Nationals Arm Race

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

End of August Rotation Check-Ins


Joan Adon is back in the bigs after earning it at AAA.  Photo via Federal Baseball
Joan Adon is back in the majors after a long season in AAA. Photo via Federal Baseball

Wow, it looks like i’m going to finish a season-long series. We did an end of April check-in on the rotations, End of May check-in, and an End of June Check-in, and End of July.

Here’s August’s look after another month. We finished off the two short-season leagues, and will do one last check-in with the 5 full season rosters at the end of this month.

Important links for this analysis:

We’ll start with the Majors.

Rotation: Corbin, Grey, Gore, Williams, Irvin, Adon

Changes in the last month: Added Adon as a spot starter, then decided to pivot to a 6-man rotation for the rest of the way.

Observations: The 6-man rotation will be useful since the rotation has 3 arms (Grey, Gore, Irvin) they want to limit innings on. As of this writing, these three guys are starting to really add on innings: Grey at 137ip, Gore at 132, Irvin at 102 major league innings plus another 22 in AAA. So Adon will get 4 or 5 starts and spell everyone a little bit.

Corbin had his best month of the year in August; 5 starts, 4.13ERA. So did Gore, posting a 3.76 ERA and a 1.10 whip in 5 starts. So did Irvin: a 2.35 ERA on the month. Meanwhile, Grey did not; in 5 starts he had nearly a 9.00 ERA, ballooning his season numbers back above 4.00. Williams continued to be 5th starter material, with an ERA in the mid 5.00s. Lastly there’s Adon, who had a 6.00 ERA for the month, but that’s an improvement over last year.

The team has gone 18-12 in its last 30, 12-8 in its last 20, pulling them out of last in the division amazingly, and its a great positive way to finish the year.

Next starter to get cut/demoted: none. We may see some promotions just to save innings on the younger arms, but nothing merit worthy.

AAA Rochester:

Rotation: Peralta, Abbott, Rutledge, Munoz, A. Hernandez plus Troop and Romero spot starts.

Changes in the last month: Lots of churn in the AAA Rotation from July.

  • Espino was released right at the beginning of the month after years of service here.
  • Urena was mercifully released after an entire season of poor performance.
  • Banda was briefly in the rotation but pitched horribly and got demoted to the pen.
  • Adon got promoted

Observations: So, in these guys’ place we have these replacements:

  • Abbott (demoted down from MLB and back in the rotation to get stretched out, likely to get a 9/1 callup to eat innings)
  • AHernandez: promoted up after excelling in AA
  • Munoz; claimed in mid July and put into the rotation
  • Troop and Romero with a couple of spot starts

Results? Ugh. Troop gave up 14 runs in 4 innings for the month before getting demoted. Munoz had a 10.91 ERA in 5 August starts and it seems safe to say he’s on thin ice as a waiver claim, even if he’s super young (23). Peralta: another month, another ERA in the 6s or 7s. Abbott pitched well, but then again we already knew he’s better as a starter than a reliever. The actual prospects? Rutledge had a 4.38 ERA but was a bit wild (13 walks in 24innings), while Alemeo Hernandez struggled a bit upon his promotion to AAA. but he’s only 23 and now in AAA, so we’ll be a bit patient.

Next Starter to get Promoted: I mean, it has to be Rutledge right? When the big league team shuts down one of Grey/Gore/Irvin, it probably means Rutledge’s debut.

Next starter to get cut/demoted: Munoz.

AA Harrisburg:

Rotation: Alvarez, Parker, Cuevas, Herz, Saenz

Changes in the last month: Hernandez got promoted, so in his place they promoted up Alvarez. Troop went up, then came back at the end of the month. Henry has been shut down since July 25th, which is really not a good sign. Knowles is there for long relief but got no spot starts on the month (which mostly went to rehabbers).

Observations: Great months for Parker, Saenz, and Herz, each of whom had 5-6 starts, an ERA below 3.00, and an excellent Whip. New acquisition Herz was probably the best of them: 1-2, 2.57 ERA. 0,86 whip. Can’t ask for much better than that. Alvarez’ promotion has gone smoothly; the 12th rounder from 2021’s draft is looking solid: 3.60 ERA in his first few starts. Only Cuevas really struggled on the month, putting up a 7.60 ERA to inflate his seasonal ERA to 5.36. One last observation; LR Knowles gave up just one ER in the month and as a crafty 25-yr old lefty might be ready to move up, even if he’s not a primary starter. Herz is only 22, but has looked solid all summer. Parker is coming into his own and may be due a promotion soon too.

Next Starter to get Promoted: Knowles

Next starter to get cut/demoted: Cuevas

High-A Wilmington

Rotation: Bennett, Caceres, Lara, Lord, Luckham

Changes in the last month: Very little. Alvarez got promoted up mid-month, and he was replaced by Bennett, who took basically the entire month of July off either for an undisclosed injury or innings management. (Note: MLB’er Ward got two rehab starts as well). Theophile did not appear.

Observations: I don’t know what Bennett’s break was for, but it did him no favors. In his 3 August starts he only went 7 total innings, gave up 11 runs and only had 3 strike outs. What the heck is going on here? This was a guy who was really tearing it up earlier in the year … and now I don’t know what to make of him. Lord and Lara looked solid; that may be the first time i’ve EVER been complementary of Lara’s performance. Luckham’s peripherals were bad (5.13 ERA but a decent whip), while Caceres continues to be really bad. He now has a 8.80 ERA in 11 starts in High-A, he didn’t deserve a promotion to begin with, and i’m not sure he continues to pitch.

Then in the “what is going on here” category; Theophile. Had solid numbers first few months, then he last appeared on 7/7. No injury trip, no disclosure … just eating up a roster spot for two months. I don’t understand; the teams have a DL for a reason, so you can back fill an injured guy.

Next Starter to get Promoted: Lord

Next starter to get cut/demoted: Caceres

Low-A Fredericksburg

Rotation: Cornelio, Sullivan, Tepper, Young, Stethe (with Amaral getting 3 “bullpen” game starts)

Changes in the last month: a ton. Tolman went down with what seems like a really bad injury. Susana made one start and now sits on the Restricted list. Atencio hit the DL as well. In their place we have three 2023 draftees Sullivan, Tepper (from Liberty University in Virginia!), and Stethe.

Lastly, former 1st round pick Denaburg, who has been pushed out of even getting spot starts, had this August line: 5 appearances, 6.2 innings, 15 runs allowed on 14 hits for a nifty 17.55 ERA. Still on the payroll.

Observations: A rough month all around for the starters. Young was most decent; a respectable 3.75 ERA and 1.25 whip. More importantly, he struck out 35 in just 24 innings. Cornelio is the elder statesman of the bunch but continues to struggle to really stand out; he had a 4.65 ERA on the month. Our three new draftees each had rough introductions to pro ball: Stethe and Sullivan each got 4 starts but really failed to pitch deep into any of them. Sullivan had an interesting K/BB ratio: 19/10 in 12 innings. So, some good and some bad. Tepper is brand new to the rotation and only has 4IP so far, so too early to tell.

Next Starter to get Promoted: Young

Next starter to get cut/demoted: Denaburg.

Rookie Florida Complex League

Final Rotation: CSanchez, Zapata, Agostini, Leon, Polanco

Changes in the last month: none. And in fact, the FCL rotation was almost entirely unchanged from even opening day; Sanchez, Agostini, and Polanco were there the entire season. the only 2 changes even from opening day were Tolman getting promoted and Ogando getting pulled out of service after just two games and not appearing since June 13th.

Observations: Leon had the best month, but can’t strike anyone out (6 Ks in 13 IP). The rest were various stages of awful: Polanco had an 8.00 ERA, Sanchez in the 12s and walked 10 guys in 7 innings. Zapata pitched 8 2/3rds innings, gave up 12 runs and only struck out 3 guys. Only Agostini looked solid, pitching mostly behind the “starter” of the week who was really someone on rehab. 9IP, 2 hits, 2 runs. Wow. I’m surprised he hasn’t been promoted for the stretch run in F’burg.

Otherwise, this entire crew (which are mostly 2021IFAs seems like they’re going to struggle to stick around after this season, especially with the number of arms we have floating through the system. I think their saving grace may be the fact that our 2023IFA class was more hitters than pitchers.

Next Starter to get Promoted: Agostini

Next starter to get cut/demoted: Camilio Sanchez had the worst year.

Dominican Summer League

Rotation: Portorreal, Farias, A.Roman, E.Rivero, H.Moreno

Changes in the last month: Ramirez and D.Perez out, Roman and Rivero in.

Observations: R.Ramirez was kind of inexplicably taken out of the rotation and only pitched a couple times in the stretch run. He was replaced in the rotation by Roman, who was a decent reliever the entire season and who got two starts in the run-in. The MILB site is broken for August splits for the DSL, so we’re kind of guessing based on full-season stats. Clearly the 3 main guys in the rotation all year were Farias, Portorreal, and H.Moreno. Farias should have been more impressive; he’s 21 pitching against a ton of 16-17yr olds in the DSL and still had a seasonal ERA of 7.07. Most of the rest of th ese guys are 2023IFAs who are 18 or 19 and who they can be patient with. Roman probably had the best seasonal line of the “starters” with a 1-1, 3.20ERA, 1.04whip, 32/7 K/BB in 39ip. He did that as a 19yr old 2021IFA out of Venezuela, and it seems to me he’s well in line to move up next season to domestic ball.

Otherwise, there are a couple of decent looking pitchers out of the god-awful DSL team; Angel Pena had a 19/5 K/BB in 14 relief innings. Jose Britto had a .186 BAA despite a 5.00 ERA; not sure what to make of that. Ramon Cuevas had some decent numbers. Otherwise a lot of guys in the DSL who got rocked.

Next Starter to get Promoted: A.Roman

Next starter to get cut/demoted: Farias


I’m super disappointed to see both Henry and Bennett either shutdown or essentially shutdown. I look forward to seeing what Rutledge can do in the majors. Herz looks like he could be a find.

Written by Todd Boss

September 3rd, 2023 at 9:53 am

Last night in Richmond…


Wood's blast was the highlight of the night for Harrisburg.  Photo via milb

(freely stealing this idea from Luke Erickson and, when Luke attends a game in person as he frequently does).

So, for those of you who don’t know, I’ve relocated to Richmond, home of the SF Giant’s AA affiliate known as the “Flying Squirrels.” I suppose its because Virginia’s capital city has a ton of squirrels flying around (no actually, it was a fan-based naming competition back in 2009). And our own Harrisburg Senators were in town this week for a 6-game series. So I got a chance to see our prospects in action last night.

Here’s my recap.

In rough lineup order from last night (here’s the box-score), a game our team lost 7-6 in a walk-off, which was great for the home town fans but pretty galling for a fan of the National’s team, as they blew multiple leads throughout the night to give away the game.

Hitters first:

  • It only took about 3 minutes for our team to grab the lead 3-0. As the adage goes in Minor League baseball … get there early because you don’t want to miss any action. We missed it of course because, well, when you’re attending a baseball game with kids, the odds of getting there for opening pitch are usually nil. After a Jacob Young leadoff single and a Robert Hassell walk, Trey Lipscomb blasted a ball to left for a quick 3-run lead while we were parking the car.
  • Lipscomb played 2B, has already earned a promotion this year to AA, and has continued to stay hot. He went 3-5 on the night, was a double short of the cycle, is batting 3rd for the AA team, and honestly looks like he could really be a find. We’ve watched Luis Garcia scuffle playing 2B (and looking like he eats big macs every night); Lipscomb is an athletic beast who can play anywhere on the dirt.
  • Young: played CF instead of Hassell, went 2-4 with a walk on the night, was a real spark plug at the top, and made a really nice ranging catch at the wall early on. I like this guy too, and talked about how he may possibly fit into the OF log jam of prospects we have.
  • James Wood has been struggling since getting to AA, but he hit an absolute blast to right field that was awe-inspiring from our 1st-baseline bleacher seats. Phew. Someone’s going home with a dented roof, because he cleared both fences in right and nailed a car in the parking lot. He was only 1-5 on the night, but he did hit the ball hard 3 times.
  • Hassell looked absolutely awful. 0-4 with a walk and three strikeouts. Honestly, not once did he take what i’d call a confident swing. This is consistent with basically his entire Nats career so far. I know he had hamate bone issues, which takes a year to recover from. I know he’s a top prospect and hit while in SD’s system. What the heck is going on here? I mean, was all his production in San Diego’s system due to hitter’s parks?
  • Brady House batted 5th and was “just” 1-4, but it was probably a bit unlucky 1-4. He had a sharp line out to 2B for one out and he blasted a ball to CF that was caught on the warning track for another out. He also looked very, very solid at 3B, making a ton of plays, including a couple of in-between hops that looked tough on the way off the bat.
  • Frankie Tostado played 1B and batted 6th: nothing striking either way.
  • Israel Pineda was free swinging at the plate, waved at a bunch of pitches, had two punchouts. I know his value is behind the plate, but the dude is only hitting .175 for AA right now.
  • Lucious Fox…. looked awful at the plate. 0-4, three strikeouts, and his body language basically screamed “I don’t want to be here.” He’s 26, batting 8th in AA, and I wonder why he’s still on the team. At least he’s DFA’d off the 40man at this point. If we had a more pressing SS prospect, i’d guess that he’d be gone. Lipscomb looks more like a 2B/3B guy, Cluff is an org guy, and high-A doesn’t really have anyone banging on the door.
  • Jackson Cluff could be starting at SS instead of Fox; tonight he DH’d and batted 9th. Ask yourself: if you are batting your DH ninth … is it safe to say you have roster issues? Normally Cluff is at SS, Trey Harris is at DH, and the team shows a bit more pop. That being said, Cluff, did an admirable job table setting, going 2-3 with a walk and easily stealing bases all night.


  • Mitchell Parker got the start on the mound. If you’ve never seen him … his mechanics scream one guy: Clayton Kershaw. He has the same arm stretch straight up to the sky to start, he has similar arm action, a funky delivery, he’s lefty, and he gets a ton of Ks. He had 8 punch-outs in 5IP on the night.
  • Parker gave up a run in the 3rd on this sequence: 10-bounce grounder, balk, Wild Pitch, and then sac fly. So, not exactly helping himself, but also not really getting pounded early.
  • But he then went this sequence in the 5th: bunt single to open (House was literally playing on the grass at 3B and by the time he got to the bunt the guy was rounding first), then another seeing-eye-single up the middle to have 2 on with nobody out, then Richmond’s best hitter blasted a homer to score three and tie the game.
  • Honestly, Parker looked pretty solid on the night. I only saw two really hard hit balls, both by the same guy Shane Matheny who seemed to have a read on him all night. But, as has been a pattern for Parker, he was profligate with his pitches, needing 92 to get through five innings. I still like him as a prospect, even though his ERA in AA is in the upper 4.s
  • After Parker came out, 2021 NDFA Tyler Schoff came in and pitched a neatly effective 6th. A NDFA advancing to AA is a pretty solid outcome; he didn’t have super awesome stuff, but he was effective. He’s looking like that classic middle reliever RHP guy who gets by on movement and who suddenly is pitching in the 6th for the big league club.
  • Malvin Pena pitched the 7th and 8th; he looked like a slightly trimmer version of Lee Smith on the mound. Pena pitched a clean 7th but then went homer-double-RBI single in the 8th to cough up a 6-4 lead and send the home crowd into a frenzy. The single went to Wood, who made a valiant attempt to throw the guy out at the plate and nearly got him. Solid defensive play.
  • So, now its tied 6-6 in the 9th and we bring in Patrick Ruotolo, a MLFA we signed out of the Mexican League in early July and who pitched for this same Richmond team in 2021 for nearly a full season. Now he’s a 28yr old reliever in AA … and he pitched like it. Walk to open the 9th (already a 50% chance of that guy scoring), then a sharply hit single for two-on, none out. Ruotolo did induce what looked like it could be a DP grounder, but it ate up Lipscomb at 2nd and an arguable force-call didn’t go his way. Bases loaded, none out, and the same guy who blasted a homer earlier in the game lofted a deep flyball to CF that easily scored the walk-off run. Not an impressive outing from Ruotolo.

So, that’s the observations from the game. Senators blow leads of 3-0 and 6-4 to lose 7-6. The post-game fireworks were cool though.

Written by Todd Boss

August 20th, 2023 at 9:59 am

MLBPipeline updated Nats top 30


Keep hitting like this and Lile will be back at Nats stadium. Photo via Lile’s twitter.

First Fangraphs, then BA, now MLBPipeline.

All three shops have taken the opportunity of draft and trade deadline acquisitions to do some tweaking of their lists, even from just a few weeks ago, to come up with new top 30s. Here’s some reaction to MLBpipeline’s list.

First, here’s the 30 now (the data is open to the public via the above link)

MLB Pipeline 8/10/23Last NameFirst NamePosition
1CrewsDylanOF (CF)
2WoodJamesOF (Corner)
4CavalliCadeRHP (Starter)
5GreenElijahOF (CF)
6LileDaylenOF (CF)
8Hassell IIIRobertOF (CF)
9VaqueroCristianOF (CF)
10BennettJakeLHP (Starter)
11SykoraTravisRHP (Starter)
12SusanaJarlinRHP (Starter)
13RutledgeJacksonRHP (Starter)
16HerzDJLHP (Starter)
18De La RosaJeremyOF (Corner)
19HenryColeRHP (Starter)
20PinckneyAndrewOF (Corner)
21QuintanaRoismarOF (CF)
24LaraAndryRHP (Starter)
26ParkerMitchellLHP (Starter)
28WhiteT.J.OF (Corner)
29BrzykcyZachRHP (Reliever)
30FerrerJoseLHP (Reliever)

Now, here’s some reactions.

  • Our big 3 2023 draftees slot in at #1 (Crews), #7 (Morales), and #11 (Sykora). Almost identical to their rankings on BA’s updated list. However, there’s a surprise 2023 draftee further down.
  • Daylen Lile gets bumped up tremendously, from 15th just a week ago to #6 now. That’s a statement. That’s above Hassell. Especially for someone who’s hitting .188 in high-A right now as a 20yr old. Might be a bit bullish on Lile, who really will have to work to get ahead of the big-time OF prospects in our system to ever make an impact.
  • Hassell takes a dive in the rankings. I get it; he hasn’t hit since we traded for him. He was also 20 in AA last fall and has nursed injuries. Hamate bone breakage is like the TJ for pitchers; its a year before you can really start to pass judgement again. He broke it in last year’s AFL (Oct 13th), so I promise not to complain about him again until 2024.
  • Susana gets dropped several spots, and rightfully so. He’s someone who just is not progressing right now.
  • Like on BA’s list Lipscomb gets a big bump up. He’s showing solid BA and HR numbers this year and the ability to play anywhere on the dirt. Can’t ask for much more.
  • Nice and neat, our two newly acquired prospects in trade (Mead and Herz) slot in at #15 and #16. That’s much higher for Herz than BA’s ranking, and significantly higher for Mead (who BA didn’t even have in top 30-35). Good; I’d like to think we got some value for Candelario.
  • Finally some prospect love for Alu, bumped up 10 spots before accounting for the 5 players who layered over top of him (meaning really he increased 15 spots). Just in time for him to probably lose his rookie eligibility, as he seems to be getting a some PT for the big club.
  • Jeremy De La Rosa dropped significantly, from 8th to 18th. And rightfully so; he’s ridiculously struggling in High-A as a 21 yr old. Here’s a crazy stat: he has 126Ks in 88 games played. Putting him on the 40-man was such a ridiculous decision, and its looking even more ridiculous each day. Even if he turns it around, by the time he’s ready to make an impact he’ll be totally out of options, forcing the hand of the big club. I said this last fall, and I’ll say it again: NOBODY was going to claim this guy and carry him on their MLB roster for an entire season. Nobody. There was zero reason to add him last fall, and honestly they could have probably snuck him through Rule5 again this coming winter. Grrr.
  • Henry dropped from 12 to 19 (so only a couple spots with 5 new people above him), but still indicative of what we all feared; he just doesn’t look like the same guy post surgery. If he can’t recover as a top-end prospect, that really puts a damper on the Nats future rotation plans.
  • 2023 4th rounder Andrew Pinckney comes in 20th in his first ranking post draft. Wow. You don’t generally see under-slot draftees from the 4th-10th rounds popping up on prospect ranks.
  • Pineda actually bumped up a bunch of slots when accounting for all the new players above him, going from 23 to 22 (so really, rising at least 5 spots). I don’t really understand why; he’s barely played this year. Maybe its just because of how far others have fallen (see next).
  • Millas fast rising, from 28 to 23, so really rising 10 spots. As discussed in the comments from before, I think Millas is much more deserving catcher prospect right now than Pineda. I mean, he’s got better offensive numbers, he’s the starter in AAA. Is it just the age difference (25 vs 23 for Pineda?)
  • Lara: from 14 to 24 as he continues to dumbfound this observer as to why he’s in High-A.
  • Baker goes from 29 to 25, so really up like 9 spots. Makes sense. Still don’t get why you’d have Baker in the low 20s, which usually implies someone who probably doesn’t ever get to the majors, for a player who’s in AAA, has hit at every level, and who probably could make his debut this fall if we get bedeviled with injuries. Is it just a blind spot prospect watchers have for undersized guys who don’t hit 30 homers? Or (as commenters suggested last post) is it an empty slash line? Probably both.
  • Armando Cruz gets shredded, from 14th to 27th. I mean, yeah he’s young (19 in low-A) but he was a $3.9M signing. Its a massive indictment of the scouting department down there if he washes out.
  • TJ White goes from 10th to 28th. Ouch. I think he’s now riding the bench in High-A, where he might be overpromoted as a 20yr old. I’m not sure what you do with him. He was drafted as an OF, but has been playing primarily 1B/DH and hitting .175.
  • Two relievers in Brzycky and Ferrer round out the top 30.

So, who’s dropped out from their last ranking?

  • Roddery Munoz was 21st, now is outside top 30. Probably a little harsh; i mean, he’s a 23rd old starter in AAA, would you put him above a reliever who’s out for the year? I would.
  • Matt Cronin was 22nd, now outside top 30. Out for the season as we now know with a back issue. Hey, I have a “back issue” too, and I could barely walk for a year … i couldn’t imagine trying to work out every day and pitch.
  • Jared McKenzie was 25th, now is outside top 30. MLBpipeline is the only shop that rated him, and he’s struggled in High-A.
  • Brenner Cox, Gerardo Carrillo, and Aldo Ramirez rounded out previous MLBpipeline rankings for the system, but are now pushed well into the 30s with our new acquisitions. None of these guys has done anything to improve their stock in 2023.

Other players worth noting:

  • Jacob Young: 24th on BA, nowhere to be found here. Probably should be slightly higher.
  • Dustin Saenz: probably org guy now.
  • Andy Acevedo and Edwin Solano were our two big money signings this past January, but have not really impressed so far in the DSL. Acevedo is slashing .168/.295/.237. Solano .125/.283/.143. I mean come on.
  • Amos Willingham: so, I guess a reliever who actually makes the majors isn’t prospect worthy at all, but other relievers who are out for the year are. ??

Lastly, I’d like to make a comment about former prospect Mason Denaburg. On 8/10/23, he pitched in relief for Low-A and put up this stat line: 1/3rd of an inning, 11 batters faced, he gave up 8 hits and walked another 2 of them. First of all, why would the team leave him in for 11 batters at this point? Second of all, why is this guy even in the organization anymore? He’s 24, he has a 2.50 whip in low-A, and he’s gotten no fewer than 26 appearances this season so far. He has given up 51 runs in 34 innings this season. I hate that his career got derailed so badly, but what’s left to prove at this point? He was thrown back in a couple days later and acquitted himself … but I just have to wonder when the plug gets pulled. Maybe the system depth is just so deep that you can

Written by Todd Boss

August 14th, 2023 at 9:40 am

Posted in Prospects

Baseball America Updated Nats top 30 Reaction


How about a Grand slam in your 4th professional game? Photo screen grab from

The major shops are starting to read in the 2023 draftees (and 2023 trade deadline acquisitions) to each team’s farm system rankings. As we did ahead of the season, when a major pundit drops an updated ranking i’ll list it here. Technically Fangraphs’ “Big Board” database was the first to publish, since its essentially a running database of every player, amateur or prospect, but their rankings are wonky (as we discussed yesterday), so we just did a brief review. MLBpipeline dropped overnight, so we’ll talk about it next. Baseball America published a couple days ago behind a paywall, so lets review.

Here’s BA’s updated top 30, which includes some re-ranking, new draftees, and new trade acquisitions.

BA Rank 8/9/23Last NameFirst NamePosition
1CrewsDylanOF (CF)
2WoodJamesOF (Corner)
4Hassell IIIRobertOF (CF)
5GreenElijahOF (CF)
6CavalliCadeRHP (Starter)
7RutledgeJacksonRHP (Starter)
9VaqueroCristianOF (CF)
10BennettJakeLHP (Starter)
11SykoraTravisRHP (Starter)
12SusanaJarlinRHP (Starter)
13De La RosaJeremyOF (Corner)
14LileDaylenOF (CF)
16WhiteT.J.OF (Corner)
17HenryColeRHP (Starter)
19LaraAndryRHP (Starter)
20FerrerJoseLHP (Reliever)
22BrzykcyZachRHP (Reliever)
24YoungJacobOF (CF)
25HerzDJLHP (Starter)
27QuintanaRoismarOF (CF)
29CroninMattLHP (Reliever)
30ParkerMitchellLHP (Starter)

So, Here’s some thoughts on the new names and changes from the pre-draft BA rankings.

  • Dylan Crews comes in as our new system #1, which was hard to do because at the time of his drafting we already had a top-5 prospect in James Wood.
  • The last time the Nats had two prospects even in the top 10 of the minors was at the very edge of Bryce Harper‘s eligibility, when Anthony Rendon was also ranked highly. The best we ever did while Stephen Strasburg was still eligible seemed to be Drew Storen ranked in the 50-range. So, having a 1-2 punch of Crews and Wood both top 5 is amazing.
  • Brady House and Robert Hassell switched spots, probably because House is clearly outperforming Hassell right now. In fact, Hassell basically has stopped hitting after we acquired him; he went from a .290 hitter to a .220 hitter in our organization. I’m not sure what special sauce San Diego gave him, but we need to figure it out.
  • Yohandy Morales slots in at #8, between Rutledge and Vaquero. Crews is getting all the attention so far with his hot start in Low-A, but Morales has been there for a week and a half and has a .925 OPS.
  • Travis Sykora comes in at #11, right between Bennett and Susana. Hopefully, he’s more like Bennett (well, in as much as he gets to AA quickly, not the “where the heck has Bennett been for two months part) and less like Susana (who has a 5.14 ERA in low-A this year in his age 19 season).
  • Trey Lipscomb has been bumped up a couple of slots in the last month thanks to his promotion to AA in his age 23 season and his solid offensive line. However, he’s now bumped from his regular 3B slot by House, who is also in AA, and has been bouncing around to find playing time. He’s got starts at 1B, 2B and SS now, replacing lesser prospects in Harrisburg each time. I sense his eventual spot may end being 2B, replacing the .215 hitting JT Arruda in the lineup. Cluff is also hitting about .215 but plays a true SS, which i’m not sure Lipscomb can do long-term. The situation may work itself out if House keeps mashing his way up the system.
  • Jacob Young has been bumped up a few slots. He’s in danger of falling down the depth chart of outfielders given who we have coming up, but for now he’s holding his own and earning promotions.
  • Trade acquisition DJ Herz slots in at #25. Lets see how he fares. He got smacked around in his debut, but he’s 22 in AA as a starter, so that doesn’t suck.
  • Roismar Quintana dropped from 22 to 27. He’s only slugging .358 this year as a 1B/DH type; that’s not going to cut it.
  • Mitchell Parker‘s AA performance has dropped him several slots to just barely holding on to the top 30. I wonder when he’ll convert to relief … and then how quickly he’ll be in the majors after that as a lefty reliever who can get guys out.
  • Darren Baker up a couple slots; the guy’s nearly hitting .300 in AAA as a 24yr old, not sure what else you want from him. Most of the 2021 draft class is still in High-A, if they’re even still here.
  • Dustin Saenz, Andy Acevedo, and Edwin Solano: were ranked 28th-30th before and now have gotten bumped with the new additions.
  • Jake Irvin was ranked 16th; he now has 17 starts under his belt in the majors and has lost his rookie eligibility.

Written by Todd Boss

August 11th, 2023 at 9:48 am

Posted in Prospects

Fangraphs Updated Nats Prospect Rankings with new Draftees


Fangraphs has become the first shop to publish updated system rankings that include our new draftees. Lets do a quick review of where Kiley McDaniel and team have put the new guys.

Reminder, our review of their pre-season Nats top 30-or-so is here: Fangraphs’ methodology leaves a little to be desired and their FV-based ranking does leave us with some weird rankings. That being said, here’s where they’ve slotted in our 3 big 2023 draftees:

  • Dylan Crews: New Nats System #2, and #5 overall in the entirety of the minors. Not a bad debut.
  • Yohandy Morales: new Nats system #5, outside the top 100.
  • Travis Sykora: new Nats system #8, outside the top 100.

I’m sure we’ll start to see other major shops update their rankings and we’ll react as they do.

Written by Todd Boss

August 9th, 2023 at 1:52 pm

Posted in Prospects

End of July 2023 Check-in on Rotations


How long before we see Rutledge in the bigs? Photo via Federal Baseball.

We’re on a roll: We did an end of April check-in on the rotations, End of May check-in, and an End of June Check-in. Here’s July’s look after another month.

Important links for this analysis:

We’ll start with the Majors.

Rotation: Corbin, Grey, Gore, Williams, Irvin

Changes in the last month: None. No changes month over month, and just one rotation change all year. Amazing.

Observations: Corbin continues to suck (July ERA 5.83, seasonal ERA 5.07). Grey has now lowered his season ERA to 3.27 and was our sole All Star. I thought Williams might actually be trade bait, but an ugly month where he gave up 19 runs in 28 innings probably killed his trade value. Gore really struggled in June, with his K/BB rate plummeting and his giving up 15 runs in 20 innings. Lastly Irvin came down to earth a little but after a stellar June, posting a 5.06 ERA for the month.

In order, the pitchers in this rotation in terms of long-term importance are Grey, Gore, gap, Irvin maybe, huge gap, and then Williams & Corbin, who will be paid to eat innings for a last place team the rest of this year and next. So outside of an injury or an innings limit, I can’t see this rotation changing anytime soon, even as most of these guys struggle. I’d like to see Gore fix his ailments; that’s the most concerning to me long term, because he’s supposed to be a huge part of the future.

As a side note, this analysis is mostly about the rotation, but as you can see on the big board, there’s been a massive amount of churn in the bullpen.

  • 2023 starting pen: Finnegan, Edwards, ERamirez, Harvey, Thompson, Ward, Banda*, Harris
  • Pen Now: Finnegan, Thompson, Harris, Ferrer, Weems, Machado, Willingham, Abbott, La Sorsa

The team has 5 relievers on the 10-day DL, 2 more on the 60-day DL, and released Ramirez in June. That’s a ton of churn. And as of this writing, it may get worse if they move the halfway decent relievers they still have.

Next starter to get cut/demoted: none.

AAA Rochester:

Rotation: Peralta, Rutledge, Urena, Adon, Banda (plus Espino before getting called up).

Changes since Last Month: none.

Observations: Zero turnover in the rotation despite massive churn in the relievers back and forth between MLB and AAA. But that doesn’t imply all 5 of these guys are doing well. Banda’s July was pretty forgettable; 11.57 ERA in 12 innings/5 starts. Something tells me he’s not a starter. Peralta actually worsened his seasonal ERA in July (6.97) when it was already shockingly bad (5.98). Urena wasn’t half bad for the month: 3.60 ERA in 4 starts. Espino’s two starts were decent; he got called up and subsequently hit the DL with a “finger.” Adon returned tot he rotation with a couple of decent starts; lets see if he can build on them. Lastly there’s Rutledge, who had a full month in AAA and held his own: 4 starts, 4.17 ERA but only 17 innings.

Next guy to get promoted: Probably Rutledge, then Adon

Next guy to get demoted or released: Banda or Peralta.

AA Harrisburg:

Rotation: Saenz, Troop, Parker, Hernandez, Henry (plus Knowles, Cuevas, Herz)

Changes in last month: Just one real change in this rotation: Henry coming back of rehab and taking the spot of Cuevas, who threw two starts and has been MIA since July 6th. Knowles gave a spot start, and the team just acquired Herz in trade.

Observations: Henry has made 4 starts, thrown a grand total of 6 innings, can’t find the plate and is getting hit. Just not good news. Shoulder surgeries are always scary, and I’m beginning to really worry about him. Saenz just has not made the adjustment since moving up to AA, posting another 6+ ERA month. Same with Parker, who continues to struggle post A-Ball from an ERA perspective but continues to get punch-outs with regularity. This says “reliever” to me. Troop was efficient this month but is in AA for the third straight season, making me wonder if he has a future as a 27yr old who can’t get promoted northwards. Knowles looks like a really solid multi-inning reliever type, with the best monthly numbers on the staff. Hernandez has the best command of the bunch: just 3 walks in 26IP in the month and looks like he’s adjusting well as a 23yr old in AA after a long time away from affiliated ball. I like what Knowles continues to do, even though he’s not in the rotation. He might be making the best case to move up. Cuevas may be hurt, but having a guy on the active roster but not pitch for multiple weeks seems dumb to me; just put him on the DL. Lastly, newly acquired Herz will go into the rotation in AA, so someone is making way. Probably Saenz unless the team decides to shut down Henry.

Next guy to get promoted: Knowles or Troop (Note: after writing this but before publishing, indeed Troop got promoted)

Next guy to get demoted or released: Saenz

High-A Wilmington

Rotation: Alvarez, Lord, Lara, Luckham, Caceres (with Theophile, Bennett)

Changes in Last month: Theophile isn’t on the DL, but he hasn’t pitched since July 7th and was replaced in the rotation by Lord. Bennett also isn’t on the DL, but hasn’t thrown since June 24th, and I agree with Luke Erickson‘s assertion that something bad has happened to our prize prospect. He hasn’t really been “replaced” in the rotation, as much as High-A has settled into a more regular 5-man rotation from last month.

Observations: Lord got 2 starts and was very bad: 9+ ERA. He just got promoted up and may not be long for High-A (he didn’t exactly “solve” low-A in Apr/May). Caceres was even worse; 5 starts with an ERA in the 12s. As I’ve said before, he didn’t deserve the promotion earlier this year and has been awful in High-A. Luckham and Lara were both kinda “meh” months with ERAs in the mid 4s and seasonal ERAs in the same range. Alvarez had the best month: 5 starts of 3.76 ERA and 26/6 K/BB. He continues to hold a sub 3.00 ERA for the season and is clearly the next guy to move up. He just turned 24, was a 12th rounder and may be well positioned to try the next level.

Next guy to get promoted: Alvarez

Next guy to get demoted or released: Caceres or Lord

Low-A Fredericksburg

Rotation: Cornelio, Tolman, Young Susana, Atencio (with Denaburg spot start)

Changes in Last month: Lord was promoted, so Atencio moved from spot starter to rotation guy until he got hurt recently. Now they’re a man short in the rotation and I’m not sure what they do next.

Observations: Atencio was dealing in July before hitting the DL, so that’s disappointing. His most recent start was filled by Denaburg, who continued to light everything he touches on fire (10+ ERA for the month). Susana continues to not be able to find the plate: 13 walks in 18 innings to go along with an ERA in the 8s for the month; he’s gone from “prized prospect return” to “did we get some hard throwing kid dumped on us?” Cornelio really struggled on the month, posting a 2.45 WIP. Not good. Tolman and Young were the best of the bunch, but both had mediocre mid 4s ERAs and 1.50 esque whips. Nobody pitched well in Fredericksburg this month. Tolman continues to have decent seasonal numbers, but didn’t look good this month.

Next guy to get promoted: Nobody. Tolman in a pinch.

Next guy to get demoted or released: Denaburg .. but they’ll never do it. They continue to look at big signing bonuses as “investments” instead of “sunk costs.”

Rookie Florida Complex League

Rotation: Zapata, Leon, Polanco, CSanchez, Agostini (Otanez one spot start)

Changes in Last month: None really: Ogando got two starts in June, got shelled, and hasn’t pitched since (but isn’t on the DL). Otherwise the all-IFA rotation continues.

Observations: Polanco is the oldest and probably had the worst month. Well, except for Otanez, who had a pretty amazing stat line for July: 74.25 ERA. he pitched 1 1/3 innings, gave up 3 hits but 11 walks, which turned into 11 earned runs and a WHIP of 10.5. That’s impressively bad. As for the rest, Zapata had the best month by conventional stats and still holds a 2.45 seasonal ERA. Leon probably had the best month; 17/4 K/BB in 11 July innings. That was only good enough to lower his season ERA back into the 6s though.

Next guy to get promoted: Zapata

Next guy to get demoted or released: Otanez, then Polanco

Dominican Summer League

Rotation: Moreno, Portorreal, R.Ramirez, Farias with D.Perez doing spot starts.

Changes in Last month: Oliveros dumped out of the rotation with a 9 ERA, replaced with Ramirez. E.Rivero was pulled from the rotation to start the month.

Observations: It looks like the DSL team is basically operating with a 4-man rotation right now due to off-days, since they have freely pulled poorly performing starters out of the rotation. Farias is way too old for the DSL as a 19IFA and I’m kind of surprised he’s lasted this long. Reilin Ramirez has earned his rotation spot out of the pen, but still has too many walks. Doimil Perez has a decent looking ERA but also can’t find the plate. Henry Moreno has 20 walks and 17 Ks in 24 innings; impressive. The absolute best stat line in the DSL right now is long reliever Angel Roman, who has a 0.80 whip in 27 long relief innings and seems like the only guy worth promoting on the entire staff.

Next guy to get promoted: Roman

Next guy to get demoted or released: Farias


I continue to worry about the Starter development in our system. Here’s a quick glance at our top 10 pitching prospects (starter or reliever) in some order:

  1. Cavalli: TJ
  2. Henry: clearly not performing at pre-surgery levels
  3. Sykora: just signed, its years before we’ll see him
  4. Susana: can’t find the plate
  5. Rutledge: finally impressing; a bright spot
  6. Bennett: WTF is going on with him? Is he hurt?
  7. Shuman: out for the year
  8. Brzycky: out for the year
  9. Saenz: getting shelled
  10. Parker: struggling to compete

Not promising. We will need to acquire starting pitching another way apparently.

Written by Todd Boss

August 2nd, 2023 at 9:35 am

How often to top 10 round drafted players fail to sign, and is it ever a good idea?

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Brandon Sproat rolled the dice more than once by spurning top 10 round dollars and came out ahead. He’s a rare case.

The 2023 draft class signing bonus came and went with very little fan fare in terms of players not signing or threatening not to sign. Top 5 pick Walter Jenkins didn’t sign until the deadline day, but otherwise most significant names officially signed within a few days of being drafted. This is in pretty stark contrast to the “old days,” when players and teams would negotiate up until the midnight deadline year after year, and teams/fans were left wondering what was going on.

Why the change now? In the old days, teams/agents didn’t want deals announced until the very last second so as to prevent OTHER teams/players from using that information as leverage during negotiations on bonus figures that were, basically, unregulated. So, now its a huge shock when players don’t sign, especially high profile players.

A comment/question came up in the pre-draft comments, wondering about how frequently players don’t sign now if drafted in the top 10, so I dug up an old post, updated it for the last few years, and here it is. So, how infrequently does it happen now?

Lets take a look. Here’s a summary of the 11 years of players who were drafted but did not sign from the top 10 rounds.  This analysis goes back to 2012, since that’s the beginning of the new draft rules.

  • 2023: 1
  • 2022: 3
  • 2021: 3
  • 2020: 0 (covid 5-round draft)
  • 2019: 2
  • 2018: 4 (all 1st or supp-1st rounders)
  • 2017: 3
  • 2016: 2
  • 2015: 6
  • 2014: 6 (two of which were Nats picks: Andrew Suarez and Austin Byler in that ill-fated draft class, and one more who didn’t sign thanks to Houston’s screwing up the Brady Aiken deal and who was eventually granted free agency).
  • 2013: 8
  • 2012: 8

Just 46 total players picked in the top 10 rounds in the last 11 drafts failed to sign. That’s out of nearly 4,000 players picked in that time, a pretty small percentage.

Here’s the better question: did these players make major mistakes by NOT signing and taking the money?

Its a common refrain among pundits in the amateur baseball world (Keith Law in particular) that HS players should “take the money” if they’re drafted high enough.   Certainly any first rounder would be a fool to turn away that kind of money, and mostly any prep player offered something in the upper 6 figure range should give serious consideration.  MLB contracts generally include college tuition … so even if you sign out of HS you still have 4 years fully paid for in case you wash out.  So instead of gambling on your health, or the fickleness of the baseball draft (where one bad start can cost you 30 spots in the draft and millions of dollars), take the cash when its offered.

But, don’t take our word for it.  Lets look at the empirical evidence of every player over past drafts who has forgone the cash to see if there’s any trends.

So, why do pundits say that you should always take the money?  Well, lets ask ourselves: out of these players who didn’t sign.. who actually IMPROVED their draft status by not signing?  Lets go year by year and look at the players who failed to sign.

(a caveat here: I did not look at the dollar amounts in every case; this is basically draft round analysis.  Its possible that a 5th rounder in one year went in the 8th the next and got offered more money … but its quite rare with the new draft rules and bonus pools.  Everything changed with the new CBA that went into effect in 2012).

2023: 1: just one player out of the 314 players selected in the top 10 rounds failed to sign.

  • Caden Kendle, a Jr OF from UC-Irvine taken in the 10th round by St. Louis. He apparently agreed to a $175k bonus (around 10k over slot), but then had a change of heart and decided to go back to school for his senior season.

Verdict: While its clearly too early to tell if Kendle made a “mistake” here, the fact that he was offered $175k and he can sign for $150k in any round north of 10 and not have it count basically means he has almost no “risk” by going back to school. At worst he’ll fail to be drafted and can take a NDFA $20k deal next year after graduating. Most of this analysis is judging the opportunity cost of passing on signing bonuses in the 7-figure range.

2022: Just three players failed to sign in the 2022 draft’s top 10 rounds.

  • Nolan McLean, a draft-eligible sophomore two-way player from Oklahoma State (RHP and 3B) who was picked by the Orioles at the top of the 3rd round. Baltimore found an issue in his medicals, so McLean went back to school. Slot bonus figure: $794k. Its unclear what bonus figure they agreed upon. McLean went back to school, and was picked again in the 3rd round in 2023, dropping 10 slots and signing for $747K with the Mets.
  • Brandon Sproat, a RHP sophomore from Florida, failed to sign with the Mets as a 3rd rounder (slot value $691k) for reasons unknown. He went back to school, then (amazingly) agreed to a re-draft by the Mets in 2023, who picked him in the 2nd round and signed him for $1.47M. Sproat also appears later on in this post because he refused to sign out of HS as well.
  • Brock Rodden, a 2B junior from Wichita State, failed to sign as a 10th rounder with Oakland (slot value: $151.3k). He went back to school, got drafted as a 5th rounder in 2023 and signed for $200k.

Verdict: McLean was not penalized for not signing, but it wasn’t really his choice since the team reneged. Sproat more than doubled his bonus offer from last year, and Rodden improved his by likely 25%. So, all three guys “worked out” in the end.

2021: 3 players did not sign from the top 10 rounds:

  • Kumar Rocker, RHP Vanderbilt, in a well publicized blow-up, the Mets drafted Rocker 10th overall and made a huge splash announcing a $6M over-slot bonus .. then ran into issues with his medicals, resulting in the two sides failing to agree on anything and the Mets passing on the Vanderbilt star altogether.  Rocker’s agent (ahem, “advisor”) Scott Boras of course refused to make his medicals available ahead of time, and of course claimed that there was no injury, but the subsequent findings vindicated the Met’s decision. Rocker had shoulder surgery in the fall of 2021, then pitched in Indy ball in 2022 before shockingly getting drafted by the Rangers with the 3rd overall pick in 2022. He signed for $5.2M, well below the slot value, and well below the $6M he agreed to in 2021, but he was still an upper 1st rounder. He pitched in the fall league, then made a handful of starts in 2023 before …. tearing his UCL and having Tommy John. So, Perhaps the Mets were right all along.
  • Jud Fabian, OF Florida; saw his draft stock fall from a possible top-5 pick all the way out of the first round.  But, he apparently had a $3M deal with Baltimore in the second, but those plans were foiled when Boston selected him at the beginning of the 2nd round.  Fabian stuck to his bonus demands, and the two sides could not reach an agreement.  Fabian went back to school and was a Comp-B pick in 2022, signing for $1.03M.
  • Alex Ulloa, prep SS from Texas failed to come to terms with Houston as a 4th round pick.  Ulloa bailed out of an Oklahoma State commitment, went to Yavapai College Juco … and went undrafted in 2022 altogether. Again in 2023, but he did get a commit to U of Miami for 2024, his junior season.

Verdict: Rocker couldn’t beat $6M but still got $5.2M as damaged goods, so its hard to say he made a bad decision (not that it was entirely his to make with the Mets pulling the offer).  Fabian lost out on $2M of bonus money, but we don’t know what money he turned down from Boston (odds are he lost out on the deal). Ulloa’s slot value was $492k in 2021; we don’t know what he was offered in 2021, but we went completely undrafted in 2022, so it seems safe to say he has lost out on money. He still has time to recoup it with a solid junior season at Miami. But right now it looks like a bad move.

2020: in a shortened 5-round Covid-related draft, not one player picked in the 5 rounds failed to sign.

2019: 2 players did not sign from the top 10 rounds

  • Brandon Sproat, RHP Fla HS 7th/205 overall by Texas.  $222,100 slot value, which wasn’t enough to buy Sproat out of his commitment to Florida. As we’ve already seen, Sproat and signability was also an issue in 2022, but he did eventually sign in 2023 for a ton of money.
  • Wyatt Hendrie, C from Calif Juco 10th/312 overall by Chicago Cubs.  $142,200 slot value.  Cubs seemingly ran into slot issues with both 10th and 11th rounder, and Hendrie wouldn’t take under slot. Hendrie went undrafted in 2020’s shortened draft, but then was picked in the 7th in 2021 and signed for $177,500 out of San Diego State.

Verdict: both players ended up making money by not signing; Sproat a ton, Hendrie a little bit.

2018: 4 players did not sign

  • Carter Stewart, RHP Fla HS. 1st/8th overall. Atlanta didn’t like Physical, offered 40% of slot value ($1.9M); initially slated to Mississippi State.  Update: However, he did an about face, went to a Juco instead with the plan on re-entering the 2019 draft.  When he struggled in Juco and fell to a mid 2nd round projection … he attempted an end-around of the MLB draft rules and signed to play in japan, a situation I detailed in this space.  By 2021 he had graduated the Japan minor leagues into their majors, and his stats as of 2023 seem pretty solid (as a 23yr old he has a sub 2.00 ERA for his team Softbank).
  • Matt McLain: 2B Calif HS. 1st/25: Asked $3M, Arizona offered $2.6M didn’t budge, going to UCLA.  Update: picked 17th overall in the 2021 draft and signed for $4.63M.
  • JT Ginn: RHP Miss HS. 1st/30th: LA dodgers offered $2.4M, asking $2.9M, going to Mississippi State.  Update: drafted 2nd round/52nd overall in 2020 draft, signed for $2.9M with the Mets in a well over-slot deal.  So two years later he got his asking number.
  • Gunnar Hoglund: LHP Fla HS. 1supp/36: Pittsburgh didn’t like physical, low-balled and he declined. going to Ole Miss.  2021; was projected as a top 10 pick, hurt his arm, had TJ but still got drafted 19th overall by Toronto and signed for $3.25M.

McLean drastically improved his stock, Ginn got what he wanted, and Hoglund (despite his injury) got paid.  I already detailed why I think Stewart’s deal is smart.

Verdict: All four made the right decision.

2017: 3 players did not sign

  • Drew Rasmussen, RHP, Oregon State, 1s/31st overall. Failed to sign with Tampa, who (I guess) didn’t like his medicals.  He was coming back from TJ and only had a few weeks of action before the draft. Update: Went 6th round in 2018 to Milwaukee.
  • Jack Conlon, RHP, Clements HS (Sugar Land, Texas). 4th round/128 overall. Failed to sign with Baltimore, went to Texas A&M.  Update: left TAMU, went to San Jacinto, then enrolled in Rice and sat out 2020.  However, he wasn’t on the 2021 roster, and its unclear where he’s playing at this point. He seems to be out of baseball at this point.
  • Jo Jo Booker, RHP, Miller HS (Brewton, Ala.). 5th round/145 overall. failed to sign with LA Angels, went to South Alabama.  Ended up playing 5 full seasons for South Alabama, was never drafted, posted an ERA north of 6.00 his 5th year, and is likely out of baseball.

Two players who ended up playing themselves out of any bonus dollars.  Rasmussen didn’t turn down the Rays as much as they refused to tender him a contract … they must have tendered him something because they got a comp pick in 2018 draft.  So he turned down 40% of first round money in 2017 to sign an under-slot deal in the 6th round of 2018 ($135k, just $10k more than the non-top 10 rounds minimum).  I’d say this was a bad move by the player unless Tampa flat out refused to pay a dollar.

Verdict: 1 worsened his draft position, 2 missed out on any draft money.

2016: 2 players did not sign

  • Nick Lodolo: 1S/41st overall; LHP from Damien HS in California. failed to sign with Pittsburgh, went to TCU instead, draft eligible in 2019.  In 2021, drafted 7th overall, signed for $5.43M.
  • Tyler Buffett: 7th/217 overall; RHP, failed to sign with Houston. returned to Oklahoma State, drafted in 6th round in 2017 and signed with Cincinnati

Lodolo went to school (an arm-shredder program in TCU even) and went from 41st overall to 7th overall, with probably 3x the bonus.  Furthermore, by 2021 he was one of the best pitching prospects in the game.  Meanwhile Buffett improved his draft position one round by going back to school.

Verdict: 1 drastically improved his draft pick and money, 1 improved his draft position one round.

2015: 6 guys did not sign.

  • Kyle Funkhouser: 1st/35th overall: RHP from Louisville, failed to sign with LA Dodgers, turning down an above-slot $2M. 4th rounder in 2016, signed with Detroit.
  • Brady Singer, 2nd/56th overall: RHP Florida HS. failed to sign with Toronto, went to Florida and was 1st rounder in 2018, signed with Kansas City
  • Jonathan Hughes, 2nd/68th overall: RHP Georgia HS. failed to sign with Baltimore, went to Georgia Tech and not even drafted in 2018…
  • Kyle Cody, 2nd/73rd overall: RHP U Kentucky. failed to sign with Minnesota, drafted in 6th round in 2016 and signed with Texas
  • Nicholas Shumpert, 7th/220th overall. SS Colorado HS. failed to sign with Detroit. Went to San Jacinto CC, drafted in 28th round 2016 by Atlanta and signed.
  • Kep Brown, 10th/311 overall. RF South Carolina HS, failed to sign with LA Dodgers. went to Juco, then to UNC-Wilmington, not drafted in 2018.

Funkhouser was the biggest “whoops” here; a poor spring took him from his pre-season top 10 draft position all the way out of the first round, but he still demanded upper 1st round money.  He didn’t get it … and then fell to the 4th round the next year.  That was a big fail.  Singer clearly improved on his 2nd round status by going to college.    Cody slipped from being a 2nd rounder to a 6th rounder.  The other three guys drastically fell on draft boards; one of them going from a 10th rounder to not even being drafted.

Verdict: 1 improved, 5 hurt draft stock

2014: 6 failed to sign

  • Brady Aiken: 1/1 overall, RHP from San Diego HS. failed to sign with Houston, went to IMG Academy in FL, drafted 1/17 by Cleveland
  • Andrew Suarez: 2nd/57 overall LHP from U-Miami, failed to sign with Washington. Drafted 2nd round/61st overall in 2015 by San Francisco
  • Trevor Megill; 3rd/104th overall RHP from Loyola Marymount. failed to sign with Boston, drafted 7th/207 in 2015 draft and signed with San Diego
  • Jacob Nix: 5th/136 RHP from Los Alomitos HS; couldn’t sign when Tampa lost bonus money, sued, FA, signed with San Diego
  • Zack Zehner: 7th/204 OF from Cal Poly, failed to sign with Toronto. Drafted 18th round 2015 and signed with NYY
  • Austin Byler, 9th/274 1B from nevada-Reno. failed to sign with Washington, drafted 11th round in 2015 and signed with Arizona

Aiken became quite the rarity; the first #1 overall baseball pick to fail to sign in 30  years.    But his lack of signing cascaded and cost the Astros both their 5th rounder Nix and another player later on thanks to the new draft rules on bonus pools; Nix ended up being declared a FA in a face-saving move by MLB so as not to admit that their new bonus cap circumvention rules were BS.  Aiken had no where to go but down from 1-1 so he obviously cost himself money.  The others all fell, if only slightly in Suarez’s case.

Verdict: 1 didn’t count, 5 lowered draft stock

2013: 8 failed to sign

  • Phil Bickford: 1/10 RHP California HS. Toronto failed to sign. went to Southern Nevada juco, drafted 1/18 by SF and signed.
  • Matt Krook 1s/35 LHP calif HS. Miami failed to sign, went to Oregon State, drafted 4th round by SF in 2016
  • Ben DeLuzio 3rd/80 SS from Fla HS. Miami failed to sign. Went to Florida State, played 4 years … undrafted out of college, NDFA with Arizona
  • Ben Holmes, 5th /151 LHP Oregon State. Philly failed to sign. went 9th round in 2014
  • Jason Monda 6th/181 OF Washington State. Philly failed to sign … then accused him of NCAA violations. he wasn’t drafted again and quit to go to Med school
  • Stephen Woods 6th/188 RHP NY HS: Tampa failed to sign, went to Suny-Albany, drafted 8th round 2016 by SF and signed
  • Dustin DeMuth 8th/230 3B from Indiana, Minnesota failed to sign, became 5th rounder in 2014 and signed with Milwaukee
  • Ross Kivett 10th/291 2B from kansas State. Cleveland failed to sign, became 6th rounder in 2014 and signed with Detroit

Bickford fell 8 slots year over  year but still fell.   DeMuth and Kivett both improved their stock.  The rest fell, drastically in some cases.

Verdict: 2 improved, 6 fell

2012: 8 failed to sign

  • Mark Appel 1/8 RHP Stanford by Pittsburgh. failed to sign, was 1/1 in 2013 with Houston
  • Teddy Stankiewicz 2/75 RHP from Texas Hs. failed to sign with Mets, went Juco, 2/45 in 2013 by Boston
  • Alec Rash, 2/95 by Philadelphia from IA HS. went to Missouri, 2015 drafted in 23rd round by Washington but still didn’t sign; quit baseball and started playing NCAA basketball
  • Kyle Twomey, 3/106 LHP Calif HS Oakland. Drafted 13th round 3 yrs later out of USC by Chicago Cubs.
  • Brandon Thomas 4/136 OF from Ga Tech; didn’t sign with Pittsburgh, drafted 8th round one year later and signed with NYY
  • Colin Poche 5/162 LHP texas h s. failed to sign with Baltimore, went to Dallas Baptist, undrafted Jr year, drafted 14th round 2016 by Arizona
  • Nick Halamandaris 8/251 1B Calif HS. failed to sign with Seattle, played 4 years at cal, undrafted jr and Sr year, NDFA with Seattle, played one season
  • L.J. Mazzilli 9/280 2B from UConn. 4th rounder in 2013 signed with NY Mets

Appel managed to improve from 8th overall to 1st overall.  Stankiewicz also improved his stock about a round’s worth.  Mazzilli improved from a 9th rounder to a 4th rounder.  The others all fell.

Verdict: 3 up, 5 down.

Summary: of the 46 players who failed to sign, passing judgement even on the players where its far too early to really tell:

  • 30 hurt their draft stock by failing to sign (15 HS, 15 coll)
  • 1 didn’t really count b/c of the Houston 2014 draft bonus shenanigans (Jacob Nix, HS)
  • 15 improved their draft stock/money

So, 2 out of every 3 times a kid turns down the money they’re costing themselves in the long run. But, its also worth noting that a huge percentage of these players who declined to sign were at the very beginning of the new rules … in the last few years, the success rate of players has gone way up. I attribute it to players now understanding better the rules of the system.

Food for thought.

Written by Todd Boss

July 30th, 2023 at 3:49 pm

Posted in Draft

What are the Nats going to do with all these OFs?


Crews; does he start in High-A or AA in 2024? Photo via his twitter.

So, heading into the 2023 draft, a slew of the Nats’ top prospect talents were outfielders. Look at any prospect ranking list for our system and you’ll see top 10 players like Wood, Hassell, Green, Vaquero, etc. I was on board early pining for Skenes as our pick at 1-2 instead of Crews, thinking that, “hey we have a lot of top-end OF talent” and, also, “hey we need some starter prospects.” Alas it was not meant to be; Skenes blew up in the CWS and Pittsburgh popped him 1-1.

So we went and drafted Crews in the 1st, plus Pinckney in the 4th and Nunez in the 14th.

Where the heck are all these guys going to play?

Here’s a quick look at the OF depth chart thanks to the Big Board, with what it looks like now and what it may look like in 2024 with this influx of new talent.

Right now, listing guys in order LF/CF/RF and then backups/DHs

  • AAA: Rutherford, Hill, Alu, with Reyes and Blankenhorn as backups.

Most of these guys are MLFAs signed either in 2022 or 2023. Hill just got DFA’d off the 40-man. Alu is kind of a utility guy who’s filling in in the OF right now. Mazara just got released. Rutherford is crushing the ball this season, but I wonder if any of these guys are really in the long term plans for the team. I could see a couple of them getting call-ups post-trade deadline if we move some players and need some bodies (Alu since he’s on the 40-man, probably Rutherford too b/c he’s earned it). But for 2024, lots of room here.

  • AA: Young, Hassell, Wood, with Harris and Casey as backups.

Wood and Hassell are basically our two top prospects right now, but both are struggling in AA. Young got promoted up this year and is hitting .300 in AA so far but has no power. Casey was demoted down to AA and is a backup, and seems like he’s not long for the organization. Harris seems like an undersized backup.

  • High-A: Lile, De La Rosa, McKenzie with Shumpert, Antuna, Wilson as backups.

Antuna is hitting .176 and seems to finally have been taken out of a starting spot; this latest draft class should finally result in his release. Shumpert is a converted SS. Lile just got promoted up to High-A, otherwise nobody here is hitting well. Wilson is 27 and was demoted from AAA for some reason. Its hard to see any of these guys pushing for a promotion the rest of the way.

  • Low-A: Emiliani, Green, De La Cruz, with Quintana, Thomas as backups

Emiliani was a 1B but apparently can lumber around LF now, and just got demoted back to Low-A. Quintana may be permanently moved to 1B and may not count here. Green, for all his prospect starlight, is not hitting well at all. De La Cruz is struggling. So is Thomas. Seems like these guys will be repeating Low-A unless they blow up the rest of the way.

  • FCL: Ochoa Leyva, Vaquero, Cox with Baca and a slew of guys hitting under .200

Vaquero is the big-name here and he’s hitting .300 as an 18yr old so far in Rookie. Ochoa Leyva holding his own. Cox is not and is looking like a huge 4th round bust so far.

  • DSL: Tejada, Acevedo, Batista with Soto and three other 2023 IFAs as backups.

Batista hitting .303, the rest of them hitting like .150. I can’t see any of them getting promoted.

Here’s what we could be looking at as your starting OFs 2024. Maybe it’s not quite as hard as I thought.

  • AAA: Hassell, Wood, Rutherford, with MLFAs (Hill, Blankenhorn, Reyes released or resigned)
  • AA: Young, Harris, McKenzie, Lile (Casey relesaed)
  • High-A: Crews, Pinckney, Green, De la Rosa, Shumpert (Wilson, Antuna released)
  • Low-A: Vaquero, De La Cruz, Nunez, Ochoa Leyva (Thomas, Emiliani released)
  • FCL: Cox, Baca, Batista, Marte, Peoples (Contreras, Ramirez released)
  • DSL: Current crew plus 2024 signees forcing 2023 underperformer relases

This would mean:

  • Aggressively promote Wood in particular to AAA and hope that Hassell continues to develop. Rutherford back in AAA assuming we layer him in the MLB level, otherwise looking at more veteran MLFAs for AAA.
  • Definitely aggressive with promotions of McKenzie and Lile to AA, based on their already being promoted this season. Harris and Young treading water.
  • This would put new draftees Crews and Pinckney at High-A to start 2024. I do not buy that Crews will do the AFL->AA Strasburg path. Maybe he will and you’re seeing Lile or McKenzie back in High A instead.
  • High-A also has too many players … that’s the squeeze. So maybe that does support Crews in AA. this plan has Green promoted (even though he’s not meriting right now) but DLR staying put.
  • Nunez at Low-A. Seems right. He is joined by two guys moving up from rookie ball. But not Cox, who may be a blown 4th rounder.
  • Everyone else in Rookie ball/DSL staying put, or perhaps 1-2 DSL guys moving inland.

So, maybe the crunch isn’t as bad as we thought. Eventually though if these guys all matriculate as expected, we’re going to have some logjams in the MLB outfield, and likely some trades to acquire assets.

Written by Todd Boss

July 26th, 2023 at 11:30 am

2023 Trade Deadline Outlook


Now that the draft is over, and it seems like we’ve signed everyone we’re going to sign… lets pivot to the trade deadline, which is racing up to us now (6pm, August 1st).

A rebuilding team like the Nats, who havn’t been playing *that* bad but who have zero chance of getting into the playoffs, are going to be sellers at the deadline. Now, we’ve spent the last two seasons selling off our major assets (Turner, Scherzer, Schwarber, Soto, Bell, etc), so we don’t exactly have massive talent to move, but we do have some spare parts that could back-fill for playoff teams. Here’s a look at who the team might be shopping and what we may get:

Using the Cots page to gauge likely availability, here’s a take.

Expiring Free Agents:

  • Jeimer Candelario, 3B. OPS of .821, good for a 128 OPS+. He leads the NL in WAR in 2023 amazingly for 3B. Could be a nice piece for a team that’s looking to backfill at 3B. Already hearing rumors Miami wants/needs him. Should have been our all-star Likelihood of being moved: Virtually guaranteed. Possible Return: a decent prospect. Candelario just isn’t a sexy trade asset to fetch a major prospect.
  • Carl Edwards Jr. RHP: Might be the Nat’s best reliever, not that that is saying much. FA after 2023, a useful piece for nearly any bullpen. His performance has slipped in the past few weeks though, lowering his trade value. Likelihood of being moved: likely. Possible Return: a back of the top 10 prospect, maybe lower.
  • Corey Dickerson, OF: for years Dickerson was an underrated hitter who kind of snuck under the radar, but it seems like time has caught up to him. He’s hitting .250, but his OBP is under .300 and he’s just not producing anymore. Likelihood of being moved: slim. Possible Return: a lower prospect.
  • Erasmo Ramirez: rhp. 1yr, $1M for 2023 and a FA after the end of the season. Currently sits with a mid 6.00 ERA and is likely not tradeable. Likelihood of being moved: none. Possible Return: none.

Non-Expiring non-long term Pieces

  • Trevor Williams. RHP starter. Signed through 2024 and due $7M next year. Could be a back-of-the-rotation band aid for a team. Likelihood of being moved: maybe. Possible Return: back-of-top10 prospect or a low-A flyer.
  • Victor Robles: after literally years and years of crummy production, Robles is finally hitting in 2023, and combined with his near Gold Glove defense he could be an asset to teams with short memories. He’s got a club option for 2024 at just $3.3M (no mutual option, no buyout, so very team friendly), and if he continues to be a 3 win player, $3.3M is a huge bargain. However, he can’t stay healthy, hitting the DL multiple times, which will lower his trade value and scare teams off. Likelihood of being moved: none while on DL. Possible return: low-level prospect.
  • Dominic Smith, 1B: signed a 1yr $2M deal, has a middling slugging percentage for a 1B and seems highly unlikely to be in demand at the trade deadline. Technically he’s arb eligible for a 4th time but he seems like a non-tender next off-season unless he perks up. Likelihood of being moved: none. Possible Return: none.
  • Hunter Harvey: rhp reliever. He’s only in 1st year of arb so he has two more years of control and is making less than $1M. He’s pitching really well, a solid 8th/9th inning near-closer type with solid wip and ERA figures. However, he’s on the DL, which means its highly unlikely he gets moved. Likelihood of being moved: unlikely. Possible return: low-level prospect.
  • Patrick Corbin: LHP starter. I think its laughable that anyone mentions him in a trade candidate column. He’s still owed most of this season and $35M next year for 5th starter production. I’m not sure who would even want him, and that’s if the Nats paid it all down. Likelihood of being moved: nil. Possible return: bag of baseballs?

Arb-eligible Cost controlled assets that might be moved.

  • Kyle Finnegen. You know what last place teams don’t need? Closers. You know who probably will be at free agency by the time the Nats are decent? Our current closer Finnegan. I’d cash in on him now, except that he’s scuffled in the early season and isn’t looking like the lights-out closer he was in 2022. Likelihood of being moved: lesser. Possible Return: a decent prospect.
  • Lane Thomas has been a find this year, is arb controlled for a couple more years, but is not in the long term plans of the team given that all our top prospects are outfielders. But, he’s been great and would be a solid bridge to 2025 when Green/Hassell/Wood/Crews are expected to be ready. Do you move him now to a team looking for some pop? He’s only at $2.2M this year, meaning his next two arb years are really cost controlled and he’d be a solid find for cost-conscious teams. Or do you keep him until all your prospects show up? Probably. Likelihood of being moved: less this season, higher next season, though Jim Bowden seems to think he’s more likely to get moved this year, especially to a team like the Yankees who are struggling in corner OF spots. Possible Return: a pretty good prospect at this point. Like, top-10 in a system, maybe top-100.
  • Joey Meneses. the WBC star is under control for years and years but hits, and has demonstrated that he hits. Unfortunately he’s been playing mostly DH this year, limiting his positional flexibility. Seems like a long-shot to move. Also, his slugging/power is way down this year for some reason. Likelihood of being moved: slim. Possible Return: middling prospect.
  • Tanner Rainey, RHP reliever. Currently rehabbing from TJ, but is known to be a solid back-end reliever. I’m not sure why anyone would purposely trade for a guy who’s coming off TJ and has nto yet proven he’s healthy, but he’s mentioned in the trades. Likelihood of being moved: none. Possible Return: next to nothing.
  • Jordan Weems, RHP reliever. His ERA might be a mirage (his FIP is 5.89) but he’s got a solid whip and is a decent middle reliever. I don’t see anyone beating down the door for him, but if someone asks, sure. Likelihood of being moved: slim. Possible Return: low-level prospect.
  • Ildemar Vargas, utility. Acceptable at the plate but has positional flexibility. I can’t imagine there’s demand for backup infielders Likelihood of being moved: none. Possible Return: next to nothing.

So, who do I think gets moved? In order of likelihood:

  • Highly Likely: Edwards, Candelario
  • Coin flip: Thomas
  • Less Likely: Meneses, Williams, Finnegan
  • Incredibly unlikely: Smith, Rainey, Robles, Weems, Harvey, Dickerson
  • I wish: Corbin, Vargas, Ramirez

Other analysis of the same from the internet:

Written by Todd Boss

July 25th, 2023 at 9:18 am

Posted in Nats in General

Nats 2023 Draft Class Review Rounds 11-20


Can the nats woo 11th rounder Gavin Adams out of a FSU commitment to join the team? Photo via

Here’s my review of the remaining players of the 2023 Draft Class, rounds 11-20.

By the way, the Draft Tracker is now updated. There are three tabs of interest for the 2023 draft:

  • Main Draft Tracker tab: shows Nats draft picks dating to 2005
  • 2023 Draft Class Worksheet, where we have schools, commits, twitter feeds, and will track signing/bonuses
  • 2023 Local Draft Class worksheet; tracking all DC/MD/VA players.

For reference below, the major Draft boards in use here are.

However, I’m not expecting these 11-20th rounders to really be on these lists. If i can find scouting reports besides on MLB’s free site, i’ll list them.

11th round: Gavin Adams, JC J2 RHP from Indian River State CC in Florida. Drafted 315 overall.

Adams is the first pick in the 11th round, the round where teams routinely try to grab players who might command a bit over-slot, since so many players picked in the rounds 8-10 are under-slot deals, pushing guys into the 11th. It isn’t clear how much $$ the Nats are going to have free; out of their $14M and change bonus pool, i’m projecting about $14M just to their top three picks, leaving not a ton of room for the rest of the class. But Adams is somewhat highly ranked all things considered, ranking #242 on MLB’s board, #171 on ESPNs, #311 on BAs site. We’ve paid a couple of 11th rounder in the $250k range over the past few years, i’d expect something similar for Adams. Will he sign? Well, the Nats had all night and all morning to find someone who would, so we have to assume he’s signing for whatever number he was offered.

BA scouting report:

Adams drew some interest as a late target in the 2022 draft, but flashed better control early in the 2023 season with Indian River State JC in Florida before struggling later in the season. The 6-foot-3 righty has a big arm and good pure stuff with a fastball that gets into the upper 90s, as well as solid feel to spin a mid-80s slider. Control remains a serious question mark and he’s mostly pitched out of the bullpen at the juco level, with 19 walks in 26.1 innings and a deep plunge in the back of his arm stroke.

12th round: Travis Sthele, Junior RHP from U-Texas Austin. Drafted 345 overall.

Sthele looked like either a Sunday starter or a mid-week starter for UT Austin this year. 5.75 ERA but a decent BAA for college. Redshirt sophomore, he was a big-time recruit coming out of college but then missed his entire freshman year with injury. He’s been basically the same guy for two years now; I wonder if he’ll want to return to school to finish his degree as a RS Junior/4th year college student versus taking a $125k bonus to try the pros. This is also the kind of guy who might be looking at Texas’ recruiting class and saying to himself, “hmm, my rotation spot might be in jeopardy, maybe I should go pro.” Seems like he may be a tougher sign.

Here’s a 2019 perfect game scouting report:

Travis Sthele is a 2020 RHP/SS with a 6-0 200 lb. frame from San Antonio, TX who attends Reagan. Strong athletic build. Rocker step delivery with a pause at the gather point, high 3/4’s to over the top arm slot with some back shoulder dip, works down the mound well with his lower half and gets good extension out front. Low 90’s fastball, topped out at 93 mph, maintained his velocity very well from the stretch, fastball is mostly straight. Slider is a good pitch when he doesn’t overthrow it, stays on top of it well and it shows nice 10/4 depth at times. Firm change up with occasional fading life. Aggressive pitching style with power stuff and will use all three pitches. Excellent student, verbal commitment to Texas.

13th round: Liam Sullivan, Junior LHP from University of Georgia Drafted 375 overall.

Third college arm in a row, after drafting just two senior signs in the first 10 rounds. Sullivan looks like he was Georgia’s Sunday starter this season, but got shelled; 5.77 ERA in 14 starts. He did manage to beat LSU this year and went to the MLB draft combine, a good indicator that he’s ready to turn pro.

BA has him ranked #278. here’s their Scouting report:

Sullivan is a physical specimen with a 6-foot-6, 245-pound frame who works from a high, three-quarter slot and has advanced command of a deep pitch mix. He got hit around a bit in 2023 and posted a 5.77 ERA over 64 innings with a 25.6% strikeout rate and 11.3% walk rate. He throws a fastball at 90-91 mph that touched 95 this spring, and will also mix in a low-80s slider, mid-70s curveball and low-80s changeup. Sullivan’s changeup was the best swing-and-miss offering for him this spring, with a 44% miss rate, though his slider has traditionally been seen as his best secondary. It’s got solid horizontal movement with spin rates around 2,400 rpm. Sullivan is a softer thrower with a maxed-out frame that doesn’t offer much in the way of future projection, so he’ll need to be more precise with his fastball and rely on mixing and matching to keep hitters off-balance and stay off the barrel in pro ball. He has the upside of a reliable, durable depth starter.

14th round: Elijah Nunez, Junior OF from TCU. Drafted 405th overall.

Nunez is a lefty-hitting speedster CF from TCU, who was a major big-time prep recruit but has become overlooked in college. Slashed .289/.400/.414 this year, not a ton of power, some SB. He was TCU’s lead-off hitter and fared decently in the post-season, getting several hits in the CWS but going 0-5 his final game. Will he sign? Does he think he can improve upon his draft position with another year after his team made the CWS? Or does he look at the backlog of OF prospects in our system and say, “geeze maybe I try my hand next year with a different org.”

I can’t find any scouting reports on the guy other than scouting his bio and stat line from college.

15th round: Mikey Tepper, junior RHP from Liberty. Drafted 435 overall.

Holy cow, the Nats drafted someone local. Tepper looks like the Saturday starter for this year’s Liberty team that under-performed; he had decent stats, a .217 BAA but an inflated ERA. He’s a xfer into Liberty from Mississippi State, where he was heavily recruited. Is he sign-able here? Maybe, maybe not. People don’t generally go to Liberty as one-and-done’s … but a guy who’s already bounced around programs may be itching to move on.

Here’s a PG scouting report on him from 2019:

Mikey Tepper is a 2020 RHP with a 6-2 190 lb. frame from Fort Mill, SC who attends Fort Mill. Medium athletic build with good overall athleticism. Deep hooked arm action in back leading to a near over the top arm slot, has some spine tilt and will fall off to the first base side at times,, arm is very fast and loose. Fastball topped out at 95 mph early before settling down in the 89-92 mph range, mostly straight with occasional glove side cutting action, gets nice plane on his fastball when down on the zone. Curveball has serious depth and bite at times, can buckle knees with its bite and depth. Flashed a change up that could develop into a solid third pitch. Big step forward as he was only hitting 89 mph last fall. Good student, verbal commitment to Mississippi State.

In other news, another college arm in the 11-20 range; I’m sensing a pattern.

16th round: Austin Amaral, Junior RHP from Stetson. Drafted 465 overall.

Another round, another college arm. This time Amaral, who seemed to be Stetson’s Friday starter this season and had excellent numbers. 3.30 ERA in 15 starts. A little under-sized at 6’0″ (despite what the below scouting report says). I like this as a flier; he seems like the kind of guy who can succeed in the lower minors before running into a wall in AA. We’ll see.

2019 PG scouting report:

Austin Amaral is a 2020 RHP/ with a 6-1 190 lb. frame from Debary, FL who attends University HS. Athletic frame with room to fill out and add strength. Primary righthanded pitcher who only pitched during the event. Small side step into a leg lift above the belt. Longer arm path with good whip and arm speed present. Extended release out in front which aids some deception to the stuff. Flashes some hard arm side life on the fastball that topped out at 92 mph during this performance. Stays connected over the rubber well and can work the fastball to either side of the plate. Drops slot on the breaking ball with good bite and sweeping action. Garners chases out of the zone from righthanded hitters. Strong two-pitch mix with good feel and pitchability as well. Good student. Named to the PG Fall Top Prospect Showcase Top Prospect List. Verbal commitment to Stetson.

17th round: Merrick Baldo, RS Junior/Senior RHP from Loyola Marymount University. 495th overall.

Another round, another college arm. Baldo appears to have been LMU’s closer this year. 4.11 ERA. A redshirt Junior who missed a ton of time while in college and may be ready to move on. He was a decent prospect coming out of HS, projected maybe as a 2nd day draft kid in 2019, but hasn’t panned out. No Scouting reports to be found.

18th round: Nate Rombach, Senior Catcher, Dallas Baptist. 525th overall.

Well, you draft this many pitchers, you need someone to catch them. Rombach was a 19th round pick by Miami out of HS but went to Texas Tech instead. After two seasons there, he transferred to DBU, where he’s started the last two seasons. He’s technically a Covid junior but this is his 4th college season and seems likely to sign. His stats were ok this year; .288/.355/.455.

19th round: James Ellwanger, a prep HS RHP from Magnolia West HS (TX). 555th overall.

All you need to know here is that Ellwanger is the 107th ranked MLB draft prospect, and thus there’s no way this kid signs for $125k in the 19th round. So he’ll honor his commitment to Dallas Baptist University. Ellwanger doesn’t appear to be anyone’s cousin on the Nat’s staff, so maybe this is some area scout’s draftee b/c he didn’t get anyone else this draft.

20th round: Isaac Ayon, junior RHP from Oregon.

An interesting pick; Ayon was set to be Oregon’s Friday starter, when an undisclosed arm injury took hold .. and knocked him out of the entire 2023 season. News reports throughout the season seemed to indicate that he was close to returning, implying this wasn’t TJ or a surgery … but he never pitched.

Is he signable? Doubt it: a Friday starter for a major baseball program like Oregon should go a lot higher. He was also in their rotation as a starter and posted a 5.77 ERA, and something tells me he won’t want to leave college with that taste in his mouth. I don’t think he’s signing.

Quick draft summary by the numbers. Out of their 20 picks:

  • 17 4-year college, 1 juco, 2 HS
  • 9 hitters, 11 pitchers.
  • 8 College Seniors, 9 College Juniors, 1 Juco, 2 HS
  • 6 guys from Texas, 3 from Florida, 2 from Louisiana.
  • 14 from this cluster of southeastern states: FL, GA, LA, OK, TX
  • 2 guys who are highly unlikely to sign, maybe a couple more who might not either.
  • I expect 17 or 18 to sign

As mentioned in the last post, this looks to me like a 3-person draft. The Nats got themselves three 1st round talents, will probably go overslot on all three of them, and make the numbers work the rest of the way. All these college arms in the 11-20 range can get thrown against a wall to see who sticks as a reliever.

Written by Todd Boss

July 12th, 2023 at 9:24 am

Posted in Draft