Minor League Baseball Analyst Ranks Washington #17

Today, my copy of the 2010 Minor League Baseball Analyst came in the mail with good news. The Nationals are starting to move towards the middle of the pack, just one notch behind the defending World Champion New York Yankees at #17.

Last year, the Nationals were ranked #25, trailing only the Mets, Cubs, Tigers, Astros and Diamondbacks.

What I like about this book, as opposed to the breathless Baseball America and the stretched-too-thin John Sickels is that it blends sabermetrics with traditional scouting, a trend that I believe is good for everybody involved. WAY too many people frequenting sites like these look strictly at stats. I believe there’s some usefulness in that detachment, but there’s also something to be said for seeing things that don’t show up in the stats, namely player’s body language and reactions.

A perfect example is currently suspended IF Stephen King. His stats say “bust” but I’ve seen him play enough to say he’s got some talent that’s worth exploring. And I’ve also seen him react like a spoiled brat that tells me his emotional maturity is suspect. Those of you who’ve been on Brian Oliver’s Nationals Farm Authority are quite well aware that his father lurks there, and let’s say two words: apple, tree. The other five words between aren’t difficult to guess.

So, I’ll be looking over the book over the weekend and will post some more reactions, but everybody loves Top 10 lists, so without further ado, here’s the MLBA’s Top 15:

1. Stephen Strasburg, RHP
2. Drew Storen, RHP
3. Derek Norris, C
4. Chris Marrero, 1B
5. Danny Espinosa, SS
6. Ian Desmond, SS
7. Michael Burgess, OF
8. Destin Hood, OF
9. Eury Perez, OF
10. Justin Maxwell, OF
11. Jeff Kobernus, 2B
12. Aaron Thompson, LHP
13. A.J. Morris, RHP
14. Brad Meyers, LHP
15. Josh Smoker, LHP

My quibbles…

I think it’s a stretch to include Maxwell – He just turned 26 and has been riding the AAA shuttle long enough for us to know he’s most likely a backup OF. In his place, I’d put Tom Milone, though not maybe at the same slot. I just have a hard time not believing that Milone, the youngest pitcher at AA since Balester, doesn’t merit being included in the Top 15.

I’d also flip-flop Marrerro and Espinosa. I know Chris is just 21, but I sincerely doubt he’ll ever be good enough defensively and if the power that he showed in A- in early ’07 doesn’t come back (I think it will), then he’ll be a Casey Kotchman bat with an Adam Dunn glove. Espinosa, on the other hand, is correctly ahead of Desmond because I believe he already has two MLB-ready skills: fielding and strike-zone judgment, and those skills will eventually allow him to pass Desmond on the depth charts.

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Hello everyone,

We do not have a set schedule of when we publish posts here. If anyone has a request for a scouting report, or any request in general feel free to leave a comment with your request.

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Hitting The Road…

One of the joys of following minor-league baseball is going to see your favorite team on the road. As a fan of the Potomac Nationals, I’ve managed to see games played at six of the seven opposing teams in the Carolina League over the past four seasons, and have visited Nationals affiliates in Hagerstown and Harrisburg.

With the wind whipping in the D.C. area, I thought I’d share some of my tips for taking and making the most of a baseball road trip, to help ease the time until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training.

Take The Interstate
There’s nothing wrong with taking the secondary route to get there, especially if you want to see the countryside. But the Interstates are your best bet because they’re faster, there are more places to stop for food and fuel, and should you have car trouble, you’re a better position to get the help you need quickly. Also, quite a few teams are situated close to the freeway anyway (e.g. The Frederick Keys).

Consider The Dominant Travel Pattern
My favorite night to shoot for is a Saturday night. People that are going to the beach or the mountains are likely already there, so you’re not fighting them. If you must travel on a Friday, try to leave either mid-morning or mid-afternoon, i.e. after rush hour or after lunch. Likewise for Sundays, watch out for afternoon games that will have you on the road between 5 and 8pm, or when the weekend throngs are coming back. This is why some teams have opted for a start time of 4 or 5 pm — it’s not quite as harsh on the players, and enables the opposing team to leave with some daylight.

It’s an overlooked detail, so do your homework — especially with clubs in older ballparks or teams that are very popular. If you’re able to walk, think about the money you’ll save if you park a few blocks away or more importantly, the time you’ll save as you walk past the folks jockeying to get out. I like to look for libraries and schools for this strategy. One notable exception is…

…Fireworks night. They’re great for packing them in, and most people stay. Translation: While the masses ooh and ahh, you can make a break for your car and get out ahead of them. You can use the promotions calendar two ways: To get the freebies you want, or avoid the folks that care more about the giveaway than the game (e.g. bobbleheads).

Midweek Day Games
These are big moneymakers for minor-league clubs. They’re often dominated by schools and daycares, but they almost always sit in the cheap seats. Despite the crowds, it seems that most venues are shorthanded, relying on the groups’ chaperones for crowd control. This also makes it harder to get concessions and nearly guarantees long lines. But if you don’t mind eating before or after the game, you can generally get great seats up close. My advice: Order the largest possible drink possible so you don’t have to go back, but also because, dammit, it’s the middle of the summer in the middle of the day!

I look forward to reading folks’ comments while we pretend it’s not in the teens with the windchill…

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Let’s kill the culture of negativity

With a New Year, and a New Decade upon us, hope springs eternal for a New Era (no, not that New Era). This is irrespective of baseball, but with this being a baseball site, but I’m proposing a very simple change for Nationals fans.

Let’s kill the culture of negativity.

The more astute reader will recognize this as a reference to Rick Pitino’s famous rant in which he intoned “Larry Bird is not walking through that door, fans. Kevin McHale is not walking through that door, and Robert Parish is not walking through that door. And if you expect them to walk through that door, they’re going to be gray and old.”

But it’s the next five sentences that few people remember:

What we are is young, exciting, hard-working, and we’re going to improve. People don’t realize that, and as soon as they realize those three guys are not coming through that door, the better this town will be for all of us because there are young guys in that room playing their asses off. I wish we had $90 million under the salary cap. I wish we could buy the world. We can’t; the only thing we can do is work hard, and all the negativity that’s in this town sucks.

What Washington fans probably don’t know is that the most powerful sports-talk radio station in Boston used to play that rant mockingly as a set-up for the call-in segment for people to give their (half) witty remarks. But in the end, wasn’t Pitino right? Absolutely.

This isn’t to say we should become boosterish Pollyannas, going after Moby Dick and taking the tartar sauce with us. But the constant b*tching and complaining from some so-called fans on other sites has long since gotten old. It’s childish. It’s ignorant. And it serves no good purpose, save for creating a fellowship of the miserable.

Washington’s woes are far from unique. Pittsburgh hasn’t had a winner since 1992. Baltimore hasn’t had one since 1997. Kansas City hasn’t had one since 2003. None of these franchises can point to a five-year period where MLB treated the franchise like the Pennsylvania Road Warriors, gutting it like a fish. And yet all three of those franchises have farm systems that experts believe can start feeding them some decent major-league talent.

By definition, this is a site that focuses on the future, not the past. I propose that we focus on what can be, if not what will be, as opposed to what hasn’t been and might not be. It’s more productive and more instructive and I think it makes for better reading.

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Bradley Meyers Scouting Report Added

Just added the frequently requested scouting report for RHP Bradley Meyers. Sorry that it took so long to get up.

To view it click here.

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Boomer Whiting, OF

Hitting: Singles hitter that frequently bunts either for hits or to realign infield for grounders to the 5/6 hole

Power: Little-to-none

Running Speed: Plus-plus tool that merits his inclusion

Bat Speed: Below-average

Arm Strength: Poor

Fielding: Speed enables him to get to more balls than most, yet struggles to go backwards; a LF that plays CF because of his speed

Range: Above-average laterally and going-in

Strengths: Draws enough walks to offset poor batting eye and is a potent base-stealer once he gets on

Weaknesses:  All listed above: No power, substandard CF range, doesn’t hit for average

At the end of last season Whiting was experimenting with switch-hitting. His being sent to the fall instructional league seems to indicate that this will continue in an apparent attempt to maximize his one outstanding tool, Speed. Whiting may very well be the fastest player in the entire organization which is what keeps him on any watch list.

Whiting’s MiLB profile.

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Tom Milone Scouting Report Added

Just added a scouting report for LHP Tom Millone. My scouting report for Bradley Meyers will be up later.

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