Nationals Arm Race

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

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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.

 

Auburn Roster Announced … First look at the Pitchers

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Auburn-Doubledays

The Nats havn’t (as of the moment of publishing this post) announced any 2017 class signings … but they did on 6/19/17 post a slew of transactions to the New York Penn League transactions page, which included (nearly) their entire pitching staff.  Those transactions coupled with the official posting of the Auburn roster on their twitter page (@Doubledays if you’re not following) confirm the opening day roster for the Auburn Short-season squad.

Lets take a quick look at who made it, who didn’t, and who might be in line to be in the “rotation” as much as they generally follow a rotation in Short-A.  In alphabetical order, lets look at the arms, where they came from and where they may slot in:

  • Tomas Alastre, 19.  RHP 2015 IFA signing (Venezuela).  Was in the GCL in 2016, where he threw 19 innings in total and had an ERA north of 5.00.  Young for Short A as a 19-yr old.
  • Joseph Baltrip, 22.  RHP 2016 24th round pick out of Juco.  Was in GCL last year, working as a late-inning reliever with good results (1.36 ERA).  Likely the closer or close to it.
  • Jake Barnett , 22.  LHP 2016 20th rounder out of  Lewis-Clark State.  Only thew 5 innings last year but didn’t hit the D/L; should be interesting to see what he does in 2017.
  • Ben Braymer, 23.  LHP 2016 18th rounder out of Auburn.   Also in GCL last  year, 19IP in 10 appearances.  Likely a reliever.
  • Gilberto Chu 19.  LHP 2015 IFA signing (Panama).  Last 2 seasons in DSL, last year he started.
  • Matthew DeRosier 22, RHP 2013 24th round pick out of Southwestern College.  5 pro season, he started the year with Hagerstown but got bombed so this is a demotion.  This will be the 4th year he’s appeared in Auburn.  He was a young Juco draftee, so he’s not terribly old for the level … but in his 5 pro season he should be further along.
  • Diomedes Eusebio 24, RHP 2010 IFA Signing (DR).  Was a hitter for his first 5 pro seasons, now converting to the mound.  This will be his 2nd full season on the hill; he had a 5.01 ERA in 14 relief innings in the GCL last year.
  • Jhonatan German 22, RHP 2015 IFA signing (DR).  Reliever in the GCL last year with mediocre numbers.
  • Angel Guillen 20, RHP 2013 IFA signing (Venezuela).  Pitched the last three years in the DSL, last year starting and posting a stellar 1.67 ERA.
  • Malvin Pena 19yr old RHP 2014 IFA signing (DR).  Pitched in DSL last two years; he seemed to have a serious injury though because he was on the 60-day D/L both years.
  • Jonny Reid 21yr old LHP 2016 28th rounder out of Azusa Pacific.  Got promoted from GCL->Short-A last year, starts in Auburn again.
  • Michael Rishwain 22yr old RHP 2016 23rd rounder out of Westmont College.  Solid middle relief numbers for GCL last year.
  • Felix Taveras 21yr old 2014 IFA signing (DR).  Starter the last two seasons in the DSL with bad ERA but good K/9 numbers.

Kylin Turnbull, who is now 27, who has been kicking around the system since being drafted in the 4th round in 2011 and who hasn’t thrown a pro pitch since August 27th, 2014, is assigned for rehab.  I suppose he’ll be in the mix for starts as well.

Two additional names (Chase McDowell and Michael Sylvestri) are on the roster but listed as restricted; I believe both retired two seasons ago but are still in the database.

Likely rotation: Alastre, Barnett, Chu, Guillen, Taveras, Turnbull

Likely Bullpen: Baltrip as a closer, Braymer and Reid as loogies, DeRosier, Eusebio, German, MPena, Rishwain as RHP middle relievers.

Roster Breakdown (not counting Turnbull or the Restricted guys):

  • Seven IFAs and Six US-based draftees
  • The seven IFAs: 4 from the Dominican Republic, 2 from Venezuela, 1 from Panama
  • The 6 draftees: 5 of them are 2016 draftees and the earliest round drafted is the 18th round.  All low-round, low-expectation arms.
  • Ages: three 19yr old IFAs, mostly 21-23yr old college guys.  The oldest guy is an 24yr old IFA converting to the mound.

Now for the names that didn’t make this team but who were on Auburn’s staff last year or who were signed in the off-season and assigned to Auburn; you have to believe their days are numbered at this point, given that the team just drafted a ridiculous number of college arms in the 2017 draft (review to come).

  • Wilber Pena: just 14IP last year for Auburn with a 6.75ERA; might be hurt.
  • Yoan Aponte: signed in Nov 2016 and assigned to Auburn; no pro appearances yet.
  • Angher Cespedes; was released a few weeks ago.
  • Johan Gomez: signed in Mar 2017 and assigned to Auburn; already 23 so seems too old to go to GCL; may languish in XST.
  • Kevin Mooney: UMaryland closer repeated Auburn in 2016 and didn’t make Hagerstown roster.  He hasn’t been released  yet but he doesn’t seem like a safe bet to carry on further.

There’s a slew of other names that I had associated with the GCL who might be in the same boat: We’ll go over them when we do this post for the GCL.

The posting of this roster now makes me wonder just where they plan on starting all these college arms, especially the higher profile guys.  Seth Romero and Wil Crowe are way, way too good to go to the GCL, and Romero needs innings after missing half the season this spring.  Do they both go straight to Hagerstown?  We’ll see.