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.

Transaction Update

Back to the offseason grind, where we pass along the signings of journeymen with non-roster invitations and pretend that it’s meaningful:

• RHP Matt Albers
• RHP Joe Nathan
• RHP Vance Worley
• 2B Grant Green

[Crash Davis] They’re just happy to have the opportunity to see if they can help this ballclub win, and if they can’t make the Opening Day Roster, showcase themselves to the other 29 teams. [/Crash Davis]

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

All Quiet on the Minor-League Front

Hey, we’re still here. It’s just really, really slow.

The hope—as always—is that this post will jinx something into happening so I have something better to write about than, say, the 2017 spring training uniforms and caps or the trucks arriving amid the frenzied construction at the Nats new digs in West Palm Beach.

Until then, please continue to keep the hot stove going in the comments…

Initial 2017 Player Reports Completed

I’ve made it through the first pass of writing the 2017 Watchlist and Player reports as I await the arrival of Baseball America’s 2017 Prospect Book. With Sickels no longer doing his book, I couldn’t punt on too many guys, which may be better because it forced me to write and research a little more.

While it’s a lot of work, it pays off down the line. Once the season starts up, the focus is on delivering the news and notes every day, which I enjoy, but gets progressively harder as the season progresses (even with reduced coverage of the DSL and GCL).

This is when I get the legwork done, and more than a few times during the season I’ll use this as reference material (and I’m sure others do, too, so you should know what to do with that the images that appear under “Pay The Bills”).

As always, feel free to discuss in the comments – (UPDATE) preferably here, but I just enabled them on each category page.

Plugging Away at the Watchlist

Plugging AwayStill here, still waiting for some new, relevant Nats- or minors-related news. In the meantime, I have been plugging away at the player reports while we wait out the winter.

Perhaps not coincidentally, one of the last times I wrote a post like this, there was a story from the St. Louis Dispatch‘s Derrick Goold about qualifying offers and their effect on free agents. This week, Goold wrote about Seth Maness, who could be the trailblazer for a new UCL surgery (Hmmm, maybe this is Nats-related after all 😉).

Until next time…

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.

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 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.