Nationals Baseball: Propsects runway

Friday, November 11, 2016

Propsects runway

Chelsea "Don't came me James" Janes says in her latest piece that the Nats have "plenty of upper- and mid-level prospects who continue to garner interest from other teams"

Do they?

I had a feeling that the Nats farm system was ok but top heavy, meaning Turner's graduation and the cooling on Giolito would have significant effects. I went back and looked and saw the Nats system ranked pre-season anywhere from 5th to 17th.  I lean more toward the latter. So let's look at some top and mid-level prospects and see what kind of interest teams might really have.

The Big 4

Giolito - Was basically the most prized pitching prospect going into last year but he didn't live up to that highest of high hype last year. He was in and out of the majors and each time in was a failure. He was hittable and gave up a ton of homers, 7 in 21 innings. There was also questions about a decrease in velocity which is a big deal for someone who already had arm surgery. And his AA numbers arguably took a step back. Still, he will be only an "old" 22* next year and everyone loves his stuff. His AAA numbers last year are exactly what you want to see. He's a 2017 or 18 full time player. The idea of him coming into the majors and immediately being a #1 type may be fading, but the idea of him being a very successful pitcher a few years down the line has not. His stock will drop a bit probably from Top 3ish to Top 10ish, but with very watchful eyes those first couple months.

Turner - off the table

Robles - A name that got a lot of attention as he did really well in A ball as a "young" 19 year old. He didn't do as well in A+ ball but he did better in his second stint after injury. There's a question on whether he gets power but right now the promise of his age wins out. Likely moves from a Top 30ish prospect to a Top 15ish. If he develops power he'd be a Top 10. Optimistically projects for a 2019 full-time role at 21-22.

Lopez - Like Giolito his time in the majors wasn't great, but unlike Lucas there were times you could point to what he was doing and feel good. Sure, about half of them were against the Braves but you gotta start somewhere. There was a lot of talk about him "breaking through" and maybe being better than Giolito as his K's went way up in AA this year. But they went back down in AAA, and dialing things up in MLB to get more meant a big increase in wildness. Like Giolito he's a 2017-18 full time player. Like Giolito I think that ranking is very tentative and could change radically in either direction based on just the first couple months. Unlike Giolito I'd expect his pre-sesaon stock to rise from a back quarter of Top 100 to a Top 50 ish player.

The next tier

Glover - Live arm who showed potential dominating AA with Ks and AAA with control. Trajectory says its hard to see how he doesn't end up set in a major league pen next year, if not to start then sometime. Could be a potential lights out closer - however that's a phrase tossed around for a lot of live minor league arms. Will break Top 100, probably in Top 75.

Cole - I'd love for Cole to get into the Top 100 of someone's list again because I bet he'd be the only guy to ever be ranked in someone's Top 100 in 6 different seasons. 2016 though was the first time he wasn't and nothing about last year changes that. Might develop into a back end starter but at 25 and looking at his 4th year in AAA he's more of a throw-in than a key piece.

Difo - The anti Giolito/Lopez, Difo was not bad in the majors, but in the minors he did nothing to raise his stock. His brief flirtation with pop in 2014 has faded and he's back to being seen as a speedy slap hitter. It's not entirely clear where he fits now. Major league bench? AA? I'd imagine most see him as a AAA which means 2016 is a make or break year for the "young" 25 year old if he's going to be a starter in the majors.

Fedde - He's on the cusp of being a top prospect and should be in the bottom of a few Top 100s. There is simply no doubt he is pitched better in 2016 than 2015. His A+ stats suggest the special pitcher teams thought he could be, but his subsequent finish in AA gives you a bit of pause. Where his ceiling now is a question. Does he keep getting better and become a real rotation prospect? He's roughly on target age (24 in 2017) but that means if the AA year goes poorly he'll start to be on the older side.

Voth - Everyone loves Voth and he'll break into some Top 100s. However the fancy stats don't really like him as he's not particularly good at striking out batters or having super control. I can't look at that and think the Nats didn't move him up to protect him from being exposed by major league hitting. But whatever, you have what you have and what you have is a guy that has shown he is not easy to get hits against in the minors. On the other hand, he did make the AFL and hasn't been all that impressive.

The other AFL hitters

Osvaldo Abreu - did nothing in AFL. did nothing in A+ ball. Not old but kind of stalling out. Difficult to see as a real prospect anymore, but has next year to change that.

Drew Ward - hitting for average in AFL. Nats have been aggressive in their moving of him and he's generally done just enough to justify confidence but last year's AA wall was slammed into.  Not a top prospect but he's only 22 next year so next year won't be make or break.

Andrew Stevenson - hitting for average and power in AFL. Also slammed into a AA wall, though not quite as hard with Drew. Will be a young 23 next year so pretty much same things I said about Ward apply to him. Not a top propsect. Not a fader either.

The rest

Nick Lee, Ryan Brinley, and Jake Johansen all were in the AFL too but I hate to even note what happens with like 10IP unless it's super special or super bad.  It hasn't been. Johansen is an A+ 25yo, a nothing. Lee is unable to throw strikes and almost a nothing. Brinley is the one to keep an eye on but not a top prospect

Max Schrock got some play in a satiric "find the next Donaldson" fangraphs piece, but he actually did hit really well last year. He probably doesn't have the power to break into top prospect lists but he'll probably make a few honorable mentions as people watch if he can keep hitting. Ed note - TRADED for Rep.  I'm an idiot.

Anderson Franco - way young (an old 18 last year), way too early to judge.

I guess they do have a decent mix. It's not a great mix, without Giolito being GIOLITO and with Turner now in the majors, I'd be surprised if the Nats were a unanimous Top 10 but top half again? Sure. It's not that the Nats are particularly deep. They don't have a lot of top guys (especially now) who will be definite contributors, or a bulk of toolsy interesting middle tier prospects that could be. It's more like they have exactly the number and type of guys you'd expect to have when poking around a system. So they do have some flexibility to trade. I will say because they don't have depth that if they do deal that it would probably gut the system, but I trust Rizzo et al enough to fill it back up to average status if not for 2018 than 2019.

*Remember - season ages based on age on July 1st. So way I look at it is guys with bdays April-June are "young" because they'll spend a chunk of season at a younger age than given. Guys with bdays July-Sept are "old" bc the reverse is true. Lucas (July 14th), for example, will spend almost half of next year as a 23 year old.  Other birthdays I don't use an adjective. This is more important the younger you are.


Anonymous said...

Hasn't Voth settled in a little in the AFL after a horrible start? No runs in his last couple outings of 5 innings each.

Harper said...

I feel you kind of have to take AFL as a whole. But you can take that positive outlook if you like. It's not wrong.

Anonymous said...

You know Rizzo will base his value on the positive outlook, so that suits me fine. =) Also on a side note following up your previous post... wishfully thinking that the Nats can swing a trade for McC, would he play CF or would we move Harper and put him in right?

So many what ifs this time of year. Keeps things interesting while we wait for spring.

Miles Treacy said...

Is there any more depth on Robles coming this offseason in terms of what is thought of him? All the outlets have him as a 5-tool GOD it seems like but when you look at the stats it's sort of meh, but given how young he is everyone remains really optimistic. Is he really the outfielder of the future for the Nats that they're going to build around? Seems about a year or two too soon to talk about that sort of thing? I'd have pulled the trigger on McCutchen for him TBH as that sounds like that's what it would take...

Only Half Serious said...

Oh No! Brave signed Colon & Dickey. Nats & Mets will be fighting for second place next year. :-)

Harper said...

Anon - I would guess he would play CF. He has since the beginning and I can't imagine him moving so another guy who's not a CF could shift over.

Miles - Stats are good, not great but the age is the key. He could be putting this up 2 years from now at the same level and you'd still be giving him a shot considering his other tools.

There's kind of an implicit understanding with very young prospects that hit the ball real hard that they are going to develop power. It tends to be the thing you develop last as you fill out your body and adjust the type of contact you can make. Of course it doesn't happen always. I'd guess it doesn't happen half the time. The body change of aging doesn't always mean power. You don't always fill out. You can't always just adjust and not take away from something else.

He has the potential to be the "OF of the future" type but until he develops that power it's going to stay potential. Thing about super young prospects is they can wash out or bust out and answer the question, but more likely the develop on a path that makes you wait until age catches up with them. So Robles could hit .150 next year or 30 homers next year and answer the OF of the future question, but most likely we are a couple years off from siding one way or another.

Right now it looks very good that he'll play in the majors. That's about all you can say with certainty. I'd be surprised if he doesn't eventually make it.

PotomacFan said...

Is Brian Goodwin not a prospect? Has he established himself as a major league player? I see him as a prospect.

SM said...

I sometimes think the Nats organization is as bottom heavy as top heavy, with a skinny pipestem of prospects separating them.

Robles is an interesting case. He began 2016 in the Gulf Coast (rookie) league and finished at High "A" Potomac, where for the first time he looked over-matched. But he adjusted, and by season's end put up respectable numbers.

The remarkable thing about his career is how many times he's been hit by pitches: 68 times in 816 career at bats; 34 times in 2016 alone.

I wonder if the beanings (3 in one game about a week after promotion to Potomac) didn't have something to do with his slow start in High "A."

This kid is good, Harper. Virtually every--if not every--trade proposal pitched to the Nats this winter will include Robles's name.

SM said...

Actually, the Gulf Coast League stint was a mid-season rehab assignment . . . after getting drilled by a pitch.

mike k said...

Robles has this one thing in common with Danny Espinosa: you'll never guess what it is!

NotBobby said...

@mike k

Hit by pitches?

SM said...

Actually, gang, Espinosa's been beaned 73 times in 2644 at bats.

And as long as we're at it, Robles's strikeout to walk ratio is 2. Danny's lifetime ratio is 3.77 strikeouts for every walk he draws.

The only thing they have in common is that they both play baseball for a living.

Josh Higham said...

In case anyone was wondering, we're 139 days away from Nats-Marlins on April 3.

#Werthquake (Formerly clip & store) said...

It feels like we open with the marlins like every year

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