Years from now we may be saying Tyler Watson is the class of this draft. Photo via auburnpub.com
Second in our set of Draft class Reviews. First was the 2016 class.
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With out further ado…
Round 1: forfeited by virtue of the Max Scherzer signing. Would have been the 26th pick overall, which ended up being Taylor Ward, a C from Fresno State. Ward stepped back a bit in 2016, losing nearly 300 points off his OPS in High-A, but is still listed as the Angel’s #3 prospect.
Round 2: Andrew Stevenson, OF (CF). COL jr from Louisiana State. Slashed .276/.332/.374 across 2 levels, spending three months in Potomac and then finishing the season in Harrisburg. 95/44 K/BB ratio, 3 homers and 39SBs in 529 ABs. He was also named an All-star for Potomac this year and was the MVP of the Carolina-California League all-star game. Two years in the system and two multi-level promotions for Stevenson. Clearly he profiles as a “speedy leadoff-center fielder” type, so you’d like to see his overall OBP improve. You’d like to see fewer strikeouts too. Otherwise, its hard to quibble. He’s also starting to get some notice on prospect rankings; last year he was generally in the 10-14 range for our system. Now I’m seeing him ranked in the 6-10 range. He’s taken his talents to the Arizona Fall League, where i’m curious to see how he fares against top-end AA/AAA competition. Maybe our long term CF solution is in-house after all. Post-Writing update: Stevenson lit up the AFL, hitting north of .350 and being named by MLB.com as being a breakout star. Trending up.
Round 2: Blake Perkins, OF (CF) from Verrado HS, Buckeye, Ariz. Slashed .233/.318/.281 for Auburn this year before spending the last week in Hagerstown (part of the typical 9/1 cascading minor league roster shuffle), with 39/25 K/BB in 210 ABs. 1HR, 10SB. Another player who (like Stevenson) is a “Leadoff-CF” type (for Auburn he only played CF and only lead-off). As we learned last year, he’s learning switch hitting and its showing in his stat line; as a righty against lefties he slashed .306/.343/.355, but as a lefty against righties he slashed only .203/.308/.250. Ugh. I wonder if the team, which asked him to learn switch hitting even before they drafted him, will eventually just let him focus on his strengths. His overall batting line continues to depress his prospect value; he’s generally ranked somewhere in the 16-21 range for the system right now after being in the 10-12 range after his drafting. I’ll say Trending steady since his RH split is so good and he may just eventually go back to it full time.
Round 3: Rhett Wiseman, OF (corner), COL jr from Vanderbilt. Slashed .255/.325/.410 in a full season in Low-A with 104/42 K/BB in 478ABs. 13 homers, 19 SBs. Wiseman played exclusively RF and was mostly the clean-up hitter for Hagerstown and had a solid season, but not without some red-flags. 104 Ks in 478Abs isn’t like 30% awful, but its getting up there. He did have a nice balance of homers and Stolen Bases; if you’ve ever seen Hagerstown’s stadium you’ll know it isn’t the easiest place to hit (indeed; his away split shows an OPS figure 140 points higher than at home). He only hit .198 against lefties, exhibiting a typical failing of a lot of lefty power hitters. I’m going with Trending steady and would like to see how he does in more of a hitter’s park.
Round 4: Mariano Rivera Jr, RHP (reliever) COL sr from Iona. Went 5-1 with a 4.04 ERA in Low-A with 52/22 K/BB in 69 relief innings. 1.35whip, 4.49fip, .296 babip. He was also 8 for 14 in Save opportunities as the Hagerstown bullpen seemed to do closer by committee (12 different relievers had a Save this year for Hagerstown). Rivera Jr. improved his numbers across the board in the jump from Short-A to Low-A and seems permanently relegated to the bullpen at this point. But we’re not seeing the lights-out production that you’d want to see in the low minors from a future reliever. I think he’ll keep moving up next year of course, based on his draft pedigree and name only, but where’s the dominance that his father showed? It may also just be a case of short sample size unluckiness; he gave up 9 runs between two consecutive outings in June; those two innings cost him more than a point on his ERA for the season. We’d be having a different conversation if he had a 2.92 ERA in 67 innings instead of a 4.04 ERA in 69 innings. Still want to see a K/inning. Trending steady
Round 5: Taylor Hearn, LHP (reliever) COL jr from Oklahoma Baptist. Was 1-0 with a 3.18 ERA for Hagerstown this year when he got traded to Pittsburgh (along with Felipe Rivero) in the Mark Melancon deal. For Pittsburgh’s low-A team he’s continued to be solid, posting a 1.99 ERA with 36Ks in 22 innings for their low-A team. I know we had some seller’s lament about parting ways with both Rivero and Hearn, especially when a few weeks later the team had to trade a decent hitting prospect to acquire 5 weeks worth of a veteran lefty. But you have to give up players to get players, right? Out of the Organization.
Round 6: Matt Crownover, LHP (starter) COL jr. from Clemson. Posted a 9-5 record with a 3.36 ERA across two levels this year 110/42 K/BB in 128 2/3 IP combined. For Potomac specifically; 4-4, 4.28 ERA, 1.45 whip, 4.48 fip, .317 babip. Crownover quickly showed he was too good for Low-A (1.17 ERA his first two months there) and then settled into Potomac’s rotation for the rest of the year. He wasn’t as lights out in Potomac but was solid. He nearly led Potomac in starts and was part of their post-season rotation (where he pitched into the seventh and gave up just one earned run but took the loss in the season finale). I could see him starting next year in Potomac with an eye towards jumping up to AA similarly to the way he split time this year. Trending Up.
Round 7: Grant Borne, LHP (starter/reliever) COL jr from Nicholls State. Went 5-2 with a 3.34 ERA in a full season at Hagerstown. 46/11 K/BB in 59 1/3 innings of mostly long relief. 1.20 whip, 3.15 fip, .307 babip. Borne didn’t make the rotation in Hagerstown but seemed to stay on somewhat of a starter’s schedule, throwing every 4th or 5th day for 2-3 innings at a clip. All his numbers improved over what they were in Short-A last year, which is great for a guy jumping to full season ball. A couple of bad outings in August spoiled his numbers; otherwise his month by month splits all were pretty solid. I see no reason for him not to serve as a spot-starter in Potomac next year. Trending Up.
Round 8: Koda Glover, RHP (reliever) COL sr from Oklahoma State. Was 3-1 with a 2.25 ERA combined across three minor league levels, resulting with a call-up to the Majors on 7/20/16. In DC he posted a 5.03 ERA in 19 innings and was left off the post-season roster in favor of a third lefty (due to who the Nats were playing most-likely), but that did nothing to diminish what an amazing rise he had in 2016. To go from High-A to pitching 7th and 8th innings in high-leverage games inside of 5 months is amazing. His outlook for 2017 is repeating as a 7th inning RHP in the MLB bullpen with a future eye perhaps on closing for this team if he can prove himself reliable enough. Matriculated to the Majors.
Round 9: David Kerian, 1b COL sr from Illinois. Slashed just .144/.186/.226 while repeating Short A. 31/7 K/BB with 1 homer. Kerian failed to make the Hagerstown squad out of spring training and then struggled mightily while repeating Short-A. I’m surprised he hasn’t been released already. He was a long-shot to contribute after being a senior sign/low bonus guy and he seems destined for a release soon. Trending Down. Post publishing update: Kerian was released on 12/15/16, fulfilling my guesses on his disposition unfortunately.
Round 10: Taylor Guilbeau, LHP (starter) COL sr from Alabama. 5-2 with a 3.61 ERA in a full season in Hagerstown. 99/27 K/BB in 107 1/3 innings split between starting and relieving. 1.43 whip, 3.15 fip, .360 babip. Guilbeau didn’t make the Hagerstown roster out of spring training, but settled into the rotation for the beginning of the 2nd half and stayed there the rest of the way. As a starter his ERA was 3 points better than as a reliever (2.55 versus 5.36), and he looks like a very solid lefty starter. His performance is even more impressive considering his dim draft pedigree; like Kerian above him he was a senior sign for limited dollars. If he turns out to be successful the Nats front office should really do something nice for the area scout. Trending up.
Round 11: Andrew Lee, RHP (starter) COL jr from Tennessee. Was 2-2 with a 3.71 ERA in Hagerstown. 46/18 K/BB in 51 innings. 1.24 whip, 3.15 fip, .308 BABIP. Lee was the opening day starter for Hagerstown after having finished there in 2015, had 11 solid starts and then hit the D/L on 6/7/16, remaining there for the duration of the season. I could not find much detail on his injury. He was trending pretty well though; solid K ratios and a good FIP. Trending steady thanks to the unknown injury, otherwise i’d say Trending up again.
Round 12: Tommy Peterson RHP (reliever) COL jr from South Florida. Went 4-2 with a 2.64ERA bouncing between Hagerstown and Potomac. 56/14 K/BB in 58 relief innings, with very solid FIP and BABIP numbers in Hagerstown but not so much in Potomac. For Hagerstown he was an effective closer; for Potomac he was used more as a setup guy. He struggled with the jump to High-A and seems like to try it again from the on-set next year. Trending steady.
Round 13: Max Schrock, 2B COL jr from South Carolina. Had an OPS north of .800 for both Hagerstown and Potomac before getting flipped to Oakland in late August for Marc Rzepczynski. Oakland quickly put him to AA where he hit well and now is in the AFL. He’s the most polarizing Nats prospect I can think of since perhaps Brad Peacock or Billy Burns. Schrock was paid like a 4th rounder in terms of bonus money and never failed to hit at any level, so we shouldn’t necessarily think of him as the equivalent of a 13th rounder. The knock on him is his size; he’s just 5’8″ in a sport that calls anyone under 6′ “short.” Nonetheless, he was a high price to pay for 5 weeks of a veteran lefty, and we’ve had no shortage of arguments here about the trade, what led to its necessity, and the price we paid for Rzepczynski. We’ll just have to “Trust in Rizzo” again and hope we don’t get burned on Schrock. Out of the Organization.
Round 14: Mack Lemieux LHP (starter) from Jupiter Community HS (FL): did not sign. At the time of his drafting we thought he was heading to Florida Atlantic University (FAU). Instead, he headed to JuCo (Palm Beach State in Florida) and was Arizona’s 6th round pick this year. He split time between Rookie and Short-A ball in his age-19 season and performed well.
Round 15: Kevin Mooney, RHP (reliver) COL jr from UofMaryland. 0-2 with a 3.33 ERA while repeating Short-A. 19/11 K/BB in 24 1/3 innings. 1.19 whip, 3.69 fip, .257 babip. Despite repeating the level, he improved markedly from last year (shaving 2 points off his ERA). He should have earned his way to a full-season reliever job in 2017. Trending Steady.
Round 16: Ian Sagdal, SS COL sr from Washington State U. Slashed .303/.362/.474 in a full season with Hagerstown with 90/36 K/BB in 409 ABs. 10 homers, 6SB. Sagdal was listed as the “DH” but played like a corner-utility guy, jumping around and playing some 1B, some LF, some 2B (he was drafted as a SS but his 6’3″ frame clearly can’t handle the position defensively). Its hard to argue against a .300 hitter with power though, so lets see what he can do next year against better competition. He has definitely improved his standing since last year (when he hit just .235 in Auburn). Trending Steady.
Round 17: Dalton Dulin, 2B from Northwest Mississippi CC. Slashed just .186/.277/.265 while repeating Short-A. 34/13 K/BB in 113 AB playing 2B, 0 homers, 7 SB. A huge step back for the JuCo signing, who turned 22 in May. He split time at 2B with 2016’s Jake Noll among others, and i’d be very surprised if he isn’t released next spring when he inevitably fails to make the Hagerstown squad. Trending Down.
Round 18: Melvin Rodriguez 2B COL sr from Jackson State U. (MS). Released 4/2/16, presumably after not making the Hagerstown squad and likely being “behind” others at the position (others like the man just mentioned Dalton Dulin). He got picked up by the Indy league team in Joliet and played 79 games for them this year. I’m not sure if I noticed this last year, but he was *old* coming out of college. This is his second pro year and he turned 25 in February.
Round 19: Clayton Brandt SS COL sr from MidAmerica Nazarene U (KS). Slashed just .179/.271/.248 in Short-A, 33/16 K/BB in 145 ABs. 0 homers, 2 SBs. These numbers are rather similar to his numbers last year in the GCL, but it isn’t like there was another high-powered middle infield star prospect pushing him; the other two “short stops” on Auburn’s roster this year were equally inept with the bat. Like others above with batting averages below .200, i’m saying Trending Down but I wonder if some of these guys will hang around into 2017 simply to fill roster spots. Post publishing update: Brandt voluntarily retired on on 12/15/16.
Round 20: John Reeves C, COL sr from Rice (TX): did not sign. Despite being listed as a “College Senior” he really was a 4th year junior and opted to return for his 5th year. A quick check at Rice’s 2016 stats page shows that Reeves did not play for Rice in 2016; It does not look like he was re-drafted, nor play in any independent leagues. A curious case; if the Nats felt like it was worthy of a 20th round pick, why have we not pursued him since he’s now freely available? Unless this was a “favor pick” to someone … but a 20th round pick seems way early for a throwaway pick.
Round 21: Matt Pirro, RHP (reliever) COL sr from Wake Forest. 3-2, 4.43 ERA across two levels, ending in Short-A. 17/12 k/bb in 22 1/3ip, 1.30 combined whip, 6.50 fip, .217 babip in short-A. Pirro failed to make even the Short-A team once the 2016 class was signed; he repeated both levels he played at last year with worse numbers. He struggled last year and he struggled again this year. Hard to see him here for the long term. Trending Down. Post publishing update: Pirro was released on 12/15/16, indeed a release candidate.
Round 22: Adam Boghosian RHP (reliever) COL 5s from North Greenville U. (SC). Released 3/26/16 when he didn’t make a full-season squad.
Round 23: Alec Rash, RHP (starter) COL jr from Missouri: did not sign. Initially it seemed that Rash was returning to school to try to rebuild his value after an injury plagued collegiate career. Word came out though in Sept of 2015 that he was quitting the team (and the sport) for good. A tough break for Rash, who passed up 2nd round money in 2012 and now has nothing to show for it.
Round 24: Blake Smith RHP (reliever) COL jr West Virginia: did not sign. Returned for his “senior” year with West Virginia and was drafted by the Angels in the 29th round of the 2016 draft. He put up decent numbers for their Low-A affiliate this year.
Round 25: Calvin Copping RHP (reliever) COL jr from Cal. State Northridge. Released on 3/16/16 when it became clear he wouldn’t make Hagerstown.
Round 26: Russell “Rocky” Harmening. RHP (reliever) COL jr Westmont Coll (CA). 0-1, 2.57 ERA for Auburn this year. 23/8 K/BB in 28 relief innings. 1.21 whip, 3.06 fip, .294 BABIP. A nice 2nd pro season for Harmening, who improved his numbers across the board jumping from GCL to Short-A. He also apparently now goes by “Rocky.” Should make the Hagerstown pen as a middle reliever. Trending Steady.
Round 27: Ryan Brinley, RHP (reliever) COL jr from Sam Houston State U. (TX). Posted a 4-3 record with a 3.55 ERA across two levels. 38/9 K/BB in 50 2/3 innings. 1.07 whip combined, 2.68 fip and .243 babip in Potomac. Brinley was a surprise performer last year and he continued his good work this year; he made the Potomac team out of spring and dominated there for two months before getting promoted to AA. There however, he struggled, giving up 14 runs and 17 hits in 11 innings, and was back in Potomac by August 1st. Presumably he’s going to try AA again next spring. Trending Up.
Round 28: Mick VanVossen RHP (reliever) COL sr from Michigan State U. 4-4, 4.25 ERA across 2 levels. 50/19 K/.BB in 59 1/3 innings, mostly with Hagerstown. 1.28 whip, 4.13fip, .285 babip while in in Low-A. He bounced around in what seemed like a bunch of procedural moves but was essentially a middle reliever for Low-A all year. He had relatively solid numbers in Hagerstown and should get a look at moving up a level for 2017. Trending Steady.
Round 29: Philip Diedrick OF COL sr Western Kentucky U. Released 4/2/16 after struggling in 2015 in the GCL. No surprise here.
Round 30: Jorge Pantoja RHP (reliever) COL jr Alabama State U. 9-2 with a 3.20 ERA across two levels. 46/19 K/BB in 64 2/3s innings, mostly with Hagerstown. 1.15 whip, 2.67 fip, .302 babip while in Low-A. As we noted last summer, he just needed some time to show that his 2015 numbers were better than they appeared, and the team was rewarded. Pantoja went 9-1 with a 2.63 ERA for Hagerstown this year, earning a bump up to Potomac on August 8th. He struggled there, walking 9 guys in 10 innings after walking just 10 in 54 innings in Hagerstown. Nonetheless, he’s looking up and should be a solid Potomac bullpen guy (later innings or perhaps closer) in 2017. He’s playing in the Mexican Winter League this off-season. Trending Up.
Round 31: Nick Sprengel LHP (starter) from El Dorado HS (CA): did not sign. Honored his commitment to the U of San Diego, where he went 3-5 with a 6.17 ERA his freshman year as a mid-week starter.
Round 32: Dalton DiNatale 3B COL jr Arizona State U. Released 6/7/16; he hung around for a bit after not making a full-season squad and then got released once the 2016 draft occurred.
Round 33: Angelo La Bruna SS COL 5S from U. Southern California. Slashed .246/.320/.325 between Short-A and Low-A, with 20/12 K/BB in 114 total ABs. 1hr, 2SB playing 2B and SS. La Bruna was assigned initially to Short-A, but came out on fire going 10-21 and quickly getting bumped to Low-A. There he was less effective, hitting just .194 with little power (5 XBH in 33 games). If I sense a recurring theme among these reviews so far of the 2016 and 2015 classes, its relatively zero depth in the middle infield. So I see no reason for La Bruna not to hang around another year. Trending Steady.
Round 34: Tyler Watson LHP (starter) from Perry HS (AZ). 2-3, 2.64 ERA split between Short-A and Low-A. 64/15 K/BB in 58IP, 1.05 whip, 2.05 whip and .261 babip in Auburn. Watson was the opening day starter for Auburn after turning 19 in late May and had an awesome season; in 9 starts facing competition that was (on average) 2.4 years older than he was, he had a 1.88 ERA and gave up just 30 hits and 9 walks in 48 innings. His ERA jumped when he got to Hagerstown but his peripherals did not; he still struck out a guy an inning and his Hagerstown FIP was 2.87. He looks like he could be a stud. He has nothing left to prove in Short-A; I’d expect him to be in the Low-A rotation in 2017 but to have his season cut short as they build up pro innings on his arm. Trending Up.
Round 35: Coco Montes SS from Coral Gables HS (FL): did not sign. Montes honored his commitment to South Florida. At USF Montes was a starter as a Freshman and slashed .218/.287/.264.
Round 36: Taylor Bush SS from The Linfield School (CA): did not sign. Bush honored his commitment to Westmont College. As a freshman, got into 30 games and only had 15 ABs in a late-innings defensive replacement role.
Round 37: Steven DiPuglia SS from Cooper City HS (FL): did not sign. DiPuglia honored his commitment to Western Kentucky. At WKU, DiPuglia started as a freshman and slashed .253/.323/.264.
Round 38: Matt Morales SS from Wellington Community HS (FL): did not sign. Morales honored his commitment to Stetson University. At Stenson, Morales started as a freshman and slashed .250/.324/.286.
Round 39: Jake Jefferies 2B COL jr from Cal. State Fullerton. Hit .208 in 24 ABs for Auburn in Short-A before being released on 7/5/16. He just never showed enough at the plate despite being chased by this organization for years (they drafted him in 2012 as well).
Round 40: Parker Quinn 1B from The Benjamin School (FL): did not sign. Quinn honored his commitment to Hofstra. Quinn had no stats for Hofstra in 2016, either he didn’t make the varsity team or he was hurt. His Twitter account still reports him as being at Hofstra and being class of 2019, so i’m not sure what his status is.
- Matriculated to Majors: (1): Glover
- Trending Up (7): Stevenson, Crownover, Borne, Guilbeau, Brinley, Pantoja, Watson
- Trending Steady (10): Perkins, Wisemann, Rivera Jr, Lee, Peterson, Mooney, Sagdal, Harmening, Van Vossen, La Bruna
- Trending Down (4): Kerian, Dulin, Brandt, Pirro
- Released/Retired (6): Rodriguez, Boghosian, Copping, Diedrick, DiNatale, Jefferies
- Did Not Sign (10): Lemieux, Reeves, Rash, Smith, Sprengel, Montes, Bush, DiPuglia, Morales, Quinn
- No longer with the Org (2): Hearn, Schrock
The 2015 class is holding its own so far, with a number of guys with promising starts and just 6 releases after two full pro seasons. Watson looks like a stud, Glover looks like a heck of a find, and the upper round picks are at least treading water thus far if not exceeding expectations (Stevenson).