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2024 Draft Coverage: Early mock Drafts


Charlie Condon looks like the 1-1 pick … unless he isn’t. Photo via UGA baseball home page

Its never too early for a mock draft, and so of course the first 2024 mock draft links started popping up basically the day after the 2023 draft ended. I thought I’d throw out the first collection of Mock drafts now, ahead of the real draft scouting season, to show where things started and where they are now.

The Nats pick 10th this coming draft, thanks to the Nats falling into a very specific use case (non-revenue sharing teams cannot have a top-6 pick two years in a row), irrespective of where they finish or where they fall in the lottery, they will pick 10th. See Jim Callis‘s excellent explanation for why this is the case here. As we later found out … the nats actually won the lottery, then got picked again in the top 5, before settling into their 10th spot.

So, with that being said, we’ll try to capture the top 5 picks plus the 10th pick projection for all mocks for 2024 draft, if they go that deep.

Here’s a collection of the early mock drafts to get a sense of who is in the early running for the 1st round next year. We’ll follow this up with another mock collection as we get closer to the July 2024 draft.

  • ProspectsLive way too early 2024 mock 7/13/23: Konnor Griffin, Travis Bazzana, Chase Burns, JJ Wetherhold, Nick Kurtz. Nats at 10 get Florida’s two-way stud Jac Caglianone, which would be an absolute steal here, as we’re going to see later on.
  • Baseball America Dec 2023 post Draft Lottery Mock 12/8/23: Wetherhold, Kurtz, Bazzana, Caglianone, and Mike Sirota. Nats at 10 take Tommy White, slugging 3B from LSU. Would I be happy with White as a pick? I think he can hit … but i don’t think he can field. At all. He’s 1B/DH in the pros.
  • MLBPipeline 12/5/23: Callis and Mayo do a guess post-draft order: Wetherhold, Kurtz, Bazzana, Burns, Caglianone. Nats at 10 take White, as BA predicted.
  • Jim Callis 12/15/23 first mock: Kurtz, Wetherhold, Charlie Condon (who has blown up early D1 season 2024), Caglianone, Bazzana. Nats at #10 get White. I’m sensing a pattern here.
  • Joel Reuter/BleacherReport 12/22/23 Mock 1.0: Wetherhold, Kurtz, Condon, Caglianone, Bazzana. Nats at #10 take Tommy White, the fourth straight mock to take White.
  • Keith Law 3/7/24 top 50 Ranks (not mock): Condon, Caglianone, Bazzana, Wetherhold, Hagen Smith (pitcher from Arkansas who had 17ks in 6ip early spring). #10 is Tommy White, again.
  • Baseball America’s first 2024 mock 3/18/14: Condon, Caglianone, Bazzana, Burns, Smith. Nats at #10 taking Seaver King, SS/OF, Wake Forest. King is a new name we havn’t seen here yet; he played two years in Div-II before jumping to Wake and has made an impression. Tommy White is pushed down 9 picks in this mock due to his 2024 struggles.
  • Joel Reuter/BleacherReport 4/25/24 mock 2.0. Condon, Caglianone, Burns, Braden Montgomery (a switch hitting OF from TAMU who’s blown up in this spring), Bazzana. Nats at #10 take Trey Yesavage, East Carolina’s Friday night starter who’s described as a polished 4-pitch college starter who could zip through the minors and project as a mid-rotation starter. Someone like this would absolutely help the Nats pitching depth.
  • ProspectsLive 2.0 Mock 4/29/24: Condon, Caglianone, Kurtz, Bazzana, Konnor Griffen, a prep SS/OF who is high in ProspectsLive ranks but nobody else’s. Nats at #10 take Chase Burns in their mock, which i don’t really find credible at this point in Burns’ 2024 season.
  • Jonathan Mayo/MLBpipeline 5/3/24 mock: Condon, Bazzana, Caglianone, Montgomery, Kurtz. Nats at #10 take Burns over Yesevage. White falls to #20
  • Keith Law/the Athletic 5/15/24 Mid-May Mock: Bazzana, Condon, Smith, Kurtz, Caglianone. Law postulates that Cleveland at 1-1 could be looking to shave dollars off the slot value, and they’d thus take Bazzana and save a ton of money, or maybe even a mid-1st rounder to save $4M. At #3 He has Colorado taking best pitcher available. Nats at #10 take Konnor Griffen, the #1 prep player on the board, with a note that says the Nats have a new Scouting Group this year and may take the team in a different direction (aka, younger).
  • Jim Callis/MLBpipeline 5/17/24 Mock: Bazzana, Condon, Caglianone, Kurtz, Montgomery. Nats take at #10 Bryce Rainer, a prep SS from Harvard Westlake (same HS as Lucas Giolito). In Callis’ mock, the top two arms (Smith and Burns) go off just before the Nats pick, but they leave ECU starter Yesavage on the table to take a prep SS. I wouldn’t like this pick, but I give homage to Law’s comment about a change in the scouting department with the Nats.

Analysis at this point:

There hasn’t been a ton of change in the top prospects from July 2023 to May 2024, with the exception of one guy; Condon. For months we’ve talked about Bazzana, Wetherhold, Caglianone, and Kurtz. They’re most of the names mentioned in these top 5s. Condon’s 2024 explosion, combined with the fact that he’s not already mired to 2B (like Wetherhold and Bazzana) gives him a leg up. Caglianone is a 2-way guy, but almost everyone views him as a pro bat. Most of the pundits are saying this is a 9-man draft (awesome, since we draft 10th).

For months, the industry all pretty much assumed at first that the Nats would get LSU’s Tommy White. Boy, I bet White wishes he was in last year’s draft, b/c he would have gone top 10. Now his struggles and his defensive issues have him dropping like a stone. As of this writing 5/4/24 his statline for 2024 doesn’t come anywhere near his 2023 line (.332/.409/.642 this year versus .374/.432/.725 last year). I’m really hoping the Nats go pitching this year, and later mocks have two college arms in Burns and Yesavage falling right into the range where the Nats might take them. Both are Friday starters from big-time teams and have had top 5 projections here and there, and would be great at #10. However, there seems to be a shift in the strategy, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we ended up with a prep player.

Written by Todd Boss

May 17th, 2024 at 1:00 pm

Posted in Draft

Final QO Free Agent signs, 2024 Draft Order finalized


Super agent Scott Boras seems to have over-played his hand with his stable of FAs this off-season, leaving them with shorter deals, less guaranteed money, and far too little spring training to get ready. Photo via LA Times.

If you had March 18th for a two-time Cy Young award-winning free agent to sign, then you won the Scott Boras 2024 off-season bingo game. Blake Snell, who had this stat line last year as a 30yr old: 14-9, 2.25 ERA, 1.189 whip, 234/99 K/BB in 180 innings/32 starts, finally signed just a couple weeks before the season starts, virtually guaranteeing that he misses time for his new club San Francisco. He gets a handsome pay day for 2024 on a short-term gig (2yrs/$62M) but fails to secure the long-term deal that he probably expected coming off a Cy Young winning age-30 season, and probably heads back into FA next off-season w/o the qualifying offer dragging him down.

This is a two-part post. One briefly about the draft, then one about the QO in general.

2024 Draft Order. With Snell’s signing, the 2024 draft order is (finally) finalized. The Giants give up a 3rd rounder to sign Snell, and with it barring any additional last minute penalties we know how things are going. Here’s a link to the 2024 Draft order worksheet (with sources and past years all in the same place), showing the original order and how the various teams picked up or lost picks. Quick summary of movement:

  • Arizona, Baltimore: got supp-1st picks for having top-performing rookies
  • Minnesota, Los Angeles Angels, Toronto, and Sandiego: picked up picks at various points for losing QO-attached FAs.
  • St Louis, San Francisco, Los Angeles Dodgers, Houston: lost picks for signing the same QO-affiliated guys.

The Nats started with the #10 overall, then #48, #88, #118, #148 and so on. After all the movement, we now sit with #10, #44, #79, #108, #140, #169, #199 and so on. So we improved 4 spots in our 2nd rounder, 9 spots for our third rounder, 10 spots for the 4th rounder, and 9 spots for each round going forward.

Qualifying Offer recap for 2023 off-season

Ever since the Qualifying Offer system was introduced in 2012, i’ve hyper-tracked the players who have gotten tagged with them to gauge impact to their free agency. Here’s a Link to my Qualifying Offer Tracking xls. This past off season saw a massive drop in spending from teams, as typical big-money spenders sat out the off-season, were already maxed out and sitting at luxury tax penalties, or had serious revenue concerns with all the RSN issues we’ve been having. However, we also saw that Boras’ three QO-tagged agents sit and wait for months into the off-season before signing.

  • Cody Bellinger: didn’t sign until 2/24 for 3yrs/$80M
  • Matt Chapman: didn’t sign until 3/3 for 3yrs/$54M
  • Snell as discussed; didn’t sign until 3/18 for 2yrs/$62M

As others have pointed out, that’s less guaranteed money for those three guys than some guys got by themselves this off-season. None of them get the kind of 9-figure career-setting payday they probably wanted, but at least all three get opt-outs in case they blow up 2024 to try it again.

Snell therefore is the first QO-assigned player who I think was really hampered by the tag in years. When it first came out, several mid-level free agents took the QO confidently thinking they’d get t heir money like they always did, and got hurt by it. In fact, probably the worst example of the QO screwing a player involved one of our own, Ian Desmond, who declined a 1yr $15.8M deal but couldn’t find anything on the market and ended up taking a 1yr $8M deal three weeks into spring training that year. Now, Desmond eventually got paid by Colorado in a weird contract that turned out to be awful for the team, and of course all these guys are millionaires, so i’m not crying too much for them, but this analysis is more about players getting (or not getting) their worth.

The two sides had their chance to get rid of the QO, but bailed on it in the last CBA negotiations because the owners tied an International Draft to it, which is kind of ridiculous on both sides. QOs impact just a handful of the 1200 union members every year … and owners are just being stupidly short-sighted if they demand an international draft so that they can save a couple million dollars a year. But that’s a topic for another day.

At least these QO Boras clients can go into next off-season knowing they can’t get the offer again, which will free up their markets considerably.

Written by Todd Boss

March 19th, 2024 at 11:32 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

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

2023 Nats Draft Class Review: top 10 rounds


Yohandy Morales, pictured here with Team USA but who played at Miami, was our 2nd rounder. Photo via Baseball Prospect Journal

Here’s my review of the 2023 Draft Class, with call backs to the various draft boards out there and some thoughts along the way about sign-ability, likely bonus machinations, etc.

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 the time being, i have a proposed draft bonus placed into the draft tracker to show how I think the bonuses may play out. I think the first 3 picks all go over-slot, 4th, 5th, 6th get around half their slot, and 7-10 all get like $10k Read on.

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

I pay for some things, not for others, so this isn’t a comprehensive list of boards out there. There are other draft boards out there (Baseball Prospectus behind a paywall, PerfectGame behind a paywall, Prospects365 & 20/80 baseball seem to be out of business), but if they don’t go beyond the top 50 or if I don’t subscribe they’re not here.

I’ll put in some scouting reports for the less well-known guys from some of the paywalled’ sites, since anyone can get scouting reports from the MLB’s main site.

So, 1-10, here’s some thoughts on the picks one by one.

1. Dylan Crews, picked 2nd overall. OF (CF) from LSU.

Ranks: #2 by MLB, #1 Law, #1 BA, #1 Fangraphs, #2 ESPN, #1 D1Baseball, #2 Prospects1500, #1 ProspectsLive, #1 CBS.

Crews speaks for himself really, but here’s BA’s scouting report:

BA Grade:65/High
Tools: Hit: 65. Power: 65. Run: 55. Field: 55. Arm: 60.

Crews was a highly-regarded prospect coming out of Lake Mary (Fla.) High, though he ultimately withdrew from the 2020 draft and made his way to Louisiana State, where he immediately became one of the best players in college baseball. He set an LSU record with 18 home runs as a freshman, then moved from right field to center field during his sophomore season and clubbed 22 more home runs and was named a Golden Spikes semifinalist. He won the award a year later and was one of the best hitters in the country in 2023, when he hit .426/.567/.713 with 18 home runs, 16 doubles, a 13.4% strikeout rate and a 20.6% walk rate, while being the focal point of an offense that won a College World Series championship against Florida. He either got a hit or drew a walk in every game of the season. Crews has a powerfully-built 6-foot, 205-pound frame and above-average or better tools across the board. He has electric, double-plus bat speed that allows him to drive the ball to all fields with authority, catch up to velocity and make late swing decisions, with great balance and strength in his lower half. After chasing a bit too much in high school, Crews has developed an advanced approach in college, with a solid eye and just a 17% chase rate in 2023. He also hits the ball harder than most players in the class, with a 96 mph average exit velocity and a 110 mph 90th percentile mark. A plus runner now, Crews should be at least above-average in the future if he slows down, and he’s a good center field defender with advanced route-running ability and instincts. He profiles as a plus defender in an outfield corner if he needs to move, with easy plus arm strength. He entered the year as the No. 1 player in the class and is the favorite to be selected first overall, with perennial all-star upside potential.

2. Yohandy Morales, picked 40th overall. 3B from Miami.

Ranks: #20 by MLB, #32 Law, #26 BA, #13 Fangraphs, #18 ESPN, #6 D1Baseball, #28 Prospects1500, #29 ProspectsLive,

I briefly posted some thoughts on Morales after day 1, but you can clearly see from the relative ranks of all these shops that Morales is a big coup to get at the top of the 2nd round. Even the most bullish guy (Law) still had him as a 1st rounder. So, since Law is low-man here’s his scouting report:

Morales looks like an easy top-10 pick when you see him walk on the field or take batting practice, or even just a few game swings where he makes contact, but he whiffs too much for that and most scouts think he’ll end up in left field or at first base, making the bat that much more important. Morales looks the part, certainly, and has a pretty swing that can produce significant power but more often puts the ball on the ground. You can beat him with velocity up or breaking stuff down and away, not dissimilar to former Florida Gator Jud Fabian, who was the Orioles’ second-round pick last year. Morales is neither natural nor easy at third and I think at least has to move to right field in pro ball. To his credit, he’s hit better in the ACC, .353/.430/.500 with just an 18.5 percent strikeout rate, and may be able to hit his way back up into the middle of the first round. There just seem to be better bets to hit in this class, between Morales’ two clear holes and the fact that a lot of the hard contact he makes comes in the form of groundballs.

BA Scouting report:

BA Grade:55/Extreme
Tools:Hit: 45. Power: 60. Run: 45. Field: 50. Arm: 60.

Morales was a talented and toolsy high school prospect who ranked as the No. 77 overall player in the 2020 draft class. He made it to campus at Miami, where he initially split time at shortstop and third base, before sliding over to the hot corner full time. Morales is a large, athletic righthanded hitter with a 6-foot-4, 225-pound frame that has plenty of strength now, but still room to add good weight in the future. He’s been a consistent producer for the Hurricanes and is a career .341/.412/.624 hitter over 172 games with 46 home runs. Morales takes big hacks, and starts his swing with a bit of a hand hitch before firing through the zone with a lengthy bat path. He has plus raw power that he generates with little effort in batting practice, and generates tons of damage on contact with a 94.2 mph average exit velocity in 2023 and a 108.9 mph 90th percentile mark. Morales has pure hit questions thanks to both the length of his swing and his pitch recognition. He chases out of the zone frequently and has long seemed to struggle identifying breaking balls, which leads him to getting out in front and off-balance at times. He missed 20% of the time vs. fastballs in 2023 compared to a 37% whiff rate on breaking balls. Morales is an average runner who has solid defensive tools at third, including solid mobility, athleticism and plus arm strength. He’ll need to become more consistent in the field and could potentially slow down as he adds strength to an already large frame.

3. Travis Sykora, picked 71st overall. HS RHP from Round Rock HS (TX).

Ranks: #40 by MLB, #36 Law, #36 BA, #34 Fangraphs, #88 ESPN, n/a D1Baseball, #39 Prospects1500, #52 ProspectsLive,

A prep high school arm. Nats havn’t drafted a HS pitcher AT ALL since Michael Cuevas in the 23rd round in 2019. He’s turned out ok; he’s currently in the AA rotation holding his own at age 22 for a $125k signing bonus. The Nats havn’t drafted a prep HS pitcher this early since Mason Denaburg in 2018, and yes its fair to say he has NOT worked out (currently on the brink of release from an injury-filled minor league career off our low-A roster). But you can see why the Nats took him here; he’s nearly across the board a 36-40th ranked prospect, and they’re getting him nearly a full round later than he was projected by the industry. ESPN/Kiley McDaniel is most bearish on him; here’s his scouting report:

A little bit of Hans Crouse about him as a big quirky righty with huge stuff: up to 100 mph, flashes plus slider and splitter. He’s a big 6-foot-6 with below-average command and is old for the class, so the worry is he’s a reliever that may benefit from two years in the SEC.

Here’s Law’s scouting report:

Sykora is probably the hardest-throwing high school pitcher in the draft class, hitting 100 mph last summer and sitting 96-98 mph with some arm-side run, pairing it with a plus splitter that has hard tumble. He’s huge at 6-foot-6, 220 pounds, but has a super-short arm action where his arm is extremely late relative to his front leg landing, which might be why his slider has velocity but not much bite or tilt. He’s 19 already, which will hurt him in analytical models and means he’ll be draft-eligible in two years if he ends up at the University of Texas. He’s one for teams that value size and arm strength over delivery or breaking stuff.

4. Andrew Pinckney, picked 102nd overall. Col Sr OF (corner) Alabama.

Ranks: #216 by MLB, #168 BA, #211 ESPN, #123 D1Baseball, #233 Prospects1500, #187 ProspectsLive,

So, a college senior in the 4th round … me thinks Sykora and perhaps Crews need some over-slot money and Pinckney’s selection here could provide some of it. $660k slot for a college senior who went undrafted last year as a junior. Now, he’s not a scrub as evidenced by the general draft slots he was projected to go (generally 215-230 range, which puts him more like an 8th rounder and a likely $200k bonus. So expect some savings here to go elsewhere. Yet another outfielder…. i guess our hopes of seeing a pitcher-heavy draft are shot.

Now, that being said, BA liked him a lot. Here’s their scouting report:

Pinckney enjoyed a strong 2022 spring and summer, and followed it up with a career season in 2023 as a right fielder for Alabama. Listed at 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, Pinckney hit .338/.442/.645 with 18 home runs, 12 doubles and a career-high 13.9% walk rate. Pinckney has impressive athleticism and loud raw tools to go with his performance, though his production has consistently come with high strikeout numbers and an aggressive approach. He missed at a 32% rate this spring and has significant contact questions versus breaking balls and offspeed pitches, and will also expand the zone too frequently against all pitch types. He does have well above-average bat speed, which translates into hard-hit balls when he does make contact, with a strong 107 mph 90th percentile exit velocity and above-average power potential. He’s primarily played right field with Alabama but has impressive athleticism, above-average speed and plus arm strength that should allow him to play all three outfield positions and get a shot at center field to start his pro career. Pinckney has made impressive strides offensively each year in his college career and if he’s able to take a step forward with his pitch recognition and contact ability he has impact upside on both sides of the ball. Pinckney redshirted in 2020 and is old for the class as a 22-year-old on draft day.

5. Marcus Brown, 138th overall pick, a SS from Oklahoma State.

Ranks: #147 BA, #214 Prospects1500, #222 ProspectsLive

Probably another value pick, in that Brown wasn’t really that highly ranked or considered. His scouting reports talk about his glove first, and he only hit .273 this year. Slot of $464k, i’ll bet we save another $200k on him on top of the $200k we probably saved on the 4th round Pinckney. His scouting reports remind me of a former Nat in Steve Lombardozzi when they say things like lefty swinging little power.

Here’s a couple scouting reports from the places that have them. BA first:

Brown began his career as a part-time second baseman for Oklahoma State, but hit well in just 24 games during his 2021 freshman season. A year later he moved into the team’s starting shortstop role and overall he’s slashed .323/.388/.436 for the Cowboys, with four home runs and 17 doubles and then was one of the best prospects in the Cape Cod League, where he played a brilliant shortstop but struggled offensively. Those offensive struggles carried over into his draft year, and Brown slashed just .273/.360/.469 with nine home runs, 10 doubles and a 16.4% strikeout rate and 5.7% walk rate. At 6-foot, 187 pounds, Brown is close to physically maxed out and is a light-hitting lefty bat now who probably won’t add much more power in the future. He has a choppy, line drive stroke that will occasionally put a ball over the fence to the pull side, but is better suited for all-fields line drive contact. His exit velocities were modest, at just 82 mph on average, and without average or even 40-grade power, he’ll need to improve his swing decisions and chase out of the zone less frequently to provide offensive value in pro ball. Brown does have solid pure bat-to-ball skills, with an 80% contact rate this spring, and he’s also done a nice job catching up to 92-plus mph velocity. While Brown currently has a light offensive profile, he’s as steady as they come defensively. He has a quick first step and silky smooth actions in the field and does a nice job creating efficient angles to the baseball, with deft footwork around the bag on double plays, and above-average arm strength.

and from Prospectslive:

Arguably the best defensive shortstop in the draft, Brown combines slick hands with good range and a plus arm to provide great defense up the middle. The bat isn’t as advanced as the glove as he struggles to drive and impact the ball but shows solid ability to make contact. There are no doubts about the glove but Brown’s draft stock and development will be tied to his offensive prosduction whether or not he can add power to his game. – Sam Capobianco

6. Gavin Dugas, drafted 165th overall, 5th year sr 2B from LSU.

Ranks: Unranked by all shops

So, On the one hand we got the cleanup hitter from the CWS champion LSU team, a guy who wasn’t half bad this year (.290/.464/.589 with 17 hrs). On the other hand, he’s unranked, even outside the top 500, of every blog/scouting shop, which probably indicates what his expectations are in terms of both signing bonus and future success. Whatever; I like this pick; he was a gamer and he hits. Lets see what he can do in pro ball. Slot value of $357k; i don’t think this is a $10k senior sign, and I think he’ll get a bit of money, but expect more slot savings.

BA Scouting report:

Dugas has been a power-over-hit infielder for Louisiana State throughout his college career, but he banked a .300 season in 2022 and came 10 points shy of repeating that in 2023. In his fifth season with the program Dugas hit .290/.464/.589 with 17 home runs, 12 doubles, a 20.5% strikeout rate and a 14.3% walk rate. Dugas looks to do damage with a pull-heavy approach and uphill bat path. His home runs almost exclusively go to the pull side and that approach has led him to leak out early and swing-and-miss against breaking balls and offspeed offerings. Dugas is a limited defender who might be pushed off the dirt in pro ball and he’ll be 23 on draft day, but his righthanded power could make him an interesting senior sign target.

7. Ryan Snell, drafted 195 overall. 5th year Sr C from Lamar.

Ranks: unranked by all shops

Well, you don’t get much more of a cost savings than a 5th year senior catcher from a no-name school. Snell’s not on any rankings; all we have to go on is his 2023 stats. And they’re solid: .317/.412/.654 for an OPS north of 1,000. He’s undersized because of course he is, but his bat seems to play. Slot value of $278k, i’ll bet he signs for almost nothing. No scouting reports anywhere that I can find, not even out of perfect game.

8. Jared Simpson, drafted 225 overall. 5th year senior LHP reliever from Iowa.

Ranks: unranked by all shops.

A 5th year senior lefty reliever from a big 10 baseball program does not scream “slot value.” Simpson had a 6.54 ERA this year, but he did have big K/9 numbers. This smells like a $10k sign.

BA Scouting report:

A 6-foot-4, 205-pound lefthander, Simpson struggled to a 6.54 ERA this spring in 42.2 innings with Iowa. He struck out a decent number of hitters with a 31.5% strikeout rate, but also walked 10.8%. His fastball sits in the low-90s but he hides the ball well and has little effort in his delivery. His sweeping slider generated a 26% miss rate this spring, and he also mixes in a shorter, mid-80s cutter that is effective. There is room for Simpson to put on productive weight which will likely translate to a couple more ticks of velocity.

9. Thomas Schultz, RHP senior from Vanderbilt, drafted 255th overall.

He threw just 13 innings out of Vanderbilt’s bullpen this year with a 5.40 ERA. Clearly a $10k level signing. No current scouting reports anywhere; here’s his PG report circa 2018:

Thomas Schultz is a 2019 RHP with a 6-6 205 lb. frame from Mount Carmel, PA who attends Our Lady Of Lourdes HS. Extra tall build, lanky and physically projectable with very long limbs. Leg lift delivery with a long and loose arm stroke, extended high 3/4’s arm slot, whippy arm action. Fastball topped out at 91 mph, works both sides of the plate well with his fastball and gets very good running life at times. Big soft curveball will show good depth at times, looks like a future slider candidate. Very projectable fastball with work to do on his secondary pitches. Very good student, verbal commitment to Vanderbilt.

10. Phillip Glasser, 5th year senior SS out of Indiana, drafted 285th overall.

Fifth year senior with no scouting reports on any shops, but he didn’t hit half bad this year (.357 starting for Indiana). Another clear senior sign slot savings bonus.

First impressions: I think the Nats took one look at their top 3 picks and have decided to basically make this a 3-man draft. I think the lion’s share of their $14M+ bonus pool is going to Crews, Morales, and Sykora, and everyone else is org-man filler. And you know what? I’m fine with that. Crews the #1 ranked prospect on most boards, Morales was a mid-1st rounder projected who fell, and Sykora was a prep kid with a massive arm projected as a mid 2nd rounder who fell as well.

The Nats have done this with drafts in the past (the Giolito draft was basically a 1-man draft for example), but at least they got 3 top-end prospects out of this one.

Written by Todd Boss

July 11th, 2023 at 9:10 am

Posted in Draft

2023 Draft 1st and 2nd round reactions. Crews!


Crews is a National. Photo via his twitter.

After months of thinking Dylan Crews was going 1-1 … a last minute shake-up in Pittsburgh’s camp led to them taking Paul Skenes and letting Crews drop to the Nats at 2nd overall.

We talked about the “why” of why this might happen:

  • Pittsburgh wants a fast-to-the-majors arm
  • Skenes would probably take a haircut off of the $9.7M slot value, giving them more money to chase HS prospects later on.
  • Crews had been posturing about not wanting to go to Pittsburgh or wanting a huge bonus.

It doesn’t matter why. What matters is that the Nationals have found themselves with the 2023 Golden Spikes award winner, the 3rd time they’ve gotten to draft such a player. The first two times worked out pretty well (Strasburg and Harper).

We’ve talked Crews to death in the media; he’s a 5-tool guy, true CF, great hit tool, speed, shows power, etc. I’m happy the team didn’t do something clever and pass on him. I think I would have preferred Skenes if we had the choice, given our lack of pitching prospect depth and our abundance of OF prospects, but that can all work itself out later.

Later on in the evening, we took Yohandy Morales in the 2nd, out of U-Miami. Fantastic pick; a guy who had a ton of mid-1st round projection who we landed with the 40th overall pick. A great defensive 3B with a mature bat, he’s going to be a fast riser. Great pick, great bat.

So, yes we already have a top 3B prospect in Brady House. Again, you worry about these things being a problem only when they become a problem. Both were shortstops in high school before moving over due to size (Morales is 6’4″ 225, House is 6’4″ 215). Maybe they pivot to a corner OF spot, maybe someone pivots to 1B. If both these guys bash their way to the majors at the same time, maybe they platoon at 3B/DH. Maybe we flip one for a #2 starter.

I do realize the team has pitching needs, and i’m betting we’ll see a ton more arms drafted the rest of the way, but it seems to me the Nats stayed true to their draft board and grabbed BPA.

Can’t wait to see what happens from here…

Written by Todd Boss

July 10th, 2023 at 9:09 am

Posted in Draft

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 Draft Coverage: Local draft-prospects to keep an eye on


First draft of this post?  8/10/21 when Perfect Game updated its Virginia rankings for the 2021 prep season and added in some top-level DC area players.

The College players are mostly drawn from my 2020 Local High School draft coverage, listing guys who were HS seniors in 2020 who went to 3-year programs and who are now draft eligible.

2023 could be a real banner year for DMV guys; we legitimately have two potential 1st round high school players, which I can’t remember the last time happened, as well as several collegiate 1st rounders who project as high as top 10.

Reminder: on the Draft Tracker resource, I have a tab specifically for DC/MD/VA local players that I generally try to track each year. I’ve spec’d out the top prospects who are likely to drafted alraedy for 2023.

Major Local College Draft Prospects for 2023

  • Kyle Teel, C/Util UVA (by way of NJ hs): 2022 2nd team Pre-season d1baseball AA as a sophomore. top of 2023 collegiate draft class per D1baseball Feb 2022. Projecting as mid 1st rounder by BA for 2023. Keith Law projects as high as 6th overall.
  • Matt Shaw, 2B UMaryland. top 100 of class of 2023 per D1Baseball. Mid 2nd rounder per BA, moving up late 2022 per MLBPipeline (late 1st rounder). Law now has him mid-1st rounder.
  • Jake Gelof, 3B UVA; drastically improved power numbers sophomore year, now projecting as 2nd rounder.
  • Jack Hurley, OF, Virginia Tech. True CF, slashed .375/.452/.664 with 14 homers sophomore season.

Lesser Local College draft eligibles w/ Local Ties

  • Carter Tryce, 2B/OF ODU (by way of ?? HS). top 100 of class of 2023 per D1Baseball.
  • Jason Savacool, RHP UMaryland. top 100 of class of 2023 per D1Baseball.
  • Trey Gibson, RHP Liberty (by way of Grafton HS in Yorktown, VA): 2021 Freshman AA. top 25 of 2023 collegiate draft class pre-2022 season per D1baseball. Liberty’s Friday night starter. Mid 2nd roudner per BA fall of 2022.
  • Luke Shliger, C UMaryland. Struggled early 2023, but a C who can hit will always get drafted.

DC/MD/VA Local Prep players for 2023

  • Bryce Eldridge, RHP/1B Madison HS. #2 in the state, #18 nationally in class in Mid 2021. Huge kid 6’8″ can hit mid 90s as a sophomore, easy velocity and sinking action from huge height. USA Prime summer team, Alabama commit. Bats L, throws R. #14 in the Class per BA in Feb 2022, again in May 2022. Projecting to upper 90s as a 6’8″ thrower. Projecting as supp-1st rounder Fall2022. 18U USA baseball team. MLBPipeline Dec 2022 as at #26. Law projects going in the 1st round teens (#17).
  • Jonny Farmelo SS Westfield. #9 in 2021 state PG rankings, UVA commit. Now ranked #86 per BA’s list Feb 2022. #76 on BA’s July 2022 list. #52 MLBpipeline Dec2022. Law projecting end of 1st round possibly.
  • Cameron Johnson, LHP IMG Academy (was McNamara, Forestville, MD). #55 on BA’s Feb 2022 list. LSU commit, blew up at WWBA last October. #44 July 2022 on BA list. Mid 90s from a big guy 6’5″ wow. Area Code Games 2022. 18U USA baseball team. MLBPipeline has #50 Dec2022

Lesser DC/VA/MD prep players of note.

  • Tommy Roldan, LHP/OF Georgetown Prep via Poolesville. UVA commit, Area code Games 2022. 92 from the left hand side.
  • Brody Shawn, RHP West Potomac HS. Pop-up mid 90s velocity, Wake Forest commit. #88 on BA’s feb 2022 list.
  • Bryson Moore, RHP/1B Fairfax HS: #6 in 2021 state PG rankings, UVA commit
  • Brett Renfrow, RHP Colgan. #12 2021 PG state rankings, Virginia Tech commit
  • Jack McDonald, RHP/SS Independence . #15 2021 PG state rankings, ECU commit
  • Marcus LeClair ? position, Gonzaga HS. #18 2021 PG state rankings, UVA commit

Extended DC/MD/VA Prep players (outside DC Area) on the radar.

  • Blake Dickerson; LHP; Ocean Lakes HS, Virginia Beach, Va. Big tall lefty, Low 90s as a 17yr old. 18U USA Baseball team summer 2022. Virginia Tech commit. MLBpipeline top 100 Dec2022. Mayo called him out specifically here in his Dec 2022 newsletter.
  • Tayshaun Walton, OF (corner), IMG Academy (was Maury HS Norfolk) . #1 player in the state as of 2021, UMiami commit. #5 nationally. Could blossom into a mid-1st rounder. Dirtbags summer team, 6’3 220, tons of power. Justin Upton comp. #28 ranked by BA Feb 2022. #75 BA list July 2022, falling somewhat. Not in MLBpipeline’s top 100 Dec2022

Sources used

Written by Todd Boss

July 6th, 2023 at 11:15 am

Posted in Draft,Local Baseball

Skenes Watch


Skenes has gone from two-way 1st rounder to near 1-1 in just a few starts. Photo via Valley Shook

So, the Nats have the #2 overall pick in 2023’s June amateur draft, only behind Pittsburgh at the top.

While its early in the season, there’s a couple of interesting points to keep up with. The consensus #1 pick right now continues to be LSU outfielder Dylan Crews, and he’s done absolutely nothing to dissuade evaluators of that 1-1 pick so far this season. Through last weekend’s series, Crews’ batting stats look more like a slow-pitch softball hitter’s stats: .531/.658/.988 slash line, 9 homers in 81 ABs, 26 walks to 12 Ks. LSU’s early schedule was a bit easy, but Crews has kept up his performance through the first couple of SEC league matches.

Pittsburgh is notoriously risk adverse in the draft, and there’s nothing that says “risk aversion” more than taking a College outfielder. At this point in the process, i’d be completely floored if Pittsburgh didn’t take Crews.

Which leaves the Nationals with their pick of anyone else.

Now, in the odd case that Pittsburgh decides to be clever and signs an under-slot deal at 1-1 with someone else (something like what Baltimore did recently), The Nats would be fools not to take this guy. Yes our top 3 prospects are all outfielder prospects. No its not a position of need. But this is baseball, not the NBA or NFL. You do not draft for need; you draft the best player available.

But this article is not about Crews. Its about the realities of the Nats current farm system (i.e. almost no pitcher depth) and the emergence of a near 1-1 player in this draft: LSU’s Friday night starter Paul Skenes. Skenes was an Air Force transfer who put up solid numbers in Colorado as a two-way player (not that he’s hitting for LSU’s powerful lineup) before moving into the SEC. And all he’s done since arriving is dominate. Here’s his pitching lines on a week to week basis so far:

  • Home vs Western Michigan: 6IP, 3 hits, 0 Runs 12/1 K/BB.
  • Neutral vs Kansas State: 6IP, 2 hits, 1 ER, 11/2 K/BB
  • Home vs Butler: 6IP, 1 hit, 0 ER, 13/0 K/BB
  • Home vs Samford: 6Ip, 2 hits, 1 ER, 12/1 K/BB
  • Away vs Texas A&M: 6.1 IP, 4 hits, 1 ER, 11/0 K/BB
  • Home vs Arkansas: 7ip, 2 hits, 1ER, 12/3 K/BB

Total? 6 starts, 37.1 innings, just 14 hits allowed to go with a gaudy

Maybe you could quibble about the quality of his first few starts, but TAMU was ranked 15th in the nation when they met two weeks ago, and Arkansas was ranked 3rd when they met in Baton Rouge. Plus Kansas State is a power-5 conference team and Samford is no slouch.

This guy is legit, and he’s legitimately shutting down some of the best teams in college baseball.

Scouting reports on him have not really caught up to what he’s doing so far in 2023. MLBpipeline says the following: “After working at 93-95 mph and touching 99 with his fastball last spring, Skenes operated at 95-99 mph during fall practice, and the flat approach angle and carry on his heater make it even more difficult to hit. His slider has improved at LSU, becoming an 85-88 mph beast with sharp break when it’s on, though it can get loose at times. His power changeup arrives at 88-91 mph with fade and shows signs of becoming a solid offering.

Skenes is hitting 100, 101 now. He’s sitting upper 90s with three pitches. Its a bit early, but he’s performed against two tough SEC teams.

I think he’s the Nats #1 draft target right now.

Written by Todd Boss

March 27th, 2023 at 9:47 am

Posted in Draft