Nationals Arm Race

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

MLB 2020 Draft to be just 5 rounds

125 comments

Amateur players who have already lost an entire year of playing time got another huge punch in the gut late friday, when MLB took their option to have the shortest possible draft in 2020 (5 rounds), to drastically reduce the max bonus for anyone not drafted in those 5 rounds (just $20k, as compared to $125k last year), and to basically screw hundreds of players who were set to matriculate into the pros this season.  They’ve even negotiated to delay bonus payments!

All in the name of saving a few bucks (estimated to be $1M each at best likely a lot less)  for franchises whose values are generally measured in the billions.

MLB officially shortens 2020 draft to five rounds

I agree with Scott Boras here, who blasted this move.  https://bleacherreport.com/articles/2883387-scott-boras-slams-mlbs-2020-coronavirus-draft-plan-says-it-hurts-young-players

I just can’t get over how, year after year, in the name of minor savings figures, the owners continually attack the draft, the international signing period, over and over, putting in limits and regressive taxes that while saving a few dollars ends up driving away players from the game.   This comes on the back of the highly opportunisitc plan to eliminate entire  *leagues* of minor league players, again in the name of saving money on the backs of players who are non-unionized.

I mean, is the goal to eliminate the entirety of the minor leagues too?  To somehow improve the major league product by doing what the NFL does; throwing rookies right onto the active roster of the NFL and have them basically sit until they learn?

As for the current crop of players, hundreds of them now face a brutal choice:  sign for a pittance to then earn a pittance and try to make it, or go back to college, where their partial scholarship may not even be guaranteed anymore, or … give up.  I wonder how many players are just going to give up.  How is this a good solution for anyone involved?

 

Written by Todd Boss

May 9th, 2020 at 1:01 pm

Posted in Draft

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125 Responses to 'MLB 2020 Draft to be just 5 rounds'

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  1. As I said in the previous thread, this is disgusting.

    I’m not usually a fan of Boras but there was something he said that didn’t show in that article in Bleacher Report. He said it was baseball saying to kids “after Little League go learn another sport”. Luke has echoed that in some of his posts.

    You have to hope after this is over that Congress will step in at some point. They were going to address the minor league contraction before the pandemic.

    Mark L

    9 May 20 at 3:53 pm

  2. Yeah, this is pretty infuriating. I can get the rationale behind contracting leagues that are pulling in pitiful attendance and playing in ballparks that would have been old and decrepit when those players’ dads and uncles played in them. If I squint, I can get the rationale behind moving back the draft and ending short-season play, although I still don’t particularly agree with it. But this? This is just pure greed.

    The people who own major league franchises have individually more money than probably all of us on this blog put together times one thousand. Yeah, losing gates for the year sucks, but a team owner having to sell one of his fourteen Learjets to make ends meet doesn’t exactly bring a tear to my eye. Screwing kids out of the payday they’ve been dreaming about since the sandlot is exceedingly gross.

    SaoMagnifico

    9 May 20 at 7:08 pm

  3. The thing i don’t get is the shortsightedness of it all. Why would you purposely damage the pipeline of incoming talent just to save a pittance in money? I mean, i would get it if acquiring talent was the absolute biggest expense a team faced every year … but these draft pools are smaller than what it takes to buy a bench bat for the mLB roster.

    Something tells me a reckoning is coming in baseball. The Union has completely f*cked itself with the negotiations of the last two rounds, allowing limits on draft bonuses, IFA caps, ridiculous penalties for overages and a salary cap with no corresponding salary floor. It didn’t take long for the union to see how blind they were, when dozens of mid-30s veteran hitters were run out of jobs in the last few years (ahem, Jayson Werth). And now this; another myopic move on the union’s part. don’t they realize that amateurs are all future union workers??

    You know what baseball really needs to do? endow more scholarships at the college level to ensure the pipeline there. 11.7 scholarships at the div1 level. You know how many Div1 football teams get? 85!! Division 1-AA/FCS get 63. As Boras said … if you’re not of means and you’re looking at a 4-year full ride for football versus a partial in baseabll, what are you gonna take??

    Todd Boss

    11 May 20 at 9:37 am

  4. Marvin Miller is spinning in his grave. The Players Association might as well not exist. I thought Selig was an embarrassment, but Manfred is proving to be even worse. The punishment of the Trashstros was a joke, then he let the Bosox off completely. I don’t understand the crusade against MiLB at all. As others have noted, it won’t save the teams much. The reason is that the system is already terribly tilted, with local ownership of the majority of minor-league teams and with slave-labor wages for the players.

    I will say that I thought 40 rounds of the draft was way too many, and things tended to get silly in the 30s. That said, the Nats have found a couple of decent players there in Billy Burns and Gabe Klobosits, and a useful trade piece in Tyler Watson (although he was a high school way-overslot). But with the shot fired with only five rounds, the prospects of going back to more than ten are probably pretty low.

    It’s a terrible situation/choice for the players. Don’t forget that college “scholarships” aren’t all they seem to be, either. Each D1 team has only 11.7 (really, not even “12”?!?), which can be divide among a maximum of 27 players. Very few are on “full ride.” If more high school players want to choose college over pro, and more college juniors want to wait another year to go pro, a lot of them are going to be paying their own way in college. Plus the NCAA has granted the extra year of eligibility for 2020 to further confuse things. In short, there is going to be a glut of college players, and we’re going to start hearing more stories of certain programs doing players dirty . . . at the same time MLB is as well.

    While in most cases I’m all for the players having more leverage in a system that always has given them very little, the whole deal of having to overpay to sign top high school talent away from colleges has always seemed a bit nuts. It also doesn’t make a lot of sense economically since a team is paying more for a less-proven player with a higher risk of failure, plus committing to spend more on his development versus drafting a college player in need of less minor-league experience. The way things will be in the 2020 draft, and possibly going forward, there will be less money available to use to bid against colleges. Of course if teams bring in fewer players straight out of high school, they could get away with eliminating more of the lower minors, at least theoretically. (But of course they still have the Latin players to develop, who, in an even more ridiculous system, they sign at the age of high school sophomores.)

    KW

    11 May 20 at 9:54 am

  5. (Was posting at the same time as Todd and didn’t see his similar comments on the college scholarship situation.)

    KW

    11 May 20 at 9:56 am

  6. The next question, if this is how things are going to be, is what are the market inefficiencies that the Nats can exploit? Obviously they have an excellent relationship with Boras, although Boras and his clients won’t have nearly as much leverage in the current situation. There’s going to be very little overslot money available from anyone.

    I do think the Nats should have an advantage in the free-for-all to sign college free-agent talent beyond those drafted (if many college players are willing to sign). The Nats have more scouts in the field than most teams and long-established relationships with a number of top college programs. They also have a very good reputation, including with agents (Boras), of taking very good care of their players. Also, smart players/agents should be looking for teams with depleted systems where players might have a better chance for advancement. That’s us! World Champs, take good care of players, good chances for advancement — let’s use those selling points and find some free-agent gems.

    KW

    11 May 20 at 10:16 am

  7. Here’s an article on the insanity of pre-high school recruiting by colleges, even though they generally are only offering partial scholarships:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2020/05/11/elite-baseball-prospects-are-committing-colleges-before-they-even-play-high-school/

    KW

    12 May 20 at 9:00 am

  8. Anyone have an ESPN+ account and can tell us who Kiley McDaniel mocked to the Nats yesterday? I like Kiley but I can’t really justify paying for ESPN+ right now, considering 1) there’s no sports and 2) my financial situation is not great.

    Mark Miller

    12 May 20 at 1:41 pm

  9. I don’t have ESPN+ right now, either.

    Just hearing about the owners’ proposal to start the season on July 4, with 82 games and DH in the NL. Going to the players for approval. I personally don’t see the virus situation settling enough in major cities, including DC and Balto, but that to be a realistic date, but whatever.

    As for the DH, I’ve spent my life living in or near four cities with MLB teams. All are NL teams. That’s the game and the strategy that I know, not the DH variety. The Nats are actually set up pretty well for the DH with Zim, Howie, and Thames all needing ABs, and they have Robles for the #9 slot. But I’m not a fan of the idea, and I think if they ram it through now, they’re never going back. And I’m sorry, but I just heard Grant & Danny repeating the biggest hooey pro-DH line there is: it extends careers. Anyone who says that hasn’t been paying attention to trends in the game over the last few years. Ask Adam Lind and other similar sluggers if they had their careers extended. Zim probably would have no market if he wasn’t the face of a franchise. The Rangers had flat-out released Cabrera. Dozier signed for $2.2M.

    Theoretically, the Nats should have an advantage in a short season, but who knows? Certainly the older members of their rotation should benefit tremendously from the extra rest. They can’t exactly start a short season 19-31, though. And they can’t waver or wait on Kieboom — either he’s ready, or he isn’t.

    KW

    12 May 20 at 2:58 pm

  10. McDaniel mocked Cole Wilcox to us at 22.

    Chris

    12 May 20 at 9:46 pm

  11. Aside from the fact that the Nats need hitters a lot more than pitchers, Wilcox seems very raw to me. He’s yet to be a regular starter in his college rotation. As Todd has said, the Nats like to boast that they “know pitching,” but there’s no evidence whatsoever that they know pitcher development.

    If they are going to spit into the wind and draft yet another pitcher, and choice is between Wilcox and Ginn (as so many are projecting), that’s an interesting choice. Wilcox seems to have consistently higher velocity and therefore a theoretical higher ceiling, plus he’s healthy. Ginn is recovering from TJ and didn’t throw as hard as Wilcox even before it, but he’s been much more successful than Wilcox in actual results, cracking the rotation of a strong college team as a freshman. Wilcox hasn’t been a regular member of the UGA rotation. I just scratch my head at why people think a guy who can’t crack a college rotation will suddenly improve so much that he’ll be a top-three starter in an MLB one.

    Also, the Nats have just drafted the SAME profile as Wilcox with their last two 1st-round picks, Denaburg and Rutledge. They are both large hard-throwers who are raw, don’t have a real track record, and may take some time to develop. Same with Reid Schaller, who, similarly to Wilcox, they’re trying to make into a starter after he couldn’t crack an SEC rotation (albeit in only one healthy season at Vandy).

    At some point, they’re going to have to spend some high draft capital on hitters. Who knows when that day will be, though.

    KW

    13 May 20 at 8:07 am

  12. In his Mock this morning, Keith Law also mocked Wilcox to Nats. Interesting change of events given that many previous mocks had them on JT Ginn.

    wilcox also fits the mold of Nats picks pretty well; “famous name” who has had his stock fall but presumably not his talent.

    Interestingly, when I collected mock drafts for the 2018 draft, more than a few of them had the Nats taking him then, indicating that hte team liked him but knew he was unsignable. As it turned out they threw away a pick on him in the 37th round anyway.

    see http://www.nationalsarmrace.com/?p=14460

    Todd Boss

    13 May 20 at 9:28 am

  13. Side note on ESPN+ … they refuse to support RSS feeds, so I have no idea when guys like McDaniel post stuff. So frigging frustrating. how hard is it to support per-author RSS feeds?

    Todd Boss

    13 May 20 at 9:29 am

  14. As for Universal DH,i’m all for it. here’s my 2013 post on the same: http://www.nationalsarmrace.com/?p=4054

    I want the DH in the NL. And amazingly/ironically it oculdn’t come at a better time for Nats. A DH extends Zimmerman’s career 3 years.

    Todd Boss

    13 May 20 at 9:31 am

  15. Of course the owners also couldn’t resist including the poison pill of revenue sharing:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2020/05/13/ignore-baseball-labor-squabbles-once-money-isnt-what-really-matters/

    But I’m with Boz in not believing that the virus stats will be in their favor anyway, at least not until much later in the summer at best.

    Oh, and if you’re going to pick an aging Nat to keep hitting as a DH over the next three years, my money’s on Howie over Zim.

    KW

    13 May 20 at 9:48 am

  16. Let me just say that I have absolutely no interest in labor issues. Less than zero.

    With that noted, the five round structure is fascinating, absolutely fascinating. The Nationals could not have asked for a better turn of events for the organization. Here is why:

    1) The team is coming off the championship, with a very charismatic team and national identity as a team that America jumped aboard
    2) A team that clearly has low inventory of high ceiling prospects in its minor leagues
    3) An aged roster where players can see themselves as the next generation at numerous positions
    4) Southeastern and Eastern talent that wants to play close to home (aka Zimmerman and Doolittle types)

    NFL style drafting – 7 rounds and then free for all among the remaining talents — allows for organizations that build better relationships and have more star power to get their targets.

    If only 160-170 players come off the board, that’s some incredibly choice senior talent or otherwise academically limited Juco talent or smaller college juniors, or juniors from homes that need them to get to work in a now-depressed economy, that go into the 20K pool. If the Nationals have a “Board,” they can absolutely sign far better talents than they would post-round 6-7.

    I’ve read Ghost of Talk Nats to say that the Nationals are bringing in a heavy international class this year. I think that between 2020 international and a higher grade of college stock, given Rizzo’s comments that they started scouting very early and have been building relationships with player’s families, we may look back on this year as an unlikely boost to long-term organizational health.

    All of the ingredients are there. I can’t wait to see what the final crop is by June 10-11, the end of June and early July.

    forensicane

    13 May 20 at 1:23 pm

  17. Now Baseball America’s new mock is the second in the past few days I’ve seen with the Nats taking Slade Cecconi, big power arm out of the University of Miami. I’m not seeing a consensus here yet, and I’m not sure if it’s because guys are guessing or the names that are consistently being linked to the Nats are pretty much Cole Wilcox, J.T. Ginn, now Cecconi, and maybe Austin Wells if he’s not off the board by then. (I’ve seen one or two mocks of Pete Crow-Armstrong to the Nats, but I don’t think that fit makes any sense whatsoever.)

    SaoMagnifico

    13 May 20 at 11:51 pm

  18. Lots of new mocks today. BA and MLB.com both mock Cecconi to the Nats, although Callis notes that Ginn is “too easy” to link to the Nats, which…why not slot him there then? Oh well. Zielinski is sticking with Mlodzinski.

    SaoMagnifico

    14 May 20 at 2:34 am

  19. Here’s the mock draft collection that I have dating to last july so far:

    Baseball America (Carlos Collazo/Teddy Cahill): July 2019 Way-too-Early Mock Draft: Emerson Hancock, Spencer Torkelson, Pete Crow-Armstrong, Casey Martin, Patrick Bailey
    Baseball America (Carlos Collazo) Oct 2019 Draft Order finalization Mock: Austin Martin, Torkelson, Hancock, Nick Gonzales, Asa Lacy.
    Baseball America (Carlos Collazo) Jan 2020 Mock: Martin, Hancock, Torkelson, Gonzales, Lacy. Nats take Heston Kjerstad, Arkansas corner OF.
    Baseball America (Carlos Collazo) Feb 2020 Mock v2.0: Martin, Torkelson, Lacy, Gonzales, Hancock. Nats take Ed Howard, prep OF from Illinois.
    CBSSports (Mike Axisa): apr 2020 mock: Martin, Gonzales, Torkelson, Hancock, Lacy. Nats take J.T. Ginn, who blew out arm one start into 2020.
    Baseball America (Carlos Collazo) April 2020 Mock: Torkelson, Martin, Lacy, Gonzales, Hancock. Nats take Ginn.
    ESPN (Kiley McDaniel) 5/13/20 Mock draft: Torkelson, Martin, Lacey, Hancock, Zack Veen, Nats take Cole Wilcox.
    The Athletic (Keith Law) 5/13/20 Mock Draft 1.0: Torkelson, Martin, Lacy, Veen, Hancock. Nats also taking Wilcox
    Baseball America (Carlos Collazo) 5/13/20 Mock draft: Torkelson, Martin, Lacy, Gonzales, Hancock. Nats taking Slade Cecconi, a RHP from uMiami
    MLB.com (Jim Callis): 5/13/20 Mock draft: Torkelson, Martin, Lacy, Hancock, Veen. Nats taking Cecconi

    So, skipping all the BA really early ones, there’s only 3 names on the Nats radar (as Sao pointed out): Ginn, Wilcox, Cecconi. If Ginn is on the board its hard to see them skipping him, after their taking Fedde, Giolito, Romero in the past (all 3 top ten talents who fell due to injury/other issues). That is Ginn to a T.

    Todd Boss

    14 May 20 at 7:37 am

  20. The real takeaway here seems to be that the Nats aren’t really telegraphing their pick this year (and/or Boras telegraphing it for them), unlike in some other years. Plus if the Nats did want to throw folks off their trail of a hitter, what better way than to suggest that they’re looking at big college pitchers?

    I would love to get Kjerstad (BA projection), but he’s #7 overall on the FanGraphs board, so it’s really hard to see him falling that far. The Nats have picked several Razorbacks over the last few years and do have connections to the ARK program. I wouldn’t hate picking a high school hitter like Crow-Armstrong this year, with the “lost” summer of development for everyone, and the Nats do have connections to Harvard-Westlake back to Giolito. C-A seems not to have hit as well as expected on the elite circuit last year, though.

    I just can’t see how another pitcher fits. They have so little talent organization-wide among the hitters.

    KW

    14 May 20 at 8:10 am

  21. If we’re going by Nationals connections, the team scouts Texas and Oklahoma and Arkansas very heavily.

    That said, Callis has historically followed the Nationals and Expos closely. So when he talks, it typically has more value than customary punditdrivel.

    Mocks also derive from info from the families about who is showing interest. And with COVID restrictions, there’s more time to work the phone for reporters who actually hustle. So the above may have legs.

    forensicane

    14 May 20 at 8:41 am

  22. Forensicane’s comment about how Callis follows the nats closely … made me think. Lets go back and use Callis’ last known mock draft (usually published the day of the draft) to see how well he picked. I’ve been tracking mock drafts for yeras so it shouldn’t be too hard to find the data.
    – 2019: Callis’ final mock said Josh Jung, while MLBpipeline.com’s last mock said Josh Allen. Jung went 8th overall, Allan 3rd round to the Mets
    – 2018: Callis’s final had Denaburg. nailed it. Of course, so did Law and fangraphs, and a couple others changed away from Denaburg last minute.
    – 2017: Callis called it: Romero.

    Side note; here’s what I wrote immediately next to Callis’ romero prediction: “Nats taking Seth Romero, a LH starter who was just kicked off of UHouston’s team, his 3rd “strike” with the team. Sounds like a winner to me and I hope the Nats are not foolish enough to take a 3-time suspended college player. Problem is, he’s a Scott Boras client, and people are worried that Boras is talking to the ownership again…”

    I hate it when i’m right.

    – 2016: Callis says Thaiss and Reynolds. Thaiss went 16th, Reynolds went in 2nd round.
    – 2015: no first rounder; he only mocked 1st ro und.
    – 2014: Callis says Hoffman, but also says that Hoffman likely goes top 10 (he did; 9th) and the Nats would take FEdde. nailed it.

    … so that’s not bad actually.

    Todd Boss

    14 May 20 at 2:13 pm

  23. What one has to account for is that a player who gets picked ahead of the. Nats does not mean he was not on their board. And, a player who gets picked later means that someone they liked fell to them instead.

    That noted, the Rizzo we know holds intel as a steel trap. So what I am referring to is more that he follows the Nationals as a person with a long interest in the organization, has a feel for the mentality of the decision-makers, and gets a feel for who wants the players through his contacts that may well include coaches. The Nationals will not leak their hand to anyone.

    forensicane

    14 May 20 at 3:29 pm

  24. It’s really easy to mock pitchers to the Nats because that’s been past practice for a long time. And certainly they could draft a pitcher, with the mindset that they can successfully develop him and then he could bring back something else in trade. But man, our farm system is really, really, REALLY weak on hitting talent. There’s a realistic chance our top two prospects are going to spend the season with the major league club, and past them, our best position player prospect is…Drew Mendoza? Jeremy De La Rosa? Yasel Antuna? We’re not talking top-100 prospects here, we’re maybe talking top-250, probably more like top-500.

    Mark Miller

    14 May 20 at 6:34 pm

  25. This is a Todd Boss question: Are the best hitters drafted or developed? What proportion of the league leaders in the main categories were #1 picks? #2 picks? International signings?

    Given the structured bonuses in the draft, and the free for all in the international marketplace, does the nats draft history reflect metric and Moneyball that we have not considered?

    forensicane

    15 May 20 at 12:13 pm

  26. As noted above, Keith Law mocks Cole Wilcox to the Nats, but there’s some funk in his draft, with him projecting CJ Van Eyk at #12 (way higher than I’ve seen him) and Mick Abel going at #23, a pick after the Nats take Wilcox: https://theathletic.com/1809918/2020/05/13/keith-law-2020-mlb-mock-draft-first-round-projection-1-0/

    Prep pitchers are uber-risky, but if Abel is still on the board by the time the Nats pick, that seems like a really strong fit to me. Wilcox has a lot of reliever risk, and Abel is a top-ten talent whose only real concern beyond his demographic is his signability…which is where the cachet of being world champs with one of the sport’s most renowned pitching pipelines comes in.

    I think Abel comes off the board before #22, probably well before #22, so it’s probably an academic question. But while all things being equal I’d favor a college pitcher over a high school pitcher, there’s a gulf in talent here and Mike Rizzo has never been scared off by risk when there’s that kind of upside. Abel ought to be an ace someday. Wilcox? Probably not.

    SaoMagnifico

    16 May 20 at 8:56 pm

  27. Nature or Nurture on hitters? Who knows; you’d have to be embedded witn an organization to see the kinds of adjustments professional coaches are imparting to really be able to tell.

    We know that hitting instructors do exist for a reason, and that scouting reports often talk about how hitters may have great power but have “long” swings that make them susceptable to inside pitches. Or they may have a hitch in their swing that costs them against higher velocity. We also know hitters often change their swing plane to get more lift. I think all of that stuff is nurture.

    But then you have top hitters like Harper, Trout, A-rod who race through the minors and debut at 19 or 20 and have little evidence of any manipulation of their swing. So, who knows.

    Todd Boss

    16 May 20 at 9:21 pm

  28. If i recall Law’s intro correctly, i think he’s predicting some oddity in this draft since there’s so little to go on.

    Todd Boss

    16 May 20 at 9:23 pm

  29. Fore mentioned Moneyball. One of the “market inefficiencies” the Moneyball approach exploited was to draft guys who had actually succeeded in college, rather than ones who look good in a uniform and allegedly “touch 98.” The Nats have gotten recent good success so far from a Moneyball type in Tim Cate. Voth and Suero (as an “older” Latin signee who doesn’t throw 98) are some other examples who come to mind. Brigham Hill was another smallish but college-successful pitcher who was progressing until waylaid by injuries.

    But goodness, the Nat landscape is littered with the “looks good in a uniform” guys, many of whom weren’t successful in college (Jake Johannsen, Brett Mooneyham, many others). In recent years, they’ve also developed a fascination with college stars who have slipped in later in their careers — Irvin and Dyson among pitchers, Wiseman, Banks, and Mendoza among hitters. I will say that by a certain point, certainly by the 4th or 5th round, I don’t have a problem with going after guys whose physical projection or earlier college success might suggest some latent talent. It’s the higher picks spent on unsuccessful guys that just aren’t smart.

    I put Wilcox in the “unsuccessful” category, as he didn’t crack the rotation as a freshman and wasn’t great when he pitched. (He seemed to be better in the SSS as a Soph.) To me, he profiles a lot like Reid Schaller, the Nat 3d rounder from a couple of years ago — a strapping hard thrower who couldn’t break into an SEC rotation but who the Nats keep insisting is a starter. By contrast, Ginn, who isn’t as big as Wilcox, was quite successful as an SEC frosh, significantly better than Wilcox. But yes, he’s injured . . . not that he’d be pitching right now anyway.

    KW

    17 May 20 at 10:18 am

  30. All of that said, I definitely want to echo Mark M., who is singing my song about the need for drafting hitters. I can name 20 pitchers (or more) in the Nat organization who at least have a shot at the majors. I’d be hard pressed to name 5 hitters, particularly if we don’t include Latin lottery tickets. Kieboom is the ONLY reasonably sure thing. I hope Garcia makes it, but there’s a lot of magical thinking about him at the moment, based solely on progression-for-age. Mendoza is a fallen college star but probably has the talent level, if he can hit and hit for power. And beyond them? Who knows? Maybe Barrera can be a MLB backup one day, but hitting .249 at AA doesn’t build a lot of confidence. They thought enough of Antuna to spend a lot of money on him, but injuries have set him back.

    Anyway, the organization is basically devoid of MLB hitting prospects. It just is. How do they keep ignoring that and not ultimately suffer for it? Maybe they think they can just keep signing cheap guys in their mid-30s forever . . .

    KW

    17 May 20 at 10:27 am

  31. @KW – Reid Schaller is a great call on the comp for Wilcox. Certainly Wilcox is better regarded as a prospect, but it’s the same kind of thing. Throws hard but pretty straight, meh secondaries, a bit of effort with the delivery leading to inconsistent command, maybe he emerges as a mid-rotation starter if the stuff and command both take a step forward but probably ends up trying to chuck it by ’em in relief. That’s fine for a third-rounder, I suppose (although Schaller hasn’t done much so far, and he just turned 23), but it’s not an inspiring profile for a first-round draft pick. Just my opinion. I know way less than these professional evaluators and scouts, and maybe we’re undervaluing Wilcox, but I just don’t see an impact player there. Ditto Cade Cavalli, Bobby Miller, and some others in that range. These guys can definitely throw hard, but if we’re really going to draft another pitcher, I want it to be someone who can pitch.

    SaoMagnifico

    17 May 20 at 10:23 pm

  32. And the scary part is that Schaller was more successful in his one SEC season than Wilcox was, albeit in fewer innings.

    There’s no doubt that Wilcox has physical, “projectable” talent. But his draft ranking clearly is based a lot more on his high school reputation than on anything he’s actually done on the field in college, and that’s always concerning. As Sao said, if he throws hard but it’s still getting hit, you suspect that it’s a straight 98, with not a lot of movement and not good enough secondary pitches to get the hitters off of dead red.

    In looking at Schaller’s numbers last year at Hags, he actually wasn’t bad. His hits-per-9 number was lower than that of any other regular starter there other than Rutledge. He just did himself in with a 4.3 BB9. Control can improve, but if your stuff is getting hit, consistently, that’s hard to improve. (Irvin gave up two more hits-per-9 than Schaller did.)

    KW

    18 May 20 at 9:42 am

  33. Wilcox was in UGA’s rotation this spring, wasn’t he?

    I show him with 4 starts (all on Saturdays).

    Certainly those 23 innings are a small sample size but he was pretty darn dominant in them. A 0.87 WHIP to go along with 32 Ks is what you want to see, right?

    His stat line on 2/29 against a good Georgia Tech team caught my eye: 7IP, 3H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 11K.

    Chris

    18 May 20 at 10:55 am

  34. Follow-up on https://georgiadogs.com/sports/baseball/stats/2020

    Here’s his four starts this year:
    – Richmond: 5ip, 5 hits 8/2 k/bb 1ER
    – Santa Clara: 6ip 6 hits 3ER, 7/0 k/BB
    – Ga Tech; 7ip 3 hits, 11/0 k/bb
    – UMass: 5ip, 4 hits, 0ER, 6/0 k/bb

    So, the competition isn’t that stellar. Richmond was 5-12 on the season and had losses to pretty poor teams (Georgetown and yale?). Santa Clara much better, has a mid-week win over Stanford. UMass…not good. But the GaTech result is impressive and the K/BB ratio is impressive irrespective of who you’re playing.

    Todd Boss

    18 May 20 at 11:24 am

  35. It’s a fine statline, and the K/BB is eye-catching, but one very good start over a good team, two thrashings of lousy teams, and one dictionary-definition quality start over an OK team really doesn’t give me the kind of sample size I need to get excited about Wilcox.

    He’d be fine, probably. The fit makes sense. But if there’s someone with huge upside like Abel or even Ginn still on the board and the Nats go Wilcox, I don’t get it. It’s not even like that is choosing between a high floor and a high ceiling.

    SaoMagnifico

    18 May 20 at 12:17 pm

  36. Mike Axisa is sticking with his prediction of J.T. Ginn. Interestingly, he thinks Wilcox is already off the board by the time the Nats pick. I also like the sound of Clayton Beeter, whom he has going a few picks later to the Dodgers.

    SaoMagnifico

    18 May 20 at 12:32 pm

  37. I said of Wilcox above that “He seemed to be better in the SSS as a Soph.” Most notably, he dropped his 38 walks in 59.2 IP in 2019 to only 2 in 23 IP in 2020. (Weirdly, despite better control and average competition, his hits-per-9 has stayed the same.) I know the stats. He’s still not my preference. I don’t prefer any pitcher, but Ginn was a heck of a lot better in 2019 than Wilcox was. Some boards have really knocked Ginn down because of his injury, though. And yes, I’m skeptical of the Nats taking yet another wounded wing.

    Another question, of course, is why any draft-eligible sophomore would actually want to come out this year in this depressed draft with restricted money. Wilcox in particular would seem to benefit in draft ranking (and signing money) by posting a dominant college season next spring.

    Oh well. It does seem to me that since there’s not a lot of consensus in the mocks, everyone seems to be just guessing that the Nats will take another pitcher. Of course since they’ve only taken two hitters in the 1st round since Harper (plus Stevenson as their first pick the year they didn’t have a 1st rounder), it seems like an educated guess. But dang, they need hitters.

    KW

    18 May 20 at 12:47 pm

  38. Had to look up Beeter. He’s only #121 on the FanGraphs board. He’s another TJ, has ridiculous K numbers — 73 Ks in only 41.2 college IP. Interesting to see that interest in him is climbing so much in some circles.

    KW

    18 May 20 at 12:58 pm

  39. So tell me again why any player who has other options would want to enter this year’s draft pool?

    https://mlb.nbcsports.com/2020/05/15/mlb-to-defer-draft-bonuses-on-its-already-shortened-draft/

    KW

    18 May 20 at 1:38 pm

  40. yup.

    Todd Boss

    18 May 20 at 1:54 pm

  41. Not that $100,000 isn’t still life-changing money for 99% of these kids and their families, but jeez, that is so, so miserly. And $100,000, while a lot of money, is a heck of a lot less than $8 million.

    This is what you get when the game is run by billionaires. Nobody makes billions of dollars by treating people fairly.

    SaoMagnifico

    18 May 20 at 5:42 pm

  42. I think the thing that gets me the most in this draft deal is the cutting of non-0drafted bonuses from $125k to $20k. that’s what’s going to crush a lot of players.

    Todd Boss

    19 May 20 at 10:03 am

  43. Cynically — and how can we not be cynical about all of this? — the 20K “bonus” seems like a bet by the owners that in this terrible job market for young people, the players will see 20K as better than nothing.

    Continuing with the cynicism, with the way that youth baseball (sadly) has become almost the exclusive property of affluent suburbia, I doubt many families will consider $100K as “life-changing” for their kids when most of them have spent more than that funding their travel-team careers plus making up the difference on the partial college scholarships.

    During this time when families sure would like to feel like their sons have better options than the CTE risk of football, the lack of college scholarships and MLB pay for draft picks may be making families reconsider baseball as a viable sports path.

    KW

    19 May 20 at 12:34 pm

  44. @KW – Unfortunately, I agree. This is just so short-sighted and it’s going to further squeeze the pipeline for a game that has already lost ground to competitors like football and soccer over the past several years and decades.

    I’m watching Ken Burns’ baseball documentary, which was made in 1994, and it’s sobering to see the parallels in how greedy, ruthless owners and an unfeeling commish squandered public goodwill and the overwhelming popularity of the game 120 years ago. Baseball endured then, but it had to split in two and come back together before it did, and there were intense inequities that still persisted for decades after that harmed the integrity and spirit of the game (the exclusion of black and mestizo players, most notably, as well as the wholly unfair reserve clause, which persisted even longer).

    I just wonder if we’re headed for a fall. This might be the best way to wring every drop of nickel and copper out of an investment portfolio, but it’s an awfully poor way to vouchsafe the long-term health and viability of the game. And we’ve got labor negotiations coming up, too, to say nothing of the minor league contraction we’ve already discussed to death.

    SaoMagnifico

    19 May 20 at 12:51 pm

  45. Today’s owners seem to reflect the corporate world at large, where high profit margins and dividends are seen as more important than reinvesting in your business, and in your wider industry. MLB made a self-reported record $10.7 billion profit in 2019. Of course it doesn’t share its revenue nearly was well as most of the other pro leagues, particularly the NFL, so you have some really struggling franchises despite the overall success.

    Even with the Nats, which have had a top-five payroll for the last several years, there still has been story after story of push and pull with the Lerners on every last dime. Even now, Rizzo doesn’t have a contract beyond this year. Sorry, but that’s not how a healthy business treats its key employees.

    And yes, the pipeline of players already has been a growing problem. Youth sports in general have gotten out of control, with emphasis on specialization from a young age, all the travel team stuff, and all the money that families have to cough up to cover everything. With the early specialization, kids who once would play baseball as just one of several sports — which was probably the experience for many of us — aren’t playing baseball at all, and therefore aren’t developing a “love of the game” to become the next generation of fans. They’re not just losing potential players, they’re losing potential fans.

    KW

    20 May 20 at 10:36 am

  46. I’ve been thinking a lot about what the sporting world would look like if professional sports were operated as a public good.

    Politically, in this country, it’s basically impossible. The idea of nationalizing the national pastime is absurd; liberals would point to about 10,000 better ways to spend that money, conservatives would say it’s a communist takeover of a great capitalist institution, owners would never allow it, most players would be appalled by it. So it’s purely a thought experiment, at least in our current political environment.

    But it would have some nice perks. Presumably, every team would get the same budget, and none would be under pressure to maximize profits for their investors. That means no tanking, no teams that spend massive amounts of money to make the playoffs every year (sorry, Nats, but also Yankees, Dodgers, Cardinals), no teams that are so cheap that they maybe build a contender every couple of decades (Pirates, Athletics, Orioles, Mariners, Blue Jays), and no price-gouging on tickets and concessions. There could be careful, clear-eyed, league-wide planning of how to upgrade or replace facilities, or whether and when to relocate a franchise or have it split its time in another city. The minor leagues could be administered similarly. So could summer and winter leagues.

    It’s an extreme, and almost certainly unworkable, concept. But if I could wave a magic wand, I’d be considering just about anything to wrest baseball out of the hands of people who look at it and only see dollar signs.

    SaoMagnifico

    20 May 20 at 1:23 pm

  47. Sao, yeah, that’s probably beyond the realm of possibility, but I have wondered at times what pro sports would look like if there was more public ownership like the Green Bay Packers. Certainly there would be less pressure to make a profit off the franchise beyond just what is needed for operating expenses.

    It seems to me that one of the core problems with MLB is not a spending cap, but a spending floor. The NFL has both and is rolling in dough, with no weak franchises. NFL teams are required to spend player personnel money within a very narrow margin of 11%, so all teams essentially spend the same, whether it seems like it or not. That has led to a lot of parity, with the exception of a few truly stupid franchises, like the DC one.

    Of course the NFL can do what it does spending-wise because its golden goose of TV money is equally shared. In contrast, probably the biggest disparity among MLB franchises is created by the local TV contracts. What would happen if all of those were negotiated through the league office, with revenue shared equally? The NY and LA teams would protest, of course, but there would be dancing on South Capital Street over the demise of the MASN Monster.

    So that’s my secret sauce: share all the TV money and require teams to spend essentially the same amount. (Of course all MLB contracts are guaranteed, while the NFL ones are only partially so, so there would be some details to work out. But no one should have a 13-year contract anyway.) If MLB owners protest, just ask them a simple question: why is Dan Snyder’s terribly run, losing franchise worth more than Ted Lerner’s championship one?

    All MLB does to try for balance is silly things, like competitive balance picks. Please. Those are part of Bud Selig’s awful legacy, while his family continued to own a poorly run small-market franchise while he masqueraded as commissioner.

    Current Yankee payroll is $250M for 2020 vs. $56M for the O’s. They’re in the same division. Too bad we can’t just relegate some teams to AAA . . .

    KW

    21 May 20 at 2:58 pm

  48. Had to look it up. According to Forbes, the Nats are worth $1.9 billion, while the Deadskins are worth $3.4 billion. It just boggles the mind that there’s any reality where the Deadskins are worth almost twice as much as the World Champs. But that’s what MLB does to itself by not balancing its field somewhat better.

    KW

    21 May 20 at 3:07 pm

  49. And “happy” anniversary of the Nats hitting the depths of 19-31 last year. Boy, were we on the warpath, as was everyone else. Boz looks back at the remarkable turnaround and accomplishments:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2020/05/23/nationals-world-series-run-was-amazing-time-has-improved-with-age/

    KW

    23 May 20 at 8:24 am

  50. Thanks for the link, KW, I missed that one and it encapsulizes everything last year perfectly.

    Mark L

    23 May 20 at 5:08 pm

  51. I’m not the first person to make this observation, but I distinctly remember when we dropped all of that four-game series with the Mets — it was devastating, obviously, but it was weirdly liberating because it just didn’t seem realistic to think about the 2019 Nationals as a playoff team when they were twelve games under .500 at fifty games into the season. That’s almost a third of the season gone, and I think we finished that sweep by the Mets tied with the Detroit Tigers for one of the worst records in baseball.

    My attitude at that point was, “Yeah, we’re probably going to be deadline sellers. That’s two months away. Let’s see how much fun we can have along the way.” It really was that kind of “go 1-0 every day” mentality even as a fan. We were practically buried then; what was the point of scoreboard-watching, or nail-biting over the outcome of a series, or worrying about whether Strasburg or Zimmerman would be healthy come October? I still watched every game I could, and followed along on Gameday with the ones I couldn’t, because I wanted to see the Nats win that game.

    Somewhere along the way — on the way from 19-31 to that trade deadline at which it seemed like we’d be saying goodbye to Rendon and Doolittle and maybe Scherzer too — those games the Nats did win started to add up, and the deficit shrank, and October came back into focus as a plausible goal. And I will never forget watching this team somehow run the gauntlet of one of the most difficult September schedules in baseball while staying just ahead of our wild card pursuers, and I certainly will never forget that incredible playoff run, coming back to win five elimination games, taking revenge on the Dodgers and Cardinals, and shocking the sporting world by taking down the contemptible Astros. But some of the best fun I remember from last season were those games in between 19-31 and the All-Star Game, when the dugout learned to dance, Max Scherzer pitched with a black eye, and both the Nats and this obsessive fan figured out how to take it just one day at a time. You can’t climb the mountain if you haven’t mastered the art of breathing in and breathing out.

    SaoMagnifico

    24 May 20 at 4:51 am

  52. In the “Posts that have aged badly” here was my 5/28/19 post, titled “If we’re waiving the white flag … what moves should we do?”

    http://www.nationalsarmrace.com/?p=15813

    I posted this after the Mets sweep and then after the subsequent taking 3 of 4 from Miami.

    Most of my arguing about the season was done in the comments section of the May 2019 posts, not in a specific post where I said, “We are done.” But I certainly was proclaiming a sell off and had zero confidence of the team rebouding.

    Todd Boss

    26 May 20 at 12:37 pm

  53. Had to follow the link and, with some trepidation, read my comments. At least I got one thing right: “I think the Nats basically have the month of June to really get straightened out, or start dealing in July. They’ve got a favorable schedule. Nearly everyone is healthy. But the bullpen still sucks.”

    KW

    26 May 20 at 1:16 pm

  54. No news on the mock draft front. I haven’t read Kiley McDaniel’s latest from today (locked behind that ESPN+ paywall), but the “professional” mocks can’t seem to settle on a pick for the Nats, and the “amateur” mocks (which are plentiful this year, doubtless because people are desperate both to generate and read baseball content) are all over the place — just in the past few days, I’ve seen blog posts mocking Nick Bitsko, Jared Kelley, and Dillon Dingler to the Nats, among others.

    These things have limited predictive value, but the “herding effect” can be interesting, especially when it reflects industry hearsay. The sense I’m getting is that the Nats are playing this one close to the vest. Last year, the Rutledge pick was a surprise not because it was a surprise the Nats were in on him, but because he slid further down the draft board than many expected. It was reported at least two months before Draft Day that Rutledge was at or near the top of Mike Rizzo’s list. The year before that, everyone had the Nats hot after Mason Denaburg. The year before that, Seth Romero to the Nats was maybe the biggest “lock” of the draft.

    SaoMagnifico

    26 May 20 at 1:36 pm

  55. In June, they went 18-8 . . . but were still only one game above .500 at the end of the month. They were just six games above .500 at the end of July, but a 19-7 August put them 18 games over .500 going into September. Still, as Sao noted, there was a very difficult final month ahead, with all but the four games with the Marlins against teams that were above .500 and fighting for the playoffs. When Strickland and Suero combined to surrender four runs and a loss to the Fish on the penultimate Sunday of the regular season, what lay ahead was eight games in seven days, including five in four vs. the hated Phils. In fact, going into that last week, the Nats were 10-11 in September.

    They then went 1-0 eight times over the next seven days. The biggest day was the double-header sweep of the Phils on Tuesday. They got four innings with only one run from Ross, then five no-hit innings from the bullpen to close out the afternoon win. Trea salvaged the nightcap with a grand slam. On Friday against the Indians, Trea came up with another big homer to give Voth the win.

    Yes, so many games, so many memories:

    https://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/WSN/2019-schedule-scores.shtml

    KW

    26 May 20 at 1:39 pm

  56. Sao, I’m not sure why mockers would link the Nats with a high school pitcher (Bitsko and Kelley). Rizzo has only taken one in the first round — Denaburg — who of course has been basically MIA for two years. His only other high pick on a high school arm was Luzardo, who has succeeded spectacularly. But there was A LOT less risk taking him in the third round.

    Bitsko has a high ranking (#12 on FanGraphs board) despite reclassifying and not being scouted that much. At least he seems to have a second pitch, unlike Kelley. Sorry, I don’t like high school pitchers, all the more ones who didn’t have a full final year to be scouted.

    Dingler, by contrast, makes A LOT of sense as a college catcher. He and Austin Wells are really the only two potential 1st-round catchers for the Nats besides the likely-to-be-gone Patrick Bailey. I know Sao likes Wells’s bat better than Dingler’s. There seems to be more likelihood that Dingler can stick behind the plate, which is the big question with Wells. Dingler in 2019 for Ohio State: .291/.392/.424. Takes walks, doesn’t K a lot, very limited HR power, although he seemed to be having a power surge in 2020 (5 HRs in 13 games after 3 in all of 2019). For the record, Wells didn’t show a lot of HR power in his college games, either. He’s a walking/OBP machine, though, with 63 walks in 71 college games.

    KW

    26 May 20 at 2:02 pm

  57. Back to 2019. In the postseason, I think the only time I came close to giving up hope was in the wild card game. Hader was kind of this looming black cloud over the whole game, and the Brewers had the lead literally right off the bat. I hope Zim still has his bat handle from the 8th, as that bat died the biggest hero in Nats’ history. Without that bloop hit, I’m not sure there would have been a parade. That would have ended the inning, and even if Rendon and Soto had gone back to back in the 9th, the Nats still would have trailed.

    Of course the Nats dug themselves in multiple holes in the Dodger series, both being down 2-1 in the series and then in the fifth game. They had Max and Stras for games 4 & 5, though, and if they could outlast Ferris Buehler and get to the Dodger ‘pen in Gm 5, they would have a chance. Obviously Dave Roberts felt the same way since he gambled by bringing Kershaw back out for the 8th. Admittedly, there was no way Rendon should have been able to homer on the pitch that he did. Soto’s ball may still be going, though. Not sure it has landed yet. And Kendrick’s dagger in the 10th might be my favorite moment of the whole postseason, although there are so many to choose from.

    Yes, I did think they might have blown it when they lost WS games 3, 4, and 5 at home. But again, they had Stras and Max . . . and Rendon, Soto, and Kendrick. There was no way Kendrick should have been able to dent the foul pole on the pitch that he did, either. It was an excellent pitch from Harris. In fact, FanGraphs had a piece on the statistical impossibility of a homer off a slider in that location. But that scuffed ball is now in Cooperstown.

    KW

    26 May 20 at 2:30 pm

  58. Oops, Nats would have been tied in 9th of WC game with Rendon/Soto back to back. But that would have been unlikely off of Hader. Of course it also was unlikely off of Kershaw.

    KW

    26 May 20 at 3:26 pm

  59. @KW – I don’t like high school pitchers either. That being said, one of Kelley, Bitsko, or Abel sliding that far would be hard for Mike Rizzo to pass up.

    Dingler seems to have some helium right now, for whatever reason. As with Wilcox, I have misgivings about reading a lot into a small sample size like that when the results are so completely at odds with a larger sample size. In a larger sample size, Wilcox struggled with command; in a small sample size, he couldn’t miss. In a larger sample size, Dingler hit like Ben Revere; in a small sample size, he was a holy terror at the dish. This is where I have to default to the evaluators who have a scout’s eye for breaking down mechanics and analyzing every facet of not just the game the player just played, but the player’s approach to the game.

    SaoMagnifico

    26 May 20 at 5:43 pm

  60. I’m bored, so I decided to look up some numbers on this. There’s a detailed SABR article with success rates of players who signed. These are from 1st and supplement 1st round, 1996-2011.

    % made majors % 3+ years in majors
    HS pitcher 13.4 7.6
    HS hitter 14.1 10.5
    College arm 22.4 15.6
    College bat 16.9 13.1

    First of all, those are TERRIBLE success rates for all categories. Also, if you take a high school pitcher, you believe in pixie dust, or that the Astros weren’t cheating. I mean, 94.4 percent of high school 1st-round pitchers don’t stick for at least three years in the majors. (And incidentally, college position players are even or better with college pitchers in 3-year success rate in rounds 2-5.)

    Article: https://sabr.org/research/chances-drafted-baseball-player-making-major-leagues-quantitative-study

    That covers those who actually make it. But where are the players who are succeeding coming from? I looked at the top starting pitchers in 2019 by fWAR. 8 of the top 10 were from four-year college programs, and 8 of the 10 were 1st-round picks. (deGrom, a 9th rounder out of college, and Morton, a 3d rounder out of high school, were the others.) The only 1st-round high school pitcher in the top 10 (10th) was our very own-picked Giolito, although we know all about the seven laborious pro years it took for him to be successful.

    Expanding to the top 30, 16 were college (with only one JUCO pick, Corbin). Of the 15 from 4-year schools, 11 were 1st rounders. There were 9 HS draftees, 8 of them 1st rounders (Morton the only exception). Five were foreign signees, four Latino plus Ryu. Of the 25 draftees, 19 were from the 1st round.

    I will note some skewing not reflected in the stats, namely that most highly rated high school pitchers not offered 1st-round money have opted for college in recent years.

    KW

    26 May 20 at 8:44 pm

  61. The table made a mess, so I’ll try it with division:

    % made majors / % 3+ years in majors
    HS pitcher 13.4 / 7.6
    HS hitter 14.1 / 10.5
    College arm 22.4 / 15.6
    College bat 16.9 / 13.1

    KW

    26 May 20 at 8:46 pm

  62. Wow, those rates for college draftees is much lower than I would have imagined. These days, it seems like if you’re a first-round draftee, the expectation is you will make the majors at some point, in some capacity. These numbers suggest that’s quite an exaggerated expectation.

    But I actually wonder if for a gambler like Mike Rizzo, the data you cite points to the opposite conclusion — that all draftees are gambles, and though the odds on a high school pitcher are longer, they’re not prohibitive in a game that you’ll already lose more times than you win. Say the choice comes down to Jared Kelley, a sharpshooter out of Refugio High School in Texas you think has a chance to front a rotation someday; Austin Wells, a college catcher who has at least proven he can hit NCAA pitching; and Cole Wilcox, a college starter who profiles probably as a #3 at best or a middle reliever at worst in the major leagues. You figure Kelley has a little better than half as good a chance to make it that far, but if he does, you think he’s an impact player whereas Wilcox rounds out a roster. Intermediate to these two, you have Wells (in this example), who has a better chance to get to the Show than Kelley, but a worse chance than Wilcox. In this scenario, “playing it safe” means it’s better than three in four that your guy busts altogether, and you’re frankly not all that excited about what he’ll be even if he makes it; and “taking a risk” means it’s better than seven in eight your guy busts, but if he hits, you think he really, really hits. Is that an easy choice?

    SaoMagnifico

    26 May 20 at 10:12 pm

  63. Oops, a quick correction of my math as I reread: a 92.4% chance that a high school pitcher taken in the 1st round won’t stick in the majors for three years or more, not 94.4%. Pretty low odds either way, though.

    KW

    27 May 20 at 7:46 am

  64. Sao — That’s an interesting way to frame things. Of course all three of those guys have big question marks, and you’d have to get the takes of your team’s scouts on the cost/benefit of all of them. With Wells: 1) can he stick at catcher? and 2) can his bat be an MLB tool if he can’t catch? (His high walk/low K numbers are very appealing to me as predictors of potential pro success.) With Wilcox: does he have a #3 pitch anywhere near pro caliber, and does he have at least an above-average #2 pitch to have a baseline of a solid reliever? (The other concern I’ve seen with Wilcox — and I’ve heard it about Rutledge as well — is that even though his fastball generates high gun numbers, it doesn’t have a lot of movement and is hittable.) With Kelley as a high school pitcher, I’d give him a pass on the #3 pitch with the thought that he can develop one in the minors, but he had better at least have a decent #2 pitch, and there seems to be some question about that. When you’ve got 98 in high school, you can get by with a pretty feeble curve/change-up, but not at more advanced levels (which is a big part of my concern that Wilcox couldn’t even make the college rotation as a frosh despite his big high school reputation).

    So . . . you’ve got a college hitter potentially without a position, a college pitcher who may not have the full arsenal to stick as a starter (plus control problems as a frosh), and a high school pitcher who hasn’t proven much of anything other than that he can throw heat. Sorry, but I see the Kelley types as a dime a dozen, and unless you’ve got scouts who are really sold on his second and potentially third pitches, he’s a no for me.

    So that leaves us with college hitter vs. college pitcher. Here’s the part of the equation that I rarely if ever hear discussed: each team uses at least nine or ten hitters a game, vs. three or four pitchers. Pitchers work much less regularly during a week than your top eight to ten hitters. If you have a college pitcher you believe in, then yes, the stats/odds say it’s not a bad choice to go for that pitcher in the 1st round. But it seems to me that more teams need to take more of a shotgun approach to drafting hitters across higher rounds, since they constitute more of the daily MLB workload plus are harder to find. Yet over the last three drafts, across their picks in the first five rounds, the Nats have taken 11 pitchers vs. only 3 hitters. Only 1 of those 3 hitters was taken in the top 100, and that was just barely with Mendoza last year at #94. Freeman had a very low potential ceiling when he was drafted, and Canning has already hit a wall at A+.

    Scrolling back through the drafts, every hitter the Nats have taken within the first 100 picks during the Rizzo era has made the majors with the exception of Rick Hague, Jakson Reetz (still has a chance), and Andrew Perkins (who was a ridiculous pick), plus still pending on Mendoza. Now, one can easily question guys like Kobernus and Renda as 2d-rounders, but they did progress and at least get a cup of coffee. Drew Ward and Rhett Wiseman were just out of the top 100 picks and did progress but haven’t made it. They’ve also gotten some good progression from other hitters in the first ten rounds like S. Kieboom, Noll, Barrera, Banks, and Daniel Johnson.

    All of this to say that I don’t quite understand the argument that the Nats “know pitching.” The track record shows that they’ve had better success with the limited higher picks that they’ve invested in hitters than in the massive amount of picks they’ve used on pitchers.

    Apologies for rambling. Just a reminder, though, that there was only one Nats-drafted pitcher on their playoff roster, and he was a 1/1 pick, despite the literally hundreds of pitchers they’ve drafted since Stras.

    KW

    27 May 20 at 9:17 am

  65. lastest two mocks, both behind paywalls:
    – Baseball America has nats picking Jared Kelley, prep HS from Texas.
    – ESPN/McDaniel still has Nats taking Wilcox.

    Here’s the last few mocks i have:

    The Athletic (Keith Law) 5/13/20 Mock Draft 1.0: Torkelson, Martin, Lacy, Veen, Hancock. Nats also taking Wilcox
    Baseball America (Carlos Collazo) 5/13/20 Mock draft: Torkelson, Martin, Lacy, Gonzales, Hancock. Nats taking Slade Cecconi, a RHP from uMiami
    MLB.com (Jim Callis): 5/13/20 Mock draft: Torkelson, Martin, Lacy, Hancock, Veen. Nats taking Cecconi
    Baseball America (Carlos Collazo) 5/27/20 Mock Draft v5.0: Torkelson, Martin, Lacy, Veen, Gonzales. Nats taking Jared Kelley, a prep RHP from Texas HS.
    ESPN (Kiley McDaniel) 5/26/20 Mock 2.0: Torkelson, Martin, Lacey, Veen, Max Meyer. Nats still on Wilcox.

    Todd Boss

    27 May 20 at 12:51 pm

  66. KW

    27 May 20 at 1:11 pm

  67. MLB.com board, which has some pretty detailed scouting reports:

    https://www.mlb.com/prospects/draft/

    I think more what I read about Kelley here that what I had seen before. He does seem to have a good second pitch, but not yet a third one.

    Cecconi reminds of Wilcox, a guy with a pretty big reputation who was very average when you actually look at his college stats.

    Of the college pitchers potentially linked to the Nats, the one who has interested me the most is Ginn, despite his injury. He was more successful in college than most of the others, and he has two excellent pitches, a promising third one, and better command of the strike zone than most of the flamethrowers.

    But I’d still prefer a hitter . . .

    KW

    27 May 20 at 1:19 pm

  68. Another thing I’ve mentioned before that still makes no sense to me: why would draft-eligible sophomores want to declare for this draft, when they’ll get pennies on the dollar? Why not just wait until 2021? Are agents telling them that this might be the “new normal”?

    On the flipside on an MLB club’s side, maybe this is indeed a year to draft a high schooler since the kid can’t blackmail you with his (partial) scholarship. “Take it or leave it, kid (err, Mr. Boras), that’s all I’m allowed to offer you.”

    KW

    27 May 20 at 3:39 pm

  69. If you’re draft eligible sophomore … next year’s draft class is going to be stacked. Think of all the HS kids who will go JuCo and press into the upper rounds. Think of all the top players who will bail on this year and won’t turn pro for deferred $20k and will play another season of colelge ball and may suddenly be a top pick.

    I think that’s what i’d be advising sophomores. If you get the money frigging take it. yeah its deferred, but you’re gonna get it eventually.

    Todd Boss

    27 May 20 at 3:55 pm

  70. Interesting to see BA link the Nats to Kelley. I think Collazo is maybe the best in the biz at capturing late movement, and we’re now two weeks out from Draft Day. Kelley might be our guy if he’s still on the board.

    SaoMagnifico

    27 May 20 at 4:31 pm

  71. I have a hard time believing the BA mock. https://www.baseballamerica.com/rankings/mlb-mock-draft/

    So the Nats are going to take a Prep RHP HS in Kelley at 22 but Cecconi, Wilcox, and Ginn are still on the board? no way.

    Todd Boss

    27 May 20 at 5:27 pm

  72. @Todd Boss – From the evaluations I’ve been seeing and reading, Cecconi and Wilcox aren’t actually all that good. Ginn sounds like he’ll likely slip into the 30s or 40s, and the Nats might rather let him go than draft him under slot.

    Kelley is far, far from my first choice for who the Nats should take, but if he’s still on the board at #22, that’s a guy who probably should be going in the top 10-15 versus Cecconi and Wilcox, who are distinctly back-of-the-first-round/supplemental-first-round talents. I absolutely buy Rizzo snaps that deal up, and I think he does the same if it’s Bitsko or Abel still hanging out there instead of Kelley.

    All things being equal, if the draft is essentially chalk, seems like Wells or Dingler if the Nats go for a bat or one of the familiar Mlodzinski/Wilcox/Cavalli/Cecconi types if they go for an arm. But BA is reporting on rumblings that Mlodzinski is falling down a lot of draft boards as the day gets nearer, that probably not all three of the top prep right-handers come off the board as early as they’re pegged due to either signability or what-have-you-done-for-me-lately concerns (thanks, coronavirus), and that at least some front offices are wary of reliever risk in the profiles of some of the hard throwers outside the consensus top eight arms (Lacy, Hancock, Detmers, Meyer, Crochet, Abel, Kelley, and Bitsko, in whatever order you like).

    Realistically, I think there are at least one or two players in the consensus top 15 who are still on the board at #22, and I don’t see Rizzo passing on that opportunity even if it means going over slot. We all recognize the Nats as a team that banks on their top two draft picks hitting and are usually willing to make the money work.

    SaoMagnifico

    27 May 20 at 6:17 pm

  73. I’d hate another RH high school pitcher; i don’t care what the upside. When was the last time the Nats proved they could develop such a player? Denaburg? Anyone think he’s a success so far? They gave up on Giolito. AJ Cole? Anyone think the nats handled him correctly? Jack McGeary? Colton Willems? I don’t think they’ve EVER fully developed a RH highschool arm

    Todd Boss

    27 May 20 at 7:34 pm

  74. I share your concerns, but I don’t believe Rizzo thinks that way. If he sees top-tier talent on the board at #22, he’ll take it. That could be Jared Kelley or Mick Abel; that could be (I’m dreaming now) Patrick Bailey or Pete Crow-Armstrong.

    Setting aside the consensus top six guys (Torkelson, Martin, Lacey, Hancock, Veen, Gonzales), I envision the top of Rizzo’s board looking something like:

    Max Meyer
    Reid Detmers
    Patrick Bailey
    Jared Kelley
    Heston Kjerstad
    Austin Hendrick
    Robert Hassell
    Mick Abel
    Garrett Crochet
    Nick Bitsko
    Tyler Soderstrom
    Cade Cavalli
    Garrett Mitchell
    Pete Crow-Armstrong

    That gets through twenty potential draft picks, and Baseball America sees nineteen of them going in the first twenty picks. (The exception is Kelley, and Rizzo is dancing a jig if this is indeed his board and that happens.) Past this twenty, you’re into the range of good-not-great college pitchers like Cecconi, Wilcox, Mlodzinski, and others who have not been regularly mentioned with the Nats but fit a roughly similar profile (McMahon, Burns, Beeter). Ginn is kind of a wildcard and could be in this range or not at all.

    As I said, if it’s chalk, I think we end up either with one of the second-tier catchers or one of the third-tier pitchers, depending on which way Rizzo wants to go with the pick. But if a more highly rated prospect falls to #22, why the heck would he select a lesser light? At #22, you’re hoping there’s a legitimate high-level talent still available. The Wilcoxes and Cecconis of the world are who you end up with if those high-level talents are no longer available.

    SaoMagnifico

    27 May 20 at 10:56 pm

  75. Expanding on Ginn: He’s definitely not popped in mock drafts, and I don’t know whether people are sleeping on him (he was being mentioned as a top-ten or top-twelve guy before his surgery) or the chatter increasingly points to him not being signable at a reasonable price point. He did turn down first-round money before, and now he has leverage as a draft-eligible sophomore. I don’t know where he fits on Rizzo’s board or to what degree signability is a concern. On one hand, Rizzo spent a first-round pick on Erick Fedde coming off TJ (although he was a junior) and might see Ginn as the big value pick of 2020. On the other hand, Fedde hasn’t really panned out in the way you hope a first-rounder will, and Ginn has a shorter track record of college pitching and a longer track record of asking for way more money than slot even as a first-round draftee.

    So, I just don’t know. Presumably Ginn’s camp has been in touch with teams that might be interested, and the Nats probably have a pretty good idea of whether he’s signable and at what price. Also, presumably some of that information is making its way to the ears of guys like Callis, Mayo, Collazo, and McDaniel.

    SaoMagnifico

    27 May 20 at 11:06 pm

  76. Athletic (Keith Law) 5/28/20 Mock 2.0: Torkelson, Martin, Lacy, Veen, Hancock. Nats on Wilcox.

    We’re starting to see some solidification; The last 3 mocks have Nats on Wilcox.

    In Keith’s mock: Ginn down to 28th, Kelley went just after Nats to Cleveland.

    Todd Boss

    28 May 20 at 8:02 am

  77. Over the past three drafts, the Nats have had 14 picks across the top five rounds (losing one pick for the Corbin signing — worth it!). They have used ELEVEN of those 14 picks on pitchers, including all three 1st rounders. Denaburg profiled similarly to Kelley, and Rutledge is fairly similar to Cecconi, Wilcox, and Mlodzinski — big guys who “project” better than their actual college stats. I hated the Romero pick for other reasons, but when he actually made it to the mound, he blew away the college performances of the Wilcox/Cecconi/Mlodzinski crew. Romero struck out 11.5 batters across 2.5 college seasons, including 15.7 as a college junior, with a three-year BB/9 of 2.8 and 1.05 WHIP.

    Anyway, my overriding point is that the Nats already have three pitchers in the system who are as good or better than the ones being discussed. And that’s not counting Fedde, who had a 1.76 ERA as a junior at altitude at UNLV, or Crowe, who was also as good or better than Wilcox/Cecconi/Mlodzinski while pitching in the SEC.

    Meanwhile, they have no catching prospects anywhere near as good as Wells or Dingler. Beyond Kieboom, they have few if any hitting prospects as good as Wells at all, unless one really believes in Mendoza or has magic glasses to project 17-year-old Latinos in three years. There are a number of other good college hitters who should be available at #22 as well.

    But if they feel like they HAVE to take a pitcher, take Ginn. I’m normally not a fan of the wounded-wing strategy, but he’s flat-out a better pitcher than Wilcox/Cecconi/Mlodzinski. Numbers in the SEC don’t usually lie. There’s a huge variance of option on him, though: #25 on FG board, #44 on MLB. But if you asked me who, among all these pitchers we’ve mentioned, I think would have the best chance to see the majors by around 2023, I’d say Ginn ahead of any of them.

    KW

    28 May 20 at 10:37 am

  78. So that’s ESPN, FG, and now The Athletic circling the wagons around Wilcox as the pick.

    I’m thoroughly unexcited about Wilcox, but I wasn’t into Matt Allan last year and 1) the Nats drafted someone else and 2) at least Wilcox has pitched a little in college. So, we’ll see what happens.

    SaoMagnifico

    28 May 20 at 10:49 am

  79. Latest MLB.com mock has Clayton Beeter as the Nats’ choice, although Wilcox (who goes to the Mets here) is mentioned as a possibility also. I’ve suggested the Beeter connection here before, but this is the first mock I’ve seen linking them (may just be speculative): https://www.mlb.com/news/mock-mlb-draft-picking-all-29-first-rounders

    SaoMagnifico

    28 May 20 at 10:54 am

  80. Wilcox is the second coming of Reid Schaller. If that excites anyone, let me know. It was fine to take Schaller with pick #101, and he’s still a pretty decent, perhaps underrated prospect. The Nats already have plenty of these types of guys. Please let me know when one of them actually pans out.

    Can any of them can be converted to catcher . . . or replace Eaton in RF? Just sayin’.

    KW

    28 May 20 at 11:05 am

  81. Beeter would be an interesting pick . . . at #55. He makes no sense at #22. Also, he walked 8.7 guys per 9 in 2019. Nuke LaLoosh, anyone?

    KW

    28 May 20 at 11:09 am

  82. Ginn’s b-r page: https://www.baseball-reference.com/register/player.fcgi?id=ginn–000jt-

    Wilcox: https://www.baseball-reference.com/register/player.fcgi?id=wilcox000col

    Couple things to note here:
    – Wilcox is a year younger. Which means the drafting team gets him earlier than they would a college junior
    – Nats already liked Wilcox, drafted him two years ago
    – Wilcox isn’t hurt.
    – Wilcox pitched in relief as a freshman and had (as noted) a great start to this season (SSS)

    – Ginn’s 2019 season was pretty impressive: https://static.hailstate.com/custompages/stats/bb/2019/teamgbg.htm . Check out the game log for the team; basically Ginn was pitching against a top 20 team every week as Miss State’s saturday starter. He had a ton of wins over top teams: he beat Florida, Southern Miss, Texas Tech, Auburn, Georgia … these were all top 10 teams or better. His losses on the season were to LSU twice, Arkansas and TAMU: that’s two CWS teams from last year. In the CWS itself he only pitched twice; 9 innings, 6 hits, zero runs; he hurt his shoulder and missed most of the post season.

    I like Ginn. I think he’s projecting as a 3-plus pitch starter. BA’s scouting reports before his injury rated him with plus curve, plus command. Sits 93-94, reaches 99 with above average life according to BA scouting reports. 105/19 K/BB last year in the SEC, pitching against the best there was in college week in and week out.

    Ok so that’s a plus fastball, plus movement, plus breaking ball and plus control. Ginn gets dinged b/c he doesn’t have good distinction between curve and slider, doesn’t use change enough, and is undersized.

    Todd Boss

    28 May 20 at 11:11 am

  83. Yeah, I’m not really excited about Beeter at #22. It sounds like he has four pitches, which is great, but he has the same issue I have with Wilcox where he wasn’t very good over a full season in 2019 and then looked completely different (but barely pitched) in 2020. It’s like the people (looking at you, FP Santangelo) who think fringe-y guys like Michael A. Taylor or Erick Fedde have suddenly figured it out after they have a couple of decent games in a row.

    I don’t know why Ginn is falling down the mock draft boards, but I can guess, and it’s signability. He’s obviously a high-level talent who knows he’s not going to get drafted at anywhere near the slot he was expecting, and this year’s draft bonuses are going to be deferred anyway. If I’m Ginn, I don’t have much incentive to sign this year for a fraction of what I think I’m worth, especially after I turned down first-round money to bet on myself two years ago.

    SaoMagnifico

    28 May 20 at 12:20 pm

  84. Ginn is actually just two months older than Wilcox. Their birthdays just happen to fall on either side of the arbitrary “baseball year” date of July 1.

    Ginn should be pretty recovered by next spring, at least to pitch a partial season. If anything, I think Wilcox is hurt more by the loss of this season than Ginn is as Ginn is already much more advanced as a pitcher.

    With Ginn apparently sliding and questions about signability, is it too much to wonder whether he might slide to pick #55? It happened with Crowe, who was projected as a late 1st-rounder and at times connected with the Nats.

    KW

    28 May 20 at 12:43 pm

  85. I think that’s possible, but if Ginn is doubtful to sign for slot value at #22, he’s going to be extremely difficult to sign at #55. I suppose it could happen if the Nats prefer someone else at #22 but are willing to offer Ginn the kind of money he would have said yes to at #22, and Ginn slides to #55 because no one else is willing to risk him saying no. That doesn’t seem very likely, but stranger things have happened.

    SaoMagnifico

    28 May 20 at 1:14 pm

  86. Nationals releasing some minor leaguers today. Sounds like minor league contraction is being considered fait accompli. No names I’ve seen just yet.

    SaoMagnifico

    28 May 20 at 1:33 pm

  87. I would expect a number of “retirements” by “org guys” anyway. With the lost season, they’ve basically got no income anyway. If they were waiting for a sign about when it might be time to hang up the cleats, this is probably it.

    Of course the whole concept of the “org guy” may become less of a thing anyway because of contraction. That said, good grief, the Nats don’t have enough of even demi-prospects in terms of position players to field teams at most levels. And no team will be back-filling those slots with only five rounds of draft. Maybe there will be a decent market of college free agents who don’t get picked in the five rounds, but who knows? We’re in uncharted territory with a lot of things.

    KW

    28 May 20 at 3:31 pm

  88. Nice to be the reigning world champions heading into the wild, wild west, because you’re right, there are any number of ways this could play out. Maybe the championship is a selling point for non-drafted college players to sign up with the Nats. I know for sure it makes me feel better that our boys won the World Series before the world went to hell in a handbasket.

    SaoMagnifico

    28 May 20 at 3:59 pm

  89. The Nats are not only the champs. They have stability in the front office and scouting and player development areas. They have one of the largest group of scouts, so through them, they have relationships with a whole lot of teams. They have a long history of taking good care of pitching arms. And the lanes are wide open for players to advance in the system if you’re a position player and you prove to be good. Also, they have probably the best relationship of any team with the top agent in the game, Boras, plus probably a number of other agents as well.

    All of these things taken together should make the Nats able to land some of the best post-draft college free agents. Position players in particular should be lining up for a shot with them. The Nat minor-league pitching ranks are a little crowded, but they have a strong reputation for taking care of pitching arms.

    What kind of free agent pool will there be? Who knows? All college seniors have been granted another year of eligibility, although as we’ve discussed, there will be almost no scholarships left for any of them. There may not even be much scholarship money left for juniors who want to sit out this draft. So I do think there will be some gems/bargains out there . . . if they’re willing to sign.

    KW

    28 May 20 at 8:21 pm

  90. Here’s an interesting exercise on MLBTR:

    https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2020/05/nationals-expansion-draft.html

    Who would you protect for the Nats in a hypothetical expansion draft? They knock out the free agents, plus Stras and Max because of their no-trade contracts, plus assume the team will keep Soto, Turner, Corbin, Robles, and Kieboom (duh). So you’re left to pick eight others. I ended up protecting Castro, Gomes, Eaton, Voth, Ross, Fedde, Rainey, and Harris. Maybe a case could be made for Suero over some of the others, but really, I didn’t see too many tough choices. I might be tempted to leave Eaton exposed if they had ANY OF help in the pipeline, but they don’t. (Did I mention that they might want to consider drafting a few position players?)

    KW

    28 May 20 at 8:31 pm

  91. Also, Boz has a piece up that addresses something I’ve been thinking since the shutdown: that the Nats stand to benefit from it more than any other team . . . if they ever play. The multiple power plays the owners are trying to pull off as part of the resumption plan may doom anything.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2020/05/28/with-an-aging-roster-dh-candidates-nats-are-oddly-built-an-odd-season/

    KW

    28 May 20 at 9:26 pm

  92. The signing period for draftees has been extended to August 1. That doesn’t make much sense to me, given that teams will have a fraction of the draftees with whom to negotiate that they do in a typical year. But then again, very little about how baseball has approached this year from hell has made sense to me.

    SaoMagnifico

    29 May 20 at 11:38 am

  93. I laughed when I saw that one of the things Law touted about Wilcox was his “track record.” Um, yeah, a fairly mediocre one. I’m sorry, but as highly touted as he was out of high school, UGA had to be disappointed that he wasn’t better than he was in 2019.

    KW

    29 May 20 at 7:02 pm

  94. https://theathletic.com/1845684/2020/05/29/uga-pitcher-cole-wilcox-is-projected-first-round-pick-with-plenty-of-leverage/

    feature on Wilcox on Athletic … my takeaway was that he’s gonna be really tough to sign for #22 money. It might all be agent-fed “saying the right things” kind of stuff, but he seemed super excited to pitch for Georgia and i think he’ll be a difficult sign.

    … which puts us back go Ginn.

    Todd Boss

    30 May 20 at 3:04 pm

  95. If Wilcox isn’t signable at #22, Ginn definitely isn’t. I think someone falls and we take him instead of settling for Wilcox or someone like him, and I think Ginn bides his time for 2021. He has zero reason to sign now.

    SaoMagnifico

    30 May 20 at 4:14 pm

  96. Ginn; do you think he’s being advised to take the big money while its there, versus the risk of not coming back to 1st round talent next year and getting dropped out of the top 10 alotgether? I mean, if he’s offered $3M he’s going to have to think long and hard about passing that up and having his rehab done at a pro facility with a great track record of returning TJ guys to the mound versus … what? going back to a college where is frigging health care isnt even guaranteed?

    https://www.mlb.com/news/2020-mlb-draft-bonus-slots

    Todd Boss

    31 May 20 at 10:17 am

  97. So . . . can we get off the pitchers who will be hard to sign (and may not be that good anyway) and focus on what we really need? That would be HITTERS.

    (As a pitching aside, I was flipping around last night, I stumbled across Tyler Dyson pitching the deciding CWS game in 2017. He was pretty dominant — only three hits, two as infield dribblers. He faded quite a bit in subsequent seasons, with some injuries issues plus perhaps overuse. But if a year off helps him recover, he was once one of the truly elite college pitchers.)

    We’ve discussed Wells and Dingler. Patrick Bailey is a catcher who is rated higher than those two, with only a small chance to fall to #22. Wells might be a better overall hitter than Bailey, though.

    The only two OFs in later 1st-round discussion are probably high-schooler Pete Crow-Armstrong, who Sao has mentioned, and Daniel Cabrera from LSU. Neither one of those intrigues me that much, though. I’d be more interested in drafting Casey Martin and sticking him in the OF. Looks like he could play just about any field position. Aaron Sabato’s power intrigues me, but he profiles like Drew Mendoza and is pretty position-limited. Of the other hitters in this general area of ranking, Jordan Westburg seems to have more pop than Justin Foscue or Nick Loftin.

    KW

    31 May 20 at 10:25 am

  98. Todd, I agree with you about Ginn’s options. It would be a massive gamble to go back to college after one TJ, particularly when you’ve still got a good chance to go top 35 now. I like Ginn a lot if the Nats feel like they have to take a pitcher. He was significantly more successful as a freshman than the other college hurlers being mentioned for the Nats.

    KW

    31 May 20 at 10:28 am

  99. BPA. That’s who you draft. You don’t draft for need in baseball, because everyone you draft is years away and you have to draft to fill 6 teams (well, maybe fewer now).

    I think if the Nats go hitter, they wouldn’t mind taking a HS guy. Less risk. Crow-Armstrong fits the bill there; he’s “famous” in that at the beginning of the draft cycle he was being mentioned as a 1-1 candidate, but his stock has fallen (perhaps unfairly) thanks to lesser showcase events. Also think he’s a Boras guy. That’d make sense for the Nats too … but will $3M buy him away from Vanderbilt?

    Todd Boss

    31 May 20 at 3:46 pm

  100. There seem to be a lot of concerns over whether Crow-Armstrong will develop much power. Does that mean his ceiling is Nick Markakis, or Andrew Stevenson? I’m more intrigued by guys with a track record of hitting in college, like Wells or Martin. There is no question that Martin has power, or that he has “tools.” Martin apparently can’t hit a curve, though. So just bang a trash can . . .

    KW

    31 May 20 at 9:09 pm

  101. I also like the fit with Crow-Armstrong. That would be a “splashy” move for the Nats. Not sure he’ll still be on the board at that point.

    SaoMagnifico

    1 Jun 20 at 3:28 am

  102. Crow-armstrong listed as 6’1 175, lefty-lefty, projecting as a CF. Before the season BA put him 1st team all american with this to say:

    Crow-Armstrong has a solid all-round game as a plus runner with elite defensive ability in center field with an above-average arm. Offensively, he has a solid bat from the left side that is more hit over power at the moment, but he swung and missed more frequently than expected last summer. Still, his track record of performance is one of the lengthier ones in the prep class.

    Johnny Damon? would you take that as a comp? About the same size, a hitter more than a power guy, lefty lefty.

    Todd Boss

    1 Jun 20 at 9:31 am

  103. Byron Kerr talked to Jim Callis for a story, and it sounds like the guy the Nats have really zeroed in on is Cade Cavalli: https://www.masnsports.com/byron-kerr/2020/06/callis-says-2020-draft-filled-with-quality-college-pitching.html

    Cavalli seems likely to come off the board before #22, but who knows. Callis likes him better than the rest of the third tier of interchangeable college right-handers. Wilcox also mentioned, of course, along with Cecconi, Beeter, and others.

    SaoMagnifico

    1 Jun 20 at 10:39 am

  104. Cavalli. Oklahoma college arm; that’s right up the Nats’ alley. Have not seen his name attached to the Nats ina single mock. In the latest mocks by major pundit:

    – Law: has him goign #12 to Cincy
    – Callis: has him going #13 to SF
    – Longenhagen: has him going #16 to Chicago
    – McDaniel: has him going #21 to St. Louis
    – Collazo/BA has him going 18th to Arizona.

    So, nobody has him falling as far as #22.

    Todd Boss

    1 Jun 20 at 10:47 am

  105. Yeah, I was surprised by that too. Set your sights high, I suppose…

    One question to me is whether the Nats like Wilcox so much better than the rest of the crop that they’ll risk him not signing without a significant overpay, instead of just drafting someone likelier to sign, if the draft is close to chalk and there aren’t any actual top draft prospects left at #22.

    SaoMagnifico

    1 Jun 20 at 11:11 am

  106. Clearly they like Wilcox. drafted him in 2018 just to say hi. you’re right; they could really over pay wilcox, pay him top 10money and dare him to say no and then punt later on … and there’s zero downside (other than the lost year of the draft) for the nats if he says no. they’d get #22 next year w/o penalty for the rest of their picks.

    Todd Boss

    1 Jun 20 at 11:21 am

  107. Wilcox was good in high school. Hasn’t been very good in college yet. I think the goal is to get their man this year, but I agree Rizzo will take that gamble if he thinks it’s worth it. Question to me is whether he does. If Cecconi, Wilcox, Beeter, Van Eyk, McMahon, Burns, Miller, and Ginn are all still on the board at #22 and Wilcox and/or Ginn are signaling they want #10-ish money or they go back to school, do the Nats pivot, punt, or pay up?

    SaoMagnifico

    1 Jun 20 at 11:46 am

  108. The Nats do have a lot of connection to the OKLA program with recent picks Sheldon Neuse and Jake Irvin. Like Neuse, Cavalli has been a two-way player there and posted impressive hitting numbers in 2019 (.319/.393/.611).

    But as a pitcher? Meh. Like Wilcox, he had an outrageously high BB/9 in 2019 at 5.2. He does seem to have two solid pitches plus a developing slider. Perhaps some of his pitching development has been stunted a bit by the two-way deal. He’s also a year older than Wilcox and Ginn, turning 22 in August.

    As a point of comparison, I’m looking at Jake Irvin’s numbers his last season at OKLA vs. Cavalli in 2019. Irvin was better in just about every category in actual results, and of course he’s turned out to be a mediocre prospect thus far. Caveat emptor. Like nearly every other pitcher in this tier (with the exception of the injured Ginn), his draft level is based on “projection” a lot more than on actual success.

    KW

    1 Jun 20 at 11:57 am

  109. Crow-Armstrong: I don’t think he’s worth too much discussion for the Nats because he probably won’t fall to #22 without signability issues, which would probably make him a pass for the Nats as well unless there’s some secret Boras mojo at work.

    And no, I’m not particularly interested in the next Johnny Damon, as that’s who the Nats have playing CF now in Robles. They’re much more in need of someone with some power to replace Eaton.

    KW

    1 Jun 20 at 12:56 pm

  110. For me, everything is shouting AUSTIN WELLS unless somebody the Nats covet falls to #22, which is entirely possible in a draft with as many wrinkles as this one has (unprecedented, I think). But just about every report says the Nats are again focused on adding pitching.

    SaoMagnifico

    1 Jun 20 at 1:26 pm

  111. Everyone saying the strength of this draft is college pitching. Which is the nats’ specialty. so yeah i’d be looking college pitching too.

    Todd Boss

    1 Jun 20 at 1:46 pm

  112. Sao, if you get Rizzo’s number, I’ll be glad to join you on the conference call to lobby for Austin Wells. He just makes too much sense. I’ll take his established college bat over Crow-Armstrong’s projectable one any day of the week. Even if Wells can’t manage to make it as a catcher, get Soto good enough to move to RF and have Wells stand in LF.

    I just can’t see the RESULTS in this mass of alleged college pitching talent. Wilcox, Mlodzinski, Cavalli, and Cecconi (names connected to the Nats) have been inconsistent at best in college. If they really want a big-frame college pitcher, why isn’t Bobby Miller in the discussion? He was generally more effective in college that that other quartet.

    Just noticed that FanGraphs has vaulted Beeter all the way to #19 on their board. He is still at #51 on MLB.com.

    KW

    1 Jun 20 at 2:25 pm

  113. I think Kerr’s article mentioned Bobby Miller, but yeah, that’s a good question. I think he suffers from Boring Name Syndrome.

    And that’s my problem too, that I’m not seeing the results for these supposedly good college pitchers. Everybody goes nuts for draft-eligible sophomores, but normally they have most of a season to beef up their case and show how they’ve improved on their freshman years. The pitchers at Northern colleges and universities are just totally hosed because they didn’t pitch at all, and even the pitchers in the South barely pitched. I’m sure not getting really excited about someone because they had three or four good starts, especially against weak competition.

    Given the choice between Wells and Crow-Armstrong, I’d lean Crow-Armstrong because he has other tools, whereas Wells looks like a somewhat more athletic Matt Thaiss (who couldn’t stick at catcher for the Angels). But I’d take either of them over Wilzinskoni.

    SaoMagnifico

    1 Jun 20 at 3:01 pm

  114. From The Athletic: “The players released, which is expected to become official later on Monday are: Keon Barnum, Dante Bichette Jr., Adalberto Carrillo, Phil Caulfield, Tyler Cropley, Austin Davidson, Jose De Los Santos, Rafael Gomez, Merandy Gonzalez, Abrahan Hiraldo, Hayden Howard, Jacob Howell, Hunter Jones, Alec Keller, Tyler Mapes, Adrian Martinez, Robert Milacki, Jordan Mills, Jorge Pantoja, Juan Pascal, Jairon Peguero, Landerson Pena, Nicholas Perkins, Anthony Peroni, Miguel Pozo, Paul Russo, Luis Sardinas, Derek Self, Eric Senior, Wilson Severino, JB Shuck, Jack Sundberg, Alejandro Vallejo, Eduardo Vera, Trey Vickers, Drew Ward, Allen Webster, Mac Williamson and Ryan Williamson.”

    SaoMagnifico

    1 Jun 20 at 3:49 pm

  115. SaoMagnifico

    1 Jun 20 at 3:58 pm

  116. And a mock draft from Radio.com’s Tim Kelly is the second one I’ve seen recently mocking supposedly quick-to-the-majors second baseman Justin Foscue to the Nats: https://www.radio.com/sports/mlb/gallery/2020-mlb-mock-draft-predictions-for-each-first-round-pick#defending-world-series-champions-add-talented-infielder-ckawi6a3j008u3b62omm7z35e

    Foscue has had some helium, seemingly not because he’s seen as an especially exciting prospect but because evaluators see him as having a high floor and being particularly advanced for his age.

    The Nats haven’t made many “sure thing” picks in the first round in a while (the most recent might be Rendon in 2011, although Kieboom was considered about as safe a bet as you can get drafting a high school player in 2016), but I can see the fit. With visions of a dynasty dancing in his head and a farm system that distinctly hasn’t benefited from the “shoot the moon” approach of the past few years, Rizzo might be feeling some pressure to add to the Nats’ young core with someone who can help sooner rather than later and has a strong chance of being at least an average contributor. It’s not the connection I’d make, but it’s not completely insensible.

    SaoMagnifico

    1 Jun 20 at 4:07 pm

  117. A lot of the Nat minor-leaguers released would have become free agents anyway, including Drew Ward, the only real “name” here. Among those who wouldn’t have, there are no real surprises. I had long fascinations with Eric Senior (toolsy JUCO who didn’t advance) and Ryan Williamson (a very effective ACC lefty starter but drafted while injured and struggled to regain form).

    KW

    1 Jun 20 at 4:17 pm

  118. Foscue: 67/57 BB/K ratio in his college career, plus 14 HRs for a CWS-caliber team in the SEC in 2019. Not a lot of speed, and probably not SS material, but 2B/3B and presumably LF-capable. Maybe he’s a Chris Taylor type but without the strikeouts? MLB.com mentions Jeff Kent in its scouting report. I’d take something between Taylor and Kent at the #22 pick.

    Agree with the high floor assessment on him. He’d be a pretty safe bet to hit in pro ball, and perhaps hit well.

    KW

    1 Jun 20 at 4:26 pm

  119. Some of the MiLB free agents-to-be who aren’t on that list pique my interest. Bryan Bonnell, for one.

    SaoMagnifico

    1 Jun 20 at 6:03 pm

  120. Yeah, there are several names I might see. I didn’t want to mention them at Nats Prospects but will here: Rhett Wiseman, Armond Upshaw, Ian Sagdal, Osvaldo Abreu, Bryan Mejia. Maybe they figure Upshaw and Telmito Agustin are still young enough to still potentially show something. All of those except maybe Sagdal (who has actually had more success than most of the others) had periods when they were considered among at least the top 20-30 Nat prospects, if not higher. Of course some guys may have just retired and not appeared on a cut list.

    Anyway, I’m sure it’s a tough transition time for all who have been cut, and not an easy time either for those who are still employed but being threatened with not being paid.

    KW

    1 Jun 20 at 7:21 pm

  121. Names I thought I might see on a cut list but didn’t . . .

    KW

    1 Jun 20 at 7:22 pm

  122. I need to distract myself right now, so here’s my jes’ guessin’ mock draft:

    #1 Tigers – 1B Spencer Torkelson
    #2 Orioles – LHP Asa Lacy
    #3 Marlins – OF Austin Martin
    #4 Royals – INF Nick Gonzales
    #5 Blue Jays – RHP Max Meyer
    #6 Mariners – RHP Emerson Hancock
    #7 Pirates – 1B Heston Kjerstad
    #8 Padres – OF Robert Hassell
    #9 Rockies – OF Zac Veen
    #10 Angels – LHP Reid Detmers
    #11 White Sox – C Patrick Bailey
    #12 Reds – OF Austin Hendrick
    #13 Giants – C Tyler Soderstrom
    #14 Rangers – RHP Jared Kelley
    #15 Phillies – RHP Nick Bitsko
    #16 Cubs – SS Ed Howard
    #17 Red Sox – RHP Mick Abel
    #18 Diamondbacks – OF Pete Crow-Armstrong
    #19 Mets – RHP Cade Cavalli
    #20 Brewers – RHP Cole Wilcox
    #21 Cardinals – C Dillon Dingler
    #22 Nationals – LHP Garrett Crochet
    #23 Indians – RHP Clayton Beeter
    #24 Rays – RHP Masyn Winn
    #25 Braves – OF Garrett Mitchell
    #26 Athletics – C Austin Wells
    #27 Twins – INF Justin Foscue
    #28 Yankees – SS Carson Tucker
    #29 Dodgers – RHP Bobby Miller

    This got weird but feels like as good a guess as any other idiot on his couch might have. I liked the fits with Kelley and Howard in the teens, which caused the Garretts to slide to the NL East picks in the 20s. I could see the Mets taking Crochet, which could leave Cavalli and Wilcox for the Brewers and Nats in either order. I could also see the Diamondbacks going pitcher after a bumper crop of position players last year, which could leave Crow-Armstrong on the board into the 20s, although he could still go before #22. Another wild card here is the Angels, which could go cheap (Arte Moreno apparently tried to persuade other owners to cancel this year’s draft altogether to save money) and draft a lesser prospect for way under slot. As I’ve said before too, I don’t hate the Beeter or Foscue fits for the Nats, and they’re still on the board here at #22.

    SaoMagnifico

    1 Jun 20 at 11:35 pm

  123. Oh fine, Sao, just link yet another college arm to the Nats! Wouldn’t mind Crochet’s left-handedness in an organization starved of portsiders. (I hear they have someone named Seth Romero, but that may be just a myth.) Crochet throws strikes, with high K numbers and a low walk rate, but weirdly, he ended up with a 4.02 ERA in 2019. Looking deeper, I see that he gave up 9.3 hits per 9IP in 2019 and 9.6 in 2018. Ouch! Those numbers make me wonder if he has any movement on his high-velocity heater, as he sure looks hittable. Things like that don’t tend to improve in the pros, either. By comparison, Wilcox’s H/9 in his one-plus seasons was 7.0, in the same conference. Beeter’s is 5.4, albeit in a lesser conference and mostly in relief. But you see that, and you can be pretty sure that there’s movement on his heat.

    KW

    2 Jun 20 at 7:46 am

  124. True re: Crochet, although I’d like to see the pitch-by-pitch data. Could be a matter of sequencing, or he’s not commanding his out pitch well and it’ll hang up in the zone sometimes.

    I haven’t seen him mocked to the Nats and didn’t intend for that to happen, just the way things played out as the board took shape. Beeter, Wells, Foscue, and Miller all make varying amounts of sense at #22 also, or maybe the Dbacks pass on Crow-Armstrong or the Brewers don’t go with Wilcox and one (or both!) of those two Boras guys are there at #22. But I’ve generally seen Crochet going in the early to mid-teens and figured Rizzo takes the best player available at #22.

    SaoMagnifico

    2 Jun 20 at 8:54 am

  125. new posted on the Minor league cuts. after that i’ll post all my mock drafts to take us through to the draft.

    Todd Boss

    2 Jun 20 at 10:32 am

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