Nationals Arm Race

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Too Old for the level Revisited

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Brady House is certainly NOT too old for his level. Photo via primetimesportstalk.com

One of the key points in evaluating minor league prospects (or any amateur prospect really) is the consideration of their age in relation to their level. We constantly see added on to the evaluation of a player’s stellar performance at a certain level the caveat of, ” … but he’s old for the level.”

I did a deep dive on this back in 2011, trying to compare the rules of thumb advertised by expert minor league evaluator John Sickels versus our own observations. Now, 10 years on, with evolutions of player development, minor league consolidation, the removal of an entire Short-A level, and the compressing of the lower ranks of the minors, I thought i’d revisit it.

My working guesses before going in and looking at the data are:

  • The compression of the minors will mean that there will be an older skew of players now in Low-A.
  • Hitters will generally be younger than Pitchers, since we have such a prevalence of injuries in the sport which delays pitcher development.
  • the lost Covid year will add at least a half a season or more, especially to pitchers who got hurt at the wrong time (see Irvin, Jake below)

My methodology was to grab the entire list of players with non-trivial stats (meant to remove rehab assignments that would skew the average ages) from the four main full season levels, and grab average ages. Unfortunately fangraphs only lists the “age” and not the birthday for minor leaguers, so this is a bit of an estimate (and thus I couldn’t get meaningful quartile/median figures). I wasn’t willing to scrape dozens of rosters from milb.com to get actual birthdays … so this will have to do. I also only grabbed the leagues where Nats have affiliates; otherwise this would have been 3x the spreadsheet work. I think its a safe assumption that the average age of the players in the Eastern AA league is roughly the same as the Southern AA league.

To start, here was the old Sickels “rules of thumb” for age expectations in the four full season leagues:

  • AAA: Typical Age range is 23-24.  Age 25 depends.  26+ is old
  • AA: 22-23.  24 depends.  25+ is old
  • High-A: 20-22.  23 depends.  24+ is old
  • Low-A: 19-21.  22 depends.  23+ is old

This already seems way low, especially in AAA, where we now know that teams store tons of 4-A 40-man roster guys who will press the issue. But we’ll get to that.


Here’s 2021 full season average age analysis for Hitters with > 30Abs for the year:

  • AAA Hitter Avg Age:  26.53801
  • AA Hitter Avg Age:  24.11027
  • High-A Hitter Avg Age:  22.92832
  • Low-A Hitter Avg Age:  21.40741

and here’s fy2022 so far for hitters with > 30ABs this season:

  • AAA Hitter Avg Age:  26.599
  • AA Hitter Avg Age:  24.169
  • High-A Hitter Avg Age:  22.705
  • Low-A Hitter Avg Age:  20.975

And here’s a bit of a deeper dive into the 2022 hitter data, with quartiles shown:

 MeanYoungest0.25Median0.75Oldest
Low-A Hitter Avg Age: 20.9751552795031820212225
High-A Hitter Avg Age: 22.7046979865771922232427
AA Hitter Avg Age: 24.1689189189192023242533
AAA Hitter Avg Age: 26.5985130111522225262834

So, what are we seeing in Hitters?

  • In Low-A for Hitters, we’re seeing a bit of an inflation of ages from the old rule of thumb, with the 25%-75% quartile range going from 20-22, whereas before it was 19-21.
  • There’s nobody in Low-A right now younger than 18 and you can count on one hand those who are 18. Washington’s T.J. White is one of them. Makes sense; you draft a HS kid and they’re going to generally start in the complex league, and only if they’re stellar will they make the next year’s low-A team … and White was really young for his class out of HS.
  • The average age for high-A hitters jumps more than a year and a half from the Low-A average. interesting. Does this imply that it’s going to take kids a year and a half to get out of low-A now? This would seem to support the argument that we could really use another level (you know, something like Short-A?)
  • The Average age for AA hitters jumps up another year and a half from High-A, showing that the old rules of thumb are now completely antiquated. The average age in AA for hitters is now north of 24.
  • AAA average age is pretty useless in aggregate because of its status as a “spare parts” league. If you’re a prospect rising the ranks (like Cade Cavalli) there’s some analytical value to seeing just how young someone is as compared to the average age, but otherwise the prospects generally are in AA or below.

Lets look at pitchers.

Here’s 2021 full season average age analysis for Pitchers with > 20IP for the year:

  • AAA Pitcher Avg Age:  26.90933
  • AA Pitcher Avg Age:  24.76211
  • High-A Pitcher Avg Age:  23.28326
  • Low-A pitcher Avg Age:  21.93048

and here’s fy2022 so far for Pitchers with > 10IP so far this season:

  • AAA Pitcher Avg Age:  27.33068
  • AA Pitcher Avg Age:  24.5873
  • High-A Pitcher Avg Age:  23.23485
  • Low-A pitcher Avg Age:  22.03472

And here’s a bit of a deeper dive into the 2022 Pitcher data, with quartiles shown:

 AverageYoungest0.25Median0.75Oldest
Low-A pitcher Avg Age: 22.0347222222221921222329
High-A Pitcher Avg Age: 23.2348484848482022232426
AA Pitcher Avg Age: 24.587301587302212324.52530
AAA Pitcher Avg Age: 27.3306772908372225272937

So, what are we seeing in Pitchers, as compared to Hitters?

  • Right now, the fy2022 data on just a few weeks is almost identical to the full season fy2021 data, which shows that teams have already made consistent adjustments to the loss of Short-A.
  • Low-A pitchers are on average a full year older than the hitters at the level, and the 25%-75% quartile range is also a full year older.
  • The age difference is less pronounced in High-A and AA: high-A pitchers are on average a half a year older, while AA pitchers are on average 3-4 months older than the pitchers.
  • AAA goes back to half a year older between hitters and pitchers, but again these numbers are greatly skewed (especially on the pitcher side) by the large number of veteran arms in their late 20s/early 30s giving it one more shot (our own AAA team has more than a few).

So, what’s our new “rules of thumb” for being “too old for the level?” I think it has to adjust from the old days.

  • AAA: Typical Age range is 25-28.  A prospect at the age of 26 is iffy. 27+ is considered old for the level (with all the above AAA caveats). However, if you’re 27 and in AAA, you’re already passed through rule-5 draft, you’re probably pretty close to a 6-year MLFA and you’re not a “prospect” any more anyway. So these rules of thumb really don’t apply to AAA.
  • AA: typical age range is 23-25.  A prospect at 25 is iffy. 26+ is old for the level.
  • High-A: 22-24.  24 depends.  25+ is old
  • Low-A Hitters: 20-22 range, 23 depends, 24+ is old
  • Low-A Pitchers: 21-23 range, 24 depends, 24+ is old

Now, looking at our new rules of thumb, lets do a quick run-through of our notable prospects per team, and comment as to their relative age. This is not a comprehensive list of every player on the roster; just those “top players” who have appeared on prospect ranking lists lately.

  • Frederick’s Low-A Hitter Prospects: House (19), Infante (21), De La Rosa (20), White (18), Boissiere (22): they’re all within the appropriate range right now. Nobody is “too old” here. House and especially White are really young for the league. Boissiere is the oldest prospect here, and he’s repeating the level after struggling in his draft year/age 21 season. Nothing to worry about yet. We do have a couple of “too old” for the level players in Martina and Millas, but they just promoted Millas up as I was writing this draft.
  • Frederick’s Low-A Pitcher Prospects: Lara (19), Rutledge (23), Saenz (23): Lara obviously is young, while Rutledge is pushing the range of acceptability, especially for such a high draft pick and his highly visible failings so far. Saenz is also 23, along with some newer additions like Glavine and Schoff, both senior signs in their first full year of pro ball. While we’re all concerned about the fact that Rutledge can’t find the plate, the rest of these guys are not yet in the “too old” category, but are a little concerning.
  • Wilmington’s High-A Hitter prospects: Antuna (22), Pineda (22), Barley (22), Mendoza (24). So, despite our continual angst about Antuna’s progress, he’s still within the 75% quartile range for age in the league at age 22. He won’t turn 23 until October. His bigger problem is that the team put him on the 40-man way, way too early, and now he’s burned 2 options. Mendoza is in the “depends” category and we all know why: he failed at AA, got demoted last year, and has zero homers through 25 games in 2022 despite basically being a DH at this point.
  • Wilmington’s High-A Pitcher prospects: Parker (22), Brzycky (22), Shuman (24), Irvin (25). So, Parker and NDFA Brzycky are both actually young for High-A. Shuman is in the iffy range; he was excellent for Oakland’s High-A team, then was awful for us in 2021, earning himself a return trip to Wilmington in 2022 … but he’s been pretty solid so far. My guess is that he earns a promotion soon. Meanwhile, we now know that Irvin is way too old for High-A, but we also know why: he missed two full years of throwing with Covid and TJ. He’s also been basically unhittable in High-A in five starts and likely gets promoted within a few weeks.
  • Harrisburg’s AA Hitter prospects: Cluff (25), Alu (25), Harrison (25). We don’t have a lot of hitter prospects in AA; even these three guys are challenging the definition of “prospect.” Cluff is really the only guy who gets any industry-wide speculation. All three are 25, putting them all in the “iffy” category anyway. Cluff and Harrison are really struggling this year. Alu just turned 25 last month, and is hitting well in 2022, but has little prospect buzz.
  • Harrisburg’s AA Pitcher prospects: Henry (22), Carrillo (23), Cronin (24), Cate (24), Evan Lee (25). So, Henry is quite young for AA and is lighting it up, a great sign. Cronin and Cate are still “ok” for the level at this point, even if Cate struggled so badly last year. Lee is already “iffy” even though he just got put on the 40-man, but his AA performance so far has been stellar and he should get pushed up soon. Nobody “too old” here who’s a prospect. We do have several arms in AA who are way too old to be there (Herrera, Brill, Andrew Lee)
  • Rochester AAA Hitter prospects: Casey (26), Barrera (27). We don’t have a lot of prospects in AAA right now. Casey is “iffy” as a prospect based on age, but he’s a banner child for the Covid effect; he lost 2020 after earning a promotion to AA in 2019 at age 23; then he loses his age 24 season, solves AA at age 25 but has struggled in AAA ever since. So, its possible this is his peak. Meanwhile, we know Barrera is too old for AAA, and probably too old to be a “prospect” at this point, but he’s also a catcher on the 40-man roster and is next in line if Ruiz/Adams gets hurt. So he falls into the “AAA as spare parts” league category.
  • Rochester AAA Pitcher prospects: Cavalli (23), Seth Romero (26). As with hitters … our AAA is not really a place where we bring up our prospects. Cavalli at 23 is one of the youngest pitchers in AAA right now (only 7 arms in the International League are 23 or younger, most of them major prospects whose names you already know). Romero at 26 is “iffy” as a prospect, which makes me laugh to write since he’s been “iffy” as a prospect since the moment he was kicked off his college team. I still can’t quite believe he’s in the employ of the team, and it should make you sick that he was called up to then be put on the major league 60-day DL, thus meaning he’s earning MLB salary this year.

Conclusions? the Nats are generally keeping their prospects in the appropriate level, and the “too old for the level” iffy considerations all have easy-to-see explanations.

Written by Todd Boss

May 12th, 2022 at 9:45 am

Best Baseball movie of all time?

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I have not done a Baseball Movie themed post in years. I’ve thought about it … since we’ve had a couple of random baseball movies released since the origins of this blog 10+ years ago and i’ve seen some baseball-movie themed blog posts here and there, but never pulled the trigger.

But today, lo and behold, in my inbox from MLB was a link to vote in a crowd-sourced baseball movie bracket, and I just had to post it, and turn it into a blog post since i’m on a deathly conference call that I only have to pay attention to for a few minutes…

https://www.mlb.com/brackets/mlb-bleacher-features

I’m going to play through the entire bracket, talk about movie snubs, and arrive at the best baseball movie.

First off, here’s the baseball movies of note that I’m aware of from the pantheon that did not make the top 16 below. I’ve listed them in rough order of their own quality … and in the rough order that you may argue to replace ones from below.

  • Pride of the Yankees, with Gary Cooper playing Lou Gehrig. Probably more famous for its depiction of his retirement than of his playing ability, since reportedly Cooper was so unathletic they couldn’t even show him playing the sport.
  • Bang the Drum Slowly: Great movie, not exactly rewatchable as a story about a catcher slowly dying, but full of significant, Oscar-pedigree actors.
  • Damn Yankees: well, if you wanted to see a musical about Baseball, with balding middle aged actors singing in the locker room instead of playing the sport, this is your movie.
  • 61*: Billy Crystal‘s tribute to the 1961 season and Roger Maris‘ pursuit of Babe Ruth‘s record. Barry Pepper and Thomas Jane as Maris and Mickey Mantle are great, and the movie is well done.
  • Sugar, an inspirational story about a Dominican kid who washes out of the minors and struggles to find himself in America. Well regarded.
  • The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings: little known Baseball comedies that do not rate and that i’ve never seen.
  • Soul of the Game: Despite its topic, i’ve never seen it. But it does not fare well with the critics, which is too bad b/c a great movie about the Negro Leagues would be awesome to re-watch.
  • Million Dollar Arm; Jon Hamm travels to India to recruit cricket players to play baseball. The only problem with this plot? Top Cricket players in India are paid millions of dollars a year.
  • Cobb: Tommy Lee Jones plays a great turn-of-the-century racist bastard of a player in a movie that wasn’t really that re-watchable.
  • Mr. Baseball: a movie that wouldn’t be made today, Tom Selleck faces culture shock playing in Japan. has not aged well, nor did Selleck’s baseball playing ability.
  • Mr. 3000: Bernie Mac as a showman attempting a comeback with an unbelievable plot of a showy retired slugger having exactly one career hit over turned, leaving him with just 2,999 for his career.
  • The Babe: Do you remember John Goodman‘s depiction of Babe Ruth fondly? I don’t.
  • The Scout: Brendan Frasier was not terribly believable as a baseball player in a forgettable movie.
  • Hustle: did you even know they made a movie about Pete Rose? I’ve never seen it.
  • Fever Pitch, Summer Catch: just no.
  • Little Big League, Air Bud: 7th Inning Fetch: formulaic Disney kids movies, barely behind the other formulaic Disney kids movies that did make the cut below.
  • Major League II, Major League III, Bad News Bears sequels?: sequels never work, but Major League III was an abomination.
  • The Benchwarmers, Hardball: awful, awful and more awful.

I’m sure i’m missing some; feel free to comment and tell me what baseball movies i’ve missed.

Of the above, I’d have probably replaced several of the below with the top movies from above … but nobody alive today is really rewatching Pride of the Yankees or any of the others listed, so maybe the snubs aren’t really snubs.

Ok lets get to it.

Methodology: I have none. What makes for a “great baseball movie?” Is it great baseball action? Is it the movie itself, whether or not the baseball scenes work? Is it a believable plotline? Is it the Acting? Is it rewatchability? For me, its some nebulous combination of all of the above, which is why I knock out the movie with the most Oscar nominations in the first round. Everything below is IMHO, your opinions may vary.

Here’s the MLB Movie knockout round of 16 with my comments.

  • #1 Field of Dreams vs #16 Angels in the Outfield: #1 v #16 seed is never going to be an upset, though Angels in the Outfield (despite some of Danny Glover‘s best work outside of the Lethal Weapon franchise) was never going to press it. Field of Dreams is solid, but has its flaws; we’ll be getting to them soon, but it moves on here. Winner: Field of Dreams.
  • #9 The Natural vs #8 For the Love of the Game: See, right away we get a heavy weight matchup, and what more would you expect form the #8 vs #9 seed. For me, despite Kevin Costner‘s really amazing athletic performance as an aging MLB pitcher in For the Love of the Game, the movie is absolutely crippled by the crap “love story” that keeps interrupting the baseball story. Every scene with Kelly Preston is fast-forward material. Oh, and John C. Reilly as the catcher is so completely unbelievable that it distracts even from Costner’s performance. Meanwhile, there’s nothing more iconic than Roy Hobbs, and the Natural was never going to lose here. Winner: The Natural.
  • #5 The Sandlot vs #12 The Perfect Game: legendary baseball film versus a feel-good story starring the same guy who was made famous for smoking Ganga on film; how do you choose here? The Sandlot transcends culture, with its famous lines like “You’re killing me Smalls” and its legendary scenes. Perhaps a movie starting Cheech will age better, but the Sandlot has to move on. Winner: The Sandlot.
  • #4 The Bad News Bears vs #13 Rookie of the Year: I see what they’re doing here: all the little leaguers are in one quadrant, to ensure that a movie about kids is in the semis. Ok, fair enough. So, despite the Bad News Bears (which I HAVE to believe refers to the Walter Matthau version and not the 1995 remake with Billy Bob Thornton) not really aging that well (some of it is absolutely cringe worthy today), Rookie of the Year is awful. I mean … ok, suspend disbelief about the plot involving a kid who can suddenly throw 110mph for a bit; the ending is ridiculous. Bears move on. Winner: Bad News Bears
  • #3 League of their Own vs #14 The Rookie: tough matchup here; Lets just say from the get-go that League is going to be tough to beat. I’ll give props to Dennis Quaid for his believable performance as Jim Morris (here’s his baseball-reference page, btw, MLB debut at 35), but the movie itself was typical Disney fluff (it was rated G). We’ll cover League in a moment; it clearly moves on here. Winner: League of their Own.
  • #6 Eight Men Out vs #11 42: tough one here; I can see some people arguing with me. Eight Men Out was not only a fantastic baseball movie with well done baseball action scenes, it was a fabulous period piece about the 1919 Black Sox and the culture that led to their scandal. Technically “42” was also a period piece … a throwback to a transitional time in baseball’s history, and the actors involved reportedly struggled greatly to curse at Chadwick Boseman (who was amazing as a young Jackie Robinson before he became the superstar actor he eventually became). I’ll never forget the one scene in Cincinnati, where Pee Wee Reese comes up to Robinson and puts his arm around him… but Harrison Ford‘s awful acting performance and the lack of real rewatch ability (it is really difficult to watch a movie where they so freely use the n-word over and over) crushes “42” for me in the end. Winner: Eight Men Out
  • #7 Major League vs #10 Trouble with the Curve: this is a blowout for me: Trouble with the Curve was an awful movie full of bad cliches and unbelievable scenes related to the way scouting and drafting occurs. It depended on hit-you-over-the-head racist tropes related to the discounting of the Latino hurler at the end. Amy Adams‘ performance was annoying throughout. Winner: Major League.
  • #2 Moneyball vs #15 Bull Durham: I’m sorry, but this seeding is whack. This is a semi-final caliber matchup between two movies that are attempting to accomplish two drastically different things. You just cannot compare a legendary comedy versus a well-executed drama. That being said … despite Moneyball getting six Oscar nominations … it’s story (as written by author Michael Lewis) was a flawed retelling of the famous 2002 Oakland Athletics (baseball reference link here: https://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/OAK/2002.shtml), spending almost zero time on the fact that the Athletics had three ace starters that year in Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder, and Barry Zito (who won the Cy Young), nor that the team’s lineup was anchored by Eric Chavez and Miguel Tejada (who won the MVP). Not to mention, the entire Jonah Hill character was made up, thanks to Paul DePodesta not wanting to appear in the film. Oh, and making Art Howe look like a stiff (both in the book and in the movie) was ridiculous. Moneyball may be the better “movie,” but baseball fans know it focuses on the wrong things that made the 2002 Oakland team winners. Winner: Bull Durham.

Quarter finals

  • #1 Field of Dreams vs #9 The Natural. I’m already going for the upset here. Field of Dreams was a solid movie, which makes me cry at the end every time when Kevin Costner gets a catch with his dad. But the movie has huge plot issues, not the least of which is the fact that the amount of corn he plows over to make the field absolutely will not send his farm under. A baseball field takes somewhere between 3-5 acres to make, and one acre of corn fields produces less than 200 bushels of corn a year, and corn sells for about $5 a bushel. Do the math. Corn farmers in Iowa have thousands of acres, have million-dollar harvesters … and losing a couple of acres of land directly next to the house isn’t making that big of a difference. The story is fine, the period piece baseball is great, but the whole hidden voice as the plot driver makes no sense based on where the Costner character goes and ends up. Oh, and by the way, the James Earl Jones character is absolutely reacting if he’s sitting in Fenway Park and hears a damn voice. Winner: The Natural
  • #5 The Sandlot vs #4 The Bad News Bears. Even though Bears has not aged well, I recently re-watched The Sandlot, and, well, it just isn’t that good. Its a fun piece about a bunch of neighborhood friends that’s less about baseball and more about just growing up and getting into hijinks. They barely play any actual baseball, and the step-dad’s actions are completely unbelievable (if you’re a baseball fan, and your non-athletic kid asks to play catch … that’s every dad’s DREAM; you drop what you’re doing and help, you don’t hem-and-haw about how you have a bunch of work). Oh, and some random neighbor just happens to have a baseball signed by the entire 1927 Yankees team sitting around and is willing to give it up to some punk kid who broke into his property?? Even in 1962, that would have been a priceless piece of memorabilia, let alone what its value would be now. Yeah right. Winner: Bad news Bears
  • #3 League of their Own vs #6 Eight Men Out: two period pieces, one of which is pretty unique in sports history, that being the AAGPBL. Bill Simmons just did a rewatchable deep dive into this movie on his podcast called, fittingly, The Rewatchables, and its hard to find too much fault here. Eight Men Out, despite its excellent baseball scenes and reenactment of the 1919 scandal, does not match up and drags at times. Its an important movie of course, and D.B. Sweeney‘s baseball prowess is pretty impressive (he learned how to hit left-handed and look believable in order to play Shoeless Joe Jackson). Winner: League of their Own
  • #7 Major League vs #15 Bull Durham: You see, again, this is a semi-finals matchup of quality. And, I see again what they’re doing here; putting all the major baseball comedies into one quadrant so that the final four basically has just one comedy. Fair enough. As much as I love both of these movies, there’s parts of Bull Durham that detract from the re-watchability. Its hard to watch some of the dramatic scenes that they put in between the baseball scenes. Tim Robbins is pretty darn good, as is Costner of course. But, Major League all-in-all is funnier. It’s a raunchier watch, more laugh out loud moments, and the first 30 minutes are just absolute gold, one liner after one liner. Winner: Major League

Semis:

  • #9 The Natural versus #4 The Bad News Bears: This is no contest; the acting, the storyline, and the baseball performances in the Natural, especially out of Robert Redford as an aging slugger, are second to none. There’s some weird plot holes, and I struggle with the ending just a little bit (they couldn’t find a kid to play his son who couldn’t throw the ball like an actual baseball player??), but the run of aging-poorly scenes and themes from the 1976 Bad News Bears causes its demise. Coach freely cursing in front of his team? Sharing his beer with a minor? Kids Smoking cigarettes? A father slapping his son across the face in broad daylight? Yeah; just one of a few of the things that make this “kids movie” unshowable to your, you know, actual kids. Winner: The Natural
  • #3 League of their Own vs #7 Major League. wow. Tough on here. I like both movies. I have yet to comment on Tom Hanks‘ amazing rendition of Jimmy Foxx in this movie, nor the great one-liners he gets in that transcend culture (There’s no crying in baseball.”). Nor have we talked about the pretty solid performances of Rosie O’Donnell and Madonna and Lori Petty and especially Geena Davis as players. From a comedy perspective though, it can’t hold a candle to the raw in-your-face antics of Major League. League is a better ‘story’ and has as good of baseball action as they could muster, given that actresses don’t actually play baseball at any point in their lives. But Major League wins. Winner: Major League

Final:

#9 The Natural v #7 Major League. In some ways, this is impossible to gauge, because we’re talking about the best ever baseball Drama versus the best ever baseball comedy. But we’ll try:

  • The Natural pros: great baseball action, great story, easily weaves in a number of solid dramatic actors with a completely believable set of baseball players. Amazing, transcendent ending, with the filmmaking to go with it.
  • The Natural cons: Hobbs would have healed from his wound in a couple years tops; where the heck has he been for a decade and a half? And the girlfriend never went looking for him, ever? Even when she had his kid all those years? Really? He struck out Babe Ruth in front of a leading sportswriter for a national paper … and then nothing ever came of it? The Hollywood ending differs from the book; does that matter?
  • Major League pros: Charlie Sheen could actually throw in the mid 80s. The baseball players were mostly believable. Pedro Ceranno‘s lines are amazing, as are the quotes from this movie (“that ball wouldn’t have been out of a lot of ball parks…”). As I’ve said before, the premise of the movie is hilarious and the first part of the movie, from the recruitment of players to spring training, is just gold.
  • Major League cons: Tom Berenger is the lead, and he’s not a good actor, and he’s not a believable baseball player. Explain to me again why his ex-gf dumps her fiancee and her new life to return to him? What exactly did he do to win her back?

The Natural, at the end of the day, is the best combination of Movie and Baseball; it’s the winner.

Winner: The Natural


By the way, If I was re-seeding this draw …. i’d seed it as follows:

  1. The Natural (#9 here)
  2. Major League (#7)
  3. Bull Durham (#15)
  4. Moneyball (#2)
  5. League of Their Own (#3)
  6. Field of Dreams (#1)
  7. Eight Men Out (#6)
  8. 42 (#11)
  9. Bad news Bears (#4)
  10. The Sandlot (#5)
  11. For the Love of the Game (#8)
  12. the Perfect Game (#12)
  13. The Rookie (#14)
  14. Trouble with the Curve (#10)
  15. Rookie of the Year (#13)
  16. Angels in the Outfield (#16)

So, I’ve got some serious problems with their rankings. If the seedings had gone this way, We’d have Moneyball in the semis.

Written by Todd Boss

May 5th, 2022 at 9:22 am

Quick thoughts on the MLB and MiLB rotations one month in

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Cade Cavalli not yet ready for the big-dance. Photo via Lookout Landing blog

Every year i’m excited to start tracking our minor league pitching, and rotations in particular … and a month in, here’s some quick, random, small sample sized, perhaps not fully backed by statistics or sabremetrics thoughts on our rotations of the four minor league full season affiliates. And just for good measure, i’ll throw in thoughts on the debacle of the MLB rotation as well.

For reference, as always here’s the Big Board, which has the rotations in their pitching order lined up on the same day as the corresponding MLB pitcher, along with the rest of the staffs and their approximate roles. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/186nm-v5F-zTCoR2Be7TFYM3e2cZ-gYi2WVqJLEkHdmc/

Note: this was written on Monday 5/2/22 during an off-day so any moves that have happened since are not accounted for.


MLB Rotation

https://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/WSN/2022.shtml

  • Grey: after a scuffling start, has put in a couple of really sterling outings and is starting to look like the headlining prospect we gave up Scherzer and Turner for. FIP is a bit higher than his ERA, which is indicative of his high walk rate, but he’s mowing them down to the tune of 10.7 K/9.
  • Adon: a 7.33 ERA and equally ugly whips and fips show that, as i’ve maintained for most of the last year and a half, he’s overpromoted. One September start against Boston seems to have blinded fan-boys across the Natmosphere into where Adon really is. He’s 23, which is generally the age of our current high-A rotation, and you can count the number of starts he’s had above AA on two hands. I think he needs to be in AAA.
  • Corbin, who is making $23M this year and is under contract through the 2024 season (and its balloon gift payment of a $35M payroll figure that year) continues to dumbfound observers; how could someone be so effective two years ago and fall apart so comprehensively? He’s now posting an 8.69 ERA, a whip north of 2.0, and a 43 ERA+ this season. His only saving grace right now is his obscenely high BABIP of .443, which leads to a normal looking FIP of 3.69 … better than Grey’s amazingly. So, maybe he’s just had a very unlucky April in terms of balls finding their way into the outfield. Either way, he’s not going anywhere, not when he comprises such a large percentage of the payroll and there’s nobody really pushing from AAA for a promotion.
  • Fedde, the guy who I was convinced would get non-tendered this off season (given that he was out of options and pitched horribly in 2021), instead is tendered a contract and given $2.1M guaranteed dollars to be our 5th starter … and has been pitching like it. 6.00 ERA, 1.55 whip, mediocre FIP. He’s yet another example of a guy who, if he had been a 15th rounder and gotten $125K as a signing bonus would have LONG ago been DFA’d and buried in AAA, but because of the “investment” made in him in terms of signing bonus so many years ago, continues to throw MLB innings that virtually ensure losses.
  • Aaron Sanchez at one point was a Fantasy stud, a phenomenal starter for Toronto. Now he’s back in the majors and probably has a pretty extended shot at sticking around. His first two starts were meh, but his peripherals don’t look too bad yet. Now that he’s back in the majors though, he’s got enough service time to refuse a demotion, so he’ll either stick or get DFA’d. My guess is that if he shows any promise whatsoever, he’ll stick in the rotation at the expense of someone else, and the team will look to flip him at the deadline.
  • Josh Rogers was the guy who i thought merited a rotation spot from the get go, not some hail-mary chance at MLFA/NRI/washout Anibel Sanchez. But hey, old habits die hard right?
  • Speaking of Sanchez, he managed to hit the DL pretty much the MOMENT his $2M salary was guaranteed … and it remains to be seen when we’ll see him again. Nice move! His official DL reason was “Nerve impingment in neck.” Anyone want to bet how many starts we get out of him this year?

Hitting the 60-day DL before the season even started were our $35M albatross Stephen Strasburg, who the team still says expects to throw “20-25 starts” this year. I’ll take the under. Joe Ross is earning $2.4M this year to probably sit on the DL for several months with his elbow bone ship removal surgery just done. And of course who can forget our favorite 1st round draft pick Seth Romero, who was recalled and dumped onto the 60-day DL with what was called a “calf strain,” this after suffering a ‘stiff back’ during spring training, and this after suffering a “rib injury” that cost him half of 2021. At what point can he suffer a “DFA injury?”

Next to get demoted/released? I can’t imagine Adon will be allowed to pitch like this the rest of the way and will eventually get pushed back to AAA. Fedde may get the dump if/when one of the DL starters is ready to return … but more likely Rogers (who has options) gets moved since the team has “less invested” in him of course.

What do I think happens next? No changes until Strasburg/Sanchez/Ross is ready to come off the DL.


AAA rotation:

https://www.milb.com/rochester/stats/pitching/games-started?playerPool=ALL

  • Sanchez: promoted and with good reason: 3 starts, 3.60 ERA is best of the AAA rotation, even if his peripherals were not that great (10/5 k/bb in 15 innings, 1.47 whip).
  • Verrett: I think he’s meant more to be a reliever but has 2 starts and 7 IP.  Maybe they put Braymer back in rotation.
  • Tetreault: 1.54 whip, 5.56 ERA but his fip is going to be lower b/c his BAA is decent.
  • Cavalli: interestingly on 13 Ks in 15 innings right now, ugly era 6.23, but his whip is not bad 1.27 and he’s only got a .234 BAA.
  • Reyes: an offseason MLFA who now has a 14.18 ERA … seems like he’s getting ready to get released.
  • Jrodriguez: weird numbers: 8.31 ERA but only a .184 BAA. .. oh its b/c he has 10 walks in 13 innings.  Another guy who seems to be just holding down a rotation spot til they’re ready to promote someone from AA.
  • Sharp: put in a spot start in place of the now departed Sanchez and wasn’t half bad (5ip, 4hits 2 runs), and should probably go into the rotation.

Next to get promoted? Nobody is earning it anytime soon; maybe someone like Sharp if they need a spot starter in the majors, but the Nats already has a couple guys in the bullpen who can do that (Espino, Voth).

Next to get demoted/released? Reyes seems to be out of here soon. JRodriguez may not be far behind.

What do I think happens next? Reyes gets released, the team promotes two guys from AA, Verrett and Sharp go back to the pen and we run with Tetreault, Cavalli, JRodriguez and two guys we’re about to cover in the next section…


AA Rotation:

https://www.milb.com/harrisburg/stats/pitching?playerPool=ALL&sortState=asc

  • Fuentes: 4 competent starts so far; no surprise from someone who should be in AAA. Whip is a little high, should be doing more against AA pitchers.
  • Gausch: Decent numbers, 3.66 era, 1.27 whip, really nice BAA of .194. Pretty good for his first time facing AA hitters. Probably needs to do this for most of the season before promotion.
  • Henry: uh… 13 ip, just 3 hits given up to go with 4 walks. So that’s around 1/2 a baserunner per inning. It goes without saying his era is 0.00 and his BAA is a miniscule 0.073. But, the team is only throwing him 3-4 innings an outing. Obviously, a month in the guy is looking like a sure fire promotion but he’s gotta get his endurance up.
  • Herrera: ERA ugly, but peripherals not bad. He’s too old for the level and either needs to move up or out.
  • Lee: about what we’re expecting; lots of Ks and lots of walks (14/10 in 14 innings). ERA belies some bad peripherals and he’s likely to see that rise soon. Needs more time.

Next to get promoted? Henry and Fuentes.

Next to get demoted/released? Herrera.

What do I think happens next? We probably don’t see much change here for another month, then we see Henry and perhaps Fuentes moved up. Who takes their place? Well, not for nothing but two of our more advanced SP prospects (Cate and Carrillo) are on the AA DL right now; Cate is doing rehab starts and is back soon, Carrillo’s shoulder barked and he may be out for a bit, but it’d make sense for these two to slide in before considering a High-A promotion. They also have an excellent long reliever/spot starter in Alex Troop who is having a fine season who could slot into the rotation soon. There’s nobody really pressing in the immediate from High-A for now, so solutions may come from within. See Next section.


High-A

https://www.milb.com/wilmington/stats/pitching?playerPool=ALL&sortState=asc

  • Cuevas: solid. 2.79 ERA, 1.09 whip, .179 BAA. That’s not bad for a 23rd rounder who hasn’t turned 21 yet. We may have a find on our hands here.
  • Irvin: 4 starts after two lost seasons and things are looking promising; miniscule 0.69 ERA, similarly small whip, great k/bb 13/2 in 13 innings. Like Henry above him, Irvin is being eased back into starts, just going 3 or 4 at a time, but we’re starting to remember why we drafted him.
  • Merrill: strugging; a walk an inning. a 5.00 ERA that might be higher in FIP. Might make sense to put in the pen.
  • Parker: is continuing the great performance we saw last year in Low-A so far; 2.08 ERA, a .111 BAA. 25 Ks in 17 innings is amazing … but 14 walks in 17 innings is not.
  • Shuman: repeating the level and posting a 5.27 ERA, though his peripherals indicate that’s unlucky. He’s one-thrid of trade bounty we got from Oakland in the Gomes/Harrison deal last trade deadline, so the team doesn’t have a ton invested.

Next to get promoted? Cuevas and Irvin, but no time soon.

Next to get demoted/released? Shuman.

What do I think happens next? Irvin isn’t moving up until he’s doing 6ip a night, same as Henry, so maybe both their fates are tied to each other. Cuevas is lower profile and young, so he might not be moving up anytime soon either. Two of the long relievers here (Knowles and Pena) are having solid seasons and could move into the rotation if need be. There’s not a lot of pressure in Low-A pushing up right now, so we may see this unit intact until the July (see next).


Low-A

https://www.milb.com/fredericksburg/stats/pitching/games-started?playerPool=ALL

  • Lara: 6.75 ERA, but a nice K/BB 21/6 in 14 innings. He’s punching a ton of guys out, but letting in a ton of contact. He’s only 19, 3-4 years younger than anyone else in this rotation, so we should be patient here.
  • Saenz: a nice line of 3.74 ERA, 1.34 whip, 26/6 K/BB in 21 innings. This is a solid line and should he continue it he should be in line to move up later this season.
  • Theophile: Crushing it so far in a huge turnaround from last year in the same level: 0.86 ERA through 4 starts, and a great 30/5 K/BB in 21 innings. Love that line. I’d like to see this continue for a while though, since he got shelled for the same team last year (5.56 ERA in 22 starts)
  • Alvarez; 5.93 ERA, decent K/9 numbers, 1.46 whip. Probably needs to step it up a bit.
  • Caceres is the only guy here who didn’t end last year on this staff and it shows: ERA north of 7 but an interesting 20/3 k/bb ratio in 14 innings.
  • Collins: the 2021 17th rounder ended last year in the Low-A rotation but now is getting stretched out a bit and the early returns are good: 20/3 K/BB in 12 innings, 3.55 ERA, 1.11 whip. I like that.

Its hard to tell if Low-A is doing a 6-man rotation or is throwing a 6th spot starter in all over the place. They also have Seijas in the pen who is throwing almost starter innings in relief (though not that effectively).

Next to get promoted? Theophile

Next to get demoted/released? Caceres.

What do I think happens next? there’s a couple guys sitting in XST who might profile here (Dyson, AHernandez, Stoeckinger if he’s still with the club at this point). But more likely the team shuffles around its long relievers to fill rotation spots if they need them until we start seeing the FCL team start to play and the 2022 draft take shape. We may end up with an SEC starter in the upper rounds who could go straight to low-A mid-season once the deck chairs start to shuffle. Until then, I can’t see anyone getting promoted, even Theophile, for another month at least.

Written by Todd Boss

May 3rd, 2022 at 10:40 am

2022 Draft order, Bonus Pools, Pick values Finalized

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Druw Jones, son of Andruw Jones, is in the running to be the 1-1 pick in the 2022 draft; which team will get him? Photo via espn.com

It’s a bit early to think about the Rule IV (aka Amateur) draft, but with our team dead last in the NL and going nowhere, we’re clearly in rebuilding mode, and the draft is the best way to acquire new talent.

Over the weekend, MLB officially announced the Bonus pools and individual pick values, and by association essentially announced the official draft order as well. Lets talk about each one.

Draft Order Finalized

Click here for the draft order on MLB.com as it is now essentially finalized (we’ll talk about why its not entirely finalized in a moment). The Nats will be picking at #5, 45, #84, #111, #141 … then every 30 after that for 20 rounds. So, three picks in the top 85 picks for us this year.

The MLB.com site does a good job showing the added picks, but doesn’t show the lost picks in this page. Luckily for you, I’ve got a spreadsheet for that.

Click here for the full draft order with lost/moved picks shown where they originally were. Here you can see the original and gained/lost picks.

  • Only one team lost its first rounder this year: the Los Angeles Dodgers, which had its pick dropped 10 places for luxury tax violation purposes.
  • Five teams lost their 2nd rounders for FA signings, the highest (and perhaps most curious) being Texas, who lost the 44th overall pick (and its $1.75M slot value) when they signed Marcus Seiman to a last place team. Others losing 2nd rounders include the Angels, Philly, Boston, and the Dodgers of course.
  • Four (mostly lower-payroll) teams lost their third rounders: Also Texas (for Corey Seager), Minnesota, Detroit, and Seattle.

I wonder if Texas wasn’t given some sort of implicit ultimatum to step up and spend some money, given that they’re in the 4th largest market by MSA (after NY, LA, Chi) and make huge amounts of RSN dollars (somewhere between $80M and $150M/year, depending on which leaked document you believe about their 10-year FoxSports deal). I say this because it makes little sense for them to have committed to two major FA deals as a last place team, forgoing both a 2nd and 3rd rounder and all that bonus pool money, so that they (checks standings) can continue to be a last place team.

The draft order is “essentially” finalized because there still remains one player unsigned who has QO- compensation attached to him: Michael Conforto. Unfortunately for Conforto, he had off-season shoulder issues that prevented him from getting a serious offer, and a few weeks ago it was announced that he’s having season-ending shoulder surgery, which means the odds of him signing before the draft (at which point the compensation becomes moot) is nil. So, for the first time in Qualifying Offer history, a player will go completely unsigned for an entire year after being offered (and declining) a 1year 8 figure contract. Amazing.

Bonus Pools Announced

The Nats total bonus pool this year is their highest ever: a shade over $11M ($11,007,900 to be exact). They have the 7th largest pool despite picking 5th overall thanks to the Mets getting an extra 1st rounder and the Royals getting a huge $2.2M valued comp A pick, jumping them above the Nats in total value. By way of comparison, they had $8.7M picking 11th overall last year, so they’ll likely be getting an entire “extra” $2.2M valued player in some way or another in this draft.

Individual Pick Values

In addition to the total bonus pool, each of the first 316 slots has been officially assigned a slot value and published. I’ve now created a 2022 draft tracker skeleton spreadsheet to the overall master Nats Draft Tracker spreadsheet, which you can find at the link.

So, a $6.4M first round pick usually ends up meaning some savings there which can be applied later on in the draft. This is what the top-drafting teams generally do, instead of giving full slot to these top players. It remains to be seen how the Nats will work this in 2022; if we (for example) save $1m on their 5th overall pick, that’s $1m that can go to the 2nd pick, making that a $2.7M pick, which is the equivalent of a lower first rounder in the #27 overall range. Furthermore, teams can go 5% over the bonus pool without any penalties, and the Nats generally squeeze every dime out of this pool overage … so they could go up to 3.2M for their 2nd rounder (the equivalent of a #21 overall pick) before they start taking $$ away from their other 9 picks/total bonus pool … which we know they do extensively with the picks in the 6-10 range. So, lots of strategy in place.

How does this generally play out? A prep kid puts out a number and his representatives say, “Johnny Stud won’t sign for less than $2.5M.” The teams in that $2.5M first round range (picks 25-30) all pass. So now Johnny Stud starts getting overslot offers by teams at the top of the 2nd round, who know they can borrow from other parts of the pool. The Nats, in the upper 2nd round range, can absolutely be a player here and end up getting a 1st round talent in the 2nd.

A more risky approach is to save money for a pick in the 11th, where bonus pool figures no longer count and where a lot of players who’ve completely slipped out of the bonus pool range fall. This is risky because you’re counting on a guy being there and basically trying to save a ton of dollars for those spots. You can count on one hand the number of times the Nats have gone overslot with an 11th rounder or later in the past few drafts: JT Arruda and Jake Randa in 2019 (technically Lucas Knowles as well in 2019, though they basically gave him the few thousand leftover dollars), Jackson Stoeckinger in 2017, Armond Upshaw in 2016, who got $400k overslot as the 11th round pick, and Max Schrock in 2015, who also got a $400k overslot deal as the 13th pick.


Our 2021 draft is already looking like a great draft, with Brady House already on top 100 lists and tearing up full-season ball, with TJ White looking like he’ll get a mid-season promotion, Darren Baker already in high-A, and three lower-round pitchers in the Fredericksburg rotation in Brendan Collins, Andrew Alvarez, and Dustin Saenz.

Can’t wait to see what they pull in 2022.

Written by Todd Boss

April 30th, 2022 at 2:40 pm

Posted in Nats in General

The Rotation is worse than even I thought possible

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Hey, at least Grey’s looked decent. Photo via WP

Small Sample Sizes, arbitrary endpoints, its only April, yeah yeah.

As of 4/24/22’s game, in reverse order, here’s our rotation’s last week:

Only Grey managed to have a decent week, throwing half the 4/19/22 DH in fine fashion (5 1/3ip, 3hits, 1 run). Still not a QS though; he got yanked after retiring the first guy in the 6th on just 87 pitches.

As for the rest of the rotation? Come on.

In our last 5 starts, our starters have given us a grand total of 17 1/3 innings and given up an astounding 27 runs along the way. That’s just 17 1/3 innings out of a required 45 to be pitched, meaning our bullpen is absolutely, completely shredded right now and its … April 25th. Every game for the last week looks like a spring training game, where every reliever in the pen gets an inning until the game is over.

We’re only 3 weeks into the season and the team has already called up SIX (6!) arms who weren’t on the opening day roster (Rogers, Sanchez, Clay, Perez, Ramirez, and Harvey).

And they’re going to have to scramble for coverage going forward; there are just TWO remaining arms on the 40-man who aren’t on the active roster or the MLB DL: Carrillo (who just went onto the AA D/L with a “sore shoulder,” uh oh), and Evan Lee, who’s made 3 starts but has only gone 9 1/3 total innings, giving up 8 walks along the way. Not exactly the bullpen innings eater we need. So get ready for any one of the slew of MLFA arms we have sitting in AAA to start getting called up to replace ineffective arms who suddenly have soft tissue injuries. I’m talking guys like Verrett, Edwards Jr., Clippard, Garret, Manoah, Weems, Baldonado, and Rodriguez.

After today’s debacle we’re 6-11, in last place in the NL, and have the 2nd worst record in the league. And we’re going to struggle to do better from here.

I feel like we’re in for a long season.

Baseball America “updates” its Nats top 30 and 1st week impressions

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So, BA issued an “update” to its top 30 prospect lists for teams this week.

See https://www.baseballamerica.com/teams/1012/washington-nationals/organizational/ for our “new” list.

per BA’s site, this update is… “With the minor league season beginning, we have updated our Top 30 prospect rankings for every major league club. These new rankings now include international players from the current signing class that opened on Jan. 15, with additional player movement based on new looks, information and injuries.”

BA continues to ignore MLB service time and keeps including prospects who have not hit AB/IP thresholds even though they’ve sat on the active roster long enough to exhaust rookie eligibility .. which means that they’ve kept in particular Keibert Ruiz and Riley Adams eligible, as literally no other shop has done.

So what changed between this ranking and the last one (to which I reacted here?).

  • They added Jan 2022 IFA signing Cristian Vaquero at #5.
  • ….. and thats it.

No adjustments for Antuna moving to the outfield, for Lile being out for the season, for Adon making the MLB rotation, nothing else.


So, pretty much a nothing burger of an update. But, thought i’d put a placeholder here to talk about the starts we’re seeing with the MLB club through the first week.

Talking about hitters:

  • Good, as expected: Soto, Bell, Ruiz
  • Good, unexpectedly: Franco, YHernandez (has he now won a starting job?)
  • Bad, as expected: Robles (why is he still in the majors?), Escobar
  • Bad, unexpectedly: Cruz, Thomas

Robles starts the season 0-17 and necessitates the callup of prospect OF Casey. Lane Thomas hasn’t been much better. But maybe we should just frigging play Yadiel Hernandez until he stops hitting? I mean, the dude hit last year, he’s hitting this year … why not just play the guy?

Pitchers? Phew, hide your eyes.

  • Good, as expected: … i’m not sure anyone is living up to their expectations. Rainey maybe? Arano. Fedde maybe.
  • Good, unexpectedly: Rogers, Doolittle
  • Bad, as expected: Corbin, ASanchez (by going straight to the DL), Adon, Voth
  • Bad, unexpectedly: not sure anyone qualifies here.

Lets be honest, i went into this season looking at this pitching staff with very little expectation. Our opening day rotation consisted of

  • a 9-figure contract debacle who hasn’t performed in 2 years in Corbin.
  • A option-less 5+ ERA starter who should have been non-tendered last offseason in Fedde
  • a rookie who has been all hype and no performance as of yet in Grey
  • Another rookie with one MLB start who had, frankly, uninspiring 2021 MILB numbers and who should be in AAA in Adon
  • A frigging NRI has-been who I can’t believe they took over Rogers or Espino in Anibel Sanchez.

What have see seen so far? Adon: shelled in 2 starts. Corbin? Shelled in 2 starts. Sanchez? hurt before he makes a start … and then lo and behold Rogers comes up and gives the Nats their best start so far (shocker!). Grey? Surprisingly decent so far. And Fedde? Shocker he was effective in his first start. Lets see how long that lasts.

Honestly, i’m shocked we’re 3-5 right now with a team ERA right now of 5.91. 5.91 isn’t getting the donuts made.


Long season ahead.

Written by Todd Boss

April 15th, 2022 at 9:41 am

ProspectDigest Nats top 10 released

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Armando Cruz gets high props with this list. Photo via talknats.com

Even though the 2022 season has started, we’re still seeing pundit Prospect ranking lists trickle in. In fact, we still havn’t seen several major shops’ Nats list at this point, so we’ll continue doing these posts as they arrive.

Today, Prospectdigest.com and its lead pundit Joseph Werner released his Nats top 10 list. https://prospectdigest.com/washington-nationals-top-10-prospects-for-2022/ .

Here’s some comments.

  • Ruiz at #1. I think Werner is following the Baseball America “rules” for eligibility, as opposed to MLBs. He’s still got Ruiz as being a prospect. Perhaps he wrote this list last fall (which may be true, given the fact that there’s mo mention of Vaquero).
  • He then has the same 2-5 names as most everyone else, in the same order: Cavalli, House, Henry, Rutledge.

After the top 5 is where his list gets, um, “interesting.”

  • Armando Cruz at #6. That’s the highest he’s been on any list since before last year’s trade deadline prospect haul. He’s an 18yr old who hit .232 in the DSL last year … this ranking is entirely on hype and scouting reports.
  • Daylen Lile at #7?? Wow, that’s way too high for his profile. I mean, everything has to go right for a 6.0″ slap hitter to make it, and his pro debut was awful (.219/.363/.250 in FCL last year). How is this guy higher than any number of other hitters we have in the system? Crazy. Plus, we now know he’s torn his UCL and is out for the entire 2022 season. So … yes perhaps late breaking news, but this list should have been adjusted.
  • Mitchell Parker at #8? This is the highest ranking I’ve seen anyone have for Parker. Look, I like Parker; but there’s no way I’d have him above Adon or Lara or Carrillo or Lee right now. Adon is in the majors for crying out loud. Lara’s got better stuff and is 3 years younger. Carrillo probably could be in the MLB bullpen right now, and Lee struck out 104 in 77 High-A innings last year.
  • Lara and Carrillo round out the top 10; don’t have any issues with those guys being around this range.

Nits: No Vaquero. they drafted him in January and its now Mid April. If you rank Cruz at #6 then you have to put in a guy who was older and better at signing time. Also, no mention of Adon despite him being in the MLB rotation.

Otherwise, not much else to note. I can’t see any other possible ommissions from this top 10.

Written by Todd Boss

April 12th, 2022 at 10:30 am

Full Season Affiliate roster Analysis

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On 4/5/22, because for some weird reason AAA started 3 days before the rest of the minors, we got the Rochester roster announcement. Then, on 4/8/22, we got the other three full season affiliate roster announcements (click here for Harrisburg, Wilmington, Fredericksburg). H/T to Luke Erickson and nationalsprospects.com for these links.

After several hours of furious XLS work, the Big Board is now up to date for these rosters. The 2022 big board features some new stuff from year’s past: i’ve now got links to every player (milb.com links for minor leaguers, baseball-reference.com links for MLB players), plus i’m keeping track of Promotions/Demotions via color coding. So, Green right this moment indicates a promotion from their final resting spot last year while Red indicates a demotion from their final resting spot.

(Note: this was written before a couple of over-the-weekend transactions so there may be a couple of now obsolete-details here).


Here’s some macro observations per team by level:

  • AAA: 12 of the 28 man roster are home grown, which seems like more than in year’s past. That includes a big chunk of the positional players and rotation … but just one home-grown reliever. Interesting. Meanwhile, 2022FAs or Rule5 pickups account for another 12 of the team … and if you add in 21FAs/Rule5s it accounts for 17 of the players on the team. That’s a lot of newly acquired veteran FAs hanging out in Rochester. I wonder what the clubhouse culture is like.
  • AA: Also has an inordinate number of MLFAs/Rule5 pickups: 10 of the players are 22MLFAs or Rule5 pickups (counting Gushue perhaps unfairly). In terms of draft pedigree, not too many real prospects here either. Furthermore, 17 players on the roster were there at season’s end last year, meaning not a ton of upward movement here (see more on that later on in the Promotions/Demotions section). Slightly surprised to see some names repeating here, especially Cluff and Carillo, but i’m not shocked. Cate, the opening day starter last year, starts the season on the IL.
  • High-A: Almost entirely home grown or prospects acquired through trade; just two MLFAs here. Amazingly Mendoza is repeating the level, as is Antuna. He may be the sole 40-man roster player in all of the minors in A-ball right now. Two interesting arms here: Irvin finally back from TJ, and Parker continuing in high-A where he was promoted to mid-season. Pineda repeating as well; he’s only 22 but it seems like the prospect shine is gone.
  • Low-A: Entirely home grown roster, split evenly between IFAs (15) and the Draft (16) with a few NDFAs thrown in. two of the most important names on this roster (Rutledge, Denaburg): on the DL. Of course they are. But in the exciting column, nearly every young hitting prospect we care about is here: House, Boissiere, Infante, White, and Arias all stand to feature in the field here.

Lets do some promotion/demotion thoughts by level:

  • AAA promotions: Wilmer Perez and Cole Freeman. Freeman i suppose gets promoted to ride the pine, while Perez gets an inexplicable promotion from basically High-A, where he hit .206 last year, so i’m thinking this is short lived.
  • AA Promotions: Connell, Dunn, Gausch, Henry, Evan Lee. that’s it from last year’s end-of-season HighA roster. All eyes of course are on Henry and new 40-man member Lee, though i’m happy to see Gausch moved up. Connell and Dunn both seem like they’ll be bench pieces.
  • AA Demotions: Lara, Gushue, Flores, Fuentes. Getting demoted after spending most or all of 2021 in AAA is not a great sign. I’m not quite sure why Flores in particular is even still here, himself being a 2021 MLFA. Gushue lost out in the catcher numbers game presumably. Gilbert Lara only spent a couple weeks in AAA and probably should have always been in AA, so this is a harsh determination. Lastly Fuentes, who was so good in AA in 2019 but then got shelled in AAA last year. He’s only 24, and i’m hoping he’s more than just a middling org-guy right hander.
  • High-A Promotions: Baker, Barley, Gonzales, Vega, Sanchez, Cuevas, Merrill, Willingham, Kirian, CRomero, Knowles. That’s a ton of promotions from last year, to go with a ton that happened mid season in 2021. These guys move freely in the low minors.
  • High-A Demotions: Daily, Canning. Daily is a 25-yr old 1B/OF who hits in the low 200s now in A-ball; surprised he’s even still on the team. Canning slugged just .316 in AA last year; both are fighting for their jobs now.
  • Low-A Promotions: 14 of them from the FCL/DSL last year: Infante, House, Rivero, White, Arias, Cacheres, Ferrer, Gonzalez, Sinclair, Threadgil, Greenhil, Glavine, Ribalta. Makes sense and great to see so many names, especially young ones, pouring into full season ball.
  • Low-A Demotions: Just one: Junior Martina, a 3B who didn’t exactly light low-A on fire last year and is now back as a 24yr old.

Lastly, lets talk about who was left behind in XST after being on a full season roster last year. Every name here is someone to be concerned about, either because they didn’t make the team or because maybe they’re hurt.

  • 2021 AAA to XST: Alex Dunlop, Sterling Sharp, Andrew Lee, Nick Wells. Dunlop may be squeezed out of a catcher’s job with the acquisition last year of three guys. Sharp has now gone from 40-man roster to not making the AAA roster: one has to wonder what’s next for him. Lee and Wells were both long relievers in AAA; now what for both of them? (Note: Braymer was called up to replace an apparently injured Verrett two games into the season, but the concern for his place remains)
  • 2021 AA to XST: Kyle Marinconz, Armond Upshaw, Ryan Tapani. Marinconz gets pushed to XST when Lara gets pushed down from AAA to make way for … MLFA veteran signing Urena? odd. Upshaw might have run out of time; he and Canning both cut from the AA outfield. Tapani was decent last year; maybe he’s hurt.
  • 2021 High-A to XST: Catchers Andrew Pratt and Drew Millas. Paul Witt, JT Arruda, Ricardo Mendez, Alfonso Hernandez, Tyler Dyson. The catchers maybe are staying in XST to catch arms? Millas was an NRI this spring and was a valuable trade acquisition piece. Witt and Arruda are middle infielders who got beat out by Baker and Barley; understandable. They might be DFAs soon. Mendez probably got caught in the same OF shuffle that pushed down Canning. lastly two starters in Hernandez and Dyson that both pitched well last year, so maybe they have a knock.
  • 2021 Low-A to XST: Boone, Fein; not much to think here; perhaps they’re going to go back to the FCL.

Here’s to a fun 2022 minor league season!

Written by Todd Boss

April 11th, 2022 at 11:45 am

Posted in Nats in General

2022 Nats Season preview

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Soto may be the sole bright spot for the 2022 season. Photo via nj.com

Short version of this post: we are going to be absolutely awful this year.

Longer Version….

At the end of Spring Training, the 2022 Nats are heading into battle with a 28-man roster that breaks down like the following:

  • 4 NRIs signed to minor league deals this past off-season (as per the most recent post: (Sanchez, Arano, Franco, and Strange-Gordon)
  • 2 Waiver claims (Fox, Murphy)
  • 8 players who are essentially rookies: (Ruiz, Thomas, Adams, Grey, Adon, Thompson, Machado, Espino)

And, despite playing this many brand new players … we’re NOT going to be playing either of our top two positional rookies (Garcia, demoted mid-spring, and Kieboom, who may miss the entire season with a blown UCL) or any of our top pitching prospects (Cavalli got lit up, Henry wasn’t even at Spring training, Rutledge was an NRI for some reason but, lest we forget, was in LowA last year, etc).

A huge chunk of our likely opening day lineup are guys signed to one-year deals, who have no history with the franchise and whom most fans couldn’t pick out of a lineup. We know who Nelson Cruz is of course, but could you name our starting infield? If i stood Cesar Hernandez, Alcides Escobar, Maikel Franco, Lucious Fox, and Ehire Adrianza in a row could you put the correct name with each face? Every one of these guys seemingly was signed with the 2022 trade deadline in their minds … the likelihood of ANY of these guys finishing the year with the Nats seems very slim.

Our rotation includes an NRI (Sanchez), a guy who I thought was going to get non-tendered (Fedde), a Rookie with one MLB start to his name (Adon), a $30M/year guy who looked completely lost the last two seasons (Corbin), and a promising prospect who has a career 5.48 ERA in 14 MLB games (Grey). Strasburg may not pitch until July.

If i’m reading the Big Board correctly, just 6 of our opening day 28 man roster was originally drafted and developed by Washington (Robles, Soto, YHernandez, Fedde, Adon, and Voth). A damning indictment of our last decade of drafting and player development, especially in the top 2 rounds.

Not that spring training records matter … but we finished 4-11 and were outscored by 28 runs in the process (nearly 2 a game).

Its going to be a long season. We have the defending WS champs, a Mets team that’s going to spend $300M on payroll this year, a Phillies team that had a softball beer league lineup of sluggers who might average 8 runs a game, and a Marlins team that, well who knows what they’ll do but it won’t matter because we’re likely losing 100+ games with this lineup.

Discuss. Is anyone out there really optimistic?


Written by Todd Boss

April 6th, 2022 at 12:04 pm

Posted in Nats in General

Spring Training 2022 NRI Disposition

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Maikel Franco makes the team as an NRI and will start at 3B. Photo via nbcsports.com

Thanks to the compressed Spring Training in 2022, we never did the navel gazing “which NRI may make the team?” after the team announced all its NRIs and MLFA signings.

But, now that the dust has settled, we did want to identify the NRIs and note which of them actually did make the team to have continuity with this analysis year over year.

Here’s past posts by year: 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015.

Why do we care about NRIs? Because there’s a high likelihood we’ll see these guys either make the roster or get called up later on this year. And this year is no different. Since the 2015 season (not including 2022):

  • 9 NRIs have made the 25-man roster straight out of Spring Training (and Guthrie technically made it 10 since he got called up a few days later and was always intended to be the 5th starter in 2017).  Basically every year an NRI has made the roster for six seasons running.
  • 29 NRIs eventually played for the MLB team at some point that same season they were in spring training.

So its likely that we’re going to see a lot of these NRIs at some point in the future.  Like, on average at least 4-5 of these NRIs are going to play for this team in 2022.


So, who were the NRIs this year? By position:

  • Starters: Rutledge, Cavalli, Jefry Rodriguez, Anibal Sanchez,
  • Righty Relievers: Arano, Edwards, Garrett, Weems, Ramierz
  • Lefty Relievers: Avilan, Baldonado, Cronin, Fry
  • Catchers: Hermann, Millas, Pineda, Gushue
  • Infielders: Cluff, Franco, Noll, Sanchez, Dee-gordon, Urena, Young
  • Outfielders: Parra

So, Opening day NRIs to make roster and the circumstances behind each

  • Anibal Sanchez; 3rd starter. It became clear early in spring that Strasburg wasn’t going to be ready and we needed another starter that we weren’t necessarily counting on. Several of the existing starters on the 40-man roster (Lee, Romero, Carrillo) really had no realistic shot of making a MLB roster, which left just six healthy starters on the entire 40-man roster from which to choose. Sanchez pitched here before and signed on as a MLFA with the NRI, and he ended up winning a spot easily in the rotation.
  • Victor Arano, rhp reliever. When Harris couldn’t answer the call, there was a major spot opened up in the back half of our bullpen, and Arano siezed it. Arano was a pretty adept MLFA signing; the guy has a career 159 ERA+ and dominated for the Phillies as an 8th inning guy in 2018. He outpitched a slew of RHP relievers on our 40-man to earn a spot, essentially beating out Gabe Klobotis for the spot.
  • Dee Gordon-Strange, 2B and OF. When it became clear Garcia wasn’t making the team, the middle infield situation cleared up a bit. Then, When Adrianza got hurt, it became clear the team needed another middle infielder. Gordon-Strange’s positional flexibility will likely keep him on the roster for a bit.
  • Maikel Franco, 3B. This one is pretty clear. Kieboom hurts his elbow, the team needs a 3B, and they just happened to have one on a MLFA/NRI deal.

Which of the rest of the NRIs might we see this year? Quick speculation, but i’ll bet we see at least a couple more of the RHP relievers (Edwards, Garrett), perhaps a return for Baldonado, maybe a middle infielder like Cluff, certainly Parra at some point, and then Cavalli halfway through the season.

Written by Todd Boss

April 5th, 2022 at 6:18 pm

Posted in Nats in General