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Archive for May, 2018

CWS 2018: Field of 64 announced with Regional predictions

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CWS-2018_calendar-narrow

First College Baseball post of the season!   And it comes with the announcement of the field of 64 for the 2018 tournament.

Here’s a nice summary of the field from d1baseball.com, including a conference breakdown.

Quick summary of the field: No Miami, no UVA, no TCU in big surprises for big programs.  The field is also missing perennial powers like Rice and Wichita State this year.  Kentucky seems to be the biggest snub … but they were sub .500 in their league and was one-and-done in the SEC tournament.  One win there and they’re probably in.  Northeastern probably the most controversial at-large bid, having their one-bid conference slot “stolen” by UNC-W but not really having earned it on their season.  There’s some sniffling at the national seeding of (in particular) the ACC teams, but otherwise most of the pundits I read think this is a pretty solid field.

Here’s your National seeds:

1. Florida
2. Stanford
3. Oregon State
4. Ole Miss
5. Arkansas
6. UNC
7. Florida State
8. Georgia

That’s a solid SEC showing; four of the top 8 national seeds and 10 teams overall in the tourney.

Next seeds

9. Texas Tech
10. Clemson
11. Stetson
12. ECU
13. Texas
14. Minnesota
15. Coastal Carolina
16. NC State.


 

Quick predictions (here i’ve put in the teams by Super Regional match-up):

1. Florida; cakewalk regional; their #2 is Jacksonville?  See you in a couple weeks.
16. NC State: Get the seed over Auburn; if they save their Ace NC State could be in the Loser’s bracket really quickly.  I think Auburn advances here.

2. Stanford: got no favors by getting the always-tough Cal State Fullerton team in their regional, but their #2 seed Baylor is manageable.
15. Coastal Carolina: gets UConn as their #2 seed and their tough arm Tim Cate.  Coastal has played tough down the stretch though and should advance.

3. Oregon State; tough regional with LSU and San Diego State; Oregon State will have to earn this.  Part of me hopes they go out early so the Heimlich stories die soon.
14. Minnesota; gets two west coast teams in UCLA and Gonzaga; i do not give Big10 baseball teams much credit … but they might be able to handle UCLA this year.

4. Ole Miss; gets a tough Missouri State team (with top draft prospect Jeremey Eierman), but i’m not sure they’re that scared of their #2 Tennessee Tech.
13. Texas: i’d be more scared of TAMU as a 3-seed than Indiana as a #2 seed this year.  TAMU somehow is a #3 seed despite being a top 16 team by RPI and possibly being in the host discussion.  Meanwhile Texas is not as strong as its #13 seed in this tournament looks … I smell an upset here.

5. Arkansas: gets two traditional smaller-school baseball powers in Southern Miss and Dallas Baptist; does anyone ever know how these teams will fare?
12. ECU: gets a tough #2 in South Carolina; can they survive the SEC power?  I’m not sure they can and think South Carolina advances.

6. UNC: gets a manageable region thanks to a Big10 team as their #2 seed.
11. Stetson: two great arms in this region in Gilbert and McClanahan with USF … but Oklahoma State looms too.

7. Florida State: A solid regional here with SEC and Big12 powers.  Florida State is always a tough out though.
10. Clemson gets Vanderbilt again … which means one good team goes home early, again.

8. Georgia: they should be able to get past Duke in this weaker regional.
9. Texas Tech has to face off against Louisville, who for the first time in a few years doesn’t have a top-10 draft pick leading their line.


 

Local rooting interests in the tournament: amazingly, zero DC/MD/VA colleges made this tournament.  No UVA, no Maryland, no Liberty, no VCU or ODU or any of the CAA teams that sometimes sneak in.  Here’s a quick peek at the DC/MD/VA players I could think of who will be playing:

  • #12 Seed ECU has the former dominant LHP Jake Agnos (Battlefield HS in Haymarket) on their staff; he had 80 Ks in 60 innings split between starting and relief roles and stepped it up in the post-season tourney.
  • LSU moved Zach Hess (Lynchburg/Liberty Christian Academy) into the rotation this year and he was the saturday starter all spring; he went 7-5 with a 4.43 ERA and saw his draft stock drop significantly (he’s a draft-eligible sophomore this year).  I wonder if he stays in school another year to rebuild value as a starter.
  • #15 Coastal Carolina has several Virginia-natives in starting roles, including weekend starter Zack Hopeck (Heritage HS in Leesburg) and starting OF Kieton Rivers (Nansemond River HS in Suffolk).
  • #16 NC State has three VA-natives on their pitching staff, including staff-ERA leading Kent Klyman (Jamestown HS in Williamsburg).
  • South Carolina’s friday starter is Cody Morris, who dominated Maryland prep for Reservoir HS in Laurel.  They also feature a starting catcher Hunter Taylor from Nandua HS in Onley VA.

Significant Draft picks from the top seeds worth noting: here’s some of the guys we’re hearing rumors about being 1st rounders in June:

  • Florida; no wonder they’re #1: they may have three guys taken in the top 10 picks.  Weekend starters Brady Singer, Jackson Kowar and clean-up hitter Jonathan India the players to watch, plus Michael Byrne who was All American pre-season as their closer.
  • Stanford: paced by two top-end starters getting 1st round buzz in Kris Bubic and Tristan Beck.
  • Oregon State: Nick Madrigal may be a top 5 guy and be lightening fast to the majors.  Ace is the highly controversial Luke Heimlich (if you don’t know who he is … he was on the cover of Sports Illustrated a few weeks back; google it).  OF Trevor Larnach is getting some 1st round buzz too.
  • Ole Miss; Ace starter Ryan Rolison was the top prospect in the Cape Cod league last  year.
  • Florida State: Tyler Holton was All-American last year and pre-season All American again this year.
  • Auburn: likely 1-1 Casey Mize is their friday starter.
  • Stetson: ace Logan Gilbert has seen his stock fall but is still likely a mid-1st rounder.
  • South Florida’s ace Shane McClanahan could go high.
  • Duke’s Griffin Conine has a famous pedigree and could be a 1st-day pick.
  • Texas Tech’s starter Steve Gingery has a long line of awards behind his name.
  • Clemson’s Seth Beer has been mashing ever since he arrived at school, winning the Dick Howser award as a freshman.  He could be a sleeper pick late in the 1st round.

Someone is finally doing it: Tampa using “Openers” instead of “Starters”

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Sergio Romo; Tampa's new #3 starter.

Sergio Romo; Tampa’s new #3 starter.  And #4 starter sometimes … photo via Zimbio.

The Tampa Bay Rays, thanks to a run of injuries to their starting rotation this spring, and perhaps a bit of typical organizational ingenuity, are doing something this year that has a lot of people talking; they’re essentially using a closer-quality pitcher to start games, get through the top of the opposing team’s order the first time, then hands it over to the real “starter” (or in most cases longer man) who pitches a typical starter-length outing.

They seem to be sticking to conventional outings for their two best starters (Chris Archer and Blake Snell) even now, but spring training elbow injuries to planned starters Brett Honeywell and Jose De Leon (both Tommy John surguries), plus recent injuries to #3 starter Jake Faria, Yonny Chirinos  (not Laurel Chirinos!) and Nathan Eovaldi and a lack of upper-end SP prospects has led them to this point.

This strategy is getting put to its biggest test over the Memorial Day weekend series they have with Baltimore, announcing that they’ll be “starting” relievers all three games.

So far this season, they’ve used the strategy at least twice; with Sergio Romo starting on back to back nights.

  • 5/20/18: Romo pitches the first and strikes out the side before handing off to starter Ryan Yarborough, who pitches 6+ and gets the win.
  • 5/21/18:  Romo, going back to back nights, faces the first 6 batters; walks two, gets the other four out, zero runs; the rest of the game is a bullpen game, but the team loses to Shohei Ohtani and the Angels.

Of course, reaction to the moves is already as you’d expect it to be, given our current climate of hot-take/knee jerk reactions.  You’ve got “get off my lawn” types talking about how this isn’t “good for the game.”  You’ve got Joel Sherman (who has been around the sport long enough to know what they’re doing) calling the strategy “Bizarre.”  And you’ve got progressive types like Houston’s A.J. Hinch praising the move.


 

So, what do I think of this?

Well …. honestly this is the natural evolution of the trend towards specialized relievers that we’ve been seeing lately.  A mediocre/failed starter can be converted to a highly valuable reliever by just having them throw harder and focus on mastering two pitches instead of attempting to master three or four, and it happens All The Time.  See Rivera, Mariano and Eckersley, Dennis for hall of fame exhibits A and B here (ok .. to be fair Eckersley was by  no means a failed starter … but he would not be in Cooperstown had he not become a dominant closer).

Well, what if you had an entire roster of specialized relievers instead of spending tens of millions of dollars on a rotation?

Take the Nats: our top four starters this year are earning north of $80M this season.  What if you had spread that $80M around on a bunch of closer/near-closer types, the kinds of guys who go for significantly less per annum?  What if you had an entire team of guys like Ryan Madsen ($7.6M) or Sean Doolittle ($4.3M) or Brandon Knitzler ($5.5M).  Heck, why not load up y our team with pre-arb guys like Sammy Solis ($560k) and Matt Grace ($557k) and spend that $80M on improving the out-field players?

I’ve often wondered if a team couldn’t just have essentially 12 relievers and would basically turn every game into a bullpen game.  What if you deployed your staff kind of like this:

  • Three “Closer” quality guys (like our Doolittle)
  • Three solid RH 7th/8th inning types like Madsen and Kelley.
  • Three left-handed match-up guys (Solis, Grace)
  • Three long-men types who could soak up innings but who can’t turn over a lineup more than twice (kind of like Jeremy Hellickson but perhaps more like a 4-A starter, or what Edwin Jackson is doing in AAA).

You take half this squad and they’re the A-team; that gives you 5-6 arms to pitch the first game of the week.  Then, they all get a break and the other 5-6 arms get the next game.  In a typical week every reliever then gets three to four days off with off-games and off-days.   The long-men only go every two days, since you’re asking them to do 3-4 innings, but still get plenty of rest.  So a pattern of games could look like this:

  • Game 1: Closer1 pitches the 1st, RH1 and LH1 combine to pitch 2nd and 3rd.  Longman1 comes in and throws 4th through the 7th.  Then depending on where you are in the game he returns for the 8th or you go to your RH2/LH2 guy before handing off to Closer2 in the 9th.  So that’s 5 to 6 arms used in the first game.
  • Game 2: Closer3 starts.  RH3 throws next two innings.  Longman2 throws innings 4-7.  LH3 finishes it out, perhaps throwing Closer1 a second day in a row if need be.
  • Game 3: Closer2 starts.  Perhaps you go right to Longman3 for a 5 inning stint.  Back to RH1 and LH1 for the 7th/8th, then either let these guys do a 2 inning stint or go back to Closer3 for back-to-backs to finish the game.

So the workload for a 3-game series goes like this:

  • Closers: 2 innings each with an off-day
  • RH guys: 2-3 innings each with an off-day
  • LH guys: 2-3 innings each with an off-day
  • Long-men: 3-4 innings each with two off-days

That’s basically 27 innings across three games, assuming your middle relievers throw a couple of 2-inning stints in there, or one of your long-men does 4 innings instead of three.

Tell me why this wouldn’t work?  Everyone gets a ton of rest, and if you burn out one of your longmen you just call up re-inforcements from AAA to do mop-up games here and there.  You always have a closer going against the top of the order in the first inning, then you try to work it out so that you can do match-ups the next time they come up with a 7th/8th inning quality guy.  The best hitters on the other team will eventually get a shot at your “long man…” but under this plan, they’re getting four at bats generally against four different arms.  That’s going to give the advantage to the pitcher every time; batters don’t get to study up the opposing starter every night for research; they’re going to be seeing gas, trick pitches and one-trick ponies that have ridiculous BAAs and BABIPs thanks to their specialty.


So, who would love this?

  • Owners.  no more 9-figure contracts for starters who have like a 50% injury rate.
  • Some Pitchers: more opportunities for guys who just couldn’t cut it as starters but who crush it as releivers.

Who wouldn’t like this?

  • High end starters: less jobs, less demand for you.  Maybe.  I mean, right now Tampa is sticking with their two solid starters and only doing this for the other slots.  Maybe a team with two Aces like the nats just lets them roll normally then does this kind of bullpen game the other three games out of five.
  • Any baseball fan born before 1970, since they hate any change, any game modification.  I mean come on, there’s people demanding that we ban the shift (including the commissioner).
  • The Players union; you’d have to think salaries would plummet
  • Maybe most every baseball fan?  Offense drives fan interest … and this plan is specifically designed to neutralize the opposing team’s best hitters.

Thoughts?

Prep Baseball Update #1 2018: DC/MD/VA District High School Tournament Report: 2018 post-season underway

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Congrats to Wilson, both public and city champs!

Congrats to Wilson, both public and city champs!

Welcome to my DC Area Prep Baseball Tourney coverage for 2018.

Here’s the rough schedule of posting and what we’ll cover:

  • #1: DC/MD/VA District High School Tournament Report: post-season kickoff (this post).  Covers: MD regionals, VA district brackets, Private school tourney updates.  Usually publishes the week before Memorial day tournament finals.
  • #2: Maryland State Champs, Northern VA Regional Champs crowned.  Covers: MD state finals, VA regionals tourneys, DC regular season results.  Usually publishes after the Memorial Day weekend tournaments finish up.
    #3: Virginia Regional Results, DC Tourneys.  Covers: VA regional results, State brackets, DC tourney results.  Usually publishes the first week of June.
    #4: Final Prep Baseball Update: Virginia State Champions crowned.  Covers: VA state tourneys, recaps MD, DC, Private School results.  Publishes mid-June once the Va state tourney wraps up.
  • #5: Players of the Year/All-State lists and final rankings; publishes early July once all the all-state lists are published.
  • #6: my theoretical “All DC/MD/VA Dream tournament” pairings, once all the state champs are finalized.

Northern Virginia

Virginal district tournaments start up on 5/16/18 and regionals start up on 5/23/18.  All local district playoff brackets are well kept at NovaBaseballmagazine.com.

The top four teams from each district tourney form the 16-team regional brackets, to be published later on once all the divisions are finalized.

A reminder that there was some slight re-alignment from last year; regional powerhouse Madison was moved out of the Liberty district for the first time in decades, now joins the strong Concorde division with some bigger schools.  There are now mixed conferences, splitting teams up that were formerly 4A, 5A and 6A.  Plus there does not seem to be the old “Northern” and “NorthWest” regions.  Just 7 mixed-division districts for the whole upper area of the state.

In a first in my memory, 7 straight days of rain forced organizers to literally abandon playoff games and just hand out district titles.

  • Cardinal (mostly 6-A): #1 Potomac, #2 Forest Park, Forest Park won the title over Potomac after both being handed rain-out passes to the final.
  • Cedar Run (6-A): the two top seeds (#1 Battlefield and #2 Patriot) and frequent rivals advanced to the final … which was rained out and cancelled, giving Battlefield the title.
  • Commonwealth (mostly 5-A): #1 Mountain View and #2 Stafford were given passes to regionals as the entire post-season tournament was cancelled.
  • Concorde District (6-A): #1 Madison, #2 Centreville; Madison beat Chantilly in the final for its 6th straight district title.
  • Dulles (4-A): #1 Riverside, #2 Woodgrove; semis scheduled for 5/23/18 weather permitting.
  • Gunston District (6-A): #1 West Potomac, #2 T.C. Williams, who lost to #3 Annandale setting up a 5/18/18 final.
  • Liberty (6-A): #4 seed Yorktown won the play-in then crushed #1 seeded McLean to advance to the final versus #2 South Lakes.  Yorktown took the title in an upset to secure a bye in the regionals.
  • National (mostly 5-A): #1 Marshall faces off against #3 Edison for the title.  Marshall destroyed Edison for the title and got an “at-large” bid into the 6-A regional tourney.
  • Northwest (6-A): #1 Fauquier and #2 Sherando; playoffs not scheduled to occur til the 5/25/18 weekend.
  • Patriot (6-A): #1 Lake Braddock faces off versus #2 West Springfield in a battle of perennial powers, with LB (perhaps the area’s top public team) winning.
  • Potomac (5-A): #1 Freedom-South Riding and #2 Stone Bridge; final 5/25/18.

We’ll cover the Regional brackets once all the teams are qualified for their respective divisions.

 


Maryland

At this point, the Maryland State tournament is nearly complete; the state finals are this coming weekend.  Brackets here at the MPSAA website and direct links to the four State-wide brackets are linked directly below.

  • Maryland 4-A: Regional champs Howard, Bethesda-Chevy Chase, CH Flowers, and Severna Park face off for the state title.
  • Maryland 3-A: Regional champs Towson, Thomas Johnson, Huntingtown and Chesapeake-Anne Arundel face off for the state title.
  • Maryland 2-A: Regional champs Hereford, Century, North East and power-house La Plata face off for the state title.
  • Maryland 1-A: Regional champs Sparrows Point (a favorite), Boonsboro, McDonough and defending state champ St. Michaels face off for the state title.

DC

  • DCIAA: (2018 playoff bracket): Wilson won its 26th consecutive DCIAA championship 5-0 over School Without Walls on 5/10/18.   This is perhaps not even the most startling stat about Wilson right now.  The went 11-0 in conference play, outscoring their opponents 168-1.  That’s right; they gave up one run in league play all year.  Deadspin featured the school and did some more research into its past; their piece is worth a read.
  • DCSAA: (2018 Playoff Bracket): the DCSAA tourney runs from 5/16 to 5/20.  Wilson is the #1 seed and advanced to the final against #2 seeded St. Albans (the IAC champ).  There, on 5/22/18, for the first time in its history, Wilson won the DC “state” title, beating St. Albans in extra innings.  They’ve won 26 straight public school titles but had never won the city title until now.

Private Leagues: WCAC/MAC/IAC and VISAA/Maryland Private

State-level Private School tourneys:

  • MIAA:
    • Division A: play started on 5/11/18: Archbishop Curley, John Carroll, Calvert Hall, Loyola, Archbishop Spalding and Gilman the 6 entrants.  Loyola the defending state champ.  In the final, #1 seeded Curley beat #6 Gilman.
    • Division B: play started on 5/11/18.  Mostly smaller private schools around the state of Maryland; powerhouse Boy’s Latin #1 seed.  In the end, Boy’s Latin won its 3rd straight title.
    • Division C: (difficult to find information)
  • VISAA: The Virginial Private State-wide tournament kicked off on 5/14/18 with play-ins.  Here’s a review of the local teams involved:
    • Division I: The Potomac School (#8 seed) lost its play-in game and was eliminated early.  Local teams Paul VI (#3) and Flint Hill (#6) faced off in the quarters on 5/15/18. and Paul VI came out on top, ending Flint Hill’s season without any titles.  All the other schools are from Richmond or Norfolk areas, including the top seeded St. Christopher’s and Benedictine.  #2 seed Benedictine was upset by #7 Norfolk Academy, and #5 Collegiate upset #4 Norfolk Christian to setup some unexpected semis.  In the final, the dominant St. Christophers team took the title.
    • Division II: no DC-area schools: the Miller school (coached by former MLB pitcher, Virginia native and HoFame candidate Billy Wagner) and Highland School are the top seeds.  Powerhouse #4 seed Greenbriar Christian was upset in the first round.  Miller faced off against Steward in the final, and ended up winning to repeat as champs.
    • Division III: no DC-area schools: Walsingham and Southampton academies are the top seeds.  In the end, Walsingham beat the Fuqua School 6-5 on a walk-off SB-error in the bottom of the 10th.
  • Maryland Private School Tournament; tbd: it did not seem to occur in 2017, we’ll see for 2018.

DC-area Private School Leagues

  • WCAC: DeMatha ousted #1 seed Paul VI to face off against WCAC power St. Johns for the title.  The title series went to the decisive third game, which went 12-innings and ended with a walk-off homer win for St. Johns.  This is St. John’s fifth straight WCAC title.
  • MAC: The Potomac School walked-off against St. James in a surprise final; MAC powerhouse Flint Hill was upset early.
  • IAC: Georgetown Prep won the regular season title.  St. Albans downed Georgetown Prep in the 3rd game of the playoffs to win a “share” of the title for themselves.
  • PVAC: (difficult to find information).

Local and National High School Baseball Ranking Lists:

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


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

  • Washington Post’s AllMetSports section with standings and schedule results.
  • The Baltimore Sun’s high school page has information on some of the programs outside the DC area mentioned in the Maryland section
  • InsideNova.com‘s coverage of high school sports, but has put limits on the number of stories you can read.
  • Richmond Times-Dispatch has a HS scoreboard.
  • Hampton Roads Pilot (Hampton Roads) has scores for teams in the Chesapeake/Norfolk/Va Beach area.
  • NovaBaseballMagazine: great coverage of Prep baseball in NorthernVirginia (thanks to Joe Antonellis for the heads up on this great new resource).

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

Non-newspaper Links for Local and National Prep Baseball Coverage

Good Twitter accounts to follow:

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

Written by Todd Boss

May 23rd, 2018 at 9:31 am

Posted in Local Baseball

Nats on a tear … while being hobbled on the D/L

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What a difference a year makes. Last year he was MLB's POTM; this year he's hitting .217 and is now on the D/L. Photo via WashingtonTimes.com

What a difference a year makes. Last year he was MLB’s POTM; this year he’s hitting .217 and is now on the D/L. Photo via WashingtonTimes.com

Another day, another D/L trip.  The latest is Ryan Zimmerman, whose position is more than ably being filled by Matt Adams, heading to the 10-day d/L with “back soreness” but which we know to be an oblique (which is a notoriously iffy injury, if indeed he has a real injury and this isn’t some sort of paper maneuver to get Adams more ABs.  Yes I’m a cynic).  This a day after starting catcher and $10M “homage to Scott Boras‘ ability to undermine Mike Rizzo‘s plans by repeatedly going over his head to ownership” Matt Wieters goes down with a “hamstring” injury (btw: he looked like a 50-yr old man running to first base; was it any surprise he came up hobbled?)

The Nats, as of 5/13/18, now have 10 guys on the D/L and an 11th suspended.  Only three of them even have a vague return date defined, and one of those is Joe Ross, who is recovering from Tommy John and whose return date is listed as “probably 2018.”  Nine of the 10 guys (not including Read) arguably are part of the “best 25” that our team would field, meaning we’re playing 9 guys out of 25 who should be in AAA.

This number of current players on the D/L, not surprisingly, leads the league and their cumulative totals of number of players, games lost and payroll wasted for the season is at or near the top.

Great.

Yet, somehow, during this period the team is on fire.   They’ve won 12 of 14.  They’re 13-7 in their last 20.  Went into the hot Arizona team and crushed them on their turf.

What’s going on?  How is this happening?

Part of this is the particular guys getting hurt; i.e. none of the rotation.  We’re getting a ton of quality starts, guys pitching deep into the games.  Under-rated at the time signing Jeremy Hellickson took a perfect game into the 7th.  That’s the definition of “found gold” for a 5th starter.   Five of the top Eight season-to-date guys by bWAR are the 5 rotation members.

But for the most part it has been part-time players stepping up big time.

  • Pedro Severino in for Wieters (and before that Miguel Montero, 2018’s first “Oblivion” candidate): posting a 98 OPS+ and providing stellar defense behind the plate.
  • Howie Kendrick in for Daniel Murphy?  113 OPS+ thank you very much.  Great signing.
  • Wilmer Difo covering for Anthony Rendon while he missed half the season thus far?  102 OPS+
  • Adams, as previously noted, is crushing the ball right now: 178 OPS+.
  • The hodge-podge of left fielders not named Adams?  well … that’s another story.  Thankfully  we can put most any ole stiff out there and still get production.

I thought this team did amazingly well last  year given its injuries … but now its looking even worse this year.   Yet they’re right where they need to be after a sluggish start.  What I worry about is missing a month of Scherzer, or having Harper  go down ye t again.

 

 

Keith Law had some interesting comments on our High-A prospects … including one who isn’t there any more

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Juan Soto has picked up in High-A right where he left off in Low-A. Photo via Getty images

Juan Soto has picked up in High-A right where he left off in Low-A. Photo via Getty images

ESPN Insider only link, but Keith Law wrote up a scouting report on his visit to see Potomac visit Wilmington recently.

I won’t cut and paste his content in the spirit of ESPN’s insider paywall, but will summarize what he wrote, because I found it interesting.  He wrote up three guys:

  • Juan Soto: great bat speed, 70 speed, lots of power.  Law’s concerns were with pitch recognition, which has yet to be exposed but may force some adjustment from Soto in higher levels.  But he described him as having “superstar tools.”
  • Telmito Agustin: he’s hitting 180 points higher in Potomac this year versus last and Law took note.   Says he thinks Agustin’s adjustments and power will stick and we may have found gold for a prospect who signed for practically nothing and who barely registers on anyone’s prospect lists for the organization.
  • Carter Kieboom: struggling in High-A as his stats show; Law wonders if he isn’t better suited for 2B or 3B (likely 3B because of his arm strength).

Law also talked about one player from Wilmington (Kansas City affilliate); that being local kid Khalil Lee (Flint Hill HS).  Lee was the 2nd prep player drafted out of the area in  2016 (Joe Rizzo of Oakton HS being the other): both guys are now at High-A in their 3rd pro years.

And, just after writing this post … the Nats have promoted Soto again.   He’s heading to AA Harrisburg to get some more challenge.  Wow; are we looking at a guy who needs to have Vladimir Guerrero Jr. level hype?

Always enjoy reading about our guys from a national scout.

 

 

Written by Todd Boss

May 10th, 2018 at 3:01 pm

Minor League Staffs – one month check-in

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Voth has completely remade his career in less than a month. Photo mlb.com official

Voth has completely remade his career in less than a month. Photo mlb.com official

I havn’t been doing regular check-ins with the minor league staffs for a few years, but I have always maintained little “cheat sheet” notes on the staffs of the levels day in/day out (thanks in no small part to the daily work of Luke Erickson over at Nationals Prospects of course).

It occurred to me, doing updates this week, that the four full season rotations have been about as stable as I can ever remember them this year.  So I thought i’d do a quick swing through the four staffs, with quick notes on who has looked good or bad and what we may see in terms of movement going forward.

Syracuse (stats link here: http://web.milb.com/milb/stats/stats.jsp?t=t_ibp&cid=552&stn=true&sid=t552)

  • Opening day rotation: Voth, Milone*, Fedde, EJackson, Vargas
  • Current rotation: Milone*, Voth, Fedde, EJackson, Vargas
  • spot starts/swingman: Simms, Goforth
  • bullpen: Collins*, Cordero, CSmith, Miller, Adams, Valdez
  • promotions: Torres, Gott, Suero
  • up-and-back: Adams, Voth
  • demotions: Long,
  • dl/restricted/TIL: Barrett, Satterwhite

Rotation thoughts: A month in and the only change we’ve seen to the AAA rotation was the flipping of Milone and Voth thanks to Voth’s brief call-up earlier this week.  Voth has absolutely re-made his career so far this year, going from possible “first man to be DFA’d” off the 40-man to a guy who is forcing his way into the conversation the next time the Nats need a starter.  For May he’s posted a 0.76 ERA, a 0.68 WHIP, has a 30/3 K/BB ratio in 23 innings and has given up just 13 hits.  Man, is he found gold for a team who has traded away an awful lot of pitching prospects over the past couple of seasons?

The veteran insurance policies Jackson and Milone are both pitching about as I’d expect them to be: Milone slightly better, with better base-runner control, Jackson with more wildness and worse stats.   Erick Fedde has not been either good or bad, giving up a hit an inning and maintaining a 4-1 K-BB ratio but not showing any real dominance.  My guess is that he’ll be sticking in AAA for a while.

The last guy in the rotation may be the most interesting: Cesar Vargas was a low-key spring MLFA signing after bouncing around San Diego’s system last year.  He’s come out in 2018 looking serviceable and might be putting himself ahead of the veterans in the pecking order.

Bullpen thoughtsJohn Simms has looked great in a long-man role.  He’s quietly been serviceable at every level in his journey upwards and you have to wonder if he’ll eventually push for a 9/1 call up.  Most of the rest of the bullpen is too SSS to make real judgements, though we have seen three relievers get pushed to the majors right now (Torres, Gott, Suero) and fourth who was up and is now in AAA (Adams).  Cordero still shows the same issues that have plagued him for a while; he’s got 16/8 K/BB in 11 innings.  Barrett remains  with the system and we hope he can get back to his former self; he’d certainly help out at the MLB level.

Who is making a push for promotion?  Voth

Who is in jeopardy of a demotion (or worse): Smith, Cordero


 

Harrisburg (stats = http://www.milb.com/milb/stats/stats.jsp?t=t_ibp&did=milb&cid=547)

  • Opening day rotation: Dragmire, JRodriguez, Darnell*,  LReyes, Estevez
  • Current Rotation: Dragmire, JRodriguez, Long, LReyes, Estevez
  • spot starts/swingman: AWilliams, Darnell*
  • bullpen: Fleck, Guillon*, BHarper*, RMendez, Self,  Ames
  • promotions: Valdez
  • dl/restricted: Brinley, Bacus
  • Missing from 2017: NLee*

Rotation thoughts: The only substantive change in the rotation from the first pass through was to replace Darnell with Long.  Dragmire and Jefry Rodriguez  have both excelled thus far, though Rodriguez’s stats look more like a guy who might be pressing for promotion (more Ks, fewer hits).  Dragmire is showing more of what he displayed last year at AA and he may need the additional challenge of AAA soon.  Estevez and Reyes are not faring as well thus far, with elevated ERAs and WHIPs.  And Long, upon his demotion from AAA, has been poor in his three AA starts, with just 6 punch-outs and a 1.85 WHIP in 13 innings.  Rodriguez seems like the first starter in line for promotion.

Bullpen thoughts:  Austen Williams has looked great since getting moved out of the rotation.  Kaleb Fleck has some interesting stats: he’s got an 18/1 K/BB ratio in 10 innings but has an ugly 5.91 ERA (I’m sure his FIP is like 3 points lower).  Fleck is too good for AA; he spent all last  year in AAA and isn’t proving anything here.  Bryan Harper‘s return from injury is going ok .. he’s got nearly a 2.00 WHIP though.  Long serving Nats farmhand Dakota Bacus got shelled in four appearances and currently sits on the D/L; he had excellent numbers in 2017 but is getting a bit long in the tooth for AA and I wonder if he’s running out of time.  One big name still sits in XST: Nick Lee, who looked promising before injuries derailed his progress.

Who is making a push for promotion?   Fleck, JRodriguez, AWilliams

Who is in jeopardy of a demotion (or worse): Bacus



Potomac

(stats link: http://www.milb.com/milb/stats/stats.jsp?t=t_ibp&did=milb&cid=436)

  • opening day rotation: Crownover*, Sharp, Baez, Mapes, Crowe
  • starters: Crownover*, Sharp, Baez, ?, Crowe
  • spot starts/swingmen: Pantoja, Howard*, Guilbeau*, McGowin
  • bullpen: JMills*, Bourque, Klobosits, RPena, Peterson, Rivera
  • demotions: Fuentes
  • dl/restricted: Borne*, Mapes
  • Missing: Romero*

Rotation thoughts: The only change to the opening day rotation literally happened yesterday, with Mapes dropping to the D/L and (likely)  McGowin (freshly taken off the AA D/L and demoted to Potomac) likely to take his place.  Mapes has the best starter ERA … but the worst WHIP.  Crownover may have the nicest looking stat line, with a nifty 28/4 K/BB ratio and solid peripherals.  Perhaps the most important high-A arm may be Wil Crowe and so far he’s more than handling high-A; the 2017 2nd rounder  has a great whip, good ratios and is looking like an excellent draft pick.   Baez and Sharp fill out the rest of the rotation; both showing mid 4 ERAs and not really being good enough or bad enough to comment on thus far.  The one big notable missing name here is Seth Romero, who should be featuring in this rotation as we speak but instead apparently still sits not at XST but at home in Houston.  Its hard to prove the “i told you so” guys wrong when it literally took less than a season for his well-publicized maturity issues to come to the forefront.

Bullpen thoughts:  Some good and some bad in the bullpen; Rivera and Howard have gotten dinged so far, while Bourque, Mills and Pantoja look solid.  Bourque in particular now boasts a 22/4 K/BB ratio in 12 relief innings; like that ratio.  36th rounder Klobosits still looking solid; how exactly was he still around that late in the draft if he’s already succeeding in high-A?

Who is making a push for promotion?  Bourque

Who is in jeopardy of a demotion (or worse): Rivera perhaps


 

Hagerstown (stats = http://www.milb.com/milb/stats/stats.jsp?t=t_ibp&did=milb&cid=563

  • Opening day rotation: BHill/Braymer*, Raquet*/Acevedo, Tetreault/Bogucki, Alastre/Troop*, Stoeckinger*/Johnston
  • Current rotation: Troop*, Raquet*, Acevedo, Tetreault, Alastre, Stoeckinger*
  • spot starts/swingman: Johnston, Bogucki, Held, Braymer*
  • bullpen: McKinney, Brasher, Fuentes
  • promotions: Guilbeau*
  • dl/restricted: Howell, BHill
  • Cut/Released/FA from 2017: Engelbrekt (retired)
  • missing from 2017/XST: YRamirez*, DeRosier, CPena, Simonds, Barnett*, Morse, Dickey, WDavis,

Rotation thoughts: It was clear to this observer that the first few turns through the rotation were in the “tandem starter” configuration, with each of the names in the “opening rotation” throwing roughly 3-4 innings each.  That has now settled into the current 6-man rotation, all of which now seem to be getting the lion’s share of the innings each time through.   Of the “starters,” only really Raquet has acquitted himself well, though i’m concerned about the lack of swing and miss in his game (19/8 K/BB ratio in 27 innings supporting a 2.28 ERA and a 1.05 whip).  The rest of the starters are struggling: Stoeckinger hasn’t walked a soul yet in 24 innings … .but has given up 37  hits for an ugly 7.50 ERA.  Tetreault, Alastre and Acevedo  each have ERAs north of 7.00.   Troop and Hill (both 2017 top-10 round draftees) have been less bad but have room for improvement.

The “tandem” starters have been a different story though.  Bogucki and Braymer each have been solid, with Braymer sporting a 23/2 K/BB ratio and a 0.81 WHIP and Bogucki sporting a 20/3 K/BB ratio.  I wonder how long it’ll be before these guys become the “starters” instead of the “finishers.”

Bullpen thoughts: There’s really only a couple of real “relievers” in Low-A, but one of them has been quite solid.  McKinney has a 14/1 K/BB ratio in just 8 2/3 innings and has yet to give up an earned run.

There’s still a slew of guys technically in “XST” or assigned to the Short-A roster who could fill in here, most of whom have prior Low-A experience and could contribute.

Who is making a push for promotion?   Braymer, Bogucki, McKinney

Who is in jeopardy of a demotion (or worse): Acevedo, Alastre


 

That’s a quick run through the systems.  Did anyone want to point out someone in particular who they think needs to be talked about?