Saturday, June 25, 2011

Five signings to look at

Thanks to Baseball America's Minor League Transactions post from June 15-21, we now have 4 more Nats signings to look at, although only 1 is a draft pick.

26th round OF Shawn Pleffner, University of Tampa
Pleffner turned two great years of JuCo ball at Tallahassee Community College into an equally solid season this year at Tampa, where he hit .366/.454/.559. He is listed as a SS on the Nats official draft page but played 1B/OF at Tampa and was called an OF by Baseball America; at 6'4" and 220 lbs, it is not a huge surprise that he's not a SS. The Maryland native (Gambrills/Arundel HS) signed quickly after my last post, but I was waiting on some more signings to come in to include him.

Undrafted FA RHP Ben Grisz, Duke
Grisz's college career isn't too impressive when you consider the fact that he was a top 100 prospect coming out of high school. He finished the 2011 season with a 5.23 ERA, 61 hits allowed, 22 BB and 43 K in 43 IP. His peripherals improved from his 2010 season, though (47 hits allowed, 20 walks and 33 K in 33 IP), so there could be room for improvement. From what I've seen, he was a 90+ mph arm in high school and pitched lower than that in college, so there are some question marks. Hopefully Grisz's pitching is as good as his *ahem* extra-curricular skills (subject 3, but click with caution).

Undrafted FA RHP Jason Smith, Black Hawk CC (Illinois)
Smith allowed 4 runs on 5 hits in 3 and 1/3 innings during his freshman season as a Western Illinois Leatherneck before transferring to Black Hawk Community College, where he went 5-3 with a 3.92 ERA, 35 K and 20 BB in 43 and 2/3 innings this season. According to his coach Arnie Chavera in this article by Steve Batterson of the Quad-City Times, Smith tops out around 91 MPH with a solid curveball while learning to throw his change-up. Comes from the same program as 2008 28th round pick Matt Swynenberg. He passed up a chance to play at UNC-Pembroke to sign with the Nats.

Undrafted FA SS Wes Schill, Western Oklahoma State JC
The 5'9", 170 infielder hit .449/.511/.581 with 10 HR and 16 2B. His OBP looks a little low for such a high batting average, but he did have 34 BB and 27 K and has a history of having  more BB than K (including at Northeast Texas CC in 2009, where he apparently led the nation with 46 SB, although there is no real way to double check that). The speedster scored 85 times in 65 games this season and was named to the NJCAA DII World Series All-Tournament Team this year. Schill signed with Texas A&M out of high school, but it does not appear that he ever played for them.

Undrafted FA OF Michael Cruz, Western Oklahoma State JC
When I searched for Schill, I found out in this article from the Altus Times that his teammate Michael Cruz also signed with the Nats. Cruz hit .464/.538/.787 this season with 16 HR, 82 R and 90 RBI. His 28 BB/36 K ratio isn't as spectacular as Schill's, but is still solid. Cruz, along with Schill, made the 2011 NJCAA All-Region II Team and both received gold glove awards.

It's especially interesting to see the Nats chase after all of these Western Oklahoma State guys. Last year, the Nats grabbed OF Randolph Oduber in the 32nd round and OF Wander Nunez in the 36th, so it appears that the Nats have their eye on the Junior College.

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