Nationals Arm Race

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

Reactions and Observations of Full Season Rosters (hitters)


After washing through dozens of names shifting around on the Big Board (and hopefully not making any cut and paste errors), here’s my non-pitcher related observations to the rosters and movement of players around the system

AAA Rochester: The roster lists 5 catchers, which is kind of odd but clearly to me Brandon Snyder is the starting 1B here, despite being listed suddenly for the first time in 2021 as a catcher.

The hitters are very MLFA heavy: 9 of the 16 non-pitchers in AAA were MLFA acquisitions, including two that happened just in the last couple of weeks in Daniel Palka and Ramon Flores. Both project to be backup outfielders to the presumed starting OF of three other MLFAs in Yasmany Tomas, Carlos Tocci and a hopefully healthy Gerardo Parra.

The infield features two very important former prospects in Luis Garcia and Carter Kieboom, both of whom were signed/drafted in 2016 and both of whom really need to have a successful 2021 at the plate. Kieboom more so than Garcia.

I’m kind of surprised the team signed two veteran MLFAs instead of promoting up some of its long-serving minor league guys, players like Rhett Wisemann and Nick Banks.

AA Harrisburg: Not a lot of defense on this team, with several guys who primarily play 1B on the roster (Corredor, Mendoza, Sagdal and Harrison. Only 3 OFs listed, meaning likely that these 1B guys are covering in a corner. We see both Wisemann and Banks showing up here; they should be the starting corner OFers, but based on a lack of promotion to AAA they may be org-guys waiting to get cut. This is where we see Cluff arrive.

Pretty surprised not to see Antuna here. Why wouldn’t you put him at AA? we’ll see where he shakes out.

Not a very compelling AA roster from a player perspective…Is the best hitting prospect Drew Mendoza? Also, there’s only 26 players listed … out of a roster size of 30?

High A Wilmington: The high-A roster is populated with a weird combination of decent prospects (Antuna and Gage Canning) as well as a slew of what seems like org-guys (20th+ rounders and 7th or 8th year IFAs). Cavalli’s personal catcher Brad Lindsly is here as a 3rd catcher on a limited roster. I don’t see an obvious choice to play 1B on the existing roster, making me wonder if we’ll see a couple more bats added soon. Also, some oddities going on with the rosters: the Wilmington press release listed Jack Dunn on the roster, but transactions list Cole Daily on the roster … which would make sense since he’s a 1B that could play there; but the site doesn’t have Dunn, who does not appear in the player archives anywhere. I’ll chalk it up to data oddities with thousands of players moving around on the day the leagues launch.

Low A Fredericksburg‘s roster of out-field players looks really weak; I don’t see a single top-30 prospect among any of the hitters listed. Not one. And we have a really crummy farm system. We do have a bunch of younger prospects who are listed, but who clearly aren’t ready for low-A, guys like Jeremy De La Rosa, Daniel Marte and Viandel Pena. There’s also some interesting names left in the far right XST column post assignment, guys like Telmito Augustin.

15 Responses to 'Reactions and Observations of Full Season Rosters (hitters)'

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  1. Man, our position player pipeline is bone-dry.

    Obviously we’re hoping García and Kieboom develop into major league-caliber players sooner rather than later (I’m more bullish on one than the other, as some of you might have deduced by now). Everyone else there is depth. Maybe there’s a ghost of a chance Tocci’s bat finally catches up to his glove and he ends up being a serviceable fourth/fifth outfielder type.

    At Double-A, I guess we’re watching…Cluff, Mendoza, and Wilson? Maybe see if Reetz or Harrison can take another step forward into real prospect status?

    As “stacked” as High-A is, really the only positional prospects worth paying a lot of attention to here are Antuna and Pineda. We’ve talked about some of these other names on occasion in the past (Rhinesmith, Canning, Upshaw, Lindsly), but they’re hardly thrilling as prospects.

    There’s really nobody at Low-A, and if I’m being brutally honest, I can see a lot of these guys being cut midseason to make way for better prospects matriculating from XST and rookie ball. If I have to pick F-Nats I hold out the faintest hope aren’t going to top out at A-ball, maybe José Sánchez and/or Junior Martina?

    As always, I’m rooting for anyone and everyone to do something special, or at least to make memories they’ll cherish. We always have at least one or two pleasant surprises every minor league season, whether they ultimately translate to a major league career or not.


    5 May 21 at 5:09 pm

  2. Can someone explain to me how A. J. Minter isn’t balking when he taps his front foot, then stops, before starting his delivery?

    Also, can someone explain to me why Robles swung meekly at the first pitch when Minter was on the ropes and having trouble throwing strikes? Schwarber had battled him hard, but then Robles didn’t work him at all. Sigh.

    I was encouraged by the short winning streak that got the Nats to .500, but I’m quite discouraged by the feeble hitting and fatal mistakes of Tues. and Wed. We’ve made the Braves look better than they are. This was a good chance for the Nats to take advantage of a struggling team and toss a little dirt on them, but they’ve done the opposite.


    6 May 21 at 8:38 am

  3. As for the rosters, have I mentioned that they should draft a few legit hitters? I believe I have . . .

    Yes, I was VERY surprised not to see Antuna at AA, after all the hype and the now seemingly ridiculous addition of him to the 40-man. I was quite skeptical of the hype, though. I’m even more skeptical after his 0-8 start at A+, with 4 Ks and 6 runners stranded. SSS, but if he was sent to A+ to build his confidence, it isn’t working.

    Hitters who did skip a level to AA are Mendoza, Cluff, and Wilson. I don’t understand the organizational excitement about the latter two. Based on the prospect rankings, I seem to be the only one who still holds out hope that Mendoza can live up to his early-college pedigree. Not saying he will, just that there was once thought to be a pretty high ceiling with him. Wilson is worth watching based on how the organization has pushed him.

    Canning looked like a decent prospect when drafted but really struggled in 2019 in particular. Justin Connell has been a slowly/steadily developing high school draftee. Really, the Nats have to hope that a few of these under-the-radar guys flash, as otherwise, they’re embarrassingly thin on the hitter side of the ledger.

    Yes, considering the hype, it’s surprising and disappointing that De La Rosa isn’t ready for a full-season league. Banks hit decently in AA in 2019, but they seem to have stocked the AAA OF with AAAA type retreads. Wiseman, Upshaw, and Agustin were once thought of as decent prospects, but considering subsequent disappointing seasons plus the current times, it’s sort of surprising they’re still with the organization. Speaks well of what the organization thinks of their character, I guess. Cole Freeman is another fairly highly drafted one pretty close to being left as an “org guy.” It’s telling that they’re giving Wilson the CF reps over him.

    I’m probably in the minority, but I have more hope for Reetz turning into something than I do Pineda. It’s low-level hope for both, though.


    6 May 21 at 10:05 am

  4. So, looking at the out-field players on the four full season rosters it’s easy to see why we’re ranked 30th out of 30 right now. You can count on one hand the actual hitting prospects.

    Looking just at the starting lineup of hitters:

    – AAA: 4 MLFAs, one extremely old IFA, and 3 prospects on the 40-man: Barrera, Garcia, Kieboom.
    – AA: Nearly all Wash drafted, but mostly org-guys that are past their MLFA deadline. A couple of prospects: Mendoza, Cluff, Wilson maybe
    – HighA: four draft picks, all drafted in the teens or 20s rounds (ie non prospects), a cpl of older IFAs. really only a couple worth watching: Antuna and Pineda. Canning isn’t even starting.
    – LowA: 3 NDFAs starting?? another three guys drafted in the 20s rounds? There’s not a SINGLE hitter in low-A who has appeared in a legitimate top 30 list ever, and as far as I can tell just one arm (Parker, our 2020 5th rounder).

    Todd Boss

    6 May 21 at 10:30 am

  5. I haven’t been watching much as this team is really boring.

    Is it over for Robles hope? Is Schwarber this bad or just bad luck start?

    Kind of hard to pin your season on Yan Gomes and Ryan Zimmerman as your anchors as the only middle guys hitting well.

    Weird team setup right now as two of our best hitters so far in Zimm and Hernandez aren’t even starters.


    6 May 21 at 10:54 am

  6. Reminder: the team started the year without 9 of its planned 25-man roster players and has been without two if its most important players (Strasburg and Soto) for big chunks of april. Take away two of the best3 players from any other team and they’d probably be scuffling along too.

    Robles was probably overhyped.

    Both Schwarber and Bell have been very, very unlucky with BABIP: Schwarber at .239, Bell at a ridiculous .171. Neither is sustainable nor in line with their career nubmers (.266 and .285 respectively). I’d expect a massive hot streak out of Bell soon enough as he gets his BABIP to regress to the mean…. Schwarber as a pull hitting lefty is always going to struggle against the shift and have lower BABIP than a regular .290-esque league wide figure. Both players were acquired in buy-low bounce back scenarios. Lets just hope they continue.

    With all due respect to Hernandez and Zimmerman … the best hitter on the team is Turner. He’s quietly making a case for a pretty sizeable 9-figure deal at some point in the future. I also love what Harrison is doing; he’s 2nd on the team in fWAR right now.

    Todd Boss

    6 May 21 at 12:34 pm

  7. Yes I agree Turner and Harrison looking best. But the middle lineup I was referring to.

    Hernandez and Zimm are among our best hitters but they don’t have a place to play if everyone healthy, that was the point. But sets up well for the AL games at least.

    This team does remind me of the Espi-Desmond days though. Probably lots of bad hitting mixed in with some hot streaks. Total doom if Soto shoulder hampers him all year.


    6 May 21 at 1:05 pm

  8. Most important hitters bat 1 and 2. Turner has been great; Soto has been hurt. What are you gonna do? Players get hurt; you expect a guy in his mid 30s (ahem Zimmerman) to get hurt; you don’t expect a 23 yr old to get hurt.

    Hernandez is a flash in the pan; his babip is .385. I’m happy he’s hitting well; its a mirage that will come back to earth.

    Zimmerman is on a hot streak; babip is .344. Expect him to hit a cold streak next.

    Todd Boss

    6 May 21 at 3:30 pm

  9. Here’s our R5 guys, according to FanGraphs, eligible this December. And note I’m only including guys below age 28, and excluding guys who appear to be on one-term deals:

    RHP Joan Baez*
    LHP Tim Cate
    LHP Carson Teel
    RHP Ryan Tapani
    LHP Nick Wells*
    RHP Jake Irvin
    RHP Gabe Klobosits*
    RHP Frankie Bartow
    LHP Alex Troop*
    RHP Reid Schaller
    RHP Tomás Alastre*
    C Israel Pineda*
    C Jakson Reetz*
    C Alex Dunlap*
    C K.J. Harrison*
    C Geraldi Diaz
    1B Aldrem Corredor*
    INF Kyle Marinconz
    INF Omar Meregildo*
    INF José Sánchez*
    INF Viandel Peña
    OF Cody Wilson
    OF Nick Banks*
    OF Cole Freeman*
    OF Rhett Wiseman*
    OF Gage Canning
    OF Jacob Rhinesmith
    OF Justin Connell
    OF Jorge Hurtado

    * eligible in 2020 but went unselected

    Most of these guys are obvious org filler who won’t be selected (and wouldn’t be missed if they for some reason are, which they won’t be).

    Cate is an obvious one to protect. The Nats clearly also really like Wilson and will probably protect him, especially if the terrible unearned baserunner rule becomes permanent in the next CBA. Pineda probably gets protected this time with another year of experience under his belt, unless he really bombs in 2021. Peña is a maybe, but I figure he’s unlikely to be selected unless he really tears it up this season and makes it up to at least High-A.

    We’ve also got some fringe pitchers who are now into their mid-20s and have never been elite prospects, but also have strong track records of performance and have been given important roles on their 2021 teams: namely Teel, Troop, Bartow, and Klobosits. Those could be interesting decisions.

    Teel has never gotten any love as a prospect, but he’s been incredibly solid and consistent (turning in a fine Double-A debut performance last night). Troop is a guy I figure would be at least a top-30 org prospect by now if not for all the injuries that he’s endured; when he’s been on the field, he really has been excellent, and it looks like he’s going to be pitching out of the rotation for the Blue Rocks this year alongside Cavalli, Rutledge, Adon, and Henry. If either or both can stay healthy in 2021 and perform, they start looking like genuine starter depth, which might pique other organizations’ interest if not our own’s.

    Bartow and Klobosits are pure relievers with some hi-lev experience in the minors who have now worked their way up to Double-A and could conceivably be MLB bullpen depth as soon as this year if they perform. These types rarely get taken in the Rule 5 draft, but while I wouldn’t put money on it, it’s not inconceivable one or both is on the 40-man roster by then anyway.


    7 May 21 at 2:09 pm

  10. Todd Boss

    7 May 21 at 4:56 pm

  11. Rule 5 way-too-early-to-think-about-list 🙂 … rigth now, today, i’d protect one name on this list: Cate.

    I don’t see Tetreault on this list; he’d be a r5 repeat from last year. Nor do I see Todd Peterson, who suddenly might be halfway decent.

    honestly, i can’t think about r5 protection until we see how the season shakes out.

    Todd Boss

    7 May 21 at 5:00 pm

  12. Peterson was 2019 draftee so still has another year. He’s just progressed quickly seems like he’s been around a little longer.

    I’ve always been a Cate agnostic. I’m glad he’s progressed well through the system, but I’ve had a difficult time seeing how he could have even a decently high ceiling. We’ll see. He struggled in his AA debut.

    I have a difficult time believing that Wilson is going to post a season worthy of being protected. He’s batting 9th for the AA team. He hit .215 with 5 homers in 2019 in low A.

    Sorry to see the news of Boz retiring, but not surprised, considering his age. I’ve always enjoyed his takes on the Nats and MLB, whether or not I’ve fully agreed with them. He did his darnest to will DC into becoming a baseball town, and I’m glad he got to cover an amazing run to a World Series championship. There also seemed like a few times over the years where he publicly put some pressure on Ted Lerner to open his checkbook. I wondered at those times whether Rizzo was using Boz to get to Ted.


    7 May 21 at 6:51 pm

  13. Tom Boswell unfortunately decided not to go the Shirley Povich route, who was writing relevant commentaries well in to his 90’s.

    Mark L

    8 May 21 at 7:51 am

  14. Ha, I think i meant Tommy Peterson, drafted in 2015, not Todd Peterson drafted in 2019.

    In fact, now that i look at it … i’ve been mis-tracking/conflating the two players. Tommy retired in Jan 2020. damn.

    Todd Boss

    8 May 21 at 11:39 am

  15. Yes two T. Petersons . . . and two Trea/Trey Turners! In both cases, one is decidedly better than the other.

    Todd Peterson is an interesting guy. He fits the Rizzo size profile — 6-5, 230. He was only a spot starter at LSU — 7 starts in 75 appearances — but not really the primary closer, either (3 saves in his draft season). The Nats moved him back into starting at Auburn after the draft (5 starts in 9 appearances). He impressed enough in the non-season of 2020 to earn an NRI this spring and stayed in the big-league camp almost until the end, much longer than many more highly touted guys. He gave up four runs in his first inning of work at Wilmington, but he’s definitely one to keep an eye on, based on the long look he has gotten in-house.


    8 May 21 at 10:20 pm

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