Nationals Arm Race

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

Archive for July, 2024

2024 Nats Draft Recap and Opinion


Caleb Lomavita was our trade bounty for Hunter Harvey, a 1st round supplemental pick. Photo via MASN

Last post on the Draft, which i’ve spent far too much time on this week.

Now that we’re 21 picks in, and the data has been fully updated in the Draft Tracker, Here’s some breakdowns and thoughts on the 21 players we picked.

  • 19 College, 2 HS picks

As usual we loaded up on College players. The two HS picks were a 2nd rounder and a speculative pick on a 15th rounder, which again is pretty on-brand for our typical draft.

  • Of the 19 college: 16 were Soph/Jrs with eligibility, just 3 were “Senior Signs” or Grad students.

Compare this to last year, when we drafted eight college seniors. Now, perhaps this is a remnant of the Covid year working its way through the system (meaning, many of last year’s seniors were actually 3rd year eligible due to the lost 2020 season). However, we’ve drafted a ton of guys who still could go back to school if they don’t like the number. Top 10 rounds i’m not too worried, but a few of these mid-teen guys may pass (see below) for various reasons.

  • My guesses on over/under slot from top 10: 6 Under, 4 slot, 1 over.

The top 10 rounds are what really counts for over/under slot, and here’s pick by pick what I think happens:

  • 1st King. Slot $5.9M: I think he signs for less, like $1.5M less, since he projected mid-teens.
  • 1-S: Lomavita. Slot $2.3m: signs for slot, maybe a smidge more b/c he’s Boras client and of course he will get it, since Boras has extracted ridiculous $ from us for years.
  • 2nd Dickerson. Slot $2.1m: I think he goes overslot, like maybe $400-$500k over.
  • 3rd Bazzell. Slot $980k: I think he goes for slot, maybe a smidge more.
  • 4th Kent. Slot $676k: signs for slot or close to it.
  • 5th Diaz. Slot $490k: Underslot, by perhaps $200k
  • 6th Garcia. Slot $372k: underslot, by perhaps $100k
  • 7th Cranz. Slot $290k: slightly underslot by maybe $75k
  • 8th Peterson. Slot $230k: Sighs for slot
  • 9th Ross. Slot $198k: senior sign for $10k, saving $188k or so
  • 10th Johnson. Slot $185k. small college sign for $10k, saving $175k or so.

Honestly, I only see one obvious over-slot pick in the top 10 in Dickerson, and he’s already at $2.1M slot, so just giving him another few hundred thousand puts him into 1st round money, which should be what he needs to forgo college. Working the numbers above, I see savings of about $2.2M, giving $500k of it to Dickerson, leaving about $1.7M in overages for rounds 11-20. Which we’ll get to in a bit when talking sign-ability below.

  • 11 Pitchers, 10 position players overall
  • But, 7 position, 4 pitchers in top 10, and our first 4 picks were position players.

Good balance in the draft overall, but the top of this draft was entirely about hitters. Which is interesting, since we have not really focused on big-time arms at the top of the draft now for a few years running. To wit:

  • 2024 draft: 5 of the first 6 picks were position players.
  • 2023 draft: 6 of the first 7 picks were position players
  • 2022 draft: 5 of the first 6 picks were position players.
  • 2021 draft: 4 of the first 5 picks were position players.

Compare to

  • 2019 (4 of top 6 arms)
  • 2018 (6 of top 7 arms)
  • 2017 (9 of top 10 picks arms)

Is this a pivot in draft strategy for the franchise? It seems like it. For years Rizzo drafted a gazillion arms and used them as trade currency to acquire position players. Now it seems like the strategy is reversed, with the bulk of our prospect depth coming in bats. We have more top OF prospects than we know what to do with, and we face a pending OF log-jam (Wood, Young in bigs now, with Crews, Hassell, Lile coming soon, and guys like Green, Vaquero, Cox maybe in the distant future, and that’s before remembering we also have Thomas, Call, Garrett on the 40-man). Not to mention we have an All-Star SS, a 1st rounder at 3B in AAA, now another decent 3B prospect in AA, and we just drafted three SS/3B projected guys in the first 3 rounds of the 2024 draft.

As for Arms, we grabbed a slew of them in the teens, which has served the team well in previous drafts. We’ve picked up guys who have flown through the minors despite being drafted in the high teens, an amazing feat considering how difficult is has been for our 2nd rounders to amount to anything historically (a rant for another time).

  • Lots of positional flexibility in the guys we drafted

This seems to be a trend with the Nats, and the league in general. If you look at the guys we signed last off-season, they all had multi-position capabilities. Look at the position players we just picked up and you see a lot of the same:

  • King: played 4 positions for Wake this year (CF, SS, 3B, 2B)
  • Lomavita: Catcher only
  • Dickerson: Prep SS, but projects to be 2B, CF capable
  • Bazzell: played both C and 3B. If he can play 3B, he can play at least 1B and maybe 2B
  • Diaz: SS and 3B this year
  • Peterson: CF but can play all 3 OF positions
  • Ross played 1B, LF, RH this year.
  • Jones: HS C but projects to 1B/corner OF slugger
  • Banks: CF in college but can play all 3 OF positions.
  • Shelton: college SS but played 3B and can cover anywhere on the dirt

So that’s good.

  • Signability: Of the 11th-20th rounders: 6 look easily sign-able, 2 look like they’ll be tougher signs, 2 would need a lot more money

I’m going to assume that we sign all top 10 round picks, because that’s just what happens now. Nearly 99% of the picks in the top 10 rounds have signed since the slot bonus system went in place.

Here’s a quick summary of 11-20 and sign-ability:

  • 11th Beeker: Signable, maybe a little above $150k
  • 12th Meckley, signable for $150k
  • 13th Olson, signable for $150k or less even
  • 14th Tejeda, may be tougher to sign, in that he’s a RS soph with 2 years of eligibilty.
  • 15th Jones, may be tough to sign as a HS kid with a big name college commitment, but he’s also not a top 100 prep recruit. Maybe he signs if he gets a 7-figure bonus.
  • 16th Hughes: senior draftee, signable at $150k or less even.
  • 17th Bruni: signable
  • 18th Banks: signable
  • 19th Minckler: tough sign in that he just got an offer to go to ASU
  • 20th Shelton; intriguing over-slot discussion, see below.

Do we have enough money to get both Jones and Shelton? Maybe. If my above accounting is right, we might have about $1.7M in spare bonus money. BUT, that’s before we add in the 5% buffer, worth another $700k or so. So, that’s about $2.4M total. Could we get Shelton for $1.5M and Jones for $1M? That’d be roughly mid 2nd round money for Shelton and top of 3rd round money for Jones. Maybe, Maybe. That’d make for a heck of a successful draft if they could pull it off.

  • Regional breakdown of players:

This team for years has been super heavy in the southwest regions (Texas, Oklahoma). This year i see a bit of a departure.

  • West Coast: 2: one from AZ, one from CA (Lomavita, Kent)
  • Southeast: 6: 3 from FL, 1 from GA, 1 from SC, 1 from NC (Garcia, Tejada, Shelton, Olson, Meckley, King)
  • Southwest: 4: 1 from TX, 1 from OK, 1 from LA, 1 from MS (Bazzell, Cranz, Banks, Ross)
  • Northeast: 3: 1 from NJ, 1 from NY, 1 from MD (Dickerson, Johnson, Minckler)
  • Midwest: 6: 2 from OH, 2 from IN, 1 from IL, 1 from IA (Diaz, Peterson, Beeker, Jones, Hughes, Bruni)

So that’s interesting. that’s basically 9 players from “cold weather” states in the northeast and midwest. Just a couple from their typical heavy hunting grounds of TX and OK.

  • Conference breakdown of college players

Here’s a conference breakdown of the schools the 19 college draftees came from:

  • Pac12: 2 (Arizona and Cal)
  • ACC: 2 (Florida State, Wake Forest)
  • SEC: 2 (Florida, Ole Miss)
  • Big12 2 (Ok state, Texas Tech)
  • Big10: 2 (Iowa, Ohio State)
  • MEAC: 1 (Ball State)
  • SBC: 1 (Coastal Carolina)
  • Atlantic Sun: 1 (FGCU)
  • MVC: 1 (Indiana State)
  • Southern 1 (Mercer)
  • MAAC 1 (Niagara)
  • AAC 1 (Tulane)
  • Big East 1 (Xavier)
  • America East 1 (UMBC)

That’s a lot of players from a lot of pretty random baseball conferences. Remember; the entire CWS was from the ACC and the SEC.

Written by Todd Boss

July 18th, 2024 at 10:12 am

Posted in Draft,Prospects

2024 Draft Day 3 Reaction


Here’s a quick recap with some thoughts on day 3 of the 2024 MLB Draft, rounds 11-20

Reminder: Draft tracking Links

  • MLB Draft Tracker: updated for first 10 slots with all the info for our draftees plus Twitter accounts.
  • List of all Slot values for 2024
  • The Nats Draft Tracker master XLS, which I’m building out for 2024 as we go. With the trade we just made, our bonus pool is 13,895,100, but with the 5% buffer we can go up to 14,589,855 on our first 10 picks and 11th-20th rounders who get more than $150k.

11th Round, 320 Overall: Merrett Beeker, a LHP starter Coll jr from Ball State.

11th rounders are generally where you’ll find interesting over-slot deals made, since there’s a flat $150k bonus structure for each player and there’s no “slot savings” for under-slot deals like there are for the back half of day 2. The Nats have signed a couple of above-slot 11th rounders in the past (Luke Young in 2022, JT Arruda in 2019 for example) and last year grabbed a Juco guy named Gavin Austin in the same gambit but couldn’t get him to sign (he was drafted in the 8th round this year by Pittsburgh).

That being said, this year we take Beeker, a LHP starter who was Ball State’s #2/Saturday starter this year and had some pretty intriguing numbers. He went 9-3 with a 4.11 ERA, 1.22 Whip, but he had 128 Ks in 81ip! that’s a 14 K/9 rate for a starter, which was good for #6 in the nation this year. The top 5 K/9 leaders ahead of him include 2 first rounders Hagen & Smith, plus 2nd rounder Brecht and 4th rounder Langevin, so that’s heady company. An interesting pick for sure, and not really one that looks like it needs an overslot deal.

12th round, 350 overall: Alexander Meckley, RHP college Junior starter/reliever from Coastal Carolina.

BA Ranked him #421 this year. Their scouting report: He was hit around a bit in his first 43 innings as a starter and reliever but has a big arm with a fastball that sits 93-94 and touches 97 with riding life from a high release point. Meckley has a four- and two-seam variation on his fastball and will spin a low-80s slider and upper-70s curveball with more depth.

This pick is interesting. Meckley started the year as CCU’s Friday night starter, and he started the year really well. He went 7ip and gave up 2hits in march against CWS team JMU. He held his own against early season opponents like Ball State, Indiana, and Michigan. Then suddenly he fell off a cliff, ending with a 2ip/8Run embarrassment against Wake Forest. At which point, CCU took him out of the rotation entirely. He ended the season with a 7.52 ERA and a 1.44 whip. He was a Juco transfer into Coastal, and in Juco his numbers were decent, so perhaps the team had a local area scout who remembered the guy. One has to think he’s relatively signable at the $150k slot here; if you get drafted the year after you put up an ERA in the 7s, you should probably take the money and give pro ball a try.

13th round, 380 overall: Bryant Olson, LHP reliever college junior from Mercer

Olson was Mercer’s closer for a while this season, finishing with 8 saves and some ugly stat lines. 6.41 ERA, 2.25 whip. 39/29 K/BB in 26 innings. Not much info out there on him, but a lefty with big K numbers could indicate a project the team is willing to work on.

14th round: 410 overall: Yoel Tejeda Jr. a draft-eligible Sophomore RHP from Florida State.

Tejeda is a massive (6’8″) guy, who transferred out of Florida and to Florida State for 2024. He got a couple of opener-starter gigs but was mostly in the bullpen for the FSU team. He got shelled in a game on May 26th against Duke, where he walked in a run and gave up a grand slam, and didn’t appear the rest of the season. The gamer from that game was blunt; calling his use an “experiment” that continued to go badly. His season numbers: 5.95 ERA in just 19ip, and more walks than strikeouts.

Why did he never pitch after May 26th? Injury? Or banishment to the bench? Either way, I wonder if he’s more likely to enter the transfer portal than he is to end his college career on this note. He turned down mid-teen money out of HS two years ago (he was drafted 18th round by Pittsburgh) and maybe he’ll do it again.

That makes four straight day-3 college arms. They’ve done so well in the past couple of drafts with this strategy (Sthele, Sullivan, Amaral last year, Lord and Luckham the year before, Alvarez in 2021…) that you can’t blame them for this strategy. Does anyone want to bet that one of these mid-teens college juniors won’t make a fast jump?

15th round: 440 overall: Sir Jamison Jones, a HS Catcher from St. Rita HS (IL)

BA ranked 372. Their report: Jones is one of the most physical players in the 2024 prep class and has tons of strength currently with a 6-foot-3, 225-pound frame. He can generate huge fly balls and has exciting power upside because of his massive strength, though he’ll need to refine his approach significantly and make more contact to fully tap into that raw power. His pitch recognition is inconsistent and he was also late against fastballs a bit too often. Jones has a big arm behind the plate, but he’ll need to work to stick behind the plate and might fit best as a first baseman. He’s a well below-average runner. Jones is committed to Oklahoma State.

I about spit out my drink when I saw this pick. A High School catcher in the 15th round? And, after doing the BA and PerfectGame research, apparently a good one. He’s been at all the showcase events, is one of the top ranked players coming out of Illinois, and he’s got a commitment to a big-time college in Oklahoma State.

Well, if you’re saving your pennies, this is where they could go. But a 6-3 225 guy screams 1B, not C, but he also seems like a project. Is he really signable here? He’s not a top 100 ranked guy, so we’re not talking millions to buy him out of Ok State, so I wonder what the angle here is.

16th round, 470 overall: Nolan Hughes, college senior LHP from Xavier

Hughes was played the first three years of his career at Fordham, then transferred to Xavier for 2024. He was mostly a bullpen guy, who got 4 starts on the year and faced some decent competition admirably. Season stats were mediocre until you see the K line. 4.33 ERA, 1.90 whip. 65/52 K/BB in 35ip. That is an astonishing 16.7 K/9 rate. He’s a big velocity lefty, can touch 98 with off-speed stuff that includes an 81mph sweeping curve and an 87mph changeup. That must look like an eephus pitch. Clean mechanics, looks solid in the little video snippets we can find. A project, but has some tools to work with.

17th round, 500 overall: Gavin Bruni, LHP starter from Ohio State

BA #384. Their scouting report: Bruni was an arm-strength lefthander who was already touching 96 mph in high school, but also had real control questions. Three years later and he’s still largely that sort of pitcher. A 6-foot-3, 205-pound starter, Bruni sits around 90 mph with his fastball and will run it up to 95-96 with above-average carry on the pitch but below-average command. He mixes in a slider around 80 and a curveball in the mid 70s that both have solid spin. He has a low-80s changeup that he rarely throws and isn’t likely to be a big piece of his arsenal moving forward without significant improvement. Bruni has been a full-time starter for Ohio State, but likely projects as a reliever in pro ball thanks to a career walk rate around 17%.

A weekend starter for Ohio State, which isn’t really that big of a baseball program. 6.19 ERA this season with not impressive peripherals. As the writeup says, he projects as a lefty reliever in pro ball, where he can sit more in the 95-96 range for an inning.

18th round: 530 overall. Teo Banks, OF (CF) college jr from Tulane.

Banks was Tulane’s CF and #2 hitter in the post-season; not sure if that’s where he played the whole season, but that’s where he ended it. Slash line for the year: .265/.380/.543 with some power and some speed. He’s a bigger dude, (6’2 205) so he might project as a corner in pro ball. I wish he had a better hit tool this year, but for what its worth he hit .301 as a sophomore and .317 as a freshman. He started part of freshman, all of sophomore and all of junior. He seems sign-able here.

19th round: 560 overall: Ryan Minckler, college junior RHP from Niagara University

Minckler served as kind of a long-man reliever for Niagara this year, 20 games, 50+ innings, with decent numbers. Initially went to UVA but never appeared, so he transferred and was in the Niagara rotation last year. Never seems to go more than 3-4 innings an appearance. Probably immediately projects to be a pro reliever.

His twitter has a pinned post from June 30th that says he’s transferring to Arizona State. He’s listed as a college junior but he redshirted his freshman year so technically he has two years of eligibility left, so me thinks he’s going to ASU and won’t sign. It’s not often you get to move to a major baseball program, in Arizona … which is about as far away a place from a college perspective as you can get from Niagara.

20th round: 590 overall: Colby Shelton, a SS/3B college junior from Florida

BA scouting report: Shelton had a standout freshman season with Alabama in 2023, when he led the club with 25 home runs en route to a second-team All-America selection. After the season, Shelton transferred to Florida, where he continued to show a powerful lefthanded bat. His production took a slight step backward in 2024, when he hit .256/.381/.573 with 20 home runs in 61 games. A 6-foot, 200-pound lefthanded hitter, Shelton is strong with all-fields power that comes with plenty of swing-and-miss. He sets up with a slightly crouched stance that includes a high handset and small leg lift, though he can be a bit rigid and stiff at times. His career strikeout rate sits in the 24-25% range, and he has contact questions versus all pitch types and an aggressive approach that leads to too many swings out of the zone. Because of Shelton’s back-to-back 20-homer seasons in the Southeastern Conference, some scouts think he will hit for enough impact to profile as a bat-first infielder. A shortstop now, Shelton profiles better at either third base or second base thanks to just OK actions and quickness. He can throw from multiple angles nicely and has enough arm strength for the left side of the infield. He is a fringe-average runner. He fits anywhere from round two to four.

So, this is the most interesting pick of the draft for this team. 20th rounder but MLB has him ranked #133 and BA has him all the way up at #64. Why did he fall? He was a 2nd team All American after the 2023 season, then left Alabama to go to Florida. He struggled this year: .254/.374/.551 but still hit 20 homers for one of the best teams in the land. In Florida’s final game, a loss to Texas A&M in Omaha, he played SS and batted cleanup. This is a big-time player. Can the team come with 3rd round money ($1M?) to sign him? Maybe; I can’t see an obvious massive over-slot guy anywhere else here, and I suspect they’re saving at least that amount off their 1st rounder.

We’ll do a draft class recap post later this week, summarizing.

Written by Todd Boss

July 17th, 2024 at 9:24 am

Posted in Draft,Prospects

2024 Draft Day Two Analysis


Kevin Bazzell becomes our highest pick of day 2 and can play C or 3B.  Photo via Sports Illustrated

Here’s a quick recap with some thoughts on day 2 of the 2024 MLB Draft, rounds 3-10.

To recap, we picked a college SS/3B, then a college C, then a prep SS with our three day 1 picks.

Reminder: Draft tracking Links

  • MLB Draft Tracker: updated for first 10 slots with all the info for our draftees plus Twitter accounts.
  • List of all Slot values for 2024
  • The Nats Draft Tracker master XLS, which I’m building out for 2024 as we go. With the trade we just made, our bonus pool is 13,895,100, but with the 5% buffer we can go up to 14,589,855 on our first 10 picks and 11th-20th rounders who get more than $150k.

Reminder: Draft Rankings

3rd Round, 79th Overall: Nats take Kevin Bazzell, a College Jr Catcher/3B from Texas Tech.

Ranks by major shops: BA=68, ESPN=59, MLBpipeline=55, Law=35, Fangraphs=63

So, we picked a college catcher in round 2 who was actually ranked BELOW the college catcher we drafted in round 3. Interesting. A couple of the pundits (Law included) really like Bazzell, giving him a 60 hit tool. A 60 hit tool behind the plate has aspirations to Joe Mauer, and (true to Nats form lately) Bazzell also played 3B a lot this year. Despite having mononucleosis earlier this spring he still slashed .306/.401/.473.

Makes me wonder if Lomavita was underslot and Bazzell is over slot?

4th round, 108 overall: Jackson Kent, a LHP starter college Jr from University of Arizona.

Ranks by major shops: BA=138, ESPN=144, MLBpipeline=136, Law=unranked, Fangraphs=unranked, P1500=170,

Finally, we get a pitcher for our pitching starved system, but somehow Kent seems underwhelming. A lefty who posted kind of middle of the road numbers this year (4.08 era, 1.28 whip, about a hit an inning, about a K an inning, .253 BAA) as Arizona’s Friday night starter/ace. His game log from 2024 was rather interesting: his first 11 starts were pristine; almost all quality starts or close to it, a bunch of 6ip-1r type affairs, then his last four starts he got hit hard; gave up 5 in 4 2/3 against Stanford, 5 in 6ip against Utah, 5 in 3IP against Oregon State, and then 7 in 5ip against Cal.

His late season slump was bad enough that Arizona, who was a regional host/top 16 seed, didn’t even use him in the post season as they went 2-and-out. Usually such a wild turnaround indicates injury, but none was reported. Nonetheless, the Jackson Kent of the first 11 starts (2.47 ERA) is obviously the guy we want.

5th round, 141 overall: Randal Diaz, a college Jr SS from Indiana State by way of Puerto Rico.

Ranks: not ranked by anyone

Very little to go on here, other than scouting the stat line. He looked great for a CWS team this year, slashing .360/.437/.632 as a middle infielder with 18 homers. He batted leadoff and played SS and definitely contributed in the CWS regional as they made the regional final before falling to Kentucky.

Is this an under-slot signing? Probably; there’s still top prospects on the board and he’s well off. But, I like what we see here as a sneaky productive possible under-slot player. Interestingly, he had entered the transfer portal after Indiana State’s coach left just after the season ended to take the South Florida job. This likely makes him that much more signable/amenable to go pro.

6th round: 170 overall: Davian Garcia, a college junior RHP from Florida gulf Coast.

Ranks: unranked by all shops

Another unranked draftee likely also means underslot deal. Delving into his numbers this year at FGCU, he started in the bullpen and rose to be their ace starter by season’s end. He ended the year with a 3.03 ERA, 1.21 whip, and 71/20 K/BB in 59IP. 98 on the gun, with good spin and off-speed metrics apparently. I don’t love his mechanics (super inverted W with shoulder subluxation) and he’s kind of wirey/undersized, which screams a) injury and b) reliever, but you can’t teach velocity.

7th round: 200 overall: Robert Cranz, college junior RHP reliever from Oklahoma State.

Ranks: unranked

Another round, another arm, which is good to see. And we return to fertile scouting ground for this team: Oklahoma colleges. Cranz worked out of Oklahoma State’s bullpen this year with stellar results: 1.63 ERA, 0.77 whip, a .153 BAA. Great looking stats. Prior to OK State, he pitched two years at Wichita State. Not much out there on him. He came out of Keller HS in the Houston area, a baseball factory.

Is he destined for the pen in pro ball? Not necessarily; this team turned Brad Lord from a senior sign college reliever into a starter in AAA in two years. It’s not like these guys forgot how to throw 6 innings.

8th round: 230 overall: Sam Petersen, OF College Junior from Iowa

Ranks by major shops: BA=184, ESPN=205, MLBpipeline=205, P1500=209

So, in the 8th they get a guy who fell a bit (was 5th round projection perhaps) who seems to be a speedy OF type with great pace and solid SB numbers. He was hurt most of this season, so I wonder what kind of signability he has here.

9th Round: 260 Overall: Jackson Ross, a 5th year senior/grad corner 1B/OF from Ole Miss

The first obvious senior sign/$10k bonus candidate is Jackson Ross, who started every game for the team and showed some positional flexibility. He played 1B, LF, RF and DH’d this year. He was a middle of the order bat for the team, showed some power, decent OBP. He played his first few years at Florida Atlantic. Should be a $10k or $20k signer and may provide some veteran leadership not unlike what Gavin Dugas has done so far.

10th round: 290 overall: Luke Johnson, a college senior RHP starter from UMBC

Johnson was a weekend starter for traditional baseball powerhouse UMBC this year. His numbers weren’t as great this year, but last year he had a sub 3.00 ERA. Interestingly, he’s the very first player from Maryland to get picked this year (and as it turned out, the SOLE player from Maryland for the draft), with a down year from the University of Maryland and no prep prospects to speak of.

With all due respect to Johnson, this is the epitome of a slot savings pick, and should sign for $10k or so.

Draft summary so far:

6 position, 4 arms. 2 college catchers, the rest SS and guys who can slot in at multiple positions. The arms don’t look half bad.

2 Obvious slot savings picks at 9 & 10, maybe a couple others in the 5-7th range. But who are they saving money for? Is the prep SS from New Jersey going to cost that much? Maybe they have their eye on an 11th rounder that will go 7-figures.

hate to say it, but i’m not really that impressed with this class. Maybe the Seaver King pick has disappointed me from getting excited here.

Written by Todd Boss

July 15th, 2024 at 5:42 pm

Posted in Draft,Prospects

2024 Day One Draft Reaction – Seaver King!?


Here’s my quick take on Nats Day 1 picks (1st, 1st-comp, and 2nd rounders)

First: Important Draft Links

  • MLB Draft Tracker
  • List of all Slot values for 2024
  • The Nats Draft Tracker master XLS, which I’m building out for 2024 as we go. With the trade we just made, our bonus pool is 13,895,100, but with the 5% buffer we can go up to 14,589,855 on our first 10 picks and 11th-20th rounders who get more than $150k.

Also, Here’s all the main pundit Draft Ranks with Scouting Reports; here’s links to the leading pundits out there with their Draft Boards (not Mocks) which usually have click-through scouting reports.

I’ll use some of these links to show where each guy we pick landed on the various boards to indicate whether it was a reach or a steal.

1st Round, 10th Overall: Nats take Seaver King, a College Junior SS from Wake Forest.

Ranks by major shops: BA=17, ESPN=16, MLBpipeline=17, Law=17, Fangraphs=11. SportingNews=11. Others generally in the 17-19 range.

So, the Nats at #10 have Bryce Rainer AND Braden Montgomery on the board dropping to them after both being mocked as high as the top 5 all month, and they reach down past even where Yesevage was projecting to go to pick Seaver King, a D2 transfer to Wake who has been creeping up draft boards ever since he slashed .424/.479/.542 with wood on the Cape last year.

I’ll point out that Seaver King did not appear in a SINGLE MOCK draft in the top 10 that I can recall, nor was he ever associated with a Nats pick at #10. This is coming out of LF for sure. To me, this smells like an under-slot deal (slot value for 1-10 is $5.9M) so that the team, who now owns the #39 and #44, might be able to save $1.5M or so (the difference between 10th overall and 17th overall, which is probably where he was expecting to go) and throw it at one of their next two picks to make it look like a mid-1st rounder.

Back to King: he played CF, SS, 3B, and 2B in that order this year, has positional flexibility, can absolutely hit both with metal and with wood (Slash line at Wake Forest this year: .308/.377/.577), has some speed and some power. I bet the Nats like him b/c he can play a bunch of different positions.

What do I think? I would rather have taken Montgomery. Maybe they were spooked by the injury. I wasn’t really on Tibbs as much as Moore (who went a couple picks earlier), and Yesevage would have been a reach (he went 20th overall). So. Lets see who they pick in the next two rounds.

1st round Comp round, #39 overall: Caleb Lomavita, a College Junior C from Cal-Berkeley.

Ranks by major shops: BA=18, ESPN=24, MLBpipeline=33, Law=46, Fangraphs=43. SportingNews=35

Interesting range of ranks from the shops, especially BA at #18 and Law at 46 as extremes.

So, three picks before ours, MLB’s best available included Brody Becht and Tommy White, both of whom got mid-1st round buzz throughout the spring. In fact, the very first mocks we saw all had White going to Nats at #10 under the guise of “Mike Rizzo loves the famous guys.” Well, White had a crummy spring, which knocked him down to being available at #39, and Becht got popped one pick beforehand, so the Nats went with the Catcher Lomavita. We don’t have a ton of depth at the position and there’s definitely concerns about Kiebert Ruiz right now despite the contract we gave him (he’s slashing .224/.260/.333 this year). We say it over and over; you don’t draft for need, but here’s the Nationals Catching depth chart right now:

  • MLB: Ruiz & Adams, neither of whom can hit
  • AAA: Millas, Lindsley (a 10k senior sign), Gonzalez (an NDFA who spends most of his time on the Dev list).
  • AA: Pineda (already outrighted), Vega (boucning around like an org guy), Stubbs (2024 MLFA)
  • High-A: Romero (hitting .168 this year), Suggs (an NDFA hitting .202), Diaz (2024 BA: .116).
  • Low-A: Colomenares (.197), Farmer (22 NDFA hitting .186), Rombach (just promoted from FCL)
  • Rookie: three 18yr olds from the DR
  • DSL: three 17yr olds we signed in January

So, yeah, we need catching depth. Badly. The scouting reports aren’t great, he’s undersized and has some mechanical issues, but he’s definitely a college catcher and will stay there. Maybe we put him at Low-A to start, move Rombach up since nobody at Wilmington can hit, and see what happens.

2nd round #44 overall: Luke Dickerson, Prep SS from Morris Knolls HS (NJ).

Ranks by major shops: BA=56, ESPN=77, MLBpipeline=49, Law=59, Fangraphs 100+. SportingNews=36

It’s possible some bonus dollars will go to buy Dickerson out of his UVA commitment, but they probably don’t need THAT much. The slot value is $2.1M. The pundits said he was getting 1st round buzz, and he was certainly a helium prospect this year. 6′ shortstop who is offense over defense, may project more like a 2B or a CF, but has serious athleticism. Not only is he a top baseball prospect, but he also helped his HS team win the state Ice Hockey championship this year. Interesting sport combo.

An interesting pick; not sure who was exactly available at this point who might have made more sense. A slew of college arms went right after him. One thing that seems to stand out is his positional flexibility; he’s an athlete enough to move around the dirt, or play the OF with his speed.

Day 1: A solid college SS, a college C, and a prep SS. We’re a long way from drafting pitcher after pitcher.

Written by Todd Boss

July 14th, 2024 at 10:48 pm

Posted in Draft,Prospects

2024 Draft Coverage – Final Mocks and still a ton of questions


Konnor Griffen seems more and more likely to end up a Nat. Photo via Mississippi Scoreboard

We’ve published a couple of Mock draft collections so far, and as we get closer to the draft we’re starting to see some solidification at the top. We’re now past the CWS, past the draft combine, and we’re getting close. These mocks run from late June all the way to the eve of the draft … where we got some decent consolidation of predictions.

We’re starting to see some new names slipping into the 8-10 range of this draft. We’ve gone from it being a “9-man draft” to a collection of 10-12 players who seem to be fitting. Those players are (in rough order of draft rank), with some commentary on each pick based on post-season performances:

  • Charlie Condon: 3B/OF, University of Georgia: monster regional, then wasn’t that impressive in the super regionals. Mostly 1-1 on boards, but CW is that he’ll go 1-2 or 1-3 so that Cleveland can save some money at the top.
  • Travis Bazzana, 2B, Oregon State; so-so post-season doesn’t seem to be hurting his 1-1 chances, given that he’ll sign for a lot less than Condon.
  • Jac Caglianone, 1B/LHP Florida; Just blew up at the plate all post-season, really impressed. Also solidified his lack of ability on the mound.
  • Nick Kurtz, 1B Wake Forest: almost no impact in the post-season.
  • Braden Montgomery, OF, Texas A&M; broke his ankle in a weird running play, missing his team’s run to the final. Was top 5, now likely drops.
  • Hagen Smith, LHP starter, Arkansas: final start wasn’t great in the regionals.
  • Chase Burns, RHP starter, Wake Forest; got out-pitched by Yesevage in his last start, and now
  • J.J. Wetherholt, 2B/SS, West Virginia; poor regional but may sneak into top 5.
  • Konnor Griffin, SS/CF, Jackson Prep (Flowood, Miss.); skipped MLB draft combine.
  • Bryce Rainer, SS from Harvard Westlake HS in LA: went to MLB draft combine, showed 96 on the mound, impressed as per reports.
  • James Tibbs, OF Florida State University: a couple of monster post-season games has him sneaking into the top 10 on some boards.
  • Trey Yesevage, RHP, East Carolina: out-pitched Burns in his post-season start, now creeping into the top 10 in some mocks.

If you’d like to see some scouting reports, go to one of these main spots:

Here’s the Mocks from Late June leading up to the draft.

  • MLBpipeline team 6/20/24 mock: Bazzana, Condon, Burns, Caglianone, Wetherholt. Nats at #10 take Griffen over Rainey.
  • Sporting News/Edward Suetan 6/20/24 Mock: Bazzana, Condon, Burns, Caglianone, Wetherholt. Nats at #10 take Rainey over Griffen. quite similar mock to above MLBpipeline one; exact same top 5 in the same order.
  • MLBPipeline/Jim Callis 6/27/24 mock: Bazzana, Caglianone, Condon, Montgomery, Griffin (wow). Nats at #10 get Rainer. In this mock, Kurtz was on the board but the team still took the prep SS.
  • Baseball America/Carlos Collazo Mock v5.0 7/1/24: Wetherholt, Condon, Burns, Bazzana, Caglianone. Nats at #10 take Griffen over Kurtz and Tibbs.
  • CBSsports/Mike Axisa 7/3/24 mock: Wetherholt, Condon, Burns, Bazzana, Caglianone. Nats at #10 get Montgomery, who falls with the injury and an early pick of Yesevage in his mock. They leave Griffen, Moore, Tibbs, and Kurtz on the table.
  • MLBpipeline/Mayo 7/5/24 mock: Bazzana, Condon, Caglianone, Montgomery, Wetherholt. Nats at #10 get Rainer.
  • ESPN Staff Mock 7/5/24: Condon, Bazzana, Caglianone, Smith, Wetherholt. Nats at #10 take the power hitting Christian Moore 2B, Tennessee, over Rainer, which I don’t think is reasonable. I sense this “staff mock” is more about the staff guys doing a draft rankings versus the proclivities of what these teams would take. But, Moore, if the Nats take him, was a beast all year and, even though he’s 2B limited, could probably feature at 3B if he’s a 2B now. If he could hit in pros like he’s hit in college, look out.
  • Bleacherreport/Joel Reuter 7/7/24 mock: Bazzana, Condon, Burns, Caglianone, Wetherholt. Nats at #10 go Yesevage. In this mock, the two prep SS both go high, as does Montgomery, so Nats take Yesevage over Moore, Kurtz, Tibbs.
  • The Athletic/Keith Law’s mock 3.0 7/10/24: Bazzana, Condon, Burns, Kurtz, Caglianone. Nats at #10 take Yesevage over Griffen.
  • Fangraphs/Longenhagen Mock draft v1.0 7/11/24: Bazzana, Condon, Burns, Montgomery, Caglianone. Nats at #10 take Griffen and Yesevage slips to #15.
  • MLBPipeline/Jim Callis Mock 7/11/24: Bazzana, Condon, Burns, Kurtz, Caglianone. Nats get Rainer, who isn’t taken earlier like in other mocks above us.
  • ESPN/Kiley McDaniel mock 3.0 7/11/24: Wetherholt, Caglianone, Condon, Bazzana, Griffen. Nats take Tibbs over Kurtz or Yesevage here, in a very weird mock with different names than most anyone else.
  • Sporting News/Eduard Sutelan mock 7/11/24: Wetherholt, Condon, Burns, Bazzana, Caglianone. Nats at 10 get Rainer. In a fun one, they have 3 full rounds of mocks: they have Nats taking local guy Griff O’Ferrall, SS, Virginia in the 2nd and Sawyer Farr, SS, Boswell (TX) in the third. So that’d be 3 short stops in a row.
  • Baseball America Mock 6.0 7/11/24: Wetherholt, Condon, Burns, Bazzana, Caglianone. Nats take Kurtz as BPA after both prep SS gone, but still too early for Yesevage.
  • CBSsports/Mike Axisa 7/13/24 mock: Bazzana, Condon, Smith, Montgomery, Caglianone. Nats go Griffen after Rainer taken early, but Yesevage and Kurtz still on board. I’m not sure I agree with his order here, having Wetherholt falling out of top 5 and Montgomery going so high.
  • D1Baseball final mock 7/13/24: Wetherhold, Bazzana, Burns, Condon, Caglianone. nats take Montgomery after both prep SS are picked ahead. This does not seem credible; Condon is not falling out of the top 2.
  • BleacherReport/ Joel Reuter’s final mock 7/13/24: Bazzana, Condon, Burns, Montgomery, Caglianone. nats at 10 take Yesevage over Griffen. I’d take this.
  • ESPN/KIley McDaniel mock 3.0 7/13/24: Wetherholt, Caglianone, Condon, Bazzana, Griffen. nats take Tibbs over Kurtz, Yesevage. Would be hard to believe this top 5 and this Nats pick happen.

I may have missed a couple, but there’s been so many in the last couple days its hard to keep up.

After all these Mocks, what do I think top 5 is?

I think the top 5 will go:

  1. Bazzana: I think Cleveland gets significant cost savings over what Condon wants by taking Bazzana here (probably $1M), which will let them buy a prep kid in the 3rd round who has slipped (similar to what we did with Sykora last year). They take Bazzana and his superior hit tool over Wetherholt and his health issues.
  2. Condon: he probably goes for near slot here ($9.7M). He won’t slip past here.
  3. Burns: Colorado can’t get FAs pitchers to come there, so they have to breed pitchers, so taking the best available arm makes sense here. Burns has slightly better stuff and less injury history than Smith.
  4. Any one of Wetherholt/Montgomery/Kurtz/Bazzana: Oakland is always a wild-card team in the draft and could pivot, but it seems like it’ll be one of these four guys depending on wh goes 1-1.
  5. Chicago: Caglianone. this seems like a lock.

So, 4 of the first 5 seem to be consensus, with only Oakland as a wildcard.

After all these Mocks, who do I think the Nats will take?

Its a draft like this where I honestly wish MLB teams could trade draft picks. Because I think the Nats might find themselves wanting a guy like Yesevage (or, ahem Tommy White) who might go later in the 1st round but if they pick him at 10 they’ll overpay. I mean, if they could trade down 3-4 picks, pick up an extra 2nd or 3rd rounder, and then pick Yesevage … in an old-school NFL-style trade, wouldn’t you be for that? We can only wish.

That being said, I hate to say it, but i think we’ll end up with a prep SS and not a college player. It will either be Rainer or Griffen. It seems like it’ll be Griffen, since Rainey seems to be getting popped a bit earlier. If Montgomery falls due to his health, i’d be ecstatic. If Kurtz falls b/c he’s 1B only and the Nats take him, i’ll be upset. If they surprise and take Tibbs or Moore, I wouldn’t hate it. If Kurtz is there, and they take him versus Yesevage… i’ll be upset. If both Rainer and Griffen are off the board at #10, it means that someone like Kurtz or Montgomery is there for the taking.

If it was me? I’m taking Yesevage. I don’t care if he’s 13-14th on the board, i don’t care that he “only” pitched for ECU. He’s polished, healthy, no mechanical issues, 3 pitches, throws strikes, performed on the big stage at CWS playoffs. However all the pundits keep talking about how 1) the Nats new player evaluation staff is more prep friendly and 2) they scouted the hell out of Griffen and Rainer this year.

Written by Todd Boss

July 13th, 2024 at 2:18 pm

Posted in Draft,Prospects

Baseball America Mid-Season Prospect Re-Rank


Lord has shot up the system in 2024 and gets his first prospect call-out. Photo via IG

Baseball America announced a slight mid-season re-rank of its top 30 prospects for every team on 7/9/24, and the Nats top 30 saw a bit of movement. Here’s a quick look at their top 30 right now plus a discussion on the changes they’ve made since the beginning of the season.

BA Also put out a quickie update in early May, so we’ll talk about the changes these players have had from January to May to July.

Here’s the latest list and the link for subscribers.

RankLast NameFirst NamePosition
1WoodJamesOF (Corner)
2CrewsDylanOF (CF)
4CavalliCadeRHP (Starter)
6Hassell IIIRobertOF (CF)
8SusanaJarlinRHP (Starter)
9RutledgeJacksonRHP (Starter)
10LileDaylenOF (CF)
11VaqueroCristianOF (CF)
13BennettJakeLHP (Starter)
14LaraAndryRHP (Starter)
15SykoraTravisRHP (Starter)
16HerzDJLHP (Starter)
17GreenElijahOF (CF)
18PinckneyAndrewOF (Corner)
19BrzykcyZachRHP (Reliever)
22HenryColeRHP (Starter)
24De La RosaJeremyOF (Corner)
28AlvarezAndrewLHP (Starter)
29LordBradRHP (Starter)

Here’s my thoughts and observations.

  • #1 and #2 flipped in May, with Wood taking over for Crews. No surprise here.
  • 3-4-5 have stated the exact same, in the same order. They havn’t dinged Cavalli for his rehab difficulties, nor Morales for his struggles in AA so far.
  • Rutledge dumped from #6 to #9. #6 was always too high for this guy, even based on his 2023 rise. Now we’re seeing him come back to earth. His 2024 numbers do not merit a top 10 system ranking.
  • Lipscomb has gone from 16 to 9 to 7. Soon he’ll be going to “graduated” since it seems like he’ll be playing 3B in the majors the rest of the way.
  • Parker: started the year #29, was up to #10 in May, now graduated. Not a bad 5th rounder.
  • Susana rightfully gets bumped up a few slots, from #11 to #8. Go look at his game logs for this year; whoever he talked to after his May 24th start did him a solid: since that start, 7 starts, 35 innings (5 innings a start exactly, no more, no less); 15 hits, 13 walks, 2 ER, total. 57 Ks. Wow. Talk about a good month.
  • Vaquero dumped a few spots from #8 to #11: dude’s hitting .157 this year. I mean, if they’ve dumped Green as far as they have, why not Vaquero as well? He’s still ranked this high entirely based on the size of his signing bonus.
  • Andry Lara, massive riser. He went from #31 pre-season to unranked last May, now he’s #15. He’s been solid the entire year and rightfully earned the promotion to AA. I’ve been complaining about Lara’s progression for several years, but no taking away his 2024 so far.
  • Sykora holding steady at #15, which seems to be underselling what he’s done so far in his first pro season. Like Susana, the team won’t let him pitch past the 5th inning, so he’s got a slew of “5ip 1hit 8ks zero walks zero runs” outings as of late. His absolute worst outing was his pro debut and he’s nearly in line for a promotion. He should be top 10 material soon.
  • Herz also holding steady at #16, probably unfairly given that he’s made his MLB debut. I mean, lets be honest; why would Herz be ranked lower than Rutledge right now? It was Herz who got the call-up, not Rutledge. Dumb.
  • A reminder: Jacob Young started the year as a #18 prospect, now is projecting for a 4-win season and rookie of the year votes. Bravo.
  • Green continues his slide: started at #9 (where I thought he was actually UNDER ranked), now slipped from #12 to #17. Ouch. He’s hitting .174 with 136 Ks in 67 games as of this writing. What the hell is going on here?
  • Not much movement for the guys in the 18-25 range; mostly fringe guys or former top prospects who continue to scuffle.
  • Nunez, who still retains his rookie status by ABs since he’s barely playing, dumped to #26. The team has lasted this long with him, but honestly, does anyone see him actually working out based on what we see? I’d also like to point out that it is now mid July; he’s had 13 total at-bats this year. 13! he’s 1-13 for the season.
  • Brad Lord comes in at #29, the first time we’ve seen any prospect ranking shop rank him. Lord was, lest we forget, an 18th round SENIOR draftee who was a reliever in college from a mid-major UCF, who worked his way into the low-A rotation last season, then held his own in 9 starts to finish the season, got moved to AA to start this season, completely owned it, and is now in the AAA rotation. An 18th round draft pick. Bravo to him and his success.
  • Marcus Brown holding steady at #30. Not sure why. He’s hitting .203 in low-A despite coming out of a major conference.
  • The only player previously listed not here is TJ White, who got bumped from #28 to #30+.

Missing? I think you can make a case for a slew of guys to be on this list at the expense of the likes of Brown or Nunez. Luckham, Cox, Quintana, Shuman come immediately to mind. But, this was clearly not a major overhaul/analysis either.

Soon we’re ramping up for draft week!

Written by Todd Boss

July 10th, 2024 at 10:00 am

Posted in Prospects

The Nats Youth Movement is here


James Wood continues a big youth push in 2024. Photo Nationals ST 2024

I’m not the first one to notice this, but the Nats management has basically gotten fed up with the lack of productivity of its veterans and 1yr/FA/trade bait players, and has made a slew of moves that have turned this team into what has to be the youngest in the majors right now. Gone/demoted are Robles, Senzel, Rosario, and Meneses. In are Yepez, Lipscomb, Young, and Wood, and they seem like they’re here to stay. Next up is probably Gallo and his .174 BA and probably Corbin once we get a healthy guy off the DL, and god knows why Nunez is still here (he’s got ONE HIT all year). Winker and Thomas produce, but they’re more valuable for who they can bring back in trade versus what they give a sub .500 team in 2024. but i digress.

Here’s our current optimal lineup, with age as of this writing and salary (thanks to the Big Board and Cots for the figures). I’m assuming that a lot of these guys are at the MLB minimum, which is $740k for this year

  • C: Ruiz, 25, $6.3M
  • 1B: Yepez, 26, $740k
  • 2B: Garcia, 24, 1.9M
  • SS: Abrams, 23, 752k
  • 3B: Lipscomb, 24, 740k
  • LF: Wood, 21, 740k
  • CF: Young, 24, 740k
  • RF: Thomas, 28, $5.4M
  • DH: Winker, 30, $2M

That’s an average of exactly 25yrs for the lineup. Four guys at or near the league minimum, total payroll for these nine is just $19.3M, or an average of $2.1 each. Thomas’ salary will eventually be replaced by Crews’ MLB min salary, and maybe an eventual addition of House makes it lower too.

How about the rotation? Here’s our current rotation

  • Corbin, 34, $35M
  • Gore, 25, $749k
  • Parker, 24, $740k
  • Irvin, 27, $745k
  • Herz, 23, $740k

From an optimal 2024 stand point, we’re replacing Corbin and Herz with:

  • Williams, 32, $7M
  • Gray, 26, $757k

At least until Williams is traded, by which point cross fingers you replace his $7M with:

  • Cavalli, 25, $740k.

Imagine having your entire rotation be at MLB minimum and an average age of 24. That’d be amazing.

What’s really amazing about it is the financial flexibility it gives the team to buy talent at positions where it makes the most sense, when they need it. Do we think Yepez is the long term solution at 1B? Probably not, not when you can get a big bopper on the FA market for $10M. What if Grey or Cavalli doesn’t come back? We’ll need a starter but can afford to get one. Or, you wait for the likes of Morales (1B) and maybe someone like Pinckney (corner of/DH) to come up and home-grow those guys too.

This team is getting to be fun to watch again. Its “our guys” up there now. A slew of these players were drafted and developed by us (Garcia, Lipscomb, Young, Parker, Irvin, Cavalli). A slew more were prospects we specifically added in trade, setting ourselves up for this exact moment (Ruiz, Abrams, Wood, Gore, and Grey). that’s what the last few years have been about, and more is on the way (Crews, Hassell, Lile maybe, Morales, etc. Susana just got promoted, Sykora looks great so far).

It’s beginning to look good for this team and its future for sure.

Written by Todd Boss

July 7th, 2024 at 9:30 pm

Posted in Nats in General

End of June 2024 Rotation Review


Irvin has really stepped up for the Nats. (Photo by Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

Here’s the End of June 2024 check-ins on all our rotations, from MLB to FCL.

Each team section analysis will have the same items: current rotation, changes in the last month, observations, next guy to get promoted (if its in the minors), next guy to get cut, and then a few comments about relievers.

Important links for this analysis:

We’ll start with the Majors.

Rotation as of 6/30/24: Irvin, Gore, Parker, Corbin, Herz

Rotation as of 5/31/24: Irvin, Gore, Parker, Corbin, Williams

Changes since end of last Month: Our 2024 Ace Trevor Williams hit the D/L with a right arm elbow flexor strain, the same injury that’s kept our opening day starter Josiah Grey on the D/L for 2 months. Basically destroying his trade value. Grey and Cavalli continue rehabbing from injuries, at various cadences that don’t necessarily inspire confidence of them coming back anytime soon. Grey may seem close, but Cavalli doesn’t.

Rotation Observations: Jake Irvin has suddenly turned into an ace. He went 4-1 with a 2.31 ERA and a 1.1 whip in six starts in June. Basically inline with his performance in May. After his middling May, Parker had a stellar June for a rookie; 6 starts, 3.15 ERA, 1.136 whip. Gore, who was so good in the first two months, had a struggle of a month of June: five starts, 5.13 ERA and a 1.6 whip. Corbin wasn’t that terrible last month, pitching to a 4.71 ERA and lowering his whip three tenths of a point. Lastly, Williams’ replacement Herz has had an up and down month being thrown into the fire, pitching 5 times to a 5.48 ERA and a 1.50 whip, but having one stellar 13-K start in Miami where he gave up just one hit (it was Miami, after all).

Next guy to get cut/demoted: Herz, then Corbin. Whoever is ready first from (in likely order of return) Grey, Cavalli, and Williams), we’ll probably demote Herz first, then cut ties/move to the bullpen Corbin. When the third guy is ready, then the hard decision has to be made; by that point perhaps Williams will still be on the D/L or will have magically come back and can be traded.

Bullpen comments: We have four relievers who are excellent, and who should fetch prospects at the deadline (Finnegan, Law, Harvey, Floro). We have three guys who have been awful and are probably on there b/c the AAA 40-man relievers we have aren’t that great either (Rainey, Weems, and Garcia). There’s very little middle ground

AAA Rochester

Rotation as of 6/30/24: Rutledge, Watkins, Ward, Lord, Alvarez with Grey rehab starts

Rotation as of 5/31/24: Adon, Rutledge, Watkins, Herz, Ward

Changes since end of last month: Herz rightfully earned the promotion up to the majors and was replaced with Alvarez. Then, the team could no longer ignore Lord’s AA performance and promoted him up, replacing (finally) Adon in the rotation.

Rotation Observations: Rutledge’s June performance was awful: 7.82 ERA and a 1.70 whip. Ward was even worse: a 2.20 whip, 7.65 ERA and 21/20 K/BB. Watkins had a decent month as the resident 30-something MLFA innings eater guy who probably has no shot at a call-up and is playing out the string. As noted above, Adon has mercifully been put in the bullpen in the last couple of weeks, perhaps recognition that he’s never going to cut it as a starter, that we now have plenty of starter options, and that his only shot to use his 4th option year is going to be as a bullpen member. Alvarez’ AAA debut has not gone well; he’s only got 5 Ks in four starts and 14 innings. That’s not going to cut it. Lastly, Lord’s only got one start in as of this writing and it was a 5ip 2ER game, not a bad start. Maybe Lord is turning into our next guy like Parker, who comes up with little fan fare and shows success.

Next guy to get Promoted: I was right on Herz being next up last month. There’s not a single one of these starters who’s earned a promotion this month.

Next guy to get cut/demoted: Adon already presumably out of the rotation, you have to think Ward is next. We have to get better production out of these two 40-man slots.

Bullpen comments: La Sorsa has been lights out; 1.26 ERA in 11 appearances this month. That’s good because his lefty reliever competition in the majors (Robert Garcia) has been awful. Tim Cate has been impressive this month too; 16/3 K/BB in 10ip last month. New signing Eduardo Salazar has been solid and could be a RHP option once rosters expand and/or we trade some guys. Both Zeuch and Gsellman were mercifully cut mid month. The final 40-man guy on the roster Willingham had a near 9.00 ERA month.

AA Harrisburg

Rotation as of 6/30/24: Luckham, Cuevas, Solesky, Lara, Theophile (plus a couple Grey rehab starts and one Reyes spot-start)

Rotation as of 5/31/24: Luckham, Cuevas, Alvarez, Henry, Lord

Changes since end of last month: Three big changes: Henry hit the D/L (replaced by Indy-league MLFA signing Solesky), Alvarez was promoted (and replaced by Lara), and Lord was promoted (replaced by Theophile).

Rotation Observations: Luckham is probably the new “ace” of the rotation and pitched like it in June: 3.71 ERA in 5 starts with solid peripherals. Cuevas is now #2 in seniority and was awful: 7.52 ERA going 0-5 in five starts. Solesky’s debut has been solid: 3.42 ERA in two starts and two relief appearances. Lara’s debut in AA as a 21 yr old has gone ok for his age and experience: 5 starts, 4.67 ERA, 1.56 whip. You couldn’t ask for more out of Theophile: 2 starts, 10ip, and just 2 runs given up so far. That’s amazing considering that he had an ERA in the 6s last month in High-A.

Next guy to get Promoted: Maybe Solesky? He’s way too old for AA (26) and could slot into either their rotation or their bullpen. After that perhaps Luckham, who has turned around his season with a solid stretch.

Next guy to get cut/demoted: Cuevas. He’s now 1-8 with an ERA in the 6s for the season. He’s young yes, but he’s not getting any better.

Bullpen comments: there’s a lot of solid performers in this bullpen. Romero (already promoted once this year) didn’t give up an ER all month and had a 16/2 K/BB. Acosta? 19Ks in 11IP. Sinclair gave up 1run in 11ip. Peterson: 1.93 ERA. Tyce? same: 1.93 ERA in June. Opponents aren’t getting any breaks from the AA bullpen right now.

High-A Wilmington

Rotation as of 6/30/24: Atencio, Caceres, Young, Cornelio, Shuman (plus a couple rehab starts from Cavalli and Brzycky)

Rotation as of 5/31/24: Atencio, Caceres, Young, Cornelio, Theophile

Changes since end of last month: Just one: Theophile promoted, replaced with Shuman, who finally returns from injury.

Rotation Observations: Atencio and Caceres both had similar months: kind of middling ERAs in the mid-to-upper 4s, not a lot of K power, and bloated Whips. Nothing impressive really. This franchise continues to stick by Cornelio as a starter despite him basically being the same guy his entire career: 5.something era, mid 1.50whip. Luke Young’s ERA wasn’t impressive but at least he’s not walking many guys (5bb in 25 ip). Shuman’s got just one start under his belt; 3 1/3ip, 1 ER.

Next guy to get Promoted: Shuman. He’s 26, should be in AA at least, and has a career minor league ERA in the mid 3s.

Next guy to get cut/demoted: Probably Caceres at this point: he’s 24, not really showing he’s got it. They also have very little invested in the guy, as a 2017 IFA signee who probably got $10k or less (since his actual signing bonus was not denoted).

Bullpen comments: Matt Cronin, who sits in High-A for some dumb reason, is basically unhittable there and provides no value. Brzycky has gotten 10 rehab innings in here and looks great, that’s a great sign for him coming back from TJ.


Rotation as of 6/30/24: Sykora, Susana, Davis, Sthele, Polanko (plus 4 Shuman rehab starts and 1 Grey start)

Rotation as of 5/31/24: Sthele, Sanchez, Susana, Davis, Sykora, Polanco

Changes since end of last month: Bryan Sanchez went to the D/L, and the team seems to have gone to a conventional 5-man rotation.

Rotation Observations: The Low-A rotation looks awesome. Lets start with our biggest prospects: Susana gave up just 2 ER in 20 innings across 4 starts. Unfortunately, his earlier months were so bad he still has a 4.91 seasonal ERA. Point is, he was beyond lights out: 32/8 K/BB in 20 june innings. Has he finally figured it out? 2023 big-time draft prospect Travis Sykora was excellent in June: 4 starts, 2.41 ERA and 24/6 K/BB in 18ip. That’s awesome to see, since we’re so used to seeing these prep draftees suck. However, neither of these two guys were as good as Polanco and Davis last month, who put up sub 2.00 ERAs. Only Sthele continues to struggle, with an 8.00 ERA on the month and a 7.28 ERA for the season.

Next guy to get Promoted: Has to be Davis, who was the “next guy” last month too. He’s the oldest at 24, an 11th rounder with decent bonus $$ investment, and just finished off a stellar June.

Next guy to get cut/demoted: As it was last month, and the month before, Sthele.

Bullpen comments: The closer Arguellas pitched a shutout for the month. Diaz at 27 inexplicably remains in low-A confounding hitters 5-6 years his junior. Mason Denaburg actually looks competent as a middle reliever in Low-A now, but at 24 probably should be plying his trade at the higher levels.

Rookie/FCL Nationals

Rotation as of 6/30/24: Colon, Portorreal, Camilio Sanchez, Brayan Romero, and rehabbers

Rotation as of 5/31/24: Colon, Portorreal, Camilio Sanchez, Brayan Romero, “Farias”

Changes since end of last month: Very little actually; the four main guys listed here all seem to be in the “FCL rotation” and then the 5th starts have been taken by a litany of rehabbers like Farrell, Amaral, and Aldo Ramirez.

Rotation Observations: Colon: awful. 9.28 ERA, 2.72 whip and 9/13 k/BB in 10 innings. Portorreal: mediocre: 5.71 ERA in 4 starts. Romero: very solid: 2.08 ERA in four appearances. Sanchez: lights out: 0.73 ERA in 12 innings. This is great for Sanchez b/c he was awful last month.

Next guy to get Promoted: If Sanchez continues to pitch like this, as a 21yr old he should move up. Romero is 20 and he’s also a candidate.

Next guy to get cut/demoted: Maybe Colon, but honestly these 10ip samples wildly fluctuate with one bad start.

Bullpen comments: The two best bullpen arms from June already got promoted up to low-A (Arguellas and Otanez. There’s not much else noteworthy.

Rookie/DSL Nationals

Rotation as of 6/30/24: De la Cruz, Reynoso, Vera, Thomas, Feliz (with Hernandez getting a couple spot starts)

Rotation Observations: Unlike the 2023 DSL Nats, there’s some promise here already. Feliz (technically a IFA23 signing but he never pitched last year) has a 27/3 K/BB ratio in his 20 ip with a sub 2.00 ERA and a 0.70 whip. He’s looked great. Thomas (a 17yr old 24IFA) had an intriguing opening month: 1.98 ERA but he had 11 walks in 13ip and has some control issues to work on. De La Cruz and Reynoso were middling, 6.00 ERA types with nothing special to note right now. Vera and Hernandez? awful. Vera had a whip north of 3.00, and a 18/9 BB/K ratio in 11ip. Hernandez was even worse: 17 walks and 4Ks in 8ip. Wow.

Next guy to get Promoted: Feliz

Next guy to get cut/demoted: Hernandez; at age 20 he’s been awful and is too old. he’s not long for the league.

Bullpen comments: too early to tell really; most of the relievers only have a handful of innings.

That’s it for June 2024.

Written by Todd Boss

July 1st, 2024 at 6:00 pm