Nationals Arm Race

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Ask Jesse; a just-before-the-season Mailbag

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Jake Noll looks to make the 2019 opening day roster. Photo via milb.com

Jake Noll looks to make the 2019 opening day roster. Photo via milb.com

In order to move on from my Fantasy Baseball post, here’s a mailbag that WP Nats Beat reporter Jesse Dougherty posted on 3/25/19.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2019/03/24/nationals-mailbag-regular-season-is-just-about-here/?utm_term=.e92f4a56efd8

Interesting notes here from today: the demotions of Adrian Sanchez in particular, which seems to indicate that NRI and 2016 7th round draft pick Jake Noll may very well be making this team.  Noll signed for $190k in 2016, which definitely wasn’t a senior sign/throw away pick out of FGCU, but he’s gotten absolutely zero prospect love in his career thus far.  He was ranked 26th on 2080 Baseball’s 2019 list, and got an “Honorable Mention” in John Sickel‘s post 2016 minorleaguebaseball.com list, but that’s it.  And how he’s set to be the Nats primary backup middle infielder until Howie Kendrick can return.  So great for Noll.

Questions she took and how i’d answer them:

Q: What do you think the chances are the Nats extend Rendon? I’m not too optimistic after this most recent report.

A: A good question.  I’m guessing that at this point, Anthony Rendon will head to FA.  He better have an action plan though with his agent Scott Boras, who has absolutely blown several high profile cases over the last couple of off seasons.

That being said, I’m hoping Rendon is taking a hard look at the landscape, taking a hard look at the contracts that some of his comparables are signing (Nolan Arenado 8yr/$260M for $32.5 AAV) and perhaps coming back to the table before he faces an embarassing off-season.  Rendon is a year older than Arenado, less accomplished from awards and year end recognition … and will have to eat deferred money to stay here.  Can a deal get done?

Dougherty notes that Rendon has instructed Boras to work on an extension, and they’ll work into the season.  So perhaps we’ll see something like a 6yr/$180M deal in our future with deferred dollars.

Q: How is the team preparing for having AAA players in Fresno instead of Syracuse? Any chatter from likely minor leaguers about the switch?

A: That’s a great question, one that fans like us can’t really answer other than noting the obvious: the team has “demoted” the likes of Erick Fedde and Spencer Kieboom to Harrisburg so they can be a couple hours away in case of an emergency.  Meanwhile longer-term strategic assets like Joe RossKyle McGowin, and Raudy Read are instead heading to Fresno to get stretched out or further tested against more senior competition.

Ironically, Spencer and his younger brother, phenom prospect Carter Kieboom, are both scheduled to now be in AA.  I wonder if they’ll room together 😉

Dougherty notes the same players that I do, but has little else to offer in terms of player insights.

Q: Can you talk about the OF depth issue with Michael A. Taylor’s injury and Kendrick’s? Any insight on the organization’s view of its internal outfield options? Any indications if General Manager Mike Rizzo thinks he needs to go outside the organization to address?

A: Well, it certainly didn’t help when exactly one third of the outfielders on the 40-man got hurt (Taylor and Kendrick).  So the team is breaking camp with their 3 starters and their one remaining option in Andrew Stevenson to start the season.  Depth?  The next likely guy up probably is Rafael Bautista, who was on the 40-man last  year and got DFA’d/assigned to AAA .  Our top OF prospect is probably Gage Canning, who was in short season last year.  Brian Goodwin just got released by Kansas City; maybe he’s worth taking a MLFA flier on and getting him back into the fold.   The team has added some MLFA 4-A type talents that are also sitting in AAA; my guess is that they’d go there first for a short-term fix.  If it turned out that Taylor was done for the season, may be then we’d go for an outside option.

Dougherty says that since Taylor’s injury is short term, nothing will happen, and that in-house options like Wilmer Difo and Matt Adams can cover.

Q: Jake Noll has been tearing it up in spring training, Nats’ OF depth is thin, does Jake have any experience in the OF? Could his success translate to the big leagues soon?

A: This question was a day early, given today’s press reports of Noll’s likely making the team.   So his hot spring training has definitely paid off.

I see no evidence of his playing the OF: he spent his first two pro seasons playing 2B, then split time between 1B and 3B last  year.  Conventional wisdom would seem to indicate that this level of athleticism on the dirt would translate to at least a passing ability to play LF in a pinch.  But it doesn’t seem like that’s his path for now.

Dougherty notes that Noll played some OF in high school, but he only played the three positions in which he has pro experience this spring.

Q: Do Nats fans boo Bryce on April 2?

A:  I’ve been asked this many times by my Bryce Harper hating friends.  His first AB will be a video tribute and a standing ovation.  Perhaps by the 3rd or 4th AB he may get some boos.  He’s slated to face Scherzer in the 4th game of the season on regular rest, unless the team decides to keep its rotation intact.

Dougherty seems to think the reception will be chilly.  We’ll see!  Maybe the team should sell out the stadium to traveling Philly fans to make a buck like they used to in the old days.

 

 

First Look: Quick overview of Nats top 10 Draft picks for 2018

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Mason Denaburg is our 2018 first rounder. Photo via usatodayhss.com

Mason Denaburg is our 2018 first rounder. Photo via usatodayhss.com

Here’s a first look at our top 10 draft picks, or where we stand after day 2.

At the top of round 1, the first four picks went pretty much as expected by the major pundits: Mize, Bart, Bohm, Madrigal.  From there we saw surprises, big names drop and some real value for teams later on day one.

How about the Nats picks?

RoundOverallNamePositionCol/HSCollege or CmtmState
127Denaburg, MasonRHPHSFloridaFL
265Cate, TimLHPColl JrUconnCT
3101Schaller, ReidRHPColl SoVanderbiltTN
4131Irvin, JakeRHPColl JrOklahomaOK
5161Canning, GageOFColl JrArizona StateAZ
6191Karp, AndrewRHPColl SrFlorida StateFL
7221Day, ChandlerRHPColl JrVanderbiltTN
8251Cropley, TylerCColl SrIowaIA
9281Driskill, TannerRHPColl SrLamarTX
10311Shaddy, Carson2BColl SrU Arkansas FayettevilleAR

Pick by Pick:  I’ve included draft board rankings if they’re ranked on the main prospect ranking sites I like (see links at bottom for the sources);

  • 1st Round/#27 overall: Mason Denaburg, prep RHP from FL high school with Florida commit. (#29 ESPN/Law, #24 MLBpipeline, #16 Fangraphs, #69 BDR, #13 20/80).  Draft Announcement link.  Mid-1st round pick before a bicep tendinitis issue dropped him to the point where most every major draft pundit was predicting the Nats would grab him.   Under-18 Team USA member.   This pick is consistent with the behavior we saw when the team selected Lucas Giolito; high-value guy getting picked about 15 spots lower than he should have.  Look for an over-slot bonus here to buy him out of his Florida committment/make up for his falling on the boards.  I like this pick; his fastball is mid-90s and lively, his mechanics are clean and easy, and his curve breaks very hard.   A nice profile with some good video is at Minorleagueball.com here.  A couple of the draft ranking boards really rated Denaburg, while others had him ranked about where he went.
  • 2nd Round/#65 overall: Tim Cate, LHP coll Jr from UConn. (#65 ESPN/Law, #62 MLBpipeline, #80 Fangraphs, #57 BDR, #79 20/80 ).  Draft announcement link.  pick I like: Cate missed time this year with an injury, which again cost him slots.  So the Nats get a guy perhaps a round early, tough to do in the second round.  I think this is a solid pick; he was on Team USA last summer at the same time Denaburg was on the under-18 squad.  The various rankings are all projecting him 2nd to 3rd round, the Nats picked him at #65 so that’s right in-line with projections.
  • 3rd Round/#101: Reid Schaller RHP Coll Soph from Vanderbilt (#71 ESPN/Law, #157 MLBPipeline); Vanderbilt reliever red-shirt freshman/sophomore who missed two whole years with TJ surgery … but sits mid 90s, hits 99 and pitched out of Vanderbilt’s bullpen this year.  36Ks in 26 innings, big arm but got hit this year.  Law is bullish on him and I wonder if he’s destined for the rotation or the pen.  As a red-shirt freshman I wonder if he’s signable: doe he want more time at school?  Of course, in today’s world, teams call ahead and basically ask a kid, “will you sign for $X?”  and if they say yes, they get picked.  This definitely isn’t a throw-away pick, but may be destined quickly for the bullpen.
  • 4th Round/#131: Jake Irvin, RHP Coll Jr. from Oklahoma (#76 ESPN/Law, #152 MLBPipeline): Oklahoma’s friday starter is huge (6’6″), sits in low 90s and had an excellent junior year.  No injury history, just a solid college guy with a high floor but low ceiling.
  • 5th Round/#161: Gage Canning OF (CF) Coll JR. from Arizona State (#106 MLBPipeline).  3-year starter with solid numbers at Arizona State, moved to CF this year from the corner.  Slashed .369/.426/.648 in the Pac-12 (a good but not SEC-level baseball conference).   Lots of Ks though; nearly one a game in college, which would be fine if it was accompanied by more homers.
  • 6th Round/#191: Andrew Karp, RHP Coll Sr From Florida State (NR).  Weekend starter for #7 CWS seeded Florida State with decent numbers on the year.  A College senior but I don’t think this is a dumped draft pick; perhaps he goes under-slot somewhat but he looks like a solid pick here.  Not ranked/rated anywhere but you’re not a weekend starter for a top-10 team unless you’re good.
  •  7th Round: #221: Chandler Day, RHP Coll Jr from Vanderbilt (NR).  Used kind of as a swing man by Vandy this year (he had 3 starts and 18 appearances), again with decent numbers.   Little else known; not ranked/discussed by the regular scouting circuits.
  • 8th Round/#251: Tyler Cropley, C Coll Sr from Iowa.  This one screams senior sign/bonus savings/make sure you get a catcher for your Short-A team.
  • 9th Round/#281: Tanner Driskill, RHP  Coll Sr from Lamar University in Texas.  Another low-leverage senior, but he was Lamar’s friday starter for most of the second half of this year.  I’ll take an Ace senior sign/9th rounder any day.
  • 10 Round/#311: Carson Shaddy, 2B Coll Sr from U Arkansas-Fayetteville.  Similar to Cropley, a senior sign middle infielder type for your Auburn 2018 squad.

First 10 rounds worth of picks breakdown:

  • 7 arms, 3 position player.perhaps
  • 9 college (0 juco), 1 high schooler.
  • At least 3 money-saving senior sign picks: their 8th, 9th and 10th rounders.
  • Heavy influence from major college programs: Florida, two from Vanderbilt, Oklahoma, Arizona State, Florida State.

Conclusion: I liked the first two picks.  There were some more “famous” names available/on the board at #27 that some may have preferred, but the Nats clearly rated Denaburg as a value pick and got good value on him.  I like the Tate pick; a team-USA guy in the second round who has good stuff.  I like the 3rd rounder for value; big arm, not a ton of mileage, and I like getting a big-time team’s friday starter in the 4th round; it reminds me of their A.J. Morris pick a few years back in the same position.  They also picked up a weekend starter for a top-10 ACC team and the friday-ace for a smaller Texas team.

What do you guys think of it?


Draft Links of Use

  1. Mlbpipeline’s Draft Tracker for 2018 for the Nats picks.
  2. All 10 rounds of slot bonus figures for 2018
  3. BA’s draft database with search options by team, state, etc.
  4. Perfect Game to get profiles on more obscure draftees.

Draft Rankings referred to within here: