This is the 7th and last in the 2015 Pitching staff review series, here’s a review of GCL/Rookie league pitching staff for 2015. I generally don’t follow the Dominican Summer League teams, simply because there seems to be so little correlation of success there to success domestically. Other parts of the 2015 series:
- Washington/MLB 2015 review
- Syracuse/AAA 2015 review
- Harrisburg/AA 2015 review
- Potomac/High-A 2015 review
- Hagerstown/Low-A 2015 review
- Auburn/Short-A 2015 review
For some historical perspective, here’s 2013’s version (featuring Lucas Giolito again), 2012’s version (Lucas Giolito was the feature pitcher) and 2011’s version (Jack McGeary the feature pitcher) of this post specifically for the GCL/Rookie league. Had I done this post for 2014, I would have struggled to find a worthy player to feature but would have settled on Anderson Martinez.
All stats are courtesy of either milb.com’s GCL’s 2015 Stats page or via Fangraph’s GCL 2015 page. Also useful here are the Big Board and the Nats Draft Tracker since so many of these lower-minors guys are recent draftees.
A caveat before starting this post: this is short-season ball, so nobody’s got more than a few dozen innings. The staff leader had 42 innings. So yes this is absolutely going to be some “Small Sample Size” analysis. Which in some cases is unfair to the player (to the good or to the bad). It is what it is. The Nats GCL team basically gets two kinds of players; over-aged college draftees (since we basically only draft college arms) and DSL graduates who may or may not be ready for prime time. So each type of guy may have his own caveats when looking at numbers.
GCL Pitching Staff movement throughout the year (* == lefty)
- Opening Day Rotation: Acevedo, Fuentes, Bermudez, Valerio, WPena
- End-of-Season Rotation: Fuentes/Baez, DeRosier, Watson/Mills*, Avila, Reynoso*, WPena
- End-of-Season spot starts/swingman: Serrata, Harmening, Acevedo
- End-of-Season bullpen: De La Cruz, Cespedes, Pantoja, Copping, CPena, Gunter
- Mid-Season promotions: Peterson, Boghosian, Hearn*, Guilbeau*,Pirro, Brinley, Howell, Valerio, Van Vossen
- Post-season end promotions: Baez, DeRosier (Feliz, Dickey?)
- up-and-back: Feliz
- demotions: Bermudez (to DSL)
- dl: WDavis, Simmons
- cut/released/FAs: Mancini, Yrizarri
- GCL/Lower cuts pre-season: Salazar, Jauss, DVasquez, Morel, EGomez, Charlis, JRamirez, Costa, Uribarri
GCL starters. Here’s an overview of the starters used in 2015, starting with the original starters, going all the way to the rehab spot starts.
- Carlos Acevedo got the opening day start and was used as a long-man the rest of the way, getting 29.2 IP across 10 appearances. 3.64 ERA, 1.11 whip, 3.61 fip, 20/9 K/BB. Acevedo is an older DR signee, already 21 but only in his 2nd pro season. These were decent enough numbers though and I can see him getting bumped up to Short-A; can’t quite see him making the Low-A bullpen though. Outlook for Next Season: short-A bullpen.
- Steven Fuentes went 3-4 with a 5.22 ERA in 39.2 IP in his first season domestically after excelling as a 17yr old in the DSL last year. 33/15 K/BB ratio but his peripherals were iffy: 1.54 whip, 4.14 fip. His K/9 rate seems promising and he’s young enough that there’s no reason to push him along: I think he repeats the GCL in 2016. Outlook for Next Season: GCL rotation.
- Juan Bermudez struggled with the GCL squad, posting a 6.91 ERA in 14.1 IP and got demoted back to the DSL. There he also struggled and the squad released him in August. Outlook for Next Season: out of the organization.
- Maximo Valero excelled in the GCL, going 4-1 with a 1.72 ERA across 36.2 IP. 32/7 K/BB and a sub 1.00 whip. He earned a promotion to Short-A by mid August and finished the season there, posting a 2.63 ERA in Short-A with a 15/3 K/BB ratio. He has not yet turned 21 and looks like he could be an excellent IFA signing. I think he makes sense at this point to compete for the Low-A rotation; problem is that there’s just way too many arms already competing for that rotation. I think he could end up as a long-man in Hagerstown and then get pushed to the Short-A rotation in mid June. Outlook for Next Season: Short-A rotation.
- Wilber Pena had an ok first domestic season, going 1-6 with a 3.92 ERA, 1.51 whip and 36/12 K/BB in 39 IP. Not great, but not horrible. He won’t turn 21 until after next season, so I can see him repeating the GCL to work on his WHIP. Outlook for Next Season: GCL rotation.
- Joan Baez was tried out in Low-A and Short-A briefly before settling back into the GCL for the majority of the season; there he exceled, posting a 2.13 ERA in 9starts/42IP. 42/19 K/BB. This was his 2nd go-around in the GCL and he improved across the board. He’s a bit of an older IFA signing (he just turned 21 in December, so 2016 will still be his age 21 season), so he makes sense to try out again in Hagerstown in 2016. I’m not sure he’s going to make that rotation though; he may be destined for the bullpen. That being said, the team clearly wants him to stick as a starter. Outlook for Next Season: Low-A long-man/spot starter.
- Yorlin Reynoso got one quick start in Auburn before getting demoted back to the GCL to repeat the level; he ended up going 1-3 with a 5.66 ERA, 1.51 whip, 26/14 K/BB ratio in 35 GCL innings as a 19yr old. These are improvements over 2014’s GCL stint, and he’s still young, so I can see the team sticking with him. But he can’t play in Viera forever. 2016 needs to see some improvement; he needs to stick in the Short-A rotation. Outlook for Next Season: Short-A rotation competition/release candidate.
- McKenzie Mills went 0-5, 7.27 ERA with 24/28 K/BB in 34.2 ip across two levels. He posted a 4.46 fip, .405 babip while in Short-A then got dropped back to the Rookie league, where he threw 23 IP at a 7.04 ERA clip. Rough season for Mills, who couldn’t make the jump to short-A, then struggled when back in rookie ball. Just way too many walks to be effective, but likely hangs around a bit longer since he can just hang out in XST and try to pick back up on next year’s short season squads again. 2016 may be a make-it or break-it year though. Outlook for Next Season: Short-A rotation competition/release candidate.
- Matt DeRosier went 0-2, 3.58 ERA with 30/7 K/BB in 27IP (7 starts) mostly in the GCL, having gotten dumped out of Auburn after a couple of poor starts. 2.02 fip, .435 babip in Auburn, so perhaps it was a short-sample-size that was unflattering. He needs to put together a nice string of healthy starts somewhere outside of complex ball though. Outlook for Next Season: Short-A rotation competition/release candidate.
- Tyler Watson went 1-1, 0.00 ERA and 16/4 k/bb in 13ip, 1.81 fip, .226 babip in the GCL. The Nats 2015 34th round over-slot signee did not disappoint. He’s young but he looked dominant in his first pro innings. I’ll bet he stays in XST and debuts next year on the short-A squad. He’s young though; so don’t be surprised if he repeats the GCL entirely to build up innings. Outlook for Next Season: Short-A rotation.
- Mick VanVossen went 0-2, 4.83 ERA across 2 levels. 23/13 K/BB in 31.2 ip, 4.09 fip, .260 babip in GCL (where he spent most of the year). Nothing too special here; struggled when he got to Auburn but only had 6ip there. Needs to show a better K/BB ratio to compete next year. And a college senior in the GCL isn’t going to cut it; he needs to make next year’s short-A bullpen and succeed or he’ll be axed. Outlook for Next Season: Short-A bullpen competition/release candidate.
- Rehab Guys:
- Ian Dickson had two rehab starts for the GCL: see High-A write-up for more.
- Brian Rauh had one rehab start and a couple other appearances for the GCL: see AA write-up for more.
- Short Timer Guys waiting to get assigned to the proper level:
- Taylor Guilbeau featured briefly (2 appearances, 1 start) in GCL before rightfully joining the Short-A rotation where he belonged. See Short-A write-up for more.
- Taylor Hearn also featured briefly (2 appearances, 1 start) in GCL before rightfully joining the Short-A rotation where he belonged. See Short-A write-up for more.
GCL Relievers: taking a look at the relief corps. We’ll organize relievers by going by IP from most to least. Anyone with than 10 IP or who was solely doing rehab will get cursory analysis at the end.
- Russell Harmening went 1-0, 2.86 ERA in the GCL with 16/4 K/BB in 22ip, 3.26 fip, .303 babip. He was a college junior draftee but a young one; he didn’t turn 21 until after the season was over. I’d say he makes sense to slot into the short-A bullpen in 2016. Outlook for Next Season: Short-A bullpen.
- Brayan Serrata fared well in his first professional innings after a significant layoff since signing in 2012. He had no innings in 2012, 2013 or 2014 (at last as far as milb.com knows). This year in his turning-21 age season he posted a 1.80 ERA in 20 GCL innings (14/8 K/BB). I’m guessing he’s been hurt for a while; now he’s healthy and needs to move up. I’m guessing he does another season in XST and slots into the short-A bullpen. Outlook for Next Season: Short-A bullpen.
- Calvin Copping was 1-2, 4.76 ERA in the GCL 14/5 K/BB in 17ip, 4.01 fip, .305 babip. So-So numbers for a college guy in the rookie league. As with his fellow middle-of-the-road senior sign pitchers, he needs to show more dominance if he wants a job out of spring 2016. Outlook for Next Season: Short-A bullpen competition/release candidate.
- Angher Cespedes posted a 5.14 ERA in 14IP in his first domestic season after being a relatively old DR signing. He’ll turn 22 next year and doesn’t seem likely to do much outside of complex ball; i’ll say he repeats the GCL if the team retains him. Outlook for Next Season: GCL bullpen/release candidate.
- Jorge Pantoja was 1-1, 5.84 ERA in the GCL, 11/3 K/BB in 12ip, 2.74fip, .395 babip. Looks like some potential there with a K/inning and a FIP that flatters his ERA. Probably needs more time. Outlook for Next Season: Short-A bullpen competition/release candidate.
- Carlos Pena signed as an NDFA and posted a 9.82 ERA in 7 GCL innings. He got hit hard but he did strike out a guy an inning, so perhaps he hangs around the complex for antoher shot. Outlook for Next Season: GCL bullpen
- Pedro Avila is a youngster who was an 2014 IFA signing and who *destroyed* the DSL in 2015; 87/17 K/BB in 59.2 innings and was summoned to Viera in Mid August. He threw just one 4-inning outing before the season ended but he looks quite promising. He’s profiling as a starter and seems like a good bet to be the GCL’s opening day starter in 2016. Outlook for Next Season: GCL rotation.
- Kida De La Cruz had three short outings in June and then didn’t appear afterwards, presumably getting hurt but not going on the D/L. A lost season for the 2014 IFA signee, who will turn 22 next year and seems to be far too old for the GCL. Outlook for Next Season: GCL bullpen/release candidate.
- Deibi Yrizarri had just one 2015 GCL appearance, did not retire a batter, and was released. He posted a 9.08 ERA last year in the GCL and I guess the team had seen enough. Seems like a quick hook though for a guy who they kept hanging around the complex for months. Outlook for Next Season: out of baseball.
- The following guys threw a handful of rehab innings and are mentioned only to complete the analysis of everyone who appeared in the GCL this year:
- Johansen, RPena, DRamos
- The following guys threw a handful of innings before getting quickly promoted to the proper level and are mentioned only to complete the analysis of everyone who appeared in the GCL this year:
- Feliz, Howell, Pirro, Brinley, Boghosian, ALee, Peterson
Not too many pure relievers in the GCL; mostly they’re tandem starters each pitching 3-4 innings per rotation turn. And the Nats treatment of the GCL these days seems to basically be finishing school for their DSL stars since they rarely sign anyone from high school. Nonetheless, I project a ton of guys getting bounced from the Short-A bullpen competition so perhaps that’s who will reside in the GCL next year.