United States pitcher Erick Fedde (33) winds up during the second inning of an exhibition baseball game against Cuba in Cary, N.C., Monday, July 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Federal Reserve: Examining Nats’ Short-Season Rosters

Over the last year, the coverage on the Federal Reserve has typically focused on prospects on the Washington Nationals’ full-season affiliates, and for a reason. Full-season players not only are closer to the majors, but also typically have more experience than their short season counterparts and offer more certainty by playing over a larger sample size.

This year, though, the Short-Season A Auburn Doubledays and the Gulf Coast League (GCL) Nationals deserve a closer look, thanks to an infusion of recent draft picks and intriguing prospects on both rosters. Continue reading…

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Federal Reserve: The Arrival Of Trea Turner

After several months in limbo, Trea Turner finally made his debut in the Washington Nationals’ system on Tuesday. The shortstop prospect—a first-round pick by the San Diego Padres last year, whom the Nationals acquired as a player to be named later in December—was assigned to Harrisburg, where he has played two games thus far.

Getting Turner, along with right-handed starter Joe Ross, from the Padres should work out for the Nationals in the long run. As Ross emerges at the major league level, Turner immediately becomes one of the best position players in the farm system. Along with excellent speed, he features a compact line drive stroke that not only allows him to hit to all fields, but occasionally leverage power to the left side of the field. On defense, he should rate as an at least above average shortstop. Continue reading…

Caption: Mariano Rivera Jr. pitches for Iona in 2015. Credit: Iona Athletics

Federal Reserve: The Nationals 2015 Draft Class

Wednesday afternoon marked the conclusion of the 2015 MLB Draft. With 40 players selected, the Washington Nationals put together an interesting class. While it lacks a high-upside talent like Lucas Giolito or Erick Fedde, this crop of players could hold some promise.

It began on Monday with second-round selection Andrew Stevenson—a speedy outfielder with excellent defensive potential and an improving plate approach. Among the eight players drafted on Tuesday included third-round pick Rhett Wiseman, an outfielder out of Vanderbilt, and fourth-rounder Mariano Rivera, a right-handed starter from Iona College. Continue reading…

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Federal Reserve: May Hitter And Pitcher Of The Month

The first two months of the minor league season have featured some surprising performances from a few lesser-known prospects in the Washington Nationals’ farm system. In the latest Federal Reserve, two players with rising stocks claim the monthly awards for May. The Hitter of the Month is flashing an intriguing combination of power and speed, while the Pitcher of the Month is delivering on the promise he has always shown. Continue reading…

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Federal Reserve: Rizzo And The Nats Prepare For The 2015 Draft

In 11 days Major League Baseball will begin the 2015 Amateur Draft. Though the Washington Nationals do not have a first-round pick this year—a selection they forfeited by signing free agent Max Scherzer—this could still be an interesting draft for the Nats.

General manager Mike Rizzo and his scouting department have a few challenges this year. Along with their late first selection, they will have to sort through a class that is regarded as one of the weakest in recent memory. This year lacks a clear-cut top selection, while injuries to several pitching prospects—including Tommy John surgeries for IMG left-hander Brady Aiken and Duke right-hander Michael Matuella—have lowered the draft’s perceived value.

Despite those factors, history suggests that even without a big name prospect, the Nationals will be willing to spend to get the player they want. Continue reading…

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Federal Reserve: Difo Highlights Dominican Influences In Nats Farm System

In the wake of Wilmer Difo’s promotion to the Washington Nationals on Tuesday, The Washington Post’s James Wagner shared an important fact via Twitter. As Wagner correctly noted, Difo is the first homegrown prospect signed out of the Dominican Republic to make the Nationals’ 25-man roster since the Esmailyn “Smiley” Gonzalez scandal.

The incident Wagner refers to is one that drastically reshaped the Nationals. Gonzalez was a shortstop prospect signed by the Nationals out of the Dominican Republic in 2006 for a $1.4 million bonus. In February 2009, Sports Illustrated reported that Gonzalez’s true identity was in fact Carlos David Alvarez Lugo and that he was three years older than initially believed. As a result, general manager Jim Bowden resigned, Jose Rijo—the head of the organization’s Dominican operations—was fired, and the Nationals had to completely rebuild their Dominican Republic operations.

They became far more cautious in their international spending efforts. In fact, the Nationals did not come close to approaching the bonus they gave to Alvarez—who remained in the organization through 2013—until they signed third base prospect Anderson Franco for $900,000 just two years ago.

It is clear that the Nationals are now more measured and cautious in their international free agent decisions, but that level of restraint has not hurt the organization. In fact, Difo is preceding a wave of intriguing Dominican prospects to the majors. Continue reading…

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Federal Reserve: Hitter And Pitcher Of The Month Awards

The beginning of May means that it is time for the Federal Reserve to hand out the hardware to the best Washington Nationals prospects in April. As with last year, the first Federal Reserve post of each month this season will look back at the previous month’s best performances.

Races in both fields were competitive, as April was highlighted by several strong performances among the four-full season minor league affiliates. In the end, Hitter of the Month went to a prospect who has carried over his momentum from last season, while Pitcher of the Month was given to a hurler who has been quietly showing promise. Continue reading…

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Federal Reserve: Profiling Most Recent Nats Call-Up Sammy Solis

The Washington Nationals’ early-season trend of dipping into the minors for bullpen help continued on Wednesday, when left-hander Sammy Solis was recalled from Double-A Harrisburg. Much like the other pitchers that have debuted this season, Solis has shown vast potential at various points in his career but has also dealt with his fair share of ups and downs. Continue reading…

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Federal Reserve: Grace Replaces Rivero

On Wednesday, the Washington Nationals once again tapped into their farm system for bullpen help, calling up Matt Grace from Triple-A Syracuse. Grace—who was called upon to take the place of the injured Felipe Rivero—made his debut Wednesday night, throwing a scoreless inning in the Nationals’ loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. Continue reading…