Sunday, May 24, 2009

Down on the farm report

I know I can't do it as well as NFA, but since he's gone for a week, here are a few of my observations this year on Nats minor leaguers.

Our AAA hitting has been awful this year when you look at it on an individual basis. Of our guys with 60+ AB's, 5 have OPS's under .700, with only 3 guys above .800. Kory Casto is hitting .267/.358/.336. Justin Maxwell was hitting .230/.319/.390 before he got called up. Corey Patterson is hitting .217/.280/.283. Milledge was hitting .253/.316/.277. 

Only Ryan Langerhans, Jorge Padilla and Brad Eldred have been doing well. Langerhans, hitting .278/.403/.526, should have been called up rather than Maxwell. He's a plus fielder swinging a hot bat, and deserves another shot in the Majors this year.

Pitching in AAA is another story, with Stammen, Estrada, Clippard, Martin, Larrison, Bergmann, etc. doing well. Like FJB, I'm a big fan of JD Martin and would like to see him get a shot before the end of the year-he's 4-2 with a 3.13 ERA through 7 starts this year. Collin Balester has been a disappointment so far at 1-5 with a 4.91 ERA. His K/9 and BB/9 numbers aren't too far off of his career averages, though, so look for him to rebound soon.

Harrisburg has been average for the most part, with only Marvin Lowrance really exceeding expectations (.278/.341/.565), but nobody on the Nats' radar really doing that terrible minus Bill Rhinehart. Pitching-wise, everyone has run pretty hot or cold in AA. Zech Zinicola has a sub-1.00 ERA (although his K/BB and WHIP numbers aren't consistent with that). Ross Detwiler, Josh Wilkie, Mike O'Connor, Erik Arnesen, Jack Spradlin and Justin Jones have been between decent and awesome while Adrian Alaniz, Adam Carr, Matt Avery, Cory VanAllen and Luis Atilano have been awful.

Potomac's bats are doing alright, with Sean Rooney, Chris Marrero and Danny Espinoza all doing fairly well. Mike Burgess has been a mixed bag, but a .781 OPS is at least decent. Stephen King looks done to me. Bradley Meyers has looked excellent so far for Potomac as well as Arnesen and Jeff Mandel. Colten Willems has been less than spectacular so far.

Derek Norris is ripping Hagerstown apart with the bat, but he's just about the only one. DCSP favorite Chris Curran has slumped so far, as well as 2006-08 high-ish draft picks Marcus Jones (2008 11th rounder), Stephen Englund (2006 2nd rounder) and Steve Souza (2007 3rd rounder). Jack McGeary and Paul Demny have been hit hard so far while Brad Peacock has been decent so far.

Top 20 watch (order taken from

1) Jordan Zimmerman, RHP-decent, but not great in ML so far this year.  Rate stats are better than expected, but his BABIP is very high so far. Look for his numbers to improve as the year goes along. I'll give him a C+ so far.

2) Michael Burgess, OF-K's have come down a little bit (from 34-37% of PA's last year to 30% so far this year), but are still way too high. Counting stats haven't shown up so far in 2009, but ISO power and OBP are looking decent. Another C+.

3) Chris Marrero, 1B-BABIP much higher than the last 2 seasons, but more in line as to what it should be, so that's positive. Walks are way down so far this year, but his batting average is way up. It will be interesting to watch him as the year goes along. He gets a B for bouncing back from his injury fairly well.

4) Ross Detwiler, LHP-K's are up, BB's are down and he wasn't getting incredibly lucky in AA at the beginning of the year, so that's encouraging. Nothing negative to say so far this year, get an A because he's exceeded expectations by leaps and bounds already and it's just May!

5) Garrett Mock, RHP-Huge disappointment so far in both AAA and the majors, but who out of the bullpen hasn't been? Hopefully moving him back to the rotation will help him get his control back. He gets an F.

6) Jack McGeary, LHP-Also disappointing so far, with a lot of walks. His H/9 is encouraging, but walking almost 7 guys per 9 innings is unacceptable. McGeary gets something he'd never get at Stanford: a D.

7) Justin Maxwell, OF-Love the glove, but he's struck out in 44% of his AB's in AAA so far this year. 44%-that's crazy! Weird to see a guy with a .230 batting average and a .365 BABIP, but thats what happens when you strike out 44 times out of 100. D+ for Max.

8) Esmailyn Gonzalez, SS-No comment.

9) Destin Hood, OF-No 2009 stats so far, I'm assuming he's still at extended Spring Training.

10) Shairon Martis, RHP-He's held his own in the majors this year, although he hasn't been all that special. With almost as many BB's as K's, he won't have success for too long, but he should improve both throughout the year. One encouraging stat is that he's allowing less than 1 hit per IP. C+ for Shairon so far.

11) Rogerarvin Bernadina, OF-Broke his ankle, will be out for a long time.

12) Adrian Nieto, C-Like Hood, no 2009 stats so far.

13) Derek Norris, C-Has already matched his 2008 HR total through just 38 games. BB numbers are down and K numbers are up though, so be cautiously optimistic. Still, a .323/.415/.624 start out of a catcher is awesome. A- so far for Derek.

14) Colton Willems, RHP-ERA is up, but so are K's, while BB's are down. What we need to see is a continued improvement in K's-going from 5 K/9 to 6 is an improvement, but still not nearly what you'd like to see out of a 2006 1st rounder. C+ for a little improvement, but not enough for me.

15) Josh Smoker, LHP-Hasn't pitched in 2009 so far.

16) Marvin Lowrance, OF-BB's are down and K's are up, but he's mashing in AA. Look for him to have a year like Leonard Davis did last year...and get that joker Corey Patterson out of the AAA lineup so Lowrance can move up some more. Sleeper to join the Nats sometime this year (if the OF glut ever gets solved), A- so far this year.

17) Paul Demny, RHP-Rate stats make his 5.29 ERA through 4 starts look better. Still striking out 1 guy per inning, but has been unlucky with his BABIP and LOB%. C+.

18) J.P. Ramirez, OF-Nothing yet in 2009.

19) Tyler Clippard, RHP-Conversion to the bullpen has been a success so far, but it does look at tad lucky to this point. With K's way up and BB's around his career averages though, it is feasible that he continues to pitch well all year. An A for Tyler, please bring him to DC soon!

20) Ian Desmond, SS-On the DL right now with a broken hamate bone. Looked pretty decent through 7 games, but that's just 7 games. Grade: Incomplete.

My guesses at guys who could shoot up to the Majors this year: Langerhans, Clippard, Martin, Zinicola, Wilkie, Meyers, Arnesen, Mandel.
My guesses at guys who can come off of the 40-man this year: Atilano, Chico, pretty much anyone in the ML bullpen (specifically Tavarez/Wells), Montz, Desmond.

Draft note-USC SS Grant Green has been slipping on mock drafts and could be available for the Nats at #10. That would be awesome. Even though he had a down year this season, he's still a great all-around player who would be an excellent addition to the organization. He's worth reading about here (the context is the MVN mock draft).

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