Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

Thou shalt not overreact to a blown save…

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This is the only photo I have of Papelbon where he's not grabbing his nuts or Harper's throat. Photo Keith Allison via wikipedia/flickr

This is the only photo I have of Papelbon where he’s not grabbing his nuts or Harper’s throat. Photo Keith Allison via wikipedia/flickr

Look, I get it.  We’ve watched Jonathan Papelbon blow two saves rather egregiously in the last week.   We know his fastball is down (average of 90.9 this season versus 91.4 last year and 93.8 in 2012).  We know his “stuff” is down (K/9 is “just” 8.35 this year versus career peaks north of 10 K/9) and his walks are up (3.34 BB/9 this year, a stark increase over last year’s 1.71 BB/9).

But did you know that the Nats bullpen is still one of the best in all of baseball?  Here’s some quick team stats for you from fangraphs; the Nats bullpen is:

  • 4th in the MLB in ERA
  • 2nd in FIP and 3rd in xFIP
  • 6th in K/9
  • 4th in BB/9
  • 6th in fWAR
  • 4th in Blown Saves.

So, optically yes we would like to have a better arm throwing in the 9th.  But overall, we have (against all odds) crafted a brand new bullpen from 2015’s dumpster fire version that has been pretty darn effective.

So what do we do with our embattled “closer?”  Well, I think Fangraph’s August Fagerstrom has put it best.  I think its time to flip-flop the roles of Papelbon with Shawn Kelley.  Kelley’s peripherals are ridiculous: 13.9 K/9, a 58/7 K/BB ratio.   By way of comparison, Aroldis Chapman has “only” a 12.6 K/9 rate this year (though to be fair, its a down year for a guy who has a career 15.2 rate … yes i’m cherry picking stats a bit).

I do think its promising (at least from a player management perspective), that we’re hearing Dusty Baker addressing these questions with what seem like real quotes from Papelbon that show him to be a team player and cognizant of his struggles, as opposed to the defiant petulant bastard that he has appeared to be elsewhere in his career.  Numbers don’t lie; if he’s not getting it done, and he knows it, then its time to step aside.  There’s no shame in getting old (he’s in his age 35 season and he’s got nearly 700 high-leverage “I’m the guy” appearances on his C.V.).

No, I wouldn’t have wanted to trade my #1 system prospect for Chapman like the Cubs did.  In fact, I wouldn’t trade a starter or a position player for a reliever, ever,  unless it was a lesser guy completely blocked by someone that I had signed to a long-term deal.  The value trade-off is just not there.  As Fagerstrom points out, we can shuffle roles and then perhaps find a bullpen spot for the electric arms of Lucas Giolito and/or Reynaldo Lopez for the stretch run if we run into injuries.

Mike Rizzo; please, please resist the temptation to trade valuable assets for the “proven closer” (insert trademark here).  Please.  If you’re tempted … I hear Drew Storen is available.  Or at the very least trade someone from our logjam of 4-A starters instead of a valuable piece that we’ll need a few years time.

PS readers; apologies for 2 weeks of radio silence; was OOO visiting family and going through a stretch of business at work that prevented such fun things as spitting out opinion pieces about relievers who will contribute a fraction of a WAR over the rest of the year.  Thanks for sticking in there.  MartyC; next post I’m teeing up a glowing review of Giolito just for you 😉

Nats All-Star review: 2016 and years past

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This photo is an oldie but a goodie, and one we'll probably see year over year for the next decade at least. Photo unk

This photo is an oldie but a goodie, and one we’ll probably see year over year for the next decade at least. Photo unk

Here’s my annual Nationals All Star selection post.

(* == All-Star game starter.  The Nats now have four ASG starters in their history, dating to 2005.  Soriano once, Harper thrice).

2016

  • Nationals All-Star representatives: Bryce Harper*, Stephen Strasburg, Daniel Murphy, Wilson Ramos, Max Scherzer (named as replacement for Strasburg on 7/8/16),
  • Possible Snubs: Danny EspinosaTanner Roark
  • Narrative: The four obvious candidates from the Nats this year were all initially correctly selected, though voting shenanigans out of Chicago elected Ben Zobrist over Daniel Murphy by a scant 500 votes.   I thought perhaps Strasburg would have a chance to start the game, given his 12-0 record, but it seems the team pre-empted any such thought when Scherzer’s naming occurred).  For the first time writing this post, I can’t really name any “snubs” and the team has (finally?) earned the proper respect it deserves in terms of naming its players properly.  Espinosa had a week for the ages just prior to the end of voting but really stood little chance of selection in the grand scheme of things.  He’s not really a “snub” but is worthy of mention based on his resurgent year.  At the break, Espinosa ranked 3rd in NL fWAR but 7th or 8th in bWAR thanks to differing defensive value metrics, so maybe/maybe not on him being a “snub.”  As pointed out in the comments, even I missed the sneaky good season Roark is having; he’s 12th in the NL in bWAR at the break and 9th in fWAR but was left off in favor of any number of starters that stand below him in value rankings.  Unfortunately for fans (and for Harper’s “Make Baseball Fun again” campaign, he opted to skip the Home Run Derby again.  I guess its kind of like the NBA superstars skipping the dunk contest; the Union should really do a better job of helping out in this regard.  The new format is fantastic and makes the event watchable again; is it ego keeping him from getting beat by someone like Giancarlo Stanton?

Here’s past year’s information, mostly recycled information from past posts on the topic but fun to read nonetheless, especially the early years.

2015

  • Nationals All-Star representatives: Bryce Harper*, Max Scherzer
  • Possible Snubs: Yunel Escobar, Drew Storen
  • Narrative: Harper not only made it in as a starter for the 2nd time, he led the NL in votes, setting a MLB record for total votes received.  This is no surprise; Harper’s easily in the MVP lead for the NL thanks to his amazing first half (his split at the half-way point of the season: .347/.474/.722 with 25 homers and an astounding 225 OPS+).  I guess he won’t be earning the “Most overrated player” award next year.  That Harper is electing to skip the Home run derby in a disappointment; his father is nursing an arm injury can cannot throw to him in the event.  In a weird year for the Nats, the only other regular worth mentioning is newly acquired Escobar, who is hitting above .300 and filling in ably at multiple positions that, prior to this year, he had never played.  Storen is having another excellent regular season … but at a time when mandatory members from each team often leads to other closers being selected (there are 5 NL closers and 7 AL relievers), the odds of him making the All-Star team were always going to be slim.  Scherzer deservedly makes the team and probably would have been the NL starter; he’s got sub 2.00 ERA and FIP and leads all NL pitchers in WAR at the mid-way point of the season.  But his turn came up in the final game of the first half, making him ineligible for the game and forcing his replacement on the roster.

As a side note, the 2015 All-Star game will go down as the “Ballot-Gate” game thanks to MLB’s short-sighted plan to allow 30+ online ballots per email address.  This led to severe “ballot stuffing” by the Kansas City Royals fans, led to MLB  having to eliminate 60 million+ fraudulent ballots, but still led to several Royals being elected starters over more deserving candidates.

2014

  • Nationals All-Star representative: Jordan Zimmermann (Update post-publishing: Zimmermann strained a bicep, and had to withdraw from the ASG.  For a bit it looked like the Nats wouldn’t even have a representative, until Tyler Clippard was named on 7/13/14).
  • Possible Snubs: Adam LaRoche, Anthony Rendon, Rafael Soriano, Drew Storen
  • Narrative: Zimmermann’s been the best SP on the best pitching staff in the majors this year, and thus earns his spot.  I find it somewhat odd that a first place team (or near to it) gets just one representative on the team (as discussed above).  Rendon tried to make the team via the “last man in” voting, but historically Nationals have not fared well in this competition (especially when better known players from large markets are in the competition, aka Anthony Rizzo from the Chicago Cubs), and indeed Rendon finished 4th in the last-man voting.  LaRoche is having a very good season, almost single handedly carrying the Nats offense while major parts were out injured, but he’s never going to beat out the slew of great NL first basemen (Joey Votto couldn’t even get into this game).  Soriano has quietly put together one of the best seasons of any closer in the game; at the time of this writing he has a 1.03 ERA and a .829 whip; those are Dennis Eckersley numbers.  But, the farce that is the all-star game selection criteria (having to select one player from each team) means that teams need a representative, and deserving guys like Soriano get squeezed.  Then, Soriano indignantly said he wouldn’t even go if named as a replacement … likely leading to Clippard’s replacement selection.  The same goes for non-closer Storen, who sports a sub 2.00 ERA on the year.  Advanced stats columnists (Keith Law) also think that Stephen Strasburg is a snub but I’m not entirely sure: he may lead the NL in K’s right now and have far better advanced numbers than “traditional,” but its hard to make an argument that a guy with a 7-6 record and a 3.50+ ERA is all-star worthy.

2013

  • Nationals All-Star representatives: Bryce Harper*, Jordan Zimmermann
  • Snubs: Stephen Strasburg, Ian Desmond
  • Narrative: Harper comes in 3rd in the NL outfielder voting, ahead of some big-time names, to become only the second Nationals position player elected as an All-Star starter.  He was 4th in the final pre-selection vote, so a big last minute push got him the starter spot.   Harper also becomes the first National to participate in the Home Run Derby.   Zimmermann was 12-3 heading into the game and was on mid-season Cy Young short lists in July in a breakout season.  Strasburg’s advanced stats are all better than Zimmermann’s, but his W/L record (4-6 as the ASG) means he’s not an all-star.  It also probably doesn’t help that he missed a few weeks.  Desmond loses out to Troy Tulowitzki, Everth Cabrera and Jean Segura.  Tulowitzki was having a very solid year and was a deserving elected starter, while Cabrera and Segura are both having breakout seasons.  Desmond was on the “Final vote” roster, but my vote (and most others’ I’m guessing) would be for Yasiel Puig there ([Editor Update: Desmond and Puig lost out to Freddie Freeman: I still wished that Puig finds a way onto the roster but ultimately he did not and I believe the ASG was diminished because of it).   Gio GonzalezRyan Zimmerman, and Rafael Soriano are all having solid but unspectacular years and miss out behind those having great seasons.

2012

  • Nationals All-Star representatives: Stephen StrasburgGio GonzalezIan Desmond, Bryce Harper
  • Possible Snubs: Adam LaRocheCraig Stammen
  • Narrative: The two SPs Strasburg and Gonzalez were the obvious candidates, and my personal prediction was that they’d be the only two candidates selected.  Gonzalez’ first half was a prelude to his 21-win, 3rd place Cy Young season.  The inclusion of Desmond is a surprise, but also a testament to how far he’s come as a player in 2012.  Harper was a last-minute injury replacement, but had earned his spot by virtue of his fast start as one of the youngest players in the league.  Of the “snubs,” LaRoche has had a fantastic come back season in 2012 but fared little shot against better, more well-known NL first basemen.  Stammen was our best bullpen arm, but like LaRoche fared little chance of getting selected during a year when the Nats had two deserving pitchers selected.

2011

  • Nationals All-Star representatives: Tyler Clippard
  • Possible Snubs: Danny EspinosaMichael MorseDrew StorenJordan Zimmermann
  • Narrative: While Clippard was (arguably) the Nats best and most important reliever, I think Zimmermann was a more rightful choice.  He was 10th in the league in ERA at the time of the selections and has put in a series of dominant performances.  Meanwhile Espinosa was on pace for a 28-homer season and almost a certain Rookie-of-the-Year award (though a precipitous fall-off in the 2nd half cost him any realistic shot at the ROY), and perhaps both players are just too young to be known around the league.  Lastly Morse is certainly known and he merited a spot in the “last man in” vote sponsored by MLB (though he fared little chance against popular players in this last-man-in voting).

2010

  • Nationals All-Star representatives: Matt Capps
  • Possible Snubs: Adam DunnJosh WillinghamRyan Zimmerman, Stephen Strasburg
  • Narrative: Capps was clearly deserving, having a breakout season as a closer after his off-season non-tender from the Pirates.  The 3-4-5 hitters Zimmerman-Dunn-Willingham all had dominant offensive seasons as the team improved markedly from its 103-loss season.  But perhaps the surprise non-inclusion was Strasburg, who despite only having a few starts as of the all-star break was already the talk of baseball.  I think MLB missed a great PR opportunity to name him to the team to give him the exposure that the rest of the national media expected.  But in the end, Capps was a deserving candidate and I can’t argue that our hitters did anything special enough to merit inclusion.

2009

  • Nationals All-Star representatives: Ryan Zimmerman
  • Possible Snubs: Adam Dunn
  • Narrative: The addition of Dunn and Willingham to the lineup gave Zimmerman the protection he never had, and he produced with his career-best season.  His first and deserved all-star appearance en-route to a 33 homer season.  Dunn continued his monster homer totals with little all-star recognition.

2008

  • Nationals All-Star representatives: Cristian Guzman
  • Possible Snubs: Jon Rauch
  • Narrative: The first of two “hitting rock-bottom” seasons for the team; no one really merited selection.  Zimmerman was coming off of hamate-bone surgery in November 2007 and the team was more or less awful across the board.  Rauch performed ably after Cordero went down with season-ending (and basically career-ending) shoulder surgery.   Guzman’s selection a great example of why one-per-team rules don’t make any sense.  Guzman ended up playing far longer than he deserved in the game itself by virtue of the 15-inning affair.

2007

  • Nationals All-Star representatives: Dmitri Young
  • Possible Snubs: Ryan Zimmerman, Shawn Hill (though I wouldn’t argue for either)
  • Narrative: Young gets a deserved all-star appearance en route to comeback player of the year.  Zimmerman played a full season but didn’t dominate.  Our 2007 staff gave starts to 13 different players, most of whom were out of the league within the next year or two.  Not a good team.

2006

  • Nationals All-Star representatives: Alfonso Soriano*
  • Possible Snubs: Nick JohnsonRyan Zimmerman, Chad Cordero
  • Narrative: Soriano made the team as an elected starter, the first time the Nats have had such an honor.  Our pitching staff took massive steps backwards and no starter came even close to meriting a spot.  Cordero was good but not lights out as he had been in 2005.  Soriano’s 40-40 season is a poster child for “contract year” production and he has failed to come close to such production since.  The team was poor and getting worse.  Johnson had a career year but got overshadowed by bigger, better first basemen in the league (a recurring theme for our first basemen over the years).

2005

  • Nationals All-Star representatives: Livan HernandezChad Cordero
  • Possible Snubs: Nick JohnsonJohn Patterson.
  • Narrative: The Nats went into the All Star break surprisingly in first place, having run to a 50-31 record by the halfway point.  Should a first place team have gotten more than just two representatives?  Perhaps.  But the team was filled with non-stars and played far over its head to go 50-31 (as evidenced by the reverse 31-50 record the rest of the way).

DC/MD/VA High School Baseball Champions Tournament concept

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(Nats fans: a first half review coming this week; wanted to get this published before it got too “old”).

Now that all the seasons for all the DC/MD/VA area teams are completed, I have a fun idea.  What if we could do a “Champions” tournament of the various schools who won titles?

I first started thinking about this tournament when Virginia split from AAA/AA/A to the six divisions and the reigning AAA state champion at the time (Hanover) was dumped down to 4-A.  The idea was sort of “Indiana Basketball” ish in nature: what would a tourney of all the six Virginia state champs look like?  Then that morphed to all the various scenarios below.

I know these kind of event would never happen (rules on number of games, kids graduating, etc); but it’s a fun thought exercise for those of us who follow HS baseball in the area.

Here’s a few interesting ideas for post-season tournaments.  Using my final 2016 post-season wrap-up as reference for all the tourney champs, here’s some ideas.


Tourney Idea #1: The Virginia Public Champions league tourney

This is my original concept.  Using the Six Virginia public school champions, you could play a mini weekend tournament with two brackets:

Bracket 1:
6A: Chantilly
3A: Rustburg
2A: Maggie Walker

Bracket 2:
5A: Nansemond River
4A: Hanover
1A: Rappahannock

Play a double header round robin on Saturday intra-bracket, then the bracket winners play Sunday.  It’d be a nice little way to determine who is the “Best of the Best” among the divisional champs.  I sense that there’s not a ton of difference between the 6-A, 5-A and 4-A champs but sense there’s a bit of a gap from 4-A to the 3-A/2-A/1-A teams.  It has been suggested to me to spread this tourney across a week or two weekends so as not to completely dilute the pitching and that’s a good point; none of these teams likely could play and be competitive in a three games-in-two-days situation, so perhaps a DH one weekend and a final the next would give the best pitching match-ups.

Theoretical Tournament Predictions: Hanover beats out a tough Nansemond River to advance and beats Chantilly in the final.


Tourney Idea #2: The All-Virginia champions league

This adds in the three state-wide private school champs.  Using 2016’s champions from both the public leagues and the three private leagues, your qualifiers are:

6A: Chantilly (Northern Virginia)
5A: Nansemond River (Suffolk)
4A: Hanover (Mechanicsville/Richmond)
3A: Rustburg (Lynchburg)
2A: Maggie Walker (Richmond)
1A: Rappahannock (King George County)

VISSA Division I: Collegiate (Richmond)
VISSA Division II: Greenbrier Christian (Chesapeake)
VISSA Division III: Southampton Academy (Franklin)

What if you seeded this 1-9 based on classifications and played a single elimination tourney?  You’d have the two smallest schools (1-A and VISAA division III) in a play-in and then seed the rest roughly by their size.

8/9 play-in: Rappahannock versus Southampton

1 vs 8/9: Chantilly vs Rappahannock/Southampton Academy
2 vs 7: Nansemond River vs Maggie Walker
3 vs 6: Collegiate versus Rustburg
4 vs 5:  Hanover versus Greenbrier Christian

Most of these teams are Central or Southern Virginia and are proximate to Richmond.  A tournament there would be best for all travelers.

Theoretical Tournament Predictions: Seeds hold in the quarter finals, though Hanover struggles to beat Greenbrier.   Hanover beats Chantilly in one semi, Nansemond River in the other, and Hanover wins the title.


Tourney Idea #3: The DC/MD/VA showdown; an 8-team competition of local champions.

Here we’d take the champions of the “local” divisions in the Washington DC metropolitan area:

– Virginia 6-A North champ: Chantilly
– Virginia 5-A North champ: Mountain View
– WCAC champ; St. Johns
– DCIAA champ: Wilson
– DCSAA champ: St. Albans
– IAC champ: Landon
– Maryland 4A West champ: Quince Orchard
– Maryland 3A West champ: Damascus

Seed this 1-8 and do a small tourney.  I’d probably seed it Virginia 6-A, Maryland 4A, Virginia 5A, WCAC, Maryland 3A, DCSAA, DCIAA and IAC.  So the bracket would be:

  • 1-8: Chantilly v Landon
  • 2-7: Quince Orchard v Wilson
  • 3-6: Mountain View v St. Albans
  • 4-5: St. Johns vs Damascus

The only problem here is that you leave out some of the smaller private school leagues and the independent powerhouse Riverdale Baptist.

 

Theoretical Tournament Predictions: I think seeds would pretty much hold and Chantilly beats Quince Orchard in the final.


Tourney Idea #4. The Maryland-Virginia Public School Show Down

Virginia Public champs
6A: Chantilly (Northern Virginia)
5A: Nansemond River (Suffolk)
4A: Hanover (Mechanicsville/Richmond)
3A: Rustburg (Lynchburg)
2A: Maggie Walker (Richmond)
1A: Rappahannock (King George County)

Maryland Public Champs:
4-A: Bel Air (North of Baltimore)
3-A: Huntingtown (Soloman’s Island)
2-A: La Plata (SE of Waldorf)
1-A: Brunswick (Frederick County)

Maybe you seed it 1-10 and have play-ins with the smallest teams.  Nearly every first round match-up ends up being MD vs VA team.

8-9: Maggie Walker vs Brunswick
7-10: Rustburg vs Rappahannock

1 Chantilly vs Maggie Walker/Brunswick winner
2 Bel Air vs Rustburg/Rappahannock winner
3 Nansemond River vs La Plata
4 Huntington vs Hanover

Theoretical Tournament Predictions: despite being the 5th seed here, Hanover upsets  Huntington and Chantilly to get to the final, where it meets Bel Air (a close winner over Nansemond River).  Hanover prevails.


Tourney Idea #5. The All Private School showdowns

VISSA Division I: Collegiate (Richmond)
VISSA Division II: Greenbrier Christian (Chesapeake)
VISSA Division III: Southampton Academy (Franklin)

MIAA Class A: Spalding (Severna Park, south of Baltimore)
MIAA Class B: Boys Latin (North Baltimore)
MIAA Class C: St. John’s Catholic Prep (Frederick)

WCAC: St. Johns (Northwest DC)
IAC: Landon (Bethesda)

Maryland Private Schools: Riverdale Baptist (Upper Marlboro)
DCSAA: St. Albans (Northwest DC)
MAC: Potomac School (McLean)
PVAC: Sandy Spring (Olney)

I’d probably seed this: Spalding, Collegiate, Riverdale Baptist, Greenbrier Christian, St. Johns DC, St. Albans, Boy’s Latin, and Landon.  Then the four smallest schools (Southampton Academy, St. Johns Catholic, Potomac School and Sandy Spring) could be play-in games to the top seeds.  So your bracket could be:

  • 5-12: St. Johns DC vs Sandy Spring
  • 6-11: St. Albans vs Potomac School
  • 7-10: Boy’s Latin vs St. Johns Catholic
  • 8-9: Landon vs Southampton
  • 1-8/9: Spalding vs Landon/Southampton
  • 2-7/10: Collegiate vs boy’s Latin/St. Johns Catholic
  • 3-6: Riverdale Baptist vs St. Albans/Potomac
  • 4-5: Greenbrier Christian vs St. Johns DC/Sandy Spring

That’s a fun little tourney, especially if seeds hold and you have the four elite MD/VA private schools meeting.  Its notable that the Prep Baseball Report thinks that Greenbrier Christian is the best school in the state of Virginia, irrespective of its size.  So perhaps seeding it 4th in this tournament isn’t fair.  My seedings are mostly driven by the “size” of the divisions these schools play in.

Theoretical Tournament Predictions: Seeds hold in the quarters, Greenbrier beats Spalding in one semi while Riverdale Baptist wins the other, and Greenbrier takes Riverdale in the final.


What do you think?  Would you like to see any of these fantasy tournaments?  Do you think my “theoretical predictions” are off?  I realize this post doesn’t really appeal to many of our Nats-interested readers, but it was a fun thought exercise for me :-)

 

Written by Todd Boss

July 11th, 2016 at 8:18 am

Posted in Local Baseball

Tagged with

2016 Prep Baseball Update #5: Players of the Year/All-State lists and final rankings

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This is post #5 of High School Tourney coverage for 2016.  Here’s the schedule:

In this post, we will publish all the various Teams of the Year, players of the year and other individual accolades.  I’ve been publishing these as i found them in prior posts, but here they’re all listed as best as I can find them.

Lists in Red are pending results; I’ll update this post as the results come in even post publishing.


Individual Player Accolades 

Gatorade announced their player of the year awards on 5/24/16.  (Link to all Gatorade/USA Today players of the year per state)

  • Maryland: Spalding’s Tyler Blohm won the Maryland award.  17th round pick by Baltimore, committed to Maryland.
  • Washington DC: St. John’s Cam Remalia (by way of Waldorf, MD) won the DC award.  Committed to Coastal Carolina.
  • Virginia: Flint Hill’s Khalil Lee won the Virginia award.  3rd round draft pick and Kansas City signee.
  • Washington Post All-Met teamsJake Agnos is the 2016 All-Met Player of the year.  In two seasons for Battlefield, he was 18-0 with a 0.60 ERA and 265 strikeouts in 134 1/3rds innings.
  • (Also, here’s a fantastic list of all All-Met teams in all sports going back to 1991 that I’m spinning into a “where are they now” post to be done sometime in the future)
  • Virginia All 6-A North Regional team: Jake Agnos, LHP Battlefield (ECU commit) is the Pitcher of the year, Jared DiCesare, Chantilly (George Mason commit) is the Player of the year.
  • Virginia All 6-A South Regional teamFox Semones, SS/RHP Hylton (James Madison commit) is the Player of the Year.
  • Virginia All 5-A North Regional teamAlex Smith C from Mountain View (Navy commit) is Player of the year.
  • Virginia All 5-A South Regional teamMichael Blanchard, RHP Nansemond River (Old Dominion) is player of the year
  • Virginia All 4-A East Region teamGrey Lyttle, 3b/OF from Hanover (High Point) is 4A East player of the year.
  • Virginia All 4-A West Region teamBrendon Doyle, OF from Kettle Run (VMI) is 4A West player of the year.
  • Virginia All 3-A East Region teamNoah Murdock, RHP from Colonial Heights (Virginia commit) and Nationals 38th round draft pick,  is the player of the year
  • Virginia All 3-A West Region teamDrew Calohan, RHP from Rustberg HS is 3A West Player of the year.   Ferrum commit.
  • Virginia 2-A and 1-A All-Regional teams: pending; not sure if they’re even done.
  • VHSL All-State Teams:
    • 6A VHSL All State Team: Jake Agnos, LHP Battlefield is the 6A Player of the Year.  Committed to East Carolina.
    • 5A VHSL All State TeamMichael Blanchard, RHP from Nansemond River, is the 5A player of the year.  Committed to ODU.
    • 4A VHSL All State TeamGrey Lyttle, 3b/OF from Hanover is 4A player of the year.  Committed to High Point.
    • 3A VHSL All State Team: Drew Calohan, RHP from Rustberg HS is 3A player of the year.   Committed to Ferrum.
    • 2A VHSL All State TeamMatt Pinson, RHP from Maggie Walker (Richmond) is the 2A player of the year as a *junior*.
    • 1A VHSL All State TeamBryson Booher, RHP from Ft. Chiswell (SW of Roanoke) is the 1A player of the year.   Committed to Concord University.
  • VISAA’s All-State teams, Division I, Division II and Division III.  Khalil Lee (Flint  Hill) is the Division 1 player of the year.  Harry Brown (Greenbrier Christian) is Division II player of the year.  Andrew Lowe (Southampton Academy) is Division III player of the year.
  • VHSCA (Virginia High School Coaches Association) All-State Teams: all pending for 2016: I gave up waiting for them and published.
  • Maryland MIAA All-State teams: No POTY’s announced.  The “A” team is dominated by players from Spalding and Calvert Hall, and includes Tyler Blohm.  The “B” team is dominated by the two best B teams: Boy’s Latin and Annapolis Area Christian.
  • Prep Baseball Report VA/DC All-State Team; published 7/1/16: Jake Agnos is their player of the year.
  • NovaBaseballMagazine’s “Nova Nine” for 2016:  Jake Agnos is their player of the year.
  • NovaBaseballMagazine’s alternative “Nova Nine” lists.
  • NovaBaseballMagazine’s selection panel (made of coaches and staff) has selected All conference teams for all the Northern Virginia-based conferences; click on the “Standings” link from their home page, navigate down to the division in question, and you’ll get the final 2016 conference standings, then the results of the conference tournament, and the all conference team.  I’m not sure if these are “official” all-district teams or if these are NBM’s staff selections.
  • All Loudoun-County Team: announced 6/29/16.  Will Schroeder, RHP/SS for Loudoun County HS named POTY … as a sophomore.
  • Free Lance Star All-Fredericksburg 2016: announced 6/30/16. Alex Smith C from Mountain View (Navy commit) is Player of the year.
  • American Family Insurance All-USA Baseball TeamsRiley Pint, P from Kansas and 4th overall pick was POTY.   Tyler Blohm was 2nd team.  Nolan Jones (UVA commit) also 2nd teamer but likely signs after getting drafted in the 2nd round.
  • American Family Insurance All-State Baseball Teams: released 6/30/16.
    • Virginia: Flint Hill’s Khalil Lee won the Virginia award.  3rd round draft pick and Kansas City signee.
    • Washington DC:  St. John’s Cam Remalia (by way of Waldorf, MD) is POTY.  Committed Coastal Carolina.
    • Maryland: Spalding’s Tyler Blohm won the Maryland award.  Committed to Maryland.
  • Louisville Slugger High School All-Americans: announced on or about 6/17/16.  Zack Hess (Liberty Christian), Joe Rizzo (Oakton), Khalil Lee (Flint Hill) all first teamers.  Harold Cortijo from Riverdale Baptist 2nd team. 
  • American Baseball Coaches Association/ABCA/Rawlings High School All-Americans: released 6/23/16.  Khalil Lee 2nd team all-american.
  • ABCA/Rawlings High School 2016 All Region Team for the Mid-Atlantic: familiar names Khalil Lee, Joe Rizzo, and Tyler Blohm on the all-Region 2 team.
  • USA Today All-Americans: not sure if they do their own or if the multiple “American Family Insurance” teams are the official USA Today Teams.
  • Baseball America All-Americans: released 6/21/16.  No Local players named, to the chagrin of Jake Agnos proponents.
  • The Baltimore Sun’s All-Metro Team released 6/17/16.  Tyler Blohm the player of the year.
  • Richmond Times-Dispatch All-Metro teamGrey Lyttle, 3b/OF from Hanover POTY.
  • (the 2016 Richmond Times-Dispatch All-Metro team link also has prior POTYs dating to 1993).
  • Virginian Pilot All-Tidewater team: Michael Blanchard, RHP Nansemond River (Old Dominion) is player of the year.  Second Team link here.
  • (and here’s a list of the All-Tidewater players of the year since 1993 for fun)

If you know of *any* all-anyone team in a publication or official site that i’m missing, please let me know.


Local and National High School Baseball Ranking Lists: Updated for the final rankings.

  • Washington Post All Met Sports Final Area top-10 ranking: Riverdale Baptist, Spalding, St. Johns DC, Chantilly, Battlefield top 5.  Madison, who was consensus #1 for practically the entire season, doesn’t even make the top 10 after its early Regional loss.
  • NovaBaseballMagazine.com Final Rankings of all NoVA teams dated 6/13/16: Chantilly, Battlefield, Kettle Run, Mountain View, Hylton.
  • PrepBaseballReport Final VA State-Wide Power25 Rankings: Hanover, Greenbrier Christian, Liberty Christian Academy, Chantilly, Nansemond River.
  • Baltimore Sun Top-10 Poll Archives: Final 5/23/16 ranking.  Perennial power Spalding has been at the top for a good chunk of the season.  Spalding, Chesapeake AA, Severna Park 1-2-3.
  • The Virginian Pilot Top-10 for Hampton Roads area: Final 5/31/16 poll: Private school powerhouse Greenbrier Christian, Grassfield and First Colonial 1-2-3.
  • Richmond times-Dispatch Richmond-Area top-10: 6/14/16 Final poll: 4-A state champ Hanover, Collegiate, Mills Godwin 1-2-3.
  • MaxPreps All-Virginia Rankings: 6/13/16 so basically Final Virginia rankings: Hanover, Grassfield, Liberty Christian Academy, Chantilly, Paul VI.
  • USA Today’s National High School Super 25 (“Expert”) Rankings 6/22/16 Final rankings: Hanover rises to #8, Spalding rises to #13, and Chantilly gets in at #23.
  • USA Today’s National “Computer” Rankings 6/22/16: Assuming Final at this point: Hanover at an astounding #4, no other local teams ranked.
  • USA Today’s Super 25 North East & Mid Atlantic Regional Rankings 6/22/16 Final: Hanover & Spalding 1-2 in the region.  Also includes Chantilly at #5, Riverdale Baptist #7.
  • Baseball America Top 50: dated 6/16/16: Chantilly finishes #28, Riverdale Baptist #39.  Final?
  • MaxPreps “Excellent 25” ranking: 6/13/16: Hanover #21.  Final?
  • MaxPreps “Excellent 50” rankings: 6/13/16: Hanover #21 and no other local teams mentioned.  Final?
  • MaxPreps Computer Rankings 6/27/16: Hanover #5.  You have to scroll pages to find the next local teams (ranked in the 75-100 range). Final?

These National rankings are dominated by teams in Texas, Florida and California, as you might expect.  These teams can play nearly 40 games and usually have at least 15-20 under their belts before DC/MD/VA teams even get going.  So its somewhat of an accomplishment just to have a local team get some recognition.  In fact, any cold-weather state team appearing in these lists is pretty special.

Major Newspaper Links/Resources for following prep baseball around the state

Local Newspaper Coverage, including links to many local papers covering smaller jurisdictions.

Non-newspaper Links for Local and National Prep Baseball Coverage

Good Twitter accounts to follow:

  • https://twitter.com/toddeboss/lists/prepbaseball: I maintain an open list at my twitter account via this link, which contains direct links to dozens of local resources (including all the below).  Way too many retweets from the travel team accounts especially, but its a good way to keep up with local ball.
  • https://twitter.com/PBRVirginiaDC: Prep Baseball Report VA/DC coverage
  • https://twitter.com/NVBaseballMag: NoVa Baseball Magazine
  • https://twitter.com/NoVAHSBB
  • https://twitter.com/DynamicBaseball

Nats 2016 Draft Status: Where do we stand now that Dunning has signed?

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Dane Dunning headlines the 2016 draft class.

Dane Dunning headlines the 2016 draft class.

On Thursday 6/30/16, the big domino in our 2016 draft class Dane Dunning finally signed, which brought the Nats draft dollar shell game into more acute focus.

For those unfamiliar, here’s how the MLB draft now works with the new CBA-driven draft slotting and bonus system:  Every pick in the first 10 rounds is assigned a slot figure (here’s the 2016 slot figures directly pick by pick).  But you don’t have to spend all those dollars on each of those individual picks; if you “save” $100 by signing your (say) 4th rounder for $100 less than the slot value, that gives you $100 “extra” dollars to spend on someone else.  Any pick made above the 10th round can be paid up to $100,000 without having to count against the total bonus figure, which is important because if you give a 11th rounder $500k, that’s $400k that has to be counted against your top 10 budget.

So, the more important figure to keep in mind is this: $7,635,500.  That’s the sum of all the slot values of the 11 picks in the first 10 rounds that the Nats had this year.  An even more important figure is this: $8,017,275: that is precisely 5% above the $7.6M number, which is the “buffer” that MLB gives teams so as to go above their total slot values (along with a dollar-for-dollar tax penalty) without being penalized with lost future draft picks.

So, that being said, upon the Dunning signing, the Nats (by my calculations) had spent exactly $8,095,000 in bonus money, or $22,275 less than their upper end figure before getting penalized.

Here’s a list of those signees with dollar figures:

RoundOverallName/PositionBonus AmtSlot ValueSavings off of Slot?
1-S28Carter Kieboom2000000206590065900
1-S29Dane Dunning2000000203460034600
258Sheldon Neuse9000001107000207000
394Jesus Nuzardo1400000635800-764200
4124Nick Banks500000473300-26700
5154Daniel Johnson32500035430029300
6184Tres Barrera21000026540055400
7214Jacob Noll1900001989008900
8244A.J. Bogucki15000017770027700
9274Joey Harris10000166000156000
10304Paul Panaccione10000156600146600
11334Armand Upshaw400000100000-300000

The team went way over slot to sign third rounder Jesus Nuzardo, paying him the equivalent of mid 2nd round money to buy him out of his Miami commitment and get him into the fold.  That seems like good value; he was projecting as a 1st rounder out of HS earlier in the year before hurting his arm.   The team went slightly over budget to get Nick Banks, a nominal amount in the end for a US collegiate National team guy who also projected as a first rounder at the beginning of the year.  Lastly they dropped $400k ($300k over slot) on their 11th rounder Armand Upshaw, a move that has been somewhat questioned based on his Juco Stats (he did have a 4-year commitment to Missouri that had to be bought out).  These two big over-slot deals means club basically ended up with an extra 2nd rounder and an extra 5th rounder.  That’s pretty good value.

The team went under slot (as has now become the custom) with a number of its round 6-10 guys to save the money needed for these overslot deals: they got their 9th and 10th rounders for just $10k each (Joey Harris and Paul Panaccione); with all due respect to these two guys, don’t expect much out of them beyond this year.  Surprisingly to me, they got 2nd rounder Sheldon Neuse to sign for more than $200k underslot; this was a guy who was named the Big 12 player of the year this year, was Louisville Slugger 2nd team all-american, was a semifinalist for the Golden Spikes award and was just give the 2016 “Brooks Wallace” award for best college shortstop.  Basically, he had a great year this year and I like this pick.

The side effect of their spending thus far is this: there probably are no more deals to be made.  Here’s a list of the rest of the draft class ( from round 12 to 40) with a quick yes/no flag as to whether they’re signed yet:

RoundOverallName/PositionPositionCol/HSCollege or CmtmSigned?
12364Hayden HowardLHPCol Sr.Texas TechYes
13394Conner Simonetti1BCol Jr.Kent StateYes
14424Kyle SimondsRHPCol Sr.Texas A&MYes
15454Ryan WilliamsonLHPCol Jr.North Carolina StateYes
16484Phil MorseRHPCol Sr.Shenandoah (Va.)Yes
17514Tyler BeckwithSSCol Sr.RichmondYes
18544Ben BraymerLHPCol Jr.AuburnYes
19574Jarrett GonzalesCHSGrayson Junior College
20604Jake BarnettLHPCol Jr.Lewis-Clark State (Idaho)Yes
21634Jacob HowellRHPCol Jr.Delta State (Miss.)Yes
22664Sterling SharpRHPCol Jr.Drury (Mo.)Yes
23694Michael RishwainRHPCol Sr.Westmont (Calif.)Yes
24724Joseph BaltripRHPJ2Wharton County (Texas) JCYes
25754Branden BoggettoSSCol Sr.Southeast Missouri StateYes
26784Jack SundbergOFCol Sr.ConnecticutYes
27814Jeremy McDonaldLHPCol Sr.California BaptistYes
28844Jonny ReidLHPCol Jr.Azusa Pacific (Calif.)Yes
29874Sam HeldRHPCol Sr.NevadaYes
30904Tristan ClarkeOFJ2Eastern Oklahoma State JC
31934C.J. PicerniCCol Sr.New YorkYes
32964Garrett Gonzales3BHSIncarnate Word
33994Ryan WetzelSSHSPitt State
341024Morgan CooperRHPCol Jr.Texas
351054Tristan BaylessLHPHS??
361084Jordan McFarlandOFHSArkansas
371114Cory VossCJ2McLennan (Texas) CC
381144Noah MurdockRHPHSUVA
391174Matt Mervis1BHSDuke
401204Sean CookRHPHSMaryland walk-on?

So who is left unsigned at this point?  It is a fair assumption that any HS player drafted in the 12-40 range is not going to sign at this point; there’s just no additional dollars to incentivize them and they’ve all got college commitments.  So lets talk about the college players left on a case by case basis:

(Note; in-between the original writing of this post and the publication, both 12th rounder Hayden Howard  and 15th rounder Ryan Williamson signed; the signing of Howard came as somewhat of a surprise to me because he still had some eligibility.  Apologies if I forgot to update a spreadsheet or table somewhere).

  • 30th rounder Tristan Clarke: twitter handle is https://twitter.com/TClarke_9 but its protected, so no  hints as to his intentions.  He’s at a Juco now, but has committed to attend “UNO” which I can only assume is the University of Nebraska-Omaha and not the University of New Orleans.  It does not seem like he’s going to sign.
  • 34th rounder Morgan Cooper: twitter handle is https://twitter.com/mojaycoop: he missed all of 2015 with TJ, was Texas’ mid-week starter in 2016 and put up mediocre numbers.  He could end up with two more years of eligibility if I read his history correctly, so he makes sense to return to Texas, get into the weekend rotation and improve his draft stock.
  • 37th rounder Cory Voss: no idea what his twitter handle is, nor if he’s signed with a 4-year program out of his current Juco.  Tough one to find information on.

Of the HS draft picks:

  • 19th rounder Jarrett Gonzales: I cannot find his twitter, nor much information; he’s apparently committed to Grayson Junior College, which would make him draft eligible again next year, so why not roll the dice and play a year of Juco to increase value?
  • 32nd rounder Garrett Gonzales, the cousin of Jarrett and they’re both related to a Nats scout in the area.  Committed to Incarnate Ward.  Twitter handle https://twitter.com/gmoneyGarrett7 : this seems like a “favor draft pick” to an area scout who may not have gotten another guy drafted.
  • 33rd rounder Ryan Wetzel, committed to Pitt State, twitter https://twitter.com/ryanwetzel21.  Does not seem likely to sign.
  • 35th rounder  Tristan Bayless, LHP out of a Texas HS.  Can’t find twitter, can’t find his commitment, not in PerfectGame.org.  An enigma.
  • 36th rounder  Jordan McFarland, an OF out of an Illinois HS committed to Arkansas.  No Twitter, little hope of signing.
  • 38-40th rounders: the Nats take three local kids Noah Murdock, Matt Mervis and Sean Cook.  Murdock was the Virginia 3-A East Regional player of the year from Colonial Heights HS south of Richmond and is a UVA commit and has already announced he’s going to school.  Mervis is from Georgetown Prep, was 2nd team all-Met in 2015 and in 2016 and is committed to Duke; he was one of the marquee Maryland Prep players in this class.  So both of these were “good” picks.  Sean Cook was a 2nd-team All-Met ins 2016 but doesn’t have a rich pedigree in the scouting circles (he has no Perfect Game profile), and has been quoted as wanting to “walk on” at Maryland.  No offense to the kid, but this sounds like a “favor” draft pick as well to someone connected with the team.   We’ll have more detail on these local-connected drafted kids after the 7/15/16 signing deadline, summarizing everyone with local connections who was drafted.

Summary: I’ll be shocked if any of the remaining un-signed guys signs, so it looks like the class is complete.

Draft Class Stats (SpringfieldFan’s Draft Tracker has all of this data plus its own summarized data too)

  • 41 players drafted
  • 30 signed, 11 unsigned
  • Breakdown of draftees: 10 high schoolers, 4 Juco players, 12 college seniors and 15 college juniors (counting Howard as a “college junior”)
  • Breakdown by position: 21 non-pitchers, 20 pitchers.  Of the pitchers, 12 right handers, 8 lefties
  • Breakdown by State: 9 of the 41 drafted kids are from Texas.  Another 3 from Oklahoma; this continues a trend we’ve seen where the Nats really, really focus on this SW area of the country.  Other states with multiple players picked: Florida (4), California (3), and Virginia (3).

Of those 30 who signed:

  • 2 high schoolers, 2 jucos, 14 college juniors and 12 college seniors
  • 14 position players, 16 pitchers.  Of the pitchers, 9 righties, 7 lefties.

If you have any information on guys that I don’t please chime in with a comment.


 

One additional comment; as we’ve now seen, the Nats have been  highly active in the 7/2 international market, blowing well past their allotted IFA bonus money to sign.  According to Baseball America’s rankings, the Nats signed the #3 prospect in the IFA market this year in Dominican SS Luis Garcia, the #14 player in Dominican SS Yasel Antuna, the #30 player in Venezuelan OF Ricardo Mendez, and another Venezuelan C named Israel Pineda (you know, since they’ve had such great luck so far with Catchers from Venezuela).  I don’t know anything about these players and neither does anyone else besides a handful of hard-core scouting pundits who actually travel to these countries to eyeball these players.  Still, they’re mostly 16 yr olds; HS sophomores.  It could be money down a rat hole, or they could strike gold.  We won’t know for several years in any case.  Its one of the reasons I stopped tracking the Dominican Summer League (and one of the reasons Luke Erickson stopped hyper-tracking the daily machinations of both the DSL and the GCL); call me when they get to the states in a couple of years and we’ll see  how they’re doing.

 

 

2016 CWS Finals: Coastal Carolina Wins!

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CCU wins! Photo via twitter just as it happened.

CCU wins! Photo via twitter just as it happened.

Here’s a recap of our CWS coverage so far for 2016:


Here’s how the Finals played out.  My predictions on the starters to be used was completely off, with each team opting to save their marquee arms for the decider.

  • In Game One on 6/27/16, Arizona’s #3 starter J.C. Cloney pitched like an All-american, throwing a CG 4-hitter to beat Coastal Carolina 3-0 in game 1.   CCU threw their mid-week starter (and Leesburg Native) Zack Hopeck, who gave up 2 runs in 6+ innings to take the loss.  CCU just couldn’t do anything with Cloney and now face a very uphill climb, having to beat Arizona’s two aces.
  • In Game Two on 6/28/16, Arizona mixed us all up by going with Kevin Ginkel on the hill instead of presumed starter Nathan Bannister (who left his last start with “arm tightness” and clearly was still injured) who pitched masterfully but his bullpen let him down.  Meanwhile, CCU’s Mike Morrison struck out 10 in 6 2/3rds and the bullpen held while CCU scored three in the 8th to get a lead that Arizona couldn’t quite get back, losing 5-4.
  • Game three was rained out, so the NCAA (inexplicably) decided to play the national title game on 6/30/16 at 1pm .. meaning that instead of a sold out stadium they had just a few hundred fans in attendance.  Nonetheless, CCU threw its post-season ace Andrew Beckwith while Arizona countered with their own Bobby Dalbec and the two arms traded zeros for 5 innings.  In the top of the 6th, a 2-out mis-play by Arizona’s 2nd basemen led to two unearned runs, followed quickly by a 2-run homer by G.K. Young for four unearned runs in a flash.  In the bottom of the frame, Arizona got two unearned runs back themselves.  CCU held on despite a furious Arizona rally where they had the winning runs on base to take game three 4-3 and win their first ever NCAA title in any sport.

CCU finishes the season 55-18, leading the nation in wins.  In case anyone thinks this is some huge massive cinderella … CCU was ranked in the top 25 pre-season and had 6 guys drafted this year.  They weren’t a huge star-power team like Florida; just a solid baseball team that came together at the right time.  Andrew Beckwith was named the “mvp” (technically the Most Outstanding Player) for the CWS 2016.

Your 2016 College World Series Champion: Coastal Carolina University


This concludes the College Baseball season and our coverage of it for 2016.  I’ll post one more post that covers draftees and signing status for all local-connected players (prep and college).  I don’t really cover the summer leagues: for that I’d suggest NovaBaseball.com, which is really coming into its own in terms of local coverage for all players with local ties.


College CWS tournament references:

 

Written by Todd Boss

July 1st, 2016 at 9:08 am

Lucas Giolito – First Look

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WASHINGTON DC, JUNE 28: Washington starting pitcher Lucas Giolito (44) makes his major league debut as the Washington Nationals play the New York Mets at Nationals Park in Washington DC, June 28, 2016. (Photo by John McDonnell / The Washington Post)

WASHINGTON DC, JUNE 28: Washington starting pitcher Lucas Giolito (44) makes his major league debut as the Washington Nationals play the New York Mets at Nationals Park in Washington DC, June 28, 2016. (Photo by John McDonnell / The Washington Post)

Its been a while since I did one of these, but what better occasion than to eyeball our newest and biggest prospect on his MLB debut.

Lets talk about Lucas Giolito‘s abbreviated debut.  Here’s what I saw.

Smooth and easy delivery, almost effortless.  He seems like he’s just lobbing it in.  According to TV, FB at 94-96.  Here’s his Pitch F/X link on the night: they classified  his change-ups mostly as curves, had his average velocity at 93.9 and his peak at 95.9 (so the TV gun wasn’t embellishing).  In the first, He gave up a weak single to Granderson to lead-off, got the benefit of some high strikes against Cabrera before blowing him away with a “show me” 96 mph fastball down the pike.  Cespedes sat on a first pitch fastball and absolutely gashed it … right at Rendon.  Walker got a really nice change-up to start him off (nice to see that confidence to command his change-up 0-0), got him down 0-2 and kind of knew a a curve was coming and hit it pretty hard, but Murphy made a nice play to retire him and save the run.  Huge delta between his FB and change, and he controlled the change.  He only threw 2 curves in the first inning, one of which broke so sharply that the ump missed the call (it was borderline low anyway) and the second got hit.

Second inning even though he’s “only” 93 Loney was way behind.   You have to attribute that to his length and the fact that he’s releasing the ball probably a foot closer to the plate than a normal guy.  Loney then froze on a beautiful curve before flying out harmlessly.  The umpire’s high strike zone worked to Giolito’s advantage; his adreneline was definitely working against him and his pitches were trending up.   Flores got a good swing on his curve, better than I would have liked to have seen.   Weak fly ball opposite field for Nimmo and Giolito is through 2 having retired 6 straight.  Interesting.

We go into live blogging mode briefly: here’s some thoughts during the bottom of the 2nd:

  • At 8:30pm in my Vienna home it starts pouring; not a good sign for Giolito’s start.  I’m guessing they may have a brief delay.  Yup, like clockwork, 9pm the tarp goes out on the field.  Well at least I now know how long it takes for a storm to get from my house to Nats Park :-)
  • Side tangent; why the F is Zimmerman hitting before Rendon??  In fact, why is Zimmerman hitting anything but like 8th right now?   Rendon gets Giolito a 1-0 lead with a crushed triple to right center.
  • Another tangent: boy seems like Harvey is short arming it.  I think I’ve mentioned this before in a comment somewhere; his mechanics just do not look like they did last year, or prior to his injury.  I wonder if this is just what he throws like now post TJ, or if he’s got some sort of mechanical issue.
  • Why exactly are they pitching to Espinosa with Giolito on deck?  That was kind of dumb.  The kid has 9 at bats in like the last 5 years.  I’m going to laugh if he gets a hit.
  • Giolito is a little rusty at the plate.  Of course, professional hitters can’t hit Harvey, so it isn’t like its any shameful thing that Giolito is swinging after the ball is in the catcher’s mitt.  He manages a grounder to second that for a second looked like it might weasel its way through.

Top of the 3rd, he makes quick work of 8-9 hitters on weak grounders; now its second time through the lineup.   He nibbled a little bit with Granderson and walked him on 4-straight; same with Cespedes.  Maybe that’s fair; those are the two most dangerous hitters in the Mets lineup these days.

He’s pitching efficiently, he’s working contact and getting a lot of weaker outs.  He’s not over throwing, hasn’t shown much above 96.  But he’s in control; just 32 pitches through three complete.

I’m trying to gauge the movement on his fastball; I saw one really nice tailing fastball that might have been a two seamer, but mostly its straight 4-seamers.

True to scouting reports, he has a sick curveball; a true 12-6 curve, straight over the top and it drops straight down.  Wow; that’s something you just don’t see that often.  It curves enough that a pitch that looks way up is going to drop into the zone.  Its no wonder why pundits rave about the hook.  By the 4th inning Ramos was loving the curve and calling it more frequently.

He’s getting great defense behind him; Rendon, Murphy and Espinosa all have turned in really nice plays for him on grounders that were sometimes pretty sharply hit.  But its all outs on the board.

Through 4 complete; 1 hit, two walks on just 45 pitches.  29 strikes, 16 balls (8 of which came on the two batters where he seemed to nibble/lose focus).

At this point, it started pouring, and when they didn’t remove the tarp after like 5 minutes you knew his night was done.  Team wins easily on the night 5-0 and I wonder how much longer Giolito could have gone.

In the end, we’ve seen him throw a couple of clicks faster (he was 97 in spring), and we’ve certainly seen him with more strikeout capacity (353 Ks in 324 career minor league innings with almost exactly 9 k/9 in AA this year against the best hitters in the minors).  I wonder if tonight’s outing was a managed gameplan kind of thing from the Nats brain trust; don’t over throw, pitch to contact, don’t worry about Ks or throwing max effort.

What did you guys see?

 

 

 

Its Moving Day/Giolito day!

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Graduation day has arrived. Photo unk via federalbaseball.com

Graduation day has arrived. Photo unk via federalbaseball.com

There were a TON of cascading moves announced today, with multiple guys moving up in our system.  Starting at the bottom:

  • GCL: 2016 draftees and RHPs Jacob Howell and Phil Morse got bumped to Auburn after one appearance each in the GCL.
  • Auburn then sent Angelo La Bruna, Robbie Dickey and Randy Encarnacion (who probably should have been higher honestly) to Hagerstown.  This will be Dickey’s third shot at Low-A but he was clearly not touchable in Short-A (8ip, 1H 11Ks in 3 outings so far this year).
  • Hagerstown then bumped up two great hitting prospects Max Schrock, Victor Robles and Trey Lambert to Potomac.  Robles and Schrock were both all-stars and both were flatly out-hitting Low-A.  Lambert has quietly been toiling in the bullpen and had a 27/2 K/BB ratio this year.  I tell you, i’m really starting to get excited about Robles, and I think Schrock is turning into a draft day steal.
  • Potomac then bumped up Drew Ward, Andrew Stevenson, Ryan Brinley and Boone Whiting to AA.   Three of these four were all-stars this year, and Whiting was in AAA all of last year so was wasting his efforts in high-A.  Kudos for Ward to get the promotion and get his prospect career back on track, and even more kudos for Stevenson to earn such a quick promotion to AA.
  • Harrisburg then moved up Chris Bostick, Zack Collier and suddenly dominant starter Reynaldo Lopez to Syracuse (they also put Wander Suero on the TIL list to account for the four promotions).  How about the season Lopez is having?  As noted in the comments, he’s leading AA in K/9 while maintaining a 3+ K/BB ratio.
  • Syracuse’s corresponding moves were mostly bloodshed: they released Scott Sizemore, Tony Campana and RHP Juan Gutierrez to make room.  They also promoted Rafael Martin for at least the day.  Lopez isn’t going to be pitching out of the bullpen though, so I’d imagine that Jared Long will get demoted to fill the vacated spot in AA.

Why is there an extra spot in AA’s rotation?

Because Lucas Giolito got called up!  Mid Monday the announcement came out; he’s making the start on Tuesday.  Get your DVRs ready!  I won’t go into Giolito too much; we all know what he’s supposed to be.  Question is; will he live up to the hype?


(if you want to see all the transactions organized by league, here’s the links I use):

Minor League Transaction announcement links

CWS Group Winners and CWS Final preview for 2016

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Andrew Beckwith's side-winding action leads Coastal Carolina into the CWS final. Picture via myrtlebeachonline.com

Andrew Beckwith’s side-winding action leads Coastal Carolina into the CWS final. Picture via myrtlebeachonline.com

Here’s a recap of our CWS coverage so far for 2016:


Lets review the CWS group play.  The CWS plays just one or two games a day; a far cry from the first weekend, where 64 teams played hundreds of games over the course of a long weekend.  So this post has been written in one or two sentence increments for a week and a half…

My pre-CWS predictions were Florida from the top and Miami from the bottom.  Lets see how things turned out.


In the Top Bracket (#Florida, Coastal Carolina, #5 Texas Tech, #13 TCU)

  • In the opening games, TCU’s all-american freshman Luken Baker crushed a 3-run homer in the top of the 9th to beat Texas Tech 5-3 in the opener.  In the other opener, Coastal Carolina shocked #1 overall seed Florida  2-1 behind a dominant effort from their Ace Andrew Beckwith (a college junior who went undrafted this year).  CCU got two runs against Florida’s ace Logan Shore, who then gave way to Nats 1st rounder Dane Dunning, who threw 2 2/3rds shutout in relief to hold the fort down for the offense, which never came through.  Huge upset to start the bracket.  Beckwith’s sidewinding and unorthodox delivery carried him to a 12-1 record on the season but left  him completely off the draft boards of all 30 teams, highlighting an interesting anachronism of college baseball.  There are “college pitchers” who get recruited thanks to such an unorthodox style who are never going to be pro prospects.
  • In the first elimination game, Florida faced Texas Tech in a battle of upset losers.  Florida threw their sophomore fireballer Alex Faedo, who leaked a couple of runs early.  Florida couldn’t get to Texas Tech’s starter, who gave way to closer and Nats draft pick Hayden Howard.  Florida rallied for 2 runs with their season on the line but it wasn’t enough; Florida goes two and out, shocking me and the rest of the college baseball world.
  • In the winners bracket game to take control of the group, TCU kept pecking away at Coastal’s pitchers, eventually winning easily 6-1.  Baker was again a stud, hitting another homer and going 3-3 with a walk.  2018 upper 1st rounder in the making already.
  • In the play-in game to the group final, Texas Tech faced of with Coastal Carolina, who outlasted the last remaining national seed 7-5 to eliminate Texas Tech.
  • In the group final, Coastal Carolina got a complete game gem from its sidewinder Beckwith to win 4-1 and force a winner-take-all game.  In that game, Coastal Carolina jumped ahead early and never looked back, taking a 7-1 lead in the 4th and making it stick 7-5.

Final Group standings: Coastal Carolina, #13 TCU, #5 Texas Tech, #1 Florida

Group winner advancing to the CWS finals: Coastal Carolina.

 


In the Bottom Bracket (Arizona, #3 Miami, Oklahoma State, UC Santa Barbara)

  • In the opening games, Oklahoma State stole a run early and made it stick behind a 5-hitter from Thomas Hatch (3rd round pick to Chicago Cubs) to beat UCSB 1-0 in the tourney opener, spoiling Shane Bieber‘s gem (4th round pick of Cleveland).  In the night cap, Arizona’s senior-heavy offense stuck 3 early on Miami sophomore starter Michael Mediavilla while their starter Nathan Bannister (28th round pick to Seattle) struck out 11 through 7 to cruise to a 5-1 upset victory.
  • In the first elimination game, bracket favorite Miami faced upstart UCSB, and promptly went 2-and-out on the game’s biggest stage.  UCSB got to Miami starter Danny Garcia (15th round pick by Seattle) and despite their star 1st rounder Zack Collins reaching base all four times up, Miami couldn’t tie the game late.  They lose 5-3 and are out.
  • In the winners bracket game to take control of the group, Oklahoma State beat Arizona’s stud Bobby Dalbec (4th round pick, as a 3B, by Boston) by the same 1-0 score they got by UCSB in the first game.  OK State’s Tyler Buffett (7th round pick by Houston) went 8IP giving up just 3 hits in the win.  We’re starting to see why the pundits like OK State.
  • In the play-in game to the group final, UCSB faced off against Arizona in a meeting of the two remaining West Coast representatives.  UCSB’s luck ran out with a 3-0 loss to Arizona, eliminating the Gauchos.
  • In the group final, Arizona’s closer Cameron Ming threw 5 innings to seal a victory after its starter Bannister went down with arm tightness, and Arizona forced a winner-take-all game.  In that game, Arizona’s Dalbec got his revenge, shutting down OK State’s ace Hatch and Arizona shocked them to advance.

Final Group standings: Arizona, Oklahoma State, UC Santa Barbara, #3 Miami

Group winner advancing to the CWS finals: Arizona, the 4th place team from the Pac-12.

 


CWS finals discussion: Games 1,2,3 set for June 27th, 28th and 29th.

Well, my predictions were to go chalk with #1 Florida facing #3 Miami.  Instead, those two teams were the first two eliminated in CWS pool play and we get perhaps the most unlikely CWS final matchup we’ve seen since Fresno State.  Coastal Carolina comes from a one-bid league that had never previously sent a team to Omaha … yet they’re no cinderella.  CCU is a major baseball program in a major baseball state.  They’re an experienced team that ran away with their conference and played games against the big boys when they could.  Arizona comes with a great pedigree, a national title in the last 5 years, and no expectations; they have a first year coach and are coming from a conference that clearly had a “down” year.

Both teams’  ideal rotation match-ups are out of order thanks to both having advanced out of the loser’s bracket.  Arizona’s rotation has been pretty consistent; they’ll go 3-1-2 in the CWS final.  All three of their starters have sub 3.00 ERAs and mostly gaudy W/L records.  CCU’s ace is Beckwith; he threw a CG 137 pitch game on Friday 6/24; he’d be on 3-days rest for the 6/27 opener so he’d be more likely to start Game 2.   Long reliever Mike Morrison is available to be “tandem” with CCU’s 4th starter Bilous (CCU’s missing one of their normal weekend starters Tyler Poole to injury).   So here’s my guess as to the pitching match-ups:

Game 1: CCU’s Alex Cunningham (9-3, 3.58 ERA) versus JC Cloney (6-4, 2.86 ERA)

Game 2: CCU’s Andrew Beckwith (12-1, 2.72 ERA) versus Nathan Bannister (11-2, 2.71 ERA)

Game 3: CCU’s Jason Bilous (3-1, 4.04 ERA) versus  Bobby Dalbec (10-4, 2.93 ERA)

Prediction: CCU in three.

Of note: CCU has two “local” guys on the roster:  Zack Hopeck so (Heritage HS in Leesburg) and Keiton Rivers Fr (Nansemond River in Suffolk).  Hopeck looked like he was a mid-week starter and hasn’t seen much action in the post-season, and Rivers got just 13 ABs all year as a freshman backup.


College CWS tournament references:

 

2016 CWS Super-Regionals recap and CWS field

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"Florida Gators pitcher Dane Dunning throwing from the mound during the first inning. Florida Gators vs Miami Hurricanes. February 22nd, 2015. Gator Country photo by David Bowie. "

Florida Gators pitcher Dane Dunning throwing from the mound during the first inning. Florida Gators vs Miami Hurricanes. February 22nd, 2015. Gator Country photo by David Bowie.

Here’s a recap of our CWS coverage so far for 2016:

Here’s how the super-regionals went down: we’ll look at these regionals in the original order of the top 8 national seeds.  Red indicates the winner.

  • #1 Florida vs #16 Florida State: a rematch of last year’s super-regional and a chance for Florida State to redeem itself after losing all three of their mid-week matchups this year.  In game one, Florida State’s starter Drew Carlton threw a 2-hit shutout and beat Florida’s #3 starter (why did Florida start Alex Faedo?) in game one to put Florida behind the 8-ball.  In game 2, Florida DID start their ace Logan Shore, and he threw 8 innings of 2-hit ball himself to even the series.  In the final, Florida’s 6th overall pick A.J. Puk lasted just 3 2/3s .. but the Nats’ first round pick Dane Dunning threw 4 1/3 shutout ball to help seal an easy 7-0 victory to help Florida become the final team to advance.
  • #2 Louisville vs UC Santa Barbara: This is why they play the games, so to speak.  Highly favored Louisville went down two straight to UC Santa Barbara, losing with their Ace Brendan McKay on day one and when their #2 Drew Harrington handed a 3-run lead to their 1st round closer Zack Burdi in Game 2; Burdi promptly loaded the bases and then gave up a walk-off Grand Slam to a pinch-hitter Sam Cohen who had just one HR this year.  The video is pretty amazing.
  • #3 Miami vs Boston College: Miami’s bats got to BC’s Ace Justin Dunn and then opened up the game late for a 12-7 game one victory.  BC came back to force a decider, but Miami won out to advance.
  • #4 TAMU vs #13 TCU: TCU bashed their way to an 8-2 surprise game 1 victory.  TAMU came back with a comprehensive 7-1 win in game two to force the decider.   TCU’s Brian Howard gave up just 2 hits and one unearned run over 7 innings to solidify a comfortable 5-1 deciding victory and send TCU back to the CWS.
  • #5 Texas Tech vs ECU: ECU jumped out in Game 1 with a five-run 5th to knock out TT’s starter and held on with Matt Bridges striking out 6 of the 8 batters he faced to close out the upset win.  Texas Tech won game two and then destoyed ECU 11-0 in the decider to advance.
  • #6 Mississippi State vs Arizona: Arizona got nearly a complete game shutout of its starter Bobby Dalbec, who threw 8 2/3rds shutout innings before getting lifted with 2-on in the bottom of the 9th.  Arizona’s closer made quick work of the final batter to preserve the game 1 upset.  Game two went to extras, but Arizona got the walkoff run to win 6-5 and advance.
  • Oklahoma State vs #10 South Carolina: Despite not being the “seeded” team, Oklahoma State made quick work of South Carolina in 2 straight to punch a CWS ticket.
  • #8 LSU vs Coastal Carolina: Coastal won a slug-fest 11-8 in game one to put LSU in a precarious position.  Game 2 was closer and had a great finish, with LSU tying it in the top of the 9th and Coastal Carolina getting a walk-off single to win and advance to their first CWS.

My Original Predictions: #1 Florida, #2 Louisville, #3 Miami, #4 TAMU, ECU, #6 Mississippi State, Oklahoma State, #8 LSU

How it turned out: #1 Florida, UC Santa Barbara, #3 Miami, #13 TCU, #5 Texas Tech, Arizona, Oklahoma State, Coastal Carolina


CWS Field and Profiles

Top Bracket:

  • #1 Florida: 2nd Place SEC Eastern Division, 2nd Place SEC tournament.  52-14 overall record, (19-10 in conference).
  • Coastal Carolina: Big South Regular season champ.  Big South post-season champ.  49-16 (21-3).
  • #5 Texas Tech: Big 12 Regular Season champ.  46-18 regular season (19-5).
  • #13 TCU: 3rd place Big 12 regular season, Big 12 conference tourney champion.  47-16 (15-9).

Bottom Bracket

  • Arizona: 4th place Pac12 regular season.  44-21 regular season (16-14).
  • #3 Miami: 1st Place ACC Coastal Division.  2nd Place ACC tournament.  50-12 regular season (21-7).
  • Oklahoma State: 2nd Place Big 12 regular season.  41-20 regular season (16-8).
  • UC Santa Barbara: 3rd place Big West Regular season.  42-18-1 regular season (13-11)

CWS field review by the numbers

  • Just 1 from the SEC (Florida) despite 7 bids
  • Just 1 from the ACC (Miami) despite 10 bids
  • 3 from the Big 12 (Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, TCU) despite only getting 3 bids.
  • 1 from the Pac 12 (Arizona)
  • 2 from elsewhere: UC Santa Barbara from the Big West, Coastal Carolina from Big South

CWS Field thoughts

Two first time CWS participants in UC Santa Barbara and Coastal Carolina.  The return of Arizona (the 2012 champ).  Presumptive favorite Miami (college royalty).  Some Big-12 muscle in a sport dominated by the ACC and SEC.  And the #1 overall seed, who has been favored from day one to win this thing.  A very interesting field.  I’m kind of shocked that Louisville and Texas A&M got upset … but TAMU losing to TCU wasn’t really that much of a shock based on their super regional from last  year.  All three Big12 teams who made the field advance to Omaha; that’s pretty impressive (then again, you really had to squint to find even a 4th team from that conference worth inviting).

In the top half: Despite their struggles getting past Florida State, I don’t see the teams in Florida’s bracket troubling them.   Texas Tech beat TCU 2 of 3 this year at TCU and I see them being the 2nd place team.  Coastal Carolina likely goes 2-and-out in Omaha.  I think it’ll go Florida, Texas Tech, TCU, Coastal.

In the bottom  half, Miami has a pretty clear pathway to an all-Florida CWS final.  I think they’ll handle Arizona in the first while OK State won’t be troubled by UC Santa Barbara.  The bracket goes Miami, OK State, Arizona, UC Santa Barbara.  I’m somewhat wary of picking Miami over Oklahoma State and wouldn’t be shocked if OK State made the final, but for now i’m picking chalk of the two best seeds remaining.

Quick predictions: Florida from the top, Miami from the bottom.  Florida already beat Miami 2 of 3 in Miami this year and will be favored to win 2 of 3 again on a neutral field.

Player Star power in this CWS: By team, here’s the guys to look for either for Nats interest or for overall talent/draft position:

  • Florida: had 8 players taken in the first 10 rounds, including two 1st rounders (6th overall pick A.J. Puk and the Nats 1st round pick Dane Dunning), three 2nd rounders (Ace Logan Shore, MD-native Buddy Reed and slugger Pete Alonso) and their closer Shaun Anderson (3rd rounder).   Just a ton of talent here, which is why they were #1 overall seed and are the presumptive favorites.  Logan Shore was the sole Golden Spikes semi finalist, and was named a finalist for the award this week.
  • Coastal Carolina: 4th rounder Michael Paez is the highest drafted player of 6 taken.  CCU has a couple of players with VA roots (Zack Hopeck from Heritage HS and Keiton Rivers from new 5A state champs Nansemond River) but neither are regular starters.  Closer Austen Kitchen was on the Freshman All-american team.
  • Texas Tech: 10 players taken in the draft, but none before the 8th round.  Nats 12th rounder Hayden Howard is ostensibly the closer and should see some time.  But Texas Tech’s strength is in its  youth: they had two players named Freshmen All-americans this year (Davis Martin and Steven Gingery).
  • TCU: 6 players drafted, none before the 13th round.  But they’re clearly a young team: Starter Dalton Horton, closer Durbin Feltman, OF Josh Watson and perhaps the best player on the team Luken Baker were named to the Freshman All-american team.  Baker was a very highly regarded draft prospect last year but opted for college and has not stopped  hitting since.
  • Arizona: 4th rounder Bobby Dalbec is the highest drafted player this year on AZ’s team.  Ace Nathan Bannister went 10-2 but was just a 28th round pick.
  • Miami: Led by 10th overall pick Zack Collins (a Golden Spikes semi-finalist), Miami had two other 6th rounders and 7 overall picks.
  • Oklahoma State: ten picks in this draft, led by 3rd rounder Tom Hatch and 5th rounder Donnie Walton.  Have a starter Jensen Elliott named Freshman All-American.
  • UC Santa Barbara: 4th rounder Shane Bieber and four other draft picks.

 


College CWS tournament references: