Nationals Arm Race

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Archive for January, 2023

BA Handbook Nats top 30 Reaction

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Hassell is a top prospect and a major part of our future outfield. Photo via nbcsports

One of the big 4 of prospect rankings (BA, MLBpipeline, Fangraphs, and Keith Law) published their rankings this week, by way of their annual Handbook. Thanks to Luke Erickson who posted a 2-part post listing the names (part1 and part2). He also had his own reactions and thoughts.

Here’s the list from 1-30 for reference.

Last NameFirst NamePositionAcquisitionBonusBA Handbook rank
WoodJamesOF (Corner)2021 2nd26000001
Hassell IIIRobertOF (CF)2020 1st43000002
GreenElijahOF (CF)2022 1st65000003
CavalliCadeRHP (Starter)2020 1st30270004
HouseBradySS/3B2021 1st50000005
VaqueroCristianOF (CF)2022 IFA49000006
SusanaJarlinRHP (Starter)2022 IFA17000007
De La RosaJeremyOF (Corner)2018 IFA3000008
RutledgeJacksonRHP (Starter)2019 1st34500009
WhiteT.J.OF (Corner)2021 5th40000010
BennettJakeLHP (Starter)2022 2nd173480011
CruzArmandoSS2021 IFA390000012
HenryColeRHP (Starter)2020 2nd200000013
ParkerMitchellLHP (Starter)2020 5th10000014
LaraAndryRHP (Starter)2019 IFA125000015
WardThadRHP (Starter)2018 5th27500016
QuintanaRoismarOF (CF)2019 IFA82000017
CroninMattLHP (Reliever)2019 4th46450018
PinedaIsraelC2016 IFA45000019
FerrerJoseLHP (Reliever)2017 IFA?20
BrzykcyZachRHP (Reliever)2020 NDFA2000021
IrvinJakeRHP (Starter)2018 4th55000022
LeeEvanLHP (Starter)2018 15th12500023
LipscombTrey3B2022 3rd75850024
MillasDrewC2019 7th17000025
CarrilloGerardoRHP (Reliever)2016 IFA7500026
LileDaylenOF (CF)2021 2nd175000027
CateTimLHP (Starter)2018 2nd98620028
RamirezAldoRHP (Starter)2018 IFA45000029
FrizzellWill1B2021 8th17980030

And here’s my reactions. Note: the BA top 10 was previously published on 12/1/22 and nothing in the top 10 has changed. So, comments on the top 10 will sound familiar.

  • the top 8 are basically the same as anyone else’s top 8 for the system.
  • Hassell over Green, otherwise consistent with the last few rankings.
  • Rutledge at #9. I won’t go into it again. Relevant stats: 4th pro season, 4.90 ERA and 1.39 WHIP as a 25yr old in Low-A. $3.45M draft bonus, 1st rounder in 2019, and now on the 40-man.
  • As Prospects1500 did, T.J. White bumped up all the way to #10.
  • Cole Henry down at #13. Fangraphs had him at #2 in July.
  • Mitchell Parker at #14, as compared to Prospects1500, which had him buried at #27, or MLBpipeline, which had him similarly buried in the off-season. I like the respect here.
  • Rule 5 pickup Thad Ward at #16 now in the system. An indictment for sure, as Erickson noted.
  • Matt Cronin at #18, when others have had him well below. Is a lefty reliever specialist a good prospect, or a fungible replacement level player?
  • Israel Pineda, at #19 in the system. After years of underperforming, he hit well at AA this year, moved to AAA briefly and was added to the 40-man. Is this the real deal?
  • Jake Irvin. #22 here, #35 at Prospects1500, and outside the top 30 at the last MLB ranking. I mean, I guess if you’re scouting the score line his AA line this year wasn’t great (4.79 ERA), but his WHIP was decent, his K/BB good, and after years away thanks to injury and Covid it was a promising season. Now he’s on the 40-man and he’s gonna get MLB starts this year. Is this a #22 prospect?
  • Evan Lee at #23, when he was outside the top 50 on prospect1500. I think this is a decent ranking for now until we see how his injury shakes out.
  • Trey Lipscomb at #24; well below the lofty #15 spot Prospcts1500 had him.
  • Tim Cate, still hanging in there at #28. Just can’t let him go can you?

outside the top 30:

  • Any of our 2023 IFA signings; i guess BA doesn’t start considering them until they start playing.
  • Jared McKenzie: mid 20s in other shops, outside our top 30. we’ll see how he does in 2023.
  • Brenner Cox: #11 on Prospects1500, outside BA’s top 30? This seems like a miss.
  • Samuel Infante: Our 2nd rounder just three years ago is nowhere to be found. Our sordid history of sh*tty 2nd round picks continues. Stop me when you hear a name you like: Bennett, Lile, Infante, Forfeited for Corbin, Cate, Crowe, Neuse, Stevenson & Perkins, Suarez who didn’t sign, Johansen, Renda, Forfeited for Werth signing, Solis, Koburnus, Hood, Smolinksi & Zimmermann. OK, that’s frigging going back to 2007 before we find a for-real impact 2nd rounder. That’s ridiculous!!!
  • Jake Alu: ok so we can rank Cate in the top 30, a guy who has basically ZERO chance of playing in the majors at this point, versus Alu, who we can almost guarantee is going to break camp with the MLB roster in 2023.
  • Hey, at least they didn’t rank Yasel Antuna.

Written by Todd Boss

January 27th, 2023 at 9:52 pm

Posted in Nats in General

Prospects1500 Nats top 50 drops – Analysis

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Wood #1 prospect per Prospects1500. Photo via MASN

Prospects1500.com is the most courageous prospect ranking shop out there, releasing top 50s every year when most other shop puts out lists with no more than 30 names.

We often talk about how prospects in the 20s are, for all intents and purposes, maxing out as lottery tickets or org guys, but Prospects1500 goes even further, ranking another 20 guys.

So, more to talk about.

First up, Here’s my master list of all Nats prospect rankings. This XLS has more than 200 pundit rankings of individual players in our system, dating back to 2004 believe it or not. Nearly 400 players have appeared on a prospect ranking list for our team in that period. This is one of the biggest resources i’ve managed to maintain and keep updated over the years, and it just keeps growing every time another prospect list is dropped. I find this xls fascinating if only for the discrepancies between shops in the way they rank players.

Back to Prospects1500: here’s their 2023 Top 50 list. Since this is not behind a paywall, I’ll post the full 50 here:

rankLast NameFirst NamePosition2022 Starting LevelDraft/IFA signing YearHow Acquired?Bonus if known
1WoodJamesOF (Corner)Low-A2021 2ndTrade2600000
2GreenElijahOF (CF)FCL2022 1stDraft6500000
3Hassell IIIRobertOF (CF)High-A2020 1stTrade4300000
4CavalliCadeRHP (Starter)AAA2020 1stDraft3027000
5HouseBradySS/3BLow-A2021 1stDraft5000000
6VaqueroCristianOF (CF)XST2022 IFAIFA4900000
7SusanaJarlinRHP (Starter)FCL2022 IFATrade1700000
8HenryColeRHP (Starter)AA2020 2ndDraft2000000
9De La RosaJeremyOF (Corner)Low-A2018 IFAIFA300000
10WhiteT.J.OF (Corner)Low-A2021 5thDraft400000
11CoxBrennerOF (CF)FCL2022 4thDraft1000000
12BennettJakeLHP (Starter)FCL2022 2ndDraft1734800
13LaraAndryRHP (Starter)Low-A2019 IFAIFA1250000
14BrzykcyZachRHP (Reliever)High-A2020 NDFANDFA20000
15LipscombTrey3BLow-A2022 3rdDraft758500
16CruzArmandoSSXST2021 IFAIFA3900000
17RutledgeJacksonRHP (Starter)Low-A2019 1stDraft3450000
18LileDaylenOF (CF)XST (TJ)2021 2ndDraft1750000
19AluJake3BAA2019 24thDraft10000
20QuintanaRoismarOF (CF)XST2019 IFAIFA820000
21McKenzieJaredOF (CF)Low-A2022 5thDraft410500
22FrizzellWill1BLow-A2021 8thDraft179800
23FerrerJoseLHP (Reliever)Low-A2017 IFAIFA?
24RamirezAldoRHP (Starter)XST (inj)2018 IFATrade450000
25CarrilloGerardoRHP (Reliever)AA2016 IFATrade75000
26WardThadRHP (Starter)OO – AA2018 5thRule-5275000
27ParkerMitchellLHP (Starter)High-A2020 5thDraft100000
28BoissiereBrandenOF (Corner)Low-A2021 3rdDraft600000
29TheophileRodneyRHP (Starter)Low-A2018 IFAIFA10000
30BakerDarren2BHigh-A2021 10thDraft146800
31InfanteSamuelSSLow-A2020 2ndDraft1000000
32PinedaIsraelCHigh-A2016 IFAIFA450000
33CroninMattLHP (Reliever)AA2019 4thDraft464500
34DownsJeter2BOO – AAA2017 1stWaivers1825000
35IrvinJakeRHP (Starter)High-A2018 4thDraft550000
36AntunaYaselSS/OF (Corner)High-A2016 IFAIFA3900000
37YoungJacobOF (CF)Low-A2021 7thDraft275000
38MillasDrewCXST (inj)2019 7thTrade170000
39ShumanSethRHP (Starter)High-A2019 6thTrade235000
40CabreraManuelSSearly2023 IFAIFA550000
41DenaburgMasonRHP (Starter)XST (TJ)2018 1stDraft3000000
42PolancoBryanRHP (Reliever)DSL2021 IFAIFA?
43EmilianiLeandro1BLow-A2017 IFAIFA?
44TroopAlexRHP (Reliever)AA2017 9thDraft185000
45MendozaDrew3BHigh-A2019 3rdDraft800000
46MarteDanielOF (CF)FCL2018 IFAIFA300000
47ArrudaJ.T.SSLow-A2019 11thDraft250000
48AcevedoAndyOFearly2023 IFAIFA1300000
49SolanoEdwinSSearly2023 IFAIFA1300000
50SotoElianOF/SSearly2023 IFAIFA425000

Here’s my reaction to the list, going down the rankings from #1 to #50.

  • This analysis includes more than just a ranking of 50 players; author Caleb Sanders also breaks the players down into tiers, includes some video, etc. He defines the Tiers as you’d expect; the top tier are expected to basically be All Stars (Wood and Green), the 2nd tier to be “solid MLB contributors” (Hassell, Cavalli, House, Vaquero), Tier 3s to have a reasonable expectation of making the Majors (every one ranked from 7 to 20).
  • So, with all due respect, it is way, way too early to be putting those kind of expectations specifically on Vaquero in particular. The Cuban showed very little in the DSL in 2022 based on the size of his signing bonus, his pedigree, his origins (Cuba), and the fact that he was 17 turning 18 at the end of the season in a league filled with younger players. I don’t have a problem ranking him where they do (6-7 range, right in line with everyone else), but claiming he’s got a high probability of making the majors right now seems to entirely be based on is signing bonus of $4.9M. Call me when Armando Cruz ($3.9M) or Yasel Antuna ($3.9M) pans out.
  • No quibbling with their top 6-7 players; same 6-7 that everyone else has.
  • Cole Henry at #8. This is aspirational; if he’s healthy he’s probably top 5. Right now its a coin flip if he pitches at the same level again, maybe worse odds than that. I’d have him in the teens.
  • Huge bump up for TJ White, who comes in at #10 when other major shops had him in the deep 20s in their 2022 lists. We’ll see if other pundits agree when the “big” lists from MLB, BA, Klaw, and Fangraphs come out pre-2023.
  • Brenner Cox at #11. I dunno. Something screams Jakson Reetz to me about Cox; a prep player who gets bought out of a D1 commitment and wasn’t really on anyone’s prep radar. I need to see some production before buying in.
  • Love for Covid NDFA Zach Brzycky (scrabble score for his last name? 30 points!) at #14. That’s great; BA’s mid-season 2023 list didn’t even have him in their top 30. I thought he was crazy for signing for the pittance that he did after the 5 round Covid draft and I hope the team takes care of him.
  • Jackson Rutledge comes in at #17, which at least is a reasonable ranking for him as compared to fools who keep putting him in their top 10. But hey, now he’s on the 40man so i’m sure we’ll see him in the majors soon, even if he has an 8 ERA in High-A in June.
  • Jake Alu, given the #19 spot. He hasn’t seen a prospect ranking since Fangraphs’ August ranking. Alu is an excellent example of the difficulties of ranking prospects. He hit well in AAA but features as a low-ceiling MLB utility player; how do you rank that as a prospect evaluation? Is Alu a better or worse prospect than some 17yr old DSL kid who is 6 years and 5 levels away from where Alu is right now but has a higher theoretically “ceiling?” Either way, bravo to Alu and I hope he fares well in 2023.
  • First time we’ve seen Will Frizzell on any prospect list after his 2021 drafting. I mean, lets be honest, this dude is big (6’5″ 225) and destroyed Low-A pitching this year (.377/.426/.696). I suppose you’d expect that out of an SEC middle-of-the-order bat. He needs to get to higher levels and see if he can blast his way up. He’s positionally limited (1B/DH)
  • Aldo Ramirez getting dinged down a bit, as he should be given his injuries. He sits #24 here.
  • Gerardo Carrillo all the way down at #25. I’m liking this pundit; he’s not afraid to ding down players who don’t perform. What has Carrillo done at this point to have anyone think he has a shot of making the majors?
  • Newly acquired waiver claim Thad Ward comes in at #26. Sure. whatever.
  • #27 Mitchell Parker should be higher. All he’s done at every level is perform. Right now, who would you rather have on the mound in a must-win game, Parker at #27 or Rutledge at #17? How about Parker or Bennett at #12?
  • First time ranking ever for Rodney Theophile, coming in way down at #29 but giving some props for the $10k IFA signing who cleaned up in Low-A this year.
  • Another waiver claim in Jeter Downs sits at #34. sure, whatever.
  • It’s not going to be worthwhile to quibble too much about anyone ranked below #30. I will point out players who I think are too low, and then players who are missing at this point
  • Jake Irvin is higher than #35. I don’t get this ranking. I mean, the dude posted respectable numbers in AA and was put on the 40-man. Who’d you rather have, Irvin (#35) or Andry Lara at #13?
  • Yasel Antuna, ranked at #36. Where he should be. This is your reminder that the idiots at Baseball America ranked him #7 a month ago.
  • Four of our new IFA signings from a week ago are here: Manuel Cabrera, Andy Acevedo, Edwin Solano, and based on his last name apparently, Elian Soto. I find it somewhat interesting that Cabrera was the best ranked prospect of these players, but got a bonus that was a third of what Acevedo and Solano got.

Believe it or not, after 50 players, there’s some players who are missing from this list who I probably would have found room for.

  • Would you have put Evan Lee in here somewhere? I mean, he was in the majors last year. Now he’s not even worth ranking above a bunch of 16yr olds we just signed? He’s hurt, not dead.
  • Jackson Cluff hangs around as a defensive specialist; worth mentioning? There’s other plus-defenders out there who could turn things around with the bat: Jordy Barly, Donovan Casey, etc.
  • I guess we’ve completely given up on Tim Cate at this point. Drew Mendoza is still worth ranking but not Cate.
  • Tres Barrera: nowhere in the top 50.

All in all, a solid list.

Written by Todd Boss

January 21st, 2023 at 6:46 pm

Posted in Prospects

Are we sure this is the right Direction for 2023?

15 comments

Corey Dickerson, new Nats signing, from 2019, the last time he was good. Photo via wikipedia

Upon hearing the latest “1 year veteran FA lottery ticket” signing (Corey Dickerson), I paused to update the Big Board and slot in Dickerson into the starting lineup.

If the season opened today, here’s what we’re presumably putting out on the field:

CARuiz, Keibert#
1BSmith, Dominic*
2BGarcia, Luis*
SSAbrams, C.J.
3BCandelario, Jeimer#
CFDickerson, Corey*
CFRobles, Victor
RFThomas, Lane
DHMeneses, Joey

This lineup includes now three off-season signings in Dominic Smith, Jeimer Candelario, and now Dickerson. All of them are getting non-trivial money to come here, and all of them are going to start.

Here’s the thing. The team lost 107 games last year. We (arguably) had internal players to cover the three positions these guys are now projected to play.

Why exactly did we sign them, instead of playing our prospects??

So, instead of allowing Joey Meneses , who lest we forget hit 13 homers in 65 games last year en route to a 165 OPS+ figure, to play 1B primarily, we’ve bought Smith and guaranteed him the spot (2022 slash line for Smith: .194/.276/.284.

Instead of seeing if Carter Kieboom can actually hold onto the job at 3B, or (gasp) maybe give a shot to (arguably) the best minor league hitter we had last year in Jake Alu, we now get to watch some random guy named Candelario (2022 slash line: .217 .272 .361).

Instead of rolling the dice in LF with a guy like Alex Call (or even positionally-flexible Meneses or Alu) or newly signed Stone Garrett, or maybe even to continue to give ABs to Yadiel Hernandez (who had a 108 OPS+ last year at the position) … we get Dickerson, who is now on his 7th team at the age of 34, has zero history here, and is literally the definition of journeyman.

Is this what we really want as a fan-base? To have these positions filled by guys we couldn’t pick out of a lineup, instead of seeing if we have internal options that can grow into the positions?

What’s the goal in 2023? To only lose 106 games? Do we really care if we go 55-107 again? All our top prospects are babies, aged 19-20 and playing in the lower minors. It’s going to take several years for these guys to matriculate. We KNOW 2023 is a lost season already. The ownership is in flux, the damn MASN thing still remains unresolved, and we have $65M tied up in two starters who may never pitch again.

I mean, what’s next? Do we re-sign Nelson Cruz to paper over Meneses yet again and relegate him to the bench? What’s more valuable to the team: 4 months of a 1yr FA on the off-chance he has a decent summer and can be flipped for some low-A reliever at the trade deadline, or to see if guys like Kieboom, Alu, Garrett, heck maybe even Jeter Downs can compete?

Written by Todd Boss

January 11th, 2023 at 8:11 am