Nationals Arm Race

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Archive for June, 2023

Baseball America Nats top 30 mid-season check in


House working his way back up the rankings. Photo via

Now that we’re past CWS, but not yet to the draft, lets clear out some psots.

If a major prospect scouting shop publishes a top 30 list, you know i’m all over it. On June 15th, BA did so for our team. Here’s an analysis of the list, looking at players who rose/fell against BA’s list in January, as well as how BA’s rankings for a player may be out of whack with the general consensus by all the major shops.

Here’s the Mid-Season BA top 30 list in order:

BA Rank 6/15/23Last NameFirst NamePosition
1WoodJamesOF (Corner)
2Hassell IIIRobertOF (CF)
4GreenElijahOF (CF)
5CavalliCadeRHP (Starter)
6RutledgeJacksonRHP (Starter)
7VaqueroCristianOF (CF)
8BennettJakeLHP (Starter)
9SusanaJarlinRHP (Starter)
10De La RosaJeremyOF (Corner)
11LileDaylenOF (CF)
12WhiteT.J.OF (Corner)
13HenryColeRHP (Starter)
15LaraAndryRHP (Starter)
16IrvinJakeRHP (Starter)
18FerrerJoseLHP (Reliever)
20BrzykcyZachRHP (Reliever)
22QuintanaRoismarOF (CF)
24ParkerMitchellLHP (Starter)
25CroninMattLHP (Reliever)
26SaenzDustinLHP (Starter)
27YoungJacobOF (CF)

Now, here’s some observations.

  • Same top 2 for BA as in January, and confirming that Wood may be the best player we got in the whole post-World Series dumping. He’s settled a bit since his AA promotion, but still has an OPS north of .800 in AA at age 20.
  • They’ve elevated House a couple spots, and they have him higher than anyone else had him this spring at #3. Why? Because he forced his way into High-A a couple of weeks ago and looks recovered from back and wrist issues. 2023 OPS so far: .829. not bad.
  • Big Riser: Rutledge; #9 in January, #6 now and in stark contrast to other shops, one of which has him all the way down at #17. And who can blame them? So far in 2023; 11 starts, 3.18 ERA, 1.11 whip in AA. Last year in Low-A: 20 starts, 4.90 ERA, 1.39 whip. I mean, who would have predicted that you’d take a guy who couldn’t get guys out in Low-A, bump him up two levels, and suddenly he’s a top prospect again?
  • Jake Bennett bumped up 3 spots from #11 to #8. It was probably dumb to start the guy in low-A as a 2nd round pick from a major conference with CWS experience … and rightfully so, he dominated it in April and early May. Lets hope he pushes for another promotion and ends the season in AA.
  • Daylen Lile: what is going on here? BA had him at #27 in January, basically a non-prospect, now he’s #11 in the system. A true CF with some power and a ton of speed (18 SBs in 19 attempts) and he’s hitting in low-A; he needs a promotion. But where will he go? High-A has 40-man player De La Rosa in CF, AA has Hassell, AAA has Alex Call. In this humble opinion, the Nats could (finally) cut bait on Antuna, who is hitting f*cking .151 in High-A after getting outrighted off the 40-man and it confounds me why he still plays, so as to make some room for Lile or Green, both of whom may need to be promoted soon.
  • Cole Henry treads water at #13, a bit lower than other shops. Its a “show me” season for Henry, to see if he’s recovered from a major shoulder issue. My hops are not high.
  • BA has bumped up Jake Irvin, rightfully so. He may be posting a 5.25 ERA in the majors, but at least he’s in the Majors … which, remember, is the entire point of prospects. Should Irvin be ranked higher than guys like Susana (#9) or Lara (#15), who can’t get guys out in the bus league? Yes he should.
  • Trey Lipscomb gets a bump up a few spots. He’s quietly made his way to AA a year after being drafted … think about this? Lipscomb was a 3rd rounder last year and is in AA, but Bennett was a 2nd rounder and is in High-A. Why? Lipscomb may be in AA due to positional scarcity; he’s not earning it at the plate with a sub-700 OPS figure right now, and he may very well trade spots with House in a few weeks when Brady needs to get moved up and play 3B.
  • #21 Jake Alu gets back onto the rankings after being dropped out of the top 30. #21 seems about right for a 4-A corner infielder/outfielder type.
  • Quintana dumped 5 spots, and rightfully so. He’s struggling in Low-A, and they’ve moved him to be a 1B/DH type. Not good; he’s gonna have to really hit to move forward as a 1B only guy.
  • Mitchell Parker has taken a nose-dive, from #14 in Jan to #24 today. Rightfully so; he’s finally getting hit after succeeding in Low and High-A in the last couple of years. I think this was an inevitability; scouts never favored the guy, who seemed to be getting outs mostly due to deception and a funky delivery. in AA, he’s been exposed so far. One of 2 things happens from here: he either “figures out the level” in early 2024 and keeps on moving, or he’s relegated to be “funky lefty out of the pen” guy, a role that might get him to the majors faster.
  • Matt Cronin also dumped a ton of spots, from #18 in January to #25, and rightly so; he’s getting shelled in AAA as a 25-yr old lefty bullpen arm. Word of caution; if they’re a reliever in college … they better be a really, really good reliever to count on them going forward.
  • Dustin Saenz pops onto the list at #26 after not being ranked by practically anyone for a while, on the strength of his dominating low-A and getting moved to Wilmington. Unfortunately, he was already too old for low-A, made one start in high-A and got shelled. We’ll see where he goes from here.
  • Jacob Young also resurrecting his prospect career, popping in at #27. the 2021 7th rounder without a ton of prospect cred hit .300 in high-A and got moved up to AA, where he’s sharing an OF with two of our best prospects in Hassell and Wood. He’s only 23, and he’s got some speed even if he’s undersized. Should be interesting to see where he goes.
  • Another guy without much prospect love pops in at #28: Darren Baker. I mean, the guy is now in AAA, starting at 24, hitting .300. I’m not sure why he’s not a higher-ranked prospect honestly. Maybe b/c he’s got a limited ceiling as a utility 2B guy in the majors.
  • The last two guys ranked were the top 2 prospects from the 2023 IFA class, Andy Acevedo and Edwin Solano. I call these types of prospects, “Call me in 3 years if/when they show up in Florida.”

Jan 2023 top 30 players now off the list:

  • #16 Thad Ward: probably has exhausted his rookie status at this point.
  • #23 Evan Lee: what happened to this guy? Went from AFL darling to 40-man to a lefty reliever who can’t get guys out in AA at age 26.
  • #26 Gerardo Carrillo; Maybe we over-rated this guy all along. Ok, maybe *I* overrated this guy all along. Initially he presented as a more important player in the big Scherzer/Turner trade; we got back Grey, Ruiz, Carrillo, and Casey. Clearly Ruiz and Grey were the prizes, Casey a utility throw in (who’s now 27 in AA hitting .201), and we have Carrillo, who has never really shown he can get guys out above A Ball and is on the season-ending DL list right now.
  • #28 Tim Cate: BA was one of the last hold-outs on the Tim Cate prospect bandwagon in January, now even they can’t find room.
  • #29 Aldo Ramirez: 8 good starts for Low-A in 2021, and he hasn’t pitched since. Missed all of 2022, still on the 60-day dl halfway through 2023. Will he ever come back?
  • #30 Will Frizzell, the Mr. Irrelevant of the Jan 2023 list. The team over-promoted him in the off season, quickly exposed him in AA as he hit .155, now he’s back in High-A where he should have been, hitting a healthy .889 OPS figure. Problem is … he’s been a full time DH this entire year, not even taking the field at 1B. Unless he’s posting a thousand OPS figure, its hard to be a prospect like that.

Other Notable names not ranked:

  • Brenner Cox: not every prospect shop likes him, and he couldn’t even come close to cutting it in Low-A this year. Might be a wasted prep 4th rounder.
  • Jared MacKenzie: he hit .400 in low-A last year, true CF. He’s not bad. Would you put him above a 1B only guy who’s the same age but in a lower league? Probably.
  • Seth Shuman: Looked great in High-A until a sudden season ending injury (which screams TJ); no wonder he’s not on the fringes of the top 30.
  • Samuel Infante, Brandon Boissiere, Jackson Cluff: what happened to these guys?
  • Yasel Antuna: just kidding.

Written by Todd Boss

June 28th, 2023 at 2:49 pm

Posted in Prospects

2023 CWS Finals: LSU Wins!


Requisite dogpile post-win image via usatoday

The Final of the 2023 CWS couldn’t have featured two better teams for the marquee matchup of the year. Florida entered the tournament as the #2 overall seed and was 4th in RPI, having been a mainstay in the top-25 rankings for most of the year. LSU was the #1 ranked team for a good part of the season before slipping to #7 as the tourney started, was 5th in RPI, was the 5th seed in the event, and features the likely first 2 picks in the draft.

Here’s how the finals between Florida and LSU played out. I thought that Florida had the huge advantage by virtue of setting up their rotation, and based on the fact that LSU burned its ace Paul Skenes to get into the event.

  • Game 1 LSU’s #2 starter Ty Floyd pitched the game of his life, going 8 innings with 17 Ks to keep his team in a close game. LSU chased Florida’s ace Brandon Sproat early but Florida’s bullpen held strong. LSU’s big hitters came up strong all game: Crews scored the lead off run, their cleanup hitter Dugas hit a solo homer in the 3rd, and the previous game’s hero White tied the game in the 8th with a solo shot. Like the LSU-Wake Forest CWS semi final, this went to the 11th inning, where another big bopper from LSU (their DH Beloso) blasted a homer to right for the game winning run.
  • Game 2: Florida exposed LSU’s lack of pitching depth badly, setting a CWS scoring record and making it embarrassing in the later innings, winning 24-4. Florida’s 1st round stud Wyatt Langford went 5-5, a triple shy of a cycle (he hit a double in the 8th that he just couldn’t leg out a triple on). Amazing hitting performance.
  • Game 3: We were setup for a cringe-worthy appearance from Skenes, who sits on 3 days rest from his epic 120 pitch performance, and the LSU coach probably is saying to himself, “If i don’t get some zero run innings out of my ace, we’re not winning this thing.” However, LSU’s big bats just exploded, with Dylan Crews going 4-6 with a walk, Tommy White going 4-7, and LSU ran away with it in the same way Florida ran away with game two. Sunday starter Tommy Hurd (who entered the game with an era in the 6s) had one of his best career performances, holding Florida to 2 hits in 6IP, and by the time Skenes started throwing a heavy ball in the bullpen LSU was up by a touchdown and their coach (thankfully) kept him out of the game. LSU wins a laugher 18-4 behinds 24 hits and takes home the crown for the first time since 2009.

Your 2023 College World Series Champion: LSU

Here’s some links to past years of CWS coverage here. I’ve been doing this for 10 years now! Each link below is the blog post covering that CWS final

Written by Todd Boss

June 27th, 2023 at 9:05 am

Posted in College/CWS

2023 CWS Group Play Recap and Finals preview


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prediction: Florida in three.

Top Draft Players to watch in the final:

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

Written by Todd Boss

June 22nd, 2023 at 10:32 pm

Posted in Nats in General

Fangraphs Nats Top 31 prospect list


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

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

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

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

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

So, commentary from the top:

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

Notable Omissions:

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

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

Written by Todd Boss

June 19th, 2023 at 1:22 pm

Posted in Nats in General

2023 CWS Super Regionals recap and CWS Preview


We’re through the super regionals, and have a CWS field that is, frankly, stacked. It’s going to be a great CWS.

First, lets recap the Supers.

  • #1 Wake Forest v #16 Alabama: Wake Forest squeaked out a 5-4 opener, then blasted Alabama 22-5 to move to Omaha. In 5 post-season games, Wake has outscored its opponents 75-16. Wow.
  • #8 Stanford v Texas: Stanford lost the first but turned things around to squeak past Texas. In game 2, starter Quinn Matthews was allowed to finish a CG on 156 pitches despite an 8-3 lead in one of the more egregious abuses of a starter we’ve seen in the college game in some time.
  • #5 LSU v #12 Kentucky: LSU blasted Kentucky in game 1 as Paul Skenes wasn’t over-worked (as we can’t say the same for Matthews), getting yanked at 101 pitches in their 14-0 win. They finished off Ky 8-3 on Sunday.
  • Tennessee v Southern Miss: Tennessee came from a game down to advance past Southern Miss.
  • TCU v #14 Indiana State (TCU = host instead of the seed due to Indiana State hosting the Special Olympics): this cost Indiana State, as TCU took two straight to advance.
  • Oregon v Oral Roberts (Oregon = host); Oral Roberts blew a 5 run lead in game one, and STILL managed to advance, becoming just the 3rd fourth-seed from a regional to make it to Omaha since the expansion to 64 teams. (Stony Brook and Fresno State).
  • #7 UVA v Duke; Duke took out UVA in game one and looked good, but UVA took the next two to advance.
  • #2 Florida v #15 South Carolina: Florida took two close ones from South Carolina to advance.

Super Regional predictions vs Actual: I only got 4 of 8 in my previous predictions.

CWS Field (with original national seeds driving the teams):

  • Group 1 (1,4,5,8): Wake Forest, Tennessee, LSU, Stanford
  • Group 2 (2,3,6,7): Florida, TCU, Oral Roberts, UVA.

Prospect Watch. From Nats perspective all eyes are still on LSU, but now Florida is here too, meaning 3 of the likely top 5 picks are in Omaha for a star studded CWS from a prospect/scouting perspective. Here’s Keith Law’s take on the 15 major draft prospects in Omaha.

  • LSU: Dylan Crews and Paul Skenes, projected to go 1st and 2nd overall
  • Florida: Wyatt Langford, projected top 5 pick, along with another arm in Hurston Waldrep as a 1st round projection. A bit further down: Brandon Sproat, Josh Rivera.
  • Tennessee: Chase Dollander, who was in the 1-1 mix but who has struggled, continues to build up draft sock. A bit further down: Maui Atuna.
  • Wake Forest: Their RHP Rhett Lowder is a possible top 10. 3B Brock Wilken end of 1st round. A bit further down: Sean Sullivan LHP.
  • Virginia: their Catcher Kyle Teel and 3B Jake Gelof both top 50 prospects.
  • Stanford: SS Tommy Troy is a mid-1st rounder
  • TCU 3B Brayden Taylor an end of 1st rounder

So, lots of draft talent on display in Omaha.

My Predictions?

Group 1: Wake Forest over LSU in the group final, with Tennessee getting a win and Stanford going 2 and out.

Wake leads the nation in pitching … by a full POINT in team ERA. That’s amazing. And they’re no slouches at the plate either, as we’ve seen as they’ve averaged 15 runs a game in the post-season (they’re 5th in team OPS). So that’s a very balanced team. LSU likely throws Skenes in game one against Tennessee, but Tennessee’s been using Dollander as their 2nd starter, so they’ll throw him in an elimination game against Stanford to get an LSU rematch with both teams on their 3rd starter. But LSU’s pitching depth only goes so far, and Wake basically has 3 friday night starters to blow through the draw. Unless Skenes can get another start LSU will struggle to get past Wake and falls in the national semis.

Group 2: Virginia over Florida, with TCU and Oral Roberts finishing 3rd and 4th in some order. UVA leads the nation in team BA, is third in ERA, and will find a way to win. The problem is that UVA plays Florida in the opener and has proven to be a slow starter. But they’re deep and can withstand an early loss.

final: Wake over UVA in an all-ACC CWS final despite half the regional hosts being SEC.

Written by Todd Boss

June 15th, 2023 at 2:24 pm

Posted in College/CWS

2023 Early Mock Drafts


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by Todd Boss

June 8th, 2023 at 2:16 pm

Posted in Nats in General

2023 CWS Regionals Recap


Its College Baseball post-season time, something we’ve followed in this space for years. Here’s a quick guide to the CWS 2023 post season.

First off, some resources for you.

Your top 8 seeds and favorites to make Omaha before play started, in order, along with their RPI and their Strength of Schedule (SoS) denoted:

  1. Wake Forest (RPI=1, SoS=33)
  2. Florida (4,17)
  3. Arkansas (3,4)
  4. Clemson (6,6)
  5. LSU (5,13)
  6. Vanderbilt (7,5)
  7. Virginia (10,57)
  8. Stanford (15,37)

Six of the top eight national seeds are also top 8 of RPI, with UVA getting dinged b/c they typically play such a poor mid-week schedule, and Stanford gets dinged despite crushing the Pac-12 because of a down year in that conference. The two missing top=8 RPI seeds?

  • Kentucky at #2 RPI based on their #1 strength of schedule. They’re the #12 overall seed, hosting a regional but set to go to LSU in the super regional, a dagger of a matchup for two good teams.
  • South Carolina at #8 RPI based on their #3 strength of schedule. They’re the #15 overall seed, meaning they project into #2 Florida for another potentially brutal all SEC super regional.

Local DC/MD/VA local teams in the tourney:

  • Virginia: a top 8 national seed, slightly over seeded. They get a somewhat easier regional with Oklahoma as their #2, and project to host Coastal Carolina in a super regional; they have a pretty clear path to Omaha.
  • George Mason makes the tourney for the first time in years, and for their troubles are a #4 seed heading to Wake Forest. Brutal draw.
  • Maryland also heading to Wake’s draw as that regional’s #2 seed; why these two teams aren’t in Charlottesville is kind of beyond me.
  • West Virginia is heading to Kentucky’s regional as that #2 seed; hard to see them getting out.

Other local teams who we thought had a chance: Virginia Tech’s rpi is 48, but they had a 12-17 ACC record. William & Mary was the next highest ranked DMV team; they were just .500 in CAA play. Liberty took a big step back this year, as did JMU when they matriculated a 1st round pick. Kind of a down year for local schools.

Quick Regional Recaps of the 16 regional action, ordered by National Seed super Regional matchup

  • #1 Wake Forest silenced any doubters, winning this regional by a combined score of 48-7, topping the surprising mid-major George Mason in the regional final.
  • #16 Alabama made it look easy, cruising to 3 straight wins to take its regional.
  • #8 Stanford saved some fact by forcing a Monday decider against TAMU, and then completed the come back to advance.
  • #9 Miami was outclassed at home by Texas twice to lose the regional in a battle between two of college baseball’s most historic programs.
  • #5 LSU held serve and moved on in a regional that basically went chalk. LSU threw Skenes in the opener for some reason and he pitched a complete game versus Tulane (who entered the tourney 19-41). 9ip, 2ER 12Ks 0 walks. not sure why they didn’t hold him for Oregon State but it doesn’t matter since they advanced and he’ll go game 1 of the super regional.
  • #12 Kentucky lost in the winner’s bracket final but came out of the loser’s bracket to force the Monday decider. In that game, they edged Indiana to advance.
  • #4 Clemson lost a stunner of a 14 inning marathon to last year’s #1 team Tennessee and it seemed to deflate them; they didn’t even get back to the regional final as Tennessee tops Charlotte to advance and knock out the ACC power.
  • #13 Auburn got beat two straight as a host and Ivy League Penn was in the driver’s seat until Southern Miss beat them twice on Sunday to advance.
  • #3 Arkansas got embarrassed by TCU, who beat them 20-5 and 12-4 to take the regional and knock out the national seed.
  • #14 Indiana State outclassed a regional with big-conference names to move on as a mid-major.
  • #6 Vanderbilt shockingly lost to Xavier in the loser’s bracket to exit before even the regional final, clearing the way for Oregon to advance.
  • #11 Oklahoma State was absolutely shocked at home, going 2-and-out. The pundits predicted that Oral Roberts (the 4th seed here) was no slouch and indeed they took out Dallas Baptist to take the regional with relative ease.
  • #7 UVA won a regional that went perfectly chalk, as Army got outscored 25-2 and UVA beat ECU twice to move on.
  • #10 Coastal Carolina took a huge upset loss on the first day but took out Duke in the regional final to force the Monday winner-take-all. In that game, Duke turned on the offense and cruised 12-3 into the super regionals.
  • #2 Florida bounced back from total embarrassment as the #2 overall seed and beat Texas Tech twice to move on.
  • #15 South Carolina battered their way to the regional title, scoring 41 runs in 3 games.

Thus, your Super Regionals are ...

  • #1 Wake Forest v #16 Alabama
  • #8 Stanford v Texas
  • #5 LSU v #12 Kentucky
  • Tennessee v Southern Miss (Shockingly Southern Miss is the host, not the more famous Tennessee)
  • TCU v #14 Indiana State (TCU = host for some surprising reason)
  • Oregon v Oral Roberts (Oregon = host)
  • #7 UVA v Duke
  • #2 Florida v #15 South Carolina

Talk about carnage of top seeds. #3 Arkansas, #4 Clemson, #6 Vanderbilt all out, and without putting up much of a fight along the way. Just nine of the sixteen hosts advanced. There’s two super regionals that feature both regional hosts eliminated (how do they determine who hosts?) Both of the under-seeded teams by RPI ended up advancing, with South Carolina making a statement.

Super Regional predictions:

  • #1 Wake over Alabama
  • Texas upsets #8 Stanford
  • #5 LSU squeaks by #12 Kentucky (they won 2 of 3 in SEC regular season)
  • Tennessee takes out Southern Miss.
  • TCU continues its upset run over #14 Indiana State
  • Oregon over the Cinderella Oral Roberts
  • Duke upsets #7 UVA (they won 2 of 3 in Charlottesville in the ACC regular season)
  • #15 South Carolina over #2 Florida (they swept Florida in SEC regular season play)

Prospect Watch. From Nats perspective all eyes are on LSU’s super regional, since the top two projected picks both play there. We’ll revisit prospect watch based on the super regionals and who’s still playing. But your top prospects still playing:

  • LSU: Dylan Crews and Paul Skenes, projected to go 1st and 2nd overall
  • Florida: Wyatt Langford, projected top 5 pick, along with another arm in Hurston Waldrep as a 1st round projection.
  • Tennessee: Chase Dollander, who was in the 1-1 mix but who has struggled, continues to build up draft sock.
  • Wake Forest: Their RHP Rhett Lowder is a possible top 10. 3B Brock Wilken end of 1st round.
  • Virginia: their Catcher Kyle Teel and 3B Jake Gelof both top 50 prospects.
  • Miami: 3B Yohandy Morales is a mid-1st rounder
  • Stanford: SS Tommy Troy is a mid-1st rounder
  • TCU 3B Brayden Taylor an end of 1st rounder
  • Texas RHP Tanner Witt a comp-1st round projection

So, lots of draft talent on display this weekend.

Written by Todd Boss

June 6th, 2023 at 8:55 am

End of May Check-in On Rotations


We did an end of April check-in on the rotations; how about and end-of May one too?

Important links for this analysis:

We’ll start with the Majors.

Rotation: Corbin, Grey, Gore, Williams, Irvin

Changes since opening day: Irvin for Kuhl, who went out with a slight injury and then has been kept down while Irvin came up and, at least initially, looked solid.

Observations: Irvin’s first two starts were fantastic. Even his third was promising, with his numbers inflated by a couple of infield singles and a crummy reliever who let in 3 of Irvin’s inherited runners. Since then though, it has not been good, and Irvin’s ERA now hovers in the mid 5.00 range. He’s giving up way too many base runners (1.68 whip) and I think he needs to head back down to work on his command. Meanwhile, Grey & Gore continue to look solid, if a bit wild, and look like solid rotation pieces for the next 5-6 years. Trevor Williams continues to get by on smoke and mirrors (there’s more than a point difference between his ERA and FIP), and Corbin is who he is at this point, eating up innings for his salary until he runs out his contract at the end of next year.

Next guy to get cut/demoted: Irvin. I think the Irvin experiment has trailed off and Kuhl will regain his spot in the rotation for a little while longer. Neither is really deserving, Do you want Irvin to continue to develop in the majors so that you can give innings to a one-year guy like Kuhl?

AAA Rochester:

Rotation: Urena, Adon, Abbott, Peralta, Espino

Changes since Last Month: Just veteran MLFA Urena replacing the promoted Irvin in the rotation.

Observations; The seasonal ERAs of these five starters is, in order: 5.18, 9.35, 4.50, 6.25, and 6.11. That’s awful. It isn’t much better controlling for the last month; none of them have an ERA under 5.00. What’s interesting is that we know (based on last year’s MLB stats) that both Espino and Abbott work far better as relievers versus starters, yet they both continue to stay in the rotation. Urena is 31 and has been awful, Peralta 34 and nearly as bad. I’m not sure what to do with Adon; he’s regressed since his AAA season last year, is falling in the depth chart, and soon may be nearing the “next guy to get cut from the 40-man to make room” territory

Meanwhile, Tommy Romero is kind of like the “6th starter,” a swingman who gets spot starts, and his numbers look great. I’m not sure why we cling to spots for washed up AAA starters in their 30s when we could feature guys who might actually be prospects. I think the team should release Urena and Peralta, put Irvin back here, and put Romero in the rotation in the short term.

Of course, the likely answer to “why is Urena still here” is named Cole Henry, who is doing a re-hab tour of the minors and should return to the AAA rotation soon, likely spelling Urena’s release. Jackson Tetreault is also lurking in rehab, but he’s getting shelled in a-ball right now and doesn’t have anything to prove below AAA, so we could see some shuffling. I’d like to see

Next guy to get promoted: nobody deserving

Next guy to get demoted or released: Urena/Peralta for Henry/Tetreault, then if we need a AA promotion put Abbott or Espino back in the pen.

AA Harrisburg:

Rotation: Cuevas, Alamedo Hernandez, Rutledge, Parker, Troop

Changes since April: Hernandez in for Herrera, who seems to have had a season-ending injury in early May.

Observations: The AA rotation is starting to come together. Three of these guys have sub 3.00 ERAs for the month of May (Rutledge with a 1.90 ERA, Cuevas with 2.84, and Hernandez with a 2.70). I’m especially interested to see what Cuevas (age 21) does the rest of the way; a 21yr old in AA is impressive enough, for him to be effective is amazing. Hernandez is a 23MLFA that the team signed out of the Mexican leagues, he’s just 23, and he’s shown to be pretty effective as well; the Mexican league is considered a “AAA-quality” league and I wonder if he’ll be effective if he gets moved up. Amazingly to this observer, the former 1st round pick Rutledge, who I was almost convinced was a complete bust, is the bets of them; 1.90 ERA in May, 0.97 Whip, 20/4 K/BB in 23 innings. Dare I say it … he’s starting to look like a 1st rounder! I mean, should we start putting his name into future MLB rotation consideration along side Cavalli and Henry and Skenes when we draft him? 🙂

The season has also shown that guys who were formerly being used as longer relievers or starters are now clearly one-inning relievers. Evan Lee, Lucas Knowles, and Tim Cate all included.

Next guy to get promoted: Rutledge. Heck, he’s on the 40-man, if he dominates AA another month move him up to AAA and bump one of the retreads there.

Next guy to get demoted or released: Parker. After cruising through the A ball leagues, he’s apparently met his match in AA. Good thing for him is that he’s a lefty with punch-out capabilities, so he’s got bullpen options.

High-A Wilmington

Rotation: Luckham, Saenz, Huff, Alvarez, Lara, with Theophile getting spot starts

Changes since April: None really, just the addition of Luckham

Observations: Wilmington’s rotation has been harder to track this month thanks to two guys doing rehab starts there, plus some rainouts/double headers making for a bunch of spot starts. Huff and Lara continue to struggle; Lara at age 20 in high-A continues to confuse me; he had a 5.53 era in low-A last year and now has an even higher ERA in High-A this year. Is this good for his development? Why not keep him in low-A, a more age-appropriate league, until he proves he can solve it? Luckham was last month’s darling; he’s come back to earth. Really, the best performer has been Saenz, who gave up just 3 earned runs in the month of June and is repeating the level. Another month like this and he’ll be moving up. Theophile seems like he’s somewhere in rotational limbo, but has a big enough arm to possibly feature more as a reliever.

Next guy to get promoted: Saenz

Next guy to get demoted or released: Lara

Low-A Fredericksburg

Rotation: Bennett, Susana, Atencio, Cornelio, Denaburg

Rotation: Bennett, Cornelio, Sanchez, Caceres, Susana

Changes since April: Denaburg mercifully moved to the bullpen and replaced by Sanchez. Aldonis briefly in the rotation but got hurt. Atencio moved to the bullpen for Caceres.

Observations: Jake Bennett making fast work of Low-A: he had a 33/3 K/BB ratio in 5 starts in May and now sports a 1.93 ERA in 9 starts. Could we finally have a successful 2nd round pick? I think he needs to get out of Low-A, given his draft round and collegiate pedigree. Our other major prospect in Low-A is Susana, who had 4 starts but went just 14 total innings in the month. His numbers are decent, but he has to go deeper in games. 2022 draftee Cornelio is just way too wild (12 walks in 15 May innings). Caceres is an older IFA (he’s 23 just getting to Low-A). Sanchez halved his seasonal ERA in May, so that’s good.

Next guy to get promoted: Bennett

Next guy to get demoted or released: I don’t know; they’ve already demoted Denaburg and Atencio, we need another month to see which of the other guys would go next.

Conclusions: by most accounts, our top starter pitching prospects right now are in rough order:

  • Cavalli (TJ, out for year)
  • Susana (scuffling in Low-A)
  • Bennett (crushing in Low-A, needs to be promoted)
  • Rutledge (crushing in AA, needs promotion)
  • Ward (stashed in the MLB bullpen as a rule-5 guy)
  • Henry (so far so good on come-back from TOS)
  • Lara (over promoted and struggling in high-A)
  • Irvin (in the MLB rotation, may need more AAA time)
  • Parker (struggling in AA)
  • Aldo Ramirez (hurt, in XST)

When we draft Skenes he’ll take over as #1 on this list.

Could we be choosing 5 from Grey, Gore, Irvin, Cavalli, Henry, Rutledge, Skenes, Ward, and Bennett in a couple years time? That’s the dream.

Written by Todd Boss

June 1st, 2023 at 9:43 am