Thursday, July 28, 2011

Nats Minor League Signings

According to Matt Eddy of Baseball America, the Nationals signed four players in the last week:

RHP Christian Garcia
The 2004 3rd round pick by the Yankees was once a promising prospect, but has seen his career shred to pieces by injuries over the years, most recently with his second Tommy John surgery in 2010. At only 25 (26 in August), his baseball life is still relatively young, and if he can stay healthy (which is a huge, ginormous IF), he could still be a solid ML pitcher.

From Rob Abruzzese, Bronx Baseball Daily, 2/17/2011: "Garcia was one hell of a prospect. He had a good fastball, a great curveball, and a solid changeup. He was potentially as good as Phil Hughes or better. The problem is that he can not stay healthy. He was drafted by the Yankees in the 2004 draft and seven years in the system he was only able to stay healthy for one season. Not a good track record. So the Yankees cut him loose after he underwent Tommy John surgery last April."

John Sickels ranked him #17 in the Yankees organization going into the 2009 season, giving him a C+ grade, #9/B- going into the 2007 season, #9/C+ going into 2006, and #9/C+ going into 2005.

OF Leonard Davis
Our 2008 minor league hitter of the year is back with the organization after spending the beginning of the 2011 season with the New Jersey Jackals of the Can-Am league.

Power has never been a problem for Davis, but plate discipline definitely has been. He has a career 178 BB/640 K ratio, including a 30 BB/112 K ratio in 2010 split between Syracuse and Harrisburg. Davis is a lefty hitter with extensive experience at 3B as well as some 2B experience, so there's a shot that he'll make the bigs some day, but he needs to conquer AAA first.

Leonard blogged for during his time in the Arizona Fall League in 2008, so check that out.

RHP Cody Davis, University of Tampa

Davis, an undrafted free agent, will join his former University of Tampa teammate Shawn Pleffner, a 2011 Nats Draft Pick, in the Nats organization. Davis played OF more than he pitched at Tampa, but it appears that the Nats want him as a hurler. This season, Davis went 1-1 with a 2.70 ERA, 6 H and 4 BB allowed and 15 K in 16 and 2/3 innings pitched. Not bad numbers by any stretch, but they did occur in a small sample size. He made the Coastal Plain League All-Star Game as both an outfielder and a pitcher; Davis served as the Fayetteville SwampDogs' closer this season, going 1-1 with a 1.17 ERA, allowing 16 H, 3 BB and 29 K in 23 IP.

RHP John Peters, Augustana College (Illinois)
Peters is another UDFA who skipped his final year of eligibility to sign with the Nats. He went 4-1 with a 3.47 ERA this season, allowing 37 H and 17 BB over 46 and 2/3 innings, striking out 23 along the way. If you have a subscription to the Quad-Cities Dispatch, you can read an article about him. Sadly, I don't subscribe to small mid-western newspapers.

RHP Scott Williams, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point

Williams is a bonus, as he was noted in last week's transactions blog edition. He hails from the same college Jordan Zimmermann attended, so that's cool. He put up solid numbers for the Pointers this season, with an 11-2 record, 2.76 ERA, 101 K and 27 BB in 98 innings. In comparison, Zimmermann went 10-0 with a 2.08 ERA, 90 K and 18 BB in 78 innings in his last season at UWSP.

In an article from UWSP's official site, their coach Pat Bloom was quoted as saying, "I am confident that Scott will show that, like Jordan, he is a polished pitcher whose mound presence and competitive toughness are among his greatest attributes,” said Bloom. “He is certainly deserving of this opportunity, and I am happy for Scott and his family that he has a chance to fulfill his dreams."

The Portage Daily Register has a nice article about his road to professional baseball.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A look at Chris Manno and the Jonny Gomes trade

Quick thoughts on the trade: not a huge fan of trading minor leaguers of any sort for mediocre vets, but this trade has very little downside, believe it or not.

Best case scenarios: Gomes hits the crap out of the ball for a month and gets flipped for a top 10 prospect in an organization or Gomes gets offered arbitration, declines it, signs elsewhere and the Nats get a compensation pick in the 2012 draft.

Worst case scenario: Gomes accepts arbitration, Bill Rhinehart becomes a minor league bench bat and Manno becomes an ML LOOGY.

Think I'm underselling Manno? Possibly, but minor league relievers are some of the most volatile creatures on earth. Guys like Chris Schroeder come to mind when I think about Manno...dominating minor league performance, a few cups of coffee spread out over a few seasons and then back to the minors. We'll find out soon enough whether he can get AA batters out like he's gotten A batters out, but at every level, we'll have to wonder is this when the batters start catching up to his funky 88 mph fastball. Manno can be a successful major league pitcher, but the odds are stacked way against him, just like any other non-stud minor league pitcher (or even studs for that matter). Like I said, I'm not crazy about moving any minor leaguers for guys who won't help the Nats in years to come, but I'm not of the belief that we gave up anything that valuable to the Nats' future.

Here is the profile I posted on Manno last year over at DC Sports Plus:

LHP Chris Manno (26th round-Duke University)
I really like Manno, especially as a 26th rounder. With a quirky delivery, he has a chance of being an effective ML pitcher. In the 26th round, there isn't any risk if he doesn't become one. He's portrayed as a high character guy. And the Nats obviously like him a lot, since they took him two years in a row. An all-around great pick to me.

Here's what NFA re-posted from Baseball America last year: "Junior lefthander Christopher Manno is the Blue Devils’ best prospect and could go anywhere from the fifth to 10th round. Like Wolcott, he works primarily off his fastball. He’s long and lean with deception and some projection left in his body. Manno at times sits at 83-87 mph, though he often throws harder and was 89-91 mph at times in the Cape last summer, when he went 3-0, 1.93 with 45 strikeouts in 42 innings. His changeup can be plus at times, while his slider is below-average. Manno is young for his draft class and doesn’t turn 21 until November."

Andy Seiler (7/7/2009): "Manno should have gone much earlier, and he was in consideration for the top ten rounds quite easily as a lefty with good size and great deception. His fastball is below-average, but he couples it with a contrasting changeup that gets a lot of funny swings."

Seiler answered a question on Manno in an "All Questions Answered" thread on 6/11/2010:
"Q: Thoughts on Duke’s LHP Chris Manno (26th, DC) – did he stuff back up a bit this year? A: Stuff was still down. Below-average velocity and stuff in general."

A nice interview with Manno from before the 2010 season came from Ping Baseball, now College Baseball Lineup. The old link is dead, but here are some excerpts:
"It's hard not to root for Duke's senior lefty Chris Manno. He's humble, gives credit to coaches and teammates before himself and plays the game smart. He's both the kind of guy you want on the mound in a crucial game as well as someone you'd trust to date your sister."
"Q: The terms “funky” and “herky jerky” have been used to describe your pitching form. Yet, it's hard to say anything disparaging with the results. Has anyone attempted to tinker with your delivery or endorsed a change in your approach? A: Being herky jerky isn't necessarily a bad thing. You can watch a bunch of major league pitchers who are jerky jerky and funky, but their mechanics are actually good. My mechanics have developed throughout years and they're very sound if you watch them on tape. The way I deliver the ball and the way it comes out are just different. I do everything my coaches tell me to do and they've really, really helped me over the years. I just throw a little different – which is kind of good from what I heard.
Q: You were a late round draft choice of the Washington Nationals in the amateur drafts last spring. Was there much consideration in turning down the Nat's offers to go pro? You could been paid to play and continued your education later. A: Absolutely. That was definitely a consideration. I was honored to be drafted by them. You have to understand that I still have a lot of space for improving at the school I'm at right now. I haven't outgrown my coaches and I still have a lot to learn from them...In regards to me possibly signing it was absolutely an option, it's always been my dream to sign, but it just wasn't the right time. To be very honest I made it quite clear to scouts that it was going to take a significant commitment for me to leave an institution like Duke."
Want to see similar, but more in-depth profiles on the 2011 Nats draft class? Head on over to 2011 Nationals Draft Info.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Introducing 2011 Nationals Draft Info!

I haven't posted here for a month. Sorry, I've been busy with my baby. No, not an infant...a website. 2011 Nationals Draft Info is an all-encompassing site with profiles, scouting reports and links for every single Nats pick this season, from 6th overall pick Anthony Rendon to 50th rounder Tony Nix. While much of the site mirrors what I wrote on this site, there are new links, new analysis and pictures of each player included. I would really appreciate it if my readers spread this around, as I plan on keeping it up to date, with stats added after each season and signings updated as they happen.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy the new page! I will continue to blog from here and already have 2012 Nationals Draft Info reserved for next year!