We’re looking at the four full-season staffs, guessing the roles, and talk about the changes of the staffs from the end of last year til now. Next up: Harrisburg. See here for Syracuse review.
Quick links for rosters for each full season affiliate:
And don’t forget the invaluable work of SpringfieldFan maintaining the Nats Big Board, now in its 12th season!
Note: in the below list, “missing” means that the player was on a 2016 roster, is still listed as active but is not found anywhere on a 2017 full-season roster as expected. Most are still sitting in Extended Spring Training (abbreviated XST throughout) with the intent of getting assigned as injuries or releases occur, but some may be release candidates. Other abbreviations I use often: MLFA == Minor League Free Agent, OOO = Out of the Organization.
Quick Note: just prior to publishing word came out (h/t as always to Mr. Erickson) that a shake-up has already occurred in Harrisburg’s rotation. I’ll strike-out existing text and replace it with updated.
- starters: Fedde, Valdez, AWilliams, GRoss,
- spot starts/swingman: Long, Simms
- bullpen: Brinley, Cordero, Johansen, Lara*, Self, Suero
- dl/restricted: NLee*, Mapes, ARobinson
- cut/released/FAs from 2016 (all FAs): Brady, Lively, Runion
- missing from 2016: JDMartin,
Blackmar, Benincasa, Rauh
There’s some familiarity with this staff from the end of 2016: seven of the guys on this staff were there last September. The Nats continue their trend of having their high profile players aim for mid-season promotions as opposed to the beginning of the season: Erick Fedde only had 5 AA starts last year but by all accounts from his spring performance is ready to test himself at least at AAA if not doing a Jordan Zimmermann like jump straight from AA->Majors.
Rotation discussion: There’s more “starters” than there are spots; Phillips Valdez got 16 so-so starts in AA last year and will look to improve. Austen Williams is probably getting his last shot to start before getting pushed to the bullpen. Local guy Greg Ross (from Baltimore, went to Frostburg State) was a 2016 MLFA pickup who dominated … i’m kind of curious to see how how does in a full season. MLFA signing Gabriel Arias has a ton of AAA time and may be over-qualified for this rotation, and got sent to the D/L just before season’s start. He’s been replaced by 2016 rotation member Mark Blackmar, who re-signed to extend his MLFA deal in the off-season. I’ve listed both Jaron Long and John Simms as “spot starters” for now, though I think both deserve a shot at starting on a regular basis. We’ll see if they switch places with some of the more shaky starters here. 30th round draftee Tyler Mapes starts on the D/L after a great season at AA last year; perhaps he gets pushed to AAA when he comes off the D/L.
In the bullpen, some surprises. Why is 40-man roster member Jimmy Cordero in AA? How did top 2013 draft pick Jake Johansen make the AA squad despite never succeeding anywhere outside of Low-A? Derek Self will be spending his fourth successive year at Harrisburg; there’s more than 40 arms sitting in XST right now; does it make sense to have a guy who clearly isn’t rising up taking a full-season roster spot at this point? Off-season MLFA Braulio Lara in AA after years in AAA? Am I being too critical here? It just seems like some curious picks for our AA squad.
Listed as “Missing” include the return of J.D. Martin as a knuckleballer; he’ll remain in XST until a spot opens up in AA or AAA.
2016 MLFA signing Mark Blackmar ended the year in AA but didn’t make the team; i’m guessing they’re trying to figure out how he fits in after dominating High-A but struggling in AA. Lastly two guys who I have as “release candidates” are not assigned but not yet cut in long time Nats farm-hands Robert Benincasa and Brian Rauh.
Who am I focusing on: Fedde obviously. Ross and Simms intrigue me, as does Mapes. Brinley was *so good* in Potomac; really want to see him succeed in AA as a 27th rounder. Want to see what we have in Cordero.