Nationals Arm Race

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

2016 Season Statistical review of the 2012 Draft Class


Its Giolito and ... well that's about it. (Photo by John McDonnell / The Washington Post)

It (was) Giolito and … well that’s about it. (Photo by John McDonnell / The Washington Post)

Fifth in our set of Draft class Reviews for the 2016 season.  First was the 2016 class, then the 2015 class then the 2014 class, then the 2013 class.

Web links to use while reading:

This review is especially important to follow because the high-school age draftees in this 2012 class are Rule-5 eligible this coming off-season.  Not that there’s that many of them, but we’ll put a pin in this post when we eventually do Rule-5 Analysis later this month.

With out further ado…

Round 1: (#16 overall) Lucas Giolito HS RH Starting pitcher: 6.75 ERA in 21 1/3 MLB innings, 6-5 with a 2.97 ERA mostly in AA but with 7 starts in AAA.  116/44 K/BB in 115 1/3 minor league innings.  I feel, much like the 2016 presidential election, that most of us are girded in our opinions on Giolito at this point.  I think Giolito’s entire season was tainted by the stories of mechanical tweaks done by some ne’er-do-weller in Viera, and his results on the field showed.  He struggled with command and hit-ability during his brief time with the MLB team, and his velocity was down from where we were “expecting” it to be.  Its important to remember that he just turned 22, that he lost a significant amount of development time because of his TJ surgery, and that we should be patient.  But he definitely has a “todo list” for 2017.  I’m projecting that he starts in AAA until he proves that he can command his fastball.   Matriculated to Majors.  Post-writing update: Giolito headlined a trade for Adam Eaton, heading to the White Sox.  On his way out the door, word was leaked to multiple reporters that the Nats had “soured” on Giolito, questioning his toughness and his ceiling.  Luckily for Giolito, the White Sox pitching coach (Don Cooper) is quite well regarded, so if there’s someone out there that can “fix” whatever’s wrong with him, its Cooper.  I’ve updated the summary for his departure, which significantly thins this draft class.

Round 2(80) Tony Renda, Coll Jr 2B: Traded to the Yankees on 6/11/15 for David Carpenter.  Renda then was included in the package that the Yankees sent to Cincinnati for Aroldis Chapman.  For Cincinnati, Renda got 67 ABs this year and hit .183.  Post-writing updatehat tip to commenter KW, Renda was outrighted to AAA earlier this month.   He may have matriculated to the majors, but its safe to classify him as a AAA-ceiling player now.

Round 3(111) Brett Mooneyham, Coll Jr LH starting pitcher: Released him on 6/3/15.

Round 4: (144) Brandon Miller Coll Sr Corner OF: Voluntarily retired on 7/10/15.

Round 5: (174) Spencer Kieboom, Coll Jr C: Slashed .230/.324/.314 in 309 ABs for AA Harrisburg.  61/43 K/BB in 94 games splitting time behind the dish, 5 homers, 0 SB.   Kieboom didn’t have the best numbers hitting in AA; he’s known for his defense.  He became the final nats 40-man call-up when Wilson Ramos tore his ACL and got exactly one MLB at-bat (and thus permanently qualifying him for the MLB health plan for the rest of his days).  He’s a catcher on the 40-man roster; he’s going to play in 2017.  The question is where; right now depending on whether the team acquires another catcher, Pedro Severino may get pushed back to AAA, which may very well keep Kieboom in AA starting.  Only makes sense.  But if the team decides to keep Severino up, then Kieboom moves up too.  Trending steady.  Post-writing updatethe team went and acquired Derek Norris, which now pushes Kieboom to 4th out of 4 on the depth chart, almost guaranteeing that he’ll be in AA again (you can’t have both Severino and Kieboom splitting time in AAA; that makes no sense).   I don’t think this necessarily changes his projection, since Jose Lobaton hits so poorly, but he does have to climb over Severino if he wants to matriculate permanently.

Round 6: (204) Hayden Jennings, HS OF/CF: Released in May 2014.

Round 7(234) Robert Benincasa, Coll Jr. RH relief pitcher:  1-1 with a 4.50 ERA in 21 appearances and 30 relief innings for AA.  35/14 K/BB in 30 IP, 1.50 whip, 4.69 fip, .329 babip for AA.  Benincasa threw a few outings in Potomac but we’re just focusing on AA numbers here.  He repeated AA for the third successive season and had good K/9 numbers but not much else in support.  I’m guessing he sticks around for one more season, likely in the AAA bullpen, and plays out the 6-year string before hitting MLFA after next season.  Unless he runs into a numbers game; there’s likely at least three 40-man roster guys that will get pushed to the AAA bullpen, limiting jobs for org-arms like Benincasa.  He could be a release candidate before the full season squads break next spring.  Trending down.

Round 8: (264) Stephen Perez, Coll Jr. SS: Slashed .249/.351/.342 playing middle infield for  Harrisburg.  59/47 K/BB in 301 ABs, 5 homers, 12SB.  Perez was a Ben Zobrist-like player for AA, getting PT at all four infield positions plus left field.  His slash figures were definitely an improvement over prior seasons, and may have stabilized his chances of moving up.  All of the middle infielders for AAA this year are FAs (I believe) so there’s room for him to move up.  I don’t view him as anything other than an org-guy though, and (like Benincasa above) seems likely to play out his contract and hit MLFA next season.  Trending Steady.

Round 9: (294) Derek Self, Coll Sr. RH relief pitcher: 4-2 with a 4.10 ERA mostly with AA Harrisburg.  43/18 K/BB in 52 2/3 innings, 1.48 whip, 3.98 whip, .333 babip.  Self started the year briefly in Potomac’s bullpen but quickly returned to AA, where he spent most of the year.  He got a 9/1 call-up to fill a bullpen spot in AAA.  He improved his ERA over last year’s AA session and continues to hang on despite his lack of draft pedigree.   I don’t see that he’s earned a promotion to AAA, and with a potentially packed AAA bullpen he may be back in AA again or to be a release candidate at this point.  He turns 27 in January; I think the team knows what they have with him by this point.  Trending down.

Round 10(324) Craig Manuel, Coll Sr C:  Released 4/2/16 after (presumably) failing to win the backup catcher job at either Potomac or Harrisburg.  Time ran out for the locak product (born in Rockville, MD).

Round 11(354) Brian Rauh, Coll Jr RH starter/reliever:  Missed the entire 2016 season due to injury.   Borrowing from last year’s analysis, if he’s healthy expect him to contend for the AA rotation in 2017.  If he’s not healthy, he’s a release candidate at this point.   Trending down.

Round 12(384) Carlos Lopez, Coll Sr 1B: Released on 6/30/15.

Round 13: (414) Elliott Waterman, Coll Jr LH reliever: Released on 3/15/14

Round 14: (444) Jordan Poole, Juco-2 corner OF: Released him on 3/14/14 

Round 15: (474) Brandon Smith, OF: Didn’t sign.  Attended Division II Grand Canyon University, where he played four years.  He hit a robust .348/.402/.478 as a junior but wasn’t drafted, then slumped to hit just .233 his senior year.  Again not drafted, might be done with baseball.

Round 16: (504) Ronald Pena, Juco-2 RH starter/reliever: threw just 8 innings for Low-A Hagerstown before hitting the D/L in late April; he got another few innings in GCL rehab sessions but it was a lost season for Pena.  I’d say he’s a release candidate unless the team likes something they see, but he’s now thrown just 18 innings in two seasons and the two A-ball full season squads seem pretty full.   Trending Down.

Round 17: (534) Blake Schwartz, Coll Sr RH Starting pitcher: Retired on 4/24/15.

Round 18: (564) David Fischer, Coll Sr RH reliever: Released on 7/3/14 

Round 19: (594) Bryan Lippincott, Coll Sr 1B: Retired ahead of the 2014 season

Round 20: (624) James Brooks, Coll SR SS/3B: Released May 2013.

Round 21: (654) Austin Chubb, Coll Sr C: Released ahead of the 2015 season.

Round 22: (684) Will Hudgins, Coll Sr RH reliever: Suddenly retired 7/12/13 per his Twitter account.

Round 23: (714) Casey Selsor, Coll Sr LH Starter/Reliever: Released on 3/20/14.

Round 24: (744) Kevin Dicharry, Coll SR RH pitcher: released 7/1/13

Round 25: (774) Freddy Avis, RHP: didn’t sign.  Attending Stanford, where in 2013 he appeared in exactly one game and pitched 2 innings before suffering a season-ending injury.  That injury never got better and he retired from baseball altogether in March of 2015.

Round 26: (804) Skye Bolt, RHP: didn’t sign.  Attended UNC, had an excellent college career and was a 4th round pick in 2015 by the Oakland A’s.   Hit .231 for Oakland’s low-A team this year.

Round 27: (834) Cody Poteet, RHP: didn’t sign.  Attended UCLA and got drafted (like Bolt) in the 4th round of the 2015 draft by the Marlins.   Was 4-9 with a 2.91 ERA starting in the Sally league this year.

Round 28: (864) Hunter Bailey, Coll Sr SS/2B:  Released May 2013.

Round 29: (894) Leonard “LJ” Hollins, Juco RH reliever: Released 7/2/14.

Round 30: (924) Robert “R.C.” Orlan Coll Jr LH Starter: 5-6 with a 3.93 ERA relieving and sometimes closing for High-A Potomac.   46/46 K/BB ratio in 52 2/3 innings (no, that wasn’t a typo).  1.61 whip, 5.16 fip, .250 babip.   I’m not quite sure what happened to Orlan’s control, since it looked just fine in 2015 (85/28 K/BB ratio in 72 relief IP).   The Virginia product (UNC by way of Deep Run HS in Glen Allen, VA) definitely needs to get his walks under control to keep moving up, but is a potential lefty reliever in a system that could use one.  I’ll say Trending Steady and project him for the AA bullpen.

Round 31: (954) Michael Boyden Coll Sr RH reliever: Released Jan 2014.

Round 32: (984) Michael Mudron, Coll Sr LH reliever: Released Jan 2014.

Round 33: (1014) Mike McQuillan, Coll Sr 2B/3B: Released 3/26/15.

Round 34: Jake Jefferies, 2B: didn’t sign.  Attended Cal State Fullerton and subsequently drafted again by the Nats in the 39th round in 2015.  As we found out in our 2015 post, he was released in July 2016.

Round 35: Corey Bafidis, LHP: didn’t sign but Washington picked him in 2013.  As we learned in the 2013 post, he got released in July 2014.

Round 36: Max Ungar, Cdidn’t sign.  Went to the Charles E Smith Jewish Day school in Bethesda and attended Division III Denison, where he did seem to ever play.  A quick google search found him on linkedin; he graduated in 2016 and now works in the DC area.  I’ll venture a guess that this was a “favor pick” to someone with ties to the organization.

Round 37: Tyler Watson, LHPdidn’t sign.  Attended Kansas U for a year, then bounced to McLennan Community College in Waco, TX and and got drafted by the Angels in the 38th round of the 2014 draft.  He had a 3.42 ERA for the Angels’ low-A squad in 2016.  This is *not* the same Tyler Watson, by the way, that the Nats drafted in the 2015 draft.

Round 38: Jarred Messer, RHPdidn’t sign.  Graduate from Malone college and has pitched the last three years with the Kansas City T-Bones in the independent American Association, going 4-5 in 2016.

Round 39: Mitchell Williams, Cdidn’t sign.  Attended the Marion Military Institute in Alabama, for which I cannot find any stats.

Round 40: Ricky Gutierrez, CFdidn’t sign.  Presumably playing football for U-Conn, as per the Draft Tracker.

Trending Summary:

  • Matriculated to Majors: (2); Giolito, Renda
  • Trending Up (0):
  • Trending Steady (3): Kieboom, Perez, Orlan
  • Trending Down (4): Benincasa, Self, Rauh, Pena
  • Did Not Sign in 2012 (11): Smith, Avis, Bolt, Poteet, Jefferies, Bafidis, Ungar, Watson, Messer, Williams, Gutierrez
  • Released/Retired (20): Mooneyham, Miller, Jennings, Manuel, Lopez, Waterman, Poole, Schwartz, Fischer, Lippincott, Brooks, Chubb, Hudgins, Selsor, Dicharry, Bailey, Hollins, Boyden, Mudron, McQuillan
  • Traded (2): Renda, Giolito

Executive Summary

We have speculated that this would be a one-player draft, and we’re getting closer to that reality.  Only Giolito is “succeeding” right now, and there’s rather fierce debate about his “ceiling.”   Renda technically has matriculated to the majors as well, but his .183 BA there isn’t exactly all-star calibre (and he was just outrighted, meaning he may be downgraded to “peak before majors” in future versions of this post).  Kieboom is on the 40-man roster but is 3rd out of 3 4th out of 4 on the Nats Catcher depth chart and may not even play in AAA next  year.   The only other two guys remaining from this draft class even projected to be trending steady are both clearly org-guys who are playing out the string (Perez, Orlan).  Of the 8 remaining players from this draft, Giolito is on the 40-man and no one else merited any discussion for Rule 5 protection this coming December.

If there was some complaint about the 2013 draft class … then how do you feel about this one?   I remember arguing in this space about whether a one-man draft could be a success if that one player was a perennial all-star (as Giolito projected to be for a while) and there was differing opinions on the subject.  Well, now that there’s questions about what Giolito will eventually be, now how do you feel about this draft class?

24 Responses to '2016 Season Statistical review of the 2012 Draft Class'

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  1. […] posts were especially  helpful too; here’s the 2013 version for College draftees and the  2012 version for high school-age draftees that are now Rule-5 […]

  2. Renda got DFA’d in the last week or so.

    Sum total from 2012 draft: 1/3 of Adam Eaton, six innings from David Carpenter (in Renda trade), and a little help in signing Carter Kieboom.

    What an awful draft class. They got things right with the high-risk/high-reward Giolito pick. Or maybe they did. It’s now on the Chisox to find out.

    Otherwise, this is junk. It’s only a technicality to count Renda and S. Kieboom as having “made it.” Neither Mooneyham nor Miller made it above Potomac. Perez basically got a social promotion to AA but actually hit better at Harrisburg than he did at Potomac.

    As noted from the last post, I don’t know what the proper expectations are for major-leaguers from a draft (beyond the cup-of-coffee variety), but I think it’s safe to say that the expectations should be higher than “one.” (And if we take the Marty view on Giolito, that “one” might even be iffy.)

    If you’re wondering why the Nats are having to trade to fill in behind the guys who have reached free agency over last couple of years, look at the failure rate of these drafts. Perhaps it’s ironic that the one successful piece from the draft had to be traded to make up for it’s overall shortcomings.

    I don’t know what they were thinking with pocket-sized Renda and Mooneyham, who wasn’t good in college (but really filled out a uniform). I don’t begrudge the Miller pick. He showed outstanding power in college, more than anyone else in recent Nat drafts (slugged .650 as a JR with 23 HRs). Kieboom showed no power in college and has continued to show no power. Renda had more HRs in college than Kieboom! There just wasn’t much to recommend most of these guys in the first place.

    For the record, Renda hit well in college, and he would have been a great pick in the 6-10 round range. I’m sure he was an underslot deal to leave some bucks for Giolito, but the 2d round was way too high.


    14 Dec 16 at 8:50 pm

  3. This might be the worst draft class in Nats history, and that’s giving Giolito enough value to lead the Eaton trade.


    14 Dec 16 at 9:30 pm

  4. Todd, I just love these trips down memory lane.

    It’s like trying to remember what you did in High School.
    A lot of “yeah, I remember that”

    Mark L

    14 Dec 16 at 10:59 pm

  5. With this draft, in other years I’ve also brought up the “what if” of whether the Nats should have drafted Wacha over Giolito. That doesn’t seem as big of a “what if” now with Wacha having some injury struggles, but he came up almost immediately and had a couple of really good years. Then you get into “what ifs” like whether the Nats would have had to trade for Fister if Wacha was already available.

    Seager was taken two picks after Giolito, but he also was a high schooler who is just reaching the majors. Piscotty was a much later 1st rounder (36th pick). Otherwise, there hasn’t been too much other talent bubbling to the top from the lower half of the 1st round. Alex Wood went five picks after Renda in the 2d. Other than the very top picks, this seems to have been a weak draft overall.


    15 Dec 16 at 8:20 am

  6. I read through this post after posting and it needed more editing. That’s the problem writing something and then waiting a month to post it; so much can happen 🙂

    Wacha versus Giolito; didn’t we read that Rizzo had Giolito higher up and Wacha next on his board at the time of the drafting? Kudos for him sticking with his plan; based on what Wacha did early (like, make the majors inside of a year and be effective for a playoff contender) you’d take him over Giolito in a re-draft, even before accounting for Gioito’s rise and now subsequent fall in the rankings. Would Wacha have made a difference for the 2013 and 2015 teams that failed to make the playoffs? On the 2014 team that got beat in the NLDS? maybe, maybe not.

    Todd Boss

    15 Dec 16 at 9:11 am

  7. Spencer Kieboom doesn’t even have a major league at bat – he has a major league plate appearance (he walked). Hey, but his OBP is 1.000! And his OPS is also 1.000! That plays!

    I wonder if there is a distinction between at bats and plate appearances for the purposes of the MLB health plan …

    John C.

    15 Dec 16 at 9:35 am

  8. Do you think Kieboom can keep up those levels of performance? Maybe that Norris acquisition was foolish 😉

    Todd Boss

    15 Dec 16 at 9:45 am

  9. Spencer Kieboom, the new Moonlight Graham.


    15 Dec 16 at 10:38 am

  10. I have always wished we had Wacha in ’13, ’14, ’15 over the lottery ticket of Giolito. Particularly in the middle of ’12, when the Nats still needed bolstering right away, it didn’t seem to make sense to pick a high schooler who might become something five or six years down the road. I’ve never liked HS picks, though, particularly pitchers, no matter how great they “project.”


    15 Dec 16 at 10:46 am

  11. For as much as I criticize these drafts, its pretty hard to play the hindsight is 20/20 game on a per-player basis. I remember reading at the time that the Nats had Giolito ahead of Wacha, so when he was available at their slot they stuck to their plan and took him. Can’t blame them for not deviating from the plan. Same plan led them to not passing on Rendon too FWIW.

    Look no further than the Albert Pujols parable for such back-seat judgements. In Jonah Keri’s 2% he interviews the scout who found Pujols and *pleaded* with the Rays to draft him … recounted in this excerpt here.

    The Tampa scouting director who was so argumentative with the scout? Dan Jennings, now special assistant to Rizzo.

    Todd Boss

    15 Dec 16 at 11:47 am

  12. Hindsight is generally 20/10, much better than the original!

    Some things can be rationally criticized in hindsight, though. Mooneyham and Johansen (from 2013) were both not very good in college. Why make high picks of them, just because they filled out uniforms well, and hope against hope that they would get pro hitters out better than they did college kids? On the flip side of the height equation, Renda was very small when he was drafted and is very small now. As noted, I thought he would have been a good pick a few rounds later, but I can’t think that other teams would have been beating down his door in the 2d round.

    I also gave them credit for the Miller pick, which just didn’t work out. He struck out a lot more in the pros than he did in college. He also weirdly retired in the middle of a season, so there may have been some other backstory there.

    And I’ll admit, I was intrigued at the time at the thought of the Nats getting a guy would could have been the 1/1 at #16, and who (allegedly) threw 100. The Nats claimed to have gotten the 1/1 talent four years in a row with Stras, Bryce, Rendon, and Giolito.


    15 Dec 16 at 12:02 pm

  13. Mike Dunn gets 3/$19M. Is it too late to sue my parents for not making me throw left-handed? The Tim Collins minor-league deal is looking pretty good, if he can make it back from the TJs.


    15 Dec 16 at 12:11 pm

  14. Speaking of Rizzo’s draft-day preferences, wasn’t he said to like Hultzen over Rendon? Thank you, Mariners.


    15 Dec 16 at 12:28 pm

  15. Ugh, Hultzen over Rendon is a tough one to fathom. Rendon was collegiate player of the year as a frigging sophomore! I still can’t quite possibly believe he slipped to us that draft. Check out the BA collegiate players of the year for the last 10-15 yrs or so:

    Reading backwards: Benintendi, Reed, Bryant, Zunino, Bauer, Rendon, Strasburg, Posey, Price, Miller, Gordon, Weaver, Weeks, Greene, Prior, Teixeira. Holy cow that’s a good list of players. The least accomplished of them is probably either Weeks or Greene and both of those guys played in the majors for years.

    Todd Boss

    15 Dec 16 at 2:53 pm

  16. Rendon supposedly had injury issues. I think he only DH’d his junior year. Even with the injuries, though, he was widely regarded as the best bat in the draft. Then he got hurt right off the bat as a minor-leaguer and missed most of the season. I guess he turned out OK!

    Speaking of big-name prospects, Schoenfield seems to like the Eaton trade, although I can’t say that I completely follow his methodology to getting around to his conclusion:


    15 Dec 16 at 3:00 pm

  17. Heh. The people who now claim to have fought so valiantly to draft Pujols but been thwarted may well have done so … or maybe that’s how they remember it … or maybe that’s how they want everyone else to remember it (whatever the truth was).

    Their battle cry: “It’s not my fault!!”

    John C.

    15 Dec 16 at 3:13 pm

  18. And on Rizzo preferring Hultzen to Rendon, all I have to say is: source? I don’t recall that at all.

    John C.

    15 Dec 16 at 3:14 pm

  19. KW

    15 Dec 16 at 5:40 pm

  20. Wow, this is ugly. Maybe Rizzo should just sign guys with QOs attached to avoid having to draft…

    Andrew R

    15 Dec 16 at 9:52 pm

  21. There is a logic to that. MLB veteran FAs are a known quantity; you generally know what you’re getting. Draft picks are lottery tickets. 1st rounders lately not as much, teams seem to be drafting smarter and more conservatively (i.e., more college players with more track record of performance).

    Todd Boss

    16 Dec 16 at 9:48 am

  22. KW: Those articles don’t say that Rizzo preferred Hultzen to Rendon; they say that mock drafts had Hultzen going to the Nationals. That’s very different. Further, it’s likely that those mock drafts had Rendon going in the top five picks – I tried to look at Callis’s projection, but the link in the article no longer works.

    Andrew: Actually, I would argue that you have it precisely backwards. As I laid out above, Rizzo has been really good – arguably excellent – with his first round picks. Which are the ones that are forfeited when signing a player with a QO (just this year; no longer true in the new CBA).

    John C.

    16 Dec 16 at 10:40 am


    I don’t think Zuckerman likes my questions 🙂

    Todd Boss

    16 Dec 16 at 10:47 am

  24. On the topic of “where was Rendon projected to go” here’s my pre-draft post from June 2011 with a bunch of links to mock drafts: . Callis had Rendon #1 or #2, never having Hultzen falling to Nats.

    As you can see from the pundit predictions, nearly everyone had Rendon going either #1 or #2. Mostly those who didn’t have Rendon #1 had either Hultzen or Cole. Mostly they predicted that we’d draft Bauer or Meyer … knowing that the Nats loved Meyer but not knowing that he’d fall to our second pick in the 1st round…

    Todd Boss

    16 Dec 16 at 10:59 am

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