Nationals Arm Race

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

2022 Nats Draft Class Review

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Bennett is our 2nd rounder, photo courtesy of Sooner Sports

Here’s my review of the 2022 Draft Class, with call backs to the various draft boards out there and some thoughts along the way about signability, likely bonus machinations, etc.

By the way, the Draft Tracker is now updated. There are four tabs of interest for the 2022 draft:

  • Main Draft Tracker tab: shows Nats draft picks dating to 2005
  • 2022 Draft Class Worksheet, where we have schools, commits, twitter feeds, and will track signing/bonuses
  • 2022 Local Draft Class worksheet; tracking all DC/MD/VA players. This year I count 9 players with DC-area ties drafted, the highest being Nick Morabito out of McLean/Gonzaga HS, who went in the 2nd round supplemental round and probably goes pro instead of going to Va Tech. By the way, I might be missing players here who were from DC/MD/VA but who went to out of area colleges; if i’m missing someone comment here and I’ll add them.
  • Nats Drafting position by year, along with our 1st rounder each year. Maybe we’ll be 1-1 again next year (its certainly trending that way right now).

For reference below, the major Draft boards in use here are:

I pay for some things, not for others, so this isn’t a comprehensive list of boards out there. There are other draft boards out there (CBSSports/R.J Anderson, Baseball Prospectus behind a paywall, PerfectGame behind a paywall, Prospects365 & 20/80 baseball seem to be out of business), but if they don’t go beyond the top 50 or if I don’t subscribe they’re not here.


So, 1-20, here’s some thoughts on the picks one by one.

1. Elijah Green, picked 5th overall. HS OF (Center) from IMG Academy in Florida.

Ranks: #3 by MLB, #4 Law, #5 BA, #11 Fangraphs, #5 ESPN, #2 Prospects1500.

Thoughts: we already dove into our #1 and #2 picks in a previous post, and we’ve litigated it a bit in the comments. Green’s stature speaks for itself: 6’3″ 225 as an 18yr old, has 70-grade speed (which you can’t teach), which means he’s a CF despite being built like his NFL linebacker father. A power hitting CF with speed and a plus arm projects to some special names in the game’s history (Mays, Griffey, Trout). The knocks on him are a lot of swing-and miss, a lesser hit tool. The low pundit on him (#11 by Longenhagen) criticizes the hit tool and his junior year stats, but notes that it has trended up. Law basically says that Green has a higher ceiling than even Druw Jones, but his floor is lower thanks to current swing-and-miss, hence being ranked #4 instead of #1 in the class. But that’s heady praise.

To me, this pick is acknowledgement by this team that they need to take some big swings at an up-side/all-ceiling player to replace the star power we’ve let go (and will soon let go) out of this franchise. If Green turns into the next coming of Ken Griffey Jr, people are going to forget about the $440M contract that Juan Soto refused so sign awfully fast. That’s the gamble, and I’m ok with it.

By the way, I don’t perceive Green to be a massive over-slot deal. $6.4M is the slot, and Green’s leverage with the Nats at #5 fell precipitously once he passed by Texas at #3. There’s no way he’s holding out for $8M when literally no mocks had him above Jones and/or Holliday. I could be wrong, but (and this is burying the lead somewhat) I don’t see a ton of tanked picks throughout the rest of the top 10. I do see some savings though, so maybe this is a slightly over-slot deal in the end. I’ll go with maybe a $6.6M bonus as a guess.

2. Jake Bennett, picked 45th overall, LHP Starter from U of Oklahoma

Ranks: #68 by MLB, >100 by Law, #41 BA, #55 Fangraphs, #76 ESPN, #38 D1Baseball, #77 Prospects1500

Bennett seems to be a bit of an over-reach, based on the general consensus of the ranking boards. Which makes me wonder if its a slightly under-slot deal. In stark contrast to everything I said about Green being a ceiling pick … Bennett is a “floor” pick. Meaning, scouts already see him as a durable, polished, sturdy LHP starting pitcher work horse who projects as a #4-#5 starter. His best pitch is a change-up, he can hit the upper 90s when he needs to, and he’s effective against both sides of the plate. His mechanics remind me of Cole Hamels, which would be a great comp and career.

Bennett made himself a ton of money by pitching pretty well in the post-season for Oklahoma, in front of a ton of scouts, eyeballs, and TV cameras. He got the win in the regional against Liberty, then gave up just 1 ER in the super Regional against #4 Virginia Tech. Then in Omaha he got the win against TAMU before taking the Loss against eventual champs Ole Miss (still giving a 10K/0BB performance and keeping the team in the game before OK’s bullpen blew up).

He’s a huge guy; 6’6″, a college teammate of our own Cade Cavalli, and was a prior draft pick of the Nats in 2019. They liked him then, and they like him know. I’d bet he signs for slightly under the $1.77 slot and is effective quickly. We can hope for Hamels, but maybe he’s something like a Tom Gorzelany, but hope we get more out of him than we’re getting right now from Tim Cate.

3. Trey Lipscomb, picked 84th overall, a 3B from Tennessee by way of Urbana HS in Clarksburg.

Ranks: MLB #136, Law >100, #142 BA, #85 Fangraphs, #166 ESPN, #46 D1baseball, #123 Prospects1500.

He’s a 4th-year Junior, so scouts are calling it a “senior sign.” But this is a guy who blew up for the best team in the land all year. He led the SEC in XBH and RBI, hit 22 homers (albeit most at the bandbox they call a stadium in Knoxville). Fangraphs called him the best senior in the draft. Well, the Nats got him.

He is 6’1″ with a strong arm and could probably play 2B in a pinch based on his size. No real nits with his hit tool; clearly shows lots of power. I like the local connection. The slot value is $758k, and I could see him going for a couple hundred thousand less.

So, two straight likely under-slot deals; why? Well, as it turns out we’re about to pick not only one more, but two more prep HS kids that need to be bought out of college.

4. Brenner Cox, picked 111th overall, a prep Outfielder from Texas.

Ranks: Only ranked by BA: #351 and Prospects1500 #287.

The scouting report on him says he’s got a two-sport commitment to play both football and baseball for Texas. Perfect Game ranks him 10th in the state of Texas; that’s saying something. There’s little else to go on other than to say that he’s a plus runner, a true CF who will stay there.

Usually this kind of player would scream “going to school,” but according to the Dallas Morning News, Cox was in DC earlier for a workout and has agreed to rough terms, and plans on forgoing his college. So, that’s interesting. I’ll bet he gets more than the $549k slot value and joins the franchise.

5. Jared McKenzie, picked #141, a Junior OF (CF) for Baylor

Ranks: MLB #142, BA #139, Fangraphs #150 or so, ESPN #168, Prospects1500 #150

So, based on the ranks, the Nats basically got a player valued almost exactly where they drafted him, which makes me think this is a 100% slot draftee. Call the player, ask if he’ll sign for exactly $410,200 and if he says yes, make the call.

McKenzie’s picking is a gamble that he returns to his form of his first two college seasons, where he hit .389 combined, as opposed to the egg he laid in the Cape last summer or the BA he posted this year that was 100 points less. He’s played nothing but CF for Baylor, but probably projects as a LF in pro ball. Let’s hope he’s more than Nick Banks once he gets settled in.

6. Nate Ochoa, picked #171 overall, a Prep SS from a Canadian HS with an Alabama commit.

Ranks: not ranked by anyone.

Well, the only place I could find info on Ochoa was on PerfectGame.org and on his twitter account. Canadian junior national team, he’s listed as a 6’4″ short stop who clearly has to move to 3B in the pros. Quick bat, clearly has some power. He has a verbal commitment to Alabama and has had it for months; is it solid? How much to buy him out of it? Slot value of $308K; I wonder if $500k does it. Suffice it to say, under the modern draft rules … you don’t pick players unless they’re signing.

7. Riley Cornelio, picked #201 overall, a Junior RHP Starter from TCU

Ranks: MLB #244, BA #295, #85 D1Baseball, #177 Prospects1500

Cornelio was in TCU’s rotation all year, and got the start in their regional. He was hit or miss on the mound, but projects with two plus pitches (slider and a 99mph 4-seamer fastball) to go with a sinking low 90s fastball and a 12-to-6 curve. He’s got everything he needs to succeed in the pro game. He’s listed as a redshirt sophomore but has already turned 22 and likely signs, probably for less than slot at this point.

What can he be? His stats this year weren’t great, but his tools are solid. Maybe someone can coach him up and turn him into a serviceable starter.

8. Chance Huff, picked #231, a RHP Junior starter (but likely pro reliever) from Georgia Tech.

Ranks: #268 BA, #253 Prospects1500

Huff’s college numbers are … not great. He had 16 appearances (15 starts) this year for Ga Tech and had nearly a 7.00 ERA. Despite that, BA has him projected right where he got picked; 8th/9th round. Why? Because he probably can succeed as a reliever, which he was for his first two seasons.

He’s already 22, so i’m betting he signs for something under the $191k slot, maybe something closer to the $125k 10th round+ figure.

9. Maxwell Romero Jr, A college junior C from U of Miami.

Ranks: BA #406, #376 Prospects1500.

Well, he’s definitely a catcher: 6’1″ 218. He hit for a ton of power this year (12 homers) and is a solid defensive catcher. That’s definitely worth a flier, especially for a 9th pick. I think he signs for slot and probably has a decent minor league career.

10. Murphy Stehly, a utility 5th-year senior from Texas.

Stehly was a 2nd team All American this year! So how his he hanging around in the 10th? Because he’s a 5th year senior, he’s turning 24 later this year, and he’s badly undersized (5’10”) and overweight (210lbs). Nonetheless, the dude raked this year: .367/.424/.662 with 19 home runs hitting ahead of the Hispanic Titanic in Texas’ lineup. He’s listed as a corner OF .. but he also managed to play all four INFIELD positions for Texas this year. Based on his size … i wouldn’t put him at 1B or SS, but i’ll bet he could pass as a 2B in a pinch.

This is a heck of a 10th rounder/senior sign for me. He’ll take a haircut off the $154k slot, but maybe not that much based on his production this year. Honestly, I can’t wait to see what he does in the minors. I would not be surprised if he rakes.


So, before we get to the 11-20 picks, each of whom can go for $125k before jeopardizing any bonus pools, lets squint at the top 10 picks and guess what the team is doing with the bonuses:

  1. Green: Over slot ($200k)
  2. Bennett: Under slot (-$100k)
  3. Lipscomb: Under slot (-$200k)
  4. Cox: Over slot? (+$100k)
  5. McKenzie: Slot
  6. Ochoa: Over slot (+$200k)
  7. Cornelio: Under slot (-$50k)
  8. Huff: Under slot (-$75k)
  9. Romero: Slot
  10. Stehly: Under slot (-$75k)

Based on this accounting … the three prep players we drafted all get over slot deals, and we save the money on mostly the 2nd and 3rd round picks to do it.


11. Luke Young, Juco RHP Starter from Midland College

Ranks: #389 BA

So, Young is only 20 and has committed to go to Oklahoma State next year out of Midland, which is a Juco in Texas. He’s 6’3″ and only weighs 167; that’s ridiculous. I can’t imagine him signing for $125k given that he’s got a likely weekend starter spot at a Big12 school lined up for next year, and with a repeat of his performance this year he’ll be a major draft prospect.

But, if they get him … sits 94-96, with upper 70s breaking pitch and had great K/BB numbers. I’d take that for $125k.

However, I will say that the 5% overage capability on bonus pools really comes into play here. On an $11M total bonus pool, 5% is more than $500k. Which means … we could throw an extra $500k at someone, somewhere, and get them. Maybe Young takes $125k plus $500k and now suddenly that’s 5th round money. So, the negotiations should be interesting to see as they flow in. The #11 pick in particular is the place where teams try to get someone that slipped out of the top 10 rounds as teams took senior signs/money savers, and throw more cash at them. Nats have done it more than once (J.T. Arruda got more in 2019 as an 11th rounder, Armond Upshaw in 2016 got 400k, Andrew Lee got $180k in 2015, Weston Davis got $200k in 2014, etc), and may do it again here.

12. Nick Peoples, a Prep Corner OF from a CA HS.

Ranks: not ranked.

Not much out there on him: he’s from Los Angeles, has a commitment to New Mexico State. Perfect game ranks him 16th in the state of California this year, no mean feat. 6’5″ 205 switch hitter with a ton of projection, but completely unranked by any service and only committed to a lower-profile baseball school and conference. I think he signs.

13. Marquis Grissom Jr., a draft-eligible Sophomore RHP starter from Georgia Tech

Ranks: BA #261.

In a draft full of sons of former major leaguers, Grissom doesn’t quite project as highly as some of the other famous names (Holliday, Jones, etc). He worked in Ga Tech’s rotation this year and was wild. Really wild: in 61IP, he managed 16 HBP, 7 WPs, and 42 walks. Um. BA’s scouting report says he’s got some velocity, and great separation between his FB and his curve, but that everything gets hit. He’s age 21 now and could go back to school; if he can show any improvement in his control he’s a higher pick next year … where he’ll still have a year of eligibility and a bit of leverage. Interesting decision he faces; I’ll bet he signs for the $125k.

Some have thought that this is perhaps a “legacy pick,” since Grissom’s father was a former Expo. I don’t. I don’t think the current ownership group could care less about what happened with this franchise prior to 2005, and the fan base in Washington DC is now a generation removed from an era where Grissom was an important player for the Expos. I feel like Nats fans are “aware” of stars from Montreal (Andre Dawson, Gary Carter, Pedro Martinez, maybe even Tim Raines if they’re saavy). But we’re also more likely to remember who these guys left Montreal for, since the franchise could never keep its stars (in order for me: Dawson->Chicago, Carter with the Mets, Martinez in Boston, Raines in New York playing out the string).

14. Courtland Lawson, a 4th year junior SS from Tennessee by way of the DC area

Ranks: BA #322

Lawson was a Paul VI player for several years (hello to Billy Emerson! ), then transferred to Dominion HS for his senior year before heading to Tennessee. He barely played until this year, when suddenly he’s the starting SS for the best team in the land. He’s already 22, so despite being a “junior” he’s probably done with school and should sign. But he doesn’t project to much in the pros: he hit just .210 in SEC play this year and most of his tools are fringe-average. Its a dream come true to sign for his home team, and I can see him hanging around for a couple seasons in the FCL or perhaps Low-A as a SS/3B backup.

15. Kyle Luckham, a senior RHP starter from Arizona State

Ranks: BA #316

I’ll take a senior starter who was in the rotation for a Pac12 team and held his own. He doesn’t project as much, but he takes the ball, gets deep into games, and seems like a gamer. Not a bad 15th rounder.

16. Everett Cooper, a prep SS/2B from the Pro5 Baseball Academy in NC by way of Owings Mills, MD

Ranks: none.

Could be a “show me” pick, where the team shows some interest in a prep player. I can’t imagine Cooper signing based on the fact that he relocated to the baseball factory down in North Carolina, or based on the tools he showed in the perfect game videos. He’s committed to go to ODU, and I think he’d benefit from heading to school. If he signs, I can’t see him succeeding in pro ball.

17. Blake Klassen, a Junior 1B/DH guy from UC Santa Barbara

Ranks: BA #423.

Klassen raked this year (.352/.413/.648 with 10 home runs), but has no position other than 1B/DH, and will have to hit his way forward. He’s nearly 22 already, likely signs at this point b/c he probably can’t improve upon what he’s already done, and he’ll be nearly 23 in next year’s draft. Even though he’s a junior this reads almost like a senior sign.

18. Brad Lord, a senior RHP reliever from U of South Florida

Ranks: none

Lord is a redshirt junior (aka a “senior”) and was USF’s Friday starter this year. He doesn’t have great numbers, is basically unranked, and seemed to have trouble going deep into games this year (most of his starts are 4ip-5ip style). He seems like the type that they’re drafting because he has some reliever potential.

19. Johnathan Thomas, a senior OF from Texas Southern

Ranks: none

Thomas’ claim to fame is that he’s the leading base stealer in NCAA in 2022. He’s quite undersized (5’7″) and seems like a classical senior sign at this spot. Here’s an article about him in the local paper. Somewhere in his twitter or elsewhere there’s mention of a commitment to Purdue, perhaps for grad school/5th year, but he got drafted and presumably got offered some money, so odds are he’ll give it a shot. Can he turn into a Nyger Morgan kind of guy? Someone who grinds their way to the majors on speed and defense? We’ll see.

20. JeanPierre Ortiz, a prep SS from IMG Academy in Florida by way of Puerto Rico

Ranks: MLB #212, BA #373

Our #1 pick’s teammate at IMG likely gets drafted as a scout working Green noticed him and liked him. He’s listed as a plus defender, with some questionable bat skills, and has a college commitment to Florida International (not exactly a baseball powerhouse in Florida). He also was on the mound for IMG, enough so that scouting reports list that as a viable plan B. In the end though, he didn’t come state-side and go to IMG to sign for $125k, so odds are he goes to school.


So, I don’t really see any picks in 11-20 who could go significantly over slot other than Young; they’re either likely to take $125k or aren’t signing. I sense the team signs the top 10 picks, #11 Young either gets a ton of cash over slot or goes to OSU and doesn’t sign, we get Peoples out of his college commitment, but don’t sign the other two prep guys in the 11-20 range Cooper or Ortiz. Which would make for 17 (18 if they get Young) of the 20 players signing. Anything above this would be a surprise to me, given that my read on the bonus pools is that they’re all accounted for.


Conclusions

Some will say this is a one-player draft. I’m not sure I’d characterize it completely like that. Bennett seems like someone who’s gonna make it. There’s guys in the top 10 who I like (Lipscomb, Cornelio, Stehly) who could be sneaky good. I like Young at #11. So, we’ll see what happens.

Written by Todd Boss

July 20th, 2022 at 9:37 am

Posted in Draft

2022 Nats Draft Day One

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Nats 1st round pick in 2022 is prep OF Elijah Green. Photo via perfectgame

Draft resources:

1st round: Elijah Green.

After a curveball at the top of the top of the draft (Texas taking Kumar Rocker at #3), the Nats found themselves in a fantastic position: all the main players they were reportedly considering were available to them. Parada, Lee, Green, and Berry (all the guys ever mocked to them) were there.

Who did they take 5th overall? Florida prep Outfielder Elijah Green. Here’s a couple scouting reports (which i’ve cut and pasted in the comments previously):

MLBpipeline: “Green is the son of former NFL Pro Bowl tight end Eric Green, and at 6-foot-3, 225 pounds, he looks like he could have followed in his father’s footsteps had he not desired a future on the diamond. Green really jumped on the map with a strong performance at the Area Code Underclass event back in the summer of 2020, leading some to wish he’d reclassified for the 2021 Draft, but he’s shown off his tremendous raw tools at IMG Academy this spring to put himself in position to be a very high Draft pick in 2022. A right-handed hitter, Green is capable of doing just about everything very well. He can make very loud contact and has proven he can drive the ball to all fields and hit the ball out of the park just about anywhere with at least plus raw power, and he’s done that this spring in front of a lot of decision makers. . The one question that had arisen about his offensive upside had been about the swing-and-miss in his game. He’s struggled in the past against elevated velocity and there are some concerns about his ability to adjust to offspeed and breaking stuff, but had assuaged many of those fears with how he has swung the bat this spring. Green is an elite-level runner who can steal bases and cover a ton of ground in the outfield, where he should be able to man center field, with a plus arm, for a very long time to come. His complete toolset doesn’t come around very often, so it’s likely someone in the top of the first round will call his name even if there are remaining questions about his hit tool.

BaseballAmerica: Green is one of the most dynamic and unique athletes scouts have seen on the baseball field in a long time. The son of 10-year NFL tight end Eric Green, Elijah’s physicality would stand out on a football field and is almost unheard of on the baseball field at his age. At 6-foot-3, 214 pounds, Green has tremendous strength and power currently and would look right at home standing next to the top sluggers in baseball as an 18-year-old. His power/speed combination with his frame gives him the biggest pure upside in the 2022 draft class as a righthanded hitter with the power to drive the ball out of any ballpark, while also turning in 70-grade run times. As one scout remarked, “Guys that big and that strong aren’t supposed to be running 6.5 in the 60.” Green isn’t a raw hitter without a plan at the plate either. He has an impressive track record of performance as an underclassman and accessed his power regularly in games over the summer showcase circuit, with USA Baseball’s 18U National Team—where he homered four times in seven games—and this spring against strong competition with IMG Academy. There is swing and miss in Green’s game. He’ll get caught out in front on breaking balls and he has shown whiff tendencies against velocity as well, but he should make more than enough impact to live with those whiffs. He has more than enough speed for center field now, and will likely begin his career at the position, but will need to refine his routes and reactions to stick there long term. It’s uncommon to see a major league center fielder with Green’s size, but he is an outlier athlete. If he does have to move to a corner he has the tools to be an above-average defender in right, with plus arm strength to profile nicely there. While other hitters in this class might top Green as a pure hitter, you won’t find anyone with his combination of dynamic athleticism, power, speed and pure upside.

If you have a BA subscription, a ton of video here.

Fangraphs: The son of two-time Pro Bowl tight end Eric Green, Elijah became “Draft Famous” during his junior year, homering a couple times in high school tournaments held in big league parks, and looking much toolsier than all but a couple of the prospects who were a year older than him. He was seen a ton as a junior because he played at IMG, where lots of draft prospects from the 2021 class played, and played against. Scouts were blown away by his power and speed, but swing-and-miss issues were a concern. Green struck out in a third of his varsity at-bats in 2021, and swung and missed more than he put balls in play during that year’s summer/fall showcase circuit (several other top high schoolers put two times as many balls in play as they swung at and missed; an extreme example is 2021 draftee James Triantos’ 7:1 ratio) before things improved during his senior year of high school. What’s causing the swing and miss? Green’s swing is simple and direct, and he doesn’t have an elaborate leg kick (he barely has a stride) or a complicated load; he just tends to swing inside fastballs on the outer third and expand the zone a little bit against fastballs up. He is as gifted as any player in this draft, a 70 runner with at least 70 raw power that plays to all fields. His long speed gives him a shot to stay in center field, but his routes to balls can be a bit of an adventure, and he’s not a lock to stay there, especially if he slows down with age. If he even develops a 40-grade hit tool, then he’ll hit 30 annual bombs, and it won’t matter where he plays. There is hit-related bust risk here, but things trended in a favorable direction during Green’s senior season.


I understand there’s people who hate this pick. It is an upside pick, clearly. This pick is about ceiling, not floor. Picking Parada or Lee would have been about floor. This is about picking someone who might be the next Ken Griffey; a guy who’s already 6’3″ with 70 power who also has 70 speed.


2nd round: Jake Bennett, LHP from Oklahoma

Wow, woke up this morning to find out we’d taken a familiar face in Bennett. We drafted this kid in 2019 out of HS … and now we’ve drafted him again. Both HS and College teammates with Cade Cavalli. A post-season stud from Oklahoma who got a lot of eyeballs this post season.

So, for all the arguments about upside with the Green pick, this one is much more of a quicker to the majors pick. A polished college junior pitcher, like a lot of Nats upper round picks lately (see Henry, Cole as our 2nd rounder two years ago).

Here’s some scouting takes:

mlbpipeline: Bennett pitched with current Nationals top prospect Cade Cavalli at Bixby (Okla.) High and followed him to Oklahoma after turning down Washington as a 39th-round pick in 2019. They’re a contrast in styles, with Cavalli a flame-throwing right-hander and Bennett a polished left-hander. While he won’t emulate Cavalli by becoming a first-rounder out of college, Bennett could factor into the top two rounds after pitching the Sooners to the College World Series finals by winning four of his five postseason starts. Bennett is more effective against right-handers than same-side hitters because his 82-85 mph changeup is a legitimate plus pitch that tumbles at the plate, and he uses it almost exclusively against righties. Although his four-seam fastball has touched 98 mph, it usually operates at 91-94 with some arm-side run, and he must locate it up in the zone to be effective. He uses a slider with similar velocity to his changeup against left-handers, and it lacks consistency while flashing solid sweep at times. At 6-foot-6 and 234 pounds, Bennett is built to be a workhorse starter. He has an easy yet somewhat deceptive delivery that he repeats well, allowing him to pound the strike zone throughout his college career. He stands out more for his floor than his ceiling with a good chance of becoming a No. 4 or 5 starter.

BA: Bennett has been a big part of the Sooners’ strong 2022 campaign. The 6-foot-6 234-pound lefty has performed his way up draft boards this spring and has been a model of consistency for head coach Skip Johnson. Bennett is very efficient in his delivery. He has a bit of a longer takeback with some wrap and is on time with his front foot plant, releasing from a low three-quarters slot. With good extension out front, Bennett adds deception to his 91-94 mph fastball that can get up to 95. He likes to work both sides of the plate, and notches plenty of punchouts up in the zone, especially early in outings when his arm is fresh. Along with his fastball, he has a sweeping slider thrown in the 82-85 mph range that presents quite a problem for lefthanded hitters. Bennett has the ability to vary the break depending on the count, making it difficult for lefthanded hitters to lay off of it when it begins on the inner half and rides out of the zone. He will mix it in to righthanded hitters as well, busting them in on the hands when executed properly. He mostly throws his 82-84 mph changeup to righthanded hitters. Bennett is very effective locating the changeup on the outer rail, resulting in a lot of rollover swings and weak groundouts to the left side of the infield. In previous years, Bennett’s command had a tendency to come and go, which would get him in trouble at times with the self-inflicted busy innings. However, this spring has been a different story. He only surrendered 18 walks in his first 90 innings pitched while his strikeout total drastically increased, surpassing the century mark on the year during the Big 12 Tournament. Bennett joins a long line of Oklahoma pitchers that have transitioned from a talented thrower to a more polished pitcher under Johnson’s watch. The organization that drafts Bennett will be getting a mature arm who’s made the proper adjustments during his time in college.

Fangraphs Bennet has a huge, statuesque frame and his delivery is silky smooth despite a longer arm swing, though his arm slot does not impart bat-missing shape on his fastball. Instead Bennett is reliant on arm strength, which he came into more of throughout the 2022 college season, and he was dominant late in the year as Oklahoma competed in Omaha. His changeup and slider are nastier, and Bennett uses them with the frequency you’d expect depending on the handedness of the hitter. His slider plays against lefties in part because his arm slot is tough for them to pick up, while his mid-80s changeup has plus fade. There may be a way to tweak his stride direction, and by extension his arm slot, to help him create more carry on his fastball, which would give Bennett three swing-and-miss weapons instead of two. Otherwise, he looks like a quick-moving backend piece.


Conclusion on Bennett: potential is there to have 3 plus pitches, and most scouts think there’s room to work on him. No injury history, great size and pedigree. This could be the best 2nd round pick we’ve made (outside of the very promising Henry) in a decade.

Written by Todd Boss

July 17th, 2022 at 10:13 pm

Posted in Draft

What the Soto news really means

27 comments

So, on a calm before the storm Saturday afternoon the baseball world was shook by the news that the Nationals, officially, have Juan Soto on the trading block.

He rejected a 15yr/$440M deal, the third and (maybe?) last deal this ownership group plans on offering, and is now entertaining offers.

The team’s First offer to Soto of 13yrs/$330M was a joke for several reasons:

  • he’s one of the best 4-5 players in the game
  • it would have only taken him through his age 36 season
  • It was more than $100M off of the superstar contracts of the game.
  • Its AAV of 26.9 would have not even been top 20 in the game.

We don’t know what the second offer was, but the third would have guaranteed more total money than Trout (meaning it’d have been the largest contract in the history of the game), would have covered him until his age 38 season … but was still “only” $29.3M AAV, which is outside the top 20 all time. In that regard, yes believe it or not it was still “light.”

So, $440M is an awful lot of money. Maybe he’s dead set on setting both the overall and AAV value on a long term contract. 15yrs, $35M AAV to me is what I think he has to shoot for; that’s a $525M contract. Maybe he’s looking to wait (Scott Boras style) til he hits FA at age 26, and THEN sign a 15 year deal. That’s the best deal for him personally; its pays him til the end of his playable years, plus he gets this year’s $17M, next year’s likely $23M, and the last arb year of probably $28M or so. That’s more like an 18year, nearly $600M deal.

So, all that being said, it has to be about more than the money. Why would he reject this contract now? For me, it has to be just one thing: the Nationals are not going to be competitive for years. Years. And he doesn’t want to wait until he’s 30 to be in the playoffs again, which is a serious possibility if he resigns in DC right now.

This team bottomed out with 100+ losses in 2008 and 2009, then 3 years later they were a 100 win team. So, why aren’t we projecting a similar bounce here? Well, because …

  • in 2008 & 2009: we didn’t have tens of millions of dollars of deferred dollars on the books (not that they “count” towards the luxury tax, but the Lerner’s have really kicked the expenses can down the road for the next decade).
  • Thus we had the payroll flexibility back then to “buy” a Jayson Werth and an Adam LaRoche and a 4th starter in Edwin Jackson to fill in the holes. We don’t have that right now.
  • That 2012 team had four significant home-grown prospects in its top 6 WAR leaders: 2nd rounder Jordan Zimmerman, 1st rounder Bryce Harper, 1st rounder Ryan Zimmerman, and 1st rounder Stephen Strasburg
  • Two of these guys were 1st overall, transformative picks who raced through the minors to get to the big club and were major contributors that year.
  • The farm system was great in 2012: #1 in the sport in Jan 2012 per BA, which we leveraged to acquire a front-line starter in Gio Gonzalez to power the rotation.

Meanwhile, compare and contrast to where we are now.

  • In 2022, we’ve got a $161M payroll this year to go dead last. Some of this was planned expenditures to go away with players we trade ($15M for Cruz, $10M for Bell) …
  • But … as we all know, we’ve got $58M a year tied up with two starters who are currently on the 60-day DL (perhaps permanently) and posting a 5.87 ERA while leading the league in such categories as Losses, Earned Runs allowed, and Hits allowed.
  • We’re not in a position to draft generational 1-1 players … yet. We’re not picking up a Harper or Strasburg this year, maybe not next either (where the projected 1-1 guys are solid but not historic college bats).
  • Zimmermann was a 2nd round pick; when was the last time we had a competent 2nd round pick? Here’s our 2nd round picks going backwards to Zimmermann from 2021 to 2007: Lile, Infante/Henry, Lost-pick in 2019, Cate, Crowe, Neuse, Stevenson/Perkins in 2015, Suarez (didn’t sign), Johansen, Renda, Lost pick in 2011, Solis, Kobernus, Hood, and Zimmermann in 2007. LOOK AT THAT LIST. This is your 2nd highest pick, every year. This is basically 15 years of incompetence. Its patently amazing. From this entire list you have a decent current prospect in Henry, a current middle Reliver (Crowe, with Pittsburgh), a utility infielder hitting .230 (Neuse), a guy who was DFA’d and outrighted earlier this year in Stevenson, and a loogy in Solis. For 15 years of 2nd rounders.
  • Most of our prospect depth is in Low-A or below right now, especially on the hitter side.
  • We’re somewhere in the deep 20s in terms of a Farm System.

So … i think Soto is reading the writing on the wall and saying to himself … it might be 4-5 years before we compete again. And this team (as is custom in this league) will bottom out before it builds again, so a couple years from now could be really, really bleak. Why would he commit to that rebuild, when he can go to a team that can and will spend (Yankees), or go to a team where money is no object (Mets), or go to a team has more competent draft teams than ours (Dodgers).

So, here we are. I wonder what this does to a potential sale. Would a prospective buyer be “ok” with the team selling off its most marketable asset? Or, would they not want to be saddled with a $400M+ contract coming in the door? Probably the latter honestly.

This team let Harper walk after not really giving him a competitive offer. They let Rendon walk. And now they’re probably going to at least get something in return for Soto.

Written by Todd Boss

July 17th, 2022 at 7:09 am

Posted in Nats in General

2022 Draft Coverage. July Mocks/Boards leading up to Draft

15 comments


Here’s the Mocks that have appeared in early July, leading up to the draft. The first couple of Mock draft posts seemed to indicate a pretty clear pattern; the entire industry knows that the Nats are “on” Kevin Parada. Lets see if we start to see any evolution in that sense.

the top 6-7 in this draft are Druw Jones and Jackson Holliday (who definitely are not getting to #5), polished college SS Brooks Lee, and prep players Terrmarr Johnson, Elijah Green, and Cam Collier. Any other name slipping into the top 5 would be a major upset at this point.


  • ESPN Insider (Kiley McDaniel) 6/29/22 mock: Jones, Holliday, Parada, Collier, and the Nats take … Jacob Berry?? This means they’d be leaving both Lee and Green on the board, which most every other pundit says is impossible. Berry is a top pick, but mostly goes at the back-half of the top 10, and the Nats would be leaving 2-3 much better players on the board in this scenario.
  • MLBPipeline (Jonathan Mayo) 6/30/22 mock: Jones, Holliday, Green, Cam Collier. Nats take Lee in this best-case scenario. Mayo basically says this is Green’s floor, and if the Nats are put to the test would take Lee over Parada if he’s available. We’ll see.
  • CBSSports (Axisa) 6/30/22 mock: Jones, Holliday, Green, Lee, Parada.
  • Baseball America (Carlos Collazzo) 7/1/22 mock: Jones, Holliday, Green, Collier . Nats take Parada in this scenario, over Lee and Johnson, which would really piss me off. Collier is, in case you hadn’t heard, the 17yr old who went the Bryce Harper route, graduated HS at 16, then enrolled in Chipola JuCo and has been hitting wood bat as a HS junior all year. Teams that put a lot of stock in “age” value of players are in love with Collier; is Pittsburgh one of them?
  • ProspectsLIve 7/6/22 Top 600 Draft board: Jones, Green, Holliday, Parada, Lee. 6-10 goes Collier, Johnson, Cross, Brock Porter and Zach Neto.
  • The Athletic staff writer mock draft 7/6/22: Jones, Holliday, Green, Collier. Nats take Parada. Again, i’d rather have Lee here than Parada, and I think the ship has sailed on Johnson as an option for this team.
  • MLBPipeline (Jim Callis) 7/6/22 mock: Jones, Holliday, Lee, Johnson. Nats take Green in this scenario, over Parada. Collier also slides here. Green is described as having the best ceiling in the draft and he’d be an excellent pick.
  • BleacherReport/Joel Reuter mock 7/6/22: Jones, Holliday, Parada, Lee, Nats take Green.
  • ESPN Draft Board (McDaniel) posted 7/8/22: Jones, Johnson, Holliday, Parada, Collier. His 6-10 goes Lee, Green, Dylan Lesko, Jacob Berry, Gavin Cross.
  • Athletic/Keith Law final draft board rank 7/10/22: Jones, Collier, Johnson, Green, Lee. Law really likes Collier b/c he’s quite young and will give significant value to his drafting team. His 6-10 goes Holliday, Parada, Jung, Zach Neto and Cross.
  • Athletic/Keith Law Mock 3.0 7/11/22: Lee, Jones, Holliday, Johnson. Nats take Parada here, given that Lee is gone. But they leave Green on the board.
  • MLB Pipeline 7/12/22 podcast: the team discussed the various what-ifs of the draft and all seemed to agree on a couple of things: if Jones doesn’t go 1-1, he’s going 1-2. They all seem to think Holliday will be gone no matter what the scenario before the Nats pick at #5. Lee could go a couple different ways ahead of us; the odds of him getting to us seem slim. Most likely the MLBpipeline team seems to think in the end the Nats will be picking between Parada and Green.
  • Prospects1500 Draft Board 7/13/22: Jones, Green, Holliday, Lee, Parada. 6-10 goes Jung, Cross, Berry, Johnson, and Daniel Susec.
  • MLBpipeline (Mayo) Penultimate mock 7/14/22: Jones, Holliday, Parada, Johnson. Nats in this scenario with Parada off the board go with Green over Lee. If it comes down like this … the decision becomes floor versus ceiling. Lee has a clear floor, as a polished collegiate SS, but Green’s ceiling is much higher.
  • ESPN Baseball Staff mock draft 7/14/22: Jones, Holliday, Collier, Parada, Nats take Johnson. So, this mock has nothing to do with what the teams are actually doing, and is just three staff writers at ESPN taking who they think is the BPA. Not really of any predictive value.
  • CBSsports Mike Axisa final mock 7/14/22: Johnson, Jones (since he’s available), Holliday, Collier, and the Nats have a great choice between Green, Parada, and Lee in this scenario, and Axisa has them taking Green.
  • BA 7/15/22: Holliday, Jones, Parada, Johnson, and the Nats take Green. This is a weird scenario; if Holliday is almost guaranteed to go #3, how much of a haircut is he taking at 1-1? Is it enough to take him over Jones, who everyone says is a better player? With Parada off the board here, Green is now the obvious choice. The team has never been associated with Collier, nor Lee really.
  • ESPN McDaniel mock 3.0 7/15/22: Jones, Holliday, Parada, Collier, Nats take Berry. McDaniel continues to be the only pundit connecting the Nats to Berry.
  • Keith Law final mock 7/16/22: Holliday, Jones, Green, Collier, Nats take Parada.
  • MLBpipeline Callis final mock 7/17/22: Jones, Holliday, Green, Johnson, Nats take Parada
  • MLBpipeline Mayofinal mock 7/17/22: Jones, Holliday, Parada, Johnson, Nats take Lee. Interesting that he has them taking Lee over Green in this scenario. Both CAllis and Mayo have Berry now going #6.

Conclusion: it still really seems like we’re going either Green or Parada. I think the MLB pipeline guys said it best: The Orioles at 1-1 will either go with Jones or will cut a slight deal with someone towards the back of the top 7 (likely Johnson). Then, Jones will either go 1st or 2nd, and Holliday will go 2nd or 3rd. Most think Pittsburgh will try to cut a deal at the #4 spot if the O’s cut a deal at 1-1 like most believe they will, leaving the Nats to pick from Parada, Lee, and Green. And, given how far away the team seems from being competitive, its ok to go with the prep player versus the college (catcher) bat. Which leans Green.

My final prediction: Johnson, Jones, Holliday, Collier, and the Nats go with Green.


Post publishing: who actually went 1-5? Holliday, Jones, Kumar Rocker in a huge shocker, Johnson … and the Nats go with Green. Nats take Green over Parada, over Berry, over Lee. Interesting all around.

Written by Todd Boss

July 15th, 2022 at 8:52 am

Posted in Draft

Who *really* should be in the HR Derby, 2022 edition

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Soto in, who else? Photo via nj.com

This week, ahead of the 2022 Home run Derby, we’re starting to get leaks of the various participants. We got word that 2-time defending champ Pete Alonso is back to defend his Home run Derby title. We heard that the league is putting in retiring future Hall of famer Albert Pujols, and our own Juan Soto (who isn’t the all-or-nothing HR power hitter like some of these guys, but who did have a monstrous 520-foot shot last year).

That’s awesome. But … what would be the absolutely, ideal HR derby in 2022?

For reference, here’s MLB’s list of past HR derby winners. And here’s Wiki’s page which shows all the participants each year. And here’s a list of the 10 longest homers this year.

Here’s who i’d like to see in my optimal HR derby.

  1. Pete Alonso, who won it in 2019 and 2021 and will be tough to dethrone.
  2. Giancarlo Stanton: because, yeah, he hits bombs. And he won it in 2016. And his exit velocity is crazy.
  3. Aaron Judge, who goes into the all-star break leading the league with (as of today) 30 dingers. And because he hits bombs.
  4. Kyle Schwarber, runner up to Harper (controversially) in 2018, but also a HR hitting machine. Currently sits 2nd in the league in 2022. When he gets warmed up, he can hit a lot of HRs, quick.
  5. Vladimir Guerrero Jr.: would love to see his wild swing connecting in the derby.
  6. Yordan Alvarez, owner of one of the longest HRs of the season, currently sits 3rd in the league for Homers in 2022, hits bombs.
  7. C.J. Cron; he’s a beast built like a linebacker who can really get into one; two of the 10 longest HRs this year are his.
  8. Juan Soto: entered last year, hits for power, but on a down year this year.

Honorable Mentions:

  1. Bryce Harper, the 2018 winner. Unfortunately, he’s got a broken hand so he’s out.
  2. Joey Gallo: he’s only hitting .166 this year, but man he can hit some dingers.
  3. Shohei Ohtani; the best player in the game not named Trout can destroy balls, and would be awesome in the competition.
  4. Mike Trout: every year he manages to make the top 10 list of longest homers, one year hitting one nearly 500 feet. But he gets squeezed out of this list. Perhaps he shouldn’t; he’s on a sneaky good season pushing for 50.
  5. Byron Buxton doesn’t make his way onto most people’s minds for prolific home run hitter, but he’s got multiple 450′ shots this year and is top 10 in the league for HRs right now.
  6. Austin Riley can hit some balls.
  7. Rhys Hoskins isn’t a bad choice.
  8. I’ve always liked Cody Bellinger‘s sweet lefty swing; 47 homers in 2019 as a 23yr old MVP, but he’s struggled with injury since.

So, that’s my ideal list. lets see how close we get to it.

2022 post-publishing: Actual finalized list of 2022 HR derby participants with thoughts (the numbers are the seeds)

  1. Schwarber: ok, how is the 2-time defending champion NOT the #1 seed?
  2. Alonso: I guess the seeds were done by # of “real” homers in the 2022 season.
  3. Corey Seager: not mentioned before now. 21 homers this year, on pace for 40. So he’s a homer threat, but when i think “light tower power” … i’m not thinking about a SS in Texas.
  4. Soto: he did hit one 500 feet last year
  5. Jose Ramirez: perhaps the most underrated player in the sport. i’m glad he gets some attention.
  6. Julio Rodriguez; “who?” you might ask? Just Seattle’s top prospect and a guy who’s been tearing up the league from afar.
  7. Ronald Acuna … not a name even from my HMs. He’s clearly a super star player in the league … but do you think “towering power” when you hear his name?
  8. Pujols: I get it … he’s a HoFamer, but he’s taking up a spot.

Schwarber and Alonso the clear favorites, but there’s some solid players here.

Written by Todd Boss

July 12th, 2022 at 8:52 am

Posted in Nats in General

Observations from the Big club

18 comments

I looked back at my posts recently … and less and less do I even bother to write about the Nats themselves. In the bad years, i’d post much more frequently and with frustration about the big league team, the decisions made, etc. But I feel like I fell into a trap of sports-writing (if that’s what i’m doing here), where its easier/more interesting to write critical stuff than it is to write positive stuff when the team is good.

I think, for me, this culminated in the 2019 season, where I posted on May 28th a big post discussing who we should be trading. And then, of course, the team rebounded, and honestly I never felt like I could celebrate their success b/c I was almost rooting for them to fail b/c i’d given up on them so early and didn’t want to be proven wrong.

So, since I have spoken almost nothing of the Nats themselves this year, I thought i’d take stock of where we are just ahead of the All Star Break/Draft/halfway point, and put in some color about what we may expect the rest of the way, what’s coming in terms of prospects (haha), and where we may be going next year.


As I write this on Friday July 8th, the team is 30-55, a .353 winning percentage that puts them on pace for a season-ending record of 57-105. And they’re getting worse: they’re 10-20 in their last 30 and will look to move everyone not tied down at the trade deadline. They’re currently sitting with the 3rd worst record in the league and are just a couple of games “ahead” of the two worse teams (Oakland and Cincinnati) in the race for the #1 overall pick in 2023. For comparison purposes … a 57 win team is actually worse than when this franchise bottomed out in 2008-2009, when they went 59-102 and 59-103 in successive seasons. However this year, this team is managing to do this with a $160M payroll and several guys getting paid as if they’re among the best in the league.

So, we knew they’d be bad. They barely spent any money in the off season to improve the roster. But what’s happened? Lets look at the culprets:

Starting Pitching

Amazingly, the Nats have already seen an entire rotation of starters hit the DL so far, and we’re only halfway through the season.

  • Strasburg started on the DL, made one start, and might be done for the season (or career). He’s just made his 16th career trip to the DL.
  • Sanchez never made it to Washington.
  • The guy who initially replaced Sanchez (Josh Rogers) got hurt.
  • Seth Romero was called up just to be put on the 60-day DL, which mean’s he’s getting MLB pay. How does that make you feel about your job, the fact that this guy got nearly $3M in a bonus after he was basically fired from his college team, then has been “rewarded” for multiple team rule violations by being socially promoted, and now is set to earn another season’s full-salary (north of $700k) for doing nothing. Good work if you can get it.
  • Joe Ross had a spring injury that’s turned into a second TJ surgery.
  • They brought up Evan Lee, gave him a start and he got hurt.
  • They called up Tetreault to cover for the completely ineffective Adon (who’s now back, natch), and four starts later he’s got a frigging stress fracture in his shoulder.

The starters who have managed NOT to get hurt have been … underwhelming mostly:

  • Corbin: a 5.68 ERA and for a time the 2nd worst ERA among qualified starters in the league, behind only …
  • Adon, who now sits 1-12 with a 7.10 ERA. The fact that he’s back in the big leagues and being given starts is patently ridiculous at this point, but what choice do they have (see below).
  • Espino, a 35-yr old minor league lifer who is now sticking as a starter … and has the best ERA+ of the entire bunch. They should trade him just to give him a shot at a contender since he’ll be 40 by the time we’re good again.
  • Fedde, who I thought should have been non-tendered last fall, but is now our 2nd or 3rd best starter and has thrown 3 straight effective starts to lower his ERA from 4.80 to its current 4.29. Shows you what I know.
  • Grey, who I somewhat worry is having one of his control years completely wasted right now, given that he’s one of the hall mark pieces of return for the Scherzer/Turner deal. His starts are up and down, but he’s showing some solid progress. In an ideal world, he’d be an awesome #3 starter behind two studs (Cavalli and Henry anyone?) and a couple of veteran mercenaries on a playoff team.
  • (as noted in the comments … I completely forgot about the ridiculous Aaron Sanchez, who had an ERA north of 8 (eight!) in 7 starts before getting cut).

All this being said, at this point there’s basically nobody left to call up. Waiver claim Abbott has struggled in AAA so far (5.55 ERA). So has 2022 MLFA Verrett (5.07 ERA). So has long-time Nat farmhand Jefry Rodriguez (6.47 ERA). So has former rule-5 trashed-us-on-his-way-out-the-door-betcha-hes-super – happy-to-be-back Sharp (5.77 ERA). So has long-man-pushed-into-rotation Carson Teel (4.91 ERA). Henry has been spectacular … but is on the DL. Even Cavalli‘s numbers are rough (4.54 ERA despite last night’s gem (7ip, 2 hits 0 walks, 0 runs). In fact … how the heck does Rochester have a winning record?? They’re 43-38 despite a team ERA of 4.73 and almost no effective starters. Anyway.

The point is this: There’s nothing on the horizon that’s coming up to save the MLB rotation. Maybe Sanchez (who is doing rehab assignments) could come up and send Adon back to AAA where he belongs. But the next injury likely means Abbott up (he’s the only other 40-man guy), or one of the aforementioned guys with AAA ERAs in the 5s. It’d be malpractice to call up Cavalli (or Henry) but maybe they earn it with a string of better results by season’s end.

Bullpen

The Nats collective relievers have a 4.50 ERA this year, ranking them 26th out of 30 teams. The 4 worse teams are, of course, also fellow-tanking teams in 2022 (Colorado, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati). Why invest in middle relievers if you know you’re going to suck?

Fun Fact: NOT ONE current member of the Nats bullpen was home grown. Look it up on the big Board.

  • Rainey: trade acquisition in 2019 for Roark. Should be trade bait in july as a closer with 3 years of control; he could actually net a decent prospect. Last place teams don’t need closers.
  • Cishek: 2022 FA
  • Finnegan: 2020 FA, which was kind of amazing b/c he had exhausted his 3 arb seasons without getting a single appearance with his former team, but we gave him a MLB-guaranteed deal. So this was basically a minor league FA that’s really paid off well.
  • Edwards: 2022 Minor League FA
  • Garrett: 2022 Minor League FA
  • Ramirez: 2022 Minor League FA
  • Machado: 2021 Minor League FA
  • Weems: 2022 Minor League FA

Even more amazing … of these 8 names, Five of them were MLFAs!! That’s 5 guys who couldn’t even get 40-man guaranteed gigs when we signed them. That means they were considered worse than 1200 other guys who are on 40-man rosters right now.

The fact that we don’t have a single home-grown reliever on the books right now is kind of ridiculous. We did have a few (Suero was non-tendered last November, Klobotis DFA’d and claimed, Voth the same) within the last 6 months or so, but given the sheer volume of pitcher’s we’ve drafted over the past 5 years, you’d think we would have more of a pipeline of guys converted to the bullpen and matriculating up as middle relievers/failed starters.

AAA doesn’t have much in the way of reinforcements either: just one home-grown player in AAA’s bullpen (a continuation of the above indictment of our player development); Matt Cronin who was just bumped up to AAA recently. Otherwise the AAA bullpen is filled with Rule-5 acquisitions (Brill and Taylor), Waiver claims (Murphy and Perez, who has been logging frequent flier miles all season between DC and upstate NY), and MLFAs (our old friend Clippard, who I can’t quite believe has not gotten called up yet with his 2.65 ERA, along with Baldonado, Avilan, and Burdi who is currently hurt). At the next bullpen injury … one of these guys has gotta go up. Meaning another guy laid onto the 40-man roster.

Side note, coming back to Clippard … he’s gotta be wondering if he pissed off Rizzo right now. The team has now added multiple relievers to the 40-man ahead of him: Arano, Ramirez, Edwards, Weems, and Garrett all were MLFA relievers who got the call before Tyler. Really? This guy gave his heart and soul to this team for years; you should have called him up well before randoms we signed out of the trash bucket last January just on principle.

I think the future of this team has to start including more home-grown arms. We cannot rely on veteran FAs and MLFAs as much as we have been. We have dozens of starters in the system; not all of them should be there. We need to start growing more relievers.

Offense

The good: By OPS+ or wRC+ we do have some bright spots: Bell is going to earn us a decent prospect at the trade deadline with his team-leading offensive performance. Soto and Cruz‘s batting averages may be low but they’re league average in run creation thanks to slugging on OBP. Ruiz is showing a near league average OPS+ as a full time starting catcher for the first time; can’t beat that. Plus he’s right in the middle of the order; he’s not an 8-hitter. Garcia has impressed upon his return to the majors; cross your fingers here (yes i know, he can’t field, that won’t matter when we stick him at 2B and neutralize his crap footwork). Yadiel Hernandez is found gold and finally seems to have the LF spot locked up.

The bad: The injury to Kieboom is a dagger for his career honestly. Luckily for him we’re probably going to suck in 2023 as well, so he’ll get one last chance to start in the bigs. Victor Robles continues to look lost; at least he plays a solid CF. Someone’s gotta bat 9th. But we need one of our CF prospects to pan out: going down the line Stevenson in AAA isn’t the answer, Jack Dunn is the starter in AA and is a 20th rounder hitting .230, Ricardo Mendez is hitting .220 in high-A, and then a bright spot in our system Jeremey De La Rosa in low-A tearing it up at age 20. Nothing is close; our latest IFA $5M guy Cristhian Vaquero is definitely a CF, but he’s 5 levels away in the DSL. We’ll likely need a CF option closer to the majors in a couple years. Trade market target.

More bad: Cesar Hernandez seems to be entrenched as the team’s lead off hitter: he’s got a .306 OBP!! I mean … Robles has a .304 OBP. The team seems to be splitting 3B starts between Franco and Adrianza, both of whom are posting sub-replacement level offense. Why did we release Strange-Gordon? I mean, he was hitting .300 while Adrianza is hitting .196 and frigging Fox is hitting .080. I mean, i get it, Kieboom was the plan, and they had to scramble, and the rest are just backups. But man, we can’t find backup infielders who can at least somewhat hit?

Not surprisingly, the Nats are near the bottom of the league in offensive WAR and wRC+ and what not as a team. And, like with the pitching, they seem to be set to get worse when they trade the best hitters (Bell and Cruz) and bring up reinforcements. And who are those reinforcements going to be? We’ll we do have a couple 40-man guys in AAA who will get the immediate call in Casey and Palacios and Fox.

There are a couple non-40-man guys who are in the presumed mix. Nick Banks has been hitting very well in AAA this year (.916 OPS). But unless he’s DH’ing he makes no sense to call up b/c the OF is full (which keeps Stevenson in the AAA as well). Meneses has been powering the ball in AAA and likely is Bell’s replacement the moment he gets traded. Another round with Jake Noll?

The FAs to be of position players are Bell, Cruz, Hernandez, Franco, and Escobar. The last three may not fetch much, but should be moved for whatever they can get, and will lead to a huge gap in the infield. We have some random MLFA middle infielders in AAA that might get the call at that point (guys like Vargas or Flores), plus Fox and his sub .100 BA. So … look out in Aug and Sept.

Not a lot on the near-term horizon either in terms of prospects for the infield: they’re mostly in Low-A.


Conclusion? We’re on pace for our worst ever season as it is, and stand to get a lot worse, meaning 110 losses is in play. And its likely we’re going to be just as bad next year, with little on the horizon and really serious injury concerns surrounding Strasburg. And there’s little in the way of interesting prospects to look for anywhere close, which is a big personal rooting factor.

Written by Todd Boss

July 8th, 2022 at 12:32 pm

Posted in Nats in General

Fangraphs/Longenhagen top 29 Nats Prospects

21 comments

So … even though its (checks calendar) July, Fangraphs just released its “Top 29 Nats prospects for 2022” ranking. Today its the featured story at Fangraphs, along with the side-eye tag line of “This is one of the worst farm systems in baseball.” So, thanks for that!

I suspect Eric Longenhagen got a little too busy this year, and a ranking that he released in April last year got pushed to mid-season. We’re now basically half way through (or more) of the minor league season and are getting a pre-season ranking list … so it kind of feels silly to analyze it. However it does seem like Longenhagen has taken some 2022 production into account here. Either way, I love prospect ranks and collect every one into a huge spreadsheet, and have for years, and I like writing these reaction pieces … so here goes.

His list, start to finish:

Last NameFirst NamePositionRank
CavalliCadeRHP (Starter)1
HenryColeRHP (Starter)2
HouseBradySS/3B3
VaqueroCristianOF (CF)4
De La RosaJeremyOF (Corner)5
RutledgeJacksonRHP (Starter)6
CarrilloGerardoRHP (Starter)7
CruzArmandoSS8
IrvinJakeRHP (Starter)9
RamirezAldoRHP (Starter)10
MillasDrewC11
WhiteT.J.OF (Corner)12
LaraAndryRHP (Starter)13
LileDaylenOF (CF)14
InfanteSamuelSS15
AluJake3B16
LeeEvanLHP (Starter)17
BrzykcyZachRHP (Reliever)18
AbbottCory?19
AdonJoanRHP (Starter)20
ShumanSethRHP (Starter)21
PinedaIsraelC22
DenaburgMasonRHP (Starter)23
PerezFrancisco?24
CroninMattLHP (Reliever)25
ParkerMitchellLHP (Starter)26
QuintanaRoismarOF (CF)27
FerrerJoseLHP (Reliever)28
FoxLuciusSS29

Longenhagen has long been a maverick in his rankings for prospects, and you can see it here. He’s big on younger players and he’s got a ton of experience in the Dominican market. He absolutely values ceiling more than floor, and has no problem putting 17yr-olds with scant experience high on these lists. There’s a number of player rankings here way out of line with other pundits (some that I agree with, others not). So, lets highlight some of the interesting placements.

  • He goes Cavalli, Henry, House as his top 3, omitting the rookie-exhausted Ruiz from this list. This kind of goes against the trend of pundits putting House at #1, and part of it could be the slight stagnation we’ve seen out of House in Low-A (he exploded out of the gates in April, then crashed in May, and his June numbers are mediocre, and now he’s on the DL).
  • Vaquero comes in 4th, and Longenhagen gushes over his performance at pre-draft camps in comparison to his fellow 17yr olds last year. Notably, I discovered that i’ve been misspelling Vaquero’s first name everywhere (Its Cristhian, not Cristian or Christian or Christhian). Vaquero so far is underwhelming in the DSL, “only” slashing .257/.329/.686 with almost no power (just four XBH and zero homers in 20 games). So, lets hope for more.
  • De la Rosa at #5. Wow; he’s high man here. De La Rosa may have been this high in pre-2021 lists, but he, well, he sucked in 2021 (.209/.279/.316 in Low-A, albeit in his age 19 season. Luckily, De la Rosa has been much, much better in 2022 in Low-A (.310/.392/.481), showing solid power to go with a 50-steal pace. So, yeah, this now looks like a good ranking. And a good player to keep an eye on as a true CF with 20/20 capabilities apparently.
  • Rutledge still too high for me at #6, but its in line with other pundits. Rutledge seems to have turned things around (finally) in Low-A: his last 6 starts have basically been stellar, and in a couple of cases have been (ahem) dominant-even (6ip, 3 hits, 0 runs in one, 7ip 3 hits, in another)
  • Irvin at #9!! That’s just amazing. The HIGHEST reputable source that had Irvin anywhere close to this high in his entire minor league career was a #10 ranking by BA in 2019 just after he was drafted. But here he is, sitting as a top 10 prospect in our system per Longenhagen. Amazing. And his ranking is paying off: 2022 results: 3.14 ERA, 1.11 whip and exactly 9 K/9 in 13 four-inning starts so far.
  • He’s incredibly high on Millas, putting him #11 in the system and extolling his defensive capabilities. He hasn’t hit though this year (.211), which could put a damper on his promotion going forward.
  • TJ White at #12 is also high man amongst peers, and it confirms what a lot of like about White. He’s just 19, has an OPS north of .800 in low-A, and is holding his own.
  • Andry Lara comes in 10 spots lower than basically every other pundit out there, ranking him #13. Most every other major shop has him #5 or close to it. And I agree; he’s struggled this year. He’s got easy mid-90s velocity but is getting shelled to a 5.60 ERA in low-A right now. Yes he’s young, but he should also be doing better.
  • Jake Alu at #16 … the fact that he’s even ranked is amazing. Nobody else out there has him ranked at all. But Fangraphs thinks he’s a big-league utility guy. He’s 25 in AA, with an OPS at around .800, can play most of the infield positions or even a corner OF. Maybe we’re looking at another Jake Noll here.
  • Cory Abbott comes in at #19; not bad for a waiver claim earlier this year. But also a pretty bad indictment of a system in his mind, where we have not one but two waiver claims listed.
  • Joan Adon at #20. Wow. The kid who made the 2022 opening day rotation is ranked lower in Fangraphs than the waiver claim we made on Abbott earlier this year. Think about that. In the writeup Longenhagen gives out two interesting nuggets: Adon has now lost his rookie status so he’s done being considered for these lists …. and he points out that the Nats brain-trust altered Adon’s arm angle, which easily explains why he posted a 6+ ERA in the majors this year.
  • Matt Cronin dumped way down into the 20s (#25); his reasoning is that Cronin has no 2nd pitch. Which if true … is a problem.
  • A few other interesting names in the 20s to point out: Francisco Perez (last year’s waiver claim) is at #24, Denaburg is here in the mid 20s still, and Jose Ferrer (who I had to look up on the big board) comes in at #28.

Now … what’s really interesting about this list is who is NOT listed here.

  • No Brandon Boissiere; not a huge omission, but most other shops at least put him in their 20s. Maybe its because he’s hitting near the Mendoza line in Low-A for the second straight season, showing little improvement.
  • No Jackson Cluff. I never got the love for this guy and I still don’t; for his entire career he is slashing .206/.299/.312 … and his AA numbers this year are even worse than that. Even if he’s the second coming of Ozzie Smith, you gotta at least hit a little to get to the majors.
  • Daniel Marte; completely missing. As he probably should be; he’s now hitting below .200 while repeating the FCL and you have to wonder how much longer he has with the organization. He was a reasonably expensive IFA ($300k in 2018) so he’ll get some rope. By way of comparison, that’s the exact same amount that De la Rosa got in the same year.
  • No Mendoza; no surprise here. What a regression for Mendoza. He had an 1.100 OPS his junior year at Florida State and a career .674 OPS with wood professionally.
  • Tim Cate: nowhere to be found. Ouch. Our opening day starter in AA in 2021, Mr. Amazing Curve ball that scouts can’t help but rave about, but can he succeed north of A-ball?
  • Donovan Casey; not listed. Perhaps an admission of what he really is; a guy who maxes out at AA. He’s struggling this year in Rochester, and struggled last year upon his AAA promotion.
  • Seth Romero; absent. As he has been for his entire career.
  • Jordy Barley; fangraphs is not impressed. Neither is the Carolina league, where he’s hitting .199 right now.
  • Tres Barrera: not listed, though Millas and Pineda are. Interesting.
  • Last but not least; Yasel Antuna. Nowhere to be found. This is amazing. By way of comparison, Baseball America has him listed as our #3 prospect. #3 overall. Fangraphs couldn’t find room for him in their top 30, and sits behind two waiver claims. You hate to dance on a guy’s grave … but this is where we are with Antuna right now.

Written by Todd Boss

July 6th, 2022 at 11:36 am

Posted in Prospects

2022 Draft Coverage: More Mocks and More Ranking Boards

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Lets catch up on the last month or so of Mocks and draft rankings, to take the pulse of where we are 3 weeks out.

This is the first time i’ve split up the Mock Draft posts, since it makes no sense to include mocks from the winter with mocks that are posted just ahead of the draft, when intel is at its best. Also, i’ve decided to just include “Draft Rankings” along with Mock drafts to show some context here. Draft Ranking boards do not take into account team preferences (which is the value of Mocks), but are valuable since they indicate what scouting shops think is the true value of the prospects.

So here’s what the Mocks are saying the month before the draft.

I’ll bold the player’s names the first time they appear, not afterwards.


  • MLBPipeline (Jim Callis) mock 6/8/22: Jackson Holliday, Druw Jones, Elijah Green, Brooks Lee, and Nats take Kevin Parada. Callis notes that Parada could go a bit earlier, and if so the Nats are going to be handed either Green or Lee. Both would be great picks; Green’s scouting report basically lists him as the highest upside player in the draft, while Lee is a polished college player who only improved his stock after being a 1st round talent 3 years ago out of HS.
  • MLBPipeline (Jonathan Mayo) mock 6/15/22: Lee, Jones, Holliday, Johnson … and in this scenario Nats take Green over Parada. But, this scenario assumes that the Orioles are going to spend the money it’ll take on Lee at 1-1.
  • CBSsports Mike Axisa Mock draft v1.0 6/15/22: Holliday, Jones, Green, Lee, Parada.
  • The Athletic (Keith Law) 6/16/22 Big Board Draft Ranking: Jones, Collier, Johnson, Green, Lee. 6-10 goes Holliday, Parada, Jung, Zach Neto (a SS from Campbell), then Cross.
  • The Athletic (Keith Law) 6/21/22 mock: Jones, Holliday, Green, Cam Collier, and the Nats take Parada. They’d be taking Parada over Lee in this scenario, which I’d struggle to understand (wouldn’t you want a college SS over a college C if you’re “set” for catcher at the MLB level for 6 years?) I know I often preach “you don’t draft for need” in baseball … but Catcher is a little unique. Unless the team is basically saying to themselves “the bat is worth it irrespective of his position.”
  • Baseball America’s 6/21/22 Top 500 Draft Class Rank: Jones, Lee, Holliday, Johnson, Green. After this 6-10 is Parada, Jacob Berry from LSU, Jace Jung from Texas Tech, Gavin Cross from Virginia Tech, and the young Cam Collier from Chipola.
  • BA Staff Mock Draft 6/23/22: Jones, Green, Johnson, Holliday, then they mock Parada over Lee to the Nats. See, if I had this choice i’d absolutely go Lee and I don’t think its close. The selector’s rationale was that Parada has a “good chance” to stick at the position, but doesn’t pay homage to BA’s own draft ranking board (which now has the switch-hitting SS up to #2 overall). If Lee gets to the Nats, he’s got to be the choice.
  • MLBPipeline Draft Board expanded to 250 6/29/22: Jones, Holliday, Green, Johnson, Lee. 6-10 goes Parada, Berry, Collier, Jung, Cross. I’d be ecstatic if this is the way it goes, but something tells me Lee is going earlier.
  • CBSSports Mike Axisa 6/30/22 mock: Jones, Holliday, Green, Lee, Parada. Pretty consistent with other mocks at this point.

Summary of Nats likely pick: Basically every pundit has the Nats taking Prada.

Other interesting draft names of note.

  • BA’s 250 features the fast rise of Oklahoma’s CWS star Cade Horton, now ranked 24th and probably a 1st rounder.
  • Kumar Rocker won’t get back to his originally drafted spot at #10, but he should be a first rounder after solid performances.
  • Two local kids still projected to be mid 1st rounders in Cross and Delaughter.
  • Nick Morabito, a 2B from Gonzaga HS who lives in McLean, is the son of a little league contemporary of mine. If Nick can hit anything like Brian his dad (who was a 4-yr starter at JMU) then he’ll be successful. MLBpipeline and Keith Law both have him inside their top 100, which puts him at maybe a mid-3rd rounder … is that enough to buy him out of a college commitment?
  • Ivan Melendez, the Hispanic titanic from Texas that certain people on this board are gaga over, is ranked #99 on the big board, putting him right in our wheelhouse range for our 3rd rounder (84th overall). The Dick Howser collegiate POTY is usually a pretty good indicator of MLB performance, and past winners include a slew of highly successful MLBers (going backwards, guys like Adley Rutschmann, Brady Singer, Brendan McKay, Andrew Benintendi, Kris Bryant, Mike Zunino, Buster Posey, David Price, and of course two back-to-back guys in Stephen Strasburg & Anthony Rendon. That’s a solid track record. But, Melendez has Drew Mendoza look and feel to him; big guy, 1B limited already, who hits the
  • Nate Savino, 116 on the board. Another example of a kid who bought into eschewing 1st round money for the glory of a college coach and now will get 5th round money.

Written by Todd Boss

June 30th, 2022 at 2:37 pm

Posted in Draft

Tetreault: found gold or short term fluke?

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Tetreault shows some serious promise. Photo via federalbaseball.com

The selection of Jackson Tetreault is the latest in a long line of Nationals decisions driven by signing bonus dollars paid years ago and 40-man roster status, as opposed seemingly to on-the-field performance. Is that a fair statement? Is it too early to tell? Lets explore.

The team gave no less than 13 starts this season to Joan Adon, allowing him to go 1-11 with a 6.97 ERA (which is dead last in the majors for any pitcher with greater than 50 innings pitched this year) before even considering the possibility that they might have a more competent alternative sitting in AAA in Tetreault. This is after Adon had a grand total of 18 innings north of A-Ball in his career prior to his MLB debut in Sept 2021.

So Tetreault comes up, gets shelled in his debut against a very good Atlanta team … then promptly throws two quality starts, pitching into the 7th inning in both of them (at home vs Philly, then on the road against Texas, so kind of hit-or-miss quality).

In other words, Tetreault now has as many quality starts (and has as many times pitching into the 7th) as Adon did this entire season. If he throws another QS in his next appearance, he’ll have matched Erick Fedde‘s quality start output on the year.

My simple question is this: how did the team not see this before now? Year after year this guy has competently pitched in our minors, moving up year after year. Never had 14 K/9 numbers or an ERA that started with a 1, but never really blew up at a level either. This year in AAA was more of the same: 12 starts, 4.19 ERA, 1.29 whip, .239 BAA.

He’s shown decent stuff; 94.7 avg fastball, has touched 97. He’s a 3-pitch guy; fastball, cutter, curve. The cutter seems to come in 89-90 and is more deception than movement, and the curve definitely is a curve, not a slider.

Here’s what BA said about him ahead of the 2021 season.

Ranked Washington Nationals #28 prospect in 2021
TRACK RECORD: Tetreault began his college career as a reliever at Division II Cameron (Okla.) before transferring to State JC of Florida, He struck out 105 batters in 80.1 innings as a sophomore and signed with the Nationals for $400,000 as a seventh-round pick in 2017. Tetrault cruised through the lower minors, but he hit a wall at Double-A Harrisburg in 2019. He logged a 4.73 ERA, had the highest walk rate and the lowest strikeout rate of his career.

SCOUTING REPORT: With a fast, whippy delivery, Tetreault is able to maintain the 93-95 mph velocity on his fastball, which still makes him a candidate for a starting role. His curveball is a work in progress, but it showed a later and sharper break in instructional league than it has in the past. His changeup is a fringe-average pitch. Tetreault is working on staying on the rubber longer and using more of the strength in his legs. His control is below-average.

THE FUTURE: Tetreault’s velocity might tick up with a move to the bullpen. With a questionable third pitch and control, that is his best avenue to the majors.


So, flash in the pan? Or is he here to stay?

Written by Todd Boss

June 28th, 2022 at 12:54 pm

2022 CWS Finals: Ole Miss Wins!

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Ole Miss wins! Photo via Getty

Here’s how the finals between Ole Miss and Oklahoma played out:

  • Game 1 Ole Miss opted to go with a “bullpen game” instead of putting out their predicted starter on shorter rest, and it ended up paying off in spades. Reliever Jack Dougherty got the call. And he delivered, throwing 5 perfect innings to start the game before tiring in the 6th. Meanwhile Ole Miss’ bats delivered and put the game away in the 8th with back-to-back-to-back homers to win Game 1 10-3.
  • Game 2 saw a classic starter battle, as Ole Miss’ Hunter Elliott threw a solid 6ip 2run game, and Oklahoma’s Cade Horton was out of this world, striking out 13 in 7 1/3 innings. However, Horton ran out of gas, and Oklahoma’s bullpen absolutely imploded, giving up 3 runs in the 8th to seal their fate.

Your 2022 College World Series Champion: Ole Miss. They win their first ever CWS title, the year after Mississippi State wins their first. Great period for the southern state, a stalwart of baseball for decades. And they win without even getting to their ace starter. Amazing. Most pundits think Ole Miss was one of the last teams into this field of 64 (based on a losing SEC record and struggles during the latter part of the season), and now they’re champs.


This concludes the College Baseball season and our coverage of it for 2022.  I’ll post one more post that covers draftees and signing status for all local-connected players (prep and college) once the draft happens in mid July.


CWS links/resources

2022 CWS coverage:

Written by Todd Boss

June 27th, 2022 at 10:32 am

Posted in College/CWS