Nationals Arm Race

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

Nats announce Affiliates!


Getting the jump on the MLB’s larger 120-team announcement, the team announced officially who our four official affiliates will be. There had been much curiosity and speculation on the Nat’s affiliates in general, thanks to the forced Axing of Hagerstown and the general

Per the CurlyW official nats team blog this morning, we know that the team will be sending its prospects to:

  • AAA: Rochester Red Wings
  • AA: Harrisburg Senators
  • High-A: Wilmington Blue Rocks
  • Low-A: Fredericksburg Nationals

    The Rookie league team continues to be the GCL Nats out of our Spring Training complex, and we continue to have a DSL team.

My initial reactions to each team officially being named is:

  • AAA: Thank gosh they’re finally on the east coast, and finally in a league where they can develop minor leaguers. Now when we send a pitcher to AAA we can know for sure that a 6.00 ERA is actually “bad” and not just an off-shoot of the ridiculous elevation and hitters parks.
  • AA; our longest affiliation continues, and i’m happy for it. In an ideal world we’d be talking Richmond here, but Harrisburg is a great spot as well.
  • High-A: Can’t complain too much with Wilmington; its nearly as close as Harrisburg to the home base. I was selfishly hoping for Lynchburg, but I’m guessing they will be dumped to Low-A as well, and clearly MLB doesn’t rate Fredericksburg as a High-A city.
  • Low-A: well, they can’t be happy about dumping down a level (but should look no further than what Fresno is being forced to do before swallowing and saying ok), but i’m glad they’re still around.

One interesting side note to going to Wilmington is this: it is the park closest to Keith Law, one of the leading independent scouting/prospect guys out there, so that means he’ll be seeing lots of our guys and we’ll have more analysis to show for it.

As I was writing this, BA released the full 119 team list , with Fresno holding out and confirmation that Lynchburg got dropped a level.

Lastly, fun facts about our affiliate history. Here they are dating to 2000

YearAAAAAhigh-Alow-Ashort-ArookieDSL 1DSL 2
2021RochesterHarrisburgWilmingtonFredericksburg(disbanded)GCL NationalsDSL Nationals
2020FresnoHarrisburgFredericksburgHagerstownAuburnGCL NationalsDSL Nationals
2019FresnoHarrisburgPotomacHagerstownAuburnGCL NationalsDSL Nationals
2018SyracuseHarrisburgPotomacHagerstownAuburnGCL NationalsDSL Nationals
2017SyracuseHarrisburgPotomacHagerstownAuburnGCL NationalsDSL Nationals
2016SyracuseHarrisburgPotomacHagerstownAuburnGCL NationalsDSL Nationals
2015SyracuseHarrisburgPotomacHagerstownAuburnGCL NationalsDSL Nationals
2014SyracuseHarrisburgPotomacHagerstownAuburnGCL NationalsDSL Nationals
2013SyracuseHarrisburgPotomacHagerstownAuburnGCL NationalsDSL Nationals
2012SyracuseHarrisburgPotomacHagerstownAuburnGCL NationalsDSL Nationals
2011SyracuseHarrisburgPotomacHagerstownAuburnGCL NationalsDSL Nationals
2010SyracuseHarrisburgPotomacHagerstownVermontGCL NationalsDSL Nationals
2009SyracuseHarrisburgPotomacHagerstownVermontGCL NationalsDSL Nationals
2008ColumbusHarrisburgPotomacHagerstownVermontGCL NationalsDSL Nationals DSL Nationals 2
2007ColumbusHarrisburgPotomacHagerstownVermontGCL NationalsDSL Nationals DSL Nationals 2
2006New OrleansHarrisburgPotomacSavannahVermontGCL NationalsDSL Nationals DSL Nationals 2
2005New OrleansHarrisburgPotomacSavannahVermontGCL NationalsDSL Nationals
2004EdmontonHarrisburgBrevard CountySavannahVermontGCL ExposDSL Nationals
2003EdmontonHarrisburgBrevard CountySavannahVermontGCL Expos(no team)
2002OttawaHarrisburgBrevard CountyClintonVermontGCL ExposDSL Nationals
2001OttawaHarrisburgJupiterClintonVermontGCL ExposDSL Nationals
2000OttawaHarrisburgJupiterCape FearVermontGCL ExposDSL Nationals

Rochester is our 5th AAA affiliate since moving to DC. Harrisburg has been solidly our AA team since before the move. Potomac/Fredericksburg moved with the team and continue their relationship. It’s kind of interesting to see the pre-Nats machinations/locations just before moving as well.

Written by Todd Boss

December 9th, 2020 at 12:39 pm

20 Responses to 'Nats announce Affiliates!'

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  1. Terrific job, Todd.
    Richmond is a dump, so its great that AA is in a great stadium in Harrisburg.
    I’m not sure why Frederick was so screwed.
    Fredericksburg can’t complain too much, as their field is made of plastic.

    Mark L

    9 Dec 20 at 3:36 pm

  2. Sao is saying on Nats Prospects that the complex leagues in FL (GCL) and AZ also will stay, and that they might add a second league in each place. So that really won’t be that radical a change in the hierarchy if they have two half-season leagues below A/A+/AA/AAA.

    All the Nat affiliates are now on the East Coast, and three of the four are within a couple of hours of DC, which will be good for roving instructors and internal scouting of the system. All are in pretty decent cities as well.


    9 Dec 20 at 4:49 pm

  3. I said about a month ago I wouldn’t mind this outcome at all, and aside from the sympathy I feel toward fans in many communities whose baseball teams now face an uncertain future, I’m pretty pleased with how this shakes out for the Nats.

    Fredericksburg will be fine. My local team is a short-season club (well, I suppose it’s not anymore) and it’s a big part of the draw to see players who are just starting out in their professional careers. Yes, the quality of play is a little lower, but there’s some special novelty to it that you don’t get at the intermediate levels.


    9 Dec 20 at 7:43 pm

  4. It will be interesting to see how the assignments shake out for the Nats’ handful of decent prospects, particularly after some were in the Fredericksburg camp, and whatever instructional league play they had, and whatnot. Will they skip Cavalli to A+, and maybe Rutledge to AA? AA or A+ for Mendoza? Does Antuna skip A+? (Probably, since they thought enough of him to add him to the 40-man.) Does Adon skip A+? Will they trust younger starters like Fuentes at AAA now that it’s not the Lighter-Than-Air League? Skip Cate on to AAA with virtually no AA? Also, will guys like Fuentes, Romero, and Andrew Lee be starters whenever we have the minors again, or will they be working out of the ‘pen?

    Will they let Lara, with all the hype, begin in a full-season league? Fredericksburg could have a heck of a rotation if he’s there, along with Denaburg, Henry, Yean, and Dyson, with Powell closing. Mitchell Parker might be there, too. The pitching had better be great, as they might not score much. Since de la Rosa was in the Fburg camp, I would think they will target him for a full-season league, even while still young. Who knows about Infante, although he’s already somewhat on the “old” side for a high schooler. Probably a longer shot that they send Quintana, although maybe we could see him by later in the year. I’m high on the free-agent catcher Ray Torres, so he and draftee Lindsly could split time at Fburg while Pineda pushes on to A+ and Reetz to AA.

    And yes, it’s December and nothing is happening, so we’ve nothing else to think about other than these things!


    9 Dec 20 at 11:02 pm

  5. Want to remind everyone that with all the news about affiliations the Nats furloughed 18 employees Monday just in time for the holidays.

    This from the Lerners, who have a net worth north of $6 Billion!

    They are also keeping their usual silence as to how much of a budget Mike Rizzo has.

    Mark L

    10 Dec 20 at 8:45 am

  6. Mark, as I noted yesterday, the Nats could cover those salaries for the cost of a utility infielder. Still, one does have to wonder whether the layoffs are a sign that they won’t spend much.

    About the only news we’ve had is that the Nats bid on Carlos Santana, despite his .199 BA and .350 SLG. My guess would be that the Nats wanted a buyout option to go two years, while KC agreed to a full two years with no buyout. Santana probably leans more toward “bust” on the boom/bust scale, so we may be glad once again that we didn’t get the first option.

    So who is next on that list? Moreland? He’s definitely a platoon guy, although the Nats could use Harrison or bring back Howie for that platoon. Brad Miller would be a cheaper LHB platoon option, with more positional flexibility than Moreland.

    The catching options scare me. The McCann bidding is already nuts, talking four years for a career backup in his 30s. The reason it’s nuts, though, is that the rest of the guys really suck at making contact, other than Suzuki, who is one of the worst framers in baseball. Casali: 31.2% K, .224 BA; Ramos: .297 OBP; Flowers: 42.5% K, .213 BA; Zunino: 44% K, .147 BA; Castro 35.9% K, .188 BA; Avila: 35.5% K, .184 BA. I really don’t think Molina is leaving STL, and if he does, he would probably want more than he’s worth at 38/39. I’ve scoffed at Barrera ever being much of an MLB hitter, but goodness, with the bar SO low, it sure makes you think about the in-house option.


    10 Dec 20 at 9:56 am

  7. Happy Rule 5 day!


    10 Dec 20 at 11:22 am

  8. I’m not happy. There are two people I really do not want to lose, who are unprotected by the Nationals. You can probably guess who they are.

    Oh, well, we’ll know in an hour.


    10 Dec 20 at 11:41 am

  9. Rule 5 wild hair: risk $50K (if returned) and take a flyer on Riley Pint, who can’t hit the broad side of a barn but can hit 102. Sounds like Rizzo’s kind of guy! Very small chance that he would stick, but there’s also basically no risk, as there’s nothing to lose other than $50K.


    10 Dec 20 at 11:41 am

  10. Wow, Pint was 6-4 when drafted and is now 6-7:

    FG has him with a 70 heater, a 70 curve, . . . and 20 control.


    10 Dec 20 at 11:59 am

  11. Thats’s all good. No Nationals lost. I was worried about losing Pineda or Reetz. I guess statistically the organization concluded that catchers are not likely selected and kept. With all of the marginal catchers and the ability to carry a third catcher and catching in short supply, I would have thought it was coming. Good.

    I think we will be pleasantly surprised with Reetz next year at AA. Pineda is a big mystery, but only 20. Between them and Barrera, one year from now we’ll know whether there is someone to plug in who would be a lot more affordable than Realmuto. If the Nats pursue Realmuto, that will say something about how much confidence they have in the cupboard at the upper minors.

    As for the draft itself, why take a player who ages out to be unprotected when you can take the two players (Clay and Mont.) whom the Nats picked up with no 25-man maintenance requirement? I think that’s far more sensible roster management, and Finnegan actually helped us last year.

    So here we are, post Rule 5, at 34 roster spots. Good!


    10 Dec 20 at 12:37 pm

  12. I think we know how much confidence the Nats have in their catching depth based on them not protecting either Pineda or Reetz.


    10 Dec 20 at 12:46 pm

  13. Todd Boss

    10 Dec 20 at 12:52 pm

  14. Sorry guys, but I never understood why there was any worry about losing Pineda, who still has a long way to go both offensively and defensively. Reetz is much closer to being MLB-capable.

    It’s interesting that the Nats basically never take a Rule 5 chance. Some years, their 40-man is pretty tight, but not this year. Armenteros is just like a Rule 5 addition, except he can be optioned.


    10 Dec 20 at 12:55 pm

  15. I don’t think we can guage the Nat’s belief in a 20 year old or Reetz based on a lack of protection. The fact is that the Nats liquidated their roster early and added Fuentes early. They kept 8 spots open waiting for fruit to fall.

    With all of the Rule 5 draftees taken, there will now be 16 players released from other 40 man rosters. They obviously are keeping as many spots open that they can for free agent additions or trades and taking chances on adding people who would then be on the bubble and likely taken.

    The other issue, of what the Nats think, is only part of what is to come. Every organization is surprised, every year, by people in their organization. I happen to think that Reetz is player who has yet to reach his ceiling, and hopefully with the Nats.


    10 Dec 20 at 12:59 pm

  16. correction: *not* taking chances on adding people who would be on the bubble.


    10 Dec 20 at 1:00 pm

  17. KW – I share your perspective. Why do Rule 5 when you can add better players and not have the same protection requirements. For any of the organizations who are committed to a player they drafted, they effectively lower their roster to 39 players. I they have good young talent, that shakes loose someone that can get away. Big risk to take for someone’s aging leftovers.

    People sure love the Dodgers personnel, though. Raided.


    10 Dec 20 at 1:07 pm

  18. Speaking of flyers, I keep forgetting that the Nats have signed the once-legendary Yasmany Tomas, one of the richest NRIs ever, having already banked $68.5M. It’s hard to judge much based on his fine 2019 PCL season (during which he won the AAA home run derby), but what I find encouraging is his MLB split. For his career, against MLB LHP, he has slashed .293/.343/.537, with a 129 OPS+, 25% K rate. He can play 3B, 1B, and LF.

    I’m not making any outlandish predictions here. Just saying that with all the talk of the need for a platoon partner for someone like Moreland, Schwarber, Rosario, Pederson, Brantley, et al., that Tomas might just be a candidate. If nothing else, he would be very good to have on reserve if the Nats take a chance on the return of an aging, oft-injured Howie or Zim.


    10 Dec 20 at 1:39 pm

  19. It’s also worth noting that considering that the Nationals farm system gets trashed, they did not draft anyone in the minor league draft, either. That’s encouraging. They have had no problem taking minor league veterans, so if they are not this year, that shows a lot more confidence in the core, and the rising Latino players.



    10 Dec 20 at 1:48 pm

  20. Like fore, I was worried that Pineda might be picked. Plus, we have a chance to develop Sharpe for another year and see what is there.

    Between Barrera and Reetz, you have to root that one of them develops in to something, it would help a lot.

    Mark L

    10 Dec 20 at 2:52 pm

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