Nationals Arm Race

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

Archive for the ‘lacy lusk’ tag

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.

What about Maya?

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Maya in his first start for the P-Nats. Photo William Yoder/thenatsblog.com

I like to think i’m reading just about every bit of Washington Nationals news there is to be had during Spring Training.  I follow all the beat writers I know of plus try to read just about every columnnist or blogger that I know to be down in Viera.  But nobody is talking about Yunesky Maya.

We know, for example, that John Lannan bulked up over the off season, that Livan shot a 65 and plans on playing in the Senior Golf tour when he turns 50, that Marquis feels better, that Detwiler has new mechanics, that Wang is healthy and that Zimmermann is rearing to go.  But what about Maya?

Last we had heard, Maya had gone down to the Dominican Winter League (DWL), played for Leones del Escogido and pitched well.  Baseball America’s Lacy Lusk wrote a rather promising report in December (insider only, sorry), and Maya was named the league’s best pitcher at the Winter’s end.  He finished the DWL 4-2 with a 1.32era, striking out 42 batters in 41 innings pitched.  And according to reports he had his fastball up to 93mph.  Now, the DWL may be the “best” of the winter leagues but its talent level has dipped significantly over the past 10 years.  At best, i’d say its a AAA-level quality league.  So take the stats with a slight grain of salt.

This slight uptick in speed is important.  In my review of Maya’s first four starts (posted here last September) he was barely breaking 90, sitting in the 88-89 range and relying more on nibbling than going after hitters.  I feel the uptick in velocity is clearly a result of gaining arm strength over the course of throwing innings, indicating that he was rushed to the Majors last September.  Rizzo has all but admitted the team screwed up by rushing Maya through the minors, and his results showed.

However, if Maya can hump it up to 93 and combine it with the amazing arsenal of pitches he seems to have (in his MLB debut he showed at least EIGHT different pitches), I think he can be a very dangerous pitcher in this league. Which is why the team risked an $8M contract on him.

Now, what does this mean for the 2011 season?  So far, its hard to tell; Ladson posted a biopic piece today but I’ve yet to see any reports on how he looks during his mound sessions or how he’s throwing.  Perhaps its a language barrier issue; he doesn’t really speak English so interviews are difficult unless the interviewer also speaks Spanish.

I think he’s still bound for AAA to start the season, simply because he has options and certain guys (Gorzelanny in particular) do not.  But he may be first in line when someone gets hit by the injury bug.

Written by Todd Boss

February 25th, 2011 at 9:56 am