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End of April 2024 Check-in On the Rotations

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Parker is the minor league success story so far in 2024. Photo via WP

Hello all. One of the recurring posts I did last year that I really enjoy doing (as long as I can find time to do it) is a monthly look at the state of the rotations of our entire system. Here we are one month in and a few turns through the rotations at all levels, and here’s the first of what hopefully is a season full of rotation (and pitching staff) recaps for the Nats big club and its farm teams.

Each team will have the same items: current rotation, changes in the last month, observations, next guy to get promoted (if its in the minors), next guy to get cut, and then a few comments about relievers.

Important links for this analysis:


We’ll start with the Majors.

Rotation as of 4/30/24: Irvin, Gore, Williams, Parker, Corbin

Changes since opening day: Grey on DL, replaced by Parker

Rotation Observations: Opening day starter Josiah Grey had two ineffective starts (8.1 IP and 13 runs allowed) before heading to the DL with a scary sounding “Flexor Strain” elbow issue that often is followed up by the dreaded Tommy John surgery. Adon got a spot start earlier in the month, but the timing of Grey’s injury with Adon’s workload meant that the team gave Mitchell Parker the call up, and boy has he delivered. In three starts he got wins over basically the two best teams over the last decade or so, has kept the ball in park, and has kept his walks down. Basically everything he didn’t really do in the minors. Crazy. Meanwhile, Trevor Williams has gone from 5th starter competition in spring training to basically our most competent starter: 5 starts, 2.70 ERA, and a FIP that matches his ERA. Gore has also looked solid, with peripherals better than his actual stats albeit with a few more baserunners per inning. Meanwhile, Corbin has done what we though he was going to do (6.82 ERA), as has Irvin (95 ERA+, basically a 4th or 5th starter performance). Irvin’s FIP is lower than his ERA, indicating that he’s been a little unlucky, especially when looking at his WHIP (1.18) and his BABIP (.303; not egregious but a little elevated).

Next guy to get cut/demoted: Corbin. it’s unclear how long Grey will be out, but he’s already doing 120 feet of throwing and may be doing bullpen sessions soon. That sounds to me like end of May return, which may (finally) spell doom for Corbin here. The only other possibility would be to send Irvin down, but that’d be really difficult to defend if Corbin has an ERA approaching 7.00.

Bullpen comments: the pen has generally been great. They blew Corbin’s great start last week, but overall has been solid. Tanner Rainey may be in trouble and is basically at the top of my “next guy to get cut” list right now. Same with Weems, who just is putting too many runners on base. Lastly MLFA Matt Barnes may also have a short leash, with middling numbers and no organizational history. Problem is, who replaces them? When we get to AAA, there’s not a ton of obvious candidates to come up b/c our 10 day DL is pretty full and the candidates aren’t exactly lighting it up down there.


AAA Rochester

Rotation as of 4/30/24: Adon, Rutledge, Watkins, Herz, Ward

Changes since opening day: Parker promoted up, replaced by MLFA long reliever/innings eater Watkins (Gsellman also got a couple of spot starts in April)

Rotation Observations: Herz has looked good, which is super promising for a team that’s lacking reliable starter prospects. Parker’s promotion over Adon and Rutledge, both of whom had MLB time last year, can be pretty easily explained by their performance so far in 2024: Terrible. Adon, with the benefit of a 4th option, has an ERA in the 8s and a whip in the 2s. He’s taken a step back from his 2022/2023 AAA numbers, and I don’t think he’s coming back anytime soon. Meanwhile, Rutledge has also taken a step back so far in 2024, averaging both a walk and a hit per inning while seeing his ERA bloat up to near 9.00. Ward has struggled in his conversion back to starter from sitting in the Nats pen all last year, and it makes me wonder if the team has him in the right role. I mean, he’s now 27, he’s in AAA trying to get stretched out, he wasn’t great in the pen last year … is he salvageable? Do you abandon his rotation presence and try to get him back as a useful middle reliever?

Both Watkins and Gsellman are what they are: 30yr old MLFA veteran arms who are hanging out to try to get another shot at the bigs, but who probably just sit in AAA all year and soak up innings while waiting for prospects to arrive.

Next guy to get Promoted: Herz. On the 40-man, easy promotion to cover for the next rotation injury.

Next guy to get cut/demoted: Adon. he’s eating up a 40-man spot, is now, what, 9th or 10th on the starter pecking order, he’s on his last option, and he’s not getting better. He’ll pass through waivers easily and get outrighted, so don’t be surprised if the next roster move is him. The rest of the starters in AAA aren’t really options to “demote” in that they either make it at AAA or they’re out of the rotation/gone.

Bullpen comments: Willingham (on the 40-man) has been good and may be a decent replacement for one of the faltering MLB relievers. La Sorsa (also on the 40-man) has not been good and is probably near the top of the DFA list. Rico Garcia has been AAA’s “closer” and looks decent. Adonis Medina has looked solid as the 8th inning guy. TJ Zeuch? not so much. 5ip, 14runs on 15 hits. ugh.


AA Harrisburg

Rotation as of 4/30/24: Luckham, Cuevas, Alvarez, Henry, Lord

Changes since opening day: Lord promoted up from High-A for Knowles, who I had in the opening day rotation but, based on his usage pattern from years past, probably was always going back to his LR/SS role.

Rotation Observations: All five starters have been generally good for the first month. 2023 Minor League POTY Alvarez has picked back up where he left off, albeit with some luck (he’s walked 12 guys in 18 innings). Cuevas has looked solid, which is great news in that he’s the youngest guy in the rotation at 22 and has already passed through rule-5 once. Lord’s got a 19/4 K/BB in 13 innings but is also giving up a ton of hits. Luckham’s not getting the K’s he needs and is getting by on a low BAA. Lastly there’s the “most important” arm in AA: Cole Henry. 4 starts, just 10 IP (that’s really cautious). 11/7 K/BB, but its only 10 innings, so its really SSS. I’d like to see Henry actually pitch a full game, or at least qualify for the win.

Saenz remains on the DL; he’d probably be in the rotation if he was healthy and I remain hopeful he can continue on his progress made last year.

Next guy to get Promoted: If they had to move up a starter .. i’d move up Henry. Maybe not on merit, but on talent/challenge level. None of the other starters are really making an obvious dominant statement to move up so far.

Next guy to get cut/demoted: Likewise, there’s no starter who’s really needing replacement. Lord is showing himself to be rather hittable (.316 BAA) but he’s also getting a ton of K’s. This to me perhaps says “reliever.” He’s also the only starter who didn’t start the year in AA, so it wouldn’t be a shock if he got dumped back to High-A.

Bullpen comments: Tyler Schoff continues to quietly work his way up the system; he’s yet to give up a run in 8 appearances/11 IP. Closer Nash Walters is probably too old for the level, but has also yet to give up a run in 2024. Knowles has been solid as usual in his swingman role. Orlando Ribalta is a fan favorite and continues to succeed. The only bullpen arm really struggling is Holden Powell, a college closer who’s never really impressed since his 2020 Covid year drafting. We have two relatively “important arms” on the 60-day DL; Zach Brzycky had TJ mid last year and may miss most of 2024, and 2018 3rd rounder Reid Schaller (who was effective in the AA bullpen last year) is on the “full season DL” already, which may spell trouble for him b/c he’s now 27 and probably becomes a 6yr MLFA at the end of the season.


High-A Wilmington

Rotation as of 4/30/24: Lara, Caceres, Young, Cornelio, Theophile

Changes since opening day: Lord got one start then got promoted up, replaced by Caceres.

Rotation Observations: Lara, Theophile, and Young have all been fantastic four turns through the rotation, each sporting an ERA in the 1s or 2s. Lara’s got the “worst” ERA of these three but a fantastic 37/8 K/BB ratio in his 23.2 IPs as a 21yr old. After watching Lara get socially promoted and constantly be the youngest guy at the level, he’s finally getting a chance to repeat a level and so far looks great.

Caceres and Cornelio? We’ll that’s another story. Caceres is the oldest guy in the rotation and has easily the worst numbers so far; 5.17 ERA, 8/10 K/BB in 15 innings. Cornelio’s ERA is in the 6s and he has 1-1 K-BB ratio and continues to show similar production to what he had last year. His time in the rotation may be nearing an end; i was surprised he made the rotation/got promoted from his stats from last year (a 4.68 ERA and 1.70 whip in low-A) and he’s not changing many minds.

Two important starters are on the DL here: Jake Bennett and Seth Shuman. Bennett is a 2nd rounder who had TJ last September, while Shuman continues to be unlucky health wise; he missed all of 2023 and now is on the 60-day DL to start 2024; he’s got solid career minor league numbers but can’t stay healthy.

Next guy to get Promoted: Probably Lara, even though he’s the youngest. He’s repeating High-A and has a live arm, and a 14 K/9 rate can’t stay in the rotation for much longer.

Next guy to get cut/demoted: Caceres; he’s just not getting enough Ks.

Bullpen comments: Their closer Todd Peterson is 6-for-6 in SVO without giving up a run. Marquis Grissom Jr. has been equally as impressive: 17/3 K/BB in 11IP. Arias, Zinn, Collins also pitching well for a solid-looking pen. I could see some promotions here soon, especially the 26-yr old Peterson, who’s way too old for High-A. Evan Lee got shredded for 9R and was released. 27-yr old 2022 Cuban IFA Danniel Diaz is struggling and may not be long for the organization. Same with his 24yr old 2022 fellow Cuban signee Marlon Perez, who has an ERA north of 9.


Low-A/Fredericksburg

Rotation as of 4/30/24: Sthele, Sanchez, Atencio, Susana, Davis (with Sykora getting his debut on 5/1)

Changes since opening day: Sullivan out, replaced by LR/SS Atencio, with spot starts from Agostini & Polanco

Rotation Observations: So, following the Low-A rotation has been a little hectic so far in 2024. It has seen a ton of churn. Every turn through so far, we’ve replaced names in the rotation with LR/SS guys. I almost wonder if they’re doing a true 6-man rotation to cover the 6-game series the team is playing. The stalwarts though are Susana, Davis, Sanchez, and Sthele, and none of them are really pitching well. Susana continues to get lots of Ks, and give up lots of runs. Our big-armed prospect has 17/4 K/BB in 12 innings, but also has a .308 BAA and a 6.57 ERA. He’s not going anywhere of course, but it’s been a while since he put together a stretch that validated his prospect status. Davis & Sanchez have middling numbers, but decent BAAs that make me think they’ve been a little unlucky. Sthele has not looked good, striking out just 6 guys in 18 innings and four starts.

All three of the guys who i’ve got listed as “LR/Spot Starters” have better numbers than basically anyone in the rotation, and it may be just a matter of time before the likes of Tepper, Atencio, and Polanco get longer stretches in the rotation. Tepper (a 15th rounder last year) has been lights out: 20/8 K/BB in 14 long relief innings), while both Atencio and Polanco have gotten spot starts already, and i’m kind of surprised they’re not in the rotation more full time at the expense of some of these guys. Atencio in particular has 21 Ks and zero walks in 18 innings; he’s yet to walk a guy.

Two guys who were briefly in the rotation (Sullivan and Agostini) both went straight to the full-season DL. Agostini after one god-awful start, Sullivan after two solid starts. Agostini is only 19 and showed a bit of promise last year, so that’s a loss for sure. The 60-day DL already had two other guys who we would have expected to see in this year’s rotation in Tolman and Aldonis, and there’s two other starters on the 7-day right now (Amoral and Aldo Ramirez, who just can’t catch a break). That’s a lot of starters on the DL in Low-A.

Next guy to get Promoted: none of the starters are pushing for promotion; if I had to i’d move up Atencio for reasons already stated.

Next guy to get cut/demoted: Sthele or Davis. Sthele has worse performance but Davis is 24 and struggling in Low-A. That’s not boding well for Davis’ future.

Bullpen comments: Thomas Schultz has been solid as the closer. Moises Diaz has yet to really get touched in 8 relief innings. Bubba Hall has been crushing it as a 24yr old and probably needs a promotion.

There’s 12 arms on the Low-A DL right now, which is crazy. That’s an entire pitching staff. I wonder how many of those arms aren’t really “that” hurt and this is just the side effect we see of losing Short-A team. There’s not a ton of players at FCL/XST right now, so you can see what the team is preparing to do in the 2024 draft; stock XST with pitchers most likely.


Phew. There’s your April 2024 look at the pitching staffs.

Written by Todd Boss

May 1st, 2024 at 12:24 pm

Four Full Season Rosters Now Available

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2024 AAA’s opening day starter Joan Adon. 2nd year in a row he’s done the deed. Photo via federalbaseball.com

The four minor league full-season affiliate rosters are now available, and all four rosters are updated in the Big Board.

Thanks to Luke Erickson who found all the links directly and summarized them this morning at nationalsprospects.com The MILB transaction pages aren’t updated yet. Direct links to each roster announcement:

Here’s some observations on the four rosters, dividing up outfield players and pitchers.

AAA non Pitchers:

  • The pushing down of both Alex Call and Jacob Young may have impacted the call-up of guys like Crews or Hassell, but probably not. I don’t think Crews “earned” his way to AAA based on his AA performance at the end of last season, but I also think he’ll work his way up soon.
  • I commented on the logjam of middle infielders on this roster at Luke’s site, but i’ll comment here again. So AAA has Alu (2B, 3B, LF), Kieboom (3B only), Baker (2B only), Dunn (SS and 3B), and Mejia (SS primarily) as its middle infielders. Alu is a 40-man roster player, so he kind of has to play. But if he plays 2B or 3B, then one or the other of Kieboom or Baker is sitting. If you put Alu in left field, then suddenly one of Call, Young, or Wood is sitting; that’s two 40-man players and our 2nd best prospect. So … where the heck are all these guys going to play? Are we just going to rotate them in and out of DH (so Blankenhorn sits)? It just seems like they need to make an adjustment here somehow. This will become a major issue soon if/when Brady House has to be promoted.
  • Millas the starter, Lindsly the backup Catcher. Lindsly continues to hang around.
  • The team retained Yepez and Blankenhorn to serve as 1B/DHs, they “beat out” a couple other guys in spring training and keep their hopes up of making their way to the MLB roster if and when we trade the likes of Gallo, Meneses, or Thomas.

AAA Pitchers

  • I posted about it when they all got optioned together 3/15/24, but the AAA rotation has been known for a few weeks now. Love it. First time (as i noted in the above link) we’ve had so many prospects in a AAA rotation in a decade or more.
  • The back-end of the bullpen includes at least two guys i’d keep an eye on: Jacob Barnes looked great in spring training, and 40-man member Willingham.
  • The rest of the bullpen in AAA is the expected collection of MLFAs, Waiver claims, etc. Tim Cate was at one point a prospect; maybe he can make it as a loogy (in as much as a “Loogy” even exists anymore with the 3-batter minimum rule).

AA non-Pitchers

  • Lots of prospects here. Too bad Harrisburg doesn’t visit my hometown of Richmond until very late in the season; i’d love to see the collection of 1st and 2nd rounders here.
  • Pinckney will take Woods’ spot in the outfield, to go with Crews and Hassell. I know many like Pinckney as a low-profile prospect, and he did get a NRI and got some ABs against major leaguers this spring … and looked really overmatched.
  • House still here, but … as per the above 2B/3B log jam, there’s really nowhere for him to go. Something is going to have to give, soon. House really should be in AAA.
  • Barley got demoted to be the starting SS in AA; he needs to hit more.
  • The rest of the bench are all 26-27 yr olds who are probably on their last lifelines; Wilson, Cluff, Arruda, Garcia, and Witt. None of these guys are really prospects; just org guys filling spots until guys earn their way up from High-A.
  • No Trey Harris anywhere, so he’s in XST land, either hurt or with the team trying to figure out how he fits in.

AA Pitchers

  • I’m guessing on the rotation, since most of the pitching staff on 2024 opening day was there on 2023 closing day. I think we’ll see Henry, Saenz, Alvarez, Cuevas, and Knowles. Obviously everyone’s got their eye on Henry, and if he starts out hot he might really force the Nat’s decision making process on what to do with Joan Adon in AAA in particular. I think its time for Adon to move to the bullpen, and a promotion could be the catalyst.
  • Also interested in 2023 pitcher of the year Alvarez, and to see if 22yr old Cuevas can push for a promotion mid-season
  • A couple of noteworthy relievers to watch in Sinclair, Schoff, and Ribalta. The rest of the AA bullpen are mostly over-age 27-28yr old/MLFA types who are now org-arms soaking up innings until they get released.
  • Where did Luckham go? He should be in this squad, perhaps he’s nursing an injury in XST because he didn’t get demoted to High-A.
  • Both Reid Schaller and Zach Brcycky are on the 60-day DL, seemingly out the entire year. Both are valuable back-of-the-bullpen arms who have performed well, and are one of the reasons it was such a cattle call for RHP relievers in spring training.

High-A non-pitchers

  • Because of the AAA->AA outfielder log jam. Daylen Lile starts in High-A again. He really needs to move forward, perhaps he’s still recovering from his scary Spring Training incident.
  • High-A has a log-jam of 1B/DH types that probably gets cleared up soon: Boissiere, Frizzell, Stehly, and TJ White only have so many ABs to share and all seem to play the same position. This may be the year that Frizzell and Stehly get cut; they’re both 25, both hit in the .230 range last year, and it may be time.
  • A couple of interesting middle infielders here: Infante was a 2nd rounder who hasn’t done much, and Kevin Made is very high on prospect lists.
  • The big name missing here is De La Rosa, who’s a top 10 prospect. MLBpipeline reported he has a “shoulder injury” right now. Great.

High-A Pitchers

  • I count Seven guys who were primarily starters last year in High-A; some of them are going to have to go to the pen. I’m guessing the team keeps Lara, Lord, Caceres, Theophile, and Luke Young in the rotation, sends Cornelio and Gausch officially to the pen, where they’ll join other former starters like Huff and Collins.
  • Not really much in the way of bullpen arms to keep an eye on here; if you’re already in the pen by High-A, it’s going to be really tough to make your way further up. Grissom, Marlon Perez two possible names to keep an eye on.
  • There’s a few high-A names completely missing that we should have heard about: Zinn, Cronin, and Lee. Zinn was a 2022 NDFA who’s had some success but who is off all the full season rosters. Cronin and Lee are both former 40-man lefties who have badly regressed, and may be in XST as a weigh-station before getting released.
  • Four Arms sit on the 60-day/all year DL already. Jake Bennett will miss the whole year after injuring his arm mid-season then waiting until September to get TJ surgery last year. Yet another 2nd round Nats draft pick who is in serious danger of not turning into anything. More interesting is Seth Shuman, who missed half of 2022 and all of 2023, now sits on the 60-day DL to start 2024. Great numbers, hasn’t pitched in nearly 2 years.

Low-A Non-pitchers:

  • Like the AA lineup, there’s lots of high-potential batters in Low-A. The middle of their order: Cruz, Vaquero, Quintana, and Green is something scouting guys can dream on. The rest of the lineup are mostly NDFAs and lesser prospects, kind of looking to see who can stick.
  • There’s a slew of guys here who are already 23 or 24, way too old for the level, and something will have to give (Baca, Dugas, Glasser, and Pimentel).
  • Brenner Cox made the team, which is great to see. Still hasn’t turned 20 yet.

Low-A Pitchers

  • Like with most of these lower end rosters, the 2024 opening day looks similar to 2023 closing day.
  • The rotation looks like its probably going to five from Agostini, Sullivan, Tepper, Polanco, Susana, and Sthele. If they go 5-man rotation it could be any of these who drops.
  • The bullpen is a mismash of IFAs, rule5s, and failed starters, most of whom are already 24.
  • Two big names not making it out of XST/FCL: Travis Sykora and Aldo Ramirez.
  • Four arms on the 60-day DL already, including two starters who have some promise in Aldonis and Tolman.

That’s it for now. I count 29 names “on” the FCL roster right now and another 16 in XST, which puts the domestic rosters way over the 165 player limit. So I’d imagine some cuts are coming at some point. Also, I have more than 50 names on the DSL roster, so i’d expect some serious shedding there come July.

Let the games begin!

Written by Todd Boss

April 2nd, 2024 at 4:01 pm

Your 2024 AAA Rotation Revealed Early?

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Thaddeus Ward should get stretched out in Rochester this year. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

On March 11th, all on the same day, the Nats optioned the following arms to AAA:

  • Cole Henry
  • Mitchell Parker
  • DJ Herz
  • Thaddeus Ward
  • Joan Adon

If this was a Jeopardy answer, the question would be, “What is, the Rochester 2024 opening day rotation for $100, Alex?”

(Note: Adon’s option confirmed his previously unknown “4th option,” given for reasons unknown. Maybe its because he was so young when added. He doesn’t seem to have missed enough time in any season since he got added in Nob 2020 to qualify per the previously understood rules. Beats me. It works to our favor absolutely, in that we get one more season to see if he can turn into something useful).

Now, odds are that at least one or two more starters will be joining the party in AAA, including one Jackson Rutledge, which would push one of these guys out, presuming Rochester is doing a 5-man rotation. The only other 40-man starters still on the active spring training MLB roster (Strasburg and Cavalli) both should be getting sent to the 60-day DL soon.

Plus, we still have two veteran NRI MLFAs in camp in Spencer Watkins and Zach Davies who could stick around, but neither of these guys are going to supplant the progress of the above five arms. My guess would be that the team retains one of Watkins or Davies, pushes Ward and Henry to AA as starters, then your AAA rotation is Parker, Herz, Adon, Rutledge and Watkins/Davies.

Of course, this also overloads AA, who (according to big board right now) already has 4 starters in Luckham, Saenz, Alvarez, and Cuevas. So we’ll see.

More to the point, for the first time in a while the AAA rotation looks like it’s mostly home-grown, actual prospects instead of being filled with 30-something MLFAs. Here’s a quick look going backwards a few years at the opening day AAA rotations:

  • 2023: Adon, Irvin, Espino, Abbott, Peralta; That’s 2 prospects, two MLFAs/Waiver claims, and one org guy
  • 2022: Tetreault, Sanchez, Cavalli, Reyes, JRodriguez. That’s one prospect, one rehab guy, and three org guys.
  • 2021: Nolin, Fuentes, Braymer, JRodriguez, Armenteros: that’s three org guys and two MLFAs.
  • 2020: Covid
  • 2019: McGowin, Copeland, Voth, Espino, Dragmire: that’s one prospect, one org guy, and three MLFAs.
  • 2018: Voth, Milone*, Fedde, EJackson, Vargas: that’s 3 prospects and two MLFAs.
  • 2017: JRoss, Turner, THill, Voth, Cole: finally back to a time when we had mostly prospects: this is 4 prospects and one MLFA in Turner.

We’ll see what 2024 starts with but it could be 4 prospects and a MLFA, or possibly even 5 prospects. And with the planned rise of AA’s stars to AAA this year, we’re not dependent on a gazillion retreads to fill the field either.

Written by Todd Boss

March 15th, 2024 at 11:43 am

2023 Wrap Up of Rotations with 2024 Predictions

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Andrew Alvarez was the Nats Minor League POTY, and he’s probably not even one of our 20 best pitching prospects. Photo via milb.com

2023 was the first time in a decade I kept up with monthly rotation reviews for the whole season. So, we might as well finish it off with a look at the starting and ending rotations for the various major and minor league teams, and a prediction as to what the rotations might look like next year.

Here’s the recaps for the year: End of April check-in, End of May check-in, End of June , End of July, and End of August. There was no September summary since the various leagues staggered the amount of time they played in Sept, leading to this post.

Critical to this analysis are the following links:

Lets start at the top. I’m drawing from all my posts throughout the year to show the evolution of each staff’s rotation. Then for 2024, I’m generally predicting 6-7 names per rotation to account for the inevitable injuries.


MLB

  • Opening Day: Corbin, Grey, Gore, Williams, Kuhl
  • End of April: Corbin, Grey, Gore, Williams, Kuhl
  • End of May:  Corbin, Grey, Gore, Williams, Irvin
  • End of June: Corbin, Grey, Gore, Williams, Irvin
  • End of July: Corbin, Grey, Gore, Williams, Irvin
  • End of August: Corbin, Grey, Gore, Williams, Irvin, Adon
  • End of Season: Corbin, Grey, Williams, Irvin, Adon, Rutledge (Gore on dl with blister)

2023 Discussion: Despite being a last place team, the rotation was amazingly consistent. Corbin, Grey, and Williams made 32, 30, and 30 starts respectively. Gore made 27 before going on the DL at the end of the season with blisters. Irvin came up for the ineffective Kuhl and did 24 starts of 93 ERA+ performance. Obviously the team went to a 6-man rotation in August, calling up Adon, who continues to not be good. Then, for the last few weeks Rutledge got the call up and posted about the same numbers as Adon (as in, he’s not ready).

2024 outlook: The 2024 rotation probably looks pretty similar to the 2023 one, because every one of these names is signed (or under team control) in 2024. Assuming that Strasburg indeed retires or cannot pitch, there’s really only one big name to throw into this mix: Cavalli. Perhaps the team converts Ward back to a starter after burying him on in the bullpen all year to get through rule-5 time. I think we’ll see Cavalli replace Williams in the rotation, who drops to the pen while all the others go back to AAA. If they get slammed with injuries there’s not a ton i’d trust coming up from AAA right now, so I wonder if they’ll go shopping in the FA market for more “trade at the deadline for a couple of prospects” kind of talents. But I highly doubt we’ll be seeing another FA starter, in that none of these guys has anything left to prove in AAA.

2024 rotation prediction: Corbin, Grey, Gore, Cavalli, Irvin, (with Williams and Ward as LR in bullpen). Maybe an off-season low-cost signing to flip at the deadline.


AAA Syracuse

  • Opening Day: Adon, Irvin, Espino, Abbott, Peralta
  • End of April: Adon, Irvin, Espino, Abbott, Peralta (with TRomero and Kilome spot Starts)
  • End of May: : Adon, Espino, Abbott, Peralta, Urena
  • End of June: Adon, Peralta, Urena, Rutledge, Banda.
  • End of July: Adon, Peralta, Urena, Rutledge, Banda (plus Espino before getting called up and released)
  • End of August: Peralta, Abbott, Rutledge, RMunoz, AHernandez plus Troop and TRomero spot starts.
  • End of Season: Parker, AHernandez, RMunoz, TRomero, Mengeden (Banda, Peralta shut down, Adon & Rutledge promoted up)

2023 Discussion: The AAA rotation for the bulk of the year included two guys (Peralta and Urena) who were 30-year old MLFAs who were absolutely awful but yet got starts for most of the year, a testament to the thinness of the Nats starting pitching depth at its highest levels. Adon did the majority of the year in AAA to try to prove that his 2022 was a fluke (spoiler alert; he did not: 4.62 ERA, 1.51 whip in 17 AAA starts). Espino was solid before getting called up, shelled, and released. Rutledge did about half a season of competence and was joined in the end by a couple of guys who seem likely to feature in AAA next year.

2024 outlook: I think the late season call-ups (Adon and Rutledge) are coming right back to start AAA next year; they did not impress in their short MLB stints and will be on the books as 4-A/rotation coverage to start the year. I think they’ll be joined by the two guys who got bumped up to AAA at season’s end (Parker and AHernandez), plus hopefully a couple guys coming back from injury (Tetreault), We probably see a couple of MLFA veteran MLB starters thrown in the mix (which is basically what Peralta and Urena were this year), and perhaps a AA guy (Herz) moving up.

2024 rotation prediction: Adon, Rutledge, Parker, AHernandez, Tetreault, Herz, and a Veteran MLFA in the mix (with Munoz, TRomero in the bullpen unless they leave as MLFAs)


AA Harrisburg

  • Opening Day: Rutledge, Parker, Herrera, Troop, Cuevas
  • End of April:  Rutledge, Parker, Herrera, Troop, Cuevas
  • End of May:  Rutledge, Parker, Troop, Cuevas, AHernandez
  • End of June: Parker, Troop, Cuevas, AHernandez, Saenz, plus Henry
  • End of July: Parker, Troop, Hernandez, Saenz, Henry (plus Knowles, Cuevas, Herz)
  • End of August: Parker, Cuevas, Saenz, Alvarez, Herz
  • End of Season: Cuevas, Saenz, Alvarez, Herz, Luckham (Troop in LR, Henry in limbo)

2023 Discussion: The AA roster definitely produced some player development wins this year: Rutledge ended up in the majors, Parker pitched a solid full season and should feature in AAA next year, and Alemedo Hernandez had a 2-level jump. Herz was a mid-season acquisition and pitched probably better than any of them, but only turns 23 in January so he’s in no real rush to get to AAA. Finally Alvarez ended up in AA after dominating in High-A and looks like a heck of a find as a 12th rounder, taking the system’s Minor league pitcher of the year award. Herrera’s injury and age may spell the end of his career here, Troop seems to have settled into AA as his peak level and is already 27, and Cuevas spent the entire year getting shelled. The big question mark here is Cole Henry, who was in AAA in 2022 before his injury, now can’t get guys out in AA, and I really worry his shoulder injury may be career ending.

2024 outlook: Three of the guys who ended in the AA rotation (Saenz, Alvarez, and Luckham) were the kind of mid-season promotions that the Nats like to do, and thus I see them staying in AA to start 2024 with an eye on another mid-season promotion next June/July based on merit. They seem to like Knowles as a swing man so I think he stays in that role, possibly replacing a released Troop. Cuevas should repeat; he’s still young and his numbers were poor this year. So we’ve seen most of what Harrisburg may see next year already. We’ll probably see some names rising up that we’ll talk about in the next section. But we’re hurting for names here, and its hard to squint at the High-A guys and predict any of them making the push to rise up really, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw Herz still here, if we saw Tetreault pushed back a level after missing a year, or even a MLFA or two.

2024 rotation prediction: Henry, Cuevas, Saenz, Alvarez, Luckham, maybe Tetreault, maybe Theophile


High-A Wilmington

  • Opening Day: Lara, Saenz, Huff, Theophile, Alvarez
  • End of April:  Lara, Saenz, Huff, Theophile, Alvarez with Luckham
  • End of May:  Lara, Saenz, Huff, Alvarez, Luckham, with Theophile getting spot starts
  • End of June: Lara, Alvarez, Luckham, Theophile, Caceres, Bennett
  • End of July: Lara, Alvarez, Luckham, Caceres, Lord, (with Theophile, Bennett)
  • End of August: Lara, Luckham, Caceres, Lord, Bennett,
  • End of Season: Lara, Luckham, Caceres, Lord, Bennett (with Diaz doing late season spot start, Theophile shut down)

2023 Discussion: Wilmington’s rotation had a couple of success stories for sure: Saenz and Alvarez both earned mid-season promotions; it probably took Alvarez a month more than it should to have been moved up. Theophile seemed to be on the same path but completely disappeared on July 7th, never hitting the DL and with a decent 3.48 ERA/1.28 whip going). The rest of the rotation was middling at best. They were hurt by the loss of Seth Shuman, who had a 3.23 ERA in high-A in 2022 but who missed the whole season.

2024 outlook: Bennett is a big name for this team but struggled upon reaching High-A. There was never an official report of an injury, but Roster Resource lists him as being “injured” which usually means something serious, but we’ll have to wait and see. Hf healthy, he’ll be back, as will most of the guys there at the end of the season. Theophile was 24 this year and seemed to get High-A, so if he’s healthy i could see him starting in AA. Otherwise, the rotation in August seems to be what they’ll go with starting next year.

2024 rotation prediction: Lara, Luckham, Caceres, Lord, Bennett, Shuman plus a couple of guys moving up based on social promotion (Young, Cornelio, Tolman if he’s not hurt)


Low-A Fredericksburg

  • Opening Day: Bennett, Susana, Atencio, Cornelio, Denaburg
  • End of April:  Bennett, Susana, Atencio, Cornelio, Denaburg (plus Aldonis)
  • End of May:  Bennett, Susana, Cornelio, Sanchez, Caceres,
  • End of June:  Susana, Cornelio, Lord, Young, Tolman (with Atencio making spot starts)
  • End of July: Susana, Cornelio, Young, Tolman, Atencio (with Denaburg spot start)
  • End of August: : Cornelio, Young, Sullivan, Tepper, Stethe (Amaral getting 3 bullpen game starts)
  • End of Season: Cornelio, Young, Sullivan, Tepper, Stethe (with Polanco, Leon, Agostini late-season callups, not listing all the DL guys)

2023 Discussion: The Fredericksburg rotation this year basically had one decent success story (Bennett) and a slew of question marks. Bennett showed that its dumb to put a 2nd round polished college Junior in Low-A, cruising through 9 starts before getting bumped up. Caceres also got promoted, but not really on merit (his low-A numbers: 4.80 ERA, 1.52 whip in 15 games/7 starts). The rest of this crew left something to be desired. Susana is the only real “prospect” pitcher in Low-A, and he struggled: 5.14 ERA, 1.52 whip, 62/40 K/BB in 63 innings. Now, Susana was the 5th prospect in a 5-prospect deal, the proverbial “lets throw a lottery ticket 18yr old prospect into the deal as the final sweetener.” He’s only 19. So patience. As for the rest of this crew, by season’s end several of the rotation guys were 2023 draftees … but remember, we only signed on significant starter in this year’s draft, and he was a HS kid (Sykora). All the rest of the starters we drafted were either 5th year senior/nominal fees or $150k teen-round guys with little expectations. So with all due respect to Sullivan and Tepper and Stethe and Amaral … if we get one prospect out of this crew who gets out of Low-A we’ll be happy.

2024 outlook: For as “thin” as our internal options looked at AA, there’s an abundance of names in the mix right now for Low-A. This is the consequence of getting rid of Short-A; all these college arms get backed up, quickly. Right now here’s the list of “Starters” on the low-A roster, including everyone on the DL or Restricted list at the end of the season (listed by acquisition date):

  • 2023 draftees: Sullivan, Tepper, Amaral, Stethe
  • 2022 draftees: Young, Cornelio
  • 2021 draftees: Tolman
  • 2022 IFAs: Susana
  • 2021 IFAs: Agostini, Polanco, Leom
  • 2018-2019 IFAs: Aldonis, Atencio, Aldo Ramirez
  • Long Relievers: Polanco, Rodriguez, Otanez, Sanchez, Denaburg, Romero, Hiraldo, Marquez

That’s FOURTEEN guys who are listed as starters right now, and the Fredericksburg has 33 arms listed right now (!!). Something seems like it has to give. The team just has way too many arms here. Look for whole-sale shedding of these failed starters/long relievers at some point, perhaps next spring, perhaps when we start drafting players next year and need the roster spots. I think the team will put its highest rated prospects (Sykora, Susana and Aldo Ramirez) back in the rotation, join them with 2023 draftees and the best of the IFAs, and everyone else becomes a reliever.

2024 rotation prediction: Sykora, Susana, Aldo Ramirez, Aldonis, Amaral, plus a couple from Sullivan/Tepper/Stethe.


FCL Rookie

  • Opening Day: CSanchez, Zapata, Agostini, Leon, Polanco
  • End of June: CSanchez, Zapata, Agostini, Leon, Polanco (plus Ogando)
  • End of July: CSachez, Zapata, Agostini, Leon, Polanco (Otanez one spot start)
  • End of Season: CSanchez, Zapata, Agostini, Leon, Polanco

2023 Discussion: Basically, the FCL rotation was the same practically all season. Ogando got two spot starts and got shelled. Otanez was even worst than that. So, we only have 5 names to discuss:

  • Sanchez: 22IFA, 20yrs old, 7.92 ERA, 22 walks and 22 Ks in 30IP.
  • Zapata: 21IFA, 19yrs old, 4.81 ERA but only 25Ks in 39ip.
  • Agostini: 21IFA, 19yrs old, 4.53 ERA
  • Leon: 21IFA, 21yrs old, 5.58 ERA, 35/9 K/BB so that’s good but BAA was .287
  • Polanco: 21IFA, 22yrs old, 5.63 ERA

2024 outlook: Agostini, Leon, and Polanco got pushed up to Low-A, which is curious because none of them was the best starter in the FCL. The only one of these guys i’d have promoted is Zapata. I’d have the rest of them out of the rotation. Spoiler alert to the DSL analysis: there’s not a ton coming up the pike worth saving spots for; its a stretch even to assume that the two DSL Graduates mentioned will stick. I don’t think there’s any of these guys that will push for Low-A, given the slew of pitchers up there.

2024 rotation prediction: Agostini, Zapata, Leon, and a couple of 2024 draft picks Roman & Cuevas from the DSL could push for rotation spots but likely are LR at best domestically.


DSL Rookie

  • Opening Day: Farias, Portorreal, Moreno, Oliveros, DPerez
  • End of June: Farias, Portorreal, Moreno, Oliveros, DPerez
  • End of July: Farias, Portorreal, Moreno, R.Ramirez, with D.Perez doing spot starts.
  • End of Season: Farias, Portorreal, Moreno, A.Roman, E.Rivero (Cuevas one spot start)

2023 Discussion: Like with the FCL, the DSL nats managed to get through their season with mostly the same rotation. So lets run through them and their performance this year:

  • Farias: 19IFA, aged 21, 7.07 ERA this year. Aged 21! going against mostly 17yr olds.
  • Portorreal: 21IFA, aged 18, 4.79 ERA, 1.39 whip, 29/10 K/BB in 32ip.
  • Moreno: 23IFA, aged 18, 4.70 era but 28 walks to 25Ks in 30IP.
  • Oliveros: 22IFA, aged 20, 8.14 ERA and a .350 BAA; that’s hard to do
  • Perez: 21IFA aged 19, 4.45 ERA in mostly long-relief, 40/18 k/BB in 32ip
  • Ramirez: 22IFA, aged 19, 3.26 ERA, 1.53 whip
  • Roman: 21IFA, aged 20, 3.20 ERA, 1.04whip, 32/7 k/BB in 39 ip
  • Rivero: 23IFA, aged 18, 7.30 ERA, 1.95whip
  • Cuevas: 22IFA, aged 20, 3.44 era, 1.24whip

2024 outlook: Of all these guys, you can only squint and make an argument for a couple of them to get off the island and try for the FCL rotation next year. I’m guessing the team releases the three guys with ERAs in the 7s and 8s (Farias, Oliveros, Rivero) returns a few of them who were young but showed some decent promise (ERAs in the 4s, guys like Portorreal, Moreno, Perez), and then perhaps tries sending a couple specifically to the FCL. I like Roman’s performance here: decent control, aged 20 but only in his second year, so he’d make a lot of sense to move up as a FCL long reliever. Same with Cuevas: similar numbers, similar age and signing, and he excelled in that multi-inning model

2024 rotation prediction: Portorreal, Moreno, DPerez, Ramirez, plus a couple of 2024IFAs


One last thing. By most accounts, this is a rough order of our Starting Pitcher prospects now in the system, along with a brief statement of their performance in 2023 and outlook for 2024:

  • Cavalli: TJ; missed all of 2023, should be in 2024 MLB rotation, projecting as #2 starter
  • Bennett: crushed Low-A, struggled in High-A, disappeared for a bit, probably High-A in 2024
  • Sykora: 2023 draft pick out of HS, did not pitch, hopefully starts 2024 in Low-A rotation
  • Susana: struggled low-A, may need to move to bullpen, but still young. Low-A again 2024
  • Rutledge: shot up the ranks, ended in MLB, looks like he could improve. AAA/4-A in 2024
  • Ward: stashed in the MLB bullpen as a rule-5 guy, exhausted rookie status, could be a starter in 2024, but likely continues in bullpen.
  • Herz: trade acquisition pitched great in AA at age 22, could push for AAA in 2024
  • Henry; really struggled post TOS in 2023, worried for career, will be in AA again in 2024 trying to regain form.
  • Lara: over promoted, struggled in High-A all season, should repeat High-A in 2024.
  • Irvin: graduated to MLB, pitched in rotation most of year, hoping for closer to 100 ERA+ in 2024
  • Parker: solid in AA all year, should feature in AAA 2024.
  • Aldo Ramirez: hurt, missed all of 2023, hoping to see him pitch in Low-A 2024.
  • Saenz: under-the-radar performance earned promotion in 2023, starts in AA 2024
  • Shuman: missed all of 2023, hoping to bounce back in High-A in 2024.
  • Alvarez: solved High-A, had solid peripherals in AA, should return there in 2024.

I don’t think I need to say it; this is not a lot of depth. We really need to get guys like Bennett, Sykora, and Henry to return to form and earn their draft pedigree. I’d really like to see IFAs like Lara and Ramirez show up and deliver. But look for 2024 to be a pitcher-heavy draft.

Written by Todd Boss

October 8th, 2023 at 10:17 pm

End of August Rotation Check-Ins

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Joan Adon is back in the bigs after earning it at AAA.  Photo via Federal Baseball
Joan Adon is back in the majors after a long season in AAA. Photo via Federal Baseball

Wow, it looks like i’m going to finish a season-long series. We did an end of April check-in on the rotations, End of May check-in, and an End of June Check-in, and End of July.

Here’s August’s look after another month. We finished off the two short-season leagues, and will do one last check-in with the 5 full season rosters at the end of this month.

Important links for this analysis:


We’ll start with the Majors.

Rotation: Corbin, Grey, Gore, Williams, Irvin, Adon

Changes in the last month: Added Adon as a spot starter, then decided to pivot to a 6-man rotation for the rest of the way.

Observations: The 6-man rotation will be useful since the rotation has 3 arms (Grey, Gore, Irvin) they want to limit innings on. As of this writing, these three guys are starting to really add on innings: Grey at 137ip, Gore at 132, Irvin at 102 major league innings plus another 22 in AAA. So Adon will get 4 or 5 starts and spell everyone a little bit.

Corbin had his best month of the year in August; 5 starts, 4.13ERA. So did Gore, posting a 3.76 ERA and a 1.10 whip in 5 starts. So did Irvin: a 2.35 ERA on the month. Meanwhile, Grey did not; in 5 starts he had nearly a 9.00 ERA, ballooning his season numbers back above 4.00. Williams continued to be 5th starter material, with an ERA in the mid 5.00s. Lastly there’s Adon, who had a 6.00 ERA for the month, but that’s an improvement over last year.

The team has gone 18-12 in its last 30, 12-8 in its last 20, pulling them out of last in the division amazingly, and its a great positive way to finish the year.

Next starter to get cut/demoted: none. We may see some promotions just to save innings on the younger arms, but nothing merit worthy.


AAA Rochester:

Rotation: Peralta, Abbott, Rutledge, Munoz, A. Hernandez plus Troop and Romero spot starts.

Changes in the last month: Lots of churn in the AAA Rotation from July.

  • Espino was released right at the beginning of the month after years of service here.
  • Urena was mercifully released after an entire season of poor performance.
  • Banda was briefly in the rotation but pitched horribly and got demoted to the pen.
  • Adon got promoted

Observations: So, in these guys’ place we have these replacements:

  • Abbott (demoted down from MLB and back in the rotation to get stretched out, likely to get a 9/1 callup to eat innings)
  • AHernandez: promoted up after excelling in AA
  • Munoz; claimed in mid July and put into the rotation
  • Troop and Romero with a couple of spot starts

Results? Ugh. Troop gave up 14 runs in 4 innings for the month before getting demoted. Munoz had a 10.91 ERA in 5 August starts and it seems safe to say he’s on thin ice as a waiver claim, even if he’s super young (23). Peralta: another month, another ERA in the 6s or 7s. Abbott pitched well, but then again we already knew he’s better as a starter than a reliever. The actual prospects? Rutledge had a 4.38 ERA but was a bit wild (13 walks in 24innings), while Alemeo Hernandez struggled a bit upon his promotion to AAA. but he’s only 23 and now in AAA, so we’ll be a bit patient.

Next Starter to get Promoted: I mean, it has to be Rutledge right? When the big league team shuts down one of Grey/Gore/Irvin, it probably means Rutledge’s debut.

Next starter to get cut/demoted: Munoz.


AA Harrisburg:

Rotation: Alvarez, Parker, Cuevas, Herz, Saenz

Changes in the last month: Hernandez got promoted, so in his place they promoted up Alvarez. Troop went up, then came back at the end of the month. Henry has been shut down since July 25th, which is really not a good sign. Knowles is there for long relief but got no spot starts on the month (which mostly went to rehabbers).

Observations: Great months for Parker, Saenz, and Herz, each of whom had 5-6 starts, an ERA below 3.00, and an excellent Whip. New acquisition Herz was probably the best of them: 1-2, 2.57 ERA. 0,86 whip. Can’t ask for much better than that. Alvarez’ promotion has gone smoothly; the 12th rounder from 2021’s draft is looking solid: 3.60 ERA in his first few starts. Only Cuevas really struggled on the month, putting up a 7.60 ERA to inflate his seasonal ERA to 5.36. One last observation; LR Knowles gave up just one ER in the month and as a crafty 25-yr old lefty might be ready to move up, even if he’s not a primary starter. Herz is only 22, but has looked solid all summer. Parker is coming into his own and may be due a promotion soon too.

Next Starter to get Promoted: Knowles

Next starter to get cut/demoted: Cuevas


High-A Wilmington

Rotation: Bennett, Caceres, Lara, Lord, Luckham

Changes in the last month: Very little. Alvarez got promoted up mid-month, and he was replaced by Bennett, who took basically the entire month of July off either for an undisclosed injury or innings management. (Note: MLB’er Ward got two rehab starts as well). Theophile did not appear.

Observations: I don’t know what Bennett’s break was for, but it did him no favors. In his 3 August starts he only went 7 total innings, gave up 11 runs and only had 3 strike outs. What the heck is going on here? This was a guy who was really tearing it up earlier in the year … and now I don’t know what to make of him. Lord and Lara looked solid; that may be the first time i’ve EVER been complementary of Lara’s performance. Luckham’s peripherals were bad (5.13 ERA but a decent whip), while Caceres continues to be really bad. He now has a 8.80 ERA in 11 starts in High-A, he didn’t deserve a promotion to begin with, and i’m not sure he continues to pitch.

Then in the “what is going on here” category; Theophile. Had solid numbers first few months, then he last appeared on 7/7. No injury trip, no disclosure … just eating up a roster spot for two months. I don’t understand; the teams have a DL for a reason, so you can back fill an injured guy.

Next Starter to get Promoted: Lord

Next starter to get cut/demoted: Caceres


Low-A Fredericksburg

Rotation: Cornelio, Sullivan, Tepper, Young, Stethe (with Amaral getting 3 “bullpen” game starts)

Changes in the last month: a ton. Tolman went down with what seems like a really bad injury. Susana made one start and now sits on the Restricted list. Atencio hit the DL as well. In their place we have three 2023 draftees Sullivan, Tepper (from Liberty University in Virginia!), and Stethe.

Lastly, former 1st round pick Denaburg, who has been pushed out of even getting spot starts, had this August line: 5 appearances, 6.2 innings, 15 runs allowed on 14 hits for a nifty 17.55 ERA. Still on the payroll.

Observations: A rough month all around for the starters. Young was most decent; a respectable 3.75 ERA and 1.25 whip. More importantly, he struck out 35 in just 24 innings. Cornelio is the elder statesman of the bunch but continues to struggle to really stand out; he had a 4.65 ERA on the month. Our three new draftees each had rough introductions to pro ball: Stethe and Sullivan each got 4 starts but really failed to pitch deep into any of them. Sullivan had an interesting K/BB ratio: 19/10 in 12 innings. So, some good and some bad. Tepper is brand new to the rotation and only has 4IP so far, so too early to tell.

Next Starter to get Promoted: Young

Next starter to get cut/demoted: Denaburg.


Rookie Florida Complex League

Final Rotation: CSanchez, Zapata, Agostini, Leon, Polanco

Changes in the last month: none. And in fact, the FCL rotation was almost entirely unchanged from even opening day; Sanchez, Agostini, and Polanco were there the entire season. the only 2 changes even from opening day were Tolman getting promoted and Ogando getting pulled out of service after just two games and not appearing since June 13th.

Observations: Leon had the best month, but can’t strike anyone out (6 Ks in 13 IP). The rest were various stages of awful: Polanco had an 8.00 ERA, Sanchez in the 12s and walked 10 guys in 7 innings. Zapata pitched 8 2/3rds innings, gave up 12 runs and only struck out 3 guys. Only Agostini looked solid, pitching mostly behind the “starter” of the week who was really someone on rehab. 9IP, 2 hits, 2 runs. Wow. I’m surprised he hasn’t been promoted for the stretch run in F’burg.

Otherwise, this entire crew (which are mostly 2021IFAs seems like they’re going to struggle to stick around after this season, especially with the number of arms we have floating through the system. I think their saving grace may be the fact that our 2023IFA class was more hitters than pitchers.

Next Starter to get Promoted: Agostini

Next starter to get cut/demoted: Camilio Sanchez had the worst year.


Dominican Summer League

Rotation: Portorreal, Farias, A.Roman, E.Rivero, H.Moreno

Changes in the last month: Ramirez and D.Perez out, Roman and Rivero in.

Observations: R.Ramirez was kind of inexplicably taken out of the rotation and only pitched a couple times in the stretch run. He was replaced in the rotation by Roman, who was a decent reliever the entire season and who got two starts in the run-in. The MILB site is broken for August splits for the DSL, so we’re kind of guessing based on full-season stats. Clearly the 3 main guys in the rotation all year were Farias, Portorreal, and H.Moreno. Farias should have been more impressive; he’s 21 pitching against a ton of 16-17yr olds in the DSL and still had a seasonal ERA of 7.07. Most of the rest of th ese guys are 2023IFAs who are 18 or 19 and who they can be patient with. Roman probably had the best seasonal line of the “starters” with a 1-1, 3.20ERA, 1.04whip, 32/7 K/BB in 39ip. He did that as a 19yr old 2021IFA out of Venezuela, and it seems to me he’s well in line to move up next season to domestic ball.

Otherwise, there are a couple of decent looking pitchers out of the god-awful DSL team; Angel Pena had a 19/5 K/BB in 14 relief innings. Jose Britto had a .186 BAA despite a 5.00 ERA; not sure what to make of that. Ramon Cuevas had some decent numbers. Otherwise a lot of guys in the DSL who got rocked.

Next Starter to get Promoted: A.Roman

Next starter to get cut/demoted: Farias


Conclusions:

I’m super disappointed to see both Henry and Bennett either shutdown or essentially shutdown. I look forward to seeing what Rutledge can do in the majors. Herz looks like he could be a find.

Written by Todd Boss

September 3rd, 2023 at 9:53 am

Last night in Richmond…

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Wood's blast was the highlight of the night for Harrisburg.  Photo via milb

(freely stealing this idea from Luke Erickson and nationalsprospects.com, when Luke attends a game in person as he frequently does).

So, for those of you who don’t know, I’ve relocated to Richmond, home of the SF Giant’s AA affiliate known as the “Flying Squirrels.” I suppose its because Virginia’s capital city has a ton of squirrels flying around (no actually, it was a fan-based naming competition back in 2009). And our own Harrisburg Senators were in town this week for a 6-game series. So I got a chance to see our prospects in action last night.

Here’s my recap.

In rough lineup order from last night (here’s the box-score), a game our team lost 7-6 in a walk-off, which was great for the home town fans but pretty galling for a fan of the National’s team, as they blew multiple leads throughout the night to give away the game.

Hitters first:

  • It only took about 3 minutes for our team to grab the lead 3-0. As the adage goes in Minor League baseball … get there early because you don’t want to miss any action. We missed it of course because, well, when you’re attending a baseball game with kids, the odds of getting there for opening pitch are usually nil. After a Jacob Young leadoff single and a Robert Hassell walk, Trey Lipscomb blasted a ball to left for a quick 3-run lead while we were parking the car.
  • Lipscomb played 2B, has already earned a promotion this year to AA, and has continued to stay hot. He went 3-5 on the night, was a double short of the cycle, is batting 3rd for the AA team, and honestly looks like he could really be a find. We’ve watched Luis Garcia scuffle playing 2B (and looking like he eats big macs every night); Lipscomb is an athletic beast who can play anywhere on the dirt.
  • Young: played CF instead of Hassell, went 2-4 with a walk on the night, was a real spark plug at the top, and made a really nice ranging catch at the wall early on. I like this guy too, and talked about how he may possibly fit into the OF log jam of prospects we have.
  • James Wood has been struggling since getting to AA, but he hit an absolute blast to right field that was awe-inspiring from our 1st-baseline bleacher seats. Phew. Someone’s going home with a dented roof, because he cleared both fences in right and nailed a car in the parking lot. He was only 1-5 on the night, but he did hit the ball hard 3 times.
  • Hassell looked absolutely awful. 0-4 with a walk and three strikeouts. Honestly, not once did he take what i’d call a confident swing. This is consistent with basically his entire Nats career so far. I know he had hamate bone issues, which takes a year to recover from. I know he’s a top prospect and hit while in SD’s system. What the heck is going on here? I mean, was all his production in San Diego’s system due to hitter’s parks?
  • Brady House batted 5th and was “just” 1-4, but it was probably a bit unlucky 1-4. He had a sharp line out to 2B for one out and he blasted a ball to CF that was caught on the warning track for another out. He also looked very, very solid at 3B, making a ton of plays, including a couple of in-between hops that looked tough on the way off the bat.
  • Frankie Tostado played 1B and batted 6th: nothing striking either way.
  • Israel Pineda was free swinging at the plate, waved at a bunch of pitches, had two punchouts. I know his value is behind the plate, but the dude is only hitting .175 for AA right now.
  • Lucious Fox…. looked awful at the plate. 0-4, three strikeouts, and his body language basically screamed “I don’t want to be here.” He’s 26, batting 8th in AA, and I wonder why he’s still on the team. At least he’s DFA’d off the 40man at this point. If we had a more pressing SS prospect, i’d guess that he’d be gone. Lipscomb looks more like a 2B/3B guy, Cluff is an org guy, and high-A doesn’t really have anyone banging on the door.
  • Jackson Cluff could be starting at SS instead of Fox; tonight he DH’d and batted 9th. Ask yourself: if you are batting your DH ninth … is it safe to say you have roster issues? Normally Cluff is at SS, Trey Harris is at DH, and the team shows a bit more pop. That being said, Cluff, did an admirable job table setting, going 2-3 with a walk and easily stealing bases all night.

Pitchers

  • Mitchell Parker got the start on the mound. If you’ve never seen him … his mechanics scream one guy: Clayton Kershaw. He has the same arm stretch straight up to the sky to start, he has similar arm action, a funky delivery, he’s lefty, and he gets a ton of Ks. He had 8 punch-outs in 5IP on the night.
  • Parker gave up a run in the 3rd on this sequence: 10-bounce grounder, balk, Wild Pitch, and then sac fly. So, not exactly helping himself, but also not really getting pounded early.
  • But he then went this sequence in the 5th: bunt single to open (House was literally playing on the grass at 3B and by the time he got to the bunt the guy was rounding first), then another seeing-eye-single up the middle to have 2 on with nobody out, then Richmond’s best hitter blasted a homer to score three and tie the game.
  • Honestly, Parker looked pretty solid on the night. I only saw two really hard hit balls, both by the same guy Shane Matheny who seemed to have a read on him all night. But, as has been a pattern for Parker, he was profligate with his pitches, needing 92 to get through five innings. I still like him as a prospect, even though his ERA in AA is in the upper 4.s
  • After Parker came out, 2021 NDFA Tyler Schoff came in and pitched a neatly effective 6th. A NDFA advancing to AA is a pretty solid outcome; he didn’t have super awesome stuff, but he was effective. He’s looking like that classic middle reliever RHP guy who gets by on movement and who suddenly is pitching in the 6th for the big league club.
  • Malvin Pena pitched the 7th and 8th; he looked like a slightly trimmer version of Lee Smith on the mound. Pena pitched a clean 7th but then went homer-double-RBI single in the 8th to cough up a 6-4 lead and send the home crowd into a frenzy. The single went to Wood, who made a valiant attempt to throw the guy out at the plate and nearly got him. Solid defensive play.
  • So, now its tied 6-6 in the 9th and we bring in Patrick Ruotolo, a MLFA we signed out of the Mexican League in early July and who pitched for this same Richmond team in 2021 for nearly a full season. Now he’s a 28yr old reliever in AA … and he pitched like it. Walk to open the 9th (already a 50% chance of that guy scoring), then a sharply hit single for two-on, none out. Ruotolo did induce what looked like it could be a DP grounder, but it ate up Lipscomb at 2nd and an arguable force-call didn’t go his way. Bases loaded, none out, and the same guy who blasted a homer earlier in the game lofted a deep flyball to CF that easily scored the walk-off run. Not an impressive outing from Ruotolo.

So, that’s the observations from the game. Senators blow leads of 3-0 and 6-4 to lose 7-6. The post-game fireworks were cool though.

Written by Todd Boss

August 20th, 2023 at 9:59 am

End of July 2023 Check-in on Rotations

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How long before we see Rutledge in the bigs? Photo via Federal Baseball.

We’re on a roll: We did an end of April check-in on the rotations, End of May check-in, and an End of June Check-in. Here’s July’s look after another month.

Important links for this analysis:


We’ll start with the Majors.

Rotation: Corbin, Grey, Gore, Williams, Irvin

Changes in the last month: None. No changes month over month, and just one rotation change all year. Amazing.

Observations: Corbin continues to suck (July ERA 5.83, seasonal ERA 5.07). Grey has now lowered his season ERA to 3.27 and was our sole All Star. I thought Williams might actually be trade bait, but an ugly month where he gave up 19 runs in 28 innings probably killed his trade value. Gore really struggled in June, with his K/BB rate plummeting and his giving up 15 runs in 20 innings. Lastly Irvin came down to earth a little but after a stellar June, posting a 5.06 ERA for the month.

In order, the pitchers in this rotation in terms of long-term importance are Grey, Gore, gap, Irvin maybe, huge gap, and then Williams & Corbin, who will be paid to eat innings for a last place team the rest of this year and next. So outside of an injury or an innings limit, I can’t see this rotation changing anytime soon, even as most of these guys struggle. I’d like to see Gore fix his ailments; that’s the most concerning to me long term, because he’s supposed to be a huge part of the future.

As a side note, this analysis is mostly about the rotation, but as you can see on the big board, there’s been a massive amount of churn in the bullpen.

  • 2023 starting pen: Finnegan, Edwards, ERamirez, Harvey, Thompson, Ward, Banda*, Harris
  • Pen Now: Finnegan, Thompson, Harris, Ferrer, Weems, Machado, Willingham, Abbott, La Sorsa

The team has 5 relievers on the 10-day DL, 2 more on the 60-day DL, and released Ramirez in June. That’s a ton of churn. And as of this writing, it may get worse if they move the halfway decent relievers they still have.

Next starter to get cut/demoted: none.


AAA Rochester:

Rotation: Peralta, Rutledge, Urena, Adon, Banda (plus Espino before getting called up).

Changes since Last Month: none.

Observations: Zero turnover in the rotation despite massive churn in the relievers back and forth between MLB and AAA. But that doesn’t imply all 5 of these guys are doing well. Banda’s July was pretty forgettable; 11.57 ERA in 12 innings/5 starts. Something tells me he’s not a starter. Peralta actually worsened his seasonal ERA in July (6.97) when it was already shockingly bad (5.98). Urena wasn’t half bad for the month: 3.60 ERA in 4 starts. Espino’s two starts were decent; he got called up and subsequently hit the DL with a “finger.” Adon returned tot he rotation with a couple of decent starts; lets see if he can build on them. Lastly there’s Rutledge, who had a full month in AAA and held his own: 4 starts, 4.17 ERA but only 17 innings.

Next guy to get promoted: Probably Rutledge, then Adon

Next guy to get demoted or released: Banda or Peralta.


AA Harrisburg:

Rotation: Saenz, Troop, Parker, Hernandez, Henry (plus Knowles, Cuevas, Herz)

Changes in last month: Just one real change in this rotation: Henry coming back of rehab and taking the spot of Cuevas, who threw two starts and has been MIA since July 6th. Knowles gave a spot start, and the team just acquired Herz in trade.

Observations: Henry has made 4 starts, thrown a grand total of 6 innings, can’t find the plate and is getting hit. Just not good news. Shoulder surgeries are always scary, and I’m beginning to really worry about him. Saenz just has not made the adjustment since moving up to AA, posting another 6+ ERA month. Same with Parker, who continues to struggle post A-Ball from an ERA perspective but continues to get punch-outs with regularity. This says “reliever” to me. Troop was efficient this month but is in AA for the third straight season, making me wonder if he has a future as a 27yr old who can’t get promoted northwards. Knowles looks like a really solid multi-inning reliever type, with the best monthly numbers on the staff. Hernandez has the best command of the bunch: just 3 walks in 26IP in the month and looks like he’s adjusting well as a 23yr old in AA after a long time away from affiliated ball. I like what Knowles continues to do, even though he’s not in the rotation. He might be making the best case to move up. Cuevas may be hurt, but having a guy on the active roster but not pitch for multiple weeks seems dumb to me; just put him on the DL. Lastly, newly acquired Herz will go into the rotation in AA, so someone is making way. Probably Saenz unless the team decides to shut down Henry.

Next guy to get promoted: Knowles or Troop (Note: after writing this but before publishing, indeed Troop got promoted)

Next guy to get demoted or released: Saenz


High-A Wilmington

Rotation: Alvarez, Lord, Lara, Luckham, Caceres (with Theophile, Bennett)

Changes in Last month: Theophile isn’t on the DL, but he hasn’t pitched since July 7th and was replaced in the rotation by Lord. Bennett also isn’t on the DL, but hasn’t thrown since June 24th, and I agree with Luke Erickson‘s assertion that something bad has happened to our prize prospect. He hasn’t really been “replaced” in the rotation, as much as High-A has settled into a more regular 5-man rotation from last month.

Observations: Lord got 2 starts and was very bad: 9+ ERA. He just got promoted up and may not be long for High-A (he didn’t exactly “solve” low-A in Apr/May). Caceres was even worse; 5 starts with an ERA in the 12s. As I’ve said before, he didn’t deserve the promotion earlier this year and has been awful in High-A. Luckham and Lara were both kinda “meh” months with ERAs in the mid 4s and seasonal ERAs in the same range. Alvarez had the best month: 5 starts of 3.76 ERA and 26/6 K/BB. He continues to hold a sub 3.00 ERA for the season and is clearly the next guy to move up. He just turned 24, was a 12th rounder and may be well positioned to try the next level.

Next guy to get promoted: Alvarez

Next guy to get demoted or released: Caceres or Lord


Low-A Fredericksburg

Rotation: Cornelio, Tolman, Young Susana, Atencio (with Denaburg spot start)

Changes in Last month: Lord was promoted, so Atencio moved from spot starter to rotation guy until he got hurt recently. Now they’re a man short in the rotation and I’m not sure what they do next.

Observations: Atencio was dealing in July before hitting the DL, so that’s disappointing. His most recent start was filled by Denaburg, who continued to light everything he touches on fire (10+ ERA for the month). Susana continues to not be able to find the plate: 13 walks in 18 innings to go along with an ERA in the 8s for the month; he’s gone from “prized prospect return” to “did we get some hard throwing kid dumped on us?” Cornelio really struggled on the month, posting a 2.45 WIP. Not good. Tolman and Young were the best of the bunch, but both had mediocre mid 4s ERAs and 1.50 esque whips. Nobody pitched well in Fredericksburg this month. Tolman continues to have decent seasonal numbers, but didn’t look good this month.

Next guy to get promoted: Nobody. Tolman in a pinch.

Next guy to get demoted or released: Denaburg .. but they’ll never do it. They continue to look at big signing bonuses as “investments” instead of “sunk costs.”


Rookie Florida Complex League

Rotation: Zapata, Leon, Polanco, CSanchez, Agostini (Otanez one spot start)

Changes in Last month: None really: Ogando got two starts in June, got shelled, and hasn’t pitched since (but isn’t on the DL). Otherwise the all-IFA rotation continues.

Observations: Polanco is the oldest and probably had the worst month. Well, except for Otanez, who had a pretty amazing stat line for July: 74.25 ERA. he pitched 1 1/3 innings, gave up 3 hits but 11 walks, which turned into 11 earned runs and a WHIP of 10.5. That’s impressively bad. As for the rest, Zapata had the best month by conventional stats and still holds a 2.45 seasonal ERA. Leon probably had the best month; 17/4 K/BB in 11 July innings. That was only good enough to lower his season ERA back into the 6s though.

Next guy to get promoted: Zapata

Next guy to get demoted or released: Otanez, then Polanco


Dominican Summer League

Rotation: Moreno, Portorreal, R.Ramirez, Farias with D.Perez doing spot starts.

Changes in Last month: Oliveros dumped out of the rotation with a 9 ERA, replaced with Ramirez. E.Rivero was pulled from the rotation to start the month.

Observations: It looks like the DSL team is basically operating with a 4-man rotation right now due to off-days, since they have freely pulled poorly performing starters out of the rotation. Farias is way too old for the DSL as a 19IFA and I’m kind of surprised he’s lasted this long. Reilin Ramirez has earned his rotation spot out of the pen, but still has too many walks. Doimil Perez has a decent looking ERA but also can’t find the plate. Henry Moreno has 20 walks and 17 Ks in 24 innings; impressive. The absolute best stat line in the DSL right now is long reliever Angel Roman, who has a 0.80 whip in 27 long relief innings and seems like the only guy worth promoting on the entire staff.

Next guy to get promoted: Roman

Next guy to get demoted or released: Farias


Conclusions:

I continue to worry about the Starter development in our system. Here’s a quick glance at our top 10 pitching prospects (starter or reliever) in some order:

  1. Cavalli: TJ
  2. Henry: clearly not performing at pre-surgery levels
  3. Sykora: just signed, its years before we’ll see him
  4. Susana: can’t find the plate
  5. Rutledge: finally impressing; a bright spot
  6. Bennett: WTF is going on with him? Is he hurt?
  7. Shuman: out for the year
  8. Brzycky: out for the year
  9. Saenz: getting shelled
  10. Parker: struggling to compete

Not promising. We will need to acquire starting pitching another way apparently.

Written by Todd Boss

August 2nd, 2023 at 9:35 am

End of June Check-in on Rotations

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Bennett probably our early Minor League POTY. Photo from OSU

We did an end of April check-in on the rotations and an End of May check-in. Here’s another look after another month.

Important links for this analysis:


We’ll start with the Majors.

Rotation: Corbin, Grey, Gore, Williams, Irvin

Changes in the last month: None. The rotation has been surprisingly static for a last place team.

Observations: Irvin officially supplanted Kuhl in the rotation after a couple of starts after his call-up, and when Kuhl came back Irvin stayed in the rotation and Kuhl went to the pen. That is, until about a week ago, when the team gave Kuhl his outright release waivers. They didn’t bother with the whole DFA dance; they knew that they were going to eat his $2M salary, so they just summarily released the guy so he could move on. Side note: Baseball is a good living: $2M for 3 month’s work.

Irvin was looking a bit shaky for a while, but his four starts in June were solid, and his last two were really good. His seasonal numbers are now about where Corbin’s are. Meanwhile, Grey has been stellar lately and has pushed his season ERA+ into the upper 120s. Williams has held his own and looks like a promising possible trade candidate for a team looking for some innings. Gore had a sketchy month that has inflated his ERA and peripherals, but still looks like the top 100 prospect he has been since high school.

Next guy to get cut/demoted: Nobody really. They’re not going to cut bait on Corbin, Williams is holding his own, the other three guys are here to stay as important pieces of the new-look future state Nats rotation. Remember; it only took the Nats three years to go from 59-103 to 98-64.


AAA Rochester:

Rotation: Peralta, Rutledge, Urena, Adon, Banda.

Changes since Last Month: Abbott got called up to the MLB pen, where he’s stayed, and Rutledge has taken his place after his late June promotion. Espino also got called up briefly but is back now, and may re-take Banda’s spot in the rotation (or not: Banda threw a decent start on 7/1; maybe he’s transitioning back to a starter role). Tommy Romero continues to be the first long man/spot starter out of the pen.

Observations; None of these starters really had a good month in June. Banda was the worst, making 5 starts, only going 19 innings in those starts, and giving up 14 ER along the way. Urena had a 5.68 ERA in June, which actually lowered his seasonal ERA of 7.17. Same with Peralta: a 5 ERA month has improved his seasonal stats. The fact that we keep giving these guys (aged 34 and 31 respectively) starts is proof positive that our pitching depth has gone to pot. Adon actually had a decent month. There’s no real point in talking about Espino; we already know he’s a better reliever than a starter, yet the team continues to push him as a starter in AAA. Rutledge got shelled in his first AAA start, but he’s more than earned the promotion.

Next guy to get promoted: Espino. But nobody’s “earning” another promotion right now.

Next guy to get demoted or released: As with last month, the moment they need a spot Urena or Peralta are gone.


AA Harrisburg:

Rotation: Cuevas, Troop, Hernandez, Saenz, Parker , plus Henry

Changes in last month: Saenz got promoted up to cover for Rutledge, when he got promoted on 6/27. Henry done with rehab and in AA but sits on the developmental list as of 6/30.

Observations: Henry’s first two starts back were horrific, so as we speak he sits on the developmental list. When Rutledge (correctly called as next guy to get promoted last month) moved up, Saenz (who had seemingly solved high-A) moved into his spot. The guy with the best month was Parker, who had a 1.35 ERA in four starts and has turned around his fortunes significantly (he was last month’s “Next guy to get demoted”). Cuevas continues to struggle (but is only 22), as does Troop (who is continuing to be the innings soaking long-man/spot starter he served in last year). Hernandez has been quietly effective with pretty amazing control; he walked just 2 guys all month.

Next guy to get promoted: Nobody really; perhaps Hernandez

Next guy to get demoted or released: I still think Cuevas looks over matched, but the first guy to make way if Henry comes back off Dev List probably is Troop.


High-A Wilmington

Rotation: Alvarez, Theophile, Lara, Luckham, Caceres, Bennett

Changes in Last month: Saenz promoted to AA (as predicted last month), Bennett promoted up from Low-A, Huff moved to bullpen

Observations: Wilmington has too many arms to put up with poor performance, which is why Chance Huff is now in the pen with his 6.12 ERA. Meanwhile, Wilmington seems to have too many starters and something may give soon. Lara continues to confound this observer, with another month of 5 ERA work on top of his 5+ ERA work all last year. Why he’s in High-A at this point is amazing, consider he couldn’t get guys out at Low-A and is incredibly young for the league. Meanwhile, Andrew Alvarez continues to impress, with a very solid month with a 1.77 ERA in his last four starts. Bennett has kept producing upon his promotion: first three stats in High-A featured a 1.29 ERA. He needs another month in Wilmington but I see nothing to indicate he shouldn’t keep on moving up. I Still think he was started way too low for a major conference Friday night starter 2nd round pick. Anyway. Caceres just got moved up and got shelled in his first start, too soon to tell. Theophile also had a solid month, lowering his seasonal era significantly. Luckham looks like the odd-man out of this rotation right now, though his ERA is much higher than it deserves to be based on his WHIP.

Next guy to get promoted: Alvarez

Next guy to get demoted or released: Lara, again.


Low-A Fredericksburg

Rotation: Lord, Cornelio, Young, Tolman, Susana, with Atencio making spot starts

Changes in Last month: Bennett promoted and replaced with Lord. Sanchez to the DL, replaced with Young. Caceres promoted, replaced with Tolman.

Observations: The Fredericksburg rotation had a great month, with all 5 of its main starters featuring sub 3.00 ERAs all month and two of them getting promoted. Cornelio had a 2.30 ERA on the month but still walks too many guys. Lord has moved up from the bullpen to take a spot in the rotation for now and his holding on, with a 2.35 ERA on the month. Same with Luke Young, who’s earned another few turns in the rotation. Susana looks the best of them with a 1.02 ERA for the month as he seems to improve month over month. Tolman got bumped up from the rookie league (as he should have been, since he’s 23) and threw zeros in his first start. Even Atencio, who was demoted out of the rotation in May, got in on the action, throwing a spot start and dealing.

Next guy to get promoted: Susana

Next guy to get demoted or released: Nobody for now.


Rookie Florida Complex League

Rotation: Zapata, Ogando, Leon, Polanco, CSanchez, Agostini

Changes in Last month: none; this is the first go-around for the FCL

Observations: First off, the concept of a “rotation” in the rookie league probably is laughable, considering the sheer number of guys on this roster and the number of off-days they get. But a semblance of an organized rotation has taken shape. Tolman started in the rotation, threw three outings giving up just one run and got moved up. The rest of this rotation? Entirely comprised of IFAs; 5 of them 2021 IFAs and Sanchez being a 22IFA. So far: Sanchez, Ogando, and Leon are getting shelled; each has an ERA in the 9 or 10 range. Polanco and Agostini are relatively competent; ERAs in the 4-5 range. Both are probably better than their ERAs; its hard to have an 5+ era with an opponent BAA of .212 as Polanco has. Last you have Zapata; 0.75 ERA through 4 starts, but he’s got a 1.50 whip, so he’s dancing out of a lot of danger.

Next guy to get promoted: Maybe Zapata, probably instead one of the bullpen guys.

Next guy to get demoted or released: Ogando or Sanchez


Dominican Summer League

Rotation: Portorreal, Farias, HMoreno, Oliveros, Rivero

Changes in the last month: none; this is the first go-around for DSL

Observations: Ok, so we know the DSL Nats are terrible (they’re 2-18 as of this writing), but it isn’t because of the pitching. Ok, its not *entirely* because of the pitching. Its primarily because their entire starting batting lineup are 2023IFAs signed in January. They’re all children. And they’re not hitting at all. (Meanwhile, one of the Dodgers’ DSL teams is 20-0 to start the season, and their other team is in 2nd place of the division. Why don’t we have two DSL teams?? Why doesn’t everyone??)

The rotation so far is up and down: Rivero only has 3 strikeouts in 10 innings; that’s not gotta cut it. Farias and Oliveros have BAAs in the .320-.340 range. Also not going to cut it. Moreno has a solid BAA but has nearly as many walks as IP. The best performer so far has been Portorreal, a 23IFA so he’s young. 5 starts, 2.45 ERA, looks solid. A great signing so far, especially for his bonus amount.

In case you’re wondering, here’s the IFA tracker for bonus amounts to get a sense of who’s supposed to be performing. Nearly all our big bonus guys were batters; the biggest bonus pitcher went to a guy on the DL all year. Portorreal got just $10k that we know about, Moreno and Rivero were 23IFAs who probably got 10k or less. The other guys in this rotation; Oliveros in 22 for >$10k and Farias, who was a 19IFA and is still in the DSL; he’s rule-5 eligible after this season!

Next guy to get promoted: Portorreal

Next guy to get released: ERivero


Conclusions: most of my predicted promotions from last month took place, and we’re getting a ton of impressive results out of Low and High-A. Still need to see Henry get back into the swing of things to make me feel better.

Written by Todd Boss

July 2nd, 2023 at 11:04 am

End of May Check-in On Rotations

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We did an end of April check-in on the rotations; how about and end-of May one too?

Important links for this analysis:


We’ll start with the Majors.

Rotation: Corbin, Grey, Gore, Williams, Irvin

Changes since opening day: Irvin for Kuhl, who went out with a slight injury and then has been kept down while Irvin came up and, at least initially, looked solid.

Observations: Irvin’s first two starts were fantastic. Even his third was promising, with his numbers inflated by a couple of infield singles and a crummy reliever who let in 3 of Irvin’s inherited runners. Since then though, it has not been good, and Irvin’s ERA now hovers in the mid 5.00 range. He’s giving up way too many base runners (1.68 whip) and I think he needs to head back down to work on his command. Meanwhile, Grey & Gore continue to look solid, if a bit wild, and look like solid rotation pieces for the next 5-6 years. Trevor Williams continues to get by on smoke and mirrors (there’s more than a point difference between his ERA and FIP), and Corbin is who he is at this point, eating up innings for his salary until he runs out his contract at the end of next year.

Next guy to get cut/demoted: Irvin. I think the Irvin experiment has trailed off and Kuhl will regain his spot in the rotation for a little while longer. Neither is really deserving, Do you want Irvin to continue to develop in the majors so that you can give innings to a one-year guy like Kuhl?


AAA Rochester:

Rotation: Urena, Adon, Abbott, Peralta, Espino

Changes since Last Month: Just veteran MLFA Urena replacing the promoted Irvin in the rotation.

Observations; The seasonal ERAs of these five starters is, in order: 5.18, 9.35, 4.50, 6.25, and 6.11. That’s awful. It isn’t much better controlling for the last month; none of them have an ERA under 5.00. What’s interesting is that we know (based on last year’s MLB stats) that both Espino and Abbott work far better as relievers versus starters, yet they both continue to stay in the rotation. Urena is 31 and has been awful, Peralta 34 and nearly as bad. I’m not sure what to do with Adon; he’s regressed since his AAA season last year, is falling in the depth chart, and soon may be nearing the “next guy to get cut from the 40-man to make room” territory

Meanwhile, Tommy Romero is kind of like the “6th starter,” a swingman who gets spot starts, and his numbers look great. I’m not sure why we cling to spots for washed up AAA starters in their 30s when we could feature guys who might actually be prospects. I think the team should release Urena and Peralta, put Irvin back here, and put Romero in the rotation in the short term.

Of course, the likely answer to “why is Urena still here” is named Cole Henry, who is doing a re-hab tour of the minors and should return to the AAA rotation soon, likely spelling Urena’s release. Jackson Tetreault is also lurking in rehab, but he’s getting shelled in a-ball right now and doesn’t have anything to prove below AAA, so we could see some shuffling. I’d like to see

Next guy to get promoted: nobody deserving

Next guy to get demoted or released: Urena/Peralta for Henry/Tetreault, then if we need a AA promotion put Abbott or Espino back in the pen.


AA Harrisburg:

Rotation: Cuevas, Alamedo Hernandez, Rutledge, Parker, Troop

Changes since April: Hernandez in for Herrera, who seems to have had a season-ending injury in early May.

Observations: The AA rotation is starting to come together. Three of these guys have sub 3.00 ERAs for the month of May (Rutledge with a 1.90 ERA, Cuevas with 2.84, and Hernandez with a 2.70). I’m especially interested to see what Cuevas (age 21) does the rest of the way; a 21yr old in AA is impressive enough, for him to be effective is amazing. Hernandez is a 23MLFA that the team signed out of the Mexican leagues, he’s just 23, and he’s shown to be pretty effective as well; the Mexican league is considered a “AAA-quality” league and I wonder if he’ll be effective if he gets moved up. Amazingly to this observer, the former 1st round pick Rutledge, who I was almost convinced was a complete bust, is the bets of them; 1.90 ERA in May, 0.97 Whip, 20/4 K/BB in 23 innings. Dare I say it … he’s starting to look like a 1st rounder! I mean, should we start putting his name into future MLB rotation consideration along side Cavalli and Henry and Skenes when we draft him? 🙂

The season has also shown that guys who were formerly being used as longer relievers or starters are now clearly one-inning relievers. Evan Lee, Lucas Knowles, and Tim Cate all included.

Next guy to get promoted: Rutledge. Heck, he’s on the 40-man, if he dominates AA another month move him up to AAA and bump one of the retreads there.

Next guy to get demoted or released: Parker. After cruising through the A ball leagues, he’s apparently met his match in AA. Good thing for him is that he’s a lefty with punch-out capabilities, so he’s got bullpen options.


High-A Wilmington

Rotation: Luckham, Saenz, Huff, Alvarez, Lara, with Theophile getting spot starts

Changes since April: None really, just the addition of Luckham

Observations: Wilmington’s rotation has been harder to track this month thanks to two guys doing rehab starts there, plus some rainouts/double headers making for a bunch of spot starts. Huff and Lara continue to struggle; Lara at age 20 in high-A continues to confuse me; he had a 5.53 era in low-A last year and now has an even higher ERA in High-A this year. Is this good for his development? Why not keep him in low-A, a more age-appropriate league, until he proves he can solve it? Luckham was last month’s darling; he’s come back to earth. Really, the best performer has been Saenz, who gave up just 3 earned runs in the month of June and is repeating the level. Another month like this and he’ll be moving up. Theophile seems like he’s somewhere in rotational limbo, but has a big enough arm to possibly feature more as a reliever.

Next guy to get promoted: Saenz

Next guy to get demoted or released: Lara


Low-A Fredericksburg

Rotation: Bennett, Susana, Atencio, Cornelio, Denaburg

Rotation: Bennett, Cornelio, Sanchez, Caceres, Susana

Changes since April: Denaburg mercifully moved to the bullpen and replaced by Sanchez. Aldonis briefly in the rotation but got hurt. Atencio moved to the bullpen for Caceres.

Observations: Jake Bennett making fast work of Low-A: he had a 33/3 K/BB ratio in 5 starts in May and now sports a 1.93 ERA in 9 starts. Could we finally have a successful 2nd round pick? I think he needs to get out of Low-A, given his draft round and collegiate pedigree. Our other major prospect in Low-A is Susana, who had 4 starts but went just 14 total innings in the month. His numbers are decent, but he has to go deeper in games. 2022 draftee Cornelio is just way too wild (12 walks in 15 May innings). Caceres is an older IFA (he’s 23 just getting to Low-A). Sanchez halved his seasonal ERA in May, so that’s good.

Next guy to get promoted: Bennett

Next guy to get demoted or released: I don’t know; they’ve already demoted Denaburg and Atencio, we need another month to see which of the other guys would go next.


Conclusions: by most accounts, our top starter pitching prospects right now are in rough order:

  • Cavalli (TJ, out for year)
  • Susana (scuffling in Low-A)
  • Bennett (crushing in Low-A, needs to be promoted)
  • Rutledge (crushing in AA, needs promotion)
  • Ward (stashed in the MLB bullpen as a rule-5 guy)
  • Henry (so far so good on come-back from TOS)
  • Lara (over promoted and struggling in high-A)
  • Irvin (in the MLB rotation, may need more AAA time)
  • Parker (struggling in AA)
  • Aldo Ramirez (hurt, in XST)

When we draft Skenes he’ll take over as #1 on this list.

Could we be choosing 5 from Grey, Gore, Irvin, Cavalli, Henry, Rutledge, Skenes, Ward, and Bennett in a couple years time? That’s the dream.

Written by Todd Boss

June 1st, 2023 at 9:43 am

State of the Rotations at this point in the Off-Season

30 comments

So, the Nats have made some moves to theoretically shore up the rotations. I thought it was useful to take a quick gander at our starter depth and take a glance at what may happen.

Relying on the Big Board as always, lets do some thought exercises and think about the rotations for 2023 in all the full season teams.

MLB Projected Rotation

There are 11 Starters on the current 40-man roster, but only 5 rotation slots. But we also know we have serious injury concerns with some starters, some guys who are likely swingmen, some who are destined for A-ball.

  • Strasburg, if healthy
  • Corbin, if effective
  • Grey
  • Cavalli
  • Gore
  • Williams, newly acquired and apparently promised a rotation spot

My guess as to what happens is this: Strasburg is still hurt and goes on DL to start season, leaving us with the Corbin/Grey/Gore/Williams/Cavalli rotation (probably in that order). Now, both Cavalli and Gore had injury issues last season; if they cannot go, look for Ward, Espino, and Abbott to fill in (though honestly, Espino and Abbott’s splits as relievers were so much better than as starters that i’d look to keep them there).

This also assumes the team is going to continue to let Corbin pitch to a 7 ERA. I’m not sure they continue to do that forever; at some point, especially if someone presents coming out of AAA as worthy, we’ll see him either dumped to the pen or (more likely) released.

Now. Does the team seek out another starter to bolster this group? Only if they KNOW that there’s injury issues that likely lead to Grey/Cavalli/Gore starting on the DL, because otherwise they’re out of room. Lets say they bought another FA starter; who makes way? Not a healthy Strasburg or Corbin; that’s $60M of payroll. Not Williams. Not Grey; we didn’t trade for the guy to dump him in the bullpen. And certainly not Gore or Cavalli, who have nothing left to prove in AAA.

AAA Projected Rotation

Based on our current 40-man starters, their option status, and their capabilities, along with who we’ve signed as MLFAs (and assuming these guys don’t have opt-outs), here’s what our AAA rotation looks like right now:

  • Adon
  • Irvin
  • Alexy
  • Kilome (pretty sure he’s still with us as a 22 MLFA signing)
  • Henry (injured in 2022)
  • Tetreault (injured in 2022)
  • Lee (injured in 2022)
  • T.Romero (just resigned for 2023)

So. This being said: Henry had TOS is is out. Tetreault had a shoulder fracture and may or may not be out. Lee had a flexor sprain (often a precursor for Tommy John) and may not be reliable. So this may be thinner than we think.

Adon deserves to be in AAA. Irvin may not really “deserve” to be in AAA based on a 3.83 ERA in AA, but he’s on the 40-man and needs to be challenged. I’m pretty sure Kilome (a MLFA signing from LAST off-season but who is still listed as active and wasn’t on any MLFA lists) is here. That, plus newly signed MLFA Alexy and the re-signing of Romero makes five. But this is thin; the LR in AAA is Troop and his 2022 numbers were not good. I suspect we’ll be seeing a bunch more MLFA signings here, with perhaps Irvin being pushed back down to AA to start.

AA Projected Rotation

Here’s where things get thin, fast.

  • Cate
  • Reyes
  • Herrera
  • Parker
  • Shuman
  • Knowles

Cate at this point sounds like an innings eater in AA. Reyes and Herrera are long-serving org arms who also sound like Innings eaters in AA. If it was me, I’d be pushing up three starters out of High-A, all of whom pitched to really solid numbers in 2022. Parker posted a 2.88 ERA in 24 starts in High-A and absolutely will be in AA. Shuman hit the DL in July and never came off; the WP reported it was due to “elbow soreness.” Uh oh. Well, if he’s healthy he was solid in High-A in 2022, repeating the level, and has nothing left to prove there. Lastly you have Knowles, who had a 3.19 ERA as a swing man type with 13 starts. Why not.

If all these 6 are healthy, look for Reyes or Knowles to be a swing man type, maybe have Irvin duck into AA, or find another MLFA. I can’t see another High-A guy deserving of promotion.

Wow, this looks like a weak rotation for a AA team though.

High-A projected rotation

  • Rutledge
  • Cuevas
  • Theophile
  • Merrill?
  • Saenz (maybe a reliever/long man now)
  • Gausch?
  • Collins
  • Alvarez
  • Hernandez (injured all of 2022)
  • Dyson (injured all of 2022)
  • Denaburg maybe?

Here’s where things get harder to predict. Rutledge, newly added to the 40-man and owner of a 4.90 ERA in low-A last year (“but he improved in August!”) just has to be promoted. Cuevas and Theophile are holdovers from the 2022 rotation, looking to improve, and I’d guess they start in the rotation as well.

After that, its a crap shoot. Merrill and Saenz were both kicked out of the 2022 rotation after sucking. Do they get another shot or are they Relievers now? Gausch started the 2022 season as a AA starter, got lit up, then suddenly was a reliever in High-A. Does he return to the rotation? Collins was an already too old for the level swing guy with solid low-A numbers; he could be given a shot in the rotation. Alvarez had great K numbers, prompting his promotion to High-A, but he seems more like a bullpen guy as a lefty.

You have two formerly solid looking starters in Hernandez and Dyson who missed all of 2022 but who showed 2021 promise at the level; they should (if healthy) slide right back in. Lastly you have to look at the rest of low-A to see who should be moved up … and the pickings are slim. Denaburg at this point is too old for Low-A and its time to see if he can ever become anything; i’d move him to High-A and if he can’t cut it move him to the pen. Can’t make much of a case for anyone else out of last year’s Low-A rotation to move forward … which will make the Low-A rotation super easy.

Low-A Rotation

  • Susana
  • Bennett
  • Cornelio
  • Young?
  • Lara
  • Caceres
  • Atencio
  • Aldonis
  • Ramirez

We have to lead with Susana, who soon will be our best SP prospect once Cavalli graduates.

From there, I have to think at least the two top college Junior draftees from 2022 (2nd rounder Bennett and 7th rounder Cornelio) will be in low-A rotation. Perhaps even 11th rounder Luke Young.

After that, you have several holdovers from 2022 in Lara and Caceres. Lara is still ostensibly one of our better prospects and he’s super young, so he’s definitely starting. That’s six already, before talking about two guys who also were in the low-A rotation last year but who could get bumped to LR roles in Atencio and Aldonis.

Post publishing, KW in the comments reminded me about Aldo Ramirez, who we got from Boston in trade but who has been hurt. He was looking really solid for us in Low-A in 2021 before getting hurt and should start here in 2023 with an eye on moving up fast.


Did I forget anyone? What do you think; do we still need some reinforcements?

Written by Todd Boss

December 15th, 2022 at 2:41 pm