Nationals Arm Race

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

BA Mid-season updated top 30 Prospects released; analysis and reaction


Kieboom still #1 ... but not for long. Photo via Federal Baseball

Kieboom still #1 … but not for long. Photo via Federal Baseball

Hey, we’re half a week into the season, the Nats are 1-3, are already on their 7th string starting pitcher, havn’t had their star player play b/c he apparently got a false-positive Covi19 test, managed to lose a game where Corbin gave up one hit through six innings against perhaps the best team in the majors.  Oh, and half the Marlins have tested positive for Covid19 and the Nats just basically voted as a team to boycott the next trip to Miami.

Other than that, Mrs Lincoln, how was the play?

Lets talk Prospects instead for a bit.  In the midst of the race to restart the season, Baseball America reported out its updated top 30 prospects for all teams.  Here’s the Nats version.  I’m not sure if this is or isn’t behind a paywall (I’m a BA subscriber so I don’t know but suspect it is), so here’s the overall list.

1. Carter Kieboom, SS/2B
2. Luis Garcia, SS/2B
3. Jackson Rutledge, RHP
4. Cade Cavalli, RHP
5. Cole Henry, RHP
6. Wil Crowe, RHP
7. Tim Cate, LHP
8. Drew Mendoza, 1B
9. Andry Lara, RHP
10. Mason Denaburg, RHP
11. Sammy Infante, SS
12. Yasel Antuna, SS
13. Seth Romero, LHP
14. Holden Powell, RHP
15. Tres Barrera, C
16. Eddy Yean, RHP
17. Jeremy De La Rosa, OF
18. Matt Cronin, LHP
19. Jake Irvin, RHP
20. Jackson Cluff, SS
21. Tyler Dyson, RHP
22. Reid Schaller, RHP
23. Israel Pineda, C
24. Ben Braymer, LHP
25. Cole Freeman, 2B/OF
26. James Borque, RHP
27. Joan Adon, RHP
28. Jackson Tetreault, RHP
29. Malvin Pena, RHP
30. Nick Banks, OF

So, its basically the exact same top 30 published with the BA handbook in February, but inserting the 2020 draftees.  Four of our six 2020 picks have made the top 30 list:

4. Cade Cavalli, RHP
5. Cole Henry, RHP
11. Sammy Infante, SS
14. Holden Powell, RHP

These four players push off the guys ranked 27th-30th in February, namely:

27. Steven Fuentes, RHP
28. Jakson Reetz, C
29. Nick Raquet, LHP
30. Jhonatan German, RHP


thoughts overall:

  • I think the placement of Cavalli and Henry at 4th and 5th makes sense.  They slot in behind the more established 1st round starter in Rutledge, but ahead of the more accomplished but more ceiling-limited Crowe.
  • Infante at #11 just ahead of Antuna is … interesting.  I mean, I understand Antuna’s shine is off a bit, but we’re still talking about a guy who at Infante’s age played an entire season at full-A and who got nearly 4x the signing bonus.
  • Powell placed at #14 when Cronin is #18??  Um; did you guys SEE what Cronin did to Low-A last  year in his pro debut?  Enough to get put on the damn 60-man roster a few months later.  You mean to tell me you think Powell’s side-arm closer action is projecting better than Cronin right now?
  • Hey, that Nick Raquet ranking in February is aging great.
  • So is that Barrera ranking; before the 2020 draft BA nearly had him as a top 10 prospect.  I know we’re weak on hitters but … damn.
  • Raudy Read is nowhere to be found, but he beats out both Barrera and Reetz to make the opening day 30-man roster.  Something is amiss here.
  • Talk about bad timing for a pandemic-induced cancellation of the minor league season for two guys inparticular: Seth Romero and Mason Denaburg.   Two first rounders who desperately needed playing time this year.  Ah well.



24 Responses to 'BA Mid-season updated top 30 Prospects released; analysis and reaction'

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  1. Thanks, Todd. The only dumb ranking I see is Infante, he’s a year away minimum from being in the top 30. Take him off and you put Fuentes back in and there you have it.

    Mark L

    28 Jul 20 at 5:24 pm

  2. Infante debuting so highly on our list from Baseball America makes me really re-think the perception of that player. that’s his BA scouting report.

    Drafted in the supplemental 2nd round (71st overall) by the Washington Nationals in 2020 (signed for $1,000,000)

    A 6-foot-1, 175-pound shortstop committed to Miami, Infante has a nice collection of above-average tools. Over the summer he showed some glimpses of above-average raw power to the pull side, but his contact was inconsistent as well. He started making improvements this spring and was moving up draft boards before the season was shut down, with plenty of crosscheckers in attendance to watch him play. While Infante might not have a carrying plus tool, he’s above average in many areas including his running ability, arm strength and power. He also has a chance to be an above-average defender, so if a team thinks he can develop into an average hitter then there’s a lot to like in a down year for top-of-the-class prep shortstops. If Infante makes it to campus at Miami, he would be an eligible-sophomore for the 2022 draft.

    6’1″ 175. Clearly staying at SS and is trending up defensively versus down. That’s a great starting point as compared to so many “shortstops” who are drafted who clearly are headed for a corner outfield spot.

    I mean, a plus defensive shortstop who can hit is … pretty darn valuable. There were only 12-13 shortstops last year who were really “plus” defensively by statistical measures.

    Todd Boss

    29 Jul 20 at 11:03 am

  3. Still not a big fan of the big bonus for Infante, or for using a higher pick on him. The Nats DESPERATELY need higher-end hitting talent, but I’m not convinced that he’s going to be that. But we’ll see.

    Tonight we’ll get to see Nate Pearson, a guy the Nats passed on to take the great Seth Romero . . . who, by the way (in looking at this list), I would still have ranked much higher than Infante and Antuna. I realize that they’ve probably dropped Romero due to age, but if we still believe the hype from when he was drafted, he’s got a much higher ceiling.


    29 Jul 20 at 4:28 pm

  4. Interesting that BA has completely bought the hype on Lara (ahead of Denaburg and Romero? Really?) but not on Quintana, who isn’t even on the list. FanGraphs has Quintana at #16 and is also on the Lara hype train (at #6, but behind Denaburg).


    29 Jul 20 at 4:33 pm

  5. I think Rutledge has the highest ceiling of any Nat prospect, including Kieboom (unless Kieboom somehow morphs into Bregman). I understand rankings of Rutledge behind Kieboom since Kieboom (supposedly) is (almost) ready. I do not understand everyone ranking Rutledge behind Garcia. I’m still not convinced that Garcia can be an MLB regular. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe he’s better than I think, but he certainly didn’t excel with “playing up” push the Nats gave him.

    Todd, I completely agree with the craziness of ranking Cronin all the way down at #17, and behind Powell (among others). It think Cronin is a major-leaguer and has a more likely chance at big-league success than several of the arms ranked ahead of him. Yes, he’s a reliever. I seem to notice that the Nats keep losing games because they need relievers. Just an observation.

    It’s also a joke to drop Fuentes completely off the list when we was pretty dominant at AA. The Nats invited him to the 60-man camp, so they know. He may be the Nats’ most underrated prospect.

    Mendoza could be a very important prospect if he actually develops. I’m not sure he will, but it would be very significant for the organization if he does. There’s not much other potential power on the horizon.


    29 Jul 20 at 4:50 pm

  6. Cronin vs Powell; ok both are reliever only. Is it because Cronin is a lefty therefore people think he can’t be a “closer?” dunno.

    Fuentes is an interesting one. no idea why he doesn’t get love. Herte’s his BA writeup

    Ranked Washington Nationals #27 prospect in 2020
    TRACK RECORD: For the first time since Fuentes was an 18-year-old in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, he was used primarily as a starter. He was having a breakout season at Double-A Harrisburg before he was suspended 50 games for testing positive for a stimulant.

    SCOUTING REPORT: Fuentes is a throwback. He’s bigger than Anibal Sanchez but tries to get batters out in much the same way. He has a good changeup, commands his 90-95 mph fastball and has a tight slider that is at least average. Fuentes’ fastball and slider both have good life. His sink on the ball led to a 55 percent groundball rate in Double-A, and he allowed only one home run in more than 80 innings between Harrisburg and high Class A Potomac. For his career, he has allowed 16 homers in 358 minor league innings. He has made 29 starts in 126 professional games.

    THE FUTURE: Fuentes will continue to work as a starter and has a chance to become a major leaguer in the back end of a rotation. His versatility also could help him find a spot in the bullpen.

    Todd Boss

    30 Jul 20 at 11:08 am

  7. Thanks Todd. How can they give him that writeup and not rank him Top 30?
    The only good news is he wasn’t suspended for steroids.

    Mark L

    30 Jul 20 at 12:08 pm

  8. I think he has a writeup b/c earlier this year he was in the top 30 (#27), then got pushed down four spots with 2020 draftees.

    Todd Boss

    31 Jul 20 at 9:49 am

  9. Cronin is going to get his chance to show up this year before Powell if Doolittle sags under the weight of time and COVID panic. So the ceiling question will answer itself, though I agree with the assessment that Cronin is undervalued.

    As for Infante, his tanking reflects the bet placed on him. Just like international bonus babies.

    Reetz is, to me, undervalued here. And I agree that German and Fuentes belong as much as Pena and Tetrault do not.


    31 Jul 20 at 12:12 pm

  10. Oh, yes. Mendoza? I’m not yet buyin the hype. The same organization that ostensibly lacks prospect hitting talent let go of a player, Marmolejos, who has a proven minor league track record and is now on a 30 man major league roster.

    Hopefully Marmolejos is not this year’s version of Severino. We did win the WS, that eclipses all, and Severino won nothing, I get it. But his career may well outlast what the Nats have now. The take home is that for all the Nationals apparent low inventory, they have enough that their surplus makes and stays in the bigs.


    31 Jul 20 at 12:19 pm

  11. super interesting story on Barrera today:

    the thing that stuck out here was the amount of the drug detected in this case. Barrera tested positive for 10 picograms of the banned substance,which is a ridiculously small amount of any substance. If this is true, it has to fall into the category of “inadvertant trace exposure” and cannot be considered performance enhancing. It reminds me of the tennis player who successfully fought against a ban when he tested positive for a minute amount of cocaine he ingested by kissing a woman who had just taken some:

    I hope common sense prevails here. too often we just dismiss players excuses when they say “i have no idea how i tested positive.” But if these amounts reported in picograms are accurate, this is a completely BS test result.

    Todd Boss

    31 Jul 20 at 1:01 pm

  12. I don’t get how they rank Tetrault, who failed at AA and was sent back to Potomac, over Fuentes, who was excellent at AA. He’s also still young, just 23 now. German was an NRI to the spring training camp but curiously not to the 60-man party.

    Based on what Mendoza did in college, he (potentially) has more HR power than Marmolejos ever showed. But then Wiseman and Banks also had college power that has yet to show up with a wood bat. I’m really disappointed that Mendoza isn’t getting experience in the 60-man intrasquad work, though.


    31 Jul 20 at 1:17 pm

  13. Good for Barrera. I have to think the Nats minor leaguers get it, given what happened to Fuentes. Cheating does not pay. He has taken the right approach by going on offense.


    31 Jul 20 at 2:04 pm

  14. Marmolejos has always been thought of as a guy for whom power may yet develop, and even if not, he already has gap power and an excellent hit tool.

    He’s not tearing it up yet, but he is getting a chance in Seattle and homered last night. All you can do is make your chance count (and the Nats have plenty of those folks around now).

    Ryne Harper has been a pleasure!!


    31 Jul 20 at 2:07 pm

  15. We’re Nats fans, so we’ve been programmed to worry about the bullpen. As they put it in the Geico commercials, that’s what we do. Even this year, Doolittle doesn’t look completely up to speed, and Harris wasn’t good before going on the IL.

    But . . . Finnegan was super on Wednesday night, Harper has been good, and Rainey is probably #2 in the ‘pen already behind a confident-looking Hudson. Along the lines of this post, you don’t even have to squint very hard to wonder whether in two or three years they can have a cheap, team-controlled, deep bullpen something along the lines of Rainey, Finnegan, Harper, Suero, Cronin, Powell, Romero, and . . . some other possibilities like Fuentes, Condra-Bogan, Schaller, Irvin, and Andrew Lee.

    Of course they’re probably going to need that cheap bullpen because they’re going to have to keep signing free-agent field players.


    6 Aug 20 at 1:09 pm

  16. Big Board updated for today’s moves. With Bonifacio DFA and Bourque option i now have:
    – active roster: 28/28
    – 40-man roster: 37/40 with two 60-day DL guys. harrison pushed it back to 38, now back down to 37.
    – 60-man roster: 57/60;

    Todd Boss

    6 Aug 20 at 1:52 pm

  17. Todd, hasn’t the 60 day DL been changed to a 45 DL for this year?
    I thought I read about that last week.

    Mark L

    6 Aug 20 at 6:03 pm

  18. I would be they have a hand-shake deal to bring Bonifacio back to the 60-man camp if he clears waivers. I’ve never been quite sure what they see in him, though.


    6 Aug 20 at 9:06 pm

  19. […] opted not to write about because I kind of, sort of need to save something for the post-offseason (not to mention, Mr. Boss already did this). Aside from Carter Kieboom graduating, I’m not sure how much different this will be than the […]

  20. 60day to 45day. beats me. i’ve lost track of all the multitude of rule changes they’ve made for this season.

    Todd Boss

    7 Aug 20 at 2:02 pm

  21. Or maybe my prediction about the future bullpen is more the future-is-now bullpen. Harris is already on the IL, and Doolittle needs to be. Hudson mostly has been good but spit the bit on Saturday. Looks like it’s time to go with the kids, plus Guerra and Freeman. Suero also doesn’t look right/ready.

    It’s not all the pitching, of course. The situational hitting has been awful. And getting shut out by Tommy flippin’ Malone? Good grief.

    Also, if Stras really is ready and able to come back, how long do they go with Sanchez as a starter before they pull the plug on him in favor of Fedde? FWIW, FIP does NOT believe in Fedde, though — 6.45 FIP for him vs. 7.03 for Sanchez. Fedde also isn’t getting any K’s: 3.48 K/9.


    9 Aug 20 at 8:19 am

  22. Tank for Kumar!


    9 Aug 20 at 11:16 am

  23. […] posted a couple weeks ago about Baseball America’s updated prospect rankings with our 2020 draftees … now by inference Fangraphs has done the same.  They announced today […]

  24. KW. I agree. Fuentes numbers were strong, but how high are cheaters being ranked nowadays! I agree, Tetreault had a rough intro to AA and you said he failed. So does that mean Will Crowe’s first intro to AA at 24 years old with a 0-5, and 6.15 era was a failure or a learning experience? Tetreault, younger than Crowe, was 3-4 with a 3.88 era in his first 11 starts. Tetreault had 3 rough starts out of 25 in 2019. Cutting him some slack being his first year in AA, young age, brought up after only four 2019 High A starts to AA, and he throws to a 2.80 for the year. Was this a learning year at 22 or a failure! Lets see what he does in AA on his next try.


    17 Aug 20 at 7:53 pm

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