Nationals Arm Race

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

Archive for August, 2021

Trade Deadline impact on Farm system depth

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Kiebert Ruiz is our new #1 prospect post trade deadline. Photo WP

The 2021 season may be lost, but the impact to the farm system will be seen (or is currently being seen) pretty quickly. And the first such indicator is the pundit’s farm system ranks. We’re already seeing solid movement northwards from our basement ranking since July 31st.

Just to be clear, every single major ranking bureau had the Nat’s farm system ranked 30th out of 30 last off season. Bleacher Report, Keith Law/The Athletic, Prospects 1500, Baseball America, Kiley McDaniel/ESPN, Baseball Prospectus, and MLBPipeline (if Eric Longenhagen/Fangraphs did an pre-season ranking, I can’t find it). No arguments; across the board suckitude.

However, the trade deadline brought us a great bounty of players. As did the 2021 draft. And so will the 2022 draft, which we’re currently projecting to pick 5th in. Here’s a list of our newly acquired players and their rough ranking in our system upon arrival (rough rankings based on combined input from MLBpipeline, Fangraphs and Baseball America’s updated prospect rankings):

  • Kiebert Ruiz: new #1 or #2 prospect
  • Josiah Grey: new #2-#3 prospect, with Cavalli being in the mix depending on the service
  • Brady House: new #4 prospect
  • Gerardo Carrillo: new #7-#10 prospect
  • Daylen Lile: new #10-12 prospect
  • Aldo Ramirez: new #12-#15 prospect
  • Riley Adams; new #14-15 prospect
  • Mason Thompson: new #16-20 prospect
  • Patrick Murphy: new #20ish prospect
  • Brandon Boissere: new #22-25th prospect
  • Donovan Casey: new mid-20s prospect
  • Drew Millas: new mid-20s prospect
  • Jordy Barly: new late 20s prospect
  • T.J. White: new late 20s prospect

And that leaves out non-rookie status Lane Thomas, who suddenly is outplaying Victor Robles for starts. It also leaves out two additional org-arms we got in High-A starters Seth Shuman and Richard Guasch.

Anyway, the point is, this is a LOT of infused talent, especially in the top 10.

And we’re seeing it in the org rankings. Two shops have done updated system rankings post Trade/draft and the Nats have made great progress:

Baseball America jumped us from #30 to #23, saying “The Skinny: Normally a team with four Top 100 Prospects would rank significantly higher than this, but the gulf between the top prospects in the Nats system and the rest is massive.”

MLBPipeline jumped us from #30 to #20, saying, “A notable jump for the Nats, though this should have been expected. Washington went into sell mode at this year’s Trade Deadline, and nine of the current Top 30 came over in July deals alone, headlined by Ruiz and Gray in a blockbuster with the Dodgers. House — an infielder with plus power potential — was a promising addition as well at No. 11 overall, and Cavalli has looked like a potential 2020 first-round steal as a pitcher who has stayed at or near the top of the Minor League leaderboard in strikeouts all summer. There is still work to be done to make this a system worthy of a rebuild — impact hitting is a particular area of need beyond Ruiz and House — but the arrow is pointing in the right direction.

So, progress.

Written by Todd Boss

August 26th, 2021 at 1:13 pm

Posted in Nats in General

Post Trade Deadline Nats Status: Playing the Kids and Losing on Purpose

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New Acquisition Josiah Grey has looked pretty solid so far. Photo Washington Post.

The Nats did what they had to do at the trade deadline, flipping away 8 veterans (mostly FAs at the end of the season) and netting a boat load of prospects. This is kind of a clearing house post to talk about what’s transpired since and what to expect.

First off, I read another Nats blog today that talked about how the nats “really have to overperform to get to 87 wins.” Seriously? is there anyone out there that thinks this team is actually TRYING the rest of the way out?

This team is now 3-7 in their last 10, 7-13 in their last 20, and 10-20 in their last 30 games. That’s exactly the kind of production I hope to see the rest of the way out. Any win between now and Oct 1st is a game that sends the team the wrong way in the W/L standings and thus the wrong way in the 2022 draft.

Right now, the team sits in 23rd place amongst all teams, meaning they’d pick 8th in next year’s draft if the season ended now. They should be able to move up and underperform the next two teams below them (Kansas City and Minnesota, both of whom are playing around .500 ball over the past month and are showing signs of life), and may even get underneath Miami (who they “lead” by 3 games)… but that might be the extent of how bad they can get between now and the end of the season. The bottom 4 teams in the league are really, really going for it, and the Nats would have to play 10 games worse than Pittsburgh (who has been tanking all year, not just since July 30th) here on out to get into the top 5 in the draft. Reading the tea leaves, i’d guess the Nats end up with either the 5th or 6th pick in next year’s draft.

Last time they drafted that high? 2011, when they picked 6th overall and had Anthony Rendon fall to them.

It should be operation lose at all costs/play the kids from here on out.

Speaking of playing the Kids, so far the SSS verdicts on our trade returns has been decent:

  • Josiah Grey: 2 starts, 10 innings, 12 Ks. More please.
  • Mason Thompson: 3 clean outings in the bullpen. More please.
  • Riley Adams; well, didn’t think he was going to be in the bigs, but that was a solid dinger.
  • AAA Lane Thomas: nice start
  • AAA Kielbert Ruiz: ugly start
  • AA Gerardo Carrillo: a little more work to do; first start was underwhelming.
  • AA Donovan Casey: great start.
  • High-A: Drew Millas: 4 for 10 with a SB, not bad start for a Catcher.
  • High-A: Seth Shuman: 4 runs on 4 hits, 7 Ks but 2 homers in his first start.
  • High-A: Richard Guasch: a little unlucky in his first start, gave up 3 homers.
  • Low-A: Jordy Barly SS; not a good start; 13 Ks in 23 ABs in low-A start. Yikes.
  • FCL: Aldo Ramirez: yet to appear.

And, in Operation Figure Out If they Have Anything in the majors … so far the return of two very important prospects to the Majors has been fruitful:

  • Carter Kieboom is posting a 113 OPS+ in his 16 games back. And only 3 errors! (sarcasm).
  • Luis Garcia, not so much … same 82 OPS+ he posted last year, thought he is showing some pop with 3 homers since the end of July.

Please keep giving guys like Paolo Espino starts; if he’s an effective starter for MLB min, then don’t try to replace him in the off-season. Thanks to his 2020 opt-out, the team maintains control of Joe Ross for one more year too, at an arb salary figure that won’t be much more than a few million. He isn’t great, but he isn’t awful either so far in 2020.

Lastly, bravo to Gabe Klobotis for making the majors. I mean, the guy was a 36th round draft pick. He was drafted in a round that likely won’t exist anymore after the next CBA caps the draft rounds at 25-30 or so, since teams basically blow off their last 8-10 picks and have for years. It is patently amazing that a 36th rounder even hung out for more than a half a season, let alone earned promotion out of A-Ball, let alone made it to the majors. The Nats can count on one hand the number of guys who they’ve matriculated to the majors from such low draft positions: Brad Peacock (who was a 41st rounder in a different era of Draft-and-follow), maybe Billy Burns (a 32nd rounder in 2011), that’s it.

Lastly, Here’s a fun fact: of the 26 players on the current active roster…

  • 14 were in our Minor Leagues to start the season
  • 2 were in someone elses’ minor leagues (Grey and Thompson)
  • Just 10 were bonafide planned members of the Nats MLB roster to start 2021.

Its a brave new world.

Written by Todd Boss

August 9th, 2021 at 1:02 pm

Posted in Nats in General