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Minor League Rotations: Mid-May Check-in

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Wil Crowe is the best starter in the system right now. PHoto via insidenova.com

Wil Crowe is the best starter in the system right now. PHoto via insidenova.com

Since its so depressing to talk about the train wreck that the Major League team is … lets look at the minor league pitching pipeline.

We last checked in a couple weeks into the season on 4/15/19, so we’re just about a month past that post.  Lets revisit where we are.


 

AAA/Fresno 2019

The rotation is: Voth, McGowin, Copeland, Espino, MSanchez.   Changes from last post: Alvarez got dumped to the bullpen thanks to his  8.20 ERA, Dragmire is on the D/L,  Ross got promoted to the needy MLB bullpen, and MSanchez was promoted up from AA to fill the rotation gap.

The Bullpen is: Rainey, Hoover, Self, Bacus, Nuno, JMills*, Blazek with Alvarez as long-man/spot starter.   Changes from last post: Adams was DFA’d and traded for Nick Wells, a Battlefield HS grad who now gets to play closer to home.  Cordero was also DFA’d and as of this writing sits in DFA limbo.  To replace them the team promoted JMills from AA and signed Blazek off the street a day before this writing.

Who’s hot:  McGowin has thrown 4 straight QS.  Voth remains the best AAA starter, keeping his ERA under 4.00 despite playing in the PCL.  Self and Bacus continue to perform well in their first AAA experiences.  I continue to be dumbfounded why Adams was DFA’d; here’s his AAA line this year for Fresno: 12.1 IP, 2.19 ERA, 0.89 Whip, 24/3 K/BB.  Yet the team (at the time) thought it was more important to keep Cordero on the roster.

Who’s not?  Dragmire may go straight to release waivers off the D/L (28 hits in 13 IP).  Mills does not look ready for AAA (13.50 ERA in 8 IP).  Neither does Mario Sanchez (13 hits in 7IP in 2 starts).

Who’s next guy to get the call?   Voth if they need a starter.  The only 40-man reliever left here is Rainey and he can’t find the plate (28ks and 12 walks in 16.2 innings).

Who’s next to get the Axe?   the JJ Hoover experiment may be over.  Both Mills and Sanchez probably should return to AA.  Dragmire continues to be in jeopardy of his roster spot when he gets healthy.


AA/Harrisburg 2019

Rotation: Crowe, Tetreault, Sharp, Mapes, Braymer*.  Changes from last time: Fedde got promoted to the MLB bullpen, replaced by the promoted Tetreault.

Bullpen: Bourque, Condra-Bogan, RPena, Guilbeau*, ABarrett with Baez, Ondrusek, Fuentes as swingmen/spot starters.  Changes from last time: Brinley on the D/L, JMIlls promoted, Ondrusek demoted from AAA’s D/L, Fuentes promoted up from High-A.

Who’s hot: Crowe remains the best AA starter and is probably now the best SP prospect in our system.  Bourque has a 29/5 K/BB ratio in 18 innings and its rather inexplicable that he a) remains in AA and b) has not yet gotten called into the MLB relief corps to alleviate the bullpen issues.  Tetreault has picked up right where he left off in High-A, with a 1.43 ERA through 3 AA starts and now has a 1.50 across 7 starts and two levels on the year.    Barrett continues to look solid and has MLB experience, so may be an option in the future.

Who’s not? Mapes has the worst ERA of the rotation, really the only starter  you can quibble with.  Pena and Guilbeau are struggling in the bullpen.

Who’s next guy to get the call?  Crowe, Bourque

Who’s next to get the Axe? Pena; the org has stuck by him a long, long time fora  16th round pick.  He’s 27 in AA and now in his 8th pro season here.  But an ERA in the 6s puts him on the chopping line when the next reliever needs to be promoted.


 

High-A/Potomac 2019

Rotation: Johnston, Borne*, Raquet*, ALee, MPena.  Changes from last time: Tetreault promoted, Reyes dumped to the pen after posting an ERA > 9.00.   Replaced in the rotation by Lee, who was bumped up from spot-starter/swingman.

bullpen:  Bogucki,  McKinney,  Bartow, JRomero, LReyes, German with Howard*,  Teel* as swingmen and (presumably) Nick Wells showing up soon.  Changes from last time: Acevedo released, Fuentes promoted, JRomero re-instated from XST, German and Teel promoted from Low-A.

Who’s hot:  I like what I see out of Lee in the rotation so far; he’s got the best ERA and peripherals of any High-A starter.   Teel and Bartow are the best relievers right now by stats, and Bartow has 2 of the 3 saves the staff has on the entire season (how is that possible?  In 14 victories they only have 3 saves.  that’s saying something).

Who’s not?  Raquet and Pena both have ERAs north of 7 in the rotation.  Nothing personal against Raquet, but I hated the draft pick at the time, and now he’s repeating high-A with the same crummy numbers and lack of swing and miss he exhibited there last year.  Every time I see him get shelled in a start its another indictment of that draft pick and that draft class in general.

Who’s next guy to get the call?  They’ve already promoted the two best arms (Tetreault and Fuentes).  No starters really pushing for a promotion right now.

Who’s next to get the Axe?  Bogucki is putting on > 2 runners an inning but was solid in High-A last year.  The fact that Reyes continues to have a roster spot astounds me: he is now in high-A for the 3rd year; he was also in High-A in  2016 and 2017, neither season of which merited his 2018 promotion to AA (where he got shelled).


Low-A/Hagerstown 2019

Rotation:  Alastre, Adon, Cate*, Irvin, FPeguero.  Changes from last time: Strom was demoted to XST, and the tandem starting seems to have been somewhat relaxed in that this set of 5 starters has rotated for several turns now.

Bullpen: Stoeckinger*, AGuillen, RWilliamson*, Tapani, Fletcher*, Day as swingmen/spot starters, along with Brasher, TTurner in the pen as more conventional relievers.  Changes from last time: Teel and German promoted, and RWilliamson and Tapani promoted from GCL/XST.

 

Who’s hot: Cate and Peguero, the two  starters I noted as being “hot” in the last post, remain the two best starters in Low-A.   Cate, a college Sr 2nd rounder last year, is probably too old for the level and needs to be moved up.  Fletcher, Stoeckinger and Guillen are pitching well in their “tandem” multi-inning roles.

Who’s not?  Irvin’s seasonal numbers are skewed by a 1ip/9-run outing, but he has the worst ERA in the rotation right now.  Brasher has gotten hit hard in limited action.  Alastre continues to not find the plate; he has 25 walks in 35 innings.

Who’s next guy to get the call?  Cate needs to move up stat.   Same with Peguero; he’s now 23 dominating Low-A.  Why are they still there?   Same with Fletcher; he’s now 23, was a senior sign and has 6 weeks of dominant numbers in low-A.  Why wait?

Who’s next to get the Axe?  Brasher seems most likely to be the next guy sent back to XST.


XST names of interest

  • Where is Istler?    He was solid in AA and even had some AAA time last year.  Still unassigned.
  • Where’s Jhon Romero?  He got assigned to High-A.
  • Pantoja? Still missing; may have been a “quiet” release.
  • No word yet about Seth Romero‘s rehab progress.
  • Since the last posting, the team officially assigned 5 guys to Low-A and put them directly on the DL: Barnett, WDavis, Howell, SRomero, Troop.  Barrett and WDavis were on the GCL team last year.  Howell and Troop were “missing” names from last year’s Low-A team now found, and of course Romero remains perhaps the worst 1st round pick this team has had since the Aaron Crow/Jim Bowden debacle.

 

Minor League Rotations: Good and Bad Starts

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Voth has looked pretty good so far. Photo mlb.com official

Voth has looked pretty good so far. Photo mlb.com official

We’re now a couple turns through the four full season minor league rotations and I thought i’d take a quick gander at what the “rotations” looked like, with some short sample size judgements as to who has come out of the gate hot or not from a stats perspective.  I have not seen any of these games, just looking at milb.com’s stat page.  So feel free to add in any personal opinions :-)


 

AAA/Fresno 2019

The rotation is looking like: McGowin, Copeland, Voth, Espino, Alvarez, with Dragmire as a spot-starter and Joe Ross having been yanked up to MLB bullpen duty (replaced by Alvarez).  Espino returns to the fold, having signed elsewhere as a MLFA a couple years back.

The Bullpen is looking like: AAdams, Rainey, Hoover, Nuno, Self, Cordero and Bacus (recently promoted to replace Austen Williams, himself promoted to cover for MLB injuries).

Who’s hot: Voth and McGowin have started well out of the rotation, Voth sporting a 16/1 K/BB ratio and McGowin 12/2.  I’m liking the first start from off-season signing Copeland too.   In the bullpen, Adams has 5 innings, 1 hit and 11 punch outs while Hoover has yet to give up a hit (though.. he’s walked 7 guys in 6 innings).

Who’s not?  Dragmire.  In three appearances so far, he’s pitched 9  2/3rds innings, given up 21 hits and only struck out 3 guys.   Ouch.  In the bullpen, both Rainey and Hoover have more walks than Ks so far.

Who’s next guy to get the call?   Honestly, it might be time to give Adams another shot.  His numbers merited the promotion moreso than Williams (who has the highest ERA in Fresno).  Next time there’s a spot start you have to think Voth is putting his name first in line.

Who’s getting the Axe?  Dragmire seems to be in trouble; he’s a MLFA re-signing so I can’t imagine the team has much invested in him, especially now that Alvarez and Espino are in the AAA rotation.


 

AA/Harrisburg 2019

Rotation: Crowe, Fedde, Sharp, Mapes, Braymer*, with  swingman/spot starts by Baez and MSanchez (who we get back after having flipped him for Jimmy Cordero on the AAA squad).

Bullpen: Bourque,  Brinley, Condra-Bogan, JMills*, RPena,  Guilbeau*, ABarrett (Bacus already promoted).  Great to see Barrett back here and hope he can re-contribute at the MLB level.

Who’s hot: Crowe and Fedde in the rotation: Crowe’s given up just 6 baserunners in his first two starts, Fedde just 7.  Mapes has an 11/1 K/BB ratio in his two starts.  In the bullpen, Barrett and Condra-Bogan have been solid.

Who’s not?  Sterling Sharp has a 6.30 ERA through 2 starts.  Bourque and Gilbeau have elevated whips but they’ve only thrown a handful of innings.

Who’s next guy to get the call?  I think Crowe may merit a promotion to AAA if he keeps this up for the rest of the month, perhaps to cover for injury or if one of our veteran guys exercises an opt-out.   We know Fedde is staying put to serve as the Nats 6th starter.

Who’s next to get the Axe?   Nobody really; Sharp has the highest ERA but he’s a solid prospect who is in AA at age 23.  We may have to keep an eye on Guilbeau; 2019 is his make-or-break season after two successive full seasons in high-A.


High-A/Potomac 2019

Rotation:  Johnston, Borne*, Tetreault, Raquet*, MPena, LReyes with swingman/spot starts by Howard*,  ALee,

bullpen:  Acevedo, Bogucki, Fuentes,   McKinney,  Bartow,

Who’s hot: Tetreault and perhaps Malvin Pena in the rotation, McKinney & Fuentes in the bullpen.

Who’s not?  Reyes’ first start was not good.   Bourne’s sporting a 2.31 whip so far.  And Howard has given up 12 hits in 6 IP.

Who’s next guy to get the call?  Nobody really screaming for a promotion so far; if you had to pick one of each i’d go with Tetrault and Fuentes (who is just 21 but has started great).

Who’s next to get the Axe?  Reyes struggled last year in AA; if he can’t get guys out this year in High-A he’s not long for the league.  Borne missed all of 2018 but is repeating a level and is now 25; its put up or shut up time.


Low-A/Hagerstown 2019

Rotation:  Alastre/Day, Adon, Cate*/Tapani, Irvin/Teel*, FPeguero/AGuillen, Strom/Stoeckinger*

bullpen:   German,  Fletcher*

Lots of “tandem” starting going on, though the roles seem to have settled into the “starter” going 4-5 and the tandem guy typically going 2-3.  So its likely at some point the tandem guys either move into starters or purely bullpen roles.

Who’s hot: Peguero and Cate.  Peguero has 10/1 K/BB in 10 IP while Cate has struck out 12 in 9.   Both the “relievers” in Hagerstown have been solid: German sporting 8 Ks and a 0.75 whip in 4 games, and Fletcher an even better 0.53 whip in 3 outings.

Who’s not? Alastre; the opening day starter has 11 walks and 12 hits given up in his 12 IP of work.  Adon’s first start was a struggle; he’ll get another crack at it tonight before passing too much judgement.

Who’s next guy to get the call? I’d promote Peguero and Fletcher first from each group.

Who’s next to get the Axe?  Alastre is only 20, but is repeating low-A with similar results to last  year.


 

XST names of interest

  • Where is Istler?    He was solid in AA and even had some AAA time last year
  • Where’s Jhon Romero?
  • Pantoja?  I wonder if he’s been released as a 25yr old and we just havn’t seen it updated on milb.com yet.

Nats 2018 Draft Class; Highlights of picks 11-40 and overall class review

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mlb-draft-2018-768x367

Another  year in the books, and another 40 guys now potentially part of the Nats organization.  Ok well really more like 32-33 new guys; that’s about how many i’d expect to sign out of this class.

We reviewed the top 10 more in-depth in the previous post since, historically, the most likely eventual MLB impact players are all top-end draft picks.  Lets zip through the rest of the draft and do some quick commentary.

  • Round 11: Frankie Bartow, U Miami’s closer.  I like this as an 11th rounder, which in today’s draft system are the first time you can grab someone of note and have a decent shot at them.  Bartow has some career accolades (freshman all-american, finalist for collegiate closer of the year, etc).  Yes he’s a college closer and that’s all he’ll be, but I like this as an 11th rounder.
  • Round 12: Graham Lawson, also an 8th/9th inning guy for South Carolina.  Not as accomplished as Bartow, but similar role.
  • Round 13: Cody Wilson, a corner OF from FAU.  Good power this year (14 homers), good speed (nearly 20 SBs).  Not a bad 12th rounder.   College Junior though so he has some leverage but it doesn’t seem like he slipped really.
  • Round 14: Aaron Fletcher.  a Senior lefty starter from U Houston.  Um, this was Houston’s Friday starter, who pitched a 4-hit, 0 earned run gem in the CWS regional opener to beat Purdue.   Why wasn’t he picked up already?  College numbers look great for a good team in a decent conference, conference pitcher of the year in 2018.  Perhaps its because he doesn’t have massive K/9 numbers.  Nonetheless, I like this pick.
  • Round 15: Evan Lee, a two-way draft eligible sophomore player for Arkansas.  Lefty reliever and a corner OF.  This is a weird one; he doesn’t have great numbers on either side of the ball, but he was an absolute beast coming out of HS (all-american on every service, Gatorade player of the state, etc).  I wonder if this is an over slot candidate.
  • Round 16: Carson Teel, College Jr lefty starter from Oklahoma State.  Entered the weekend rotation mid-season, gave them 11 starts, including getting the Win over USF in last weekend’s regional.  Decent numbers on the season skewed by one bad outing against West Virginia.  Another value pick.
  • Round 17: Ridge Chapman, coll JR mid-week starter for South Carolina; looks like a guy with some inflation in his stats; his BAA is .189 on the year but his ERA is 4.95.   He’s a Juco transfer into South Carolina and his Juco numbers were pretty impressive; perhaps an area scout remembered him from 2017 (when he was drafted late but chose not to sign).
  • Round 18: Jacob Rhinesmith, Coll Jr center fielder from Western Kentucky (which, i’d like to point out, has completely ripped off the Nats Curly-W on their uniforms…).  14  homers, 13 SBs as a center fielder?  Another Juco transfer with very gaudy 2017 numbers.  Listed as 6’1″ 195, lefty.  Maybe he sticks in center?
  • Round 19: Zach Linginfelter, RHP coll Sophomore from Tennessee.  Was in relief most of the season, then put into the rotation towards the end of the year.  Pitched well in the SEC tourney.
  • Round 20: Onix Vega, a Juco C from Broward College.  Gotta have catchers for your short season teams.

Past Round 20, I’ll just note interesting guys; see the table above for the next 20 picks fully.  From here down honestly most guys are just one-and-done short-season players.

  • Round 21: Ryan Tapani, 5th year Sr RHP from Creighton.  Looks like Creighton’s Friday starter with pretty gaudy numbers (10-1, 2.38 ERA on the year).  Just named 3rd team All-American by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper.  Son of former MLB player Kevin Tapani, a former pitcher who had more than 350 major league starts in a 13 year career. Nice 21st rounder senior sign.
  • Round 26: Colin Morse, a senior RHP from Shenandoah University by way of … McLean HS.  A local kid.  He seemed like a weekend starter for Shenandoah the last three  years, and he had starts in all four years of his career.
  • Round 30 Trey Vickers, senior SS from Wichita State.  Basically a four year starter at SS for a good baseball program.  Not flashy, but I like the career accomplishment for a higher profile program.
  • Two late round picks (Rounds 34 and 40 picks Tyler Baca and Michael Menhart both seem to be related to Nationals front-office staff (respectively,  Assistant Director of Amateur Scouting Mark Baca and Pitching Coordinator Paul Menhart).
  • Round 37 pick Cole Wilcox is an interesting throw-away pick; he was projected as a 1st rounder prior to the draft and was even tied to the Nats in some mocks, but he had a $3M price tag and so once he fell out of the 1st round he was guaranteed to go to school.  He announced his intent to honor his commitment to University of Georgia even before the Nats picked him, where he’ll be a draft eligible sophomore in two years’ time.

Its notable that every single pick the Nats had between rounds 25 and 32 (8 straight rounds) were College seniors.  And then, they ripped of five straight HS draftees from rounds 33-37, including a guy who was projected to go in the first round (Wilcox) in the 37th.   It is almost as if the team got to round 33 and was like, “eh, we’re good, pick a bunch of prep kids as favors to executives or who we have no chance of signing.”

Summary of the Draft class:

  • 23 Arms, 18 Position players, which adds up to 41 since we have a 2-way guy in Evan Lee.
  • 16 College Juniors (or draft-eligible Sophomores)
  • 14 College Seniors with no leverage
  • 3 Juco guys
  • 7 High Schoolers, 6 of which are basically throw-away picks in the late rounds.

Of the 30 4-year college guys:

  • 8 from SEC teams
  • 1 from Pac12 teams
  • 2 from ACC teams
  • 1 from Big10 teams
  • 2 from Big12 teams
  • 5 from non-major conference but still big-time Baseball programs (FAU, Houston, Sam Houston State, UConn, Wichita State)
  • 11 from smaller/non division 1 programs

Not surprisingly, a huge take from the SEC, which proved this year they’re unrivaled in terms of college baseball power.

Geographic Locations of picks:

  • 6 from Florida, 4 from Georgia
  • 4 from California, another 2 from Arizona
  • 4 From Texas, another 2 from Oklahoma and 2 from Arkansas
  • 3 from Tennessee, 2 from South Carolina and 2 from Kentucky
  • 5 from the Midwest (Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Nebraska)
  • 4 from random remaining states: one each from Connecticut, Wisconsin, Oregon and Virginia.

that’s 36 of the 40 picks from these 5 general areas.  We know that Florida, Georgia and California are the three heaviest areas for providing baseball talent, but normally we see a big focus in the Texas/Oklahoma area with our drafts.  Not this year; one quarter came from the two southeastern states this year.


 

Here’s a table with all 40 picks.

RoundOverallNamePositionCol/HSCollege or CmtmState
127Denaburg, MasonRHP (Str)HSFloridaFL
265Cate, TimLHP (Str)Coll JrUconnCT
3101Schaller, ReidRHP (Rel)Coll SoVanderbiltTN
4131Irvin, JakeRHP (Str)Coll JrOklahomaOK
5161Canning, GageOFColl JrArizona StateAZ
6191Karp, AndrewRHP (Str)Coll SrFlorida StateFL
7221Day, ChandlerRHP (Rel)Coll JrVanderbiltTN
8251Cropley, TylerCColl SrIowaIA
9281Driskill, TannerRHP (Str)Coll SrLamarTX
10311Shaddy, Carson2BColl SrArkansasAR
11341Bartow, FrankieRHP (Rel)Coll JrMiamiFL
12371Lawson, GrahamRHP (Rel)Coll JrSouth CarolinaSC
13401Wilson, CodyOF (Corner)Coll JrFlorida Atlantic UFL
14431Fletcher, AaronLHP (Str)Coll SrHoustonTX
15461Lee, EvanLHP (rel)/OFColl SoArkansasAR
16491Teel, CarsonLHP (Str)Coll JrOklahoma StateOK
17521Chapman, RidgeRHP (Str)Coll JrSouth CarolinaSC
18551Rhinesmith, JacobOF (CF)Coll JrWestern KentuckyKY
19581Linginfelter, ZachRHP (rel)Coll SoTennesseeTN
20611Vega, OnixCJC J1Broward CollegeFL
21641Tapani, RyanRHP (Str)Coll SrCreightonNB
22671Daily, ColeSSColl JrNotre DameIN
23701Hamilton, ColeCJC J1Linn Benton CCOR
24731Marinconz, KyleSSColl JrCal Poly San Luis ObispoCA
25761Vann, ChrisLHP (Str)Coll SrMercerGA
26791Morse, ColinRHP (Str)Coll SrShenandoah VA
27821O'Connor, Pablo2BColl SrAzusa Pacific UniversityCA
28851Chisolm, Blake1BColl SrSam Houston StateTX
29881Pogue, ColtonSSColl SrPittsburg State UKS
30911Vickers, TreySSColl SrWichita StateKS
31941Quintana, JonathanOFColl SrBarry UFL
32971Maley, AlecRHP (Str)Coll SrKentuckyKY
331001Haney, JackCHSCedartown HSGA
341031Baca, TylerOFHSThe Linfield School (CA)CA
351061Binelas, Alex1BHSOak Creek HS (WI)WI
361091Blessie, BoRHPHSRobert E Lee HS (TX)TX
371121Wilcox, ColeRHPHSHeritage HS (GA)GA
381151Milacki, BobbyRHPColl JrArizona Christian UAZ
391181Nardi, AndrewLHPJC J2Moorpark Col (CA)CA
401211Menhart, MichaelRHPHSRichmond Hill HSGA