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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

What happens if Pirates go rogue?


Could the Nats really get Crews? Photo via Crecent City sports

With the Nats picking #2 overall in a draft that, for months, everyone thought was basically solidified in terms of who was going #1 overall, I’ve not done my typical “Mock draft” analysis/collection work.

But, in the days leading up to the draft, we’re hearing all sorts of crazy rumors and last minute shuffling of names going right ahead of us. So, lets talk about those rumors, talk about what’s going on, and then opine as to what the Nats should do.

Rumors: Dylan Crews has given an 8-figure bonus demand, is advised by Boras, and has told Pittsburgh he doesn’t want to play for them.

Well, I can’t blame him if any of these rumors are true. Crew could very well be pushing for an 8 figure bonus, and its not that much of a reach given that slot for 1-1 this year is $9,721,000. But, we also know that Pittsburgh has in year’s past gone the “under-slot 1-1 deal” route to spread more money around in later rounds. So, there’s definitely a possibility that they could go to a player like Wyatt Langford, who most people think goes 3rd overall (slot value $8,341,700) and say to him, “hey, we’ll give you $8.5M to sign right now) and he’d be ecstatic to take it, and Pittsburg nets more than $1.2M of excess bonus money,

This is essentially what Keith Law think may be going on in his latest mock.

Is Crews being overly demanding? Could he be calling the Nats and say I want $10M and the Nats (who have 1-2 overall for slot value of $8,998,500) would say, “ok we’ll find $1M elsewhere” and Pittsburgh just says knock yourself out? Maybe. But if Crews is doing this, its a dangerous game. If he falls too far down the road with a $10M signing bonus demand, he’ll quickly find himself priced out of the market altogether. The slot for #5 overall, for example, is just $7.1M, and there’s just no way a team like Minnesota blows $3M of surplus dollars on Crews when they can land one of the prep kids Clark or Jenkins there for $3M less. And Crews would be an idiot to go back to school; his value is maxed out right now; there’s no way he gets more next year; you can only go down from 1-1. I’d also point this out; this isn’t the 2010s when you could shop around for bonus dollars with no pools defined; teams have slots, they have penalties for going over, and I don’t really believe any rumor that an agent would advise a player to give up $9.7m in search of $10m.

(full bonus pools and slot values here, by the way)

Now, could Crews be telling Pittsburgh he doesn’t want to play for them? Sure. And I wouldn’t blame him in the least. Pittsburgh is one of the worst run franchises in the sport. They went 20 years without making the playoffs, not even getting to 80 wins, from 1993 to 2013. Then after a brief playoff run, they bottomed out after 2016 and have been basically dead last since. They were the 2nd worst team in the league last year, they never spend money, and they’ve proven to be awful at player development (just look at Gerrit Cole’s numbers in Pitt versus the second he left). The largest FA contract they’ve EVER SIGNED was a 3/yr $39M deal, and the largest contract extension they’ve ever committed to was a shade over $100M. So, yeah, if you’re a generational player, do you really want to go to Pittsburgh and basically play out the string while they bumble around for another 10 years without a winning season?

Maybe Crews is telling Pittsburgh he won’t sign for less than $10M, then calling Washington and saying he’ll sign for slot. That’d be a real “screw you” to Pittsburgh by Crew’s “advisor,” but it’d guarantee that both the player and the Nats get what they want: Crews would still get $9M, he’d be out of Pittsburgh, and the Nats would get the #1 player in the draft.

Rumor: Pittsburgh wants Skenes more than Crews now.

This is what the latest BA mock draft thinks. Pittsburgh may have seen the CWS and seen Skenes’ capabilities and decided to go that way instead of dealing with whatever Crews says. If that’s the case … the Nats take Crews and are ecstatic about it. Its the easiest 1st round prep they’ve ever had to do.

What if both Crews and Skenes are still on the board?

Well, if that’s the case, and the Nats havn’t done some switcheroo promise to Crews, I think (as Law does) that they’ll sign Skenes to slot instead of blowing an extra $1M to give Crews his $10m demand. I mean, you can’t go wrong, but the Nats love the famous guy, Skenes is certainly famous, he’s right in line with our Strasburg pick, and he fits a pretty big need.

Hey, I’ll be happy with either guy. Skenes could be in the majors by June of next year, Crews will be a stud. Can’t go wrong either way .

Written by Todd Boss

July 7th, 2023 at 11:53 am

2023 CWS Group Play Recap and Finals preview


We’ve seen the last of Paul Skenes’ college career.

We’re through to the CWS final in Omaha. Let’s recap the group play with some notes.

In the Top Bracket (#1 Wake Forest, Tennessee, #5 LSU, #8 Stanford)

  • In the opening games, Wake Forest survives a strong push from Stanford, winning a game they probably didn’t deserve to win. Meanwhile, LSU topped Tennessee behind another show of force from Paul Skenes, who threw 120+ pitches and pitched into the 8th in a game they had in hand.
  • In the first elimination game, Tennessee’s Chase Dollander got pulled after three innings (not a good sign for his 1st round draft prospects) but sophomore Chase Burns threw 6 shut-out innings to help eliminate Stanford.
  • In the winner’s bracket game, Wake Forest showed some serious mettle to get another come-from-behind win against LSU to advance to the Group final.
  • In the play-in game, LSU faced off against Tennessee yet again (three times in the regular season, once again a few days ago), and they won again, blanking the Volunteers 5-0 and sending them home.
  • In the group final, Wake Forest’s coach made a crucial, critical error allowing his beleaguered starter to pitch to LSU’s cleanup masher with 1st base open … and Cade Beloso delivered with a 3-run homer that stood up. Wake is forced into a winner-take all game, which means both Wake and LSU burn their #1 starters ahead of the CWS finals.
  • In the winner take all game … LSU gets to throw its ace Skenes again, and he goes against Wake’s ace Rhett Lowder. What a match-up. And it lived up to the billing, with the two aces trading zeros for 8 innings. Amazingly, Wake pulled Lowder as he sat on 88 pitches through 7; why pull him? He completely out-pitched Skenes on the night and could have probably pitched 9 complete if you gave him 110 pitches. I don’t get it. Meanwhile, Skenes needed 120 pitches to complete 8 ip; 2 hits, 1 walk, 9 Ks on the night. LSU gets a walk-off from its burly, fluffy haired, gold-chain wearing third baseman Tommy White to win the game and break Wake’s heart.

Final Group standings: LSU, Wake Forest, Tennessee, Stanford

In the Bottom Bracket (#2 Florida, TCU, Oral Roberts, #7 UVA)

  • In the opening games: fans couldn’t ask for two better openers in Omaha. In the first game. Oral Roberts game up 3 in the 8th but then scored 4 in the 9th to shock TCU with a 6-5 win. In the nightcap, UVA completely blew a game they had under control, giving up 3 runs in the bottom of the ninth as UVA’s coach let a reliever give up two homers (one a 456-foot rocket from top-5 draft pick Wyatt Langford, a single, a walk and a HBP to load the bases before finally going with his stopper, who promptly gave up a Sac fly to lose the game. Just a ridiculous coaching job.
  • In the first elimination game, UVA capitulated to TCU to become the first team eliminated, as their two big hitters went o-fer in the game.
  • In the winner’s bracket game, Florida edged Oral Roberts by the skin of their teeth, getting out of a bases-loaded one-out jam in the bottom of the 9th to move into the group final.
  • In the play-in game, Oral Roberts faced TCU again, and couldn’t repeat their magic one more time. TCU’s arms controlled the game and sent the Cinderella ORU home 6-1.
  • In the group final, Florida faced off against TCU slightly fresher and with their Sunday starter on tap. And the #2 team delivered, scoring a run in the top of the 9th and making it stick to edge TCU and take the group undefeated.

Final Group standings: Florida, TCU, Oral Roberts, UVA

CWS Preview and Prediction: one of the things I hate about the CWS final is that it gives the teams, who have been playing basically every day for a week, just one day off before a Sat-Sun-Mon final. This badly penalizes teams for getting their pitching stretched, and (for me) may dictate who wins. But logistically you can’t keep kids in Omaha for a month, so it is what it is.

Florida took their regional in 3 straight, so they have their starters lined up exactly as they want. #1 starter Sproat will have 8 days rest, Waldrep will have 7 days rest, and if needed Caglianone will have 5 days rest. Meanwhile, they won’t have to face Skenes again, and have a huge advantage in the final. LSU will presumably throw their Saturday starter Ty Floyd on 4 days rest, then their #3 starter Ackenhausen on 4 day’s rest, then the kitchen sink if they make it to Monday. LSU doesn’t really have a Sunday starter; they gave starts to 9 other guys besides their top two starters on the season, many of them with ERAs in the 7s. Advantage Florida.

Here’s who i think these teams will throw as starters:

  • Game 1 Sat 6/24: Florida’s Brandon Sproat vs LSU’s Ty Floyd
  • Game 2 Sun 6/25: Florida’s Hurston Waldrep vs LSU’s Nate Ackenhausen
  • Game 3 Mon 6/26: Florida’s Jac Caglianone vs LSU’s bullpen

Prediction: Florida in three.

Top Draft Players to watch in the final:

  • Florida: Wyatt Langford, projected top 5 pick. Saturday starter Hurston Waldrep as a 1st round projection. Friday night Brandon Sproat and infielder Josh Rivera are 2nd/3rd rounders.
  • LSU: You know the names: Skenes, Crews primarily, but big hitters White and Belosi.

Written by Todd Boss

June 22nd, 2023 at 10:32 pm

Posted in Nats in General

Fangraphs Nats Top 31 prospect list


Cole Henry unleasing another pitch, hoping he doesn’t incur another arm injury. Photo via

We’ll take a quick break from CWS to talk about prospect rankings.

So, believe it or not, the final major pundit in the prospect ranking space has finally dropped its “preseason ranking” list for the Nats. Kiley McDaniel and Fangraphs released their pre-season Nats top 31 list last week (its 31 instead of a more normal number because they drive the notable prospects by their internal “Future Value” rating, and the Nats happened to have exactly 31 guys meet the threshold; other teams had many more or far fewer).

McDaniel’s list is … well, its different. I’d say that more than half his rankings are what i’d describe as wild deviations from the rest of the industry. Lets get into it. Here’s his full list:

Fangraphs RankLast NameFirst NamePositionYr
1WoodJamesOF (Corner)2021 2nd
2HouseBradySS/3B2021 1st
3CavalliCadeRHP (Starter)2020 1st
4VaqueroCristianOF (CF)2022 IFA
5HenryColeRHP (Starter)2020 2nd
6MillasDrewC2019 7th
7Hassell IIIRobertOF (CF)2020 1st
8SusanaJarlinRHP (Starter)2022 IFA
9BakerDarren2B2021 10th
10LileDaylenOF (CF)2021 2nd
11GreenElijahOF (CF)2022 1st
12RutledgeJacksonRHP (Starter)2019 1st
13BennettJakeLHP (Starter)2022 2nd
14IrvinJakeRHP (Starter)2018 4th
15CruzArmandoSS2021 IFA
16AcevedoAndyOF2023 IFA
17PinedaIsraelC2016 IFA
18ShumanSethRHP (Starter)2019 6th
19WardThadRHP (Starter)2018 5th
20BrzykcyZachRHP (Reliever)2020 NDFA
21AluJake3B2019 24th
22LipscombTrey3B2022 3rd
23WhiteT.J.OF (Corner)2021 5th
24SaenzDustinLHP (Starter)2021 4th
25WillinghamAmosRHP (reliever)?
26ParkerMitchellLHP (Starter)2020 5th
27CateTimLHP (Starter)2018 2nd
28FerrerJoseLHP (Reliever)2017 IFA
29De La RosaJeremyOF (Corner)2018 IFA
30RamirezAldoRHP (Starter)2018 IFA
31CoxBrennerOF (CF)2022 4th

So, commentary from the top:

  • The top of his list is ok: Wood, House, Cavalli, even given Cavalli’s TJ.
  • Vaquero at #4: we havn’t seen a rating this high for Vaquero since before the Soto trade pumped up the system with actual, real prospects and not bonus-dollar-amount prospects. This is just ridiculously speculative.
  • Cole Henry at #5 really puts a ton of stock into him recovering fully from TOS, which (ahem Stephen Strasburg) is just not a guarantee. Early reports on Henry are good, but so far in his collegiate and pro career he’s presenting as incredibly delicate.
  • Here’s where it starts getting weird: Drew frigging Millas is at #6, AHEAD of Robert Hassell. You know where MLBpipeline had Millas? 30th. Baseball America? 25th. Prospects1500? 38th. Keith Law? Not even mentioned in his top 30. I mean, i get that he’s done well so far this year, but this was supposed to be a pre-season list, and the dude hit .211 in AA last year. Furthermore, he’s projecting as a backup catcher at the MLB level! I don’t get it.
  • Darren Baker getting some deserved love, up at #9 when many shops don’t even rank him.
  • Daylen Lile at #10. He hit .219 in rookie ball two years ago then missed all of 2022 with TJ, but he’s #10 in the system ahead of a guy in Elijah Green that some pundits have at #2.
  • Green at #11. Crazy low, as was Hassell.
  • No love for Jake Bennett, dropping him out of top 10 to #13. I’m thinking his 2023 performance so far will correct that going forward.
  • Andy Acevedo, the next in a long line of Nats prospects ranked highly b/c they got a lot of money in the IFA signing window despite nobody knowing a thing about them. Tell me; why is a 16yr old prospect in the DSL more highly ranked, ever, than a college guy whos in AAA? I honestly wonder why anyone who’s never even made it to a domestic league is ranked, ever.
  • Seth Shuman gets some love at #18, though i’m not sure why. He had lesser numbers than a guy like Parker at the same level, and is out for the entirety of 2023, but he’s ranked higher.
  • TJ White dumped to #23 when most shops have him at #10. Did we not count 2022 for White?
  • Dustin Saenz ranked at #24 when nobody else is ranking him at all. Interesting, especially since he’s lighting it up right now (finally) and may get promoted soon.
  • A first time for Amos Willingham to get ranked anywhere; this 17th rounder from 2019 has started 2023 on a roll, being basically unhittable in AA and earning a promotion to AAA.
  • Tim Cate hanging on at #27, an odd choice given the other rankings here.
  • Lastly, Jeremy De La Rosa, a stalwart in the top 10, comes in at #29. It seems to be because fangraphs has given the guy like a 20 hit tool.

Notable Omissions:

  • Andry Lara: outside the top 31, Generally in the 12-15 range on other lists. I mean, I get it; the guy hasn’t performed in either low-A or high-A. He’s also 20; if he was from the US he’d be a sophomore pitching in a regional right now, not in high-A.
  • Roismir Quintana: outside their top 31, usually in the 15-18 range. He was on the FCL all star team last year, but apparently has been squeezed out of the low-A OF and is playing 1B this year. A 6’1″ 1B only bat better hit the tar out of the ball, and he hasn’t.
  • Matt Cronin: Outside top 31 on fangraphs, usually at least mentioned in the low 20s elsewhere. I guess lefty relievers don’t get a ton of prospect love.
  • Jared McKenzie: Not a huge omission, just noting that others have him in their mid 20s.
  • Gerardo Carrillo; how far this guy has fallen, from AA starter prospect to a full season injury early in 2023. Not sure what it was, but it smells like TJ.

So, at long last, that’s the end of the Nats prospect rankings for the season. Here’s a link to each list:

Written by Todd Boss

June 19th, 2023 at 1:22 pm

Posted in Nats in General

2023 Early Mock Drafts


Your likely 1-1 overall pick, Dylan Crews from LSU

So, in years’ past, when the Nats were drafting somewhere besides the top 5, analyzing mock drafts was a lot more fun. We could look at who was predict to go at the top, then we could analyze all the myriad of names that could conceivably fall to the nats wherever they were picking.

In 2023 though, this exercise has proven to be pretty simple. There’s basically two guys who practically every pundit thinks will end up on our team, so this collecting of mock draft exercise seems futile.

Here’s some early takes on the 2023 draft class, with some mocks. By May, consensus amongst most scouts was the same top 5 in some varying order, then a gap to 6 and beyond.

Top 5 expected to be ( not necessarily in this order):

  • Dylan Crews, OF from LSU, is the current #1 overall projection. Hit 349/.463/.691 as a sophomore for LSU with 22 homers. Plays CF but likely a corner in pro ball at 6’0″ 200lbs of power.
  • Max Clark, a prep OF from Indiana with an all-Lefty speed/hit tool comparable to Jacoby Ellsbury. Possible 5-tool lefty who can hit 96 on the mound. Vanderbilt commit, isn’t getting to college. Struck out just 3 times in his entire junior season while slashing .577/.717/1.126.
  • Walker Jenkins, a prep corner OF from NC. Commit to UNC. Underclassman on 18U national team, Projects to 30-home run power, had more walks and homers than Ks his Junior season.
  • Wyatt Langford, OF, Florida. Huge bat, led Florida in slash lines in 2022 and now projects as a possible CF, turning him into an upper-end 1st rounder.
  • Paul Skenes, RHP, LSU: Air Force xfer who is helium guy based on Fall 2022 work. Big arm. Exploded onto the scene in Spring 2023, added velocity, now expected top 2 picks.

Other names who appeared in earlier top 5 lists but who have dropped include:

  • Chase Dollander, the RHP Friday starter for Tennessee in 2022. 103/13 K/BB in 79 innings, 2.39 ERA for Best team in college baseball in 2022. Shooting up draft boards with Jacob deGrom comps in 2022, but struggling in 2023. Slipping down the boards.
  • Jacob Gonzalez, SS from Ole Miss. Middle of the order bat, slashed .355/.443/.561 for Ole Miss his sophomore season while leading team to CWS title.
  • Jacob Wilson, SS Grand Canyon. All WAC as a freshman, starred for Team USA summer 2022. Stock increasing late 2022, rising up.

Here’s some early Mock Drafts that we’ve seen. Nats pick #2 but we’ll put in the top 5 for context.

  • BA 2023 Way Too Early mock 7/20/22 (as in, the day after the 2022 draft): Crews, Clark, Dollander, Jenkins, Gonzalez. This is before we knew that the Nats would pick #2, and there’s no way they’re leaving top-end college talent on the board in a college-rich draft to pick a prep kid like Clark.
  • BA 2023 Draft Class Rank 7/25/22: Clark, Crews, Jenkins, Gonzalez, Dollander. Crews would be a very, very solid pick at #2, despite our top three prospects also being OFs.
  • BA First Full Mock post lottery 12/7/22: Crews, Dollander, Langford, Wilson, Gonzalez. Dollander as the top arm would be great, but beware his spring season as Tennessee’s Friday night starter.
  • MLBPipeline Mock draft 12/15/22 with top 100 release: Crews, Dollander, Clark, Skenes, Langford. MLBPipeline notes that they went chalk to their top 100 at the top, noting that Dollander is the “best pitching prospect since Strasburg.” Fitting if the Nats get him.
  • BA’s first official 2023 Mock draft 3/16/23: Crews, Langford, Skenes, Dollander, Clark.
  • MLBpipeline Callis first mock 5/4/23: Crews, Skenes, Langford, Jenkins, Clark
  • BA Mock v2.0 5/11/23: Crews, Skenes, Jenkins, Langford, Clark
  • BA 5/17/23 staff draft. Crews, Skenes, Jenkins, Langford, Clark as well.
  • MLBpipeline Mayo Mock 5/18/23: Crews, Skenes, Jenkins, Clark, Langford
  • Keith Law 1st mock 5/23/23: Crews, Skenes, Clark, Jenkins, Langford
  • MLBpipeline Callis mock 6/1/23: Crews, Skenes, Langford, Jenkins, Clark
  • BA 6/8/23 mock 3.0: Crews, Skenes, Langford, Jenkins, Clark

So, what do I think will happen? I think Pittsburgh, a notoriously conservative franchise in the draft, will cut a small deal with Crews (giving him the same $$ that he’d get at 2nd overall) and take him 1-1. A positional player is less risky than a pitcher, always. This then lets the Nats take the big arm, the guy who everyone says is the best pitching prospect since Strasburg, and they can start him in High-A or AA like with Strasburg, with an eye on getting to the majors maybe by late 2024.

What if the Pirates take Skenes? Then the Nats trip over themselves to take Crews. I don’t care how many OF prospects we have right now … Crews is that good. I don’t buy that Langford can play CF (if he could, he’d be doing so), and I’d rather have a college guy versus a prep guy.

What if the Pirates don’t take Crews or Skenes? If this happens … I think the Nats take Skenes.

Written by Todd Boss

June 8th, 2023 at 2:16 pm

Posted in Nats in General

First Look: Jake Irvin


WASHINGTON, DC – MAY 3: Washington Nationals starting pitcher Jake Irvin (74) pitches during his major league debut against the Chicago Cubs at Nationals Park on May 3, 2023. (Photo by Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

An injury to their 5th starter Kuhl and a rain-induced double header gave an opportunity for the Nats to bring up one of their starter prospects, and so most of the Natmosphere got their real first good look at jake Irvin. Lets recap.

Irvin is taller and lankier than I thought; he is listed as 6’6″ 225. He features a relatively smooth delivery that lands him in perfect fielding position. According to Pitch FX data on the night, he showed four pitches (4-seamer, 2-seamer, curve, and change), sat mostly 93, peaked at 95, showed a ton of arm-side run on his sinker (average of 10 inches), had a change that came in on average at 88 (maybe a bit too close to the fastball), and a curve that got him a ton of called strikes. He mixed up the pitches well.

In the first inning, the first pitch he threw sailed on him and nailed the batter right in the back; this runner came around to score despite Irvin mostly handling the top of the powerful Cubs lineup. He punched out Swanson looking, got a little cute with Happ to walk him, got Bellinger out on a first-pitch curve pop-up before giving up a decently hit single to score a run.

His second inning was pretty clean; punchout of Hosmer, liner, then a grounder to 2nd. In the third, he’s back at the top of the order; he got a soft-lineout from the leadoff Hoerner, got Swanson out again on a pop-up, again pitched around Happ to walk him for the second time, then punched out Bellinger. That’s a great way to get through the heart of the order a second time. In the fourth, the ball never left the infield and he got an infield single up the middle erased with a GIDP.

In the fifth, he was again at the bottom of the order and looking to hit the top a third time. Unfortunately he walked the #8 hitter, who promptly stole second. He got the #9 hitter to line-out to left, no damage and no runners advancing. Then he walks the leadoff hitter, so you have 1st and 2nd with one out and Swanson coming up. Instead of letting him work through it, Martinez yanked him, and his replacement Machado immediately got a GIDP to end the inning.

Final line: 4 1/3, just 2 hits ( one infield, one RBI single in the 1st that would have been meaning less without the HBP), but 4 walks (Happ twice) and 3 punchouts. 81 pitches and just 45 strikes, so he was definitely wild and his pitch count was elevated with all the walks, but he was in position to go six full perhaps just broaching 100 pitches.

All in all, a really nice debut, and honestly i’d rather see Irvin in there right now than Kuhl, so look for Kuhl to have his DL stint extended to give Irvin another start.

And, I gotta say, If we continue with Grey and Gore being impressive, and suddenly Irvin becomes serviceable, and we somehow get Cavalli and Henry back from injury … well that’s a pretty good rotation of young, controllable, cheap starters. Hey, we deserve some good luck.

Written by Todd Boss

May 4th, 2023 at 9:52 pm

April end of Month check-in on the Rotations


Jake Bennett might be the best looking starter prospect in the system right now. Photo from OSU

Nearly every year I get excited when we see who the rotations are at the various full-season levels, and then every year i … run out of time to check back in. I used to do “rotation review ” posts after every pass through the rotations, giving good/bad/holding serve notifications, but that was just way, way too much work for what’s an “in my spare time” endeavor.

But here we are, 2023, and we’ve seen a small burst of competence out of the big club, plus some points of interest elsewhere, so i thought i’d do a “state of the rotation” after a few turns through.

Important links for this analysis:

We’ll start with the Majors.

Rotation: Corbin, Grey, Gore, Williams, Kuhl

Changes since opening day: none, amazingly. We all knew Strasburg was going to start on the DL, and Cavalli’s injury was the dagger of spring, but through the first month the MLB rotation has not deviated. Pretty amazing for a last place team that is depending on two near-rookies and an NRI.

Observations: I don’t think anyone is surprised that Corbin’s ERA is nearly 6.00. He’s yet to have what i’d call a “good” outing despite two quality starts. He remains in the rotation thanks to his salary and a lack of better options. Kuhl’s 7.36 ERA (as of this writing) is not gonna get it done, especially for an NRI. He has to shape up and fast. Williams signed a 2 year deal so he’s not going anywhere fast, and he’s holding stead right at a league average 101 ERA+ through 5 starts. Grey’s fip slightly flatters his era, but still through 5 starts he’s got solid numbers and looks to improve on last year. For me the big win so far is the performance of Gore, who completely shut down the Mets this week and seems to improve start to start. So far in 2023, he’s looking like the real deal and is looking entirely like the trade bounty he was meant to be last year.

Next guy to get cut: Kuhl. NRI, no investment, and a 7 ERA spells doom. Is there a AAA replacement? No there isn’t (read next section), so one or two more crap starts and, if it were me, i’d be putting Ward into the rotation.

AAA Rochester:

Rotation: Adon, Irvin, Espino, Abbott, Peralta

Changes since Opening Day: Espino hit the DL right after his first start, which then gave starts to Kilome and T.Romero, both of whom were awful. Kilome posted a 19+ ERA in 2 starts and was released, while Romero posted a 9+ ERA in 2 starts/4 games and is on the DL.

Of course, Rochester is missing two names in particular that we all WANTED to see there, in Henry and Tetreault, but they’re hurt, so instead we get the two 2022 LRs from the big club Abbott and Espino taking AAA starts.

Observations; I think we all know what we have in Espino and Abbott at this point: 7th/8th bullpen arms who can soak up in long relief, even be decent as relievers, but who cannot be effective starters. Really, the same with Peralta, who has 10yrs of MLB experience at this point. I’m less interested in these guys as I am in the two prospects. Adon was awful with a capital-A last year, so 2023 is an important bounce back season, and so far, he’s doing ok; a mid 4-s Era, a bit too many base runners, but otherwise an improvement. Our other important arm here is Irvin; he’s got similar numbers to Irvin but his ERA is a point higher due to some unluckiness. Unfortunately, neither guy is doing a sub 2.00 dominance in AAA like we’d like to see. So, we’ll move on.

Next guy to get promoted: nobody: not one of the AAA starters is making any case right now to push for a promotion and take the place of Kuhl.

Next guy to get demoted or released: Abbott and Romero. Abbott is on the 40man and might be the first guy off if the team needs a slot, based on his current AAA ERA. Romero’s putting more than 2runners on per inning and it seems like he’s short for the team if they need a spot.

AA Harrisburg:

Rotation: Rutledge, Parker, Herrera (might be LR), Troop, Cuevas

Changes since Opening Day: None. AA has several guys who used to be starters (Cate, Gausch, Evan Lee, Carrillo) who I thought might be in the rotation, but clearly have all now been made relievers. Cate is the most amazing fall; he was the opening day starter in AA two years ago, now he’s a loogy. I’m slightly surprised Lee isn’t being looked at as a starter, given his big arm, and especially since one of the 5 guys in this rotation is clearly an org guy/innings eater in Herrera, but that’s just me.

Observations: Troop and Herrera are 26 and 27 respectively, both have AAA time (Herrera was in AAA in 2016!), and the presence of both in AA is probably an indictment of our pitching development lately. Clearly instead of these two you’d like to see Cate and Carrera in the rotation … but they just couldn’t cut it. So, lets focus on the prospects. The big name here is Rutledge, who struggled in Low-A, got on the 40-man and now sits in AA. So far, not bad for Rutledge, who’s had some bad luck and a lot of IR-S (Inherited Runners – Scored) from his relievers to inflate his ERA. I’m a huge Rutledge critic, but i like what i’ve seen so far. Parker may have finally matriculated to a level he can’t handle and has an ERA north of 7. He also can’t find the plate and has 16 walks in 14 IPs; hard to win when you’re giving up a baserunner an inning before anybody gets a hit. Cuevas’ breakout 2022 has come to a screeching halt in AA as well, with the highest BAA of any starter.

Next guy to get promoted: nobody: If they absolutely had to pull someone up from AA i’d probably go with Troop, who has a .216 BAA despite his ERA/FIP/WHIP peripherals.

Next guy to get demoted or released: Cuevas is only 21 and is struggling; i could see him going back to High-A soon if there was someone to take his spot.

High-A Wilmington

Rotation: Lara, Saenz, Huff, Theophile, Alvarez

Changes since Opening Day: Luckham has taken two starts, seemingly in place of Theophile, and it remains to be seen how it shakes out. Former SPs Knowles and Hernandez have been bumped to the bullpen

Observations: Luckham has been the high performer so far, a 2022 15th rounder who was used in middle relief last year. It is early, but his stuff looks great so far and he’s seemingly bumped a more valued prospect out of the rotation for now. Huff in the rotation was a surprise to this observer; he was never used as a starter last year, but that may just be due to it being his draft year as well. He’s getting hit around plenty though so far unfortunately, with a BAA in the .325 range. Andry Lara is the highest profile prospect here, by far, and he continues to underwhelm. The guy has a live arm with easy mid 90s speed, but doesn’t get the punch outs you’d expect. He’s got a solid BAA and has good control (4 walks in 18ip), but not enough swing and miss. I’m sure the Nats brass is just as frustrated. Saenz keeps on treading water, not impressing but not jeopardizing his rotation spot. Theophile only has 2 starts and 9IP as of this writing, too early to pass any judgement.

Next guy to get promoted: Probably Luckham, but i’d want to see him for half a season first.

Next guy to get demoted or released: Huff seems likely to get dumped back to the bullpen soon, if the team wants to replace him in the rotation and go with the 5 from 6 as discussed earlier.

Low-A Fredericksburg

Rotation: Bennett, Susana, Atencio, Cornelio, Denaburg

Changes since Opening Day: Atencio is probably more of a LR, and the team has given two other starts to clearly relievers when weather issues or last minute changes occur (we saw one of those this week with Susana getting yanked last minute). Aldonis seems like he’s in the mix too, perhaps at the expense of Denaburg. Read on.

Observations: Several big-time important prospects to the team here. Susana’s line so far: big arm, lots of Ks, can’t find the plate (10 walks in 9 innings), and got skipped in the rotation for an unknown reason recently. Not good. Bennett, our 2nd rounder in 2022, has been very solid, presenting like the classy veteran college pitcher we like. 21/5 K/BB in 15 innings, 1.11 whip, sub 3.00 ERA. So far so good for Bennett. We havn’t really seen a lot of Aldonis, but he was solid last year in Low-A and has been solid in his first two low-A starts this year. A good beginning, and something I hope he builds on. 2022 7th rounder Cornelio has gotten whacked around, but he’s not going anywhere. Lastly we come to Denaburg, who has looked awful in 2 starts and might be at the end of his string. He’s 23, already has passed through rule-5, and I’m not sure if he can get anybody out anymore.

Next guy to get promoted: Bennett

Next guy to get demoted or released: Denaburg. At some point you have to cut bait on a 1st rounder and admit defeat. I know the Nats have a hard time with this, especially when they see his big, glaring signing bonus. But he just has never come back from his arm injuries.

Written by Todd Boss

April 28th, 2023 at 12:58 pm

Posted in Nats in General

Spring Training 2023 NRI Disposition


Before I clear out the “NRI color coding” on the Big Board, I thought i’d write out a bit about the 2023 spring training competitions and the fact that yet again a slew of Non Roster Invites (NRIs) have made the team.

Here’s past posts on the same topic by year: 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015.

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

  • Starters: Kuhl. Tetreault, Lee, Romero
  • Righty Relievers: Harris, , Brzycky, Castro, Colome, Machado, Peralta, Carrillo
  • Lefty Relievers: Banda*, Baldanado, Perez, Doolittle
  • Catchers: Millas, Lindslay
  • Infielders: Chavis, Mejia, Adams, Blankenhorn, Fox, Valera
  • Outfielders: Casey, Hill, Antuna, Hernandez

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

  • Chad Kuhl makes the roster as the 5th starter when a massive gap in the rotation opens up with Cavalli’s arm injury. I thought perhaps rule5 pick Thad Ward had a shot here, but the team seemed to decide early he was going to hang in the bullpen for now. There were a slew of 40-man member starters in camp (Adon, Irvin, Abbott, Espino), but none of them made a legitimate case above Kuhl. Abbott and Espino seem to have proved last year they were better in relief, and both were sent down to AAA relatively early.
  • Hobie Harris: the team knew they were going to be down one RH reliever in Rainey, but didn’t count on Arano’s injury, which opened up a spot. Weems is the only other RH reliever on the 40-man and seems like he’ll be the first guy cut if they need space, which left the door open for Harris, who had a fantastic spring.
  • Anthony Banda slid into the sole lefty spot in the bullpen thanks mostly to Doolittle getting hurt. There are a couple other lefty relievers on the 40-man, but they’re both too young. This was always going to a NRI, and Banda won.
  • Michael Chavis might be the biggest surprise NRI to get added, in that the team had an identical player in Jake Alu who was just added, plus a former 1st rounder in Downs who they were taking a shot at. In the end, when Kieboom got hurt (yet again) it sealed the fate of others, who failed to impress during spring.

Which of the rest of the NRIs might we see this year? I fully expect another season of RH reliever churn, so look for guys like Colome and Machado to get re-added if they stay with the team and start out well. A couple of the NRIs are legit prospects (Brzycky) who seem like they’ll be up at some point. Perhaps later in the year we’ll see a return to the 40-man for guys like Casey and Hernandez.

Written by Todd Boss

April 1st, 2023 at 1:27 pm

Posted in Nats in General

Cavalli elbow is a huge blow for Nats


Its been a busy month for me, and i’m only partially paying attention to Nats headlines. Earlier this week, I did notice/hear that Cade Cavalli had been pulled from a start with something related to an elbow, and while it didn’t register with me at the time, eventually the news came out.

Tommy John. Full tear. Out 12-18 months.


The Nationals’ starting pitching depth has really taken a beating in the last couple of years.

  • Strasburg: thirty IP in 3 years and zero faith that he’ll ever return.
  • Corbin has forgotten how to pitch.
  • Grey had an ERA > 5.00 and a FIP of nearly 6.00 in the majors.
  • Rutledge can’t get any one out in Low-A (and is laughably assigned to AA right now)
  • Henry had TOS, the same thing that may be ending Strasburg’s career.
  • Adon literally couldn’t get anyone out in the majors.
  • Carrillo couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn and is now a AA reliever.
  • Irvin is back after TJ but is no where near resembling the 2nd round form he exhibited in College.
  • Denaburg returned after lenghly absences and is no longer considered even a top 30 prospect
  • Cate forgot how to pitch and was outrighted.
  • Romero finally crossed the imaginary line keeping him employed with the team with his latest transgression (not that he was considered a prospect anymore…)
  • Lara got lit up in Low A while eating pizza and burgers (anyone believe his listed weight of 180?)
  • … and now Cafalli is out for a while.

That’s your 2020 1st rounder, 2020 2nd rounder, 2019 1st rounder, 2018 1st rounder, 2018 2nd rounder, 2017 1st rounder, $60M in payroll, and a couple of significant prospects for whom we dumped Scherzer and Turner. In other words, that’s nearly every top draft pick for four years running, a massive chunk of your current payroll, and every arm we got in return for dumping two franchise players two years ago.

What a debacle.

The Nats have almost zero Arms in the upper minors pipeline at this point who you’d look at as an up and coming replacement. Why? Because multiple years of futility drafting arms has badly caught up with this team. Who sounds promising? 2022 2nd rounder Bennett hasn’t done anything to embarrass or hurt himself yet. that’s good. Parker continues to get people out despite having very little “stuff” as the scouting reports claim. Theophile showed some promise last year before getting promoted. Maybe Susana can amount to something, or Aldo Ramirez. But that’s the entire system. anyone in FCL or DSL is 5 years from making an impact.

It could be a dark, or expensive, 5 years for this team. Consider how many top end offensive prospects we have. If those guys come up and start really cranking … they by themselves can power the team to a 500 record. Kinda like what happened to this team between 2010 and 2011. The team went from 59 wins in 2009 to 69 wins in 2010 to a .500 record in 2011. We all know what happened then. So, unless this team can find more arms somewhere, they may be buying them on the open market to support what could be a pretty good hitting team in a few years.

We havn’t talked much yet about the 2023 draft, but I’ll bet you $1 right now we got back to an all-pitcher draft like we used to do. And that’ll start at the top, where there’s a couple of big-time SEC arms likely for the taking in Chase Dollander and Paul Skenes. Dollander was a 1-1 guy last year, but hasn’t been quite as impressive as Skenes: in 4 starts this year he’s 4-0, 48-4 K/BB and has given up just 8 hits in 24 innings. Ok, so those starts were against Western Michigan, Kansas State, Butler, and Samford, so not that impressive, but still against D1 hitters.

For 2023, maybe we’ll find some gold like we’ve done with Meneses. But man we could use some good news on the pitching front.

Written by Todd Boss

March 17th, 2023 at 2:17 pm