Nationals Arm Race

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

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Keith Law’s Nats Top 20 Prospect list

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Andry Lara continues to get attention out of the Nat’s system. Photo via Baseball America

Keith Law, over on the Athletic, released his Washington Nationals top 20 analysis yesterday. I like Law’s analysis, and realize that his opinions can be a bit polarizing, but I thought i’d run through his list and provide some analysis in spots where he differed greatly from other pundits in the space.

By this point in the “prospect analysis season” we’ve seen Nats run-throughs from Baseball America, Prospect361, MLBpipeline’s preliminary list, Prospects 1500, Bleacher Report, Baseball Prospectus, and now Keith Law. Still waiting for a couple other big names to drop (Mlbpipeline’s final list, ESPN, and Fangraphs), all of which should be coming in the next week ro so, but we’re starting to see some standardization of the lists.

Law’s ranking is “ceiling over floor” (meaning he likes younger prospects with growth potential versus older prospects who may be limited in terms of future impact). He’s definitely starter over reliever (its kind of surprising to ever see him rank a reliever) and premium defensive position over corner. So, there’s some surprises on this list.

The Athletic is behind a paywall, so here’s the list.

1CavalliCade
2RutledgeJackson
3HenryCole
4LaraAndry
5QuintanaRoismar
6DenaburgMason
7RomeroSeth
8CateTim
9CroninMatt
10De La RosaJeremy
11AntunaYasel
12InfanteSamuel
13MarteDaniel
14PinedaIsrael
15AdonJoan
16IrvinJake
17LeeEvan
18FuentesSteven
19ViandelPena
20SanchezBryan

Thoughts on his rankings:

  • Same top 3 as nearly all other pundits, in the expected order of Cavalli, Rutledge, Henry. I’d like to point out that the best-case projection for these three guys is a heck of a trio of arms to pair with Strasburg and Corbin for a few years at the back-end of their long term contracts. I mean, there’s worse situations to be in. Especially if all three are pitching in the majors on pre-arb contracts.
  • Andry Lara at #4: this is about where others are now putting him; the video on him is pretty impressive. Effortless delivery, almost like Livan Hernandez but with velocity, and side-stuff.
  • He has Roismar Quintana all the way up to #5, way way higher than anyone else (Baseball America had Quintana at #20 and most others have him in the mid-teens). This exemplifies ceiling over floor approach to prospect grading to a T.
  • He’s got our two high-profile 1st round scuffles in Denaburg and Romero back to back, fittingly. Question; at what point does a prospect write-up of Romero NOT mention that he’s got “off-the-field” issues? I daresay i have not read a paragraph about the player since the day we drafted him that did not include that caveat. I wonder if he makes the majors and pitches for us for several years and then when we hear about his first arbitration hearing if the write-ups will go, “… Romero pitched adequately out of the nats bullpen in 2026 … he’s come a long way since getting kicked off his college team!” sigh.
  • Law has Antuna all the way down at #11 (by way of comparison, BA has him #4 and Prospects1500 has him at #2, which may be influenced by fantasy value since he’s now on the 40-man and might get big league time in 2021). I think Law dings him because he doesn’t think Antuna can stick at a premium defensive position … which greatly hurts his value unless he can show 25-homer power.
  • Despite having TJ surgery, Law has Jake Irvin all the way up to #16, noting that he was showing significantly higher velocity before blowing out his elbow (do you think maybe the two events are related?) Nonetheless, if Irvin comes back with a new elbow and the same velocity, he’s a significantly better prospect.
  • Evan Lee at #17 … that’s definitely optimistic on Lee.
  • Bryan Sanchez at #20 and now we know why; 3,000 rpm on his curve ball right now to go with mid 90s velocity?? As an 18yr old? Wow.

A couple other notes:

  • Cluff and Mendoza were BA’s #10 and #11 … and Law doesn’t even have them in his top 20.
  • No mention of Tres Barrera who is mid-teens in most other groups, not even in his honorable mentions.
  • Lastly, he drops a name i’ve never heard before: Mirton Blanco. Turns out he’s an 2018 IFA who threw in the DSL in 2019 with pretty solid velocity before blowing out his elbow too. Seems like a trend.

Pundits all Agree (so far): Washington farm system dead last

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It is prospect ranking season, and the regular shops are starting to publish their pre-2021 organizational system ranks, analyzing the prospect depth each system has. And nearly across the board, all the pundits seem to agree on one thing:

Washington has the worst farm system in the game.

Here’s a quick one-paragraph overview of the system from each pundit, so you can gauge what they’re saying about us.


Mlbpipeline.com/Jim Callis/Jonathan Mayo Farm systems mid-season 2020 9/1/20. Nats Ranked 30th.

“The Nationals have tapped into their farm more than ever this year, assigning Kieboom to their Opening Day roster and promoting prospects such as Luis García, Wil Crowe and Seth Romero within the season’s first month. The organization won’t have a Top 100 prospect after Kieboom graduates, though right-handers Jackson Rutledge and Cade Cavalli, Washington’s first-round picks in 2019 and ‘20, both are future Top 100 candidates.”

(Note: this is from Sept 1st, before the Crowe trade, but it was the first time that MLBpipeline had dumped the Nats to the bottom. They’ll be re-issuing their rankings for players and systems within the month).


Joel Reuter/Bleacher Report 2021 Farm system ranking Jan 2021: Nats ranked 30th

Farm System Snapshot: With infielders Carter Kieboom and Luis Garcia moving on to the majors and pitchers Wil Crowe and Eddy Yean traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the Josh Bell deal, the Washington Nationals system is down four top prospects from the last time these rankings were updated—when they also claimed the No. 30 spot. The front office has invested first-round picks in Mason Denaburg (No. 27 in 2018), Jackson Rutledge (No. 17 in 2019) and Cade Cavalli (No. 22 in 2020), and that trio now represents the best of baseball’s thinnest farm system.

Keith Law/The Athletic Pre 2021 Farm system ranking Feb21. Nats ranked 30th

“The Nats won the World Series in 2019, and as is often the case with teams that do so, they spent a lot of their prospect capital to get there. They’ve traded prospects, drafted lower in the first round and given up some picks for free agents. Their international scouting department has been very aggressive under the new system, however, and the Nats’ system could look a whole lot better in a year if all of their teenage Latin American prospects get a chance to play and show us if their abilities line up with their tools. “


Prospects1500/Jacob Swain Rankings Feb 2021. Nats ranked 30th

” Even though the Nats farm system ranks at or very near the bottom, there is some promise on the horizon. Several of their prospects could see themselves in consideration to be included in Top 100 lists by mid-season. -Jacob Swain (@jacob_swain3) “

Baseball America Farm system Rankings Feb 2021. Nats Ranked 30th

“The last time the Nationals were dead last in our talent rankings (2008), they were trying to dig out from the everything-must-go mentality of the final years of the Expos. This time they are recovering from winning a World Series in 2019. Thinning a farm system to win a World Series is a much more enjoyable reason than thinning a system because of potential contraction. “


ESPN/Kiley McDaniel Rankings 2/13/21. Nats Ranked 30th.

The Nats are perennially in an unusual position: a bottom-five farm system with a number of big league stars who have come through that system. The system has produced Stephen StrasburgJuan SotoAnthony RendonBryce Harper and Victor Robles, along with a brief stop from Trea Turner, and this is largely because (or why) the Nats target upside in the amateur markets. Righties Jackson Rutledge and Cade Cavalli are their past two first-round picks and have frontline potential at the top of the system.

The other side of this coin is graduating prospects to the big leagues (two top-100 members from last year in potential stars Carter Kieboom and Luis Garcia) and trading midtier prospects for big league help (Wil Crowe and Eddy Yean for Josh Bell).


Major shops Still to publish: Baseball Prospectus, MLBPipeline’s updated rankings, Fangraphs, and MILB.com. I’ll probably post another iteration of this post when these guys publish, to put their take up as well.

Written by Todd Boss

February 11th, 2021 at 11:10 am

Nats announce Affiliates!

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Getting the jump on the MLB’s larger 120-team announcement, the team announced officially who our four official affiliates will be. There had been much curiosity and speculation on the Nat’s affiliates in general, thanks to the forced Axing of Hagerstown and the general

Per the CurlyW official nats team blog this morning, we know that the team will be sending its prospects to:

  • AAA: Rochester Red Wings
  • AA: Harrisburg Senators
  • High-A: Wilmington Blue Rocks
  • Low-A: Fredericksburg Nationals

    The Rookie league team continues to be the GCL Nats out of our Spring Training complex, and we continue to have a DSL team.

My initial reactions to each team officially being named is:

  • AAA: Thank gosh they’re finally on the east coast, and finally in a league where they can develop minor leaguers. Now when we send a pitcher to AAA we can know for sure that a 6.00 ERA is actually “bad” and not just an off-shoot of the ridiculous elevation and hitters parks.
  • AA; our longest affiliation continues, and i’m happy for it. In an ideal world we’d be talking Richmond here, but Harrisburg is a great spot as well.
  • High-A: Can’t complain too much with Wilmington; its nearly as close as Harrisburg to the home base. I was selfishly hoping for Lynchburg, but I’m guessing they will be dumped to Low-A as well, and clearly MLB doesn’t rate Fredericksburg as a High-A city.
  • Low-A: well, they can’t be happy about dumping down a level (but should look no further than what Fresno is being forced to do before swallowing and saying ok), but i’m glad they’re still around.

One interesting side note to going to Wilmington is this: it is the park closest to Keith Law, one of the leading independent scouting/prospect guys out there, so that means he’ll be seeing lots of our guys and we’ll have more analysis to show for it.

As I was writing this, BA released the full 119 team list , with Fresno holding out and confirmation that Lynchburg got dropped a level.

Lastly, fun facts about our affiliate history. Here they are dating to 2000

YearAAAAAhigh-Alow-Ashort-ArookieDSL 1DSL 2
2021RochesterHarrisburgWilmingtonFredericksburg(disbanded)GCL NationalsDSL Nationals
2020FresnoHarrisburgFredericksburgHagerstownAuburnGCL NationalsDSL Nationals
2019FresnoHarrisburgPotomacHagerstownAuburnGCL NationalsDSL Nationals
2018SyracuseHarrisburgPotomacHagerstownAuburnGCL NationalsDSL Nationals
2017SyracuseHarrisburgPotomacHagerstownAuburnGCL NationalsDSL Nationals
2016SyracuseHarrisburgPotomacHagerstownAuburnGCL NationalsDSL Nationals
2015SyracuseHarrisburgPotomacHagerstownAuburnGCL NationalsDSL Nationals
2014SyracuseHarrisburgPotomacHagerstownAuburnGCL NationalsDSL Nationals
2013SyracuseHarrisburgPotomacHagerstownAuburnGCL NationalsDSL Nationals
2012SyracuseHarrisburgPotomacHagerstownAuburnGCL NationalsDSL Nationals
2011SyracuseHarrisburgPotomacHagerstownAuburnGCL NationalsDSL Nationals
2010SyracuseHarrisburgPotomacHagerstownVermontGCL NationalsDSL Nationals
2009SyracuseHarrisburgPotomacHagerstownVermontGCL NationalsDSL Nationals
2008ColumbusHarrisburgPotomacHagerstownVermontGCL NationalsDSL Nationals DSL Nationals 2
2007ColumbusHarrisburgPotomacHagerstownVermontGCL NationalsDSL Nationals DSL Nationals 2
2006New OrleansHarrisburgPotomacSavannahVermontGCL NationalsDSL Nationals DSL Nationals 2
2005New OrleansHarrisburgPotomacSavannahVermontGCL NationalsDSL Nationals
2004EdmontonHarrisburgBrevard CountySavannahVermontGCL ExposDSL Nationals
2003EdmontonHarrisburgBrevard CountySavannahVermontGCL Expos(no team)
2002OttawaHarrisburgBrevard CountyClintonVermontGCL ExposDSL Nationals
2001OttawaHarrisburgJupiterClintonVermontGCL ExposDSL Nationals
2000OttawaHarrisburgJupiterCape FearVermontGCL ExposDSL Nationals

Rochester is our 5th AAA affiliate since moving to DC. Harrisburg has been solidly our AA team since before the move. Potomac/Fredericksburg moved with the team and continue their relationship. It’s kind of interesting to see the pre-Nats machinations/locations just before moving as well.

Written by Todd Boss

December 9th, 2020 at 12:39 pm

Baseball America pre-season 2021 top-10 list reactions

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Cade Cavalli named #1 prospect in the system by BA. Photo via Lookout Landing blog

Baseball America dropped the first off-season ranking of prospects for the Nats on 11/20/20 and, well, it was interesting.

Click here for the top 10 and their list of “best tools” for the system. It might be behind a paywall. If not that, then a quick chat with BA’s Lucy Lusk provides some insight on the list as well.

The last time we got any appreciable updated rankings was MLBpipeline’s end-of-the-season look at the system with the slew of 2020 graduates/call-ups removed. Technically MLBPipeline’s list is a running dynamic update, not a static list as of that moment in time, but I capture them as major updates occur for tracking.

Nonetheless, the two orgs definitely have different viewpoints on the top of the Nat’s farm system. Lets talk about some of BA’s conclusions.

  • BA has Cade Cavalli ahead of Jackson Rutledge at the top. I find this kind of interesting, given that Rutledge is younger, had pro ball experience in 2019, was in the 60-man pool along with Cavalli, and was a 1st round pick just like Cade.
  • Furthermore, in BA’s “best tools” they list Rutledge as having the best fastball AND the best slider. So, unless Rutledge literally doesn’t have a 3rd pitch, and his first two are the system best … not sure how he’s not #1 over Cavalli.
  • Therefore, Cavalli must really, really be promising, or have some pretty amazing secondary stuff.
  • Tim Cate: best curve AND best control. All he’s done since they drafted him was win. I think he’s an excellent 3rd or 4th starter in the making for this team in a couple years.
  • BA is amazingly bullish on Yasel Antuna. They list him as having the best hitter for average AND the best power hitter?? For a SS currently listed as 6’0″ 170? Well, no wonder the Nats just protected him on the 40-man. This is also a big change in BA’s opinion of him just from July, when they ranked him 12th in the org. The BA staff think Antuna is nearly top 100 material. They like him more as a 2B/3B option versus SS, with the thinking that maybe the infield goes Carter Kieboom, Luis Garcia, Antuna and a FA bopper at 1st. Hey; if Kieboom can learn how to hit, i’m all for that.
  • They have soured fast on Wil Crowe, dumping him to 10th in the system. MLBpipeline has him 3rd right now just after the two big 1st round arms. He made three starts in 2020, got shelled in all three, gave up 5 homers in 8 1/3rd innings … does that mean the jury is now out on Crowe forever?
  • They’re quite bullish on Jeremy De La Rosa, having him ranked 6th when most shops have him in the teens. Only other pundit anywhere close on De La Rosa is Keith Law, who had him 8th last spring. I mean, he did get invited to the 60-man roster as an 18yr old … quite a statement. Maybe we have another Juan Soto on our hands.
  • Lastly, in their tools section they give “Best Athlete,” “Fastest Baserunner” and “Best Defensive Outfielder” all to the same guy: Cody Wilson. Looks like the next Andrew Stevenson.

2020 Draft Coverage: Mock Draft Mania and Nats Prediction

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I collect Mock Drafts in baseball.  The first of these I found this year was the day after the 2019 draft, then the next was in early Oct right after the final 2020 draft order was finalized.  These early ones are pretty crazy; so much can change (especially with prep players) in a year’s time that the early projections are mostly useless.  But, they’re also interesting to see how player rise and fall on draft boards over the course of a year.

I’ll keep adding to this list as Mocks come in; they’re generated all the way up to the day of the draft by the major pundits.  If i’m missing a ranking here, please let me know.

 


Here’s the Mock draft collection.  I’ve generally listed their top-5 and then who they project the Nats to take at #22 (if they project out that far).  this year i’m ordering them Chronologically as rec’d instead of grouping by pundit…. this should let us see kind of an evolution of the top of the draft.  Players are bolded the first time they’re mentioned, not again afterwards.

  • Baseball America (Carlos Collazo/Teddy Cahill): July 2019 Way-too-Early Mock DraftEmerson Hancock, Spencer Torkelson, Pete Crow-Armstrong, Austin Martin, Patrick Bailey
  • Baseball America (Carlos Collazo) Oct 2019 Draft Order finalization Mock: Austin Martin, Torkelson, Hancock, Nick Gonzales, Asa Lacy.
  • Baseball America (Carlos Collazo) Jan 2020 Mock: Martin, Hancock, Torkelson, Gonzales, Lacy.  Nats take Heston Kjerstad, Arkansas corner OF.
  • Baseball America (Carlos Collazo) Feb 2020 Mock v2.0: Martin, Torkelson, Lacy, Gonzales, Hancock.  Nats take Ed Howard, prep OF from Illinois.
  • CBSSports (Mike Axisa): apr 2020 mock: Martin, Gonzales, Torkelson, Hancock, Lacy.  Nats take J.T. Ginn, who blew out arm one start into 2020.
  • Baseball America (Carlos Collazo) April 2020 Mock: Torkelson, Martin, Lacy, Gonzales, Hancock.  Nats take Ginn.
  • ESPN (Kiley McDaniel) 5/13/20 Mock draft: Torkelson, Martin, Lacy, Hancock, Zack Veen,  Nats take Cole Wilcox.
  • The Athletic (Keith Law) 5/13/20 Mock Draft 1.0: Torkelson, Martin, Lacy, Veen, Hancock.   Nats also taking Wilcox
  • Baseball America (Carlos Collazo) 5/13/20 Mock draft: Torkelson, Martin, Lacy, Gonzales, Hancock.  Nats taking Slade Cecconi, a RHP from uMiami
  • MLB.com (Jim Callis): 5/13/20 Mock draft: Torkelson, Martin, Lacy, Hancock, Veen.  Nats taking Cecconi
  • CBSSports (Mike Axisa): 5/29/20 Mock draft: Torkelson, Martin, Lacy, Hancock, Meyer.  Nats still on Ginn
  • Baseball America (Carlos Collazo5/27/20 Mock Draft v5.0: Torkelson, Martin, Lacy, Veen, Gonzales.  Nats taking Jared Kelley, a prep RHP from Texas HS.
  • ESPN (Kiley McDaniel5/26/20 Mock 2.0: Torkelson, Martin, Lacy, VeenMax Meyer.  Nats still on Wilcox.
  • Fangraphs (Eric Longenhagen) 5/27/20 Mock 1.0: Torkelson, Lacy, Martin, Gonzales, Meyer.  Nats on Wilcox.
  • MLB.com (Jim Callis): 5/27/20 Mock draft: Torkelson, Martin, Lacy, Gonzales, Veen.  Nats taking Clayton Beeter, RHP, Texas Tech
  • Athletic (Keith Law) 5/28/20 Mock 2.0: Torkelson, Martin, Lacy, Veen, Hancock.  Nats on Wilcox
  • Radio.com (Tim Kelly) 6/1/20 Mock Draft: Torkelson, Martin, Lacy, Veen, Meyer.  Nats on Justin Foscue, 2B Mississippi State
  • CBSSports (Mike Axisa): 6/1/20 mock: Torkelson, Martin, Lacy, Veen, Hancock.  Nats still on Ginn
  • Athletic (Keith Law) 6/3/20 Mock 3.0: Torkelson, Martin, Lacy, Veen, Hancock.  Nats on Wilcox again (Garrett Crochet if Wilcox goes early)
  • Baseball America (Carlos Collazo) 6/3/20 Mock Draft v6.0 ; Torkelson, Veen, Lacy, Martin, Hancock.  Nats on Foscue.
  • MLB.com (Jonathan Mayo) 6/4/20 mock: Torkelson, Martin, Lacy, Gonzales, Meyer.  Nats on Cecconi (with a Wilcox caveat)
  • BA Staff Mock Draft 6/4/20: Torkelson, Martin, Lacy, Hancock, Veen.  Nats take Dillon Dingler, C from Ohio State.
  • Bleacher Report (Joe Tansy) 6/4/20 mock: Torkelson, Martin, Lacy, Veen, Hancock.  Nats taking Wilcox
  • Prospect365 (Ian Smith) 6/6/20 Mock Draft 2.0:  Torkelson, Martin, Lacy, Veen, Hancock.  Nats on Dingler
  • Fangraphs (Eric Longenhagen) Mock 2.0 6/8/20: Torkelson, Martin, Lacy, Veen, Meyer.  Nats take Wilcox but he says this is Crochet’s floor
  • CBSSports (Mike Axisa): 6/8/20 mock: Torkelson, Martin, Lacy, Veen, Hancock.   Nats still taking Ginn (4th straight Axisa mock with them taking Ginn)
  • Prospect365 (Mason McCrae) 6/8/20 Mock Draft v9.0: Torkelson, Martin, Lacy, Veen, Hancock.  Nats on Wilcox
  • Baseball America (Carlos Collazo) 6/8/20 Mock Draft v7.0 ; Torkelson, Martin, Lacy,  Veen, Meyer.  Nats on Wilcox.
  • Radio.com (Tim Kelly6/8/20  final Mock Draft: Torkelson, Martin, Lacy, Veen, Meyer.  Nats on Foscue.
  • Yahoo Sports (Matt Weyrich) 6/9/20 Mock draft: Torkelson, Martin, Lacy, Veen, Meyer.  Nats take Wilcox
  • DraftSite.com Mock Drafting site latest Mock: Torkelson, Martin, Lacy, Veen, Gonzales.  Nats take Wilcox
  • RotoBaller.com (Marc Hulet) 6/9/20 mock: Veen, Martin, Lacy, Torkelson, Meyer.  Nats take Ed Howard, SS, Illinois HS (this mock really is hard to take seriously)
  • D1Baseball staff 6/9/20 Final Mock draft: Torkelson, Martin, Lacy, Gonzales, Veen.  Nats take Ginn.
  • 20/80 Baseball (Nick Faleras/Burke Granger) 6/9/20 mock draft: Torkelson, Martin, Lacy, Gonzales, Meyer.  Nats take Carmen Mlodzinski, RHP, South Carolina
  • FanSided 6/10/20  Simulated Draft: Torkelson, Lacy, Martin, Gonzales, Veen.  Nats take Tyler Soderstrom, C, Turlock High School (CA) (mock draft done by bloggers representing teams)
  • BleacherReport (Joel Reuter) 6/10/20 final mock: Torkelson, Martin, Lacy,  Veen, Meyer.  Nats on Wilcox
  • TSN (Scott Mitchell) 6/10/20 final mock: Torkelson, Martin, Lacy, Gonzales, Veen.  Nats taking Casey Martin, SS Arkansas
  • 20/80 Baseball (Nick Faleras/Burke Granger6/10/20 final mock draft: Torkelson, Martin, Lacy, Veen, Meyer.  Nats on Wilcox

Final Mocks per major pundit

  • The Athletic (Keith Law6/10/20 Final Mock: Torkelson, Martin, Lacy, Veen, Meyer.  Nats on Wilcox again (but picking Mick Abel if he’s available)
  • CBSSports (Mike Axisa): 6/9/20 final mock: Torkelson, Martin, Lacy, Veen, Hancock.   Nats still taking Ginn (no last minute changes from  his 6/8/20 mock)
  • MLBpipeline (Jonathan Mayo) 6/10/20 final mock draft: Torkelson, Martin, Lacy, Veen, Meyer.  Nats on Bobby Miller, RHP Louisville as a fall-back if preferred arms don’t fall.
  • MLBpipeline (Jim Callis6/10/20 final mock draft: Torkelson, Martin, Lacy, Veen, Meyer.  Nats on Bryce Jarvis, RHP Duke as a fall-back if the likes of Wilcox, Beeter unavailable.
  • ESPN (Kiley McDaniel) 6/10/20 final mock draft: Torkelson, Martin, Lacy, Hancock, Meyer,  Nats take Austin Hendrick, prep OF from PA HS.
  • Baseball America (Carlos Collazo6/10/20 final Mock Draft v8.0 ; Torkelson, Martin, Lacy,  Veen, Meyer.  Nats on Wilcox.
  • Fangraphs (Eric LongenhagenMock 3.0 6/10/20: Torkelson, Martin, Lacy, Veen, Meyer.  Nats take Wilcox but he says other Boras guys make sense too.

 

Mock draft posters from past years who didn’t seem to do one this year.:

  • D1Baseball (Frankie Piliere); took a job with Seattle, no longer at d1baseball.
  • HeroSports.com (Christopher Crawford); moved to nbcsports/roto world, now focused only on fantasy impact.
  • MinorleagueBall.com (John Sickels); moved to TheAthletic, site dead.
  • SI.com (Jay Jaffe), now with Fangraphs, so probably not doing prospect work anymore.
  • Baseball America (John Manuel): seems to have passed the torch at BA to Collazo
  • Baseball Draft Report (Rob Ozga); Last post was Sept 2018; out of business?
  • Seedlings to the Stars/Calltothepen.com: main writer left to form Video Baseball Scout.
  • Prospect Digest (Joseph Werner); hasn’t covered the draft since 2018
  • Video Baseball Scout; no mocks in 2020 after a bunch in 2019
  • SportingNews.com (Joe Rivera): didn’t do his own mock; cut and pasted mocks from Law, Callis, Axisa

Draft Rankings: these are prospect ranking lists, NOT mock drafts.

Past prospect rankers that are not doing ranks this year

  • Baseball Draft Report (Rob Ozga); stopped writing sept 2018, one cryptic post in July 2019, seems like he was working for a team but no new content.
  • Video Baseball Scout; no rankings for 2020; site may have died
  • MinorLeagueBall.com site dead, John Sickels now at the Athletic

 

Todd Boss’ Mock draft top-5 prediction?

My top 5 prediction: Torkelson, Martin, Lacy, Veen, Hancock.  I think Veen sneaks in and Gonzales falls out of the top 5, making someone in the 6-7 range very happy.

Who are the Nats going to take at #22?

We’ve talked about this a lot in the comments, but i’ll summarize my thoughts.  Here’s what the Nats like to take in the 1st round:

  • College
  • College Arm
  • College Arm from either Texas/Oklahoma area or a SEC arm
  • College Arm who was higher ranked earlier in the process but has fallen for some reason (injury, discipline) so they think they can get “value”
  • College arm who is advised by Scott Boras or who is similarly “famous” for some reason or another.

All of these things point to one guy; J.T. Ginn.  Only now it seems like Ginn is falling entirely out of the 1st round and may be had later on.  Kinda like how a few years back the Nats were attached with Alex Meyer at the 6th overall pick at one point … then were able to take him later on in the 1st.

So i’m going to predict the team skips Ginn, sees if they can sign him in the 2nd for 1st round money, and will take Cole Wilcox in the 1st.  Wilcox is also the Nats’ kinda guy; SEC school, big arm, big numbers, and a player who they’ve already tipped their hand on (picking him in the 2018 draft with one of their late 30th round throw-away picks).

Signability in this weird season is a factor of course.  The Nats have $6.6M to sign players this year; why wouldn’t they throw $3M at two players then punt the rest on college seniors?  Kinda like what the Mets did last year.

My prediction: Wilcox.


MLB.com Draft Tracker

ACTUAL TOP 5 DRAFT Results (added after the draft); Torkelson, Kjerstad, Meyer, Lacy, Martin.

What happened?

Actual Nats #22 Pick (added after the draft): Cade Cavalli, RHP from Oklahoma.  Not one mock draft ever had him going to the Nats.  None.  The team passes on a number of college arms that they had been linked to that are still on the board (Wilcox, Cecconi, Ginn, etc) to go with the big arm from Oklahoma.


MILB reportedly agrees to contraction plan

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1200px-MiLB_logo.svg

A couple of news items hit today that confirm what a lot of us have been fearing; the make-up of the Minor Leagues is set to change drastically, starting next year.

https://www.mlbdailydish.com/2020/4/21/21229598/mlb-reduce-number-of-teams-milb-teams-coronavirus

and

https://www.baseballamerica.com/stories/sources-milb-ready-to-agree-to-significant-reduction-in-teams/?utm_source=Newsletter&utm_medium=email

both confirm the plan to reduce then number of minor league teams by more than 40.  The plan would be to contract entire leagues (both the Short Season leagues like the NY Penn league and the Northwest league) and the non-complex Rookie leagues (like the Appalachian league and the Pioneer league).  Each team would be left with four full-season affiliates plus its complex rookie league.   Even though the conversations about this plan started last fall, the Covid19 situation has drastically affected the finances of nearly every minor league team, and its likely that a number of them are already insolvent (or close to it).

The impact for the Nats would likely be three fold:

  • We’d lose our short-A team in Auburn
  • We’d seemingly lose our Hagerstown affiliate and have it replaced in Low-A by a new city.
  • We’d probably have to find a new AAA team.

The entire concept of Short-A is set to be eliminated.  So that’s our Auburn affiliate.

Hagerstown has been specifically singled out by MLB sources (as reported by Keith Law here: https://theathletic.com/1718395/2020/04/03/law-even-with-baseball-shut-down-specter-of-minor-league-contraction-looms/?article_source=search&search_query=hagerstown) as being a substandard facility and seems like its on the chopping block.

Lastly, Fresno is reportedly going to get moved out of AAA to become a California league team in High-A, which means the Nats would need a new AAA affilliate.  More to the point … some team not currently in AAA would need to get promoted.  This could be great for us … especially if a crown-jewel AA team is suddenly available to use to use as an affilliate.

———–

A side effect of losing 40 or so teams is the obvious: we’re not going to need to draft as many players.  There’s already been Covid-19 driven talks about modifying the 2020 draft down from 40 rounds to as few as 5.  But without a short-season team to draft for (and without advanced complex leagues for other franchises), there’s just not as much need to draft players.

Many observers already thought the draft was too long.  A quick glance at the nats draft tracker: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1Qd5DS9GlmkQOEh_zGhOvlhHK0EegqY1uJB4mLGmRBaY/ depicts this pretty clearly; Since the draft went to 40 rounds, the Nats have never signed much more than 75% of its draftees.  Often times their last 8-10 picks were throw away picks on relatives or friends of Nats staff, or on HS players with strong div-1 committments who they had zero chance to sign for the $100k-$125k slot figure.  Here’s some details on the last few years in particular:

  • 2019: 11 of 39 players drafted went unsigned, including the last 6 rounds.  Draftees included the son of a Nats scout
  • 2018: 11 of 40 players drafted went unsigned, 7 of the last 8 picked didn’t sign, most of whom were HS picks.  Three of these draftees were sons of Nats staff members.
  • 2017: 7 of 40 players drafted went unsigned, including 4 of final 5 picks.  Draftees included Dusty Baker‘s son, a cousin of a Nats scout and the grandson of Bob Boone.
  • 2016: 11 of 41 players drafted went unsigned, including last 9 picks.  Draftees included two nephews of a nats scout, the son of a Nats front office executive and a Bethesda player who was unrecruited by any collegiate team.
  • 2015: 10 of 40 players drafted went unsigned, including 5 of last 6 picks.

Its pretty clear that the Nats would be a-ok with a 30 round draft to start with.

Now, how many players are assigned straight from the draft to Short-A every year?  Based on my “initial assignment” notes over the past few years…

  • 2019: 9 straight to Short-A, another 4 who were in the GCL for like a week before heading to Short-A
  • 2018: 7 straight to Short-A, another 4 GCL/Short-A
  • 2017: At least 5 straight to Short-A, another 8 GCL/Short-A combos
  • 2016: 5 straight to Short-A, another 5 GCL/Short-A

So, if there was no Auburn, that’s at least 10-13 players per year that the team … wouldn’t need to draft.  This is consistent with dropping the draft down to 20 rounds, possibly even just 15.

———-

Now, am i a proponent of this?  Of course not.  I think MLB is forcing a lot of cities to forgo long-held minor league baseball teams for the purposes of … saving a few dollars?  I mean, lets be honest; short-A squads are generally filled with lower-round draft picks paid $1,200-$1,500 a week for half a summer.  I feel like this is yet another effort by MLB to cut minor amounts of amateur player acquisition spending because they can, not because it benefits the sport or its fans in general.

But, I also get their general point that fewer minor league teams may be better.  The odds of a 25th rounder turning into a major leaguer are low, so why bother drafting them?  As i’ve demonstrated, the last 10 rounds of the draft now are generally throw away picks, and the next 10-15 rounds generally exist so as to populate short-A teams.  No short-A team … no need to draft them.  If you focus your efforts on the full season teams, improve facilities, maybe even increase their pay (what a novel idea!) maybe the guys you do draft are better served.

MLB’s transition plan doesn’t really hold water; they’re suggesting the 40-some odd teams that do get cut form yet another wood bat league?  I suppose there will be some appetite for this from the huge number of players who will no longer get drafted.  But will people pay to watch?  Maybe so: the Northwoods wood bat leagues draw, so maybe others will draw if the competition is known to be better.

Either way, get ready for some significant changes.

Written by Todd Boss

April 21st, 2020 at 3:26 pm

Posted in Draft

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Farm System Rankings; a comparison and contrast

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We’re basically at the end of “Prospect Season” now … and the last of the major pundits (mlbpipeline.com) has published its org rankings.  We talked about the Nats system top X in a previous post, now here’s a more macro view on how our system looks in general.

Short answer: “Not Good, Bob!”

(TV reference, anyone?)

Anyway.  Here’s links to the major pundits and their system rankings:

I havn’t seen anything from Fangraphs (i’m not sure they do entire system rankings), Baseball Prospectus now has their entire site behind a paywall, ESPN is in a transition year after Law left, and John Sickels at the Athletic  (who has done rank ings in the past) seems to have re-focused his attentions for now, so we’re down to these four major pundits.

I’ve seen a couple other rankings (one from Bleacher Report, another from Myworldofbaseball.com) that are mostly driven by the rankings of the top prospects in each system, which is a somewhat limited way to view an entire system comprised of hundreds of prospects.  If a system has (say) three top 100 players that are sure fire MLBers then absolutely nothing else in the time line … how strong is that “system” in general?  I’d rather have a ton of percolating talent than having a top heavy system.   This generally describes why there’s sometimes wild differences in the way systems are ranked, especially in the Law rankings (b/c he’s heavy on ceiling and is the anti-famous

Nats observations: Both MLB and Law have the Nats at #29.  MLB says that “trades and free agent signings” have led the system to be depleted.  Law says the team “worked the heck out of the system” in trades to acquire players.  Neither mention the poor drafting at the top levels over the past seasons (as I laid out in a previous post).  MILB and BA are a bit more friendly, perhaps because they still think rather highly of some of our more “famous” prospects (Romero, Mendoza, Antuna etc).

 

Overall system ranking observatiosn:

  • Everyone has Tampa #1.  Pretty scary given that they won 96 games in a very difficult division last year.
  • There’s generally a consensus on the rest of the top 5 farms: San Diego (who was #1 last year by most rankers), LA Dodgers, Atlanta are mostly considered for top 5 by the pundits.
  • There’s a  huge disconnect between Law and the rest of the industry on some of the systems: he has Detroit far lower than others, while he has the Yankees and St. Louis generally far higher than others.
  • but at the bottom end of the rankings, also some consistency: Milwaukee is dead-last on every list.  Washington, Colorado, Houston, Cincinnati and Boston also generally at the bottom.

Its ok to be at the Bottom of these rankings if you’ve used your system to get to a WS title.  Washington, Houston, Boston are definitely in this category.  Cincinnati has really shredded their depth lately to stock up and make a run, so their low ranking is understandable.  Colorado’s location here is a bit more of an indictment of their approach lately.

Its incredible that the two wealthiest teams (Yankees and Dodgers) continue to not only win 100+ games but maintain among the strongest farm systems.  How does this happen?  They both should have the least amount of assets to leverage in the draft and the IFA market (by virtue of having the smallest bonus pools for being among the best teams), yet they both continue to churn out prospect after prospect.  They’re both clearing doing something right.

Lastly its notable that a couple of the serial “tankers” of late (Baltimore, Miami, and Seattle in particular) have made huge strides in their system rankings over the past couple of years.  They’re on the Houston and Chicago Cubs plan of bottoming out to build back up.  We’ll  have to wait and see how it goes in the next few  years.

Written by Todd Boss

March 10th, 2020 at 12:25 pm

MLB Pipeline top 30 comes out: who are they up/down on?

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Rutledge is holding stead at #3 on nearly everyone's list. Photo via BA

Rutledge is holding stead at #3 on nearly everyone’s list. Photo via BA

In quick succession to Keith Law‘s list of top Nats prospects, the prospect team at MLBpipeline.com (Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo) has released their top 30 for the nats system.

Here’s the major pundits in the space and links to their top X lists:

  • MLBpipeline (Callis, Mayo): https://www.mlb.com/prospects/2020/nationals/
  • Athletic (Keith Law): https://theathletic.com/1646222/2020/03/03/keith-laws-prospect-rankings-washington-nationals/ (paywall)
  • Fangraphs (McDaniel and Longenhagen): https://blogs.fangraphs.com/top-21-prospects-washington-nationals/
  • Baseball America: https://www.baseballamerica.com/teams/1012/washington-nationals/organizational/?year=2020&type=P
  • Baseball Prospectus: https://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/article/55796/2020-prospects-washington-nationals-top-10-prospects/ (paywall)

The only major pundits remaining without published lists are John Sickels, who ran minorleagueball.com for years but who is now at the Athletic and i’m not sure if he’s still in the business of prospect rankings (he did not do one last year but it was perhaps still during the transition to the site) and Kiley McDaniel, who recently left Fangraphs to take over for Law at ESPN and probably doesn’t have time in 2020.

Anyway, lets take a look at the MLBpipeline guys and see who they’re “up” and “down” on.  From a prospect perspective, I perceive that Callis/Mayo tend to more heavily weigh the “famous factor” in these rankings, often keeping players around just due to draft pedigree or signing bonus.  They also seem to weigh floor a bit more than ceiling (hence why we have a few “edge of the 40-man roster types” lingering on this list, and often will have promising but younger players omitted to include older guys … that is unless the younger guy is in the “famous” category.

  • Same top 3 as everyone else
  • They’re definitely high man on both Andry Lara and Eddy Yean.
  • As per the “famous factor,” Romero continues to linger in their top 10
  • They like 2019 IFA Roismar Quintana; Law and BA didn’t rank him at all and they have him 15th despite never having played an inning in pro ball.
  • They have a bunch of  higher-round college arm draft picks in teh 20-30 range (guys like Schaller, Irvin, Bourque, Braymer) that seem to be to be low ceiling guys; are any of these guys anything other than org-arms?
  • Raudy ReadJakson Reetz and Tres Barrera listed as 25,28 and 19 respectively.  Is this how you’d rank these depth chart catchers right now on your prospect  list?
  • They’re much lower on German than Law was, but are in line with BA and Fangraphs.   I wonder what Law sees in the guy.

Who’s missing?

  • as others noted, no Jackson Tetrault anywhere.  No Malvin Pena mentioned either.  No Augustin on mlb’s list; only Law likes this guy.

Nats 2019 Draft: 1st and 2nd Day Reactions of top 10 picks

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Mendoza is our 2nd highest 2019 pick out of FSU. Photo via the Daily Nole

Mendoza is our 2nd highest 2019 pick out of FSU. Photo via the Daily Nole

Here’s a first look at our top 10 rounds worth of draft picks, or where we stand after day 2 of the MLB Draft.

Overall, the mock draft pundits really nailed the top of this draft, perfectly predicting the first 7 picks.  Starting around pick 8 though, we started to see enough surprises/reaches that allowed the Nats to end up with a guy ranked as  high as #12 on most pre-draft boards at the #17 pick, pretty good value all things considered.  They also got pretty good “value” with their 3rd and 4th rounders.

How about the Nats picks?

RoundOverallNamePositionCol/HSCollege or CmtmStateSlot Value
117Rutledge, JacksonRHP (Starter)Col J2San Jacinto College North (TXTX3609700
257forfeitedforfeited
394Mendoza, Drew3BCol JrFlorida State UFL618200
4124Cronin, MattLHP (reliever)Col JrArkansasAR464500
4comp139forfeitedforfeited
5155Dyson, TylerRHP (starter)Col JrFloridaFL346800
6184Cluff, JacksonSSCol SoBYUUT266000
7214Peterson, ToddRHP (reliever)Col JrLSULA208200
8244Ydens, JeremyOF (corner)Col JrUCLACA169500
9274McMahon, HunterRHP (starter)Col Jr.Texas StateTX152600
10304Pratt, AndrewCCol SrLubbock ChristianTX144100

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/#17 overall: Jackson Rutledge, RHP from Texas Juco.  See stand-alone post on Rutledge for more.  Pre-draft Ranks: #15th by Keith Law, 12th by MLB, 14th by Baseball America, 13th by 20/80, 21st by Fangraphs.
  • (2nd Round/#57 overall): forfeited in the Patrick Corbin signing.   #57 pick ended up being Matt Gorski, a College Jr CF from Indiana U as selected by Pittsburgh.
  • 3rd Round/#94 overall: Drew Mendoza, 3B from Florida State.  Ranks: #55 on MLBpipeline, #84 on 20/80, #52 on Fangraphs, #75 on BA.  Was a 1st-2nd round prospect coming out of HS, is a huge guy (6’5″).  Left-handed hitting, big power guy.  67/65 K/BB ratio in 60 college games for a gaudy slash line of .320/.482/.631 with 16 homers.  Of concern: 15 errors in 60 games at the hot corner.  Seems like he’s headed to 1B.  Hey, as long as he hits.  I like the general rankings of Mendoza (50s to 70s) versus his draft spot (94), that’s almost a round worth of value.
  • 4th Round/#123 overall: Matt Cronin, LHP (reliever) from Arkansas.  Ranks: #74 Keith Law, #73 MLB, #99 fangraphs, #71 BA, #72 20/80.  Arkansas’ closer, posted 40/14 K/BB in 27 innings.  .163 BAA and a WHIP just above 1.00.  Reportedly hits 98 with little in the way of secondary pitches, so sounds like a lefty reliever all the way.  The Nats also drafted some reliever-only guys high up in 2018 (Reid Schaller was exclusively in the bullpen in college, but then did nothing but start in short season in 2018), so it remains to be seen how he’d be used.  As with Mendoza, lots of value here.  He’s ranked generally in the mid 70s by nearly every pundit but lasts until #123 in the draft.
  • (4th round comp/138 overall): also forfeited in the Corbin singing.  Actual pick at #138 was Darrell Hernatz, prep HS SS from Texas.
  • 5th round/#154 overall: Tyler Dyson, RHP (starter/reliever) from Florida.  Ranks: #123 BA, #142 MLB.  Hard throwing but wild starter who was a pre-season All American selection .. but ended up kicked out of U-Florida’s rotation.  It sounds to me like he’s a project; a two pitch guy who’s lost faith in one of them and thus gotten whacked around.  With refinement of a 2nd pitch, he’s a useful bullpen guy.  With the reclamation of a third pitch, he’s back to being an effective starter.  He’s a 1st round talent without the 1st round consistency.  An interesting risk pick here.
  • 6th round/184 overall: Jackson Cluff, SS draft-eligible Soph. from BYU.  He’s a bit older (he missed 2 years with a Mission), hence why he’s draft eligible sophomore.   BA reports him has being basically a utility infielder type, able to play 2B, SS, 3B, with decent hitting and good speed (12-for-12 SBs on the  year).   He is unranked by any service, making me think perhaps this is a slot-savings pick.
  • 7th round/214 overall: Todd Peterson, RHP reliever from LSU.  #218 on BA.  Reliever-only guy for LSU, sharing closer duties this year.  BA scouting report says he’s a 2-pitch guy with some inconsistencies.
  • 8th round/244 overall: Jeremy Ydens, corner OF for UCLA, college Jr.  BA scouting report says he made the All Star team in the Cape Cod league last summer, broke a finger early this season and barely played.  I wonder if he’s even signable here; slot value is $169k: I wonder if he’d roll the dice and return to school.  That being said, basically every player taken in the top 10 rounds has a pre-selection deal verbally agreed to, so there shouldn’t be any surprises.
  • 9th round: 274 overall: Hunter McMahon, a RHP starter for Texas State.  He’s a RS sophomore, so this isn’t a senior slot savings pick.  He was a weekend starter for Texas State with crummy numbers on the season, but some flashes of brilliance (a complete game with 11 Ks and 0 walks against Louisiana-Lafayatte for example).  BA has little to no scouting on the guy.
  • 10th round/304 overall: Andrew Pratt, college Sr C from Lubbock Christian.  This seems like the sole “senior slot” guy the Nats are taking and its a classic; senior from a small school with no scouting reports on any major service.  PG notes that he was committed to New Mexico out of high school; perhaps he transferred to the smaller school to maintain eligibility.  Kudos to saving bonus money and getting a college catcher.

First 10 rounds worth of picks breakdown:

  • 5 arms, 4 position players
  • 9 college (1 juco), 0 high schoolers.
  • Of the 5 arms: 2 starters, 2 relievers, and one starter-dumped-to-relief arm.
  • Just 1 slot-saving senior draftee; 10th round Pratt pick.
  • Heavy influence from major college programs: Florida, two from Vanderbilt, Oklahoma, Arizona State, Florida State.

Conclusion: I liked the Rutledge pick, based on the run on college bats ahead of it and the selection of Rutledge over other college arms that went just after him.  I like Mendoza, even if it seems like he’s destined for 1B.   Cronin & Dyson seem like relievers now, but with professional coaching perhaps can make a return to the rotation (much like last year’s Reid Schaller).   Ydens could be a good value pick, a guy who slid several rounds from his true talent thanks to hand injury this year.  Peterson, like the other two relievers, maybe uses some coaching to improve.  Cluff and Pratt seem like short-A utility guys.  I’m curious to see how McMahon fares against better competition than C-USA.  All in all, not a bad collection of picks given the lack of a 2nd rounder.

What do you guys think of it?


Draft Links of Use

  1. Mlbpipeline’s Draft Tracker for 2019
  2. All 10 rounds of slot bonus figures for 2019
  3. BA’s draft database with search options by team, state, etc. (behind a paywall)
  4. Perfect Game to get profiles on more obscure draftees.

Draft Rankings referred to within here:

Nats 2019 Draft: Reaction to Day 1/1st round pick Jackson Rutledge

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Nats throw everyone a curveball with Rutledge pick. photo via 3rdmanin.com

Nats throw everyone a curveball with Rutledge pick. photo via 3rdmanin.com

Well, nobody saw this coming.

After reviewing dozens of mock drafts, most of which (in the last couple of weeks or so) had the Nats clearly focusing on Florida prep RHP Matthew Allan as their pick … ended up selecting a guy that not one Mock draft I read had the Nats picking.  The Nats with the 17th pick take Jackson Rutledge, a huge RHP from San Jacinto College in Texas, having transferred out of Arkansas after one season in 2018.

So, how did Rutledge get to the Nats?  And, how did the Nats take him over their presumed pick?

I went back and looked at all the later mock drafts; Most had Rutledge going in the 11-14 range.  Toronto and Philadelphia both were presumed to be taking college arms, and Rutledge was a common name falling to them.  MLBPipeline had him going 9th to the Braves.  So what happened?

  • the Braves took Shea Langeliers at #9 probably earlier than many thought.
  • Toronto at 11 indeed took a college arm; they grabbed WVA starter Alex Manoah.
  • Then, at 14 Philadelphia found possible top 10 guy Bryson Stott available and grabbed him.

So that left Rutledge available at 17 for the Nats.  Who did they pass up on at this point?  In the picks right after, we saw guys that the Nats had been associated with go in fast order: Quinn Priester (prep RHP), Zack Thompson  (lefty college starter from U-Kentucky), and George Kirby (RHP from Elon).

Matthew Allan went unsigned, despite being (by far) the BPA on MLBpipeline’s draft boards (he was ranked #13).  In fact, on the broadcast for the draft I noticed that once the draft reached the back part of the 1st round … they summarily removed Allan from the top of the BPA list, presumably because they realized that if he didn’t go in the upper part of the 1st round, then it was almost guaranteed that he was going to go to college and not get his $4M bonus demand.

As for Rutledge, he was very highly ranked pre-draft: 15th by Keith Law, 12th by MLB, 14th by Baseball America, 13th by 20/80, 21st by Fangraphs.

So, what do we have?  We have a massive guy: 6’8″ 250.  He throws over the top, is up to 98-99 on the fastball with a mid 80s cutter, a wipe out slider, a 12-6 curve and some deception due to what’s described as “unusual short arm” mechanics.  I’m hoping we’re getting something closer to Randy Johnson and not a rehashing of Jake Johansen.

Quick Verdict: I think, (like a lot of Nats fans), that i’m happy the team with with a college arm and not another prep guy.  It does seem like they got decent value; they got a guy at 17 who most pundits thought was ranked higher in this class and was going higher.  I like Rutledge more than Kirby and Thompson (the two next best college guys) for various reasons (health and pedigree mostly).  So I’m happy with this pick.