Nationals Arm Race

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Archive for May, 2024

Fangraphs Nats top 32 Prospects for 2024 Analysis


Victor Hurtado gets some prospect love from FG. Photo via Nats X account

As with last year, the final major scouting pundit/shop to publish their “pre-2024” list of Nats prospects is Fangraphs & Eric Longenhagen, and what a list it was.

Here’s the table of players, which is at the above link as well with more detail and FG’s FV values.

RankLast NameFirst NamePosition
1WoodJamesOF (Corner)
2CrewsDylanOF (CF)
3CavalliCadeRHP (Starter)
6SykoraTravisRHP (Starter)
8VaqueroCristianOF (CF)
9ParkerMitchellLHP (Starter)
10LileDaylenOF (CF)
11RibaltaOrlandoRHP (reliever)
12HerzDJLHP (Starter)
13SusanaJarlinRHP (Starter)
14BrzykcyZachRHP (Reliever)
15GreenElijahOF (CF)
17ShumanSethRHP (Starter)
18BennettJakeLHP (Starter)
20RutledgeJacksonRHP (Starter)
23Hassell IIIRobertOF (CF)
27LaraAndryRHP (Starter)
28CoxBrennerOF (CF)
31De La RosaJeremyOF (Corner)
32AcostaDaisonRHP (reliever)

Here’s the slot by slot analysis. Before we get started, we should probably point out that Longenhagen is absolutely the biggest proponent of “ceiling” versus “floor” in prospect analysis, and some of his rankings are clear evidence of that.

  • Top 4 are the same as everyone else. Wood gets ahead of Crews, and Cavalli presents as the rare ranking ahead of House, perhaps because Cavalli’s nearly 26 and his ETA is basically as soon as he’s done with rehab.
  • #5 is Victor frigging Hurtado. I am not kidding. Hurtado, who is given an ETA of the year 2030, who was signed to a pro contract 5 months ago and who has yet to play a single inning of pro ball, is the 5th best prospect in the system. I get it; he’s a highly regarded International signing, but there’s just no way you put a guy this far away from the majors ahead of so many other guys who are going to contribute in the next couple of years.
  • #6 is Travis Sykora, who suffers from the same issue as Hurtado. I mean, at least Sykora is playing right now. But man, this is a hefty projection based on his 2023 draft status.
  • #7 is Drew Millas. Millas! He’s already 26, he’s a AAA catcher, he’s behind both Ruiz and Adams on the pecking order, and if anyone thought he was this frigging good they’d come asking for him, since clearly he’s surplus goods for this team. I don’t see another pundit who has him higher than like 18-20 in the system, for the same reason. You’re telling me Millas is a better prospect than Mitchell Parker? Right now? The same Parker who’s got a 3.45 ERA in 8 starts right now, including wins over multiple 2023 playoff teams?? Come on.
  • The aforementioned Parker comes in at #9, which is where you’d expect him to be with the benefit of hindsight, instead of the 20-25 range most of us thought in January.
  • Orlando Ribalta comes in at #11. Ok. So now you see the problem with ordering your ranks by a FV column while also knowing that a pitcher is already a reliever. There’s NO WAY a right handed reliever in AA who’s already 26 is a prospect at all, let alone a near-top 10 prospect (Note: he’s recently been promoted to AAA, but my point is still the same). What does Ribalta project to? The 5th guy out of the bullpen? The definition of a replacement player is someone who can easily be replaced with the next guy out of AAA. I think the highest you should ever rank a reliever is in the 20s, unless they’re the next coming of Rollie Fingers.
  • Same issue as I have with Ribalta at #11, I have with Brzycky at #14. Even moreso, since the guy is on the full season DL.
  • Oh how the mighty have fallen: Elijah Green all the way to #15 here. Longenhagen gives him a 20 grade on his hit tool. 20. You and I have a 20 grade hit tool. He also gives him just a 25 grade on “game power” right now. Ouch. I mean, I get it; the guy has done almost nothing to earn his high 1st round drafting slot or his signing bonus. I would have expected some improvement by now though.
  • Morales, who is generally 4th or 5th on every other list, comes in at #16 here. Eric is pretty bearish on his progress so far, even though he started the year in AA as a 2023 draft pick.
  • Seth Shuman at #18. Really? Didn’t pitch a lick in 2023 due to TJ, currently on the 60-day DL and is 26 having never pitched above high-A. How is this a prospect at all? I mean, yes I like his stats, and if not for injury and Covid maybe we’d be having a different conversation, but he’s nearly at the end of his 6year ML tenure and he may not even get to AA this year. How is that a prospect at all? (Yes I know I already said that).
  • Darren Baker at #19, highest of anyone i’ve seen. I mean, yeah, if you put relievers just outside your top 10 you’ve gotta rate backup infielders highly too.
  • Nunez still listed despite exhausing his service time by now, though maybe Longenhagen is going by PAs for rookie status, which, if that’s the case, Nunez may not get 10 PAs the rest of the season based on his usage so far.
  • Robert Hassell all the way down at #23. Which is ridiculous. He’s got better tools across the board than players above him, he’s repeating AA at age 22 despite having hamate bone surgery last year, and he’s CF capable. His slash line is solid this year so far (.288/.380/.369) and if the only ding you have on him is his slugging/XBH tool just be patient; he slugged .470 as a 19yr old in A ball three years ago.
  • Lipscomb dumped to #25, why? Why would you have a guy who HAS been in the majors as a backup infielder behind a guy like Baker, who hasn’t?
  • Brenner Cox, who has done a ton to rehabilitate his profile so far in 2024, comes in at #28. Good for him, and good to see him hitting.
  • Jorgelys Mota gets a mention, one of the few shops to do so, coming in at #29.
  • Lastly, his #32 spot is a guy making his debut on any prospect list for this team, minor league Rule5 draftee Daison Acosta, who’s currently a 25yr old reliever in AA with solid 2024 numbers.

So, a weird list that really goes against the grain of the rest of the prospect rankings out there. Is he right when everyone else is wrong?

Written by Todd Boss

May 30th, 2024 at 3:36 pm

Posted in Prospects

2024 CWS Coverage – Field of 64 and Regional Preview


Its College Baseball post-season time, something we’ve followed in this space for years. Here’s a quick guide to the CWS 2024 post season. The field of 64 was announced on Memorial Day Weekend at Noon, so here’s a preview of this coming weekend’s 16 regional events.

First off, some resources for you.

Your top 8 seeds and favorites to make Omaha, in order, along with their RPI and their Strength of Schedule (SoS) denoted:

  1. Tennessee: #1 RPI, #23 SoS
  2. Kentucky: #3 RPI, #6 SoS
  3. Texas A&M: #2 RPI, #13 SoS
  4. North Carolina: #4 RPI, #15 SoS
  5. Arkansas: #5 RPI, #11 SoS
  6. Clemson: #7 RPI, #18 SoS
  7. Georgia: #6 RPI, #9 SoS
  8. Florida State: #8 RPI, #26 SoS

The top 8 seeds also are the top 8 RPI ranked teams, in nearly identical order to their RPI ranking, in case you were wondering how important RPI is to seeding in College Baseball. The top 8 national seeds are entirely from two conferences: SEC and ACC, showing the dominance of those divisions (something we’ll see more of in the regions).

The rest of the Regional Hosts/Top 16 teams are as follows:

  • #9 Oklahoma: #14 RPI, #10 SoS
  • #10 NC State: #15 RPI, #3 SoS
  • #11 Oklahoma State: #11 RPI, #28 SoS
  • #12: Virginia: #12 RPI, #27 SoS
  • #13 Arizona: #31 RPI, #31 SoS
  • #14 UC Santa Barbara: #13 RPI, #100 SoS
  • #15 Oregon State: #18 RPI, #78 SoS
  • #16 East Carolina: #22 RPI, #71 SoS

There’s definitely a couple of outliers here, especially #31 RPI Arizona, who won the Pac12’s final title but doesn’t seem to deserve a top 16 spot at the expense of other teams. The 9th ranked RPI team is Wake Forest; I don’t think anyone wants to see Wake Forest in this tournament and they’re not even a seed.

Local DC/MD/VA local teams in the tourney:

  • UVA: #12 overall seed, has to deal with Mississippi State in their region but at least they host.
  • VCU: a 3-seed in the ECU regional, which also includes Wake Forest. Tough.
  • ECU: #16 national seed but stuck with Wake and may be in trouble.
  • West Virginia is the 3-seed in Arizona’s regional that includes Dallas Baptist. Also tough.
  • JMU, my alma mater, sneaks in as a 3-seed in the NC State regional. They were definitely a bubble team, and there’s probably 3-4 other teams that merited this spot (TCU, Cincinnati, etc). But, we benefitted this year.

It’s definitely kind of a down year for area teams. Maryland is usually solid but was on the bubble after faltering in their conference tourney. Liberty had a down year, going just 24-34 in CUSA. Virginia Tech went around .500 in ACC play but went 2-and-out in ACC tourney play; one win there and maybe they’re in. ODU was #71 in RPI but really needed to win the Sun Belt to get in. Same with Coastal.

Quick Regional Thoughts

Here’s one sentence or so on each regional.

  1. Tennessee: should cruise through, straight forward regional.
  2. Kentucky: Gets #10 RPI Indiana State, who had a strong case for hosting. No favors here for Kentucky.
  3. Texas A&M: Gets a grudge match against U-Texas as well as a very solid Louisiana team; tough regional, though LA-TX opener burns each team’s ace.
  4. North Carolina: they get last year’s champ LSU, which had an obviously down year but is still no slouch and UNC is close enough to have their fans drive.
  5. Arkansas: Might have the easiest regional of all, at one of the hardest places to play.
  6. Clemson: Of course they get Vanderbilt, plus Coastal. Vandy down this year though so Clemson should move on.
  7. Georgia: Fun possible rivalry game against Ga Tech brewing, but don’t sleep on UNC-Wilmington.
  8. Florida State: A couple of tougher teams in this regional, including the SEC tourney host Alabama.
  9. Oklahoma: Oof, I wouldn’t want to see Duke in my regional. Upset watch here.
  10. NC State: will have to contend with battle-tested South Carolina.
  11. Oklahoma State: They won’t be scared of #2 seed Nebraska, but will be scared of perhaps Florida, who sneaks into the tourney.
  12. Virginia: it all comes down to the under rated Mississippi State in this bracket; upset watch here.
  13. Arizona: If i’m Dallas Baptist, I’m happy as heck here, getting easily the weakest host. DBU is ranked #17 in RPI, more than a dozen slots higher than AZ. It’ll be an upset if DBU loses this one. They also have to deal with WVU for a balanced regional.
  14. UC Santa Barbara: they get an all-west coast group in a down year for West Coast teams, but this division does have the champs of three West Coast conferences all together: The Big West, The WCC, and Mountain West.
  15. Oregon State: As Pac12 runner up, gets Big West runner up UC Irvine. Too close to call.
  16. East Carolina: for their troubles they get Wake Forest and likely 1st rounder Burns in the Saturday winner’s bracket final, but if they save fellow 1st rounder Yesavage we have an early contender for game of the weekend.

Prospect Watch. Nearly every guy projected to go in the first round is playing post season, so this list kinda looks like the projected top 10. We’ll go region by region:

  • #1 Tennessee: mid 1st round projecting 3B Billy Amick plus a handful of solid 2nd/3rd round hitters
  • #2 Kentucky has just one top 3-4 round prospect on its team: RHP Travis Smith
  • #3 TAMU is led by top-5 pick Braden Montgomery. But they have a ton of named picks, as does UT Austin.
  • #4 UNC is led by Vance Honeycutt, likely 1st rounder who was projected higher earlier in the cycle. LSU is led by Tommy White (aka Tommy Tanks), but has a couple other boppers who should go 1st/2nd rounds.
  • #5 Arkansas’ top starter is Hagen Smith, who should go top 8 picks.
  • #6 Clemson’s only top prospect is LHP Tristan Smith. Vandy has a couple of pitchers to watch for in Bryce Cunningham and Carter Holton.
  • #7 Georgia is led by consensus 1-1 Charlie Condon.
  • #8 Florida State has a couple of hitters who project end of 1st in Cam Smith & James Tibbs
  • #9 Oklahoma doesn’t have much in prospect power, while Duke has a 2nd rounder LHP in Jonathan Santucci.
  • #10 NC State and South Carolina don’t have much in the way of 1st round projections right now.
  • #11 OK State has a potential late 1st rounder in Carson Benge. Florida is led by top-5 pick Jac Caglianone.
  • #12 UVA’s top rated star is SS Griff O’Farrell. MSU has a solid 1st round projected hitter in Dakota Jordan.
  • #13 AZ and DBU don’t have much in the way of star power, but their region’s #3 seed West Virginia team is led by likely top 8 pick JJ Weatherholt.
  • #14: UC Santa Barbara regional has some lesser known talents but no 1st rounders.
  • #15 Oregon State is of course led by possible 1-1 pick Travis Bazzanna
  • #16 ECU, as noted above, is led by top 10 pick RHP Trey Yesavage on the hill, and their regional foe Wake Forest is led by likely top 6 RHP Chase Burns. Wake also has likely top 5 pick Nick Kurtz and likely mid-1st rounder Seaver King for a star-studded lineup.

Written by Todd Boss

May 28th, 2024 at 8:01 am

2024 Draft Coverage: Early mock Drafts


Charlie Condon looks like the 1-1 pick … unless he isn’t. Photo via UGA baseball home page

Its never too early for a mock draft, and so of course the first 2024 mock draft links started popping up basically the day after the 2023 draft ended. I thought I’d throw out the first collection of Mock drafts now, ahead of the real draft scouting season, to show where things started and where they are now.

The Nats pick 10th this coming draft, thanks to the Nats falling into a very specific use case (non-revenue sharing teams cannot have a top-6 pick two years in a row), irrespective of where they finish or where they fall in the lottery, they will pick 10th. See Jim Callis‘s excellent explanation for why this is the case here. As we later found out … the nats actually won the lottery, then got picked again in the top 5, before settling into their 10th spot.

So, with that being said, we’ll try to capture the top 5 picks plus the 10th pick projection for all mocks for 2024 draft, if they go that deep.

Here’s a collection of the early mock drafts to get a sense of who is in the early running for the 1st round next year. We’ll follow this up with another mock collection as we get closer to the July 2024 draft.

  • ProspectsLive way too early 2024 mock 7/13/23: Konnor Griffin, Travis Bazzana, Chase Burns, JJ Wetherhold, Nick Kurtz. Nats at 10 get Florida’s two-way stud Jac Caglianone, which would be an absolute steal here, as we’re going to see later on.
  • Baseball America Dec 2023 post Draft Lottery Mock 12/8/23: Wetherhold, Kurtz, Bazzana, Caglianone, and Mike Sirota. Nats at 10 take Tommy White, slugging 3B from LSU. Would I be happy with White as a pick? I think he can hit … but i don’t think he can field. At all. He’s 1B/DH in the pros.
  • MLBPipeline 12/5/23: Callis and Mayo do a guess post-draft order: Wetherhold, Kurtz, Bazzana, Burns, Caglianone. Nats at 10 take White, as BA predicted.
  • Jim Callis 12/15/23 first mock: Kurtz, Wetherhold, Charlie Condon (who has blown up early D1 season 2024), Caglianone, Bazzana. Nats at #10 get White. I’m sensing a pattern here.
  • Joel Reuter/BleacherReport 12/22/23 Mock 1.0: Wetherhold, Kurtz, Condon, Caglianone, Bazzana. Nats at #10 take Tommy White, the fourth straight mock to take White.
  • Keith Law 3/7/24 top 50 Ranks (not mock): Condon, Caglianone, Bazzana, Wetherhold, Hagen Smith (pitcher from Arkansas who had 17ks in 6ip early spring). #10 is Tommy White, again.
  • Baseball America’s first 2024 mock 3/18/14: Condon, Caglianone, Bazzana, Burns, Smith. Nats at #10 taking Seaver King, SS/OF, Wake Forest. King is a new name we havn’t seen here yet; he played two years in Div-II before jumping to Wake and has made an impression. Tommy White is pushed down 9 picks in this mock due to his 2024 struggles.
  • Joel Reuter/BleacherReport 4/25/24 mock 2.0. Condon, Caglianone, Burns, Braden Montgomery (a switch hitting OF from TAMU who’s blown up in this spring), Bazzana. Nats at #10 take Trey Yesavage, East Carolina’s Friday night starter who’s described as a polished 4-pitch college starter who could zip through the minors and project as a mid-rotation starter. Someone like this would absolutely help the Nats pitching depth.
  • ProspectsLive 2.0 Mock 4/29/24: Condon, Caglianone, Kurtz, Bazzana, Konnor Griffen, a prep SS/OF who is high in ProspectsLive ranks but nobody else’s. Nats at #10 take Chase Burns in their mock, which i don’t really find credible at this point in Burns’ 2024 season.
  • Jonathan Mayo/MLBpipeline 5/3/24 mock: Condon, Bazzana, Caglianone, Montgomery, Kurtz. Nats at #10 take Burns over Yesevage. White falls to #20
  • Keith Law/the Athletic 5/15/24 Mid-May Mock: Bazzana, Condon, Smith, Kurtz, Caglianone. Law postulates that Cleveland at 1-1 could be looking to shave dollars off the slot value, and they’d thus take Bazzana and save a ton of money, or maybe even a mid-1st rounder to save $4M. At #3 He has Colorado taking best pitcher available. Nats at #10 take Konnor Griffen, the #1 prep player on the board, with a note that says the Nats have a new Scouting Group this year and may take the team in a different direction (aka, younger).
  • Jim Callis/MLBpipeline 5/17/24 Mock: Bazzana, Condon, Caglianone, Kurtz, Montgomery. Nats take at #10 Bryce Rainer, a prep SS from Harvard Westlake (same HS as Lucas Giolito). In Callis’ mock, the top two arms (Smith and Burns) go off just before the Nats pick, but they leave ECU starter Yesavage on the table to take a prep SS. I wouldn’t like this pick, but I give homage to Law’s comment about a change in the scouting department with the Nats.

Analysis at this point:

There hasn’t been a ton of change in the top prospects from July 2023 to May 2024, with the exception of one guy; Condon. For months we’ve talked about Bazzana, Wetherhold, Caglianone, and Kurtz. They’re most of the names mentioned in these top 5s. Condon’s 2024 explosion, combined with the fact that he’s not already mired to 2B (like Wetherhold and Bazzana) gives him a leg up. Caglianone is a 2-way guy, but almost everyone views him as a pro bat. Most of the pundits are saying this is a 9-man draft (awesome, since we draft 10th).

For months, the industry all pretty much assumed at first that the Nats would get LSU’s Tommy White. Boy, I bet White wishes he was in last year’s draft, b/c he would have gone top 10. Now his struggles and his defensive issues have him dropping like a stone. As of this writing 5/4/24 his statline for 2024 doesn’t come anywhere near his 2023 line (.332/.409/.642 this year versus .374/.432/.725 last year). I’m really hoping the Nats go pitching this year, and later mocks have two college arms in Burns and Yesavage falling right into the range where the Nats might take them. Both are Friday starters from big-time teams and have had top 5 projections here and there, and would be great at #10. However, there seems to be a shift in the strategy, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we ended up with a prep player.

Written by Todd Boss

May 17th, 2024 at 1:00 pm

Posted in Draft

MLB Pipeline Mid-season Prospect Update

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It’s just a matter of time before James Wood is slugging in the majors . Photo via Baseball America

Hot on the heels of Baseball America doing the same, MLB Pipeline boys re-did their top 100 and slightly changed their top 30 for the Nats. Here’s a quick post talking about their changes and why.

Here’s the new MLBPipeline top 100 (with Wood now ranked #5 overall) and here’s a link to the current state of the Nats top 30. I won’t repeat the top 30 here in table format, but i’ll go over what’s changed.

  • Flipped Wood and Crews at the top. No surprise here, just recognition that Wood has basically “solved” AAA so far while Crews continues to struggle in AA. Crew’s numbers have improved so far in May (.269/.375/.615), so that’s good.
  • For those clamoring for Wood to get promoted … who do you sit? That’s the real problem with the makeup of the MLB roster right now. Winker has cooled a bit but still has a 117 OPS+ playing in LF, and you need him to retain value in trade. Young’s been great in CF and it’d make no sense to sit him. I don’t think you can cut bait on Rosario yet, and Robles is now back and needs playing time too. Meneses is 1B/DH and may have already been let go if Gallo wasn’t hurt. So, who sits? Robles? do you cut Meneses and DH Wood full time? Well that makes no sense either. Honestly, we need an injury or a trade.
  • Morales and Cavalli swap spots at 4/5. I guess they’re hedging on how long it’s taken Cavalli to come back. Remember, Cavalli was routinely in the top 50-60 of all of the minors at the beginning of 2023 (including #58 in MLBPipeline’s rankings pre TJ).
  • MLB Pipeline has now “graduated” both Jacob Young and Nasim Nunez, ranked 18th and 19th respectively earlier this year. Young was graduated out on ABs in April, while Nunez is now graduated by virtue of Service Time thanks to being on the big league roster more than 45 days.
  • The two graduations left two spots open at #29 and #30; those have been filled with Armando Cruz and Andry Lara. These two are more than reasonable additions at this juncture. The highest ranked guys I have not on their list are Quintana (who’s hitting .192 this year so far) and Andrew Alvarez (who doesn’t scream “prospect” based on his stuff).
  • They did not modify Lipscomb or Parker’s rankings despite MLB success, indicating this was really just a quick peek at the top of each team’s list to make slight adjustments.

We still wait for Fangraphs Nats top XXX for 2024, which came out in June last year. Eric Longenhagen always has a unique take on prospects and we’ll give that the full writeup when it comes out. He’s already releasting teams so perhaps we’re going to be last alphabetically.

Written by Todd Boss

May 13th, 2024 at 11:59 am

Posted in Prospects

Baseball America May 2024 Updated top 30


Reviewing off-season ranks from pundits last winter was a ton of fun, culminating in my publishing my own ranks once all the major pundits had reported.

We’re now a month into the season, and the first of a few expected “mid season updates” have published. These are useful re-ranks that take into account promotions, graduations, injuries, and the like. So, here’s a reaction to the 5/6/24 Update to the Baseball America Rankings for the Nats.

Here’s the May 2024 rankings.

BA May2024 rankLast NameFirst NamePosition
1WoodJamesOF (Corner)
2CrewsDylanOF (CF)
4CavalliCadeRHP (Starter)
6RutledgeJacksonRHP (Starter)
7Hassell IIIRobertOF (CF)
8VaqueroCristianOF (CF)
10ParkerMitchellLHP (Starter)
11SusanaJarlinRHP (Starter)
12GreenElijahOF (CF)
13LileDaylenOF (CF)
15BennettJakeLHP (Starter)
16SykoraTravisRHP (Starter)
17HerzDJLHP (Starter)
19PinckneyAndrewOF (Corner)
20BrzykcyZachRHP (Reliever)
22HenryColeRHP (Starter)
25De La RosaJeremyOF (Corner)
28WhiteT.J.OF (Corner)
29AlvarezAndrewLHP (Starter)

In this post, i’ll highlight just those changes in these rankings from their Jan 2024 system rankings, reviewed here (all stats quoted were as of 5/8/24 and may be slightly different when you read this).

  • At the top, BA officially does what many others have been threatening to; switch Crews and Wood at the top of the ranking. Wood had a monster spring and is at AAA, while Crews has scuffled out of the gate to continue his poor AA career numbers (he hit .208 there for a month last year and is hitting .235 there so far this season). Meanwhile, Wood is destroying AAA pitching so far in 2024; current slash line .339/.444/.529. I think it’s more than safe to say that the current depth chart of outfielders on the 40-man roster (roughly: Winker, Thomas, Young, Robles, Rosario, Call, and Garrett) may be ready for a shake up the next time they have an injury. I’m not sure how much longer the team will stand for Rosario to hit .125 when they have a top-5 prospect in AAA with nothing more to prove.
  • Lipscomb bumped up from #16 in January to #9 today, and he may not be eligible for this list much longer. He’s already got 87 ABs this season and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere as a useful backup infielder. Meanwhile, Rule5 draftee Nasim Nunez has three (3!) total ABs this season, and if the team stays in Wild Card contention much longer I see his usefulness being exhausted pretty soon.
  • Parker bumped up from #29 to #10. Well of course he’s been bumped up. Show up in the majors as a mid-20s prospect on every sheet, shut down the Dodgers, shut down the Astros? Come on. Nobody saw this coming. I liked Parker a lot after seeing him in person last year and I could only push him into my mid 20s. Hopefully its not a complete mirage and he continues along an bests what most pundits saw initially; 4th/5th starter ceiling.
  • Susana jumps ahead of Green in the rankings. Not sure what Susana has done to merit jumping ahead of anyone, let alone being this high. So far in 2024: 5 starts, 16 innings, and a 5.51 ERA. Interestingly, his K/9 is way up and his BB/9 is way down … but they can’t let him throw more than 3 innings a stint? Meanwhile, Green continues to not hit in the low-A, with a .170 BA and 52 (!!) Ks in 25 games so far this year. I mean … unless the franchise has told him to swing out of his ass every time he gets up, this is just not good.
  • Nunez remains 18th on the list, with no movement up or down relative to where he was in January. Really?
  • Jacob Young, ranked 18th in January, has officially graduated from rookie eligibility/prospect status by hitting his 150th PA in April. Like Parker/Lipscomb he never really was a heralded prospect but is succeeding so far in the majors.
  • The rest of the list from 19 to 29 is identical from January.
  • To add in the new 30th prospect to replace Young, BA has added … Marcus Brown. Which is weird b/c they had a list of 8-10 “honorable mentions” after posting their Jan 2024 list, and Brown wasn’t on it. I guess they released this before seeing what Marcus did in High-A when he got promoted earlier this year (.129/.206/.145). In January their “31st”prospect was Andry Lara, who has looked awesome so far in 2024, so that doesn’t make much sense.

So, some movement for some players, but not a full overhaul based on the SSS of 2024.

Written by Todd Boss

May 10th, 2024 at 9:51 am

Posted in Prospects

Is this the Nats new 2011?


Trevor Williams has been found gold in 2024. Photo via Federal Baseball via USA Today

With a win against arch-rival and 1st place Baltimore on 5/7/24, the Nats have moved above .500 for the first time since 2021. The winning pitcher, fittingly, was Trevor Williams, who has gone from a 5th starter competition in spring training with the typical cattle call of veteran 1yr MLFAs to now sitting in the top 10 of all of baseball for pitchers in various categories (wins, W/L pct, pitcher WAR, ERA, FIP, and ERA+). Yes its SSS for Williams… but he looks great for now.

The team is playing .500 ball so far in 2024 without contributions from the following leading players the team depended on in 2023: Lane Thomas (hurt and ineffective), Josiah Grey (hurt, and ineffective), Jeimer Candelario (traded), and Stone Garrett (60-day DL). That’s 4 of the top 6 WAR producers from the 2023 season.

Instead, they’re getting the found gold of Williams, CJ Abrams stepping up in a massive way (that even MLB-general observers are noticing), Jesse Winker going from MLFA to top performer, Jacob Young shockingly hitting .300 in the majors a year after basically not even being a prospect, and Mitchell Parker more or less dominating in his first few MLB starts. It’s crazy, really. All of these guys could be first month mirages, or they could stick. And we’re now at .500 without Cavalli or any of our 1st round draft picks for the last 5-6 years, without our cache of top prospects, and by limping by on trade acquisitions and FAs.

But, my more salient point of this post is as follows. Here’s the W/L records of the Nats during a period of time more than a decade ago:

  • 2009: 59-103
  • 2010: 69-93
  • 2011: 80-81
  • 2012: 98-64

It doesn’t take that long to go from zero to hero. The team bottoms out in 2008/2009 which gives them top picks to get Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper in 2009/2010. They maintain a top10 pick after 2010 which gets them Anthony Rendon in 2011. All of these guys subsequently contribute to the run of success the team had throughout the entire 2010s, culminating with a WS title in 2019. And once the team looked competent enough to compete after 2011, Rizzo felt good enough to start cashing in lesser prospects to get the pieces we needed (think Gio Gonzalez, Adam Eaton, Doug Fister, plus the Trea turner/Joe Ross fleecing) and to start signing FAs to augment as needed (Werth, LaRoche, Haren … and eventually Scherzer).

So, the question is … are we now seeing the same pattern in 2024 that we saw in 2011?

Here’s our last few seasons….

  • 2022: 55-107
  • 2023: 71-91
  • 2024: we’re sitting at 18-17 … can we finish close to .500?

Here we go again. 2020’s poor finish netted us Brady House (oh, and Jacob Young). 2021’s poor finish netted us Elijah Green in the 1st (and Trey Lipscomb later on). 2022’s bottoming out gave us Dylan Crews. And the general post-2019 malaise allowed us to flip expiring contracts for a slew of players who are contributing now (Ruiz, Grey, Gore, Abrams) and a one particular player who will be contributing soon (Wood).

Imagine if this team does the right thing and cashes in on the players it should (i’m talking about every 1yr FA or expiring deal; that means Winker, Williams, Rosario, Robles, and Gallo). I’d move Corbin if we could get anything for him. Don’t make the same mistake they made last year in NOT trading Thomas and Finnegan and Garrett; get prospects now. By this time next year we’ll have an OF consisting of Young, Wood, and Crews, costing like a grand total of $2.6M (which is about how much we paid Corbin for his first three 2024 starts) and we can back them up with Call in the short term. Imagine if we could get a decent SP prospect or a new closer or a AA-level slugger for one of these 2024-one-year-wonders, someone who could contribute soon.

Can 2025 be our return to glory?

i’m just saying …. history repeats itself, and I see some very distinct patterns right now.

Written by Todd Boss

May 8th, 2024 at 9:57 am

Posted in Nats in General

End of April 2024 Check-in On the Rotations


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.


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