Nationals Arm Race

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

Archive for February, 2024

Nationals 2024 Roster Option status

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Kieboom faces a critical spring. Photo via Federal Baseball

Honestly, this option status was more apropos when we talked about non-tenders last fall, or perhaps before thinking about what the team was going to do this off-season w/r/t free agency.

But, here we are. We’re at the beginning of spring training, the team has brought in a slew of players on one year or MLFA/NRI deals (including at least 10 MLFA veteran relievers) and for those on the 40-man right now, options flexibility will be a big factor in what happens this spring.

So, lets do some options analysis to try to couch possible roster decisions that will have to be made by the end of March.

I’m using Roster Resource (now at Fangraphs) to drive this analysis. I used to keep track of options in a private XLS, but it was just way too tedious as compared to the pros at these sites. If they have it wrong, then I’ve got it wrong here. Also, here’s the Big Board which shows all the NRIs who might be pushing these guys for a job.

Current 40-man roster Players with Zero Options remaining

These non-5year veteran players either have to sick on the active roster going forward, or will face the dreaded DFA/outright if they need to be demoted off the active roster. I’ll list them in order of most likely to get DFA’d this spring to least likely:

  • Carter Kieboom. Kieboom’s time with the team seems like it has come to an end. For the second straight off-season, instead of holding 3B empty for their former top prospect to own, the team has bought a one year veteran Free Agent to man the position. Candelario last year and Nick Senzel this year. If you’re an infielder and you’re not starting at the MLB level, then you need to be able to do one of a couple of things: 1) play middle infield (which Kieboom cannot), 2) be good defensively or be a fast runner (which Kieboom isn’t), 3) play outfield as well (which he never has), or hit well enough to man either 1B or DH (which he never has either). The team also bought itself a starting 1B in Joey Gallo and has an established DH in Joey Meneses. On top of THAT, the team has more than a couple big bopper NRI MLFAs who specialize in playing 1B/DH (Yepes, Diaz, Blankenhorn, Winker, Rutherford). None of this leaves Kieboom a ton of roster flexibility. I suppose he could try to play a corner outfield, but we’re set there too, with more OF options than we have positions honestly PLUS a slew of OF prospects coming up. I hate to say it, But Kieboom is in trouble. Save for an injury to Senzel or Gallo, or Kieboom hitting .450 this spring, I think he’s staring at a big career crossroads at the end of March.
  • Joan Adon, thanks to being added to the 40-man In November of 2020 despite only having gotten to Low-A by that point, now faces a pretty predictable situation. He’s 25, clearly needs more time in the minors, but is out of options and faces a pretty obvious roster crunch coming out of spring training. I mean, he was awful in the majors in 2022 and again in 2023. He wasn’t really that great in AAA either. He’s probably 7th on the starter depth chart (if that), and the team would have to dump a reliever they’d rather keep in order to protect him from being exposed to waivers. If there’s an injury to the projected starting 5 (Corbin, Grey, Gore, Williams, Irvin) he’ll be gifted the spot to save him, but it seems like an inevitability he gets DFA’d.
  • Jordan Weems shows what happens when you look slightly deeper into pitching stats. In 2023, his ERA went down to 3.62 but his FIP went way up to 4.90. His Hits/9 went down but his BB/9 went way up. His 2023 was probably smoke and mirrors, and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if he blew up in April after making the team and got DFA’d.
  • Luis Garcia, who is out of options because he was put on the 40-man way, way too soon and still doesn’t seem like the team is completely convinced he’s their long-term solution at 2B. But, they also seem set to go with him as the starter. But, they sent him down last year for a month for some reason (he was hitting .268 at the time even though he hit mostly .220 the first half of the season). So who knows. They didn’t guy a veteran 2B FA so his spot seems safe.
  • Tanner Rainey, who missed all of 2023 but was our highly effective closer in 2022, seems pretty unlikely to lose his spot if he’s healthy. The thing is, if he struggles in spring, they’ll just DL him and say, “post-TJ surgery recovery” or some nonsense, so he could go to AAA and work things out.
  • Ildemaro Vargas is the kind of utility player every manager wants: can play 6 positions, hits decently enough. His bat fell off a bit in 2023, and the team got itself a middle infielder in Rule5 in Nunez who now occupies one of the sports Vargas would be competing for. MLB benches these days basically are: a Backup C, two middle infielders, one spare outfielder, and one big bat who can rotate into 1B and DH (preferably lefty as well). So Is Vargas set for one of the two middle infield positions right now? Probably. The only other middle infielder NRI is Darren Baker, and i don’t think he’s ready for prime time. Also, not for nothing, the Nats extended Vargas in the middle of September, so clearly they’re not thinking of axing him.
  • Kiebert Ruiz: they gave him 8yrs/$50M and he’s the starting catcher; he’s not in any jeopardy of getting DFA’d irrespective of option status. So he’s least likely of the “zero options” guys.

Current 40-man roster players whose option status may/will impact their making the team.

  • Jake Alu: If Vargas and Nunez are your two middle infielder bench options, that likely shuts the door on Jake Alu being a regular on the active roster for a bit. He’s unable to play SS; he can play 2B, 3B and LF. He also got a long look last year and didn’t really hit (.226/.282/.289). I think he’s the dreaded 4-A guy, who will shuttle back and forth between AAA and MLB to cover in case of an injury to the 2B/3B starters. Maybe Nunez flops as a rule5 pick and gets returned and Alu sticks; we’ll see. That’s what spring training is for.
  • Jake Irvin: i’ll just put this here; if the team convinces themselves they need to keep Adon, Irvin has two options and could get sacrificed. I would be kind of shocked if this happens, since Irvin seems more likely to become a regular 4th/5th starter going forward than Adon, but the team has done something like this before with John Lannan making millions to pitch in Syracuse in 2012.
  • Jackson Rutledge seems like he’s 6th on the pecking order and should be a safe bet for AAA save injury. But, like with Irvin … if the team decides it wants to keep Adon, Rutledge will head north.
  • Cade Cavalli probably starts the year on the 60-day DL and may slot right into the MLB rotation when he’s ready irrespective of option status. But he’s got plenty of options if his rehab goes more slowly than expected and could hang in AAA for a while.
  • Drew Millas has plenty of options, but is 3rd out of 3 on the Catcher pecking order right now, and will be either the MLB backup or the AAA starter.
  • Thad Ward: last year’s rule5 roster gambit, can now safely be sent down since he’s officially “ours.” And he’s got plenty of options. My guess is that he goes to AAA and gets converted back to starting. Which is what the team should do with him, since our starting pitching prospect pipeline is so thin.
  • Alex Call and/or Jacob Young: so, assuming that Stone Garrett and Victor Robles are healthy and able from the get go (which may be a bad assumption given what we’re hearing about Garrett’s recovery from a broken leg last summer) one of these two gets dumped to AAA. Honestly, if they need someone to ride the pine in the majors i’d rather it be Call so that Young can play full time in AAA, but it may be the reverse. Both have options. If Garrett can’t go, look for Young to start in left and Call to be the MLB backup. Yes Davey Martinez said Young was “competing” with Robles for the starting CF job; i don’t believe that. I think the team wants Robles to earn the spot, hit .330 for 3 months, and get flipped to a contender in his walk year.
  • Relievers with options who sucked last year: Jose Ferrer (5.03 ERA), Mason Thompson (5.50 ERA), and Amos Willingham (6.66). They’ll all start in AAA unless someone gets hurt, and given the plethora of MLFA veteran arms the team has signed, these three guys are also at the top of my “next guy off the 40-man to get whacked” list just after the obvious DFA candidates discussed above. Thompson’s situation may work itself out; it seems like he may have a UCL injury that will send him to TJ and the 60-day DL.
  • The four arms just added: Herz, Parker, Henry, Brzycky: no real chance any of these four make the 25-man opening day roster. The AAA staff looks like it’ll be amazing this year.

Predictions:

  • No injuries to projected rotation in spring.
  • Adon waived.
  • Kieboom waived
  • Thompson TJ/60-day dl to open a roster spot
  • Weems makes opening day roster but is on short leash
  • Young makes opening day roster, Call to AAA.
  • At least one NRI bat and maybe two NRI arms make the team.

Written by Todd Boss

February 22nd, 2024 at 11:06 am

Posted in Nats in General

Keith Law’s top 20 for the Nats

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Everyone loves Lile. photo via Masn

I’m a big Keith Law fan, always have been. But sometimes he zigs when others zag, and I feel like this year’s Nats list is in that category. HIs methodology is not quite as big a focus on the “ceiling” of a prospect, but it creeps in. He really discounts DSL Guys until they show up domestically, and if someone’s ceiling is middle infielder/4th outfielder/middle reliever … they’re not a prospect in his eyes.

Law is the 2nd to last “major pundit” to drop his list. Once the MLBpipeline guys (Callis & Mayo et al) drop their updated ranks, I’ll post my list and declare victory for the season.

Without further ado, here’s Law’s top 20 list, behind a paywall at the Athletic but I subscribe and I find it to be the best value for the money on the internet.

Law RankLast NameFirst NamePosition
1CrewsDylanOF (CF)
2WoodJamesOF (Corner)
3HouseBradySS/3B
4CavalliCadeRHP (Starter)
5LileDaylenOF (CF)
6MoralesYohandy3B
7VaqueroCristianOF (CF)
8Hassell IIIRobertOF (CF)
9MadeKevinSS
10SykoraTravisRHP (Starter)
11SusanaJarlinRHP (Starter)
12GreenElijahOF (CF)
13BennettJakeLHP (Starter)
15HenryColeRHP (Starter)
15RutledgeJacksonRHP (Starter)
16HerzDJLHP (Starter)
17YoungJacobOF (CF)
18PinckneyAndrewOF (Corner)
19QuintanaRoismarOF (CF)
20SaenzDustinLHP (Starter)
HMYoungLukeRHP (Starter)
HMLaraAndryRHP (Starter)
HMInfanteSamuelSS
HMBrownMarcusSS/2B

Ok, lets go through it.

  • Same top 4 as practically everyone else. Note: we’ve been discussing in the comments what really makes a rookie and have gone through some interesting scenarios. For me. service time manipulation or roster moves that burn their clock but don’t give ABs or IPs don’t count. So i’ll be including specifically Cade Cavalli and Israel Pineda in my list, and even though a commenter pointed out there’s now others technically eligible i’m not sure who else is worth mentioning.
  • Lile at #5. As in, the next big guy in our entire system after the top 4 guys who all seem to be near-guarantees. McDaniel, Law, and the 1500 guys all have Lile in the 5-6 range. After much discussion and further analysis, i’m coming around to the opinion that LIle and Hassell are basically the same. I now have them side-by-side in my rankings, having elevated LIle a number of spots from where I started. Do I think Lile is the 5th best prospect in the system? Well, no but he’s close, and having him #5 and Morales #6 versus the other way around is splitting hairs.
  • Law is absolute high-man on Kevin Made, having him all the way at #9. By way of comparison, BA had him at #24, in the range of guys who are “lucky if they get to AA.” In his writeup, Law thinks Made is a 12-15 homer guy in the majors who could stick at short and be a regular. Wow. Yeah that is a top 10 guy. I guess we’re all forgetting just how young he has been (20 in highA).
  • Sykora to #10, very high on both him and Susana at #11. All Ceiling. It’s easy to dream on 18yr old live arms. After all our (lack of) success with these guys, its tough to get excited. I guess I have to remind myself that Sykora got a 1st round bonus, and If we had draftee him in the 1st round like we did Giolito … we’d be much higher on him.
  • He has Green all the way down to #12. Law’s take on this ranking was interesting: he says Green is perhaps the best example in all of the minors of a player who is too good for complex ball, but not yet ready for LowA, and is being developmentally crushed by the loss of Short-A. I agree. It really amazes me that the sport in general fails to see the value of Short-A ball, or even another 10 rounds of a draft to fill that team. Just look at the ridiculous number of arms that poured into our Low-A team last year; I have 12 guys listed as “Starters” and another 9 listed as “Long Relievers.” 12 starters! There’s no where near enough innings to go around to try to develop 12 guys at starters. Gee, wouldn’t it be great if there was another low-A level league where you could send the lesser 6 of those starters so they could pitch every five days? So dumb.
  • Cole Henry at #15. What piqued my interest in Law’s write up was this simple line: “his stuff was all the way back” after TOS surgery. But he also said that a guy like Henry is too brittle to start, but could be an awesome reliever (97-100 with two 55 pitches). That’s a drop-dead game ender, and hey, if the guy can’t stay healthy then at least we can use him.
  • Quintana at #19: one of the few who rates this guy. BA and McDaniel didn’t even rank him. What do we have with him at this point? He’s only 21 and seems set to go to HighA, but he’s a corner OF limited guy who has to hit for power to earn a promotion … and that’s gonna be hard in Wilmington.
  • Saenz at #20. Yes! Finally someone ranks this guy. He has been completely absent from every prospect ranking this entire spring, even the Prospect 1500 guys who go 50 deep. Why? He’s a 4th round pick, was 24 in AA last year posting a 3.43 era/1.18 whip in 25 games/23 starts. Uh, yeah, sign me up. Those were significantly better numbers than Parker (who is also a lefty), who got a 40-man roster spot out of his performance. Saenz should be going to AAA, doesn’t turn 25 until June … why is he not a prospect? Maybe its smoke and mirrors, with lesser stuff, but he’s solved every level he’s been presented with so far.

Law then mentions four guys as noteworthy, but there’s no way they’re ranked 21-24. Young, Lara, Infante, and Brown. I think it was more notes out of his many visits to see the Nats play in Wilmington, which is right around the corner from where he lives in Delaware.

So, who’d he miss?

  • No mention of our two 2024 IFAs Hurtado or Felix. Not surprising.
  • No Love for Lipscomb, but that’s really splitting hairs if he’s not in the top 20 but is in his top 25.
  • Nothing on Nasim Nunez. Law’s methodology definitely under-rates role players like backup infielders, 4th outfielders, middle relievers, etc.
  • Nothing for De La Rosa, who is as high as #13 on other lists.

Written by Todd Boss

February 18th, 2024 at 8:37 am

ESPN and Kiley McDaniel puts out his weird Nats Prospect list for 2024

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Cade Cavalli is inexplicably left off the McDaniel list. Photo via Lookout Landing blog

I’ve buried the lede for this analysis in the title, but there’s no other way to say it. Kiley McDaniel has always been more focused on ceiling than floor in his prospect ranks, and that comes out pretty true in his list of 20-some odd Nats prospects for 2024.

We’re still waiting for two other major pundits to drop (MLBPipeline and Fangraphs) and a couple of lesser known ones (Bleacher Report if they do it, Prospects Live, and Prospect Digest) before I reveal my top 50. Also, BA added another 10 to their top 40 list, and they had some real interesting names get tacked on that i’ll mention in my eventual top 50.

Lets get right into it:

McDaniel RankLast NameFirst NamePosition
1CrewsDylanOF (CF)
2WoodJamesOF (Corner)
3HouseBradySS/3B
4GreenElijahOF (CF)
5SusanaJarlinRHP (Starter)
6LileDaylenOF (CF)
7MoralesYohandy3B
8Hassell IIIRobertOF (CF)
9HurtadoVictorOF
10HenryColeRHP (Starter)
11BennettJakeLHP (Starter)
12VaqueroCristianOF (CF)
13De La RosaJeremyOF (Corner)
14MadeKevinSS
15NunezNasimSS
16SykoraTravisRHP (Starter)
17MillasDrewC
18RutledgeJacksonRHP (Starter)
19YoungJacobOF (CF)
20LipscombTrey3B
21PinckneyAndrewOF (Corner)
22HerzDJLHP (Starter)

And some thoughts.

  • Ok, Crews-Wood-House at the top. Like everyone else.
  • Uh, where the hell is Cade Cavalli? McDaniel lists him as a 2023 prominent graduate … um, Kiley, the dude didn’t pitch in 2023. At all. And 60-day DL doesn’t count towards rookie eligibility. This is not a slight omission; it’s also drastically impacted where he ranked the entire Nats system (probably costing them 4-5 spots based on the loss of Cavalli’s future surplus value in his ranking system). It seems odd to make such a major mistake on a prospect who was clearly a top 100 guy a year ago before TJ.
  • Green at #4: told you he’s focused on Ceiling and not actuals. There’s some legitimate concern out there about Green and I’m not sure i’d have him at #4 overtop of the next set of names, but that’s the methodology of McDaniel. By way of comparison, he has Green HIGHER this year than he did last year despite the ridiculous K/9 rates he put up in Low-A. Wow.
  • Susana at #5. I mean, the only way i’d rank Susana #5 is if someone told me he was going to rise two levels this year and keep his ERA under 3.00. What evidence is there based on his performance so far that he’s projecting to be anything but a fire-balling 2-pitch reliever?
  • Lile at #6: I’m on record saying he’s overrated in some rankings already; how can you possibly put Lile above Hassell??
  • New signing Victor Hurtado at #9. Phew. That’s pretty bullish on a 16yr old who has yet to play an inning. I mean, that’s higher th an $4.9M signing Vaquero, who at least has made it to the states and got double the bonus money.
  • Cole Henry at #10. I like Henry, and I want him to be the #2 starter ceiling that he was looking like when he raced up the system. But he’s an orchid. TOS is hard to come back from. I know we just saw reports he was healthy and throwing … i’ll believe it when i see it.
  • De La Rosa at #13. Ridiculous. .240/.324/.361 with 129 Ks in 93 games in High-A, which he was repeating from the previous year as a 22yr old. He’s at least 10 spots too high here. Who would you rather have, right now? 22yr old DLR or 23yr old Pinckney?
  • Kevin Made at #14, also too high. He better be the 2nd coming of Ozzie Smith to rate this high based on how weak his bat is.
  • Rutledge all the way down at #18. That’s below Sykora (who’s yet to throw a pitch) and below Henry (who might be finished as a player). I mean, yeah i get it, he projects as a 5th starter right now and didn’t exactly light things up when he arrived, but he’s also a 1st rounder who rose 3 levels in 2023. Did they forget what made him a 1st rounder?
  • The back end of his list all seems to be pushed down like 6-8 spots lower than I’d have them, but nothing egregious.

Who’s missing?

  • No Angel Feliz, 2024 IFA $1.7M signing. Surprising given how much he likes ceiling.
  • No Armando Cruz, $3.9M signing in 2021. The shine is off of Cruz.
  • No love for Mitchell Parker, who just continues to get results year after year. Maybe one day we’ll be watching Parker sling up lefty pitches like Tom Glavine and we’ll be like, “oh well he doesn’t throw 95 so he’s still not a prospect.”
  • Interestingly, left out Andry Lara. Lara is all about the Ceiling. McDaniel had him ranked #9 last year!
  • TJ White: nowhere to be found after nearly being a top 10 guy last year. Why ding White for his 2023 performance but not Green?
  • Alex Call and Brenner Cox were in the mid teens last year. Not really advocating that they should have been included (Call exhausted his rookie eligibility), just noting that this is the folly of depending entirely on ceiling/future value.

Written by Todd Boss

February 14th, 2024 at 8:39 am

Posted in Prospects

Prospects 1500 top 50 for 2024

28 comments

He’s gonna look good in this uniform and soon. Photo via Crews’ instagram page.

I always look forward to Prospects1500 and their team’s rankings each year, because they go deeper than anyone else. Some places only rank our top 10; that’s not really that hard, especially when the first four are basically the same in every publication and there’s not a ton of argument mostly about the rest of our top 10 right now. Most major shops stop at 30 (then may throw in a few “honorable mentions” or “just misseds”), which is much more difficult. Prospects 1500 go 50 deep. So its great to see who they’re throwing into the 40s. Even if I disagree with them.

Here’s the 2024 Prospects 1500 list:

Prospects1500 RankLast NameFirst NamePosition
1CrewsDylanOF (CF)
2WoodJamesOF (Corner)
3HouseBradySS/3B
4CavalliCadeRHP (Starter)
5MoralesYohandy3B
6LileDaylenOF (CF)
7VaqueroCristianOF (CF)
8GreenElijahOF (CF)
9Hassell IIIRobertOF (CF)
10SusanaJarlinRHP (Starter)
11HerzDJLHP (Starter)
12BennettJakeLHP (Starter)
13SykoraTravisRHP (Starter)
14NunezNasimSS
15HenryColeRHP (Starter)
16PinckneyAndrewOF (Corner)
17RutledgeJacksonRHP (Starter)
18MadeKevinSS
19De La RosaJeremyOF (Corner)
20LipscombTrey3B
21YoungJacobOF (CF)
22WhiteT.J.OF (Corner)
23LaraAndryRHP (Starter)
24ParkerMitchellLHP (Starter)
25CruzArmandoSS
26QuintanaRoismarOF (CF)
27PinedaIsraelC
28BakerDarren2B
29McKenzieJaredOF (CF)
30CroninMattLHP (Reliever)
31LuckhamKyleRHP (Starter)
32FerrerJoseLHP (Reliever)
33RamirezAldoRHP (Starter)
34CoxBrennerOF (CF)
35SchoffTylerRHP (Reliever)
36YoungLukeRHP (Starter)
37MaricutoJermaine1B/C
38AcevedoAndyOF
39InfanteSamuelSS
40NunezElijahOF
41SolanoEdwinSS
42SotoElianOF/SS
43CuevasMichaelRHP (Starter)
44BrownMarcusSS/2B
45TavaresCarlosOF
46AldonisPabloLHP (Starter)
47BatistaCarlosOF
48ObispoJuanOF
49SullivanLiamLHP (?)
50LirianoHectorOF

Now, here’s some commentary.

  • Same 1-4 as everyone else, in the same order. Nothing crazy about having Morales at #5 either.
  • Daylen Lile at #6. That’s too high. Yes, Lile’s numbers fell off when he got to the big stadium in Wilmington, but his profile already means he’s not going to hit for power. He’s 5’11”, 195, a lefty hitting outfielder who BA thinks is going to struggle to stay in CF. Uh, if he’s not in CF, where you can make up for a lack of offense with dazzling defensive skills, then he’s gotta mash to occupy a corner OF spot. He’s listed as a 50 runner and a 50 fielder, and he had 21 SBs in 66 low-A games (but curiously just 2 SBs in 40 High-A games). So, he’s an undersized lefty hitting CF who won’t be ahead of at least 6 other CFs in the system (Crews, Wood, Young, Green, Hassell, Vaquero). Why is he #6? I’m surprised he’s in the top 15. I hope i’m wrong and he turns into Jacoby Ellisbury.
  • They’re low on Hassell, putting him at #9. See, this is problematic to me. Hassell was the #2 prospect entering our system when he got traded, broke his hamate bone after finishing 2022 in AA at the same age where Lile is now. He’s got better tools across the board, can play CF, but didn’t even debut in 2023 until May, so basically you have to caveat a big chunk of his 2023 season at the plate. Yet he’s 9th and Lile is 6th? Doesn’t make sense.
  • Susana at #10, which is in line with other shops but high for me. What’s he done except his 103 on the radar gun? Can’t teach velocity, but so far the risk on this guy seems to outweigh the rewards, and the value of a 9th inning guy with massive walk rats and a 103 mph isn’t that high.
  • Cole Henry at #15. Huge variation on this guy so far: Ghost had him at #30, BA at #23, MLBPIpeline at #18 last December, which seemingly took into account his awful post-TOS surgery 2023 performance. Still, having this guy at #15 laughably puts him ahead of Rutledge, who’s a) healthy, b) has done well in AAA, and c) has made his MLB debut. If Henry had had TJ, that’s one thing. TOS is another, and this is too high.
  • Speaking of, Rutledge at #17 is too low. I’m just not sure why you’d ding a guy like Rutledge after what he did in 2023. If i told you we had a pitcher who missed a year of development and in his age 24 season put up a AA line of 6-1, 3.16 ERA, 1.10 whip with 62/25 k/bb in 68IP you’d be like, wow that’s awesome. Well, that’s what Rutledge did before doing 11 so-so starts in AAA and getting roughed up in the MLB. That’s better than #17 prospect, and there’s no way he should be behind any of the 5 arms immediately above him (Henry, Herz, Sykora, Bennett, or Susana). Remember; the entire point of being a prospect is … what? To get to the major leagues. Rutledge has.
  • Kevin Made at #18. Way too high. We know he’s glove-first, defined by BA as a “double plus defender.” That’s great; he’s also go grade 40 hit and power tools. That’s … that’s not good, Bob. After we acquired him he slashed just .137/.232/.192. I guess someone has to bat 9th. But is his defense good enough to account? I don’t think so, not right now, and he shouldn’t be in the top 20. We no longer live in the 1970s when “good field no hit” short stops were accepted. Today, SSs have to hit.
  • I’m way lower on De La Rosa than they are at #19, but it’s a little splitting hairs when you get to the 20-30 range. At least the Nats didn’t put him on the 40-man this off-season.
  • Young at #21. I get it: prospect ranking is some potential, some actual. Young is entirely actual right now. As in, he ACTUALLY might be our starting CF in 2024. At age 24. So … why would you have him ranked below someone like Andrew Pinckney, who’s a year younger and who basically only got to High-A this year? Is Pinckney more likely to blow up and rise 3 levels like Young did this year? I think, like with Rutledge, you have to balance what they’ve accomplished versus what they could accomplish properly.
  • Pineda comes in at #27 … and they don’t even rank Millas in the top 50. I wonder if that’s a cut and past error, and they actually mean to rank Millas #27 and not rank Pineda. Just after this list came out, Pineda got DFA’d, cleared waivers, and was outrighted to AAA. So he’s still around, likely going back to AA. Either way, I think (as explained in other posts) that Millas is the more polished, MLB-ready catcher right now even if Pineda is 3 years younger.
  • Cronin at #30. Way too high. A reliever who’s already been outrighted off 40-man and who had a 5 ERA in 2023? He’s not even in my top 50. Relievers aren’t prospects unless they’re a-ma-zing.
  • They list Ferrer at #32 despite his exhausting rookie eligibility by the end of 2023. I made the same mistake earlier this off-season until i did some schedule arithmetic.

So, now we’re in the 30-40 range, which really is a deep dive into the marginal prospects in our system. By and large, nearly everyone they have from 33-40 I also have in my list, but I gnerally have them 10 spots lower into the 40s. A couple of comments though:

  • Aldo Ramirez: First time we’ve mentioned his name this off season. Talk about a mess of a career: missed 2020 with Covid, then missed the second half of 2021 with elbow tendinitis. Then he couldn’t answer the bell for 2022 so the sat in XST, and when it came time in June to get assigned to the complex league it turned out he had a blown UCL. TJ surgery, all of 2022 out, not even thinking about playing until mid 2023 … and he never made it onto the field. So out of the last FIVE seasons, he’s pitched for exactly 1.5 of them. When we acquired him (July 2021) he was back half of our top 10; this was a significant prospect. Now? who knows.
  • Tyler Schoff. Ranked #35. I honestly had to look him up to see who the heck he was; he was a 8th/9th inning guy in AA who got promoted at the end of the season to AAA. Wow. #35. Maybe this is for Fantasy players looking to keep an eye on saves in the future. But then where’s Willingham? Willingham actually made it to the majors and had far better minor league numbers than Schoff despite being the same age. Make that make sense.

Now we’re into the 40-50 range, and i’ll just say this: instead of picking domestic players who have actually accomplished something, nearly their entire 40-50 is IFAs who have yet to get out of the DSL. Six of the ten guys ranked 40-50 were 2023 Jan 2nd signings last year, who mostly were awful for an awful 2023 DSL team. So, in that respect, I disagree with most of the guys in the 40-50 range and they’re just ranking them based on signing bonuses.

So, who are they missing?

  • Millas, as noted above
  • Willingham as noted above.
  • They didn’t get either of our 2023 big-money signings Hurtado or Felix … I mean, if you have a guy who got $1.3M who hit .130 then you have to rank a guy who got $2.8M but who hasn’t played yet.
  • They chose to rank a bunch of 17yr old DSL kids instead of domestic players in the high-A to AA range, guys like Frizzell, Saenz, Boissiere, or Shuman.
  • They ranked Relievers Cronin, Ferrer, and Schoff … but not Brzycky, who destroyed minor league hitters in 2022 before getting TJ and missing 2023. Ok.
  • No room in the entire top 50 for our minor league pitcher of the year Andrew Alvarez, but enough room for least three DSL kids who signed for like $5k in Marcuto, Tavarez, and Liriano.
  • Not for nothing, Lucas Knowles may not be the sexiest pitcher out there, but the guy fared really well as a swingman in AA all year.

Phew. I’ll say it again, its tough ranking 50 players. I have my list and the churn in the 40-50 range is real.

Written by Todd Boss

February 5th, 2024 at 12:57 pm

Posted in Prospects