Nationals Arm Race

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

Fangraphs Nats Prospect top 22 released


Robles remains our #1 prospect for one mor eoff-season. Photo via

Robles remains our #1 prospect for one mor eoff-season. Photo via

The two prospect experts at Fangraphs (Kiley McDaniel and Eric Longenhagen) have released their prospect list for the Nats farm system for the 2018-19 off-season, ranking 22 guys using FAngraphs somewhat unique ranking system.

The link is here:

This is the first publicly available ranking of the off-season of our prospects (Baseball America released their top 10 last week, but its entirely behind a pay-wall that I havn’t brought myself to pay for yet).  But its also a very interesting look into the evolution of the Nats system.

Our top 5 really isn’t surprising: Victor RoblesCarter Kieboom, Luis Garcia, Mason Denanburg and Wil Crowe.  Most of us could have probably made that list from memory, knowing what we know about our depth.  Also not surprising; the dropping of Seth Romero and Raudy Read (who was not even mentioned in the top 22).  Romero likely doesn’t pitch again until Spring of 2020, and Read’s suspension and subsequent stacking of Catchers on top of his head by the big club essentially buries him in the minors for another season save a massive spate of injuries.

Other interesting omissions: Jake Irwin, who was #10 on BA’s list but doesn’t make Fangraph’s list.   Jackson Tetreault‘s stock has plummeted; he was once on the breach of being a top 10 prospect for the system and now isn’t even being mentioned.

Nick Raquet, our 2017 3rd rounder, also does not appear anywhere in this list despite his slot-value bonus that year.  He joins a less-than-illustrious history of 3rd rounders by this organization (year by year starting with 2018 Reid Schaller, Raquet, Jesus LuzardoRhett WisemanJakson Reetz , Drew Ward, Brett Mooneyham. Matthew Purke, Rick Hague,  and Trevor Holder in 2009.  For the record, that’s 10 years and one legitimate prospect or guy who worked out (that being Luzardo .. who will succeed for someone else).  That’s pretty ridiculous.  (2008 was Danny Espinosa, so i don’t want to be accused of arbitrary end-points).

The system still seems kind of top-heavy; 3-4 sure things, then a bunch of question marks.  i”d guess we’re ranked in the 16-20 range among the 30 teams as a system.

Lets be more positive; there’s a slew of names on this 2019 Fangraphs list who have literally never been mentioned on any other list that i’ve tracked.  So lets focus on them:

  • #9 Israel Pineda, an 18yr old Catcher who just held his own in Short-A against a bunch of guys 3 years his senior.  Maybe we’re finally developing a catcher that can make it?
  • #11 Tanner Rainey: our trade bounty in the Tanner Roark salary dump.  He’s not much of a “prospect” in that he’s 26 and is a AAA/4-A guy already.  But he does have a big arm and seems like he could be a 6th/7th inning solution soon.
  • #12 Malvin Pena, a 2014 IFA signing who signed for so little that he’s not even mentioned in the press releases from the time (meaning, he probably signed for like $5k).  Fangraphs complains about his mechanics, but he walked just 7 guys in 50 innings this year while making it to Low-A as a 21 yr old who has lost two full seasons to injury).   I think he starts in the Low-A rotation again in 2019 as they build his innings back up and see if he can improve on his already decent 2018 performance.
  • #17 Taylor Guilbeau: we just talked about him with Rule-5; he was eligible but didn’t get picked, despite switching to the bullpen and halving his ERA.  I think he appears on this list mostly due to his AFL performance.  I’m hoping he quickly becomes a LOOGY option for the big-league club in perhaps a year and a half or so.
  • #18 Jeremy De La Rosa, a $300k IFA signing this past June, and already on the list.  The thing that I noted: 6’1″ and he hasn’t turned 17 yet.
  • #19 Jordan Mills, another guy I thought took great strides forward in 2018 and was a Rule5 threat to get drafted.  He’s a step ahead of Guilbeau in terms of being an option for the big club; not bad for a MLFA signing a year ago.
  • #20 Joan Adon, part of the massive 2016 IFA class, but probably paid a pittance compared to the 6- and 7-figure deals there.  Now 20, he fared pretty well in the GCL then struggled in Short-A.  He’ll be in his age 20 season in 2019 so he’s a bit ahead of the curve as compared to (say) a college-age draftee who is his same age.  No matter; he’s the 20th ranked prospect on a list where usually only guys in the top 4-5 ever make the majors.
  • #21 Ben Braymer, one of my favorite Nats prospects right now.  18th rounder in 2016, he solved two successive lower levels in two successive years, then went to the AFL this past October.  He’s still a year away from Rule-5 but signed for relatively nothing ($100k bonus in the 18th out of Auburn).


fyi, here’s an updated link to my now massive Nats prospects Rankings xls:

It now has more than 125 system rankings dating to the beginnings of the franchise in Washington.



10 Responses to 'Fangraphs Nats Prospect top 22 released'

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  1. I actually was encouraged by the individual write ups. The summary was what I feel: very top heavy, probably an acceptable overall ranking but largely on the backs of two guys who (i) won’t and (ii) may not be prospects by this time next year. Without those top two, it could be a bottom three system.

    Yet the individual write ups offered more positive stuff to dream on. I was particularly surprised by Wil Crowe – more positive than I’ve seen or most of the Natosphere seems to be. He and Denaburg maybe midseason top 100 guys? Garcia also was very positive (maybe moves into top 50?).

    Anyway, somewhat encouraging. But they really need to start rebuilding the system


    20 Dec 18 at 5:00 pm

  2. Your “ending point is NOT arbitrary, it represents the totality of Rizzo’s tenure as GM. Back when Leatherpants Bowden was in charge and thanks to “Smiley,” the Nats had no Latin player development scheme worth mentioning but managed to do okay in the draft. Now it has gone the exact opposite way in that the Nats have had lousy drafts for years (save 2016), while their Latin American operation has been cranking out blue chipper after blue chipper starting with Reynaldo Lopez. Just too bad they can’t do well at BOTH simultaneously.

    Karl Kolchak

    20 Dec 18 at 5:04 pm

  3. Sanchez – 2/$19m. Nuts.

    What’s left, $10m?


    20 Dec 18 at 6:10 pm

  4. The Nats aren’t nuts to prefer Sanchez to Roark (though I would go for Roark given his consistent health). But this deal is NUTS. Two years??? At $9.5 mil per year? Crazy.


    20 Dec 18 at 6:36 pm

  5. I like the Sanchez deal. Gets them two years of a potentially above average Number 4-type starter for about what they paid Jason Marquis to be the “ace” nearly a decade ago. Looks like the deciding factor was Sanchez’s willingness to defer some money, which will aid their pursuit of a second baseman and (hopefully) a lefty reliever by not blowing out their budget.

    The Nats simply had a LOT of holes to fill, and seem to have done so in such a way that will still maximize opportunities for the young guys over the next two years to prove they belong. It’s also likely to be a positive that they have cleaned out the clubhouse of so many veterans (I heard a rumor that everyone in the clubhouse was “walking on eggshells” around Harper last season and that the holdovers are glad he’s gone) since it was painfully obvious that a change of player dynamic was desperately needed. Now Martinez will have no excuse for screwing the pooch again.

    Karl Kolchak

    20 Dec 18 at 9:36 pm

  6. I wrote when the Nats signed Corbin that I felt a bit conflicted because I wasn’t sure whether Corbin was just a one-year wonder. Well, now they’ve doubled down on the one-year wonders. Sanchez had a heck of a year, though, and played a big part in that other team winning the division.

    There’s nothing crazy about the price, not in this market. Happ is older than Sanchez and got three years at almost twice the price. Sanchez was better than Happ in 2018 in the majority of categories.

    If you’re going to go for it, go for it. Definitely improved on Roark, no matter how you slice it.

    Do they have enough left for one of the higher-end relievers? We’ll have to see. If they’ve got one more big deal left in them, that’s where I hope they look. General consensus was that they had $22-24M left at max before this deal, so $12.5-14.5 left now. Put about $3.5M on Dietrich and the rest on Robertson/Ottavino/Britton (looks like Miller heading to STL).


    20 Dec 18 at 9:48 pm

  7. Murph will crush it in Denver. Maybe they move Desi to 2B and let Murph play 1B? Just glad he didn’t end up in the division.

    Speaking of the division . . . when are the Braves or the Phils going to sign any pitching? Wow, they’ve really been left on the sidelines thus far. We can quibble about whether the Nats have gotten the “right” arms, or if they’ve paid too much for them, but they’ve certainly been aggressive in getting Corbin, Sanchez, Rosenthal, and Barraclough.


    20 Dec 18 at 9:54 pm

  8. I guess I’m having trouble accepting 2018 Sanchez over 2015-2017. I know, cutter ….. but, I guess if he was such a big part of the Braves success, and they need pitching, why didn’t they re-sign him?

    On expected performance, I don’t hate him compared to the others that were available, I just don’t like the price. Maybe it’s market right now, but they are so tight on roomtbat I would have preferred 80 innings from Ottavino rather than 130 from Sanchez. If they can get him too, then it’s easier to accept.


    20 Dec 18 at 10:35 pm

  9. Ghost now saying that he believes because of incentive clauses that the Nats only have $6M left to spend. It’s quite possible they could spend into the incentive range and then make a salary dump or two if it starts looking like they would have to pay.

    There are also the possibility of trades now that could reduce the Nats’ obligations, although they don’t have too many spare pieces who make very much. The Giants have a couple of very good LH relievers in Smith and Watson. (And for the record, I don’t want Panik. The Nats don’t need a 2B-only player; they need someone who can cover 2B who can also play other positions.)

    I do have thoughts on the minor-league system, but no time to unpack them at the moment.


    21 Dec 18 at 10:07 am

  10. New posted on Sanchez signing. I think i’m ok with it b/c of his 2018 and his overall career against us while with miami.

    I don’t get the calcs that put the Nats that close to salary cap; Cots and I have almost identical numbers and they still have more than $17M.

    Todd Boss

    21 Dec 18 at 10:10 am

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