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Nats Catcher Depth Chart; whole system

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Gomes looks like the 2019 starter... Photo via nytimes.com

Gomes looks like the 2019 starter… Photo via nytimes.com

I’m not sure why i got on this mental tangent, but here goes.

When was the last time the Nats developed a quality starting catcher from cradle to grave (so to speak) from our system?   Here’s a quick glance at the Nats leading catchers by  games played since they arrived in Washington:

  • 2017-2018: Matt Wieters  free agent acquisition
  • 2014-2016: Wilson Ramos: trade acquisition for Matt Capps while still a minor leaguer
  • 2013: Kurt Suzuki: trade acquisition from Oakland
  • 2012: Jesus Flores: rule-5 draftee
  • 2011: Ramos
  • 2010: Ivan Rodriguez : Free agent acquisition
  • 2009: Josh Bard: free agent acquistion
  • 2008: Flores
  • 2005-2007: Brian Schneider: drafted by Montreal Expos 5th round 1995

The answer is Schneider.  Not since Brian Schnieder has this franchise started a home-grown catcher.  Thats more than a decade of drafting and player development.

(No, I don’t count either Flores or Ramos by the way.  Flores as a rule-5 draftee was developed by the Mets, and Ramos spent 6 years in Minnesota’s farm system before we got him).

Sprinkled into the above include backups that we’ve definitely developed in house, guys like Spencer Kieboom and Pedro Severino and Sandy Leon and Jhonatan Solano … but none of these guys were really starters for any period of time, and none were impactful enough to not force the team to go back into the FA market again and again.

This trend continues for 2019, with the team buying not one but TWO catchers this off-season: Yan Gomes via trade and then the return of Suzuki via FA.

So I thought it’d be interesting to look at what depth we have now under Gomes/Suzuki, project where last year’s frequent MLB contributors like Kieboom will end up in 2019, and see what the pipeline looks like.


 

Nats Full-system Catcher Depth Chart:

  • MLB: Gomes/Suzuki

They’re on record (per the reports we’re reading from bored beat writers) as both being “ok” with the planned split in playing time.  They’ll also get PH opportunities, which makes sense as long as its a low-risk situation (this also implies we’d need to have a designated emergency 3rd catcher: Matt Adams anyone?)


  • AAA: SKieboom, Severino, Raudy Read.

So, both Kieboom and Read have 2019 options, while Severino does not.  Severino’s defense speaks for itself, but unfortunately so does his offense; his career OPS+ in four part-time MLB seasons and nearly 300 plate appearances is just 48.    I think the team keeps him around til the end of Spring Training to cover for injury, then DFAs him and tries to sneak him through to AAA.  If that happens, I think Read gets pushed back to AA.  Or maybe not; maybe they just cut ties with him completely.   I think we know what we have with Kieboom too.  Read is the interesting one; his PED suspension cost him both development time and good will within the org; will he start over Kieboom and continue to develop at AAA?  He hit decently enough at AA last year (.286) so I think he’s ready for the AAA challenge.  He remains generally the highest ranking Catcher prospect in the system … but may not be the first line of defense called up to cover for injury right now.

  • Next guy promoted: probably Kieboom, then Read.
  • Most likely to succeed at MLB level: Read.  I think we’ve seen what we will see out of Kieboom.
  • Most likely to get cut first: Severino for options purposes in April.

 

  • AA: Taylor Gushue, Tres Barrera, Matt Reistetter

Ironically these first two are also the two NRI catchers invited to 2019 spring training.  They’re not there to make the team; they’re there to catch the gazillion arms who need to throw.  Gushue struggled at the plate in 2018 in AA (.212) but by all accounts is a pitcher favorite to call games (sounds a lot like Severino).  Meanwhile Barrera hit decently splitting time in High-A in 2018.  I can see an even split between these two in Harrisburg in 2019.  Meanwhile the system still has the NDFA Reistetter hanging around; in his 6 year minor league career he’s got appearances at literally every domestic team.  He likely gets assigned to the Harrisburg roster but hangs out in XST waiting to cover for injury.

  • Next guy promoted: Barrera
  • Most likely to succeed at MLB level: Barrera
  • Most likely to get cut first: Reistetter

 

  • High-A: Jakson Reetz , Alex Dunlap, Alejandro Flores,

Reetz is nearly in “draft bust” territory, basically hanging around thanks to his being a 3rd rounder in 2014.  He’s now got 4 full minor league seasons under his belt and seems to be getting pushed northwards in the system less based on production and more based on his signing bonus.  At some point, the team may have to cut bait.  I see him serving primarily as a backup.  Meanwhile, Dunlap (a 29th rounder in 2017) hung around XST for a bit, then out-played Flores in Hagerstown and basically became the starting catcher.   I put both Dunlap and Flores here though b/c of who’s targeted for Low-A.  There’s still somewhat of a gap here in the system, but we could see some fast-movers pushing into Potomac this year.

  • Next guy promoted: Dunlap
  • Most likely to succeed at MLB level: none here really projecting to MLB at this point.
  • Most likely to get cut first: Reetz

 

  • Low-A: Israel PinedaNic Perkins

Perkins was a 28th rounder in 2017, was the main catcher in Short-A in 2018 and could make sense to slide right to Low-A, but he’ll play second fiddle to Pineda, who has burst onto the scene, does not turn 19 until April and now looks like our best chance to develop a starting catcher since Schneider.  Of course … it is folley to project an 18 yr old’s future success.  But, like Yasiel Antuna and Luis Garcia before him, the Nats should have no qualms of promoting a successful teenager right to low-A.  So Look for Perkins to back up Pineda in Hagerstown to open the season.

  • Next guy promoted: Perkins
  • Most likely to succeed at MLB level: Pineda
  • Most likely to get cut first: none in the short term

 

  • Short-A: Tyler CropleyWilmer PerezAdalberto Carrillo, 2019 draftee(s)

Perez was an J2 IFA signing in 2016 who hit well in the DSL in 2017 and adequately in the GCL in 2018 and makes sense to be the starter in Short-A in 2019.   Carrillo was a late-round 2017 draftee who is hanging around.   Cropley was our 2018 8th round pick, a senior low money sign who was one of just two 2018 drafted catchers, and may have to really impress to stick around give the small amount of investment the team has in him.  All three appeared briefly in Auburn last year and seem to make sense to return this year.

  • Next guy promoted: Perez
  • Most likely to succeed at MLB level: none projecting to MLB from here at this time.
  • Most likely to get cut first: Cropley

 

  • GCL: Onyx VegaAnthony Peroni, Geraldi Diaz, 2019 draftee(s)

Both Vega (a 2018 draftee) and Peroni (2017 draftee) were subs in GCL last year behind the likes of (primarily) Perez, and both seem like they should return to GCL.  Peroni only hit .177 and is entering his 3rd pro year so he likely seems like he’ll be released upon the 2019 drafting of more catcher talent, or upon the potential promotion from the DSL catcher candidates like Geraldi Diaz (a 2017 IFA signee who might be ready to come state-side).

  • Next guy promoted: Vega
  • Most likely to succeed at MLB level: none projecting to MLB from here at this time.
  • Most likely to get cut first: Peroni

 

So that’s our Catcher depth.  Did I miss anyone?

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: