Nationals Arm Race

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

Archive for January, 2024

Baseball Prospectus Nats top 10


Andrew Pinckney gets love from Baseball Prospectus. Photo via MASN

A quick one today; Baseball Prospectus released both their Nats top prospect list and the Organizational rankings. Now, interestingly, BP’s stuff is normally 100% behind a paywall, and i’m just not inclined to pay for their stuff anymore (unlike the subscriptions I maintain for BA, ESPN+, the Athletic, D1Baseball, etc). I just never see stories that interest me. But, for reasons inexplicable, BP’s link actually revealed their top 10 for the system. I’m not sure how much further they rank, but we get their top 10.

And, their top 10 is super interesting. Here’s a quick cut n paste of BP’s top 10. If anyone out there has the rest .. i’d love to see it.

The Top Ten:

  1. Dylan Crews, OF
  2. James Wood, OF
  3. Brady House, 3B
  4. Cade Cavalli, RHP
  5. Yohandy Morales, 3B
  6. Jarlin Susana, RHP
  7. Travis Sykora, RHP
  8. DJ Herz, LHP
  9. Andrew Pinckney, OF
  10. Robert Hassell III, OF

Here’s some quick commentary. Clearly BP likes young arms.

  • Same 1-4 as basically everyone else.
  • Morales is generally settling in as #5 on a lot of lists now. That’s great news for a 2023 draftee, and it’ll be interesting to see what the team does with him positionally since House is pretty entrenched at 3B. The guy is 6’4″ 250lbs. Phew, that’s a 1B for sure. No chance he’s moving to a corner OF spot at 250lbs.
  • Susana at #6. Easily the highest we’ve seen so far for Susana. Ok, so why is he so high? well its easy: He’s 6’6″ and can hit 103 and he’s still 19 (turns 20 in March). Aggregate 2023 numbers: 1-6, 5.14 ERA, 1.52 whip. 17 starts but only 63IP; he generally went 4 innings a stint. Was fantastic in June, then got shelled in July and Aug. He’s ranked this high b/c you can’t teach 103mph, plain and simple.
  • Sykora at #7. BP again the high rank on this guy. Electric fastball, secondary pitches and control needs work. Typical for a prep draftee. This is a ranking entirely driven by ceiling, but so much can go wrong with a guy like Sykora its hard for me to put him this high.
  • Herz at #8. Nobody else has him even in the top 15. He certainly pitched well enough in 2024. Interestingly, BA lists his changeup as a 65, easily his best pitch. Can’t be effective with a change like that unless you’re a starter, and unless you can command the fastball though, two issues he has right now.
  • Pinckney at #9, again easily high ranking for this guy. He was a below-slot senior draftee who blew through the lower minors as a 22yr old (now 23). Is he really our 9th best prospect?? A senior draftee who was probably a 6th round projection six months ago is a higher ranked prospect than an upper 1st round talent like Green who has two 70-grade tools? Or an IFA who got nearly $5M in 2022 and who is already stateside in Vaquero?
  • Hassell dumped down to 10, in a “what have you done for me lately” move.

Well, I guess BP really likes young power arms and old college bats.

Written by Todd Boss

January 31st, 2024 at 2:56 pm

Posted in Prospects

TalkNats and Steve Ghost Mears Top 30 prospects


I don’t normally include Nats blogger prospect list analysis since, well, lets be honest we’re bloggers, not nationally-connected scouting specialists who spend months as their full time job calling scouting directors and texting MLB GMs to get their intel. Plus, i’m doing this as a fan and I hate to criticize another fan’s work. But when I saw respected long-time nats blogger Stephen “Ghost” Mears post a top 30 … and knowing how much I like top 30 prospect lists, I couldn’t help myself, and have included his list here along with the big boys.

By including this list, I promise to generate my own list for the system as well. Fair is fair. I’ve got a preliminary top 50 ranking right now for our system, which I’ll continue to tweak now that the BA scouting reports are updated.

Here’s the pre-2024 list of prospect ranks that have been published so far.

  • BA’s pre-read top 10, announced 11/6/23 (link now defaults to top 30 released today; no changes from the top 10 in Nov to now, a slight indictment perhaps of the BA process)
  • Prospects361 top 10, released 11/24/23
  • MLBPipeline top 30, post rule5/pre off-season analysis released 12/7/23. Note, the MLBPipeline link always defaults to the current, but i retain the rankings at the time of the capture into an XLS
  • Baseball America 2024 top 30 1/24/24:

Here’s Ghost’s list:

TalkNats/Ghost RankFull Name w/ milb linklastfirstpos
1Crews, DylanCrewsDylanOF (CF)
2Wood, JamesWoodJamesOF (Corner)
3House, BradyHouseBradySS/3B
4Cavalli, CadeCavalliCadeRHP (Starter)
5Hassell III, RobertHassell IIIRobertOF (CF)
6Morales, YohandyMoralesYohandy3B
7Lile, DaylenLileDaylenOF (CF)
8Vaquero, Cristhian#VaqueroCristianOF (CF)
9Bennett, Jake*BennettJakeLHP (Starter)
10Young, JacobYoungJacobOF (CF)
11Green, ElijahGreenElijahOF (CF)
12Sykora, Travis SykoraTravisRHP (Starter)
13Susana, JarlinSusanaJarlinRHP (Starter)
14Rutledge, JacksonRutledgeJacksonRHP (Starter)
15Lipscomb, TreyLipscombTrey3B
16Herz, DJ*HerzDJLHP (Starter)
17Hurtado, VictorHurtadoVictorOF
18Millas, Drew#MillasDrewC
19White, T.J.#WhiteT.J.OF (Corner)
20Pinckney, AndrewPinckneyAndrewOF (Corner)
21Quintana, RoismarQuintanaRoismarOF (CF)
22Feliz, AngelFelizAngel3B/SS
23De La Rosa, Jeremy*De La RosaJeremyOF (Corner)
24Nunez, Nasim#NunezNasimSS
25Lara, AndryLaraAndryRHP (Starter)
26Baker, DarrenBakerDarren2B
27Parker, Mitchell*ParkerMitchellLHP (Starter)
28Cruz, ArmandoCruzArmandoSS
29Brzykcy, ZachBrzykcyZachRHP (Reliever)
30Henry, ColeHenryColeRHP (Starter)

And here’s some commentary.

  • Same 1-4 as most shops. Most pundits call our system “top heavy” which keeps us from being ranked higher in the overall organization ranks. Fair enough. If Henry had progressed as expected and a couple of these uber expensive IFAs recently were closer to Juan Soto than … well some guy named Juan who isn’t a prospect, we’d be higher ranked. And closer to contention.
  • Despite Hassell’s 2023 struggles, Ghost has him at #5. Lets hope he rebounds in 2024. Remember, he was our clear #2 prospect in most major publications last spring.
  • He remains a little high on Bennett at #9 despite no 2024. The only thing i’m worried about with Bennett (well, besides the fact that he had his arm cut wide open in August or whenever) is that he really didn’t do well in high-A once he got there. A 2nd round major conference draftee should have STARTED in High-A last year. Instead he toyed with kids in Low-A for nearly two months before going to Wilmington and, well frankly, getting hit. 6 starts, 5.57 ERA, 1.62 whip before he blew the UCL. How many of those starts were with a strained UCL? Who knows. He’ll turn 24 before he throws another pitch, will be back in Wilmington, and will be behind schedule. Is that a top 10 prospect? Not for me. Too much risk.
  • Jacob Young #10. Ok. so, prospect lists are a combination of floor and ceiling. What is Young’s floor? Well, before 2023 he had no real floor. So now we know, he’s a gritty Lenny Dykstra undersized CF spark plug who can make sh*t happen. But what’s his ceiling? He got 4 whole games in AAA before getting called up to cover for a thin OF at the MLB level and he didn’t do half bad. Better numbers than Alex frigging Call, that’s for sure. Young had 13 SBs in 33 games; that’s Vinny Coleman SB rates. But the MLB OF has too many guys right now; Robles kind of has to play CF for the arb salary he’s getting, Garrett earned the corner OF spot, and of course so did Thomas. You don’t want Young riding the pine in the majors, so he’ll be in AAA again to start 2024. What’s his ceiling? Can he hit .290 with mid .350 OBP and 50 SBs in the majors? If that’s the case, then heck yeah he’s #10 prospect, maybe higher.
  • Green down to #11. That’s too low for a guy with three tools in the 60s and a team admitting they’re futzing with his swing. Talking about Ceiling; he has as much ceiling as Crews and Wood by BA scouting reports, and he has a power/speed combo that’s Ronald Acuna-esque. But his hit tool grade right now is like that of a high schooler.
  • Ghost has our new IFAs at #17 and #22. Fair enough. He has our new Rule5 guy at #24, right inline with BA. Fine by me; i’m almost to the point of ignoring prospects until they get to the domestic leagues. Quick; can anyone tell me the names of our two 7-figure IFA signings last January? Or how they performed last summer in the DSL? Yeah, I didn’t think so (by the way, its Andy Acevedo and Edwin Solano, both signed for $1.3M. DSL 2023 lines respectively: .170/.299/.248 and .117/.224/.133. that’s right: Solano hit .117; 15 for 128 with exactly two extra base hits all season. That was money well spent.
  • Drew Millas at #18 but Pineda out of the top 30. Here’s a quick comparison of our two other 40-man catchers right now. Millas 26, switch hitter, spent around 2/3rds of last year in AAA, solid offensive numbers, good speed, average defender, 28% CS rate. Pineda is 23, was in AAA at the end of 2022 but was sent back to high-A in 2023 and struggled at the plate. Based on pure stats, Millas is better. But he’s also got 3 years on Pineda and that really discounts Pineda’s 2022, which is mostly why BA has Pineda higher than Millas right now. Right before publishing, Pineda got DFA’d off the 40-man and i’ll bet someone picks him up, so it may not matter, but its certainly a weird choice to cut to make room for Joey Gallo when they have waiver wire RHP relievers who had ERAs in the 5s and 6s last year who they could have cut instead.
  • TJ White at #19. Why?? .170/.277/.279 in 2023 with no position and missed half the year. That’s not a recipe for success.
  • Andry Lara at #25, after BA didn’t rank him at all. Ok, so on the bright side his whip went down in High A, and he’s still only 21, and we know he finished strong in 2023. His aggregate numbers for his career still suck.
  • Cole Henry at #30. This is a ranking that says, “well, I don’t think he’s ever going to be healthy again, but on the off-chance he is, he’s still ranked.”

Unmentioned in the top 30: Acevedo, Made, and Pineda as mentioned. Nothing egregious.

All in all, not a bad list. I agree with big chunks of the rankings of players hoenstly.

Written by Todd Boss

January 29th, 2024 at 9:12 am

Posted in Prospects

Baseball America Nats top 30 Prospects for 2024


Jacob Young gets some prospect love. Photo AP via WashPost

The first major shop to release a significant ranking for the 2024 prospect season has come out, and it is the standard bearer Baseball America. This year i’ll keep a running list of every ranking that i’ve seen and just build on it as i post. So far, here’s what we’ve seen:

Here is a list of Every Nats prospect list i’ve ever captured. It was last uploaded 1/25/24 to capture the data from last June to today. There’s now 223 ranking lists in this xls, dating to the Baseball America Nov 2004 ranking for our 2004 prospects (#1 prospect for the system in Nov 2004? Mike Hinckley. ouch).

Here’s the pre-2024 list of prospect ranks that have been published so far.

  • BA’s pre-read top 10, announced 11/6/23 (link now defaults to top 30 released today; no changes from the top 10 in Nov to now, a slight indictment perhaps of the BA process)
  • Prospects361 top 10, released 11/24/23
  • MLBPipeline top 30, post rule5/pre off-season analysis released 12/7/23. Note, the MLBPipeline link always defaults to the current, but i retain the rankings at the time of the capture into an XLS
  • Baseball America 2024 top 30 1/24/24: this post

Still to come: Baseball Prospectus, MLBPipeline, Eric Longenhagen/Fangraphs, Keith Law/the Athletic, Prospects1500, Bleacher Report, CBSSports, ProspectsLive, and Prospect Digest. So, lots to come.

Here’s a direct link to the Baseball America 2024 Nats top 30, which is behind a paywall but i’m a subscriber so I’ll list them here. It has detailed scouting reports on all 30 players, which is great especially for the new IFAs.

BA top 30Last NameFirst NamePosition
1CrewsDylanOF (CF)
2WoodJamesOF (Corner)
4CavalliCadeRHP (Starter)
6RutledgeJacksonRHP (Starter)
7Hassell IIIRobertOF (CF)
8VaqueroCristianOF (CF)
9GreenElijahOF (CF)
10SusanaJarlinRHP (Starter)
11LileDaylenOF (CF)
13BennettJakeLHP (Starter)
14SykoraTravisRHP (Starter)
15HerzDJLHP (Starter)
18YoungJacobOF (CF)
19PinckneyAndrewOF (Corner)
20BrzykcyZachRHP (Reliever)
23HenryColeRHP (Starter)
26De La RosaJeremyOF (Corner)
29WhiteT.J.OF (Corner)
30ParkerMitchellLHP (Starter)

Here’s some analysis, going from top to bottom.

  • BA has the same basic top 4 for us as nearly every other shop at this point.
  • Cavalli is now 25 and is the oldest guy on the top 30. A big portion of our future fortunes sit on his shoulders and his ability to come back at the #2 starter that he was purported to be prior to TJ.
  • Morales up to #5 is great to see, especially given our (crummy) track record of 2nd round picks.
  • Rutledge at #6 is great news. A year ago he was in the mid-teens at best on most lists. Now he’s on the verge of losing his rookie status in 2024. Based on where he was in 2022, even if he’s a 5th starter that’s found gold.
  • Green down to #9. Ok so 139 strikeouts in 75 low-A games isn’t a good thing. His scouting report at BA is an interesting read. Here’s how they grade his tools: Scouting Grades Hit: 30 | Power: 60 | Run: 70 | Field: 55 | Arm: 60. that’s two 60s and a 70. Nobody has 60 power and 70 run; that’s like Eric Davis type combos. He’s a project.
  • Our two big IFA signings this month (Victor Hurtado and Angel Feliz) come in at #12 and #24. Ok that’s good. They were both reasonable signings for IFAs; not the $4M for a 16yr old kind.
  • We also picked up a new prospect with our Rule5 draftee, Nasim Nunez. Coincidentally, I wonder if Nunez’ drafting spells the end for Kieboom; he’s got no options, they’ve bought a starting 3B and a starting 1B, and he can’t play middle infield like Vargas and Nunez. Heck, even Alu has more positional flexibility than Kieboom.
  • Both Bennett (TJ – out all of 2024) and Sykora (prep kid who threw zero innings in 2023) are ahead of DJ Herz. Herz, lest anyone forget, is just 23, solved AA, is on the 40-man roster and is certain to get looks this year. Um. what are we looking at here boys?
  • Jacob Young at #18 … well I should hope so!! All he did was rise 3 levels last year and may very well be the starting CF if Robles gets hurt, again.
  • Pineda and Millas back to back at 21 and 22. I think the BA staff has guidelines that say, “ok when you get to the mid 20s, just throw in their top-level catcher depth b/c we know they’ll get looks eventually).
  • Kevin Made absolutely fell apart after we acquired him, and plummeted down the list. Hope he can recover.
  • Mitchell Parker bringing up the rear at #30. So, #30 is where you put polished lefties who are on the 40 man who have solved three minor league levels by the age of 24. Got it

Missing names of note:

  • Andy Acevedo and Edwin Solano; both were $1.3M IFA signings last January, and who did near nothing all summer in 2023.
  • Brennar Cox. As high as #11 on some lists last year. Geeze. Why do we ever draft prep kids?
  • Andry Lara; finally someone ranks him realistically.

All in all, not much to complain about with this list.

Written by Todd Boss

January 24th, 2024 at 8:31 pm

Posted in Prospects

Happy New Year and Nothing to Report


Nationals Stadium in the off-season. Photo via Federal Baseball

Hello all.

Coming to you live from Wintergreen Ski Resort, where my son races on the team and we spend every weekend when there’s snow on the ground.

I realized it’s been quite a while since I posted anything here. My last post said “Happy Thanksgiving” on it. That’s not really for lack of wanting to post; its just reality that there hasn’t been a whole heck of a lot to post about for someone like me, given the state of our team and the specific interests I like to write about.

  • The Nats are not spending any money in FA, which indicates another year of lack of competition. It is what it is. I firmly believe the rebuild is on track as compared to the 2009-2012 cycle. From 2009-12 the team went from 59 to 69 to 80 to 98 wins. Compare to where we are now starting from 2022: 55 wins to 71 wins. If 2023 shows this team at .500, look for major spending next off-season to fill in the holes we have and to really make a push.
  • Yes, I’m bullish on our top echelon of prospects. I think Cavalli comes back and makes a new “big 3” along with Grey and Gore. I think Crews and Woods and House are all on track and could form a pretty solid middle of the order for this team for 5-6 years straight. I like the chances of some of the next group of hitters (Green, Morales, Hassell) to get it together and make a name for themselves too. Maybe we can get Bennett or Rutledge to be better than the average bear in the near term. Then suddenly you’re just a couple of major signings away from another 6-year playoff run.
  • The draft lottery was already set; we were always going to be #10, so there was no drama. We found out later that the Nats actually “won” the lottery and would have had the #1 pick, then “won” it again for #3. Figures.
  • Since we’re not spending money, there’s little to do from a payroll analysis to see what money they “have left” to spend.
  • MASN past due money got resolved. Woo hoo. I fully expect another petty lawsuit coming for the next tronche of cash. I still maintain MLB is just waiting out the string on Angelos to die so they can stick the sword to that franchise and basically say to them, “you’ve embarrassed yourselves and this sport for more than a decade whining and fighting me on this damn TV deal, so now the tab comes due: if you want to sell the team or transfer it to your arrogant asshole of a Son, then you’ll divest yourselves of MASN ownership so the Nats aren’t tied to you anymore.” But, since this is baseball we’re talking about, and since reason rarely comes into play with decisions made in this sport … don’t hold your breath.
  • Speaking of selling … the Lerners have had the for sale sign out for a while now with no news, eh? Which is partly one of the reasons there’s little FA spending. Gee, you think this MASN contract is a non-starter for prospective buyers or what? I think if the Nats owned their own RSN outright, Ted Leonsis would have bought the team the NEXT DAY, packed all his other tv contracts into one network, and he’d have a near monopoly on DC sports. Still could happen … though now Leonsis has a shiny new toy coming down in Potomac Yard. By the way, tangent here: for ANYONE who is whining about Leonsis moving his teams out of Chinatown …. you have nowhere to blame at all except the idiots in the DC Mayor’s office. This is modern pro sports; yes its ridiculous to expect a city to finance a stadium for a billionaire …but its also ridiculous to not recognize what a massive positive impact that stadium’s location at 7&H had on that area. DC was nickel and diming Leonsis with police and services and it was having an impact on the game day experience, and now they’ll have nothing in that space for decades. There’s a whole big blog called “Field and Schemes” that basically criticizes every single public financing deal made, without really giving any context for the for-real economic impact these stadiums make (again, look no further than the area around Nationals stadium, which was a frigging demilitarized zone prior to that stadium being built and now looks like Crystal City). I have no sympathy for DC residents, or even for whiny suburban Maryland residents who complain about the extra metro time to get to Potomac Yard … uh, what do you think us residents of Arlington and Fairfax county have been dealing with for decades, with every pro sport in this damn city? Rant over.
  • Our non-tender deadline and arb cases were pretty straight forward; nothing really to even write about.
  • We added a $2m signing in Nick Senzel that seems to be the end of the road for Carter Kieboom. Really amazing if so; Kieboom was a top 20 prospect in all of baseball as a 20yr old in AAA and just basically has disappeared. Otherwise we’ve done very little in terms of signings: a RHP middle reliever to a major league deal in Florio, a bunch of AAA guys, that’s it.

What’s next? We’ll we’re into prospect season, so i’ll start to see the rankings roll out. I love pontificating about lists, so we’ll get more content coming. But otherwise; what’s to talk about? I should probably do an options status post at some point; there are a couple of very notable names out of Options and with question marks surrounding their status on this team.

So, sorry it’s been radio silence for so long. I hope everyone is doing well and is still reading along. It’s an interesting time to be a Nats blogger; i’ve talked about this in the past, but there’s not a ton to analyze/talk about when you know the team isn’t actively trying to win, nor when they’re a perennial playoff contender. So that leads to this middle ground.

Written by Todd Boss

January 13th, 2024 at 8:30 am

Posted in Nats in General