AFL Update – Go Scorpions!

October 27, 2011

The number one  rule of the Arizona Fall League: don’t talk about stats in the Arizona Fall League. It’s a super short season, about a month worth of playing time. It’s also at the end of a long season, and some guys respond differently than others. Some are returning from injury, some hitters are just trying to get more work in because they’re lost… all different reasons why it is important to take everything with a grain of salt. That being said, here’s some of the highlights from Nationals, playing for the Scottsdale Scorpions:

Derek Norris

Norris is once again having a great AFL season. He’s hitting well, has displayed power and showcased his ability to draw walks. Remember the caveat about stats, his .361/.457/.583 seems great, but that’s only 13 total hits. He certainly doesn’t look lost, and considering he hit .278/.403/.667 last fall, I’m starting to think he just likes Arizona. Because his .210/.367/.446 in a full season of AA this year was certainly disappointing, although the patience and power are clearly ubiquitous.

Matt Purke

On the other end of the spectrum, not only were Matt Purke’s stats terrible, so was he. His first pro start was 1/3 IP, 7 ER, 5 H, 1 BB, 0 K, 1 HR. Not good, not good at all. He was a little better coming out of the pen a week earlier, 2 IP, 1 R, 1 H, 1 BB, 1 K, but his season ERA in those two appearances is in the low 30s. But, Keith Law assessment should put it some perspective, “velocity still isn’t back, couldn’t locate (obviously), arm action still a negative. All that said, we knew he wasn’t right from the spring, so I’d like to at least see where he is in 2012 after a winter of rehab.”

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Early Minor League Report

April 29, 2011

Remember Bryce Harper‘s poor start in low-A? Well, his current stat line doesn’t. He’s now up to .323/.425/.645 with 5 HRs in 73 PAs. He’s played mostly RF in his time there, which may indicate that they want to ease him into the CF role, not because of degree of difficulty, but because it is the field general of the outfield. Learning the way the ball moves off the bat in RF will probably help him in CF, where they ball is only really hard to read when it’s hit right at you. But the bat is what’s important anyway, and it looks like it’s not long until he’s moved up to high-A Potomac.

Speaking of remember performances, how about Ross Detwiler and his strong spring? Well, that’s continued into the regular season at AAA. Through 4 starts, he has a 2.22 ERA and he’s pitched 24 1/3 innings with 20 K and 6 BB. He’s letting up a few too many hits (27) but it’s always hard to tell from a distance what kind they are. We know they’re not HRs, though, as he hasn’t given up any of those yet. He has yet to show he can be very good in the majors, but he’s probably dominated AAA enough (2.75 career ERA, 7.3 K/9, 2.37 K/BB) that all he is doing is waiting for a spot to open up in the majors. With the way the starting pitching is going, if it doesn’t happen until this summer after a trade, that’s not the worst thing in the world for the big league club.

Derek Norris, on the other hand, is off to a slow start. After looking great in the Arizona Fall League, he indicated that it was easier for him to hit there because pitchers found the plate more. He’s down in AA now, where apparently they aren’t hitting the plate enough, because he’s hitting .154/.303/.192. It’s real early for him though, he’s only had 33 PAs. His impressive plate discipline hasn’t left him, and I’m willing to bet if we check back in a couple of weeks his numbers will look much better.

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Nationals Surnacronyms

February 9, 2011

Rob Neyer has been all about the surnacronym game this week, but I have noticed a serious lack of Washington players. So, as a response, I tried to go through much of the starting lineup and create one, using last names, and descriptions that are actually fitting of the players. Here goes:

  • Desmond: Dumb Errors, Supposedly Maturity Often Nourishes Defense
  • Zimmerman: Zippers Infield Marvelously, Mashes Everything, Remains Most Awesome National
  • Morgan: Must Overtly Restrict Getting Always Nabbed
  • LaRoche: Late At Reaching Offensive Crest, Hacks Early
  • Strasburg: Some Throwers Regress After Surgery But Usually Return Great Read the rest of this entry »

Nats in Keith Law’s Top 100

January 27, 2011

Keith Law released his Top 100 prospects list today, and three Nationals made the cut: Bryce Harper (#2), Derek Norris (#33) and Wilson Ramos (#95). You probably know a bit about each one of them, but here are a few of the comments Law made that I found most interesting.

Bryce Harper

Harper’s calling card is the absurd leverage in his swing, generating that enormous raw power even out to centerfield

Harper is still learning to play the outfield after catching for most of his academic career, but he has the plus arm for right field and is probably fast enough to handle center if the Nationals wanted to challenge him

Harper has MVP upside, but his race to the majors will be timed by sliders and curveballs

Derek Norris

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Minor Leaguers We Might See in 2011

January 12, 2011

The Nationals’ roster is relatively set going in to spring training (pitchers and catchers report in less than 6 weeks!), with a few possible exceptions. We don’t know if they plan on keeping 3 catchers assuming Flores can play. We think that Livan, Lannan and Zimmermann are penciled in as starters, and that Detwiler, Maya, and Marquis get to fight over the remaining two spots. There are some questions about the bullpen, but it was strong last year and most of those guys remain.

All this being said, there are some holes remaining in the lineup. The middle infield positions are solid but not occupied by guys who have yet proven themselves to be great players. The outfield has questions outside of RF, including whether the center fielders can hit, and whether the left fielders are full time players. Even at first base, the new acquisition is thought to be solid, and he’s a late season hitter, but he’s coming off a bad year, and his assumed slow start will bring questions of decline.

Meanwhile, the starting staff is rather fluid at the moment. I can’t be assured that anyone is guaranteed after a month or two of poor performance. So the rotation, while relatively complete for this season, is not on solid ground. All of this means that there is a chance for guys to shine in the minors and get a chance in the big leagues.

Here are a few that might fit the bill:

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Jayson Werth and The Nationals

December 6, 2010

The talk of Natstown is, understandably so, the signing of Jayson Werth for 7 years and $126 million. The contract is certainly one to discuss, but before I get into that, I’d like to examine the player himself.  Not the player in relation to the contract, just the player. And there’s quite a bit of good to say about him, starting with his offense.

He is a righty that absolutely mashes lefties, and he’s got a combo of speed and power. He’s only been a full time player for three seasons, when the Phillies were convinced, by Werth himself or by necessity, to allow him play against lefties. Over his last 3 seasons, he’s hit .279/.376/.513. He strikes out a great deal, with just about 150 each of the last 2 years, but he also walked around 85 times in each of those seasons. His offensive  numbers are actually quite similar to Dunn’s, as shown in this fangraphs article. He doesn’t have as much power as Dunn, but he has higher AVG and OBP, and he is significantly better on the basepaths.

As for the offensive splits, they are significant. His career OPS against lefties is .944 but it’s only .807 against righties. But before you get worried, last season he hit .881 against lefties and .937 against righties. That reverse split is likely to go away, but he’s hit well enough the last few seasons against righties anyway that he is a full time player, and he’s been so strong against lefties.

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Nats Top 11 Prospects

November 24, 2010

Baseball Prospectus has released their Top 11 prospects for the Nationals, for 2011, and once again they managed to have a couple of 5 star guys (in 2009 they didn’t have a single one)

Five-Star Prospects
1. Bryce Harper, OF
2. Derek Norris, C
Four-Star Prospects
3. Danny Espinosa, SS/2B
4. A.J. Cole, RHP
Three-Star Prospects
5. Sammy Solis, LHP
6. Wilson Ramos, C
7. Michael Burgess, OF
8. Robbie Ray, LHP
Two-Star Prospects
9. Eury Perez, OF
10. Tyler Moore, 1B
11. Rick Hague, SS

Then they get into the review of each guy – which you can’t see. I’m not going to reproduce everything they say there, because I would like that website to keep making money and continue producing great stuff, so you can buy a subscription for that. But a few highlights for each guy, just because you may not have even heard of some of them.

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