Nationals Arm Race

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

Minor League Rotations: Mid-May Check-in


Wil Crowe is the best starter in the system right now. PHoto via

Wil Crowe is the best starter in the system right now. PHoto via

Since its so depressing to talk about the train wreck that the Major League team is … lets look at the minor league pitching pipeline.

We last checked in a couple weeks into the season on 4/15/19, so we’re just about a month past that post.  Lets revisit where we are.


AAA/Fresno 2019

The rotation is: Voth, McGowin, Copeland, Espino, MSanchez.   Changes from last post: Alvarez got dumped to the bullpen thanks to his  8.20 ERA, Dragmire is on the D/L,  Ross got promoted to the needy MLB bullpen, and MSanchez was promoted up from AA to fill the rotation gap.

The Bullpen is: Rainey, Hoover, Self, Bacus, Nuno, JMills*, Blazek with Alvarez as long-man/spot starter.   Changes from last post: Adams was DFA’d and traded for Nick Wells, a Battlefield HS grad who now gets to play closer to home.  Cordero was also DFA’d and as of this writing sits in DFA limbo.  To replace them the team promoted JMills from AA and signed Blazek off the street a day before this writing.

Who’s hot:  McGowin has thrown 4 straight QS.  Voth remains the best AAA starter, keeping his ERA under 4.00 despite playing in the PCL.  Self and Bacus continue to perform well in their first AAA experiences.  I continue to be dumbfounded why Adams was DFA’d; here’s his AAA line this year for Fresno: 12.1 IP, 2.19 ERA, 0.89 Whip, 24/3 K/BB.  Yet the team (at the time) thought it was more important to keep Cordero on the roster.

Who’s not?  Dragmire may go straight to release waivers off the D/L (28 hits in 13 IP).  Mills does not look ready for AAA (13.50 ERA in 8 IP).  Neither does Mario Sanchez (13 hits in 7IP in 2 starts).

Who’s next guy to get the call?   Voth if they need a starter.  The only 40-man reliever left here is Rainey and he can’t find the plate (28ks and 12 walks in 16.2 innings).

Who’s next to get the Axe?   the JJ Hoover experiment may be over.  Both Mills and Sanchez probably should return to AA.  Dragmire continues to be in jeopardy of his roster spot when he gets healthy.

AA/Harrisburg 2019

Rotation: Crowe, Tetreault, Sharp, Mapes, Braymer*.  Changes from last time: Fedde got promoted to the MLB bullpen, replaced by the promoted Tetreault.

Bullpen: Bourque, Condra-Bogan, RPena, Guilbeau*, ABarrett with Baez, Ondrusek, Fuentes as swingmen/spot starters.  Changes from last time: Brinley on the D/L, JMIlls promoted, Ondrusek demoted from AAA’s D/L, Fuentes promoted up from High-A.

Who’s hot: Crowe remains the best AA starter and is probably now the best SP prospect in our system.  Bourque has a 29/5 K/BB ratio in 18 innings and its rather inexplicable that he a) remains in AA and b) has not yet gotten called into the MLB relief corps to alleviate the bullpen issues.  Tetreault has picked up right where he left off in High-A, with a 1.43 ERA through 3 AA starts and now has a 1.50 across 7 starts and two levels on the year.    Barrett continues to look solid and has MLB experience, so may be an option in the future.

Who’s not? Mapes has the worst ERA of the rotation, really the only starter  you can quibble with.  Pena and Guilbeau are struggling in the bullpen.

Who’s next guy to get the call?  Crowe, Bourque

Who’s next to get the Axe? Pena; the org has stuck by him a long, long time fora  16th round pick.  He’s 27 in AA and now in his 8th pro season here.  But an ERA in the 6s puts him on the chopping line when the next reliever needs to be promoted.


High-A/Potomac 2019

Rotation: Johnston, Borne*, Raquet*, ALee, MPena.  Changes from last time: Tetreault promoted, Reyes dumped to the pen after posting an ERA > 9.00.   Replaced in the rotation by Lee, who was bumped up from spot-starter/swingman.

bullpen:  Bogucki,  McKinney,  Bartow, JRomero, LReyes, German with Howard*,  Teel* as swingmen and (presumably) Nick Wells showing up soon.  Changes from last time: Acevedo released, Fuentes promoted, JRomero re-instated from XST, German and Teel promoted from Low-A.

Who’s hot:  I like what I see out of Lee in the rotation so far; he’s got the best ERA and peripherals of any High-A starter.   Teel and Bartow are the best relievers right now by stats, and Bartow has 2 of the 3 saves the staff has on the entire season (how is that possible?  In 14 victories they only have 3 saves.  that’s saying something).

Who’s not?  Raquet and Pena both have ERAs north of 7 in the rotation.  Nothing personal against Raquet, but I hated the draft pick at the time, and now he’s repeating high-A with the same crummy numbers and lack of swing and miss he exhibited there last year.  Every time I see him get shelled in a start its another indictment of that draft pick and that draft class in general.

Who’s next guy to get the call?  They’ve already promoted the two best arms (Tetreault and Fuentes).  No starters really pushing for a promotion right now.

Who’s next to get the Axe?  Bogucki is putting on > 2 runners an inning but was solid in High-A last year.  The fact that Reyes continues to have a roster spot astounds me: he is now in high-A for the 3rd year; he was also in High-A in  2016 and 2017, neither season of which merited his 2018 promotion to AA (where he got shelled).

Low-A/Hagerstown 2019

Rotation:  Alastre, Adon, Cate*, Irvin, FPeguero.  Changes from last time: Strom was demoted to XST, and the tandem starting seems to have been somewhat relaxed in that this set of 5 starters has rotated for several turns now.

Bullpen: Stoeckinger*, AGuillen, RWilliamson*, Tapani, Fletcher*, Day as swingmen/spot starters, along with Brasher, TTurner in the pen as more conventional relievers.  Changes from last time: Teel and German promoted, and RWilliamson and Tapani promoted from GCL/XST.


Who’s hot: Cate and Peguero, the two  starters I noted as being “hot” in the last post, remain the two best starters in Low-A.   Cate, a college Sr 2nd rounder last year, is probably too old for the level and needs to be moved up.  Fletcher, Stoeckinger and Guillen are pitching well in their “tandem” multi-inning roles.

Who’s not?  Irvin’s seasonal numbers are skewed by a 1ip/9-run outing, but he has the worst ERA in the rotation right now.  Brasher has gotten hit hard in limited action.  Alastre continues to not find the plate; he has 25 walks in 35 innings.

Who’s next guy to get the call?  Cate needs to move up stat.   Same with Peguero; he’s now 23 dominating Low-A.  Why are they still there?   Same with Fletcher; he’s now 23, was a senior sign and has 6 weeks of dominant numbers in low-A.  Why wait?

Who’s next to get the Axe?  Brasher seems most likely to be the next guy sent back to XST.

XST names of interest

  • Where is Istler?    He was solid in AA and even had some AAA time last year.  Still unassigned.
  • Where’s Jhon Romero?  He got assigned to High-A.
  • Pantoja? Still missing; may have been a “quiet” release.
  • No word yet about Seth Romero‘s rehab progress.
  • Since the last posting, the team officially assigned 5 guys to Low-A and put them directly on the DL: Barnett, WDavis, Howell, SRomero, Troop.  Barrett and WDavis were on the GCL team last year.  Howell and Troop were “missing” names from last year’s Low-A team now found, and of course Romero remains perhaps the worst 1st round pick this team has had since the Aaron Crow/Jim Bowden debacle.


18 Responses to 'Minor League Rotations: Mid-May Check-in'

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  1. A couple of quick notes — Rainey has been really good the last two or three weeks, seems to have turned a corner. Also, Sharp has been excellent recently at AA, including last night.

    Nick Wells, the Austin Adams trade return, is a local, Battlefield HS. Was a 3d-round pick out of HS in 2014.


    14 May 19 at 2:31 pm

  2. Pitching has been surprisingly good, especially the Fresno guys.

    Any news on Denaburg?


    14 May 19 at 9:37 pm

  3. Great stuff, Todd.
    And just like that Bogucki has been released.

    Mark L

    15 May 19 at 8:27 am

  4. Yeah that seemed prophetic about Bogucki. Here’s how my “who is hot and who is not” predictions from Mid April have panned out so far:

    Who’s Hot:
    – AAA: Adams and Voth. Disposition so far: Adams not promoted but released, Voth still in AAA
    – AA: Crowe, Fedde, Mapes, Barrett, Condra-Bogan. Disposition: only Fedde promoted so far.
    – High-A: Tetreault, Pena, McKinney, Fuentes. Disposition so far: Tetreault and Fuentes promoted.
    – Low-A: Peguero, Cate, German, Fletcher. Disposition so far: German promoted.

    Who’s Not:
    – AAA: Dragmire. Disposition so far: Dragmire on the IL so decision on hold
    – AA: Guilbeau: Disposition so far: no demotions or releases from AA so far
    – High-A: Reyes, Borne, Howard. Dispositoin so far: Reyes dropped to bullpen.
    – Low-A: Alastre. Disposition so far: no changes yet.

    Todd Boss

    15 May 19 at 9:50 am

  5. I’ll do something similar to this in the next check-in; i like seeing if my predictions come true 🙂

    Nothing on Denaburg. I’ll bet he starts in GCL with an eye on going to Low-A so the Nats brass can drive up and see him easily.

    Todd Boss

    15 May 19 at 9:51 am

  6. Adams technically not released, but traded for a bag of balls to clear his 40-man slot. That really surprised me, considering how good he had been at AAA. He got one more cup of coffee, struggled through an inning, and was never seen again. They gave Cordero a lot longer opportunity with the big club last summer, based on, um, what? They recently DFA’d Cordero, but I haven’t noticed whether he cleared waivers.

    Sure wish Denaburg could have pitched some in GCL last summer and been ready to start this year at Hagerstown. And until he starts seeing game action, we have no idea whether the arm “concerns” will actually blow up.

    I had hopes that Bogucki, as a multi-inning college reliever, could transition to starter like what they did with Dunning (also now wounded). He did get a few starts over time, but they seem to lose patience with him this year.


    15 May 19 at 3:03 pm

  7. Looking at recent performance, I’d add Rainey to the “hot” list for AAA, Sharp at AA, and Adon at A. Rainey has put himself in line to be the next call-up, particularly since he’s already on the 40-man.

    I’m thrilled with what Crowe has done thus far this season. Last year had me worried, as he wabbled Gio-style through all those wins at Potomac, then got hammered at AA. He’s now looking like the guy many thought could have been a late first-rounder.

    Cate is another one who had me worried last year but looks much better in 2019. Not sure what more they need to see to move him on up to Potomac.

    At Potomac, Teel needs to take Raquet’s starts, and Raquet needs to cool his heels in the ‘pen. At Hags, not sure why Fletcher isn’t getting a chance to start. He could be another candidate for early promotion.


    15 May 19 at 3:13 pm

  8. With the big club, the body language was AWFUL on Tuesday. They’re nine games under .500. Got to turn things around soon, or changes should be made.


    15 May 19 at 3:15 pm

  9. Cordero was picked up on waivers by Toronto, put on their 40-man and optioned. gone.

    Todd Boss

    15 May 19 at 4:34 pm

  10. I didn’t remember Cordero being anything special in the majors last year, but I was looking up his stats to make sure. Found an amazing (and not very good) line: 5.68 ERA, 5.68 K/9, 5.68 BB/9, 5.67 xFIP. Between Adams and Cordero, I’d bet more on Adams still having an MLB future.


    15 May 19 at 7:15 pm

  11. I just have to say how sick I am of watching Difo play defense.

    Mark L

    16 May 19 at 4:52 pm

  12. Ben Braymer was awesome on Wednesday. Don’t sleep on him, either. There are a lot of good things happening pitching-wise in the system right now.


    16 May 19 at 8:30 pm

  13. McGowin and Rainey promoted. Grace and Jennings currently not remotely resembling major leaguers, so others may need to be tried.

    And Joe Maddon is still a mind-games-playing jerk.


    19 May 19 at 8:08 am

  14. Maddon; we now know his issue wasn’t with Doolittle in particular … his issue really is with MLB for (honestly) inconsistent enforcement of their rules. And I agree with him. You either can or cannot touch the ground with your kick leg.

    Todd Boss

    20 May 19 at 1:39 pm

  15. Should we be looking to sacrifice a chicken or something? I’m pretty pissed. They’re supposed to be starting their winnable stretch, but they do so with yet another sloppy, lethargic game. They’re nine games back. There’s no sign whatsoever that they’re near turning a corner. Something’s gotta give.

    Look, the root problem here is that Mark Lerner vetoed them bringing back Dusty. Sadly, we can’t fire Mark Lerner anymore than we can fire Dan Snyder. To compound matters, Lerner went for a cheap hire, with cheap results across a season and a quarter. You get what you do or don’t pay for.

    To me, the question isn’t whether Martinez gets the axe. It’s whether Rizzo goes out the door with him. This is a real mess.


    21 May 19 at 10:11 am

  16. How do you fix it KW?

    So far this team has one great hitting starter. (Rendon)

    One good hitting Sub (Kendrick)

    Really bad defense everywhere but 3rd and 2nd.

    Eaton is unclutch and needed every bit of his pre injury athleticism to be a useful corner outfielder at the plate and the field. if he’s not hitting 35+ doubles a year he’s useless..

    Robles is regressing approach wise as I feared. They should have him take every pitch with any potential to be outside half of the plate and beyond. That’s where all his outs are.

    Dozier the only player I’ve ever seen that often has a tomahawk downward chop swing plane.

    Soto’s slump has killed the heart of the order all year so far.

    I don’t expect Robles to turn it around to star level without some time off and a re-set. So our only hope is for Soto to fix himself and join the party with Rendon and Kendrick. Then maybe Adams helps later. I’d say Trea but that hand injury probably holds him back.

    But that’s just the offense.

    Rainey looked pretty great though. Hope it wasn’t a mirage.

    Dusty had an incredibly consistent Murphy to hold the rallies together for 2 years. One super year from Zim. A really good to great Rendon. A sometimes good Harper. Even a good Michael Taylor year. Adam Lind year. Trea great. Ramos. Better Max. Expensive bullpen fixes.

    That team doesn’t exist anymore.

    Marty C

    21 May 19 at 11:15 am

  17. Dusty coaxed the only good seasons ever out of Taylor and Goodwin, and by far the strongest one from Zim in recent memory. If he could get decent play out of those guys, he could get decent play out of the current lineup.

    Dusty takes a lot of crap for decisions in the postseason, some of it deserved, but he was a terrific regular-season manager, keeping things steady, keeping players motivated. He took it upon himself to correct problems that hitters were having.

    As for what can be done right now, there aren’t a lot of easy fixes, other than to calm down. I think that’s one of the biggest problems with this team right now: everyone is pressing. The veteran managers, Dusty and the original Davey, were so good at relieving things when guys were pressing. Matty W. and Davey II couldn’t seem to stem the panic. I think the panic extends to guys like Scherzer, too. They try to be too perfect and give up that extra run or two that . . . OK, then the ‘pen gives up 11, but you know what I mean.

    I predicted all along that Robles would be up and down. He’s always been that kind of a player. The extended dip by Soto has surprised me, as he typically has adjusted well and laid off bad pitches. Again, though, he’s pressing, trying to do too much, not laying off bad pitches. He’ll adjust, though. He’s too good of a hitter not to.


    21 May 19 at 12:22 pm

  18. How do you fix it? Time machine.

    Todd Boss

    21 May 19 at 1:45 pm

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