Thursday, January 28, 2010

Do or Die Time: Adrian Alaniz

The third member of my "Do or Die Time" series is pitcher Adrian Alaniz.

Adrian Alaniz, 25 years old (26 in March), RHP
Drafted in the 8th round in 2007, 250th overall.

2009 stats:
Vermont-SS: 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 9 IP, 3.0 H/9, 0.0 HR/9, 0.0 BB/9, 8.0 K/9
Harrisburg-AA: 3-4, 4.76 ERA, 24 G, 10 GS, 64 1/3 IP, 9.7 H/9, 1.3 HR/9, 4.6 BB/9, 7.4 K/9
Total: 4-4, 4.17 ERA, 26 G, 12 GS, 73 1/3 IP, 8.8 H/9, 1.1 HR/9, 4.0 BB/9, 7.5 K/9

Career stats:
21-11, 3.32 ERA, 64 G, 45 GS, 261 1/3 IP, 7.6 H/9, 0.8 HR/9, 3.3 BB/9, 7.7 K/9

Alaniz's 2009 season was a bit of a disappointment, after bulldozing through Vermont in 07 and holding his own in Potomac and Harrisburg in 08. The key comparison between his 08 and 09 seasons in AA look bad on the surface, as his ERA rose from 3.93 in AA in 2008 to 4.76 in 2009. And while his BB/9 and H/9 rates went up a bit, his BABIP against rose .051 between the years. There's your red flag; Alaniz went from being a relatively lucky pitcher (.267 BABIP in AA in 08) to an unlucky one (.318 in 09).

Looking at Alaniz's 2009 season on the whole does not really tell the whole story. He had a disastrous may, going 1-3 with an 8.14 ERA in 21 IP over 6 starts. After his awful May, Alaniz settled down and finished the year, pitching mostly out of the bullpen with a sparkling 1.14 ERA over 39 and 2/3 innings. Alaniz's potential probably lies in the bullpen rather than the rotation, but his career is far from over after a disappointing 09.

Major League ETA: September 2012


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Do or Die Time: Michael Burgess

Next in my series of Nats prospects who need to make a move in 2010 is slugging outfielder Michael Burgess.

Michael Burgess, 21 year old, OF
Drafted in the supplemental 1st round in 2007, 49th overall.

2009 stats:
Potomac-high A: .235/.325/.410, 23 2B, 2 3B, 19 HR, 71 RBI, 63 R (545 PA)

Career stats:
.254/.345/.463, 59 2B, 10 3B, 54 HR, 192 RBI, 167 R (1323 PA)

Burgess is about as far from a sure thing as you will ever find. He has ridiculous power potential (career ISO of .209). He walks a lot (10.1% or better at every level in his career) but strikes out even more (28.1% or higher at every level in his career). Burgess simply does not make enough contact to be seen as a "top prospect" anymore, even though he has the potential to be a power hitting star. It would not surprise me if he ended up as a ML Regular, but it would not surprise me if he never reaches the bigs either.

If I could choose one comparable player to Burgess, it would be Nats youngster Justin Maxwell. Maxwell has below average marks in contact and strikeouts, but has a lot of power and raw talent. If Burgess can put it together like Maxwell appears to have done, he'll be a solid ML regular. The one thing Burgess has on his side is youth: he has only played two full seasons in the minors, at 19 and 20 years old. He is by no means locked into his performances over that time.

2010 Fearless Prediction: .250/.340/.470
I can see Burgess' numbers stabilizing a bit, with the power sustained and the contact raising a little bit closer to his career averages in a second year in Potomac.

Major League ETA: September 2012

Recent scouting notes:
"The ultimate three true outcome guy (walk, strikeout, home run). I have not seen the development in strike zone judgment I would have hoped for. In my opinion, he could use more seasoning in Potomac in 2010."-Nationals Farm Authority, 12/24/09

"Some (top prospects) have not developed as hoped and still are “getting by” on reputation (Burgess)."-NFA, 11/10/09

"Strengths: Plus power, excellent arm strength and solid defense. Weaknesses: Does not hit for average, not a lot of speed, needs to be more patient hitter."

"Power potential, throwing arm, and youth are big positives, will take a walk, but strikes out a lot and batting average is quite low.", 11/18/09


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Do or Die Time: Chris Marrero

I am pleased to announce that I have formed a partnership with The Miz of Fight for Old DC to feature some of my posts on the site. Please go to, join the forums and comment away!

Let's face the truth: not every hot prospect makes it to the big leagues. There is really no such thing as a "can't miss" guy; every player is susceptible to some degree of injuries as well as potential ineffectiveness. I'm going to look at some Nats prospects who have fallen off a bit over the last year or two and analyze whether they will bounce back or not. Today I'll look at 2006 1st rounder Chris Marrero.

Chris Marrero, 22 year old, 1B
Drafted 1st round, 15th overall in 2006.

2009 stats:
Potomac-high A: .287/.360/.464, 21 2B, 2 3B, 16 HR, 65 RBI, 58 R (414 PA)
Harrisburg-AA: .267/.345/.387, 6 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 11 RBI, 9 R (75 PA)
Overall: .284/.358/.452, 27 2B, 2 3B, 17 HR, 76 RBI, 67 R (489 PA)

Career stats:
.276/.345/.462, 76 2B, 7 3B, 51 HR, 218 RBI, 188 R (1466 PA)

Marrero's 2009 was actually encouraging in the fact that he stayed healthy and got a good number of at bats. He hit very well in Potomac, which was a good sign considering he missed the end of the 2008 season with a broken fibula. His contact rate slipped a little bit in his short stint in Harrisburg, but his power fell off significantly.

While there was a clear and drastic drop in power in Harrisburg, I am not particularly worried for two reasons. First, the jump from A ball to AA is seen by some as the most difficult to do in the game; there is obviously some sort of adjustment period needed to be able to judge his stats for real. Second, the sample size is very small (84 plate appearances in 23 games). Marrero's rate stats stayed constant during the jump from A to AA, so I'm confident he will rebound in 2010.

2010 Fearless Prediction: .265/.340/.460
I expect his batting average to drop a little bit in the full-season jump to AA, but I think the BB rate and isolated power will remain semi-constant with his career averages.

Major League ETA: September 2011

Recent scouting notes:
"The initial pronouncements of a future middle of the order power bat have faded but he still has the chance to develop into a solid regular. His glove is going to be his biggest hurdle to reaching that status."-Nationals Farm Authority, 12/24/09

"The picture of Marrero has come into sharper focus. While last year, BA may have seen him as being more of an impact bat, the 2009 season began to paint a picture of a ceiling as a solid major league regular."-NFA, 12/3/09

"Marrero’s entire 2009 season combined showed a lot of progress. During the regular season he showed the kind of power he brings to the table. Then in the winter league he proved that he has the ability to hit for average as well, but sacrificed some home runs. Lets hope that in 2010 he can balance both sides out and hit for a high average with plenty of dingers into the outfield stands."

"I don't think he's going to be a star, but with proper development he can be a solid regular.", 11/18/09


Tuesday, January 12, 2010


What is the status of right-hander Jordan Zimmermann? Will he be able to pitch in 2010?
-- Alex C., Montreal

Not looking like it, but it would be a pleasant surprise.

Would the Nationals consider bringing Felipe Lopez back?
-- Michael B, Washington.

People keep asking and Ladson keeps answering the same way: NO! But that makes me wonder, why doesn't he just stop answering?

I think J.D. Martin should be given the chance to earn a spot on the big-league staff. What do you think?
-- Ken N., Ridgecrest, Calif.

Given a chance at a spot? Sure. Guaranteed a spot? No. There is going to be a lot of competition when pitchers and catchers report next month (NEXT MONTH!!!). It's better than in previous years because more than one or two of these guys actually deserve to be on an ML roster.

Will the Nats try to extend Adam Dunn's contract or is he here for just one year?
-- Ed J., Gallup, N.M.

If I were a betting man, I would bet that Dunn is gone at (or before) the deadline. If for some reason they won't/can't move him, I could easily see them signing him for a few more years. It appears that he likes it here and the other players like him, too.

I don't agree that the Nats should not be looking for offense. Surely, there is a lower-priced outfielder who can come in and challenge Elijah Dukes in right field. Am I wrong?
-- Bobby M., North Potomac, Md.

I agree completely. While I think Dukes is going to have a nice year, we can't afford to put all of our eggs in one basket on that kind of bet. I was hoping for a Ryan Church reunion as a 4th OF, but he's apparently signing with the Pirates. How about Jonny Gomes? Rocco Baldelli? Reed Johnson? Gabe Gross?

What kind of contract is Hudson is seeking?
-- Bill M., Fairfax, Va.

"Based on what I was told, Hudson wants $9 million for 2010, and the Nationals are not willing to give Hudson that kind of money."-Ladson

Yikes. I wouldn't go much further above $6-7 million (plus incentives) for Hudson. But if it's a one year deal, it shouldn't be too catastrophic.

Do you think the Nats will have their middle-infield needs resolved before pitchers and catchers report next month?
-- Ken G., Montreal

If they do, it will be right at the deadline. I envision Rizzo as the kind of guy who lets the market decide itself, getting him the best deals he can on potential bargains.

Monday, January 4, 2010

New Year, New Inbox!

I'm pleased with the Nationals' moves this offseason, but I've grown to really like players such as Tyler Clippard, Matt Chico, Wil Nieves and Jason Bergmann. Is there a chance these guys could be overlooked in Spring Training because of all the moves the Nats have made?
-- Ben F., Suffolk, Va.

Wil Nieves is not going to make the team permanently (unless Flores' condition continues to worsen). Matt Chico is not good enough to make the team. Clippard and Bergmann will make the team but the new guys should give them a run for their money.

Are the Nats still in the running to sign Aroldis Chapman?
-- Frank L., Fairfax, Va.

I doubt it. As great as it would be to sign him, I don't think it's gonna happen.

Why don't the Nationals go after Matt Holliday? It would be a clear message that the club wants to win.
-- Michael M., Arlington, Va.

Holliday is a great player, but we're talking a huge financial commitment in both dollars and years. The dollars aren't a big deal to me, because it's not my money. But the Nats shouldn't be making a long commitment to free agents if they can. Flexibility is a good thing.

I like having all these options at closer, but who will be the long reliever?
-- Ken S., Gaithersburg, Md.

I'll go with Balester. I think he'll have a solid 2010.

Cristian Guzman has received a bad rap lately. He was one of the National League's batting leaders for the first half of 2009, and we found out that he was playing through several injuries that accounted for his decreased fielding range. He has always been a good clubhouse guy, so what's the worry?
-- Kyle S., Arlington, Va.

He keeps getting older, keeps getting hurt and still can't take a walk. He's an overpaid underperformer. Batting average is the only tool he has that can be above average.

Does Washington still have interest in bringing back Livan Hernandez for veteran presence in the rotation? Also, is Ben Sheets a possibility?
-- Alex C., Montreal

Interest? Sure. But I think they'll go bigger than Livo. If he's willing to put in time in Syracuse, they'll sign him, but I don't think they want to count on him in DC this year. I don't think they'll risk the money on Sheets, either. I think it's a good idea to go after guys like him (because 80 great innings are better than 160 crappy ones), but I just don't see the Nats going in that direction right now.