. Ian Sagdal got the first in the bottom of the 2nd and was picked off immediately. Jack Sundberg followed with another single and David Masters steered him over to third on a two-out hit-and-run that might have scored Sagdal.

Down East got its in the 3rd and the runner moved up 90′ twice on a pair of groundouts before the lone hit in scoring position: a double by Matt Lipka that was justbarelyfair on the left field warning track and drove in the game’s only run.

The sequence made a loser out of Grant Borne, who was not overpowering (two K’s) but very democratic (11 groundouts) over seven innings. He walked one and gave up six hits total. Jorge Pantoja and Gilberto Mendez both turned in a scoreless inning and allowed a bunt single while pitching the 8th and 9th innings respectively.

After the three-hit 3rd, the P-Nats reached base just twice more: a two-out single by Sundberg and a two-out double by Victor Robles, who managed not to get hit and made an outstanding play in the outfield to gun down* Arturo Lara trying for two, which in fairness, he probably would have gotten against just about any other centerfielder in the Carolina League.
* The doubts I had about his arm late last year have been erased; he’s much stronger and more accurate this season.

The loss, Potomac’s 34th, also eliminated them from the Carolina League North’s first-half division title race. Game Three of the four-game series is tonight with Hector Silvestre (5-2, 4.55) facing off against RHP Jonathan Hernandez (0-1, 17.18) for the Wood Ducks.

Sunday’s News & Notes

Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 4-3
(10 inn.)
vs. Lehigh Valley,
1:05 p.m.
McGowin (1-2, 5.79) vs.
Lively (5-1, 3.19)
Harrisburg Won, 5-3 @ Richmond,
12:05 p.m.
Long (3-4, 3.02) vs.
Johnson (2-2, 2.62)
Potomac Lost, 4-3
(15 inn.)
@ Lynchburg,
2:00 p.m.
Reyes (3-5, 5.36) and
Borne (0-0, 0.00) vs.
McKenzie (3-2, 2.56) and TBD
Hagerstown Lost, 4-3 vs. Lakewood,
2:05 p.m.
Bourque (0-2, 4.71) vs.
Paulino (1-3, 7.23)

Lehigh Valley 4 Syracuse 3 (10 inn.)
• Cole 5⅔ IP, 5H, 1R, 0ER, 5BB, 4K; 0-0, 2SAC
• Martin (BS, 2) 1IP, 4H, 2R, 2ER, 0BB, 0K
• Satterwhite (L, 0-1) 1IP, 1H, 1R, 1ER, 0BB, 0K, HR
• Stevenson 2-4, R
• Falu 2-4, RBI

Rafael Martin couldn’t hold a 3-1 lead in the 9th and Syracuse had no answer to either Lehigh Valley salvo in the 9th and 10th innings for another one-run loss in extras, 4-3. A.J. Cole labored through five and 2/3rds innings, issuing five walks and allowing five hits but let in just one unearned run. The IronPigs smelted Martin for two runs on four hits in the 9th to give the 33-y.o. journeyman his second blown save while Cody Satterwhite allowed a solo HR in the 10th to take the loss. Andrew Stevenson and Irving Falu both went 2-for-4 as the Chiefs collected eight hits in loss #25 of the season.

Harrisburg 5 Richmond 3
• Simms (W, 2-2) 6IP, 8H, 2R, 2ER, 0BB, 3K
• Brinley (H, 2) 2IP, 2H, 1R, 0ER, 0BB, 3K
• Suero (SV, 6) 1IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Keller 1-3, 2R, 2BB
• Marmolejos 1-4, 2R, BB, HR, 3RBI
• Norfork 2-4, R

Jose “Orange” Marmolejos peeled off his first home run of 2017 and scored twice to lead the Sens to a 5-3 win over Richmond. John Simms evened up his won-loss record at 2-2 with a quality start of two runs on eight hits over six inning. Ryan Brinley let in an unearned run over two innings to get the hold while Wander Suero worked around a one-out double to earn his sixth save. Alec Keller reached bas three times with two walks and a single while Khayyan Norfork singled twice to lead the Harrisburg attack.

Lynchburg 4 Potomac 3 (15 inn.)
• Baez 2IP, 2H, 2R, 2ER, 3BB, 2K
• Mendez 5IP, 1H, 0R, BB, K
• Pantoja (L, 0-1) 2⅓ IP, 2H, R, ER, BB, 3K
• Robles 3-5, R, 3B, RBI*
• Davidson 3-6, R, 2B, RBI
*Unbunch your undergarments; it looks like he was removed for not running out a popup.

Just what was needed before 14 innings were scheduled for today: a 15-inning affair in which the Hillcats outlasted the P-Nats, 4-3. Joan Baez started and went the first two innings before play was halted for nearly an hour. Nolan Sanburn and Gilberto Mendez were both outstanding in long relief, combining for 10 innings of one-run relief, and Jorge Pantoja added two more scoreless before Lynchburg tagged him for the loss with a run in the 15th. Victor Robles and Austin Davidson both had three hits and an RBI in Potomac’s 15-hit parade that ended twice with runners thrown at home (Robles, 1st; Mejia, 11th).

Lakewood 4 Hagertown 3
• M. Mills 6IP, 2H, 0R, BB, 5K
• Held (BS, 1; L, 1-2) ⅔ IP, 4H, 4R, 4ER, 2BB, 2K, 0HR,
• Neuse 3-4, 2B, 2RBI
• Corredor 2-5, 2B, 2K

Hagerstown rallied for two in the bottom of the 8th to take a 3-0 lead and then gave it all back for a 4-3 loss and stop a modest three-game winning streak. The meltdown ruined six shutout innings by McKenzie Mills, who allowed just three baserunners and struck out five. Sam Held got the blown-save-loss as he retired just two of eight batters faced, allowing four hits and two walks. Sheldon Neuse, who delivered RBI hits twice, led the Suns’ hit column with a 3-for-4 night followed by Aldrem Corredor’s 2-for-5 effort.

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.