Nationals Arm Race

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Archive for the ‘drew mendoza’ tag

Reactions and Observations of Full Season Rosters (hitters)

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After washing through dozens of names shifting around on the Big Board (and hopefully not making any cut and paste errors), here’s my non-pitcher related observations to the rosters and movement of players around the system


AAA Rochester: The roster lists 5 catchers, which is kind of odd but clearly to me Brandon Snyder is the starting 1B here, despite being listed suddenly for the first time in 2021 as a catcher.

The hitters are very MLFA heavy: 9 of the 16 non-pitchers in AAA were MLFA acquisitions, including two that happened just in the last couple of weeks in Daniel Palka and Ramon Flores. Both project to be backup outfielders to the presumed starting OF of three other MLFAs in Yasmany Tomas, Carlos Tocci and a hopefully healthy Gerardo Parra.

The infield features two very important former prospects in Luis Garcia and Carter Kieboom, both of whom were signed/drafted in 2016 and both of whom really need to have a successful 2021 at the plate. Kieboom more so than Garcia.

I’m kind of surprised the team signed two veteran MLFAs instead of promoting up some of its long-serving minor league guys, players like Rhett Wisemann and Nick Banks.


AA Harrisburg: Not a lot of defense on this team, with several guys who primarily play 1B on the roster (Corredor, Mendoza, Sagdal and Harrison. Only 3 OFs listed, meaning likely that these 1B guys are covering in a corner. We see both Wisemann and Banks showing up here; they should be the starting corner OFers, but based on a lack of promotion to AAA they may be org-guys waiting to get cut. This is where we see Cluff arrive.

Pretty surprised not to see Antuna here. Why wouldn’t you put him at AA? we’ll see where he shakes out.

Not a very compelling AA roster from a player perspective…Is the best hitting prospect Drew Mendoza? Also, there’s only 26 players listed … out of a roster size of 30?


High A Wilmington: The high-A roster is populated with a weird combination of decent prospects (Antuna and Gage Canning) as well as a slew of what seems like org-guys (20th+ rounders and 7th or 8th year IFAs). Cavalli’s personal catcher Brad Lindsly is here as a 3rd catcher on a limited roster. I don’t see an obvious choice to play 1B on the existing roster, making me wonder if we’ll see a couple more bats added soon. Also, some oddities going on with the rosters: the Wilmington press release listed Jack Dunn on the roster, but transactions list Cole Daily on the roster … which would make sense since he’s a 1B that could play there; but the milb.com site doesn’t have Dunn, who does not appear in the player archives anywhere. I’ll chalk it up to data oddities with thousands of players moving around on the day the leagues launch.


Low A Fredericksburg‘s roster of out-field players looks really weak; I don’t see a single top-30 prospect among any of the hitters listed. Not one. And we have a really crummy farm system. We do have a bunch of younger prospects who are listed, but who clearly aren’t ready for low-A, guys like Jeremy De La Rosa, Daniel Marte and Viandel Pena. There’s also some interesting names left in the far right XST column post assignment, guys like Telmito Augustin.

Spring Training 2021 NRI Discussion

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Parra may bring the shark back to Washington in 2021 as an NRI. Photo Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

This is our 7th straight year doing this recurring post; a look at the Non-Roster Invitees (NRIs) upon their official announcement ahead of spring training.

Here’s past posts by year: 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015.

The team has invited 71 players to spring training, which means that joining the 39 members of the 40-man roster are an astounding 32 NRIs. FYI: the big board is now updated for all 32 NRIs, who are shaded in purple. 2020 was a weird year, which probably is why we’re seeing so many NRIs, and so many NRIs who are so young. Normally NRIs are veteran MLFAs, AAA/4-A guys and perhaps one or two top prospects. This year, the team has invited a slew of guys who have never played above A-ball, or who were drafted just last year.

Why do we care about NRIs? Because there’s a high likelihood we’ll see these guys either make the roster or get called up later on this year. Since the 2015 season:

  • 9 NRIs have made the 25-man roster straight out of Spring Training (and Guthrie technically made it 10 since he got called up a few days later and was always intended to be the 5th starter in 2017).  Basically every year an NRI has made the roster for six seasons running.
  • 29 NRIs eventually played for the MLB team at some point that same season they were in spring training.

So its likely that we’re going to see a lot of these NRIs at some point in the future.  Like, on average at least 4-5 of these NRIs are going to play for this team in 2021.


Lets review the NRIs and make some predictions.

Here’s the list of 32 NRI’s for 2021, organized by player type:

  • RH Starters: Jefry Rodriguez, Paolo Espino, Jackson Rutledge, Cade Cavalli, Cole Henry, Tyler Dyson, Todd Peterson
  • RH Relievers: Aaron Barrett, Tyler Eppler, Javy Guerra, Gabe Klobotis, Jacob Condra-Bogan, Bryan Bonnell, Jeremy Jeffress
  • LH Starters: Tim Cate
  • LH Relievers: Luis Avilan, TJ McFarland, Matt Cronin
  • Catchers: Raudy Read, Wellington Castillo, Israel Pineda, Jakson Reetz, Blake Swihart, Brandon Snyder (who is oddly listed as a Catcher but really is a 1B)
  • Infielders: Adrian Sanchez, Hernan Perez, Jordy Mercer, Jackson Cluff, Drew Mendoza
  • Outfielders: Carlos Tocci, Yasmany Tomas, Gerardo Parra, Cody Wilson

(note: post-publishing edit; I had Bonnell as a LHP; thanks for the correction. 2/22/21 added Jeffress).


So lets squint and make some predictions.

  • Do any of these guys stand a chance at making the Opening day roster?  There are a couple of opportunities for these guys this year, absolutely. All of this is assuming no injuries to the current 40-man.
    1. Lefty Reliever: right now the bullpen has two lefties: Brad Hand and Sam Clay. Hand seems like he’s going to be the closer, while Clay has never pitched in the majors. So, yeah, there’s opportunity here. Avilan has the most MLB time but his numbers have been iffy lately. McFarland has as much MLB time as Avilan and has better recent numbers. Cronin could surprise here, but he’s never pitched above A-ball. He’s got amazing numbers though. The team could also be looking to convert one of its lefty starters to a reliever (Romero, Braymer) … but those guys would be far more valuable as effective starters. At the end of the day, I think McFarland breaks camp as the loogy.
    2. 7th/8th bullpen arm/RH Reliever: Right now on the depth chart, the team only has 9 true “relievers” on its 40-man. They’re going to break camp with 8 of them. The options game probably means they carry the loser of Ross/Voth/Fedde 5th starter competition as the 8th reliever, meaning that there’s possibly some competition for that last righty out of the pen. Look for that spot to be competed between Finnegan, Bacus and then the likes of veteran NRI Guerra. I’ll bet the team breaks camp with Guerra; he’s been there before and the team knows him, sending Finnegan and Bacus to AAA. 2/22/21 update: with the Jeffress signing, I think he goes to the head of the list above Guerra.
    3. 4th OF; Is there really a competition here? I don’t believe there is. But a 5th OF could be in the works as a bench bat. See next.
    4. Bench Bat: here’s our current projected Bench bats: Harrison, Zimmerman. Not much there. I like Parra as a glue-guy, clubhouse guy, spare part kind of player. Plus he hits lefty. Plus lets be honest; his Baby Shark thing is the kind of fan engagement phenomenon that you just can’t buy in terms of publicity. Not that there’s going to be any damn fans.
    5. Spare Infielder: do we really think Garcia is the backup infielder? I don’t think so: i think Garcia goes back to AAA and one of Sanchez/Mercer/Perez makes it as a veteran infielder. Given our Pittsburgh connection, money on Mercer.

So my prediction? multiple NRIs joining the team: McFarland, Jeffress, Parra and Mercer.

Do any of these guys project to feature at all in 2021? Absolutely. Past my four NRI predictions, I can see more than a few of these guys getting call-ups later on if they stick.

Who among these guys project to eventually get on the 40-man?  There’s a bunch of our top prospects on this list: Cavalli, Henry, Rutledge, Cate, Cronin. And there’s lesser-known but older/effective guys who seem like good bets to put themselves onto the roster. Nats spring training games should be great.

Are there any surprise non-NRIs in the system right now? Yeah a couple surprise non-invites. Two arms that were on the 60-man last year are not invited: Nick Wells and Sterling Sharp. Wells is a lefty reliever; why not invite him and have him compete? Sharp has MLB time; why not put him in camp? No other real surprise non-invites.


NRI Details by year, in case you were wondering… (this is recycled material, carried along year by year)

Summary of NRIs for 2020: 22 total

  • Three (3) made the 30-man roster out of Spring training: Javy Guerra, Sam Freeman, Emilio Bonifacio
  • 4 more eventually got added and called-up: tbd by end of 2020 season (Wil Crowe, Dakota Bacus, Luis Garcia, Yadiel Hernandez).
  • 0 more since been added to 40-man post 2020-season: tbd before 2021 season, but thanks to odd 2020 60-man roster all the NRIs under consideration here already got the callup.

Summary of NRIs for 2019: 18 total

  • One (1) made the 25-man roster out of spring: Jake Noll
  • Three (3) more eventually got added and called up:  Aaron Barrett, Tres Barrera, Carter Kieboom
  • Zero (0) others have since been added to 40-man (as of 2/6/20).

Summary of NRIs from ST 2018: 21 NRIs total:

  • One (1) made the 25-man roster out of spring: Miguel Montero
  • Four (4) eventually got added and called up:  Tim Collins, Moises Sierra, Jimmy Cordero, Spencer Kieboom.  Special Mention to Edwin Jackson, who opted out of Washington then excelled for Oakland later in 2018).
  • Zero (0) others have since been added to 40-man

Summary of NRIs from ST 2017: 24 NRIs total:

  • Zero (0) made the 25-man roster out of spring (though technically one kinda was; see next).
  • Five (5) eventually got added and called up (Jeremy Guthrie, Matt Albers, Grant Green, Jacob Turner and Andrew Stevenson): Guthrie was the 5th starter, stashed in XST for a few days before his ill-fated debut.
  • Five (5) have since been added to 40-man (Erick Fedde, Taylor Hill, Kyle McGowin, Wander Suero, Tim Collins)

Summary of NRIs from ST 2016: 20 NRIs total (plus perhaps a couple more that got signed late):

  • Two (2) made the 25-man roster: (Chris Heisey and as noted in the comments, thanks for the correction, Matt Belisle).
  • Two (2) eventually got added and called up (Lucas Giolito, Sean Burnett)
  • Two (2) have since been added to 40-man (Matt Skole, Austin Voth)

Summary of NRIs from ST 2015: 20 NRIs total:

  • Two (2) made the 25-man roster out of spring (Dan Uggla and Clint Robinson).  Adding Reed Johnson as a late-spring signee who made the team after his release from Miami (H/T Sao)
  • Two (2) others eventually got added and called up (Rafael Martin and Emmanuel Burriss)
  • Two (2) others were young catchers since added to the 40-man (Spencer Kieboom, Pedro Severino)

(I believe the above analysis is correct; feel free to comment if i’ve missed someone.  this is a bit tougher to keep track of b/c the team often signs MLFAs mid-spring then technically gives them NRIs … especially for Vets, and I may miss some from the original announcements).

Keith Law’s Nats Top 20 Prospect list

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Andry Lara continues to get attention out of the Nat’s system. Photo via Baseball America

Keith Law, over on the Athletic, released his Washington Nationals top 20 analysis yesterday. I like Law’s analysis, and realize that his opinions can be a bit polarizing, but I thought i’d run through his list and provide some analysis in spots where he differed greatly from other pundits in the space.

By this point in the “prospect analysis season” we’ve seen Nats run-throughs from Baseball America, Prospect361, MLBpipeline’s preliminary list, Prospects 1500, Bleacher Report, Baseball Prospectus, and now Keith Law. Still waiting for a couple other big names to drop (Mlbpipeline’s final list, ESPN, and Fangraphs), all of which should be coming in the next week ro so, but we’re starting to see some standardization of the lists.

Law’s ranking is “ceiling over floor” (meaning he likes younger prospects with growth potential versus older prospects who may be limited in terms of future impact). He’s definitely starter over reliever (its kind of surprising to ever see him rank a reliever) and premium defensive position over corner. So, there’s some surprises on this list.

The Athletic is behind a paywall, so here’s the list.

1CavalliCade
2RutledgeJackson
3HenryCole
4LaraAndry
5QuintanaRoismar
6DenaburgMason
7RomeroSeth
8CateTim
9CroninMatt
10De La RosaJeremy
11AntunaYasel
12InfanteSamuel
13MarteDaniel
14PinedaIsrael
15AdonJoan
16IrvinJake
17LeeEvan
18FuentesSteven
19ViandelPena
20SanchezBryan

Thoughts on his rankings:

  • Same top 3 as nearly all other pundits, in the expected order of Cavalli, Rutledge, Henry. I’d like to point out that the best-case projection for these three guys is a heck of a trio of arms to pair with Strasburg and Corbin for a few years at the back-end of their long term contracts. I mean, there’s worse situations to be in. Especially if all three are pitching in the majors on pre-arb contracts.
  • Andry Lara at #4: this is about where others are now putting him; the video on him is pretty impressive. Effortless delivery, almost like Livan Hernandez but with velocity, and side-stuff.
  • He has Roismar Quintana all the way up to #5, way way higher than anyone else (Baseball America had Quintana at #20 and most others have him in the mid-teens). This exemplifies ceiling over floor approach to prospect grading to a T.
  • He’s got our two high-profile 1st round scuffles in Denaburg and Romero back to back, fittingly. Question; at what point does a prospect write-up of Romero NOT mention that he’s got “off-the-field” issues? I daresay i have not read a paragraph about the player since the day we drafted him that did not include that caveat. I wonder if he makes the majors and pitches for us for several years and then when we hear about his first arbitration hearing if the write-ups will go, “… Romero pitched adequately out of the nats bullpen in 2026 … he’s come a long way since getting kicked off his college team!” sigh.
  • Law has Antuna all the way down at #11 (by way of comparison, BA has him #4 and Prospects1500 has him at #2, which may be influenced by fantasy value since he’s now on the 40-man and might get big league time in 2021). I think Law dings him because he doesn’t think Antuna can stick at a premium defensive position … which greatly hurts his value unless he can show 25-homer power.
  • Despite having TJ surgery, Law has Jake Irvin all the way up to #16, noting that he was showing significantly higher velocity before blowing out his elbow (do you think maybe the two events are related?) Nonetheless, if Irvin comes back with a new elbow and the same velocity, he’s a significantly better prospect.
  • Evan Lee at #17 … that’s definitely optimistic on Lee.
  • Bryan Sanchez at #20 and now we know why; 3,000 rpm on his curve ball right now to go with mid 90s velocity?? As an 18yr old? Wow.

A couple other notes:

  • Cluff and Mendoza were BA’s #10 and #11 … and Law doesn’t even have them in his top 20.
  • No mention of Tres Barrera who is mid-teens in most other groups, not even in his honorable mentions.
  • Lastly, he drops a name i’ve never heard before: Mirton Blanco. Turns out he’s an 2018 IFA who threw in the DSL in 2019 with pretty solid velocity before blowing out his elbow too. Seems like a trend.

Baseball America’s Nats top 30

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Cade Cavalli named #1 prospect in the system by Baseball America. Photo via Lookout Landing blog

Baseball America announced Top 30 lists for all teams on 2/3/21, which meant we get the first major team-specific review of the prospects.

The lack of a minor league season in 2020 complicates this analysis, as does the late arriving IFA class (delayed 6 months from its typical July 2 date). But we do have some shuffling of prospects from prior lists. This post will call out some of the more interesting prospects on BA’s list, if they’re higher or lower than other shops.

Direct link to the Nats top 30 is here. The top 30 table is here:

2021 BA RankLast NameFirst Name
1CavalliCade
2RutledgeJackson
3HenryCole
4AntunaYasel
5LaraAndry
6De La RosaJeremy
7CateTim
8DenaburgMason
9CroninMatt
10MendozaDrew
11CluffJackson
12InfanteSamuel
13RomeroSeth
14PinedaIsrael
15BarreraTres
16MarteDaniel
17BraymerBen
18PowellHolden
19FuentesSteven
20QuintanaRoismar
21DysonTyler
22IrvinJake
23AdonJoan
24ReetzJakson
25SharpSterling
26AriasAndry
27TetreaultJackson
28BanksNick
29SchallerReid
30SanchezBryan

Notable players:

  • Like pretty much every other prospect ranking shop, the top three includes Cade Cavalli, Jackson Rutledge and Cole Henry. Cavalli comes in ahead of Rutledge.
  • After a down year, Yasel Antuna is now all the way up to #4. As we’ve heard repeatedly, he did well in the XST 60-man last year and is rounding into the prospect shape they thought they were getting when they spent $3.9M on him in 2016. For all the talk we have about whether Kieboom is ready … maybe we’re looking at the wrong 3B prospect right now. Could Antuna win the 3B job this spring??
  • BA continues to be high shop on De La Rosa, ranking him #6.
  • The Pittsburgh trade cost the team two of its former BA top 10 players in Crowe and Yean, which moves up two 2019 draftees Cronin and Mendoza into the top 10. Both were solid college players who have done well so far in the minors. Cronin seems like he could zoom up the minors in 2021.
  • They’re way high on Infante, with him at #12 when most shops have him buried in the mid 20s. I definitely feel like there’s some pretty distinct opinions on Infante in the Natmosphere; some people really hated the pick. He was above slot, buying him out of a UMiami commitment and is listed as having plus arm, plus hands and is “advanced” for a prep draft pick.
  • Romero down to #13. For understandable reasons; his velocity was not impressive in 2020 in his very short season. I’d like to see him in AAA, as a starter, pitching every 5th day for half a season to see just what he’s capable of.
  • The three catchers on this list: Barrera at #14, Pineda at #15, Reetz at #24; does anyone actually think any of these guys ever contribute at the MLB level? Reetz was a MLFA re-signing and comes in at #24 in the system?
  • Daniel Marte pops up kind of out of the blue at #16. Seems like a speculative ranking.
  • Ben Braymer at #17 continues to get half-hearted prospect support, despite his excellent minor league career thus far. A reminder; he has a career 3.64 minor league ERA despite a 7+ ERA in 13 Fresno starts in 2019. He continues to be one of the best middle-round picks we’ve ever had.
  • Steven Fuentes creeping up to #19. Still can’t believe he’s not higher; he dominated AA in 2019 as a 22yr old.
  • BA is much lower on Joan Adon than other shops, bringing him at #23 when most others have him in the 14-17 range.
  • Same with Reid Schaller; having him #29 while other shops have him as high as #16.
  • Why is Sterling Sharp even considered a prospect at this point (he’s ranked #25).
  • Two debutants on BA’s list that i’ve never seen mentioned elsewhere before: Andry Arias comes in at #27 and Bryan Sanchez at #30

FYI: The 2021 IFA picks (specifically Armando Cruz) were not included on this list.

Overall farm system thoughts: top heavy: 3 big arms at the top who project as solid #2-#3 starters. Then three high-risk/high-ceiling IFAs. Then a combination of big-time Div1 studs and failed first rounders. There’s room for improvement.

BA Mid-season updated top 30 Prospects released; analysis and reaction

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Kieboom still #1 ... but not for long. Photo via Federal Baseball

Kieboom still #1 … but not for long. Photo via Federal Baseball

Hey, we’re half a week into the season, the Nats are 1-3, are already on their 7th string starting pitcher, havn’t had their star player play b/c he apparently got a false-positive Covi19 test, managed to lose a game where Corbin gave up one hit through six innings against perhaps the best team in the majors.  Oh, and half the Marlins have tested positive for Covid19 and the Nats just basically voted as a team to boycott the next trip to Miami.

Other than that, Mrs Lincoln, how was the play?

Lets talk Prospects instead for a bit.  In the midst of the race to restart the season, Baseball America reported out its updated top 30 prospects for all teams.  Here’s the Nats version.  I’m not sure if this is or isn’t behind a paywall (I’m a BA subscriber so I don’t know but suspect it is), so here’s the overall list.

1. Carter Kieboom, SS/2B
2. Luis Garcia, SS/2B
3. Jackson Rutledge, RHP
4. Cade Cavalli, RHP
5. Cole Henry, RHP
6. Wil Crowe, RHP
7. Tim Cate, LHP
8. Drew Mendoza, 1B
9. Andry Lara, RHP
10. Mason Denaburg, RHP
11. Sammy Infante, SS
12. Yasel Antuna, SS
13. Seth Romero, LHP
14. Holden Powell, RHP
15. Tres Barrera, C
16. Eddy Yean, RHP
17. Jeremy De La Rosa, OF
18. Matt Cronin, LHP
19. Jake Irvin, RHP
20. Jackson Cluff, SS
21. Tyler Dyson, RHP
22. Reid Schaller, RHP
23. Israel Pineda, C
24. Ben Braymer, LHP
25. Cole Freeman, 2B/OF
26. James Borque, RHP
27. Joan Adon, RHP
28. Jackson Tetreault, RHP
29. Malvin Pena, RHP
30. Nick Banks, OF

So, its basically the exact same top 30 published with the BA handbook in February, but inserting the 2020 draftees.  Four of our six 2020 picks have made the top 30 list:

4. Cade Cavalli, RHP
5. Cole Henry, RHP
11. Sammy Infante, SS
14. Holden Powell, RHP

These four players push off the guys ranked 27th-30th in February, namely:

27. Steven Fuentes, RHP
28. Jakson Reetz, C
29. Nick Raquet, LHP
30. Jhonatan German, RHP

—–

thoughts overall:

  • I think the placement of Cavalli and Henry at 4th and 5th makes sense.  They slot in behind the more established 1st round starter in Rutledge, but ahead of the more accomplished but more ceiling-limited Crowe.
  • Infante at #11 just ahead of Antuna is … interesting.  I mean, I understand Antuna’s shine is off a bit, but we’re still talking about a guy who at Infante’s age played an entire season at full-A and who got nearly 4x the signing bonus.
  • Powell placed at #14 when Cronin is #18??  Um; did you guys SEE what Cronin did to Low-A last  year in his pro debut?  Enough to get put on the damn 60-man roster a few months later.  You mean to tell me you think Powell’s side-arm closer action is projecting better than Cronin right now?
  • Hey, that Nick Raquet ranking in February is aging great.
  • So is that Barrera ranking; before the 2020 draft BA nearly had him as a top 10 prospect.  I know we’re weak on hitters but … damn.
  • Raudy Read is nowhere to be found, but he beats out both Barrera and Reetz to make the opening day 30-man roster.  Something is amiss here.
  • Talk about bad timing for a pandemic-induced cancellation of the minor league season for two guys inparticular: Seth Romero and Mason Denaburg.   Two first rounders who desperately needed playing time this year.  Ah well.

 

 

Keith Law’s Nats top 20 comes out; who is he up and down on?

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Kieboom is Law's number one ... like everyone else. Photo via federalbaseball.com

Kieboom is Law’s number one … like everyone else. Photo via federalbaseball.com

Keith Law, long-time ESPN baseball writer and prospect lead, moved to the Athletic this past off-season and he’s put out most of his 2020 pre-season prospect content.  Yesterday he put out his Nats top-20 list.

We already know that Law is bearish on the Nats system in general, ranking it 29th out of 30 teams.  A lot of that has to do with his being “lower” on Carter Kieboom and especially Luis Garcia than any others.  But its also a pretty specific indictment of the Nats top-end drafting (and to be fair, trading of prospects to acquire MLB players) over the past years.  Consider the top 3 rounds of draftees lately (see the Draft Tracker for more: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1Qd5DS9GlmkQOEh_zGhOvlhHK0EegqY1uJB4mLGmRBaY/)

  • 2019: Rutledge, forfeited 2nd round pick, Mendoza
  • 2018: Denaburg, Cate, Schaller
  • 2017: Romero, Crowe, Raquet
  • 2016: Kieboom, Dunning, Neuse, Luzardo
  • 2015: forfeited 1st round pick, Stevenson, Perkins, Wisemann
  • 2014: Fedde, Suarez (who refused to sign), Reetz
  • 2013: forfeited 1st round pick, Johansen, Ward
  • 2012: Giolito, Renda, Mooneyham

So, take a look at this list of top end picks.  You have to go all the way back to 2011 to find a first rounder who has starred for this organization (Anthony Rendon).  The team gave up on Giolito and he’s now starting for the White Sox.  Fedde is heading to the minors again in 2020 and seems topped out as a 4-A starter, and so far the team has gotten nothing from its 2017 and 2018 $3M arms Romero and Denaburg.  You can credibly say that the team lost or outright blew its first round picks in 5 of the last 8 seasons, and the guys who have succeeded not named Kieboom are playing for other teams.

The 2nd rounders are even a worse indictment; Renda and Johansen were failures. Suarez refused to sign (a huge gaffe in the modern bonus-structure driven draft).  Stevenson is a 5th outfielder.  Dunning and Neuse are solid … for other teams.  We gave up last year’s 2nd rounder to sign Patrick Corbin.

Lastly the 3rd rounders have also basically done nothing: the team was obsessed with Mooneyham for years and he never got above A-ball.  Ward and Wiseman are org players.  Reetz is finally showing some promise … in his 6th pro season.   Luzardo?  Awesome … for another team.  Raquet was serviceable as a starter in high-A last year repeating the level, but may be heading to relief as a lefty specialist.  Schaller didn’t even make Law’s top 20 list despite being a Vanderbilt product, and Mendoza is already a 1B limited guy more famous for his HS pedigree than his abilities.

Yeah.  Its no wonder our system is so poorly ranked.

(No, i’m not taking into context who we traded these assets for.  Yes i’m aware that the trades of Giolito, Dunning, Neuse, and Luzardo netted the team several crucial pieces at the MLB level in Adam Eaton, Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madsen.  That’s not the point here; we’re isolating reasons why the farm system has collapsed; part of is is poor drafting and part of it is trading away 1st and 2nd rounders.  I’m less concerned with the traded assets as I am with the 1st and 2nd round pick failures that are starting to mount up; Denaburg and Romero in particular.).

———–

Anyway.  Lets take a look at who Law likes and doesn’t like as compared to the rest of the prospect ranking world.  Law’s methodology generally favors ceiling over floor (so he likes younger prep guys with potential versus boring guys in AAA with demonstrated but un-flashy talent).  He favors those in the skill positions (SS, CF) versus corners.  He really discounts relievers.  He likes IFAs.  So with that in mind, here’s some names worth mentioning:

  • He has the same top 3 as most every one else for our system: Kieboom, Garcia, Rutledge.  BA, Fangraphs, MLBpipeline and Law all have these three in a row.
  • He’s generally down on Kieboom though versus other shops: I’ve seen Kieboom in the 11-15 range on a lot of minors-wide lists; Law has him all the way down at #74.
  • We know he’s down on Garcia versus others.  I’ve seen Garcia mostly in the 60s to 90s range on these minor’s wide lists; Law doesn’t have him anywhere close and has made mention of it whenever asked, saying that Garcia’s sole “tool” seems to be that he was 19 in AA last season.  This is definitely at odds with the way Garcia is portrayed within the organization (he did get an NRI this year and has already hit a flashy homer), nor with other evaluations.
  • He remains higher on Denaburg than others: see “ceiling” versus “floor” reasoning above.
  • he’s a little higher on Jeremy De La Rosa and Eddy Yean than other shops, noting that Yean’s name frequently comes up in trade talks but the Nats are holding firm.
  • He’s lower on Matt Cronin than other shops despite his eye-popping numbers: see “reliever all the way” reasoning above.
  • He’s suddenly much higher on Reetz than basically anyone else, citing 2nd half splits that really look rosy.  Hey, i’ve been down on Reetz for a while, using him as my classic “Baseball doesn’t know what a sunk cost is” economics argument for hanging onto failed prospects just because they ahve a big bonus.  But maybe we’re finally going to see something out of him.
  • He’s way higher on Jhonatan German than anyone else; despite his being a pure reliever, perhaps a reliever-only starts getting his attention once he starts getting AA hitters out.
  • He’s bullish on Telmito Agustin, but i’m not sure why.  Agustin cratered while repeating high-A, though he’s still just 23.
  • He does not like Mendoza nearly as much as others.  Mendoza has a big bat, no doubt, but he can barely play 1B and may end up being a DH-only guy.  That’s a ding on the prospect ranking set unless you’ve got Vladimir Guerrero Jr. batting lines in the minors.
  • he’s down on some of our mid-minors college arms, guys like Jake IrvinReid SchallerJackson Tetreault and Ben Braymer.  Braymer in particular probably is a “floor versus ceiling” discussion;  yeah he’s on the 40-man but what does he project to?  A 5th starter?  A reliever?
  • Lastly, he’s completly at odds with one shop in particular that has Tres Barrera as the 11th ranked prospect.  And I get it; what exactly is Barrera going to give this organization going forward?

Anyway.  If you’re not an Athetic subscriber I would encourage you to sign up.  They’ve got some of the best talent in the game writing for them now and they just keep adding more good stuff.

 

Ask Jessica; MLB.com’s new Nats Beat Reporter Jessica Camerato does her first inbox/mailbag

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Will Kieboom have a shot at the 25-man roster this Spring? Photo via federalbaseball.com

Will Kieboom have a shot at the 25-man roster this Spring? Photo via federalbaseball.com

Jamal Collier has moved on: our new mlb.com beat reporter is Jessica Camerato.  As far as I can now tell, here’s your official beat reporters for the team from the various major media outlets covering the team:

(post-publishing edit: thanks for the crowd-sourcing on the WP beat reporter history that I had forgotten despite still, to this day, being a WP paper subscriber).

  • Washington Post; Jessie Dougherty/Sam Fortier. Before them in descending chronological order: Chelsea Janes/Jorge CastilloJames Wagner, Adam KilgoreChico Harlan.  The original/first beat reporter was Barry Svrluga.
  • MASN: Mark Zuckerman.  He formerly covered the team for The Washington Times, then Comcast Sports Net, with an “unaffiliated” year between gigs writing for his own site (natsinsider.com)
  • MLB.com: Jessica Camerato, formerly Jamal Collier and then for years Bill Ladson
  • The Athletic: Brittany Ghiroli
  • Comcast Sports Net/NBC Sports: not sure?  Perhaps Matt Weyrich?  Todd Dybas (thanks to commenter rdexposfan)
  • Washington Times: … not sure?  Do they have a dedicated beat reporter since parting ways with Zuckerman?

Am I missing any major DC area media outlets with professional beat reporters?

Anyway I digress.

Here’s Camerato’s first mailbag, dated 1/31/20, responding primarily to questions she got on twitter.

———

Q: How are the Nats going to replace Anthony Rendon’s production?

A: Uh… they’re not?

It should be pretty obvious that the team has attempted to “replace” Anthony Rendon‘s lineup presence in a very Billy Beane fashion; buy a bunch of cheaper alternatives that, in the aggregate, may come close to adding up to replace the star.  They’ve brought back guys (Kendrick and Cabrera), they’ve hired new guys (Castro) and they’re hoping that their prospects (primarily Kieboom) can grow up fast and contribute soon.  Throw enough 3B-capable players at the wall and hopefully something sticks.

What they have NOT done is acquire a superstar replacement: no Josh Donaldson and as of yet no trade for someone like Kris Bryant or Nolan Arenado.  I’m not entirely sure how the team puts together a package deep enough to get these guys, not without crushing the existing roster or what remains of the farm system at this point (Baseball America just ranked the system 23rd, and once Kieboom and Luis Garcia graduate i’m not sure what remains to keep it from plummeting to the bottom).  So I think we all have to hope that the new un-tapped edge in the sport is middle-aged sluggers and go with it.

Camerato doesn’t really mention the like-for-like position player at 3B, instead points out that Juan Soto may step up .

———

Q: What are the chances Carter Kieboom lands at third?

A: This year?  Or eventually?

I think eventually yes he ends up at 3B.  This year, at least in the first half, may not provide him many opportunities thanks to the FAs that the team has signed.

I don’t think he ends up at 2B; he’s a bit big, despite currently being a SS and his defensive strength reportedly is in his arm, not his movement, so 2B makes sense for others … like Garcia.

Camerato says he’ll get his shot at the job in ST but that he’ll have competition.

Q: Who’s gonna be the fifth starter?

A: I think it almost has to be Joe Ross.  Ross has proven more than a few times he can’t pitch in relief.  He’s got no options.  And he’s proven in the past to be a solid 5th starter.   His competition for the role all seems to be internal this year; there’s no MLFA reclamation project like Jeremy Hellickson waiting in the wings (at least not right now).  Erick Fedde and Austin Voth are his most direct competition … one has a magical 4th option (Fedde) which buries him in Fresno even before spring training begins, and the other guy (Voth) gets the 13th pitcher roster spot thanks to no options and his ability to be a swing-man /spot starter.

Camerato says they don’t really need to figure this out in Spring Training … which I don’t agree with frankly b/c of the options situation with two of them.

——–

Q: What does the farm system look like this year? Who should we watch that could make the club in 2021?

A: Farm system, as mentioned above, is thin.  Its two guys at the top (Kieboom and Garcia) and then its a gap to players who are a ways away.

Why is the Farm so thin right now?  Because the team has blown or traded away multiple first round picks in the last few years.   Consider the Draft Tracker:

  • 2019 1st rounder Jackson Rutledge; now basically our 3rd best prospect after throwing 37 innings last season.
  • 2018 1st rounder Mason Denaburg: didn’t pick at all in 2018, threw 20 innings in 2019 with an ERA north of 7.00 in the GCL and is reportedly nursing an injury
  • 2017 1st rounder Seth Romero; known problem child who continued to cause issues upon signing, and threw just 47 pro innings before blowing out his UCL.
  • 2016 1st rounder lost due to the Daniel Murphy signing.
  • 2016 Supplemental 1st rounder Dane Dunning traded away to get Adam Eaton.
  • 2016 Supplemental 1st rounder Kieboom currently our long-standing #1 overall prospect.
  • 2015 1st rounder lost due to the Max Scherzer signing.
  • 2014 1st rounder Erick Fedde really yet to be effective for the MLB team frankly; 143 MLB innings with a 5.39 ERA.

The Denaburg and Romero picks in particular are really crushing the system; those two guys should both be top 100 prospects right now.  Its also worth noting that the team traded away Jesus Luzardo in 2017 in the Doolittle trade, and he’s now nearly a top 5 prospect in the whole of the sport.

Why do I focus on 1st rounders?  Well because those are by far the players with the highest percentage chances of matriculating to the majors, and should be the ones at the top of your prospect lists.  Instead, our team has gotten almost NO prospect depth out of our 1st rounders over the past 6 drafts.  Instead the tops of our “top 30” lists are dotted with 2nd and 3rd rounders (Wil Crowe, 2nd rounder in 2017, Tim Cate, 2nd rounder in 2018 being the best recent examples), but even those 2nd rounders have been gutted lately:

  • 2019 2nd rounder lost to the Patrick Corbin signing
  • 2016 2nd rounder Sheldon Neuse  also traded away with Luzardo in the Doolittle deal, now on the cusp of the Oakland MLB roster
  • 2015 2nd rounder Blake Perkins traded away for Kelvin Herrera (though to be fair, he was young and has yet to really materialize as a prospect)
  • 2014 2nd round pick Andrew Suarez refused to sign; he’s pitched all of 2018 in San Francisco’s rotation.

That’s a LOT of additional prospect depth either out the door on top of the failures of the 1st rounders.  And its going to get worse before it gets better.

Who might debut in 2021?  I’d be looking for Garcia, Crowe, maybe Barrera moving up, Braymer and maybe even a couple of the 2019 guys (Mendoza or Rutledge) if they blow up this year.

Camerato says… Garcia might debut in 2021.  not much else.

————-

Q: Welcome! I’d be interested in hearing about players who changed up personal routine, training regimen, pitch selection or batting stance this offseason.

A: Me too!  Hoping for more player deep dive content from Camerato and others this spring training.

Camerato says she agrees and hopes to do more once ST starts.

 

 

 

 

Nats 2019 Draft Class Wrap-Up

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Rutledge is signed up and ready to go. Photo via BA

Jackson Rutledge is signed up and ready to go. Photo via BA

The 7/15/19 deadline has passed, and the Nats have their official Draft class.

The last two top-10 round players signed (CWS participants Drew Mendoza and Matt Cronin) signed with little fan-fare and suddenly we had Mendoza showing up in Hagerstown.  We learned later he signed an over-slot deal for $800k, about $181k over slot and using up basically every last penny of our 2019 bonus pool and the 5% cushion.   (nearly every penny; see below for what the Nats did with the leftover dollars): Here’s a summary of the top-10 picks and the over-slot guys counting against the cap:

RoundOverallNamePositionCol/HSCollege or CmtmStateBonus AmtSlot ValueSavings off of Slot?
117Rutledge, JacksonRHP (Starter)Col J2San Jacinto College North (TXTX34500003609700159700
394Mendoza, Drew3BCol JrFlorida State UFL800000618200-181800
4123Cronin, MattLHP (Reliever)Col JrArkansasAR4645004645000
5153Dyson, TylerRHP (Starter)Col JrFloridaFL500000346800-153200
6183Cluff, JacksonSSCol SoBYUUT20000026600066000
7213Peterson, ToddRHP (Reliever)Col JrLSULA220000208200-11800
8243Ydens, JeremyOF (CF)Col JrUCLACA1695001695000
9273McMahon, HunterRHP (Starter)Col JrTexas StateTX1526001526000
10303Pratt, AndrewCCol SrLubbock ChristianTX10000144100134100
11333Arruda, J.T.SSCol JrFresno StateCA250000125000-125000
13393Randa, JakeOF (corner)Col J2NW Florida StateFL300000125000-175000
14423Knowles, LucasLHP (Starter)Col J3Central Arizona CollegeAZ136980125000-11980

The Nats gave over-slot deals to:

  • 3rd rounder Mendoza
  • 5th rounder Tyler Dyson
  • 7th rounder Todd Peterson
  • 11th rounder J.T. Arruda
  • 13th rounder Jake Randa.
  • 14th rounder Lucas Knowles, who gets the $11,980 exactly left over after the Nats signed Mendoza.  It seems like they signed Mendoza, calculated their remaining dollars with the 5% cushion, and gave Knowles that number and he took it.

I especially like the 11th and 13th round deals: Arruda got 6th round money and Randa got 5th round money, so that gives our draft class some extra talent.

Meanwhile, under-slot deals given to 1st rounder Jackson Rutledge, 6th rounder  Jackson Cluff, and 10th rounder Andrew Pratt enabled these moves.  I’m especially surprised that Rutledge signed for under slot, after having fallen on most draft boards.  This usually indicates that a player will demand over-slot money, not accept under-slot money.  The team made just one Senior Sign/blatant bonus money move, the 10th round catcher Pratt.

Bonus Pool Accounting for 2019:

  • Original Bonus amount for top 10 rounds: $5,979,600
  • Bonus amount plus 5% cushion: $6,278,580
  • Total Bonuses given counting against the cap: $6,216,600
  • Total savings/space left: 0$ exactly.  As noted above, the final $11,980 went to Knowles.
  • Total known Bonus money paid, all rounds: $7,536,600

the Nats paid a slew of $125k deals in the 11th-20th rounds to secure all these Juco guys.

Biggest surprise signings:

  • 23rd rounder HS pick Michael Cuevas, who took the $125k to forgoe a Juco commitment and come on board out of HS
  • 13th rounder Randa, who got bought out of a SEC Mississippi State transfer commitment.
  • 14th rounder Knowles, who seemed like he was bailing until offered slightly more than $125k and signed.
  • 32nd rounder Dylan Beasley, a college Junior who took $50k to turn pro.

Biggest surprise non-signings:

  • none really: our 26th rounder college Senior Dupree Hart has yet to sign as of 7/9/19, and his twitter says he’s a “financial Advisor” with Northwestern Mutual, so he may be declining a pro baseball career.

All told, 29 of their 39 picks got signed.

Assignments for the class:

  • 12 to GCL, including several college seniors who are going to be way too old for the level
  • 5 who spent a few days in GCL then went to Short-A
  • 9 Straight to Short-A
  • 3 straight to Low-A: Mendoza, Cronin and Cluff; havn’t seen a draft pick straight to such a high level since Stephen Strasburg, unless i’m not remembering someone in particular

 

 

 

 

2019 CWS Super Regional Recaps, CWS Omaha field and performance of Nats draft picks

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Here’s a recap of our CWS coverage so far for 2019:


CWS Super Regionals were played this past weekend.

Super Regional Recaps:  I’ve got these ordered by they way they’ll be playing into the CWS field (i.e. by bracket, with former National seeds 1,8,5,4 in the top and 6,3,7,2 in the bottom).  And this is the order they’re listed on d1baseball’s Tourney Central, the quickest way to find results.

  • #1 UCLA vs Michigan: In the opener, Michigan shocked UCLA to win game 1 3-2.  Nats 8th rounder Jeremy Ydens went 0-3 playing RF and batting 7th.   UCLA scored one late to take game 2 and force the decider (Ydens batted 8th and went 2-3 with a walk).    Michigan proved game 1 was no upset by going and sweeping UCLA to advance to its first CWS since 1984.   A huge upset, not only having the tournament lose the #1 seed (a team that had basically been #1 the entire season), but an upset by a regional 3rd seed.  Nats pick Ydens did his part in the 2nd, going 3-4, batting 6th and playing RF in likely his final collegiate game.
  • #8 Texas Tech vs #9 Oklahoma State; TTU held serve in the opener, winning 8-6.  OSU returned the favor, winning game two 6-5 to force the Sunday decider.  In the final, an amazing back-and-forth game featuring these two very powerful lineups ended up with the host Texas Tech coming out on top to advance.
  • #5 Arkansas vs #12 Ole Miss: Arkansas held serve in the opener winning easily 11-2.  Nats draftee Matt Cronin did not see action, as Arkansas’ starter Isaiah Campbell nearly pitched a CG.  In game 2, Ole Miss reversed the score, trouncing Arkansas 13-5 to force the Monday decider (again, no Cronin appearance).  In the decider, Ole Miss scored in the first…then didn’t score again as Arkansas ran up the score to win 14-1.  Cronin pitched the 9th in the win.
  • Florida State vs #13 LSU; Florida State got to Lynchburg’s Zach Hess in the 8th to seal a come-from-behind victory in game 1.  Nats draftee Todd Peterson went 4 1/3rd middle relief innings, giving up 2 runs on 3 hits.  Nats 3rd rounder Drew Mendoza batted 3rd for FSU and went 0-2 with 3 walks.  In a scintillating Game 2, FSU held off an LSU come-back and Mendoza got a walk-off RBI-single in the 12th to complete the sweep and send Florida State back to the CWS.
  • Auburn vs #14 UNC; Auburn surprised UNC 11-7 in game one, and then UNC blanked Auburn 2-0 in game two to force the Monday decider.  In that decider, Auburn scored 13 runs (!!) in the first inning to end it before it started, eventually winning 13-7 to advance to its first CWS trip since 1997.
  • #6 Mississippi State  vs #11 Stanford; In Game 1, Mississippi State got to Stanford’s starter early and held on for the upset win in game 1.  Game two wasn’t close, and Mississippi State punched a ticket to Omaha.
  • #7 Louisville vs #10 ECU: In Game 1, Louisville got to Jake Agnos in the 4th for 4 runs … so ECU pulled him and the bullpen melted, with Louisville winning 14-1.  It wasn’t any prettier in game 2, with Louisville blanking ECU 12-0 to become the first team to punch their ticket.   A pretty amazing performance, winning two games over a top-10 team like ECU by the combined score of 26-1.
  • #2 Vanderbilt vs Duke: In the opener, Duke got a flabbergasting win, destroying Vanderbilt 18-5.  In game 2, Kumar Rocker, who was one of the top prep arms in the 2018 draft before falling out of the 1st round and heading to Vanderbilt, threw a 131-pitch, 19 strikeout no-hitter to win game 2 and force the decider.  In the final, Vanderbilt ran away with the win 13-2 and advanced to Omaha, where they’re likely the favorite.

My CWS Predictions vs Actuals:

Predicted: #1 UCLA, #8 Texas Tech, #12 Ole Miss, #13 LSU, Auburn, #6 Mississippi State, #7 Louisville, #2 Vanderbilt

Actuals: Michigan, #8 Texas Tech, #5 Arkansas, Florida State, Auburn, #6 Mississippi State, #7 Louisville, #2 Vanderbilt

I got the entire bottom bracket right, including the Auburn upset of host UNC.  Didn’t get much else right.

 


CWS Field and Profiles

Top Bracket: (records through Super-Regionals)

  • Michigan: 46-20, 16-7 Big 10.  2nd place Big-10 reg season, semis of Big-10 tourney, #3 regional seed.
  • #8 Texas Tech: 44-18, 16-8 Big-12.  Regular season champs, semis of Big-12 tourney
  • #5 Arkansas 46-18, 20-10 SEC.  SEC West division regular season co-champ, lost in qtrs of SEC tourney.
  • Florida State: 41-21, 17-13 ACC.  3rd Place, ACC Atlantic Division regular season, eliminated in pool play in tourney.

Bottom Bracket

  • Auburn: 38-26, 14-16 SEC.  6th in SEC West division regular season, eliminated in 2nd round of SEC tourney.
  • #6 Mississippi State: 51-13, 20-10 SEC.  SEC West division regular season co-champ, lost in qtrs of SEC tourney
  • #7 Louisville: 49-16, 21-9 ACC.  ACC Atlantic division regular season champ, eliminated in pool play in tourney.
  • #2 Vanderbilt: SEC East division regular season champ.  SEC tournament champ.

CWS field review by the numbers

  • SEC: 4
  • Pac12: 0
  • ACC: 2
  • Big12: 1
  • Big10: 1
  • National top 8 Seeds: 5
  • Regional Hosts (i.e. top 16 seeds): 6
  • First time programs: none

CWS Field thoughts

Lots of big time baseball programs here: Vanderbilt, Louisville, Florida State.  Half the field is SEC teams, fitting b/c 10 of them made the field of 64.

The field looks bottom heavy, with three National seeds advancing and three SEC teams competing with a tough ACC team.  in Regular season play, Mississippi State beat Auburn 2 of 3 and Auburn got swept by Vanderbilt (in addition to getting pounded 11-1 in the SEC tourney), so i’d guess Auburn is finishing last in this bracket.   Mississippi State and Vandy only played once; a 1-0 win by Vandy en route to their SEC tournament title.   The wildcard seems to be Louisville, who powered up to advance to the CWS but struggled when it had to play quality opponents (losing 2 of 3 versus UConn, Georgia Tech, Clemson, and UVA).  I think the bottom bracket goes Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, Louisville, Auburn.

Meanwhile, the top features a couple of rather stunning upsets, with two regional #3 seeds advancing to the CWS.  Both the remaining seeded teams were stretched to three games in the Super Regional … though to me Texas Tech (despite being the lower seeded team) looked like the superior team.  Interestingly, Arkansas and Texas Tech also made last year’s CWS … and also faced each other in the group stage.  They also get the weakest team in Omaha first (Michigan).  I think the top bracket goes Texas Tech, Arkansas, Florida State and Michigan.

Quick predictions:

Final: Vanderbilt over Texas Tech.

Player Star power in this CWS: By team, here’s the top-end draft talents still playing.

  • Michigan: three picks in the first 3 rounds: two of their starters in Tommy Henry and Karl Kauffmann, plus CF Jordan Brewer in the 3rd.
  • #8 Texas Tech: 1st rounder and 8th overall Josh Jung, who was a monster in the Super Regional is the main draft talent.  TTU had 6 other players drafted in rounds 7 onward.
  • #5 Arkansas has two Comp-B round picks in OF Dominic Fletcher and senior starter Isaiah Campbell, in addition to the Nats 4th rounder Cronin.
  • Florida State: Nats 3rd rounder Mendoza, plus 4th rounder OF/closer J.C. Flowers along with an 8th and 9th rounder.

Bottom Bracket

  • Auburn: 5th rounder SS Will Holland, 7th rounder RHP Davis Daniel, and 3 lower round picks.
  • #6 Mississippi State: 1st rounder (28th overall) Ethan Small, 4th rounder Jake Mangum.
  • #7 Louisville: 5 guys in the top 7 rounds, including 2nd rounder 1B Logan Wyatt.
  • #2 Vanderbilt: no less than 13 drafted players, led by 4th overall pick J.J. Bleday.

 

Nats 2019 Draftees still playing in the CWS:

  • 3rd rounder Drew Mendoza will have his signing delayed a few more weeks; he’s the key slugger for FSU and will keep slugging in Omaha.
  • 4th rounder Matt Cronin got just 1 inning in the Super Regional.

College CWS tournament references:

2019 CWS Regional Results, Super Regional Pairings, Nats picks still playing

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Our CWS coverage for 2019 got a little compressed due to time this year.   We didn’t announce the full field (link to d1baseball’s 64-field announcement), and we’re combining a couple different posts this year upon the completion of Regionals.

Now we’re through the Regionals and the field has been winnowed from 64 to just 16.

 


Regional Recaps

We’ll review the 16 regionals in order of the larger bracket.  Bold is the host/seed and Bolded Red is the winner.

1. UCLA region finish: UCLA, the top seed in the tourney, survived a scare by sweeping Loyola Marymount out of the losers’ bracket to advance.  Seed finish: 1-3-2-4
16. Oregon State region finish: Michigan outlasted Creighton in this upset-filled regional.  Host Oregon State, your defending National champ, was 2-and-out, robbing a national stage for its presumed #1 overall pick Adley Rutschman.  Seed finish: 3-2-4-1

2. Vanderbilt region finish: Vanderbilt cruised to the title in this chalk regional.  Seed finish: chalk 1-2-3-4
15. West Virginia region finish: #3 seed Duke got to WVU’s top pick Alex Manoah in the winner’s bracket game and WVU couldn’t recover.  Seed finish: 3-2-1-4

3. Georgia Tech region finish: Auburn takes two close ones to beat the host and 3rd overall seed.  Seed finish: 2-1-3-4
14. UNC region finish: UNC topped all three teams en route to the title in a “familiar” regional of teams who play frequently.  Seed finish: chalk 1-2-3-4.

4. Georgia region finish: Florida State advances as a #3 regional seed, battering the field by winnings its 3 games 13-7, 12-3, 10-1.  Seed finish: 3-1-2-4.
13. LSU region finish: LSU held serve and advances.  Seed finish: 1-3-2-4

5. Arkansas region finish: Arkansas cruises undefeated to the win.  Last-team-in TCU makes the regional final to prove critics wrong.   Seed finish: 1-3-4-2
12. Ole Miss region finish: Ole Miss fends off the feisty 4th seeded Jacksonville State to advance.   Overseeded Illinois goes 2-and-out.  Seed finish: 1-4-3-2.

6. Mississippi State region finish: Mississippi State takes out Miami, who came out of the loser’s bracket to challenge.  Seed finish chalk 1-2-3-4.
11. Stanford region finish: Stanford  came out of the losers bracket to outlast upstart Fresno State in a monday finish.  Seed finish: 1-3-4-2

7. Louisville region finish: Louisville  came through the loser’s bracket to advance.  This regional marred by a ridiculous “ump show” where the Louisville closer got ejected for saying “that’s horrible” after a close call.  4-game suspension.  For saying two words, basically to himself.  Seed finish: 1-3-2-4.
10. ECU region finish: ECU survived an embarrassing opening loss to minnow Quinnipiac to advance past the surprising Campbell, who helped give ACC power NC State an equally embarrassing 2 and out.  Seed finish: 1-3-4-2

8. Texas Tech region finish: Texas Tech won a straightforward regional, where Dallas Baptist beat Florida twice.  Seed finish: chalk 1-2-3-4.
9. Oklahoma State region finish: Oklahoma State was extended an extra game by UConn but advanced.  Seed fish: chalk 1-2-3-4 but not straight-forward way to get there.


Predictions versus Actuals: no prediction piece this year for the Regionals.


DC/MD/VA team performance at Regionals

Here’s how teams of note either from the DC/MD/VA or with known players who hail from the region performed at Regionals.

  • Coastal Carolina (which has several VA-tied players) finished 3rd in a tough regional.
  • Liberty got a win, then got crushed by eventual regional champ UNC.
  • Tennessee lost the 1st round behind VA based Garrett Stallings on the mound, but rallied to make the regional final.  they also feature 1B 3rd-4th rounder Andre Lipicus, who hails from Williamsburg and got drafted in the 3rd round.
  • UNC Wilmington (which has several VA-tied players) was 2-and-out in the UNC regional.
  • ECU was a top-10 team all year and the #10th seed here.  NoVa product Jake Agnos (4th round pick) pitched a great winner’s bracket game and gets another start in the Super Regional.
  • West Virginia: has a few MD/VA based freshman this  year.
  • Clemson has some VA-based depth that didn’t appear in the regional.

 


Summary of Regionals statistically:

  • 12 of 16  hosts advanced.  A very chalk-y CWS so far.  Falling Seeds/Hosts: #3 Georgia Tech, #4 Georgia, #16 Oregon State, #15 West Virginia, 
  • 2 of the 8 national seeds fell: Georgia and Georgia Tech.
  • 2 of the 9-16 seeds fell: WVU and OSU.
  • 12 number one seeds, 1 number two seeds, 3 number three seeds, and 0 number four seeds advance to the super regionals.  
  • 5 number of #4 seeds who didn’t finish 4th in their regional; Cincinnati, Central Connecticut, Jacksonville State, Sacramento State. Quinnipiac.
  • 2: number of #4 seeds to get opening wins.  Cincinnati beat Oregon State, Quinnipaic beat ECU.
  • Most surprising regional winner: Michigan.
  • # of “extended” regionals: 5.

Conference Breakdowns of the teams in the Super Regionals:

  • SEC: Arkansas, Ole Miss, LSU, Auburn, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt
  • ACC: FSU, UNC, Louisville, Duke
  • Big12: Texas Tech, Oklahoma State
  • Pac12: UCLA, Stanford
  • Big 10: Michigan
  • Others: ECU (AAC)

Very top heavy; SEC gets 6 of the 16 super regionalists and has a good shot of sending 5 teams to Omaha.


Super Regional Matchups:  the higher ranked team is the host unless otherwise noted (official hosts and start times here)

  • #1 UCLA vs Michigan
  • #8 Texas Tech vs #9 Oklahoma State
  • #5 Arkansas vs #12 Ole Miss
  • Florida State vs #13 LSU
  • Auburn vs #14 UNC
  • #6 Mississippi State  vs #11 Stanford
  • #7 Louisville vs #10 ECU
  • #2 Vanderbilt vs Duke:

Super Regional Thoughts/Predictions

  • #1 UCLA vs Michigan: Michigan advanced by beating a top 25  team in Creighton … but should be no match for UCLA.
  • #8 Texas Tech vs #9 Oklahoma State: a Big12 showdown; they met in late april, a 3-game sweep at Texas Tech, where this will be hosted.  I see a similar beat down this weekend.
  • #5 Arkansas vs #12 Ole Miss: SEC showdown: despite the seeding and despite home field advantage, Ole Miss took 2 of 3 in Arkansas at the end of March.  The two teams then split games at the SEC tourney, with Ole Miss eliminating the Razorbacks.  I like Ole Miss’ chances here.
  • Florida State vs #13 LSU; a great match-up of traditional college baseball powers.  LSU should advance, especially as the host seed even given Florida State’s pedigree.
  • Auburn vs #14 UNC: I like Auburn here, who just beat a better ACC team than UNC to advance, despite UNC getting surprise super regional hosting duties.
  • #6 Mississippi State  vs #11 Stanford: While I like the Pac12 baseball this year, and at one point Stanford was much higher ranked, I don’t think they can hang with SEC royalty like Mississippi State.
  • #7 Louisville vs #10 ECU: I don’t think ECU can hang with Louisville, especially after struggling with a relatively weak regional.
  • #2 Vanderbilt vs Duke:  a brain-y match-up of two great academic schools that have good baseball pedigree.  But Vanderbilt should trounce Duke here as one of the best teams in the country.

Predictions: #1 UCLA, #8 Texas Tech, #12 Ole Miss, #13 LSU, Auburn, #6 Mississippi State, #7 Louisville and #2 Vanderbilt


Super Regional Star Power

Lots of top-end draft picks will be playing this weekend, just ahead of the MLB draft which starts on 6/12/17.  (note: I wrote most of the below before the draft and have not updated it with exact picks)  By Super Regional:

  • #1 UCLA vs Michigan; 1st rounder Michael Toglia and 2nd rounder Chase Strumpf pace UCLA’s offense.   Two Michigan starters (Tommy Henry and Karl Kauffmann) were comp-b picks.
  • #8 Texas Tech vs #9 Oklahoma State: Mid-1st rounder Josh Jung is TTU’s 3B, and likely 3rd rounder Gabe  Holt is on OF/2B.
  • #5 Arkansas vs #12 Ole Miss: Arkansas’ #1 starter is Isaiah Campbell, likely a 2nd rounder.  Matt Cronin is a LHP likely 3rd rounder, OF Dominic Fletcher likely a 4th rounder.   Ole Miss’ catcher duo of Thomas Diller and Cooper Johnson both project as 3rd rounders.
  • Florida State vs #13 LSU:  FSU’s Drew Mendoza was the Nats 3rd round pick..  LSU has three guys projecting in the late 2nd/3rd round: SS Josh Smith, RHP Zach Hess (who hails from Lynchburg VA), and OF Zach Watson.
  • Auburn vs #14 UNC: UNC’s 1st baseman Michael Busch is a likely back-of-the-1st rounder.  UNC stater Tyler Baum projects as a 3rd rounder. Auburn SS Will Holland projects as a late 2nd rounder.  Auburn RHP David Daniel likely a 5th-6th rounder.
  • #6 Mississippi State vs #11 Stanford: Mississippi State’s rotation is led by Ethan Small, a LHP likely going in the 2nd round.  Stanford’s CF Kyle Stower was a 2nd round Baltimore pick.
  • #7 Louisville vs #10 ECU: Louisville’s top bat is 1b Logan Wyatt went early in the 2nd   ECU has several players projected to go in rounds 3-5, including local product Zach Agnos.
  • #2 Vanderbilt vs Duke: Vanderbilt’s J.J. Bleday is projecting as a top-5 pick and is probably the highest-ranked collegiate player whose team advanced to the super regionals.  Vandy has a couple other guys projecting as 5th/6th rounders: Drake Fellows RHP and C Philip Clarke.  Duke’s LHP Graeme Stinson projects as a 3rd rounder.

Nats 2019 Draft Picks in the Super Regionals

  • 3rd rounder Drew Mendoza from FSU
  • 4th rounder Matt Cronin is in Arkansas’ bullpenn.
  • 7th Rounder Todd Peterson is in LSU’s bullpen as a setup/closer.
  • 8th Rounder Jeremy Ydens is starting in #1 UCLA’s outfield after missing most of the season with injury.

 


CWS Predictions:

Early CWS final prediction:  I like #1 vs #2: UCLA vs Vanderbilt right now, with Vandy coming out on top.


College CWS tournament references: