In the spirit of the Baseball Hall of Fame announcing its class of 2015 tomorrow, the writers at The Nats Blog have drafted their own ballots of the 10 eligible candidates they believe are worthy of induction this year. Below are each writer’s choices, listed in alphabetical order for ease of comparison. Read on for explanations on some of their choices. Continue reading…
Frank of Nationals 101 (Nats101.com and @Nationals101) does the hosting while I did the talking on our long-planned offseason podcast. We start with the the Nats disppointing playoff run, move to the relatively quiet offseason, and discuss the finer points of Christmas trees while we are at it. Zimmerman at first, Desmond contract, a bold prediction by Joe for 2B this year, and much, MUCH, more. (Note: We had some audio difficulty about half way through that Frank resolved. You’ll hear a tone at the cut.)
We have exiting news. While Joe Drugan will be stepping down as the day-to-day Managing Editor of The Nats Blog, we’re so excited to announce that the very talented Erin Flynn will now be taking over day-to-day operations of the site! This was an obvious choice for us. Erin is such a talented writer, and has been serving as one of our lead reporters over the past two years. Continue reading…
As some of you may know, I founded The Nats Blog back in college as a way to keep up with my hometown team while at school in Ohio. It was a great learning experience for me, and ultimately served as a pathway to me getting a job working in sports and technology. But there came a time when I realized that despite my love for engaging with fans through the blog on a daily basis, my chosen profession would no longer allow me the time to continue my passion. I had to find a successor to carry the torch, and that was a very scary thing for me. Continue reading…
In an offseason filled with rumors of earth-shaking deals, the Washington Nationals’ first was only a mild tremor: The team sent miscast lefty Ross Detwiler to the Texas Rangers in exchange for 2B/SS Chris Bostick and RHP Abel De Los Santos.
Detwiler’s time in Washington was fraught with frustration. Picked sixth overall in 2007, he never lived up to his draft status. He struggled in short stints as a starter in his first three MLB seasons, posting a 4.10 ERA from 2009-11. Continue reading…
For a long time now, the 2014-15 offseason has been setting up as a critical one. The Washington Nationals have emerged as a force to be reckoned with over the past three seasons, posting the best record in baseball since Opening Day 2012. But the team must find a way to parlay its short-term success into long-term contention, a process that begins now. Continue reading…
The Arizona Fall League (AFL) announced its roster for the East and West divisions for the annual Fall Stars Game, with second baseman Tony Renda selected as the lone Nationals farmhand.
On the surface Renda, one of seven Nationals’ prospects playing for the Mesa Solar Sox, is an odd selection because of his sluggish numbers. Entering Monday afternoon’s game, he was batting .205/.234/.295 in 47 plate appearances over a team-high 12 games. Holding back Renda’s numbers was a 0-for-16 start through five games; since then, he has hit a much more respectable 9-for-28 (.321). Continue reading…
After this post, the Federal Reserve will cease weekly updates until pitchers and catchers report in February. To this point, every nuance of the Washington Nationals farm system has been recapped in some form, most notably our Minor League All-Star Team and the Players of the Year.
For those who follow the minors, now is the time of the year to scrutinize Arizona Fall League performances, start thinking about prospect lists, and look over potential strengths that could help the Nationals at the major league level in 2015. As a way of filling those needs, I am happy to say that the decision has been made to keep the Federal Reserve going by posting sporadic updates between now and February. Here is a quick overview of some of the content you can expect to see here in the coming months:
- Arizona Fall League coverage, including the Fall Stars Game and recaps of individual performances.
- Trade coverage. If a prospect goes in or out of the Nationals’ farm system, look for a report on that player’s potential.
- Nationals Top-10 Prospect List, which will likely come online sometime after December’s Winter Meeting.
- Any potential Rule-5 Draft selections or losses will be covered as well, with several notable prospects, including A.J. Cole and Brian Goodwin, entering their first year of Rule-5 eligibility.
In the meantime, look for updates from me on Twitter (@ZSpedden or @Sunsfanclub) as well as over at the Hagerstown Suns Fan Club Blog. Over the next few months, I will work with everyone here at The Nats Blog to determine the best steps for our minor league coverage next year. I owe gratitude to my colleagues for allowing this section of The Nats Blog to develop as it has since March, and for their willingness to keep the Federal Reserve going throughout the season.
Thank you to the readers for a great minor league season, and I look forward to keeping you updated as we wait for the 2015 season to begin.
- Michael Taylor ranked as the best defensive centerfielder at the Double-A level in 2014, according to Matt Eddy and his set of fielding metrics at Baseball America. Taylor, who made his major league debut in August, has drawn positive reports for his performance in centerfield, and will likely play the position regularly next year for Triple-A Syracuse.
Emotions during an elimination playoff game are decidedly different than any other game. Nerves are running high, and any time that someone isn’t able to come up with a key hit, it feels like the end of the world. That seems especially true when the team you’re pulling for has scored only three runs in their first 27 innings of baseball, including in one game that went 18 preposterous innings.
But after a brutal stretch of offense for the Washington Nationals, they were able to get on the board in the series.
Madison Bumgarner’s Error – This was the obvious difference maker. The Nats offense was going so poorly, that Wilson Ramos, yes Wilson Ramos, tried a sacrifice bunt in the top of the seventh. Buster Posey admits he yelled for Bumgarner to throw to third, which was a huge, nay, gargantuan, mistake. Ian Desmond and Bryce Harper scored after the ball went well into foul ground in left field, and gave the Nats a 2-0 lead.
The Fister Effect – Doug Fister has been insanely good all season, and when the Nats needed him the most, he delivered in the best way possible. He threw seven scoreless innings and handed the game to his bullpen with a lead.
Bryce’s Bomb – Bryce Harper is a home run hitter, especially in the playoffs. He’s now jacked three home runs in eight playoff games, and his one at AT&T Park in Game Three was preposterous. It came close to ending up in McCovey Cove, and gave the Nats some cushion in the ninth inning.
Storen Settles – It’s been a rough go at the playoffs for Drew Storen in his previous two games. Between the 2012 Game Five appearance and the 2014 Game Two appearance, he really needed a win. In NLDS Game Three this October, he got his win. Yes, he gave up a couple of hits, one of which was hard-hit by Hunter Pence, but he settled in and owned the rest of the game. Also, his slider is still ridiculous and totally confounded Brandon Belt, the Giants’ hero in Game Two. This was a big win for Storen, who will be key to the Nats’ success if they’re going to keep moving forward this October.
Neither team has done much at all at the plate all series. After the Nats’ 4-1 victory, they actually lead in runs scored during the series with a 7-6 margin, despite losing the first two games of the series. It took three games, which was actually four games worth of innings, for both teams to score as many runs as the Tigers and Orioles scored in Game Two of the ALDS. A pitching advantage certainly plays into the Nationals’ hands going forward, especially after they took out Bumgarner successfully on Monday.
(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Throughout the year, the Federal Reserve handed out monthly award winners to highlight some of the best performances in the minors this year. Now, the time has come to handout the final prizes of the season, the Hitter and Pitcher of the Year Awards.
The races in both fields were competitive. In the end, however, two already lauded prospects took the awards, with the hitter tearing through his league en route to Washington and the pitcher living up to, if not exceeding, the lofty expectations that surrounded him.
Hitter of the Year: Steven Souza Jr., Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs
Souza could never play another inning in a Nationals uniform and will still be remembered for his game-ending catch that preserved Jordan Zimmermann’s no-hitter on Sunday. Considering his production in the minors, however, the outfielder could be a key piece to the team’s future.
Logging 407 plate appearances across 96 games for the Chiefs, Souza batted an International-League-leading .354/.427/.577 with 18 home runs, 77 RBIs, and a 180 wRC+. He also displayed considerable speed, swiping 28 bases in 35 attempts. Souza’s production helped lead the Chiefs to their first playoff appearance since 1998, while earning him league MVP and organizational Player of the Year honors. When including his two brief rehab stints with Low-A Hagerstown and High-A Potomac, Souza batted .345/.427/.577 in 100 minor league games.
With all three of their regular outfielders likely to return, the Nationals have a tough choice to make with Souza. Having already dominated Triple-A, another stint at that level is unnecessary. Considering that Scott Hairston’s deal is set to expire, the Nationals could use Souza off their bench, where his combination of power, speed, and defense could make him a productive reserve.
Runner-up: Michael Taylor, Double-A Harrisburg Senators and Chiefs
Pitcher of the Year: Lucas Giolito, Low-A Hagerstown Suns
Giolito entered this season as one of the game’s most hyped prospects, with the only major concern being how his health would hold up in his first full season after Tommy John surgery. Those fears were quickly muted, as the righthander dominated the South Atlantic League (SAL).
Making 20 starts, Giolito went 10-2 with a 2.20 ERA, 3.16 FIP, and a 110:28 K:BB ratio in 98 innings pitched. While he was consistent throughout the season, his performance made a considerable spike with his dominant July. During that month, Giolito went 4-0 with a 1.19 ERA and a 33:5 K:BB ratio in 28 and 1/3 innings, including a start on the 25th against Kannapolis (White Sox) in which he allowed 1 hit while striking out 9.
As part of their protocol with pitchers recovering from Tommy John, the Nationals shut Giolito down in August. His numbers with the Suns netted him several honors, including the SAL’s Most Outstanding Pitcher and Prospect awards, organizational Pitcher of the Year, and a selection to the MLB All-Star Futures Game.
Giolito is more than living up to his billing as one of the game’s top pitching prospects. At just 20-years-old, he figures to open next season with the Potomac Nationals.
Runner-up: Austin Voth, Suns, Nationals, and Senators.
- On Tuesday, Matt Eddy of Baseball America ranked the power and speed combinations among minor league players this season. Michael Taylor topped the list, with Steven Souza Jr. coming in fifth and infielder Wilmer Difo ranking eighth.
- A reminder that next week will mark the conclusion of the Federal Reserve’s weekly updates. However, occasional posts, including Arizona Fall League coverage, will be provided until February, when the weekly content resumes.