Nationals Arm Race

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

2021 CWS Super Regionals Recap and CWS Field set

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  • #1 Arkansas vs NC State: Arkansas destroyed NC State in game one 21-2. That’s a beat-down. NC State rebounded to force game 3, where they shocked the nation’s #1 team to advance as an unseeded team to Omaha.
  • #8 Texas Tech vs #9 Stanford: Stanford shocked the host Texas Tech team 15-3 in game one, then blanked them in game two 9-0 for a dominant super regional win on the road.
  • #5 Arizona vs #12 Ole Miss: Arizona with relative ease in game one, and Ole Miss trounced them in game two to force the tiebreaker. Arizona rebounded again in game 3, with a 16-3 destruction to punch their ticket to Omaha.
  • #4 Vanderbilt vs #13 East Carolina: Vandy’s two aces dominated ECU, giving up just one run between them, and Vanderbilt advances to the CWS with ease.
  • #3 Tennessee vs LSU: Tennessee held serve in game 1 and handled LSU in game two with ease to move to the finals as a big favorite.
  • Dallas Baptist vs UVA: DBU with the close one in game 1, getting to UVA ace Andrew Abbott and holding on for the win. UVA blanked the Patriots in game two behind 7 2-hit innings from Griff McGarry (who sported an ERA north of 6.00 on the season) to force the Monday tie-breaker. In the breaker, UVA’s freshman Nate Savino struggled early, was replaced by middle reliever Matt Wyatt, who shut down DBU for the rest of the game, setting the stage for a clutch 7th inning Grand Slam from Kyle Teel, their best hitter on the season, to move them to Omaha.
  • #7 Mississippi State vs #10 Notre Dame: Miss State outslugged ND in game one 9-8. Notre Dame blasted the SEC team 9-1 to force the Monday tie-breaker. There, Notre Dame just couldn’t score enough to overcome their own pitching and lost 11-7.
  • #2 Texas vs South Florida: Texas won a close game 1 and blew out the cinderella team in game 2 to advance to Omaha.

Super Regional predictions: Arkansas, Texas Tech, Arizona, Vandy, Tenn, UVA, Notre Dame, Texas.

Super Regional actuals: NC State, Stanford, Arizona, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, UVA, Mississippi State, Texas. Prediction went just 5 for 8 in the super regionals.

CWS field: 

top half: NC State, #9 Stanford, #5 Arizona, #4 Vanderbilt

bottom half: #3 Tennessee, UVA, #7 Mississippi State and #2 Texas

Despite losing the #1 overall seed, Omaha is pretty stacked, with 5 of the best 8 teams in the land, plus #9 Stanford who dominated the #8 seed to move on.  We’re about to see some really good baseball.

Star Power in the CWS:

  • Vanderbilt: Leiter and Rocker, both likely going top 5 of the 2021 draft in a few weeks time, continue to show why Vandy is the team to beat.
  • Texas: Ty Madden, their Ace, continues on and might be in the mix for the Nats pick at #11.
  • UVA: Zach Gelof, Andrew Abbott, Mike Vasil: all likely 2nd day picks.
  • Mississippi State: Wil Bednar, Christian MacLeod, two solid arms.

Predictions? 

  • In the top-half: It is hard not to look at the way Vanderbilt’s two aces can dominate even a top offensive team like ECU and not just pencil them in for wins.  Look for Vanderbilt to win the first two games of their CWS bracket, then wait in the final.  Stanford took 2 of 3 versus Arizona at home in May, but the friday night game was a 13-inning affair that saw both teams’ aces give up runs, so its hard to predict who might come out of the loser’s bracket, but i like Arizona to challenge Vandy but ultimately lose.
  • In the bottom half…#3 Tennessee is my favorite here, despite being the slight underdog to #2 Texas. D1Baseball has Tennessee above Texas in their rankings, and I wonder if Texas will save their ace for game 2 as a result. Tennessee will start with UVA, while Texas will start with Mississippi State. I like the top 2 seeds to move on, with Tennessee eventually advancing out of the group.

This would leave a CWS final of Vandy vs Tennessee, a rematch of a mid-April 3-game series at Tennessee where Vandy won 2 of 3, beating Leiter in the saturday game. Still thinking Vandy takes this.

Written by Todd Boss

June 15th, 2021 at 11:32 am

Posted in College/CWS

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2021 CWS Regional Results, Super Regional Pairings

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So, something happened with my blog hosting provider and I believe they lost some prior posts. I can no longer see my 2021 CWS regional prediction piece. I suspect a hosting failure. Nonetheless, here’s a recap of the 16 regionals.


Quick Regional Recaps

We’ll review the 16 regionals in order of the larger bracket.  Bold is the host/seed.

#1 Arkansas regional recap: #1 seed got a scare from Nebraska, got extended to the 7th game but advanced.

#16: Louisiana Tech regional recap: host La Tech scored a lot .. but also let NC State score a lot too and the ACC team advances.

#8: Texas Tech regional recap: Texas Tech managed to beat each of the 3 teams in its region to advance without much fuss.

#9: Stanford regional recap: UC Irvine extended the Cardinal, but Stanford prevailed.

#5 Arizona regional recap: Arizona handled #3 seeded UC Santa Barbara to advance without a loss.

#12 Ole Miss regional recap: Ole Miss got pushed by its in-state rival Southern Miss, but won out the 7th game.

#4 Vanderbilt regional recap: Vandy’s two aces provided the first two wins, and they dug deep to take out Georgia Tech in the regional final.

#13 ECU regional recap: East Carolina held serve over a plucky Maryland team to win.

#3 Tennessee regional recap: Tennessee outlasted local favorite Liberty, who blasted ACC champ Duke en route to the final.

#14 Oregon regional recap: Host Oregon could not stop LSU from fulfilling its destiny; they came out of the loser’s bracket to bash their way to the super regionals.

#6 TCU regional recap: TCU got knocked out by perennial power house Oregon State, but it was regional power Dallas Baptist who advanced.

#11 ODU regional recap: A crazy weather weekend featured the #1 seeded ODU taking out the host South Carolina, but UVA fighting out of the loser’s bracket to force the extra game, which got pushed to Tuesday morning. there, UVA walked off the win in extra innings to advance.

#7 Mississippi State regional recap: cruised to a 3-game regional win.

#10 Notre Dame regional recap: Notre Dame bashed their way to the super regional, scoring 50 (fifty!) runs in 3 games to win what looks like easily the weakest regional.

#15 Florida regional recap: powerhouse program Florida absolutely did not show up at their regional, going 2 and out as a national seed and losing their 2nd game 19-1. South Florida, the #4 seed in the group, takes out upstart South Alabama to advance in a shock.

#2 Texas regional recap: Texas destroyed all three teams in their regioanl, advancing by a combined score of 33-5 to move on.


Predictions versus Actuals:

  • Predicted: Arkansas, Alabama, Texas Tech, Stanford, Arizona, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt, ECU, Tennessee, LSU, TCU, UVA, Miss State, Notre Dame, Florida Texas.
  • Actual: Arkansas, NC State, Texas Tech, Stanford, Arizona, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt, ECU, Tennessee, LSU, Dallas Baptist, UVA, Mississippi State, Notre Dame, South Florida, Texas

So I got 13 out of 16 right. Missed on Alabama, TCU, Florida.



Summary of Regionals statistically:

  • 11 of 16  hosts advanced. 
  • Just 1 of the 8 national seeds fell (#6 TCU)
  • 4 of the 9-16 seeds fell: La Tech, Oregon, Florida, ODU
  • 11 number one seeds, 1 number two seeds, 3 number three seeds, and 1 number four seeds advance to the super regionals.
  • 4 number of #4 seeds who didn’t finish 4th in their regional; NJIT, South Florida, Central Michigan, North Dakota State
  • 1: number of #4 seeds to get opening wins.  only South Florida
  • Most surprising regional winner: South Florida, obviously. Amazing when a #4 seed advances.
  • # of “extended” regionals: 7 of the 16 went to the last game.

Conference Breakdowns of the teams in the Super Regionals:

  • SEC: Arkansas, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, LSU, Mississippi State,
  • ACC: NC State, Notre Dame, UVA
  • Big12: Texas Tech, Texas,
  • Pac12: Stanford, Arizona
  • Big 10: zero
  • Others: East Carolina (AAC), Dallas Baptist (MVC), South Florida (AAC)

Very top heavy; SEC gets 6 of the 16 super regionalists. The rest of the top baseball conferences each get 2-3 teams as one might expect.


Super Regional Matchups:  the higher ranked team is the host unless otherwise noted.

  • #1 Arkansas vs NC State
  • #8 Texas Tech vs #9 Stanford
  • #5 Arizona vs #12 Ole Miss
  • #4 Vanderbilt vs #13 East Carolina
  • #3 Tennessee vs LSU
  • Dallas Baptist vs UVA
  • #7 Mississippi State vs #10 Notre Dame
  • #2 Texas vs South Florida

Super Regional Thoughts/Predictions

  • #1 Arkansas vs NC State; Arkansas is just too powerful and won’t be stopped.
  • #8 Texas Tech vs #9 Stanford: I think Texas Tech is the favorite here.
  • #5 Arizona vs #12 Ole Miss; a tough one to predict; Arizona looked a bit better in their regional.
  • #4 Vanderbilt vs #13 East Carolina; Vandy not getting stopped in a super regional where they have the clear pitching advantage.
  • #3 Tennessee vs LSU; LSU was swept at Tennessee earlier this year; it seems like that may happen again. LSU’s cinderella season ends.
  • Dallas Baptist vs UVA: So, neither team put in a bid to host, so neither team could get a home field advantage; the Super Regional is being played on the campus of South Carolina, as was the ODU regional earlier. I think UVA has the advantage here.
  • #7 Mississippi State vs #10 Notre Dame; I like what Notre Dame does at the plate and pick them to advance.
  • #2 Texas vs South Florida: Texas looks way too strong.

CWS field predictions: Arkansas, TT, AZ, Vandy, Tenn, UVA, Notre Dame, Texas.


CWS Predictions: Early CWS final prediction:  I like Arkansas over Vanderbilt and have for a while. But both are projecting to the same bracket in Omaha. So i’m going with Vandy vs Texas with Vandy winning.


Star Power at Super Regionals

Here’s a quick glance at the top draft picks that are still alive in the Super Regionals:

  • Vanderbilt: Leiter and Rocker, both likely going top 5
  • Texas: Ty Madden, their Ace
  • Ole Miss: Gunnar Hogeland, their Ace
  • NC State: Luca Tresh, a likely 2nd round Catcher, Jose Torres their SS.
  • UVA: Zach Gelof, Andrew Abbott, Mike Vasil: all likely 2nd day picks.
  • Mississippi State: Wil Bednar, Christian MacLeod, two solid arms.
  • Arkansas: Christian Franklin, OF.
  • East Carolina: Gavin Williams, RHP
  • LSU: Landon Marceaux their new ace, but Jaden Hill was their friday night guy who went down with TJ and may still go first round.

College CWS tournament references:

Written by Todd Boss

June 8th, 2021 at 1:22 pm

Posted in Nats in General

2021 Draft Coverage: Mock Draft Mania and current draft trends

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Jack Leiter has been in 1-1 consideration forever. Photo via sportsnet

We’re starting to get into draft season!

Here’s my current collection of Mock Drafts from leading pundits.  We usually see the first crazy-early mock just after the 2020 drafts, then again after the end of the 2020 season when the draft order is more or less determined, then it really starts to heat up in May.  Thanks to the draft moving back to July/All Star break, we will get a whole new batch as players finish up college seasons and start wood bat leagues/show cases.

I’ll keep adding to this list as Mocks come in and re-publish just before the draft with a final prediction.  In the mean time …


Here’s the Mock draft collection.  I’ve generally listed their top-5 and then who they project the Nats to take at #11 (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) Way too Early 2021 Mock, 6/12/20: Kumar Rocker, Jack Leiter, Brady House, Adrian Del Castillo, Matt McLain
  • Prospects365 (Mason McRae) 2021 Mock draft v1.0 6/25/20: Rocker, Leiter, Jud FabianLuke Leto, McLain
  • Prospects365 (Mason McRae) 2021 Mock draft v2.0 9/4/20: Rocker, Fabian, Leiter, Del Castillo, Jaden Hill
  • Prospects365 (Ian Smith) 2021 Mock Draft 1.0 11/9/20: Rocker, Leiter, Jordan Lawlar, Hill, Fabian.  Nats take James Wood, prep OF from IMG Academy in Fla.
  • BA (Collazo) v1.0 Draft 1/4/21: (missed it)
  • BA (Collazo) v2.0 draft 3/29/21Jordan Lawlar, Rocker, Leiter, Marcello Mayer, Del Castillo.  Nats take House.
  • MLBPipeline (Callis/Mayo) Apr 2021 mock draft 4/26/21: Leiter, Lawlar, Rocker, Mayer, House.  Nats take Jackson Jobe, RHP, Heritage Hall HS (Okla.).
  • BA (Collazo) v3.0 Mock draft 4/28/21: Leiter, Lawlar, Mayer, Rocker, House.  Nats also take Jobe.
  • MLBpipeline (Callis): May 2021 mock 5/6/21: Lawlar, Leiter, Mayer, Rocker, House.  Nats at 11 take Jobe.
  • CollegeBaseballDaily May 2021 mock 5/12/21: Rocker, Leiter, Lawlar, Kahlil Wilson, Mayer.
  • MLBpipeline (Mayo) May 2021 mock 5/20/21: Mayer, Lawlar, Davis, House, Leiter.  Nats take Ty Madden, RHP Friday night starter from UTexas.
  • BA (Collazo): v4.0 Mock Draft 5/24/21: Lawlar, Mayer, House, Leiter, Davis.  Nats take Jobe.
  • ESPN/McDaniel Mock 1.0 5/25/21: Lawlar, Leiter, Mayer, Rocker, Davis.  Nats take Jobe.

My thoughts on the top of the draft, based on what we’re seeing.

  • Three of the names that have been projected in the top 5 have been there since the beginning (Kumar Rocker, Jack Leiter, Brady House).
  • Very early in the spring HS season, two prep HS short stops in Jordan Lawlar and Marcello Mayer started getting mentioned as top5 guys … and now several mocks are thinking they go 1-2.
  • Rocker and Leiter’s starts are hyper overanalyzed each week; Leiter missed a start and suddenly the next mock dumped him out of the top5.
  • I really like Leiter; if you’ve seen him pitch, he looks like he could be in a MLB rotation right now.  Rocker is impressive, but has been really inconsistent and I could see him slipping.
  • College catchers who can hit go high; see Adley RutschmannHenry Davis fits that boat and is a safe pick for a team that has been burned in the past by either a prep kid or a pitcher.  He’s going to go high.

My current prediction on the top5 (which excludes any bonus money shenanigan picks that we’re hearing Baltimore may pursue) would basically include the 5-6 names just high lighted here, in some order.

What about the Nats at 11?

Well, its pretty notable that a number of the Mock drafts all have the Nats taking the same kid: prep arm Jackson Jobe. Yes, another pitcher. And a HS one at that. Echos of the failure we saw in our ability to capitalize on Lucas Giolito, or the ridiculosly bad luck of the Mason Denaburg pick.

I’ve seen a couple outlier mocks here and there; i’ve seen Ty Madden mentioned (#2 Texas’ friday night starter) and Sam Bachman (Miami of Ohio’s big arm). Both are safer than a prep arm … but both also might be gone by #11 based on these projections. I’d like either honestly; i like college track records.

Notably … nobody has them on a bat. I know this will irritate some who read this (ahem KW), but there’s no point fighting it. If it wasn’t clear by now, this team focuses on pitchers in the draft and then uses them like currency to acquire bats later on. So, be prepared for another pitcher-heavy draft in July.

Written by Todd Boss

June 4th, 2021 at 2:17 pm

Posted in Draft

2021 CWS Field of 64 Review and Predictions

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Wow, it feels good to be back (somewhat) to normal. The 2021 College World Series field of 64 was announced over the weekend, which will feature 16 mini tournaments to determine who advances to the “Super Regionals” next weekend. This is a great, fun weekend of college baseball coming up, and there’s all sorts of local rooting interest and national draft interest in the field.

We had no 2020 event, and in 2019 I didn’t do a ton of coverage, so here we are. Lets review the field of 64, note some of the more interesting matchups, and make some predictions. I’ll list these in the order of their eventual Super Regional matchup (i.e. #1 national seed’s region then #16 national seed region, then #8/#9, etc).

#1 Arkansas, with Nebraska, Northeastern and NJIT. The #1 seed, which did not win its own conference, gets a very difficult #2 seed in Big12 champ Nebraska, who is ranked #42 in RPI. I’m not saying they’re going to lose, but certainly this is one of the more difficult #2 seeds. Prediction: Arkansas

#16: Louisiana Tech, who gets NC State, Alabama and Rider. Alabama as a #3 seed is kind of ridiculous; they played top 25 teams 22 times this year. They’re higher RPI than NC State. La Tech lost its conference championship but rocketed up the RPI rankings into a host, but I don’t think they can beat two solid down-division teams from ACC/SEC. Prediction: Alabama.

#8: Texas Tech, who gets UCLA, UNC and Army. Kind of a tough #2 seed for a national seed in UCLA, who got a number of top-25 wins this year. I smell a slight upset possibility here. Prediction: Texas Tech.

#9: Stanford, who gets UC Irvine, Nevada and North Dakota State. Stanford had a very solid season, and UC Irvine is the kind of random California team that excels only in baseball and can give the blue bloods fits, but not this year. I like Stanford here.

#5 Arizona, who gets Oklahoma State, UC Santa Barbara and Grand Canyon. Oklahoma State is quite high in RPI, but sports a pretty poor record against top25. This will be an interesting show-me series between two solid teams in the top secondary divisions in the sport. I also like the secondary story of GCU, which is the sole for-profit Division 1 team in the country and who has had spats with other Pac12 members publicly about whether they were even eligible to compete. I like Arizona to move on.

#12 Ole Miss gets Southern Miss, Florida State and Southeast Missouri State. A very talented top 3 here, all with pedigree and top-25 history. I have no reason to doubt the SEC team Ole Miss moves on, especially at home.

#4 Vanderbilt gets Georgia Tech, Indiana State and Presbyterian. I’m still not quite sure how Vandy ever loses, with its two top starters (Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter) both projected to go in the top 5 of the draft and a slew of other talented players in the lineup. They get a gift of a regional, with Ga Tech down in the 40s in terms of RPI.

#13 ECU headlines a local-favorite filled regional that includes Charlotte, Maryland and MEAC champ Norfolk State. ECU isn’t quite as good as they have been in the past but was a top25 regular this year and should move on.

#3 Tennessee gets an interesting draw in ACC champ Duke, local favorite Liberty and Wright State. It isn’t often that the ACC champ isn’t a regional host, but Duke didn’t really merit it during a down year for the ACC. Liberty has done some damage this year locally, but won’t be able to take down the national power Tennessee.

#14 Oregon hosts Gonzaga, LSU and Central Connecticut. LSU was a pre-season favorite to fight for the title before losing their friday starter (Jaden Hill) to TJ surgery. They survived an awful start to the season to qualify and I think they’re a dark horse. I think Oregon is weak this year, and Gonzaga is a geographic-based seed to save on travel dollars. LSU to advance.

#6 TCU gets a tough regional for its troubles, with Oregon State, Dallas Baptist and McNeese State. Dallas Baptist isn’t as good as they have been recently, but did win their conference… as did Lake Charles’ McNeese State, who led the way in a sneaky good baseball conference and could make some noise. Hard to bet against the powerhouse TCU, but this regional may be tough.

#11 ODU, for being a top 10 team this year, somehow doesn’t get the honor to host and has to travel to South Carolina to compete in a regional where they’re the #1 seed. They’re joined by UVA and Jacksonville as perhaps the best #4 seed in the tourney as the Atlantic Sun champ. Tough break for ODU, who I think falls to South Carolina. UVA makes the tournament in a down year, but just doesn’t have the bats to compete.

#7 Mississippi State gets VCU, Campbell and Stamford in a relatively easy regional.

#10 ACC Champ Notre Dame, hardly a baseball power, gets UConn, Michigan and Central Michigan in a regional that seems designed to ensure a cold weather team makes it to next weekend. UConn normally is solid but is down this year, so Notre Dame (who got shellacked in the ACC tournament by UVA) moves on.

#15 Florida gets a very “Florida” regional, with South Alabama, long-time rival Miami and South Florida in their regional. I can see a Florida-Miami winner’s bracket final, but otherwise see no reason to doubt Florida moving on.

#2 Texas, who is overseeded by a handful, nonetheless gets a very easy regional with Arizona State, Fairfield and Southern. Interestingly, Fairfield is the #2 team in the nation in RPI, having gone 37-3 this year, albeit with no games against anyone in the top 50.


So, i’m going mostly chalk, with a couple of upsets. We’ll see how it plays out. Games start friday at Noon!

Written by Todd Boss

June 1st, 2021 at 3:48 pm

Posted in College/CWS

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Big Board operations for 2021

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FYI, I’m trying a couple of things new this year on the Big Board, which stems from my decade-long attempts to track (primarily pitcher) movement through the system.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/186nm-v5F-zTCoR2Be7TFYM3e2cZ-gYi2WVqJLEkHdmc/

This is the Big Board link, fyi. Here’s some things to look for this year:

  • I’m going to track promotions and demotions of players to try to show on the board who is really making a move up or down. In the Position field I’m color coding Green for promotions and Red for demotions. I’m not counting the opening day rosters; this is day 1 forward moves.
  • I will periodically look at position player box scores to try to ascertain who is the “starter” at each position, but won’t really try too hard for the lower minors. That’s because they use the DH, and if someone is DHing on the day i don’t want to list them as not being the starter.
  • I have the Rotations set, and they’re all synced up right now so that across the board (from MLB on down) all the pitchers set to go on (say) Tuesday are listed in the same row on the sheet. All our systems are using 5-man rotations, and even low-A seems to be sticking with it despite doing lots of tandem starting before.
  • I’ve also tried to put the relievers somewhat into their roles; Closer, Setup, middle relief, lefty relievers and long relievers. This is, of course, kind of impossible to be right on perpetually, and pitchers frequently throw multi-inning stints despite being called “the closer” or a “setup guy.” Furthermore, loogies are a thing of the past, so it may not really be that accurate to classify a guy as “just” a lefty reliever. But it looks good so far.
  • At the very far right there’s an “Extended Spring Training” column to hold players who don’t seem to be assigned anywhere right now. As always, sometimes players sit there for quite a while before suddenly reappearing. And, since Milb.com doesn’t always get a press release when someone has been released, its possible there are players listed as active who have gotten cut.
  • GCL and DSL rosters are the hardest to keep track of; they’re all placeholders for now until we get to the opening day for both. Honestly, i hate attempting to track DSL since the information is spotty and huge percentages of players in the DSL never even get to a domestic league, but we’ll try.

I’ve cleared out the NRI color coding at this point, since it was making readability nearly impossible. I did not track Luke’s watchlist players this year either for the same reason. We do still track 40-man roster players in grey and original Nats signees/draftees in blue.

Hope you’re well. As always, if there are any mistakes in the board please let me know.

Written by Todd Boss

May 27th, 2021 at 3:18 pm

Posted in Nats in General

State of the Minors, Week3

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First off, here’s the records of our teams after three 6-game series (link to all MiLB standings here)

  • AAA: 4-14 (tied for worst in league)
  • AA: 6-12 (last place in division)
  • High-A: 9-9 (2 games out of 1st)
  • Low-A: 1-17.

I asked Keith Law a question in his chat last week about Fredericksburg, who was 0-15 at the time, asking whether they would ever win and he thought I was exaggerating. He replied as much, posting their team batting and pitching stats in amazement.

Lets do a quick run-through who’s looking good and bad around our minor league affiliates. I use links that i store in a page here: https://www.nationalsarmrace.com/?page_id=16709 so you can use the same shortcuts i’ve collected over the years.

AAA observations:

  • Who’s hot: Palka, Sanchez, and Garcia not half bad at the plate.
  • McFarland in the bullpen is on a hot streak, with 9 Ks in his last 4 innings.
  • Who’s not: Kieboom; just 2-15 last week, still hitting under .200 for the season. WTF.
  • Not ONE of our AAA starters was even halfway decent last week. Braymer is really struggling in particular, concerning since he’s one of our 40-man covering starters.

Who is next to get called up? I don’t see ANYONE really making a statement at AAA demanding a call-up. Nobody. We have seven 40-man guys in AAA (plus two more who are on IL) and there’s no burning reinforcements for the big club.

Who is next to get demoted or released? Carlos Tocci is 1-19 on the season and the team has at least 7 outfielders on the roster … time seems short for this veteran MLFA.


AA Observations

  • Who’s hot at the plate: Jakson Reetz, of all people, 5/14 in the last week with some power.
  • In the rotation: Teel, Cate and Sharp had solid weeks on the mound. Teel isn’t exactly a swing-and-miss guy but he’s getting results.
  • Sanchez has 20/2 K/BB on the season right now.
  • Baldonado: 8Ks, 0BB in 4ip last week. not to shabby.
  • Unfortuantely, Reetz is the team leader in BA for the season at a paltry .237.
  • Did you know there’s not a single 40-man player in our AA team? AA is generally where the best near-MLB ready prospects get sent by most franchises as a finishing school and we don’t have a single prospect in that category.

Who is next to get promoted? I think Klobotis is making a statement: 14/1 K/BB in 8 innings, and has given up just 2 hits on the year. I think Baldonado needs to move up as well; he was in AAA 3 years ago and now is 28 overmatching kids in AA.

Who is next to get demoted or released? I mean, nobody’s hitting on this team but 21MLFA SS/2B Osvaldo Duarte is 8-51 with 21 Ks and just 4 walks in a position that is completely replaceable.


High-A observations

  • Who’s hot: the entire outfield is crushing the ball; Rhinesmith, Connell and Canning lead the team in BA and OPS over the last week, with Rhinesmith just crushing the ball in particular going 11-20 in the last week.
  • Another solid start for Cade Cavalli.
  • What is going on with Rutledge? In 4 starts, he now has an ERA north of 12, he’s given up 17 hits in 10 innings and has a 10/9 K/BB ratio. I’m sorry, but this just isn’t going to cut it. It’s starting to look like he’s out of his element in High-A. And it REALLY is starting to look bad for pundits who thought he is a better prospect than Cavalli.

Who is next to get promoted? Alex Troop; who has a 0.46 whip and 12/0 K/BB in 8 innings in middle relief.

Who is next to get demoted or released? Rutledge. I think he needs to go to Low-A and regroup unless he’s hurt.


Low-A

  • At least they got a win.
  • their BEST hitter by OPS is hitting .219 (Jake Randa)
  • Junior Martina had a nice week.
  • The team did not hit a single home run in the last series.
  • The starting pitching is SO BAD in Low-A that not one single pitcher qualifies for the ERA title.
  • That being said, a couple of starters actually had solid starts: Karlo Seijas: 7ip, 3hits, 8ks, 0 walks. More of that please.

Who is next to get promoted: Nobody. Not one single pitcher is making a case, nor are any of the hitters.

Who is next to get demoted/released? There’s a slew of hitters with really ugly lines right now: Jeremy Ydens is 4-41 on the season, Kevin Strohschein is 8-50 with 13Ks and a walk … and 1 RBI. He’s the 1B. Nothing positive in F-burg.

State of the Minors, week 2

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Cole Henry has looked great so far in 2021. Photo via ai.com

Well, if there was any better indication of just how bad the farm system is … you can go look at the records of our four minor league affiliates through two weeks.

  • AAA: 2-10
  • AA: 4-8
  • High-A: 6-6
  • Low-A: 0-12

Your Fredericksburg Nats are Oh and Twelve. 33 runs scored, 121 against. They’re giving up an average of 10 runs a game, with a current run differential of -88 runs. Wow. So far, the owner of the franchise is reeeaaaallly digging the talent level he’s got to open up his $35M stadium. (Ah who am i kidding, he didn’t spend a dime of his own money, the taxpayers did! I digress).

The only team in the system actually trying (High-A Wilmington) is “only” 6-6. But we’ll get to them.

Ok, so who is hot and who is not after two full 6-game series? We’ll go by level. Here’s who’s “Hot” by level:

AAA:

  • Raudy Read: 5-15 through first 12 games. But he’s on the IL. And listed as a 1B. I mean, is the guy actually catching anymore? Tres Barrera seems to be getting the bulk of catcher ABs, which makes sense since he’s the only guy on the 40-man.
  • Most of the back-end of the bullpen: Bacus, Bonnell, McGowin, Miller and Lobstein all have decent numbers in their few innings of work so far.

AA:

  • Cole Freeman has had a nice start to the season
  • Teel, Sanchez and Reyes in the rotation all have had two decent starts.
  • Sanchez in particular: 15Ks, 1 BB so far in 3 starts.
  • Sterling Sharp rebounded from his awful opener to be pretty stellar in his second start.
  • Gabe Klobotis: 5IP, 2 hits, 7/0 K/BB. How was this guy a 36th rounder??

High-A:

  • Henry and Cavalli: well, they’ve lived up to the hype. Henry has given up 9 base runners in 11 innings and 4 of them scored; his K/BB is actually better than Cavalli’s.
  • Zack Brzycky: where did we get this guy? $10k NDFA last season just shows up at high A slinging dots. 9IP, 4 hits, 14/4 K/BB? yes I’ll take that.
  • Alex Troop: 5ip, 10 Ks, zero BBs, 1 hit. And that one hit scored.
  • Matt Cronin: picks up where he left off in 2019; 5.1 IP, one hit, 11/2 K/BB. Move him up with Henry and Cavalli at the end of the month.

Low-A:

  • Well, Michael Cuevas has had a nice start; 4ip, 1 hit.
  • Mitchell Parker started decently but got hit hard in his 2nd start. He still has 15 Ks in 7innings … to go along with 7 walks.

OK, who is NOT Hot? Well, mostly everyone, but i’ll highlight a few in particular.

AAA:

  • Luis Garcia: hitting just .205 albeit with three homers.
  • Carter Kieboom: he’s only appeared in 7 games?!? What is going on? Hitting .222. We care about basically two bats in the whole of AAA and these two are it, and the opening to the season has been rough.
  • The entire Rotation: the best starter in AAA is Sean Nolin, who the team acquired with like a few days notice to be the AAA opening day starter. Can you feel the excitement?
  • Ryne Harper: the guy was good in 2019 for the Twins; now he’s 32 and struggling in AAA. He’s currently occupying the #1 position on the “first guy to get axed from 40-man when we need to make room for someone.

AA:

  • The entire offense: the team is hitting a collective .151/.235/.247 for the season. .151 team batting order. Some how they’ve won 4 games hitting .151 as a team.
  • Tim Cate: 3 starts and struggling. 1.85 whip, a .315 BAA.

High-A:

  • Again, the entire offense. they’re hitting a collective .208
  • Yasel Antuna: He’s 2 for 40. Two for Fourty!! This is one of our top hitting prospects, a guy who was a MLB spring training invite. What is going on?
  • Israel Pineda: slightly better at 5 for 42. 3 of those 5 hits are homers. This is perhaps the 2nd best prospect on the team.
  • Jackson Rutledge: who had him with an 11.32 ERA through three starts?
  • Evan Lee: two starts, didn’t make it out of the 2nd in either start.
  • Todd Peterson: for a guy who hung around MLB camp as long as he did … he’s not starting well.

Low-A:

  • Everyone.
  • The offense is .167/.280/.222 as a team
  • The pitching staff has a collective 8.12 ERA and a 1.95 whip. As a staff they’re putting on 2 guys an inning.
  • The rotation is so bad they don’t have a single qualified hurler.
  • They have more guys with double digit ERAs than they have guys who have sub 7.00 ERAs.
  • Leif Strom has perhaps the most unimpressive pitching line: 3 appearances/2 starts, a 19.29 ERA. He’s thrown 7 innings, given up 18 hits and 9 walks. 23 runs allowed, but only 15 earned thanks to some stellar defense behind him

It can only get better from here right? A team can’t go winless for 140 games can they? 🙂

Next to get promoted: Cavalli, Henry, Cronin

Next to get demoted/released: Strom, maybe Harper getting DFA’d.

Observations on the first time through the Minor League Rotations

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Well, we’re a week into the season and we’ve seen one turn through the minor league rotations. Lets take a quick look at what we’re looking at for rotations at the four full season levels and do a quick observation of who looked hot and cold.

These rotation orders are maintained on the Big Board, where i’ve also attempted to put the bullpen into their roles (Closer, Setup, middle relief, loogy and Long Reliever/spot starters). That effort may prove to be impossible to maintain, especially in lower levels where they’ve gone to tandem starts in years past, but we’ll see how it goes.

The rotations, despite the minors going to 6-game series, seem to be 5-man rotations, which isn’t nearly as neat as it could be, but whatever.

Rotations by level:

  • AAA: Nolin, Fuentes, Braymer, JRodriguez, Armenteros,
  • AA: Cate, MSanchez, Teel, Sharp, LReyes
  • High-A: Rutledge, Adon, Cavalli, Henry,
  • Low-A: Strom, Seijas, PGonzalez, Parker, Theopile

Who looked good:

  • Carson Teel: managed to go 5 innings, unlike the rest of the AA rotation. Gave up 4 hits and just one earned run. Not bad.
  • Cade Cavalli: 5ip, 2 hits, 7Ks, zero runs in his pro debut? More please.
  • Joan Adon: Same whip as Cavalli but still relatively unhittable despite giving up a couple of runs. I like his easy action and I think he’s a fast mover this year.
  • Pedro Gonzalez: just 3 1/3 but 1 hit and 2 walks against 5 Ks in low A at age 20. I’ll take that.
  • Mitchell Parker: 7Ks in 4innings in his pro debut. Works for me.

Who looked awful

  • Steven Fuentes: not a great start, but a quick hook compared to the next guy.
  • Jefry Rodriguez: geeze; 6 walks and didn’t make it out of the first?
  • Sterling Sharp: not a good start, at all. 8 runs in less than 3 innings in AA when he was pitching in the majors last year.
  • Tim Cate: somehow, his ERA is higher than Sharp’s.
  • Leif Strom: 2ip, 7 runs .. ugh. He was so bad it already looks like he has been replaced in the rotation, in that he pitched a couple innings in the Theopile start.
  • Karlo Seijas: the worst start of anyone: 2/3 of an inning and 7 runs.

Reactions and Observations of Full Season Rosters (hitters)

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After washing through dozens of names shifting around on the Big Board (and hopefully not making any cut and paste errors), here’s my non-pitcher related observations to the rosters and movement of players around the system


AAA Rochester: The roster lists 5 catchers, which is kind of odd but clearly to me Brandon Snyder is the starting 1B here, despite being listed suddenly for the first time in 2021 as a catcher.

The hitters are very MLFA heavy: 9 of the 16 non-pitchers in AAA were MLFA acquisitions, including two that happened just in the last couple of weeks in Daniel Palka and Ramon Flores. Both project to be backup outfielders to the presumed starting OF of three other MLFAs in Yasmany Tomas, Carlos Tocci and a hopefully healthy Gerardo Parra.

The infield features two very important former prospects in Luis Garcia and Carter Kieboom, both of whom were signed/drafted in 2016 and both of whom really need to have a successful 2021 at the plate. Kieboom more so than Garcia.

I’m kind of surprised the team signed two veteran MLFAs instead of promoting up some of its long-serving minor league guys, players like Rhett Wisemann and Nick Banks.


AA Harrisburg: Not a lot of defense on this team, with several guys who primarily play 1B on the roster (Corredor, Mendoza, Sagdal and Harrison. Only 3 OFs listed, meaning likely that these 1B guys are covering in a corner. We see both Wisemann and Banks showing up here; they should be the starting corner OFers, but based on a lack of promotion to AAA they may be org-guys waiting to get cut. This is where we see Cluff arrive.

Pretty surprised not to see Antuna here. Why wouldn’t you put him at AA? we’ll see where he shakes out.

Not a very compelling AA roster from a player perspective…Is the best hitting prospect Drew Mendoza? Also, there’s only 26 players listed … out of a roster size of 30?


High A Wilmington: The high-A roster is populated with a weird combination of decent prospects (Antuna and Gage Canning) as well as a slew of what seems like org-guys (20th+ rounders and 7th or 8th year IFAs). Cavalli’s personal catcher Brad Lindsly is here as a 3rd catcher on a limited roster. I don’t see an obvious choice to play 1B on the existing roster, making me wonder if we’ll see a couple more bats added soon. Also, some oddities going on with the rosters: the Wilmington press release listed Jack Dunn on the roster, but transactions list Cole Daily on the roster … which would make sense since he’s a 1B that could play there; but the milb.com site doesn’t have Dunn, who does not appear in the player archives anywhere. I’ll chalk it up to data oddities with thousands of players moving around on the day the leagues launch.


Low A Fredericksburg‘s roster of out-field players looks really weak; I don’t see a single top-30 prospect among any of the hitters listed. Not one. And we have a really crummy farm system. We do have a bunch of younger prospects who are listed, but who clearly aren’t ready for low-A, guys like Jeremy De La Rosa, Daniel Marte and Viandel Pena. There’s also some interesting names left in the far right XST column post assignment, guys like Telmito Augustin.

2021 Full Season Affiliate Rosters announced

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Steven Fuentes will be an important member of the AAA rotation to start the season. Photo nats official via federalbaseball.com

This is a quick announcement with some links and to basically notify everyone that I’ve updated the Big Board for the four full season affiliate rosters just announced. I’ve also eliminated the Fredericksburg “extended spring training camp” … hopefully for the last time.

Here’s direct links to the four rosters:

Anyone not known to be released i’ve stuck in the XST roster to the far right of the big board.

As far as I can tell, here’s the likely rotations for the four clubs, based on prior usage and how I’d allocate the arms. This is of course a WAG until the first week of the season shakes out the true rotations. I’ll list a 6-man rotation since, with the move to 6-game series, it’s highly likely we’ll see 6-man rotations throughout the minors.

  • AAA: Armenteros, Baez, Braymer, Fuentes, Jefry Rodriguez and newly signed MLFA veteran lefty Sean Nolin.
  • AA: Cate, Lee, Mario Sanchez, Sharp, Teel and I guess Luis Reyes.
  • High-A: Adon, Cavalli, Dyson, Henry, Peterson and Rutledge.
  • Low-A: Pedro Gonzalez, Parker, Pena … and I have no idea; everyone else I have listed as a reliever from last year.

My thoughts on Arms that are or are not on each roster.

AAA pitching staff thoughts: somewhat surprised Sharp is not here. Not entirely surprised Romero is not. In a further indictment of the Nats development, nearly the entire AAA bullpen are MLFAs. Of the 10 bullpen arms in AAA, 7 are minor league free agents, an 8th is a trade acquisition who has already been outrighted (Bacus), a 9th is another trade acquisition in Ryne Harper, and the 10th is a twice-MLFA resigned former draft pick in Ronald Pena who is now entering his 9th minor league season with this team. That’s just crazy.

Missing older arms that should be here, guys like Aaron Barrett, Javy Guerra, Andrew Istler, etc. I wonder if they’re still hurt. Where the heck is Nick Wells? (answer; not on the milb.com page but in the press release)


AA pitching staff: we see Sharp starting in AA when he was on Miami’s MLB roster last year, likely a bitter pill for him. I sense the AA roster is still a bit light as of this writing and may see a couple more arms added. I like Cate and I can’t wait to see what Sanchez can do here. I can’t believe Romero isn’t at least here. Klobotis is on this roster; still cannot believe how successful he has been as a 36th round draft pick.


High A pitching staff; well, if you want to know what the future of the franchise is, you’re driving to Wilmington. Basically the entire top side of our top10 list will be in the Wilmington rotation. Headlined by top end draft picks from the last couple of years in Cavalli, Rutledge and Henry, but also including farm system dark-horse Adon and Peterson, who stuck around MLB camp nearly the longest of any prospect this year. In the bullpen we have our two best reliever prospects in Powell and Cronin (who closes?) There’s no room in the rotation for 2018 3rd rounder Reid Schaller, who may do tandem starts or might get moved to the pen. I expect lots of scouts in Delaware this summer.


Low A pitching staff: First thing that pops up here is the sudden presence of Tanner Driskill, who missed all of 2019 with injury (I guess), then was MIA in 2020 like everyone else. I thought he was released two years ago. Good to have him back in the fold.


Tomorrow I’ll post some thoughts on the non-pitcher rosters, noting interesting machinations from a player movement perspective.

(Note: as it turns out the MILB.com rosters may not entirely be in sync with the press releases identifying opening day rosters, so apologies if some of the above is slightly wrong.