Nationals Arm Race

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

Random Thoughts on the Minors Today


Maybe Tetreault is someone we should be keeping more of an eye on as a potential MLB call-up? Photo Federal Baseball

So, spurred on by an email from a fan, I did some “scouting the stat line” today and came up with the following observations (stats are as of yesterday if quoted; all stats available at, or if you’d like use my handy “Cheat Sheet” of websites here to directly surf to all the relevant minor league pages.

In AAA Rochester:

  • I’m really wondering why Luis Garcia is still in AAA with an OPS of nearly 1.000 while the MLB team continues to give at-bats to Escobar and Strange-Gordon
  • Glad to see Stevenson actually hitting. But there’s nowhere for him to go. We have no trade-able OFs at the deadline, so Stevenson seems blocked. I would say “trade him” but … MLB teams can read and know what he did in the majors.
  • Meneses really powering the ball; too bad he’s 30.  Maybe they call him up to play 1B after they trade Bell at the deadline. He could be the next Yadiel Hernandez for this team.
  • Most effective Starter in AAA? Prospect after-thought Jackson Tetreault, who was not on one single prospect ranking top 30 anywhere for this team this past off-season. The scouting reports on Tetreault explain why he’s not rated: he has mid 90s FB, but fringe-average secondary pitches and historically has struggled with control. However, 2021 and 2022 so far has seen much lower walk rates, so maybe this is found gold.
  • What the heck is going on with Cavalli??
  • Why did the team send down Francisco Perez? Oh because he couldn’t find the plate (6 walks in 4 1/3 innings).
  • Our old friend Tyler Clippard can’t find the plate either: 13 walks in 17 innings. I wonder how long he’ll ride the bus in AAA after so many years in the majors before he pulls a Jayson Werth and walks away.

In AA Harrisburg:

  • The (qualified) team leader in OPS right now is Justin Connell. Another prospect afterthought, he’s only 23 (he turned 23 in March) after being an 11th rounder out of HS (American Heritage … the same baseball factory HS that gave this team Adrien Nieto way back in 2008 and which had had dozens of players drafted in the last 20 years). A 23yr old with an .893 OPS in AA should be notable; he’s a full year younger than the average age in that league. Maybe a diamond in the rough?
  • Dondrei Hubbard has come out of the gate hot, hitting .375 while bouncing around the corner OF spots. He’s 27, has almost no state-side experience, is too old for AA … can he keep this up? He is listed as an infielder but has been doing nothing but outfield; seems like he has some positional flexibility.
  • Can we stretch out Cole Henry, please? Why did he get scratched from his last start? Please don’t say injury please don’t say injury.
  • Evan Lee is living up to his 40-man selection so far.
  • Matt Cronin looks like he’s back. Maybe he’s a bullpen option later this year for the Nats, especially since we can’t seem to keep lefty relievers on the active roster.
  • I like what Alex Troop can do for the team; 9 games, 23 innings, spot starts and effective long relief, good numbers. Maybe he should be getting longer looks, you know, like in the rotation instead of some 27yr old career minor leaguer like Ronald Herrera?

In High-A Wilmington…

  • Drew Mendoza has been powering the ball lately, with healthy slash lines and a team leading OPS figure among qualified hitters. Would really like to see him doing this in AA. I’m guessing he’ll get another shot at AA soon.
  • Antuna: hitting .217. At what point do we stop making excuses for this guy and free up the 40-man space he’s been sitting on for two years needlessly? Do we have to wait for him to repeat High-A again in 2023 and burn his last option (probably). It seems like every time he gets criticized, someone’s like, “oh but he was really good for 3 weeks last June” or “well he’s switching positions so he’s not as focused.” At some point you admit you made a mistake with a prospect and cut bait (ahem, Seth Romero).
  • Wow: Gage Canning is just 3 for 42 since being demoted. And some people thought he was a prospect?
  • Jordy Barley, hitting just .152. He was the primary prospect trade bounty for Daniel Hudson; would have hoped for a bit more. Yeah he’s fast; can’t steal first base (for now; they’re experimenting with this rule in the Indy leagues).
  • Ok, I’m happy Jake Irvin can look awesome in 3 inning stints; lets get him stretched out.
  • Seth Shuman needs to get bumped up. He’s repeating the level, was good at it last year, is good at it now.
  • Love what i’m seeing from Mitchell Parker. This team has a ton of sneaky good lefty starter prospects.
  • Tyler Yankowsky: 19Ks, zero walks in 16 innings. Can’t get much better than that.

In Low-A Fredericksburg…

  • Brady House is lighting it up … and he’s not even the best hitter on the team right now. That’d be ..
  • Jeremy De La Rosa, who was a top 5 prospect last year for this team until he hit .209 in Low-A as a 19 yr old in 2021. Now he’s a much older 20-yr old, playing exclusive CF and has 6 homers in 32 games to contribute to a .925 OPS. Nice.
  • Sammy Infante leads the team in homers. That’s good to see from a guy who a lot of people criticized upon his drafting. Could use a better BA.
  • Its no wonder this team is in first place; half the team has an OPS of 800 or more. They’re all hitting in the Carolina league.
  • Rodney Theopile: wow. Talk about coming out of nowhere; last year in 22 Low-A starts he had an ERA of 5.56. This year in his first 6 starts he has an ERA of 0.82. 48/5 K/BB.
  • Andrew Alvarez: 35 Ks in 21 innings .. amazing he doesn’t have better peripherals.
  • Jackson Rutledge, aka the guy who some people thought was better than Cavalli … 4IP, 8 hits, 3 walks … and he hasn’t pitched in a week with his start getting skipped over. Not much good here.

In XST/DSL … kind of curious to see the following once they start playing. I believe they start June 6th so we’re close.

  • Daylen Lile; our 2021 2nd rounder who a lot of scouts really liked. But he just had TJ surgery, so I’m not sure if that knocks him out for all of 2022. It probably does.
  • Armando Cruz, our big money 2021 IFA signing. Probably in DSL.
  • Aldo Ramirez, a significant prospect we acquired for Kyle Schwarber. Hurt his elbow this spring, maybe he’ll be ok for short season.
  • Mason Denaburg: does he have anything?
  • Roismar Quintana: this might be a major prospect for us.
  • Cristian Vaquero, our big money 2022 IFA signing, probably heading for DSL.

Written by Todd Boss

May 20th, 2022 at 8:38 am

16 Responses to 'Random Thoughts on the Minors Today'

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  1. Good stuff, Todd.
    The 2 teams to follow are Rochester and Fredericksburg. Rochester as some hitters that can really rake and the big club has 4 players with OPS’s in the .500’s getting regular playing time. Dumb.

    Fredericksburg is must-see baseball right now. They have at least 4 players that should be in Wilmington right now and that would make Wilmington more attractive.

    Todd, you’re a pitching guy. Mitchell Parker is putting up terrific numbers but Keith Law said he is only okay.
    Have you or anybody seen him pitch?

    Mark L

    20 May 22 at 10:14 am

  2. Yeah when Fredericksburg came to Lynchburg, the one night i could go got rained out.

    Parker: I have never seen him, no. Here’s some video.

    I suspect Law doesn’t rate him as a prospect b/c he’s not showing mid 90s. By all accounts, he’s getting his results thanks to a funky delivery and deception, which makes it hard to project him too high. From the video, he’s only throwing 91-92, but all those hitters are behind his fastball.

    Here’s his most recent BA scouting report for this season:

    Ranked Washington Nationals #20 prospect in 2022

    Track Record: A $100,000 signing as a fifth-round pick in 2020, Parker was productive out of the gate in his debut season in 2021. He had a 4.08 ERA and 85 strikeouts in 57.1 innings in Low-A before earning a promotion to High-A, where his 5.89 ERA doesn’t fully reflect how effective he was.

    Scouting Report: Parker has a varied repertoire that could help him stick as a starter, even without plus stuff across the board. With a delivery that could use some refinement, his fastball typically sits in the low 90s with elite carry, and he maintains that velocity well into his starts. He also features a low-80s splitter that one rival evaluator described as having crazy movement similar to that of a cutter, a changeup with plus sink and a mid-70s curveball with good depth that is better against left-handed hitters than right-handed hitters. None of those pitches are elite, but all have average or better potential. Parker has also proven to be a good competitor in his starts.

    The Future: As long as Parker performs like he did in 2021, expect him to move. Without any setbacks, Double-A in 2022 should be in his sights.

    Todd Boss

    20 May 22 at 2:34 pm

  3. Thanks Todd, that was useful. You can see where the hitters would have trouble picking up the ball.

    I find it tedious that somehow the radar gun is everything.

    I look forward to seeing Theophile but he may be in Wilmington pretty soon.

    Mark L

    20 May 22 at 3:27 pm

  4. great thoughts, thanks!

    as I asked on Luke’s site why not at least move Cronin to closer. a more challenging role


    22 May 22 at 10:04 am

  5. Cronin; i can only think its bc/ he was hurt last year. But yeah he’s due to move up.

    Todd Boss

    22 May 22 at 9:09 pm

  6. I don’t think Cronin throws mid/upper-90s either, but at some point it shouldn’t matter. He’s been dominant his whole pro career. There are plenty of relievers who don’t blow people away who have had long, successful careers, Jansen and Melancon among them.


    23 May 22 at 11:23 am

  7. Connell’s power surge has been fueled by an insane 39.7% K rate. His was 17.3% last season. Apparently they’re trying the “swing hard in case you hit it” approach. Same with Infante, who has a 29.1% K rate. I’m more or less becoming convinced that Infante is becoming a real prospect, though. Still not sure about Connell.

    De la Rosa is finally convincing me of his prospect status as well, although the caveat with him is a very lucky .423 BABIP plus repeating the level. Believe or not, he’ll be Rule 5-eligible this year, so they may be facing an Antuna-like question of whether to add him while he’s still at A+ level.

    The Antuna ship has sailed. Actually, I think it sank in the harbor. I know he’s only turning 22, but good grief, he’s never even really been good, much less great. But much like a Rizzo 1st round pick, he’s going to be given more than nine lives.

    I wrote a few days ago on Nats Prospects that I’m still holding out some hope for Drew Mendoza, even though he’s repeating A+ at age 24 and is “old for the level.” He’s got three homers over the last week so I hope is finding something. Definitely time to give him another try at AA. This is a guy who was once discussed as a potential top-5 overall pick.


    23 May 22 at 11:40 am

  8. I’m an Alex Troop and Mitchell Parker fan. I think both have MLB potential. I’m a little more skeptical of Jackson Tetreault, who FIP (4.61) indicates has been fairly lucky. Sure would be a boon if he does turn into something, though.

    The issue with guys like Tetreault, Cronin, and Troop getting an MLB look, though, is the unnecessary log jam of mediocrity on the 40-man roster. Maybe that will ease some as they start making the inevitable midseason trades.

    Along similar lines, Stevenson is indeed today screwed. He’s been killing it (in part riding .394 BABIP “luck”) while Robles and Thomas have struggled. But Stevo is out of options, off the 40-man, and didn’t show much last season when given more time at the MLB level.

    Also doing some interesting things at Rochester is 27-year-old Nick Banks, although he’s currently on the IL. Like Mendoza, he was once highly touted in college (Team USA player) who faded during his draft season.


    23 May 22 at 11:56 am

  9. Along those lines, how old is “too old?” I didn’t have a chance to comment on Todd post on that subject. Several years ago when Souza was finding “late” life in what previously had been a floundering minor-league career, I poked around to see if there were examples of “older” guys truly making it as contributing regulars. My look certainly wasn’t comprehensive, but the “winner” I found from recent seasons was Josh Willingham. The Hammer debuted in the majors at 25 but didn’t stick as a starter until he was 27. Souza stuck as a starter at age 26 after the epic trade. Even that was considered “late.”

    The clock ticks pretty fast, or at least it has in the recent past. I wonder if the missed COVID season will slide the scale some. It’s still going to be getting pretty late if you’re not at least getting a look in the majors by 25. To do that, you need to be AA by 23-24. If you’re still A+ at age 24, you had better get with it. (Looking at you, Drew Mendoza.)


    23 May 22 at 12:34 pm

  10. to KW, Justin Turner is the classic case for me


    24 May 22 at 8:37 am

  11. Late Bloomers: yeah we’ve definitely heard about guys who didn’t really start to produce until deep into their 20s. Souza, Turner good examples. David Ortiz wasn’t an all start until he was 28. Yadiel Hernandez toiled in our minors for years before being given a shot and now he’s posting a 141 OPS+ at the age of 34.

    But those are one in a hundred, compared to the typical pathway for these players. Which is to get socially promoted up to AA or AAA and then languish. Nick Banks is slashing right now .355/.395/.566 in AAA. that’s 260 points of OPS higher than his career average, fueled by a .426 BABIP. So, yeah, as much as I like banks, and thought he was a steal of a 4th rounder when we drafted him based on his collegiate and Team USA pedigree … i’m not hopeful this is “real.”

    Todd Boss

    24 May 22 at 9:19 am

  12. Papi actually came to the majors at 21 and was a starter at 24, but he was flat out released by the Twins just after he turned 27. I never understood that. A friend had him on a carry-over fantasy team at that time and was asking me what to do with him. (I hope I said hold on!)

    Turner was DFA’d by the O’s (a team of infinite wisdom) and non-tendered by the Mets (after hitting .280). He didn’t get a full season of MLB at bats until age 31, which is just amazing. However, it should be noted that debuted in the majors at 24. So most of these guys at least got a cup of coffee, or more, by 24.

    And no, I’m not holding out great hope that Banks turns anything. Just interesting that he’s finally looking somewhat legit.

    I’ve never understood why they were so slow in promoting Yadiel Hernandez, who was already an experienced player when they signed him. They sent him to AA to start. After about a half season of acclimation there, he’s done nothing but hit. He doesn’t have huge power (despite 33 HRs in the rare air of Fresno/PCL), but he seemed capable of being an Eaton type player. He’s got a real BABIP caveat right now too, though, as he’s riding a .395 while also hardly walking. His hard contact rate is also down from last season. But he does seem like a functional player in this transitional time.

    But transition to what? You have to go all the way down to de la Rosa and White in low A to find true OF prospects. They’re three years away, at best. (I refuse to count Antuna.)


    24 May 22 at 11:19 am

  13. KW, don’t sleep on Connell. He has an adult body now, runs extremely well and is still young for AA. He needs to find the proper balance of hitting vs hitting for power but he’s still a legit prospect, IMO.


    25 May 22 at 9:21 am

  14. It certainly would be great for the system if Connell developed into something, even if it’s just a AAAA shuttle guy. With Stevenson having used all of his options, they don’t even have one of those, unless we count Casey (currently hitting .204 at AAA). The curious thing about Connell is that he clearly understands plate discipline, has never struck out more than 17% of the time before this season (currently at 40%).

    Speaking of his body, perhaps he is one who was actually helped by the COVID year, with more time to work out and fill out. I wonder whether there will be others with noticeable benefits. Alex Troop seems have finally gotten completely healthy and is thriving. Alas, the extra time hasn’t seemed to do Mason Denaburg any good. And Rutledge has lost whatever pre-COVID mojo he had. (I was one of those those who thought he could be better than Cavalli. Now he’s looking like Johansen.)


    25 May 22 at 10:02 am

  15. And now Denaburg has actually reappeared from witness protection — hooray. He makes his debut in a full-season league four years after being drafted.

    Speaking of the draft, what an awful time for the Nats for the MLB draft lottery to start next season. Right now they’d be looking at the #2 pick. (Which is an embarrassing level of awful.) They should have a really good opportunity with the #5 pick this summer.


    25 May 22 at 2:43 pm

  16. At least with Denaburg it’s not his fault. Can’t blame him for all the injuries.

    With Romero I believe all of his problems are self created. AKA the ‘knucklehead’.

    Mark L

    25 May 22 at 3:07 pm

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