Nationals Arm Race

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

Nationals 2024 Roster Option status

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Kieboom faces a critical spring. Photo via Federal Baseball

Honestly, this option status was more apropos when we talked about non-tenders last fall, or perhaps before thinking about what the team was going to do this off-season w/r/t free agency.

But, here we are. We’re at the beginning of spring training, the team has brought in a slew of players on one year or MLFA/NRI deals (including at least 10 MLFA veteran relievers) and for those on the 40-man right now, options flexibility will be a big factor in what happens this spring.

So, lets do some options analysis to try to couch possible roster decisions that will have to be made by the end of March.

I’m using Roster Resource (now at Fangraphs) to drive this analysis. I used to keep track of options in a private XLS, but it was just way too tedious as compared to the pros at these sites. If they have it wrong, then I’ve got it wrong here. Also, here’s the Big Board which shows all the NRIs who might be pushing these guys for a job.

Current 40-man roster Players with Zero Options remaining

These non-5year veteran players either have to sick on the active roster going forward, or will face the dreaded DFA/outright if they need to be demoted off the active roster. I’ll list them in order of most likely to get DFA’d this spring to least likely:

  • Carter Kieboom. Kieboom’s time with the team seems like it has come to an end. For the second straight off-season, instead of holding 3B empty for their former top prospect to own, the team has bought a one year veteran Free Agent to man the position. Candelario last year and Nick Senzel this year. If you’re an infielder and you’re not starting at the MLB level, then you need to be able to do one of a couple of things: 1) play middle infield (which Kieboom cannot), 2) be good defensively or be a fast runner (which Kieboom isn’t), 3) play outfield as well (which he never has), or hit well enough to man either 1B or DH (which he never has either). The team also bought itself a starting 1B in Joey Gallo and has an established DH in Joey Meneses. On top of THAT, the team has more than a couple big bopper NRI MLFAs who specialize in playing 1B/DH (Yepes, Diaz, Blankenhorn, Winker, Rutherford). None of this leaves Kieboom a ton of roster flexibility. I suppose he could try to play a corner outfield, but we’re set there too, with more OF options than we have positions honestly PLUS a slew of OF prospects coming up. I hate to say it, But Kieboom is in trouble. Save for an injury to Senzel or Gallo, or Kieboom hitting .450 this spring, I think he’s staring at a big career crossroads at the end of March.
  • Joan Adon, thanks to being added to the 40-man In November of 2020 despite only having gotten to Low-A by that point, now faces a pretty predictable situation. He’s 25, clearly needs more time in the minors, but is out of options and faces a pretty obvious roster crunch coming out of spring training. I mean, he was awful in the majors in 2022 and again in 2023. He wasn’t really that great in AAA either. He’s probably 7th on the starter depth chart (if that), and the team would have to dump a reliever they’d rather keep in order to protect him from being exposed to waivers. If there’s an injury to the projected starting 5 (Corbin, Grey, Gore, Williams, Irvin) he’ll be gifted the spot to save him, but it seems like an inevitability he gets DFA’d.
  • Jordan Weems shows what happens when you look slightly deeper into pitching stats. In 2023, his ERA went down to 3.62 but his FIP went way up to 4.90. His Hits/9 went down but his BB/9 went way up. His 2023 was probably smoke and mirrors, and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if he blew up in April after making the team and got DFA’d.
  • Luis Garcia, who is out of options because he was put on the 40-man way, way too soon and still doesn’t seem like the team is completely convinced he’s their long-term solution at 2B. But, they also seem set to go with him as the starter. But, they sent him down last year for a month for some reason (he was hitting .268 at the time even though he hit mostly .220 the first half of the season). So who knows. They didn’t guy a veteran 2B FA so his spot seems safe.
  • Tanner Rainey, who missed all of 2023 but was our highly effective closer in 2022, seems pretty unlikely to lose his spot if he’s healthy. The thing is, if he struggles in spring, they’ll just DL him and say, “post-TJ surgery recovery” or some nonsense, so he could go to AAA and work things out.
  • Ildemaro Vargas is the kind of utility player every manager wants: can play 6 positions, hits decently enough. His bat fell off a bit in 2023, and the team got itself a middle infielder in Rule5 in Nunez who now occupies one of the sports Vargas would be competing for. MLB benches these days basically are: a Backup C, two middle infielders, one spare outfielder, and one big bat who can rotate into 1B and DH (preferably lefty as well). So Is Vargas set for one of the two middle infield positions right now? Probably. The only other middle infielder NRI is Darren Baker, and i don’t think he’s ready for prime time. Also, not for nothing, the Nats extended Vargas in the middle of September, so clearly they’re not thinking of axing him.
  • Kiebert Ruiz: they gave him 8yrs/$50M and he’s the starting catcher; he’s not in any jeopardy of getting DFA’d irrespective of option status. So he’s least likely of the “zero options” guys.

Current 40-man roster players whose option status may/will impact their making the team.

  • Jake Alu: If Vargas and Nunez are your two middle infielder bench options, that likely shuts the door on Jake Alu being a regular on the active roster for a bit. He’s unable to play SS; he can play 2B, 3B and LF. He also got a long look last year and didn’t really hit (.226/.282/.289). I think he’s the dreaded 4-A guy, who will shuttle back and forth between AAA and MLB to cover in case of an injury to the 2B/3B starters. Maybe Nunez flops as a rule5 pick and gets returned and Alu sticks; we’ll see. That’s what spring training is for.
  • Jake Irvin: i’ll just put this here; if the team convinces themselves they need to keep Adon, Irvin has two options and could get sacrificed. I would be kind of shocked if this happens, since Irvin seems more likely to become a regular 4th/5th starter going forward than Adon, but the team has done something like this before with John Lannan making millions to pitch in Syracuse in 2012.
  • Jackson Rutledge seems like he’s 6th on the pecking order and should be a safe bet for AAA save injury. But, like with Irvin … if the team decides it wants to keep Adon, Rutledge will head north.
  • Cade Cavalli probably starts the year on the 60-day DL and may slot right into the MLB rotation when he’s ready irrespective of option status. But he’s got plenty of options if his rehab goes more slowly than expected and could hang in AAA for a while.
  • Drew Millas has plenty of options, but is 3rd out of 3 on the Catcher pecking order right now, and will be either the MLB backup or the AAA starter.
  • Thad Ward: last year’s rule5 roster gambit, can now safely be sent down since he’s officially “ours.” And he’s got plenty of options. My guess is that he goes to AAA and gets converted back to starting. Which is what the team should do with him, since our starting pitching prospect pipeline is so thin.
  • Alex Call and/or Jacob Young: so, assuming that Stone Garrett and Victor Robles are healthy and able from the get go (which may be a bad assumption given what we’re hearing about Garrett’s recovery from a broken leg last summer) one of these two gets dumped to AAA. Honestly, if they need someone to ride the pine in the majors i’d rather it be Call so that Young can play full time in AAA, but it may be the reverse. Both have options. If Garrett can’t go, look for Young to start in left and Call to be the MLB backup. Yes Davey Martinez said Young was “competing” with Robles for the starting CF job; i don’t believe that. I think the team wants Robles to earn the spot, hit .330 for 3 months, and get flipped to a contender in his walk year.
  • Relievers with options who sucked last year: Jose Ferrer (5.03 ERA), Mason Thompson (5.50 ERA), and Amos Willingham (6.66). They’ll all start in AAA unless someone gets hurt, and given the plethora of MLFA veteran arms the team has signed, these three guys are also at the top of my “next guy off the 40-man to get whacked” list just after the obvious DFA candidates discussed above. Thompson’s situation may work itself out; it seems like he may have a UCL injury that will send him to TJ and the 60-day DL.
  • The four arms just added: Herz, Parker, Henry, Brzycky: no real chance any of these four make the 25-man opening day roster. The AAA staff looks like it’ll be amazing this year.

Predictions:

  • No injuries to projected rotation in spring.
  • Adon waived.
  • Kieboom waived
  • Thompson TJ/60-day dl to open a roster spot
  • Weems makes opening day roster but is on short leash
  • Young makes opening day roster, Call to AAA.
  • At least one NRI bat and maybe two NRI arms make the team.

Written by Todd Boss

February 22nd, 2024 at 11:06 am

Posted in Nats in General

Keith Law’s top 20 for the Nats

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Everyone loves Lile. photo via Masn

I’m a big Keith Law fan, always have been. But sometimes he zigs when others zag, and I feel like this year’s Nats list is in that category. HIs methodology is not quite as big a focus on the “ceiling” of a prospect, but it creeps in. He really discounts DSL Guys until they show up domestically, and if someone’s ceiling is middle infielder/4th outfielder/middle reliever … they’re not a prospect in his eyes.

Law is the 2nd to last “major pundit” to drop his list. Once the MLBpipeline guys (Callis & Mayo et al) drop their updated ranks, I’ll post my list and declare victory for the season.

Without further ado, here’s Law’s top 20 list, behind a paywall at the Athletic but I subscribe and I find it to be the best value for the money on the internet.

Law RankLast NameFirst NamePosition
1CrewsDylanOF (CF)
2WoodJamesOF (Corner)
3HouseBradySS/3B
4CavalliCadeRHP (Starter)
5LileDaylenOF (CF)
6MoralesYohandy3B
7VaqueroCristianOF (CF)
8Hassell IIIRobertOF (CF)
9MadeKevinSS
10SykoraTravisRHP (Starter)
11SusanaJarlinRHP (Starter)
12GreenElijahOF (CF)
13BennettJakeLHP (Starter)
15HenryColeRHP (Starter)
15RutledgeJacksonRHP (Starter)
16HerzDJLHP (Starter)
17YoungJacobOF (CF)
18PinckneyAndrewOF (Corner)
19QuintanaRoismarOF (CF)
20SaenzDustinLHP (Starter)
HMYoungLukeRHP (Starter)
HMLaraAndryRHP (Starter)
HMInfanteSamuelSS
HMBrownMarcusSS/2B

Ok, lets go through it.

  • Same top 4 as practically everyone else. Note: we’ve been discussing in the comments what really makes a rookie and have gone through some interesting scenarios. For me. service time manipulation or roster moves that burn their clock but don’t give ABs or IPs don’t count. So i’ll be including specifically Cade Cavalli and Israel Pineda in my list, and even though a commenter pointed out there’s now others technically eligible i’m not sure who else is worth mentioning.
  • Lile at #5. As in, the next big guy in our entire system after the top 4 guys who all seem to be near-guarantees. McDaniel, Law, and the 1500 guys all have Lile in the 5-6 range. After much discussion and further analysis, i’m coming around to the opinion that LIle and Hassell are basically the same. I now have them side-by-side in my rankings, having elevated LIle a number of spots from where I started. Do I think Lile is the 5th best prospect in the system? Well, no but he’s close, and having him #5 and Morales #6 versus the other way around is splitting hairs.
  • Law is absolute high-man on Kevin Made, having him all the way at #9. By way of comparison, BA had him at #24, in the range of guys who are “lucky if they get to AA.” In his writeup, Law thinks Made is a 12-15 homer guy in the majors who could stick at short and be a regular. Wow. Yeah that is a top 10 guy. I guess we’re all forgetting just how young he has been (20 in highA).
  • Sykora to #10, very high on both him and Susana at #11. All Ceiling. It’s easy to dream on 18yr old live arms. After all our (lack of) success with these guys, its tough to get excited. I guess I have to remind myself that Sykora got a 1st round bonus, and If we had draftee him in the 1st round like we did Giolito … we’d be much higher on him.
  • He has Green all the way down to #12. Law’s take on this ranking was interesting: he says Green is perhaps the best example in all of the minors of a player who is too good for complex ball, but not yet ready for LowA, and is being developmentally crushed by the loss of Short-A. I agree. It really amazes me that the sport in general fails to see the value of Short-A ball, or even another 10 rounds of a draft to fill that team. Just look at the ridiculous number of arms that poured into our Low-A team last year; I have 12 guys listed as “Starters” and another 9 listed as “Long Relievers.” 12 starters! There’s no where near enough innings to go around to try to develop 12 guys at starters. Gee, wouldn’t it be great if there was another low-A level league where you could send the lesser 6 of those starters so they could pitch every five days? So dumb.
  • Cole Henry at #15. What piqued my interest in Law’s write up was this simple line: “his stuff was all the way back” after TOS surgery. But he also said that a guy like Henry is too brittle to start, but could be an awesome reliever (97-100 with two 55 pitches). That’s a drop-dead game ender, and hey, if the guy can’t stay healthy then at least we can use him.
  • Quintana at #19: one of the few who rates this guy. BA and McDaniel didn’t even rank him. What do we have with him at this point? He’s only 21 and seems set to go to HighA, but he’s a corner OF limited guy who has to hit for power to earn a promotion … and that’s gonna be hard in Wilmington.
  • Saenz at #20. Yes! Finally someone ranks this guy. He has been completely absent from every prospect ranking this entire spring, even the Prospect 1500 guys who go 50 deep. Why? He’s a 4th round pick, was 24 in AA last year posting a 3.43 era/1.18 whip in 25 games/23 starts. Uh, yeah, sign me up. Those were significantly better numbers than Parker (who is also a lefty), who got a 40-man roster spot out of his performance. Saenz should be going to AAA, doesn’t turn 25 until June … why is he not a prospect? Maybe its smoke and mirrors, with lesser stuff, but he’s solved every level he’s been presented with so far.

Law then mentions four guys as noteworthy, but there’s no way they’re ranked 21-24. Young, Lara, Infante, and Brown. I think it was more notes out of his many visits to see the Nats play in Wilmington, which is right around the corner from where he lives in Delaware.

So, who’d he miss?

  • No mention of our two 2024 IFAs Hurtado or Felix. Not surprising.
  • No Love for Lipscomb, but that’s really splitting hairs if he’s not in the top 20 but is in his top 25.
  • Nothing on Nasim Nunez. Law’s methodology definitely under-rates role players like backup infielders, 4th outfielders, middle relievers, etc.
  • Nothing for De La Rosa, who is as high as #13 on other lists.

Written by Todd Boss

February 18th, 2024 at 8:37 am

ESPN and Kiley McDaniel puts out his weird Nats Prospect list for 2024

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Cade Cavalli is inexplicably left off the McDaniel list. Photo via Lookout Landing blog

I’ve buried the lede for this analysis in the title, but there’s no other way to say it. Kiley McDaniel has always been more focused on ceiling than floor in his prospect ranks, and that comes out pretty true in his list of 20-some odd Nats prospects for 2024.

We’re still waiting for two other major pundits to drop (MLBPipeline and Fangraphs) and a couple of lesser known ones (Bleacher Report if they do it, Prospects Live, and Prospect Digest) before I reveal my top 50. Also, BA added another 10 to their top 40 list, and they had some real interesting names get tacked on that i’ll mention in my eventual top 50.

Lets get right into it:

McDaniel RankLast NameFirst NamePosition
1CrewsDylanOF (CF)
2WoodJamesOF (Corner)
3HouseBradySS/3B
4GreenElijahOF (CF)
5SusanaJarlinRHP (Starter)
6LileDaylenOF (CF)
7MoralesYohandy3B
8Hassell IIIRobertOF (CF)
9HurtadoVictorOF
10HenryColeRHP (Starter)
11BennettJakeLHP (Starter)
12VaqueroCristianOF (CF)
13De La RosaJeremyOF (Corner)
14MadeKevinSS
15NunezNasimSS
16SykoraTravisRHP (Starter)
17MillasDrewC
18RutledgeJacksonRHP (Starter)
19YoungJacobOF (CF)
20LipscombTrey3B
21PinckneyAndrewOF (Corner)
22HerzDJLHP (Starter)

And some thoughts.

  • Ok, Crews-Wood-House at the top. Like everyone else.
  • Uh, where the hell is Cade Cavalli? McDaniel lists him as a 2023 prominent graduate … um, Kiley, the dude didn’t pitch in 2023. At all. And 60-day DL doesn’t count towards rookie eligibility. This is not a slight omission; it’s also drastically impacted where he ranked the entire Nats system (probably costing them 4-5 spots based on the loss of Cavalli’s future surplus value in his ranking system). It seems odd to make such a major mistake on a prospect who was clearly a top 100 guy a year ago before TJ.
  • Green at #4: told you he’s focused on Ceiling and not actuals. There’s some legitimate concern out there about Green and I’m not sure i’d have him at #4 overtop of the next set of names, but that’s the methodology of McDaniel. By way of comparison, he has Green HIGHER this year than he did last year despite the ridiculous K/9 rates he put up in Low-A. Wow.
  • Susana at #5. I mean, the only way i’d rank Susana #5 is if someone told me he was going to rise two levels this year and keep his ERA under 3.00. What evidence is there based on his performance so far that he’s projecting to be anything but a fire-balling 2-pitch reliever?
  • Lile at #6: I’m on record saying he’s overrated in some rankings already; how can you possibly put Lile above Hassell??
  • New signing Victor Hurtado at #9. Phew. That’s pretty bullish on a 16yr old who has yet to play an inning. I mean, that’s higher th an $4.9M signing Vaquero, who at least has made it to the states and got double the bonus money.
  • Cole Henry at #10. I like Henry, and I want him to be the #2 starter ceiling that he was looking like when he raced up the system. But he’s an orchid. TOS is hard to come back from. I know we just saw reports he was healthy and throwing … i’ll believe it when i see it.
  • De La Rosa at #13. Ridiculous. .240/.324/.361 with 129 Ks in 93 games in High-A, which he was repeating from the previous year as a 22yr old. He’s at least 10 spots too high here. Who would you rather have, right now? 22yr old DLR or 23yr old Pinckney?
  • Kevin Made at #14, also too high. He better be the 2nd coming of Ozzie Smith to rate this high based on how weak his bat is.
  • Rutledge all the way down at #18. That’s below Sykora (who’s yet to throw a pitch) and below Henry (who might be finished as a player). I mean, yeah i get it, he projects as a 5th starter right now and didn’t exactly light things up when he arrived, but he’s also a 1st rounder who rose 3 levels in 2023. Did they forget what made him a 1st rounder?
  • The back end of his list all seems to be pushed down like 6-8 spots lower than I’d have them, but nothing egregious.

Who’s missing?

  • No Angel Feliz, 2024 IFA $1.7M signing. Surprising given how much he likes ceiling.
  • No Armando Cruz, $3.9M signing in 2021. The shine is off of Cruz.
  • No love for Mitchell Parker, who just continues to get results year after year. Maybe one day we’ll be watching Parker sling up lefty pitches like Tom Glavine and we’ll be like, “oh well he doesn’t throw 95 so he’s still not a prospect.”
  • Interestingly, left out Andry Lara. Lara is all about the Ceiling. McDaniel had him ranked #9 last year!
  • TJ White: nowhere to be found after nearly being a top 10 guy last year. Why ding White for his 2023 performance but not Green?
  • Alex Call and Brenner Cox were in the mid teens last year. Not really advocating that they should have been included (Call exhausted his rookie eligibility), just noting that this is the folly of depending entirely on ceiling/future value.

Written by Todd Boss

February 14th, 2024 at 8:39 am

Posted in Prospects

Prospects 1500 top 50 for 2024

28 comments

He’s gonna look good in this uniform and soon. Photo via Crews’ instagram page.

I always look forward to Prospects1500 and their team’s rankings each year, because they go deeper than anyone else. Some places only rank our top 10; that’s not really that hard, especially when the first four are basically the same in every publication and there’s not a ton of argument mostly about the rest of our top 10 right now. Most major shops stop at 30 (then may throw in a few “honorable mentions” or “just misseds”), which is much more difficult. Prospects 1500 go 50 deep. So its great to see who they’re throwing into the 40s. Even if I disagree with them.

Here’s the 2024 Prospects 1500 list:

Prospects1500 RankLast NameFirst NamePosition
1CrewsDylanOF (CF)
2WoodJamesOF (Corner)
3HouseBradySS/3B
4CavalliCadeRHP (Starter)
5MoralesYohandy3B
6LileDaylenOF (CF)
7VaqueroCristianOF (CF)
8GreenElijahOF (CF)
9Hassell IIIRobertOF (CF)
10SusanaJarlinRHP (Starter)
11HerzDJLHP (Starter)
12BennettJakeLHP (Starter)
13SykoraTravisRHP (Starter)
14NunezNasimSS
15HenryColeRHP (Starter)
16PinckneyAndrewOF (Corner)
17RutledgeJacksonRHP (Starter)
18MadeKevinSS
19De La RosaJeremyOF (Corner)
20LipscombTrey3B
21YoungJacobOF (CF)
22WhiteT.J.OF (Corner)
23LaraAndryRHP (Starter)
24ParkerMitchellLHP (Starter)
25CruzArmandoSS
26QuintanaRoismarOF (CF)
27PinedaIsraelC
28BakerDarren2B
29McKenzieJaredOF (CF)
30CroninMattLHP (Reliever)
31LuckhamKyleRHP (Starter)
32FerrerJoseLHP (Reliever)
33RamirezAldoRHP (Starter)
34CoxBrennerOF (CF)
35SchoffTylerRHP (Reliever)
36YoungLukeRHP (Starter)
37MaricutoJermaine1B/C
38AcevedoAndyOF
39InfanteSamuelSS
40NunezElijahOF
41SolanoEdwinSS
42SotoElianOF/SS
43CuevasMichaelRHP (Starter)
44BrownMarcusSS/2B
45TavaresCarlosOF
46AldonisPabloLHP (Starter)
47BatistaCarlosOF
48ObispoJuanOF
49SullivanLiamLHP (?)
50LirianoHectorOF

Now, here’s some commentary.

  • Same 1-4 as everyone else, in the same order. Nothing crazy about having Morales at #5 either.
  • Daylen Lile at #6. That’s too high. Yes, Lile’s numbers fell off when he got to the big stadium in Wilmington, but his profile already means he’s not going to hit for power. He’s 5’11”, 195, a lefty hitting outfielder who BA thinks is going to struggle to stay in CF. Uh, if he’s not in CF, where you can make up for a lack of offense with dazzling defensive skills, then he’s gotta mash to occupy a corner OF spot. He’s listed as a 50 runner and a 50 fielder, and he had 21 SBs in 66 low-A games (but curiously just 2 SBs in 40 High-A games). So, he’s an undersized lefty hitting CF who won’t be ahead of at least 6 other CFs in the system (Crews, Wood, Young, Green, Hassell, Vaquero). Why is he #6? I’m surprised he’s in the top 15. I hope i’m wrong and he turns into Jacoby Ellisbury.
  • They’re low on Hassell, putting him at #9. See, this is problematic to me. Hassell was the #2 prospect entering our system when he got traded, broke his hamate bone after finishing 2022 in AA at the same age where Lile is now. He’s got better tools across the board, can play CF, but didn’t even debut in 2023 until May, so basically you have to caveat a big chunk of his 2023 season at the plate. Yet he’s 9th and Lile is 6th? Doesn’t make sense.
  • Susana at #10, which is in line with other shops but high for me. What’s he done except his 103 on the radar gun? Can’t teach velocity, but so far the risk on this guy seems to outweigh the rewards, and the value of a 9th inning guy with massive walk rats and a 103 mph isn’t that high.
  • Cole Henry at #15. Huge variation on this guy so far: Ghost had him at #30, BA at #23, MLBPIpeline at #18 last December, which seemingly took into account his awful post-TOS surgery 2023 performance. Still, having this guy at #15 laughably puts him ahead of Rutledge, who’s a) healthy, b) has done well in AAA, and c) has made his MLB debut. If Henry had had TJ, that’s one thing. TOS is another, and this is too high.
  • Speaking of, Rutledge at #17 is too low. I’m just not sure why you’d ding a guy like Rutledge after what he did in 2023. If i told you we had a pitcher who missed a year of development and in his age 24 season put up a AA line of 6-1, 3.16 ERA, 1.10 whip with 62/25 k/bb in 68IP you’d be like, wow that’s awesome. Well, that’s what Rutledge did before doing 11 so-so starts in AAA and getting roughed up in the MLB. That’s better than #17 prospect, and there’s no way he should be behind any of the 5 arms immediately above him (Henry, Herz, Sykora, Bennett, or Susana). Remember; the entire point of being a prospect is … what? To get to the major leagues. Rutledge has.
  • Kevin Made at #18. Way too high. We know he’s glove-first, defined by BA as a “double plus defender.” That’s great; he’s also go grade 40 hit and power tools. That’s … that’s not good, Bob. After we acquired him he slashed just .137/.232/.192. I guess someone has to bat 9th. But is his defense good enough to account? I don’t think so, not right now, and he shouldn’t be in the top 20. We no longer live in the 1970s when “good field no hit” short stops were accepted. Today, SSs have to hit.
  • I’m way lower on De La Rosa than they are at #19, but it’s a little splitting hairs when you get to the 20-30 range. At least the Nats didn’t put him on the 40-man this off-season.
  • Young at #21. I get it: prospect ranking is some potential, some actual. Young is entirely actual right now. As in, he ACTUALLY might be our starting CF in 2024. At age 24. So … why would you have him ranked below someone like Andrew Pinckney, who’s a year younger and who basically only got to High-A this year? Is Pinckney more likely to blow up and rise 3 levels like Young did this year? I think, like with Rutledge, you have to balance what they’ve accomplished versus what they could accomplish properly.
  • Pineda comes in at #27 … and they don’t even rank Millas in the top 50. I wonder if that’s a cut and past error, and they actually mean to rank Millas #27 and not rank Pineda. Just after this list came out, Pineda got DFA’d, cleared waivers, and was outrighted to AAA. So he’s still around, likely going back to AA. Either way, I think (as explained in other posts) that Millas is the more polished, MLB-ready catcher right now even if Pineda is 3 years younger.
  • Cronin at #30. Way too high. A reliever who’s already been outrighted off 40-man and who had a 5 ERA in 2023? He’s not even in my top 50. Relievers aren’t prospects unless they’re a-ma-zing.
  • They list Ferrer at #32 despite his exhausting rookie eligibility by the end of 2023. I made the same mistake earlier this off-season until i did some schedule arithmetic.

So, now we’re in the 30-40 range, which really is a deep dive into the marginal prospects in our system. By and large, nearly everyone they have from 33-40 I also have in my list, but I gnerally have them 10 spots lower into the 40s. A couple of comments though:

  • Aldo Ramirez: First time we’ve mentioned his name this off season. Talk about a mess of a career: missed 2020 with Covid, then missed the second half of 2021 with elbow tendinitis. Then he couldn’t answer the bell for 2022 so the sat in XST, and when it came time in June to get assigned to the complex league it turned out he had a blown UCL. TJ surgery, all of 2022 out, not even thinking about playing until mid 2023 … and he never made it onto the field. So out of the last FIVE seasons, he’s pitched for exactly 1.5 of them. When we acquired him (July 2021) he was back half of our top 10; this was a significant prospect. Now? who knows.
  • Tyler Schoff. Ranked #35. I honestly had to look him up to see who the heck he was; he was a 8th/9th inning guy in AA who got promoted at the end of the season to AAA. Wow. #35. Maybe this is for Fantasy players looking to keep an eye on saves in the future. But then where’s Willingham? Willingham actually made it to the majors and had far better minor league numbers than Schoff despite being the same age. Make that make sense.

Now we’re into the 40-50 range, and i’ll just say this: instead of picking domestic players who have actually accomplished something, nearly their entire 40-50 is IFAs who have yet to get out of the DSL. Six of the ten guys ranked 40-50 were 2023 Jan 2nd signings last year, who mostly were awful for an awful 2023 DSL team. So, in that respect, I disagree with most of the guys in the 40-50 range and they’re just ranking them based on signing bonuses.

So, who are they missing?

  • Millas, as noted above
  • Willingham as noted above.
  • They didn’t get either of our 2023 big-money signings Hurtado or Felix … I mean, if you have a guy who got $1.3M who hit .130 then you have to rank a guy who got $2.8M but who hasn’t played yet.
  • They chose to rank a bunch of 17yr old DSL kids instead of domestic players in the high-A to AA range, guys like Frizzell, Saenz, Boissiere, or Shuman.
  • They ranked Relievers Cronin, Ferrer, and Schoff … but not Brzycky, who destroyed minor league hitters in 2022 before getting TJ and missing 2023. Ok.
  • No room in the entire top 50 for our minor league pitcher of the year Andrew Alvarez, but enough room for least three DSL kids who signed for like $5k in Marcuto, Tavarez, and Liriano.
  • Not for nothing, Lucas Knowles may not be the sexiest pitcher out there, but the guy fared really well as a swingman in AA all year.

Phew. I’ll say it again, its tough ranking 50 players. I have my list and the churn in the 40-50 range is real.

Written by Todd Boss

February 5th, 2024 at 12:57 pm

Posted in Prospects

Baseball Prospectus Nats top 10

8 comments

Andrew Pinckney gets love from Baseball Prospectus. Photo via MASN

A quick one today; Baseball Prospectus released both their Nats top prospect list and the Organizational rankings. Now, interestingly, BP’s stuff is normally 100% behind a paywall, and i’m just not inclined to pay for their stuff anymore (unlike the subscriptions I maintain for BA, ESPN+, the Athletic, D1Baseball, etc). I just never see stories that interest me. But, for reasons inexplicable, BP’s link actually revealed their top 10 for the system. I’m not sure how much further they rank, but we get their top 10.

And, their top 10 is super interesting. Here’s a quick cut n paste of BP’s top 10. If anyone out there has the rest .. i’d love to see it.

The Top Ten:

  1. Dylan Crews, OF
  2. James Wood, OF
  3. Brady House, 3B
  4. Cade Cavalli, RHP
  5. Yohandy Morales, 3B
  6. Jarlin Susana, RHP
  7. Travis Sykora, RHP
  8. DJ Herz, LHP
  9. Andrew Pinckney, OF
  10. Robert Hassell III, OF

Here’s some quick commentary. Clearly BP likes young arms.

  • Same 1-4 as basically everyone else.
  • Morales is generally settling in as #5 on a lot of lists now. That’s great news for a 2023 draftee, and it’ll be interesting to see what the team does with him positionally since House is pretty entrenched at 3B. The guy is 6’4″ 250lbs. Phew, that’s a 1B for sure. No chance he’s moving to a corner OF spot at 250lbs.
  • Susana at #6. Easily the highest we’ve seen so far for Susana. Ok, so why is he so high? well its easy: He’s 6’6″ and can hit 103 and he’s still 19 (turns 20 in March). Aggregate 2023 numbers: 1-6, 5.14 ERA, 1.52 whip. 17 starts but only 63IP; he generally went 4 innings a stint. Was fantastic in June, then got shelled in July and Aug. He’s ranked this high b/c you can’t teach 103mph, plain and simple.
  • Sykora at #7. BP again the high rank on this guy. Electric fastball, secondary pitches and control needs work. Typical for a prep draftee. This is a ranking entirely driven by ceiling, but so much can go wrong with a guy like Sykora its hard for me to put him this high.
  • Herz at #8. Nobody else has him even in the top 15. He certainly pitched well enough in 2024. Interestingly, BA lists his changeup as a 65, easily his best pitch. Can’t be effective with a change like that unless you’re a starter, and unless you can command the fastball though, two issues he has right now.
  • Pinckney at #9, again easily high ranking for this guy. He was a below-slot senior draftee who blew through the lower minors as a 22yr old (now 23). Is he really our 9th best prospect?? A senior draftee who was probably a 6th round projection six months ago is a higher ranked prospect than an upper 1st round talent like Green who has two 70-grade tools? Or an IFA who got nearly $5M in 2022 and who is already stateside in Vaquero?
  • Hassell dumped down to 10, in a “what have you done for me lately” move.

Well, I guess BP really likes young power arms and old college bats.

Written by Todd Boss

January 31st, 2024 at 2:56 pm

Posted in Prospects

TalkNats and Steve Ghost Mears Top 30 prospects

3 comments

I don’t normally include Nats blogger prospect list analysis since, well, lets be honest we’re bloggers, not nationally-connected scouting specialists who spend months as their full time job calling scouting directors and texting MLB GMs to get their intel. Plus, i’m doing this as a fan and I hate to criticize another fan’s work. But when I saw respected long-time nats blogger Stephen “Ghost” Mears post a top 30 … and knowing how much I like top 30 prospect lists, I couldn’t help myself, and have included his list here along with the big boys.

By including this list, I promise to generate my own list for the system as well. Fair is fair. I’ve got a preliminary top 50 ranking right now for our system, which I’ll continue to tweak now that the BA scouting reports are updated.

Here’s the pre-2024 list of prospect ranks that have been published so far.

  • BA’s pre-read top 10, announced 11/6/23 (link now defaults to top 30 released today; no changes from the top 10 in Nov to now, a slight indictment perhaps of the BA process)
  • Prospects361 top 10, released 11/24/23
  • MLBPipeline top 30, post rule5/pre off-season analysis released 12/7/23. Note, the MLBPipeline link always defaults to the current, but i retain the rankings at the time of the capture into an XLS
  • Baseball America 2024 top 30 1/24/24:

Here’s Ghost’s list:

TalkNats/Ghost RankFull Name w/ milb linklastfirstpos
1Crews, DylanCrewsDylanOF (CF)
2Wood, JamesWoodJamesOF (Corner)
3House, BradyHouseBradySS/3B
4Cavalli, CadeCavalliCadeRHP (Starter)
5Hassell III, RobertHassell IIIRobertOF (CF)
6Morales, YohandyMoralesYohandy3B
7Lile, DaylenLileDaylenOF (CF)
8Vaquero, Cristhian#VaqueroCristianOF (CF)
9Bennett, Jake*BennettJakeLHP (Starter)
10Young, JacobYoungJacobOF (CF)
11Green, ElijahGreenElijahOF (CF)
12Sykora, Travis SykoraTravisRHP (Starter)
13Susana, JarlinSusanaJarlinRHP (Starter)
14Rutledge, JacksonRutledgeJacksonRHP (Starter)
15Lipscomb, TreyLipscombTrey3B
16Herz, DJ*HerzDJLHP (Starter)
17Hurtado, VictorHurtadoVictorOF
18Millas, Drew#MillasDrewC
19White, T.J.#WhiteT.J.OF (Corner)
20Pinckney, AndrewPinckneyAndrewOF (Corner)
21Quintana, RoismarQuintanaRoismarOF (CF)
22Feliz, AngelFelizAngel3B/SS
23De La Rosa, Jeremy*De La RosaJeremyOF (Corner)
24Nunez, Nasim#NunezNasimSS
25Lara, AndryLaraAndryRHP (Starter)
26Baker, DarrenBakerDarren2B
27Parker, Mitchell*ParkerMitchellLHP (Starter)
28Cruz, ArmandoCruzArmandoSS
29Brzykcy, ZachBrzykcyZachRHP (Reliever)
30Henry, ColeHenryColeRHP (Starter)

And here’s some commentary.

  • Same 1-4 as most shops. Most pundits call our system “top heavy” which keeps us from being ranked higher in the overall organization ranks. Fair enough. If Henry had progressed as expected and a couple of these uber expensive IFAs recently were closer to Juan Soto than … well some guy named Juan who isn’t a prospect, we’d be higher ranked. And closer to contention.
  • Despite Hassell’s 2023 struggles, Ghost has him at #5. Lets hope he rebounds in 2024. Remember, he was our clear #2 prospect in most major publications last spring.
  • He remains a little high on Bennett at #9 despite no 2024. The only thing i’m worried about with Bennett (well, besides the fact that he had his arm cut wide open in August or whenever) is that he really didn’t do well in high-A once he got there. A 2nd round major conference draftee should have STARTED in High-A last year. Instead he toyed with kids in Low-A for nearly two months before going to Wilmington and, well frankly, getting hit. 6 starts, 5.57 ERA, 1.62 whip before he blew the UCL. How many of those starts were with a strained UCL? Who knows. He’ll turn 24 before he throws another pitch, will be back in Wilmington, and will be behind schedule. Is that a top 10 prospect? Not for me. Too much risk.
  • Jacob Young #10. Ok. so, prospect lists are a combination of floor and ceiling. What is Young’s floor? Well, before 2023 he had no real floor. So now we know, he’s a gritty Lenny Dykstra undersized CF spark plug who can make sh*t happen. But what’s his ceiling? He got 4 whole games in AAA before getting called up to cover for a thin OF at the MLB level and he didn’t do half bad. Better numbers than Alex frigging Call, that’s for sure. Young had 13 SBs in 33 games; that’s Vinny Coleman SB rates. But the MLB OF has too many guys right now; Robles kind of has to play CF for the arb salary he’s getting, Garrett earned the corner OF spot, and of course so did Thomas. You don’t want Young riding the pine in the majors, so he’ll be in AAA again to start 2024. What’s his ceiling? Can he hit .290 with mid .350 OBP and 50 SBs in the majors? If that’s the case, then heck yeah he’s #10 prospect, maybe higher.
  • Green down to #11. That’s too low for a guy with three tools in the 60s and a team admitting they’re futzing with his swing. Talking about Ceiling; he has as much ceiling as Crews and Wood by BA scouting reports, and he has a power/speed combo that’s Ronald Acuna-esque. But his hit tool grade right now is like that of a high schooler.
  • Ghost has our new IFAs at #17 and #22. Fair enough. He has our new Rule5 guy at #24, right inline with BA. Fine by me; i’m almost to the point of ignoring prospects until they get to the domestic leagues. Quick; can anyone tell me the names of our two 7-figure IFA signings last January? Or how they performed last summer in the DSL? Yeah, I didn’t think so (by the way, its Andy Acevedo and Edwin Solano, both signed for $1.3M. DSL 2023 lines respectively: .170/.299/.248 and .117/.224/.133. that’s right: Solano hit .117; 15 for 128 with exactly two extra base hits all season. That was money well spent.
  • Drew Millas at #18 but Pineda out of the top 30. Here’s a quick comparison of our two other 40-man catchers right now. Millas 26, switch hitter, spent around 2/3rds of last year in AAA, solid offensive numbers, good speed, average defender, 28% CS rate. Pineda is 23, was in AAA at the end of 2022 but was sent back to high-A in 2023 and struggled at the plate. Based on pure stats, Millas is better. But he’s also got 3 years on Pineda and that really discounts Pineda’s 2022, which is mostly why BA has Pineda higher than Millas right now. Right before publishing, Pineda got DFA’d off the 40-man and i’ll bet someone picks him up, so it may not matter, but its certainly a weird choice to cut to make room for Joey Gallo when they have waiver wire RHP relievers who had ERAs in the 5s and 6s last year who they could have cut instead.
  • TJ White at #19. Why?? .170/.277/.279 in 2023 with no position and missed half the year. That’s not a recipe for success.
  • Andry Lara at #25, after BA didn’t rank him at all. Ok, so on the bright side his whip went down in High A, and he’s still only 21, and we know he finished strong in 2023. His aggregate numbers for his career still suck.
  • Cole Henry at #30. This is a ranking that says, “well, I don’t think he’s ever going to be healthy again, but on the off-chance he is, he’s still ranked.”

Unmentioned in the top 30: Acevedo, Made, and Pineda as mentioned. Nothing egregious.

All in all, not a bad list. I agree with big chunks of the rankings of players hoenstly.

Written by Todd Boss

January 29th, 2024 at 9:12 am

Posted in Prospects

Baseball America Nats top 30 Prospects for 2024

8 comments

Jacob Young gets some prospect love. Photo AP via WashPost

The first major shop to release a significant ranking for the 2024 prospect season has come out, and it is the standard bearer Baseball America. This year i’ll keep a running list of every ranking that i’ve seen and just build on it as i post. So far, here’s what we’ve seen:

Here is a list of Every Nats prospect list i’ve ever captured. It was last uploaded 1/25/24 to capture the data from last June to today. There’s now 223 ranking lists in this xls, dating to the Baseball America Nov 2004 ranking for our 2004 prospects (#1 prospect for the system in Nov 2004? Mike Hinckley. ouch).

Here’s the pre-2024 list of prospect ranks that have been published so far.

  • BA’s pre-read top 10, announced 11/6/23 (link now defaults to top 30 released today; no changes from the top 10 in Nov to now, a slight indictment perhaps of the BA process)
  • Prospects361 top 10, released 11/24/23
  • MLBPipeline top 30, post rule5/pre off-season analysis released 12/7/23. Note, the MLBPipeline link always defaults to the current, but i retain the rankings at the time of the capture into an XLS
  • Baseball America 2024 top 30 1/24/24: this post

Still to come: Baseball Prospectus, MLBPipeline, Eric Longenhagen/Fangraphs, Keith Law/the Athletic, Prospects1500, Bleacher Report, CBSSports, ProspectsLive, and Prospect Digest. So, lots to come.

Here’s a direct link to the Baseball America 2024 Nats top 30, which is behind a paywall but i’m a subscriber so I’ll list them here. It has detailed scouting reports on all 30 players, which is great especially for the new IFAs.

BA top 30Last NameFirst NamePosition
1CrewsDylanOF (CF)
2WoodJamesOF (Corner)
3HouseBradySS/3B
4CavalliCadeRHP (Starter)
5MoralesYohandy3B
6RutledgeJacksonRHP (Starter)
7Hassell IIIRobertOF (CF)
8VaqueroCristianOF (CF)
9GreenElijahOF (CF)
10SusanaJarlinRHP (Starter)
11LileDaylenOF (CF)
12HurtadoVictorOF
13BennettJakeLHP (Starter)
14SykoraTravisRHP (Starter)
15HerzDJLHP (Starter)
16LipscombTrey3B
17NunezNasimSS
18YoungJacobOF (CF)
19PinckneyAndrewOF (Corner)
20BrzykcyZachRHP (Reliever)
21PinedaIsraelC
22MillasDrewC
23HenryColeRHP (Starter)
24FelizAngel3B/SS
25MadeKevinSS
26De La RosaJeremyOF (Corner)
27CruzArmandoSS
28BakerDarren2B
29WhiteT.J.OF (Corner)
30ParkerMitchellLHP (Starter)

Here’s some analysis, going from top to bottom.

  • BA has the same basic top 4 for us as nearly every other shop at this point.
  • Cavalli is now 25 and is the oldest guy on the top 30. A big portion of our future fortunes sit on his shoulders and his ability to come back at the #2 starter that he was purported to be prior to TJ.
  • Morales up to #5 is great to see, especially given our (crummy) track record of 2nd round picks.
  • Rutledge at #6 is great news. A year ago he was in the mid-teens at best on most lists. Now he’s on the verge of losing his rookie status in 2024. Based on where he was in 2022, even if he’s a 5th starter that’s found gold.
  • Green down to #9. Ok so 139 strikeouts in 75 low-A games isn’t a good thing. His scouting report at BA is an interesting read. Here’s how they grade his tools: Scouting Grades Hit: 30 | Power: 60 | Run: 70 | Field: 55 | Arm: 60. that’s two 60s and a 70. Nobody has 60 power and 70 run; that’s like Eric Davis type combos. He’s a project.
  • Our two big IFA signings this month (Victor Hurtado and Angel Feliz) come in at #12 and #24. Ok that’s good. They were both reasonable signings for IFAs; not the $4M for a 16yr old kind.
  • We also picked up a new prospect with our Rule5 draftee, Nasim Nunez. Coincidentally, I wonder if Nunez’ drafting spells the end for Kieboom; he’s got no options, they’ve bought a starting 3B and a starting 1B, and he can’t play middle infield like Vargas and Nunez. Heck, even Alu has more positional flexibility than Kieboom.
  • Both Bennett (TJ – out all of 2024) and Sykora (prep kid who threw zero innings in 2023) are ahead of DJ Herz. Herz, lest anyone forget, is just 23, solved AA, is on the 40-man roster and is certain to get looks this year. Um. what are we looking at here boys?
  • Jacob Young at #18 … well I should hope so!! All he did was rise 3 levels last year and may very well be the starting CF if Robles gets hurt, again.
  • Pineda and Millas back to back at 21 and 22. I think the BA staff has guidelines that say, “ok when you get to the mid 20s, just throw in their top-level catcher depth b/c we know they’ll get looks eventually).
  • Kevin Made absolutely fell apart after we acquired him, and plummeted down the list. Hope he can recover.
  • Mitchell Parker bringing up the rear at #30. So, #30 is where you put polished lefties who are on the 40 man who have solved three minor league levels by the age of 24. Got it

Missing names of note:

  • Andy Acevedo and Edwin Solano; both were $1.3M IFA signings last January, and who did near nothing all summer in 2023.
  • Brennar Cox. As high as #11 on some lists last year. Geeze. Why do we ever draft prep kids?
  • Andry Lara; finally someone ranks him realistically.

All in all, not much to complain about with this list.

Written by Todd Boss

January 24th, 2024 at 8:31 pm

Posted in Prospects

Happy New Year and Nothing to Report

6 comments

Nationals Stadium in the off-season. Photo via Federal Baseball

Hello all.

Coming to you live from Wintergreen Ski Resort, where my son races on the team and we spend every weekend when there’s snow on the ground.

I realized it’s been quite a while since I posted anything here. My last post said “Happy Thanksgiving” on it. That’s not really for lack of wanting to post; its just reality that there hasn’t been a whole heck of a lot to post about for someone like me, given the state of our team and the specific interests I like to write about.

  • The Nats are not spending any money in FA, which indicates another year of lack of competition. It is what it is. I firmly believe the rebuild is on track as compared to the 2009-2012 cycle. From 2009-12 the team went from 59 to 69 to 80 to 98 wins. Compare to where we are now starting from 2022: 55 wins to 71 wins. If 2023 shows this team at .500, look for major spending next off-season to fill in the holes we have and to really make a push.
  • Yes, I’m bullish on our top echelon of prospects. I think Cavalli comes back and makes a new “big 3” along with Grey and Gore. I think Crews and Woods and House are all on track and could form a pretty solid middle of the order for this team for 5-6 years straight. I like the chances of some of the next group of hitters (Green, Morales, Hassell) to get it together and make a name for themselves too. Maybe we can get Bennett or Rutledge to be better than the average bear in the near term. Then suddenly you’re just a couple of major signings away from another 6-year playoff run.
  • The draft lottery was already set; we were always going to be #10, so there was no drama. We found out later that the Nats actually “won” the lottery and would have had the #1 pick, then “won” it again for #3. Figures.
  • Since we’re not spending money, there’s little to do from a payroll analysis to see what money they “have left” to spend.
  • MASN past due money got resolved. Woo hoo. I fully expect another petty lawsuit coming for the next tronche of cash. I still maintain MLB is just waiting out the string on Angelos to die so they can stick the sword to that franchise and basically say to them, “you’ve embarrassed yourselves and this sport for more than a decade whining and fighting me on this damn TV deal, so now the tab comes due: if you want to sell the team or transfer it to your arrogant asshole of a Son, then you’ll divest yourselves of MASN ownership so the Nats aren’t tied to you anymore.” But, since this is baseball we’re talking about, and since reason rarely comes into play with decisions made in this sport … don’t hold your breath.
  • Speaking of selling … the Lerners have had the for sale sign out for a while now with no news, eh? Which is partly one of the reasons there’s little FA spending. Gee, you think this MASN contract is a non-starter for prospective buyers or what? I think if the Nats owned their own RSN outright, Ted Leonsis would have bought the team the NEXT DAY, packed all his other tv contracts into one network, and he’d have a near monopoly on DC sports. Still could happen … though now Leonsis has a shiny new toy coming down in Potomac Yard. By the way, tangent here: for ANYONE who is whining about Leonsis moving his teams out of Chinatown …. you have nowhere to blame at all except the idiots in the DC Mayor’s office. This is modern pro sports; yes its ridiculous to expect a city to finance a stadium for a billionaire …but its also ridiculous to not recognize what a massive positive impact that stadium’s location at 7&H had on that area. DC was nickel and diming Leonsis with police and services and it was having an impact on the game day experience, and now they’ll have nothing in that space for decades. There’s a whole big blog called “Field and Schemes” that basically criticizes every single public financing deal made, without really giving any context for the for-real economic impact these stadiums make (again, look no further than the area around Nationals stadium, which was a frigging demilitarized zone prior to that stadium being built and now looks like Crystal City). I have no sympathy for DC residents, or even for whiny suburban Maryland residents who complain about the extra metro time to get to Potomac Yard … uh, what do you think us residents of Arlington and Fairfax county have been dealing with for decades, with every pro sport in this damn city? Rant over.
  • Our non-tender deadline and arb cases were pretty straight forward; nothing really to even write about.
  • We added a $2m signing in Nick Senzel that seems to be the end of the road for Carter Kieboom. Really amazing if so; Kieboom was a top 20 prospect in all of baseball as a 20yr old in AAA and just basically has disappeared. Otherwise we’ve done very little in terms of signings: a RHP middle reliever to a major league deal in Florio, a bunch of AAA guys, that’s it.

What’s next? We’ll we’re into prospect season, so i’ll start to see the rankings roll out. I love pontificating about lists, so we’ll get more content coming. But otherwise; what’s to talk about? I should probably do an options status post at some point; there are a couple of very notable names out of Options and with question marks surrounding their status on this team.

So, sorry it’s been radio silence for so long. I hope everyone is doing well and is still reading along. It’s an interesting time to be a Nats blogger; i’ve talked about this in the past, but there’s not a ton to analyze/talk about when you know the team isn’t actively trying to win, nor when they’re a perennial playoff contender. So that leads to this middle ground.

Written by Todd Boss

January 13th, 2024 at 8:30 am

Posted in Nats in General

Prospects361 Top 10 Nats Prospects for 2024

4 comments

How long Before House gets to the majors? Photo via primetimesportstalk.com

Happy Thanksgiving!

The second early publisher of prospect top 10s is Prospects361, written by Rich Wilson, with a definite fantasy focus. I believe he ranks deeper than 10, but you can only see 10 without a premium account.

Pre-2024 Prospect Lists and Analysis:

Here’s his top 10 list for us.

peLast NameFirst NamePosition
1CrewsDylanOF (CF)
2WoodJamesOF (Corner)
3HouseBradySS/3B
4VaqueroCristianOF (CF)
5Hassell IIIRobertOF (CF)
6CavalliCadeRHP (Starter)
7MoralesYohandy3B
8GreenElijahOF (CF)
9SusanaJarlinRHP (Starter)
10SykoraTravisRHP (Starter)

Quick reaction to this top 10 list.

  • Nothing really shocking here, despite Wilson’s fantasy tint. For the most part this is a defensible list.
  • In the lead-up to the list, he does notice that a lot of our top prospects took steps back or struggled in 2023. And yes he’s right. Hassell didn’t seem right all year. Cavalli missed the entire season with TJ. Bennett GOT TJ. Green strikes out half the time he bats. Susana can’t find the plate. So yeah there’s some angst in the system.
  • His top 3 are basically the same as anyone elses right now: Crews, Wood, House.
  • Putting Vaquero 4th is ridiculous … and is one of the two really notable fantasy-tinged picks in this list. He’s doing analysis for dynasty leagues who are drafting 18 and 19yr olds, and in those leagues guys like Vaquero are getting snapped up.
  • He’s dinged Green down to 8th, whereas most have him a bit higher. He has to figure out how to not strike out.
  • 10th was Sykora, entirely on draft bonus amount and hype.

The highest players he doesn’t have ranked would include the likes of:

  • Rutledge, who still maintains rookie status. I guess when you’re a 6th starter in the majors, you’re less valuable than an 18 yr old who hasn’t thrown a pitch in pro ball.
  • Lile, who MLBpipeline is super-high on.
  • Bennett, though to no surprise since he is missing all of 2024.

Written by Todd Boss

November 24th, 2023 at 12:20 pm

Posted in Prospects

Rule-5 Protection Prediction history updated for 2023

7 comments

Rutledge could be one of our best ever Rule5 protections. 2023 photo via 3rdmanin.com

Here’s a complete history of my predicted Rule-5 additions (with links to each prediction piece), along with the Actual players the team protected (with links as well), to show my (lack of) predictive powers. It’s updated for 2023 and has narratives about each class and how the players turned out later on.

How many of the above players who were added to “save” them from the Rule-5 draft actually turned into impactful players for the Nationals? Lets work backwards:

  • 2022: Cronin, Alu, De La Rosa, Rutledge, Ferrer, Irvin. Some good, some bad so far out of this crew. The Good: Irvin spent most of 2023 in the MLB rotation, Rutledge pitched great all year and ended in the rotation as well, Alu became a solid MLB player, and Ferrer got 39 appearances this year). The bad: Cronin and De La Rosa both already outrighted right back off the 40-man.
  • 2021: Casey and Lee: Casey was DFA’d mid 2022, outrighted, then demoted to AA for most of 2023 before hitting MLFA. He never once played in the majors for us. Lee got hurt in 2022, made a few starts in AA, got outrighted (ironically to make room for the 2022 Rule5 guys) then was converted to relief for 2023 where he struggled badly in 2023. He was a bad rule5 protection selection; someone who was “good” for a brief second and had crazy K/9 numbers but who couldn’t come close to sustaining it at the higher levels of the minors.
  • 2020: Adon, Antuna: Adon toiled in the lower minors for most of 2021, made it to the majors for a spot start and looked solid. His performance since? Absolutely abhorrent: 1-12 with a 7.10 ERA in 2022 before mercifully being sent down. 2023 was not much better. His outlook for 2024? Probably another year in AAA, i’ve got him probably 7th or 8th on the pecking order before considering this year’s rule-5 adds. Meanwhile, Antuna was a disaster, had to move off of SS and hit .230 in High-A with none of the power he’d need to present with his move to a corner OF position. The team seems to be clinging to the guy simply based on his massive IFA signing bonus. Finally at the end of 2023 he hit MLFA; final career minor league totals: .224/.326/.675 and the only level where he even came close to an .800 was rookie ball.
  • 2019: Braymer; got DFA’d mid-season 2021 and outrighted after struggling in both seasons. Never amounted to much after that.
  • 2018: Bourque: got shelled in AAA in 2019, waived in 2020, then left the team as a MLFA.
  • 2017: Gutierrez, Jefry Rodriguez. Gutierrez never really did anything for us and was traded to KC in the Kelvin Herrera deal. Rodriguez threw a bunch of mediocre starts and was flipped to Cleveland in the Yan Gomes deal; he’s now back with us as a MLFA for 2022.
  • 2016: Voth, Bautista, Marmolejos, Read and Skole. A ton of guys; anyone impactful? Voth has competed for the 5th starter job for years but has a career 83 ERA+ and was waived; he then went on to Baltimore to succeed, a pretty black mark for this team’s usage of him (since Baltimore ins’t exactly known for being a pitching development team). Bautista never did much for us: 33 career MLB plate appearances. Read had a PED suspension and a handful of MLB games. Marmolejos was a 1B-only guy who showed some gap power in AA but never above it. Skole was inexplicably protected as an age 26 corner infield guy whose profile seemed to mirror dozens of veteran free agents readily available on the market; he hit .222 in 2017 and then hit MLFA.
  • 2015: Kieboom, Bostick, Lee: This was Spencer Kieboom, the catcher, not his younger brother Carter, who remains on the 40-man as we speak. Kieboom was a AAA catcher who was worth protecting but he played just a handful of games in his MLB career. Chris Bostick didn’t last the full 2016 season before being DFA’d. Nick Lee lasted even less, getting DFA’d in July.
  • 2014: Cole, Goodwin, Difo, Grace. All four players ended up playing in the majors for various lengths … but all four were role players for this team. AJ Cole was tried out as a 5th starter season after season, finally flipped to the Yankees when he ran out of options. Goodwin was another guy who couldn’t seem to break our outfield, but who has had spells of starting with some success elsewhere. Difo was our backup IF for years, and Matt Grace pitched in the Washington bullpen for years before getting outrighted and leaving via MLFA in 2019.
  • 2013: Solis, Barrett, Taylor. Sammy was good until he wasn’t, and his time with the 2018 Nats was his last. Barrett remains with the team after multiple surgeries, but is a MLFA this off-season and may be forced into retirement after so many injuries. Michael A. Taylor is an interesting one; he had a 2.7 bWAR season for the Nats in 2017, nearly a 20/20 season when he finally got full time playing time in CF. He won a Gold Glove this year for Kansas City, one season after we DFA’d him because we all thought Victor Robles was a better option.
  • 2012: Karns and Davis.  Karns had one good year as a starter in the majors … for Tampa. Career bWAR: 3.0. Davis pitched a little for the team in 2013, then got hurt, then never made it back to the majors.
  • 2011: Norris, Moore, Solano, Perez.  This was a big year; Norris was a big part of the Gio Gonzalez trade and made the all star team in 2014 for Oakland, but didn’t play much afterwards. Tyler Moore was great in his first year as our backup 1B/bench bat type, but never replicated his 2012 season. Jhonathan Solano was always our 3rd catcher and saw sparing duty until he got cut loose. Eury Perez played in just a handful of games for us before getting DFA’d and claimed by the Yankees in Sept 2014.
  • 2010: Marrero, Carr and Kimball. Marrero was a 1st rounder who “had” to get protected to protect the team’s investiment; he just never could get above AAA. Adam Carr and Cole Kimball were both relievers who looked promising after their 2010 minor league seasons but did relatively little afterwards: Cole never made the majors, while Kimball hurt his shoulder and never recovered.
  • 2009: Jaime, Thompson and Severino. three pitchers, none of whom did much. Jaime was a 2004 IFA who has a grand total of 13 MLB innings. Thompson was waived a year after being protected. Severino got a cup of coffee in 2011 then hit MLFA.
  • 2008: Nobody added. Not one eligible pick or signing from the 2004/2005 draft was considered worthy of protecting.

Conclusion: So, after more than a decade of rule-5 additions, who would you say is the most impactful player we’ve ever added? Brian Goodwin? Michael A. Taylor? Sammy Solis? Maybe it’ll be one of the two starters from 2022 Jake Irvin and/or Jackson Rutledge.

Written by Todd Boss

November 20th, 2023 at 12:21 pm

Posted in Rule-5