October 25, 2014

2014 MLB Draft Preview: Top 50 Prospects

The 2014 MLB Draft is coming up. The Astros are set to make the draft’s first pick in Sebaucus New Jersey this Thursday, at 7pm est.

After that the Astros, Marlins, White Sox, Cubs and the Twins will make the next four picks (2-5) and teams will continue selecting players until the night ends with the final pick (number 74 overall) of Competitive Balance Round B. The remainder of the draft will be held over the following two days.

The 2013 draft saw two gifted college right-handed pitchers–Mark Appel and Jonathan Gray–go in the top three picks. Kohl Stewart, an immensely talented righty out of high school, followed the duo only minutes later when he was selected at the number-four slot. The year before that, it seemed like there were enough stud shortstops (Carlos Correa, Addison Russell, Gavin Cecchini, Corey Seager) and centerfielders (Byron Buxton, Albert Almora, David Dahl, Courtney Hawkins) for every team that had a pick in the top 20.

This time around the draft class seems to be remarkably strong in left-handed pitching, from both the college and high school ranks. In fact, this class seems to deeper in high-upside pitching in general, compared to the past couple of years, and much lighter at premium defensive positions like catcher, shortstop and centerfield (at least in players that project to man those positions in the pro’s). There aren’t any Strasburgs or Harpers, but N.C. State southpaw Carlos Rodon has generated buzz on par with the amount that Mark Appel created during his own college career. The big flamethrower even hears comps to future Hall of Famer Randy Johnson. So it’s a testament to this groups pitching depth that fellow blue-chip southpaw stars Kyle Freeland, Brady Aiken and Brandon Finnegan have the makings of even better professional pitchers. That’s if they pan out of course.

Despite the many flashy left-handed pitchers, the top draft selection might end up being a righthander out of high school. The Astros hold the first overall choice, and gunslinger Tyler Kolek matches up with their taste and needs perfectly. He’s arguably the top pitching talent, he doesn’t have a lot of mileage on his eighteen-year-old arm, he’s a native Texan that was born and raised on a ranch. He also might have the best fastball in the history of high school baseball. Needless to say, his profile and his Texas pedigree have earned him numerous comparisons to Hall of Fame pitcher and former Houston Astros ace Nolan Ryan. What makes the match even more perfect? Kolek’s favorite player is Nolan Ryan, who is now employed as a special advisor to ownership.

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‘Damaging’ Media and MLB Free Agents: Is Scott Boras Right?

“I am angered that numerous baseball executives have blatantly and intentionally violated our collective bargaining agreement by offering to ESPN comments about free agent values of Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales. These statements undermine the free agent rights of the players and depress the market values.”
Tony Clark, Executive Director of the MLB Players’ Association

I’ve read a couple of interesting articles lately about player compensation in the MLB. A debate on the topic started this winter when draft-pick compensation rules were limiting free-agency spending, and the discussion has become much more aggressive this last week.

A slew of articles, particularly this one by Jon Heyman, caught my attention. They cover the feud between Scott Boras, the MLBPA, and big media and the MLB. An interesting twist, Heyman’s includes a direct response to Buster Olney’s controversial April 9th piece on the MLB market’s puzzling lack of employment for household-known, free-agent players.

This discussion is a complicated one. The battle they’re discussing maybe new, but the labor war in Major League baseball is not. It had just temporarily fallen off the front page, but it seems like it’s ready to return.

[Read more...]

Washington Nationals Walk-Up Music 2014

**List updated 09/28/2014** (added two songs for Michael Taylor)
NEED: Cedeno, Treinen

It is a brand new season and we’re excited to hear which songs the Washington Nationals players have selected as their batting music. District Sports Page will do its best to keep up them, however, invite fans to help us out. Please feel free to comment on this post or tweet to @cnichols14 when you hear a new song.

In case you missed previous season’s songs, you can check out the 2012 walk-up music here and 2013 walk-up music here. A few of the songs from last year are still being used early in 2014.

Ryan Zimmerman at bat - Washington Nationals Home Opener v. Atlanta Braves, 4/4/2014

Ryan Zimmerman at bat – Washington Nationals Home Opener v. Atlanta Braves, 4/4/2014

Fans love walk-up music. It is always a popular topic on Twitter, Facebook and discussion boards. Some players select music that gets them fired up, suits them perfectly or even pokes fun of themselves (i.e. Matt Stairs two years using Toby Keith’s “As Good As I Once Was“). It can be a small window into the player’s personality.

There are superstitious players that change their music when they are slumping at the plate. And some have a handful of songs that are used in rotation.

Some players stick with the same song season after season and even years after leaving the Nationals or baseball all together, fans immediately think of that player every time they hear the song (i.e. Chad Cordero and Metallica’s “King Nothing“).

Former National Michael Morse (now with the San Francisco Giants), had the team’s most eclectic taste in his walk-up music, thanks in part to his brother helping select songs. His most popular song was “Take on Me” by A-ha, which has now become the “fans’ Natitude anthem” and is currently being used as the Nats 7th inning stretch song. The music is usually cut off before it gets to the high part of the chorus, so the fans finish it off! It started in 2010, but finally caught on and fans voices are even heard on TV. Join in next time you’re at the park.

Big news regarding the 7th inning stretch song! It appears that the Nats may have retired “Take on Me” as the 7th inning supplemental song after “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” on May 17, 2014. Fans have reported that “Dancing in the Streets” by Martha & The Vandellas have [temporarily] replaced it. Unfortunately, there was a fan poll late in the season and “Friends in Low Places” by Garth Brooks is now used. While I like this song, I personally don’t think it is an appropriate or fan-friendly song. It is a slow song and its about drinking. A new song needs to be selected ASAP!

While on the topic of music, the Nats have used “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC to take the field for several seasons. That has changed for 2014. The Nationals are now jogging out to their positions to “My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light Em Up)” by Fall Out Boy. Personally, I wish the songs would remain the same because baseball is all about traditions and would like there to be a few traditions at Nationals Park.

All of the following songs have been confirmed through various sources including programs like Shazam, Soundhound, as well as players tweets, interviews, etc. We’ve included links to videos, however, remember that there is only a few seconds of the song used during the walk-up so it may sound different at the beginning at first. There is a lot of Natitude on the list!

Please help us keep list up to date and post additional songs that we may have missed in the comments.  Thank you! Enjoy!

Asdrubal Cabrera – Limbo by Daddy Yankee

Ian Desmond – One Sixteen by Trip Lee (feat. KB & Andy Mineo)
Ian Desmond – Sun is Shining (Smoke Out Dubstep Remix) by Bob Marley
Ian Desmond – My Conclusion by Stephen Marley Feat. Akon & Buju Banton
Ian Desmond – I Can’t Stop by Flux Pavilion
Ian Desmond – Warriors by Kymani Marley
Ian Desmond – I Believe by Soja Feat. Michael Franti, Nahko

Greg Dobbs – Show Me a Sign by Alter Bridge

Danny Espinosa – Outside by Staind
Danny Espinosa – Simple Man by Lynyrd Skynyrd
Danny Espinosa – Sail by AWOLNATION

Kevin Frandsen – Snow (Hey Oh) by Red Hot Chili Peppers

Scott Hairston – Blue Sky by Common

Bryce Harper – Dark House by Katy Perry Feat. Juicy J
Bryce Harper – TaKillya by Vinnie Maniscalco
Bryce Harper – Flower by Moby
Bryce Harper – Talk Dirty by Jason Derulo Feat. 2 Chainz
Bryce Harper – Don’t Worry Be Happy by Bobby McFerrin
Bryce Harper – Tom Sawyer by Rush
Bryce Harper – The Joker by Steve Miller Band
Bryce Harper – Do My Thang by Miley Cyrus
Bryce Harper – In The Air Tonight by Phil Collins
Bryce Harper – Shake It Off by Taylor Swift
Bryce Harper – All About That Bass by Meghan Trainor

Jeff Kobernus – Like Whaaat by Problem featuring Bad Lucc (clean/radio version)

Adam LaRoche – The Only Way I Know by Jason Aldean and Eric Church
Adam LaRoche – That’s My Kind Of Night by Luke Bryan
Adam LaRoche – Take A Little Ride by Jason Aldean
Adam LaRoche – My Kinda Party by Jason Aldean

Sandy Leon – Watch Out For This [Bumaye; Daddy Yankee Remix] by Major Lazer

Jose Lobaton – Don’t Stop the Party by Pitbull
Jose Lobaton – Mi Chica Ideal by Chico & Nacho

Nate McLouth – Kyrie by Mr. Mister
Nate McLouth – Separate Ways (World Apart) by Journey

Tyler Moore – The Outsiders by Eric Church

Wilson Ramos – Wilson by Phish (Crowd chants at beginning of live performance) [History of song]
Wilson Ramos – Chucuchá by Ilegales

Anthony Rendon – No Competition by Bun B. Feat. Raekwon & Kobe
Anthony Rendon – Fire by Bun B Feat. Rick Ross & 2 Chainz & Serani

Nat Schierholtz – Wretches and Kings by Linkin Park

Steven Souza, Jr. - Take Me There by Trip Lee featuring Jimmy Needham

Denard Span – Gotta Have It by Kanye West and Jay Z
Denard Span – I’m Ready – The Diplomats
Denard Span – We Made It Freestyle by Drake Feat. Soulja Boy

Michael Taylor – Oceans Remix by Dream Junkies
Michael Taylor – The City by Da’ T.R.U.T.H Feat. B. Reith

Zach Walters – Let It Go (from Frozen) by Idina Menzel
Zach Walters – Do You Want To Build A Snowman (from Frozen)
Zach Walters – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (Theme Song) by Ennio Morricone

Jayson Werth – Werewolves of London – Warren Zevon
Jayson Werth – Warehouse by Dave Matthews Band
Jayson Werth – The Walking Dead Theme Song
Jayson Werth – Game of Thrones Theme Song
Jayson Werth – The Rains of Castamere from Game of Thrones (Season 4) – Metal Version

Ryan Zimmerman – This Is How We Do It – Montell Jordan
Ryan Zimmerman – The Downeaster Alexa by Billy Joel

PITCHERS:

Aaron Barrett – This Is What It Feels Like (W&w Radio Edit) by Armin van Buuren Feat. Trevor Guthrie
Aaron Barrett – Thunderstruck by AC/DC
Aaron Barrett – The Bear Song by Green Jelly

Jerry Blevins – Sympathy for the Devil by The Rolling Stones

Xavier Cedeno – NEED

Tyler Clippard – Ready or Not by The Fugees

Ross Detwiler – Wherever I May Roam by Metallica (pitching)

Doug Fister – All I Want by Tim McGraw

Gio Gonzalez – Trophies by Young Money & Drake (batting) [clean version]

Taylor Hill – Burning Heart by Survivor (pitching and batting)

Taylor Jordan – Collide by Skillet

Ryan Mattheus – Firework by Katy Perry

Tanner Roark – Kickstart My Heart by Motley Crue
Tanner Roark – Stranglehold by Ted Nugent (batting)

Rafael Soriano – El Rey de Monticulo —”The King of the Mound” by Ediseuri Concepcion Mejia
(Story behind song)

Craig Stammen – Eye of the Tiger by Survivor

Drew Storen – When the Lights Go Out by The Black Keys

Stephen Strasburg – Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes

Matt Thorton – Crazy Train by Ozzy Osbourne

Blake Treinen – NEED

Jordan Zimmermann – Hell On Wheels by Brantley Gilbert (pitching)

 

Cheryl Nichols is a Columnist and Photographer for District Sports Page. She is credentialed to cover the Washington Capitals and has reported on the community service and fan events for Nats News Network and Caps News Network since 2006. Cheryl is an accomplished action photographer and has been published in The Washington Post and many other local media. She was a credentialed photographer for the 2010 season covering the Washington Nationals. You can follow her on Twitter @cnichols14.

2014 Washington Nationals Top 25 Prospects: Scouting Prospects 11-25

 

Nationals Top 25 Prospects Home

Scouting Reports on Prospects #1-10

 

 

Prospects #11-20

Matt Skole

Hitting Ability Raw Power Power Frequency Plate Discipline Speed Baserunning Fielding Range Arm Strength Arm Accuracy Overall Future Potential
35/45 65/70 55/60 65/65 35/35 40/40 40/45 35/35 55/55 40/50 MLB Starter

Skole’s plus raw power and hulking build got him drafted in the 5th round of the 2011 draft, and he immediately made the Nationals look wise for signing him by mashing throughout his superb full-season debut in 2012. He hit a monster .286/.438/.574 for the Hagerstown Suns, and raked 27 homers. His performance earned him South Atlantic MVP honors and he was named the Nationals Minor League Player of the Year. There wasn’t an encore however, as he injured his elbow while fielding last spring and was forced to get reconstructive elbow surgery, wiping out his season.

Skole is now healthy and showing off his plus left-handed power and plate discipline in front of the big club’s coaching staff in spring training. Matt Williams likes what he sees, and even compared him to Jim Thome.

Skole’s bat is almost ready to do damage in the Majors, and his home-run power will translate. He’s a very disciplined hitter, showing superb pitch selection and feel for the strikezone. His power and batting eye might even be enough to make him an average or better hitter, though his long, pull-oriented swing makes that a stretch to project. His lack of other tools and poor fielding will be a tough sell until there’s an opening at first base, as he doesn’t have the tools to man any other position in the MLB effectively. He could carve out a nice career for himself as a Raul Ibanez  type player or a left-handed Mike Morse.


 

 

Matt Purke

Fastball Velocity Fb Movement Fb Command Cutter Slider Change Off Spd Cmd Delivery Overall Future Potential
55/60 60/60 45/55 50/55 55/60 40/45 40/50 Poor Timing MLB Starter

Purke was a big name coming out of Klein High School in Texas. He posted a 12-1 record and a 0.37 ERA as a senior, dominated on the showcase circuit and with Team USA, and he boasted a 92 mph heater and vicious slider from the left side. The Rangers drafted him 14th overall in 2009 and offered him a whopping $6 million to sign, but the MLB vetoed the deal. He fulfilled his commitment to Texas Christian University, and ended up dominating his competition to the tune of a 21-1 record, a 2.61 ERA and 203 strikeouts in 169 college innings between 2010 and 2011. Unfortunately, shoulder problems killed his draft stock and injury problems have continued to hamper his production in the pro’s.

Purke is a smart pitcher and has a plan on the mound. When he’s at his best, he has solid fastball command to go with a deceptive delivery, a nice feel for pitching and plus stuff. His fastball velocity, which was consistently plus before his shoulder problems, was back up to the low 90’s in the Arizona Fall League this winter, and some of the bite on his slider returned. That’s obviously a good sign, and he showed the Nationals what he can do when he’s healthy during his AFL stint, taking home Player of the Week honors at the end of October.

Purke is tough to project. When he’s healthy, his stuff is elite for a left-hander. His fastball sits 91-94 mph with movement, and his slider is one of the best among southpaw prospects. The problem is though, that he’s rarely been healthy these past few years, and his stuff has fluctuated. In some of his starts last season his heater was clocking mostly in the high 80’s, and his slider was flat. Despite his ability to repeat his delivery, and throw with a nice slide step, his mechanics and his arm action has a serious red flags. These issues may keep him out of the rotation ultimately, but if he stays healthy, his stuff would make him a dominant back-end reliever.

Austin Voth

Fastball Velocity Fb Movement Fb Command Cutter Slider Change Off Spd Cmd Delivery Overall Future Potential
55/60 55/60 45/60 45/55 40/50 35/40 40/50 Average MLB Starter

Undrafted out of high school, Voth improved steadily in each of his three seasons at the University of Washington. He posted a 5.19 ERA as a freshman, and then lowered his era to 4.28  over 69.1 innings in his sophomore season before putting together a sparkling 2.99 mark last spring. The muscular 6’1″ bulldog gained considerable muscle in his core and lower body during his college career, helping his fastball improve to the consistent 90-93 mph range. He ended up striking out 99 batters in 105.1 innings in 2013, second in the Pac-10 to Mark Appel. The Nationals in the 5th round of the draft, and watched him dominate opposing hitters in three stops between the rookie leagues and low-A ball later this summer.

Voth’s drop and drive delivery adds deception to his pitches, and his low 90’s fastball jumps at hitters as if it were even harder. He gets nice movement on his pitches and works low in the zone. He also throws a strong change and slurvy curveball. He has the stamina and efficient delivery to carry his velocity late into his starts. He’s not flashy, but he could be a very solid fourth or fifth starter. He may eventually be ticketed for bullpen, where he’s a potential Craig Stammen type, multi-inning guy.

Blake Treinen

Fastball Velocity Fb Movement Fb Command Slider Change Off Spd Cmd Delivery Overall Future Potential
70/70 60/65 55/60 45/50 40/45 40/50 Average MLB Starter

Treinen–who came to the Nationals as a through-in via the Mike Morse trade–is an oddity. While he has one of the best fastballs in the minors and is a top-shelf talent, he is largely obscure as a prospect due to an extraordinarily short resume–even when compared to late-round draft picks and top college players.

Though he was an honorable-mention All-Area pick as a senior at Osage City high school (Kansas), Treinen was a non=prospect in high school and early college. He was in poor shape, with a short stature and as a type-II diabetic his non-existant weight training regiment kept his arm strength from developing. He played just two full seasons of varsity baseball in high school due to his health issues.

Treinen’s college baseball career started off similarly. By the time he was 18, he’d actually grown to over 6’1″, but he was actually cut to their JV team at NAIA Baker College. Very few pro players were cut from their  teams, especially as late as college and especially at a level where talent is so scarce. At the time though, Treinen’s fastball barely reached 80 mph, and when he transferred to Arkansas to play DI baseball, he was  passed over altogether.

Treinen set out to get in shape and get back to the game. He  re-tooled his delivery, committed himself to a rigorous weight-training routine and developed his mechanics under friend/coach Don Czyz, He was rewarded for his commitment, not only developing a powerful body and fluid delivery, but also growing nearly four more inches. Miraculously, Treinen stepped on the mound for the South Dakota State Jackrabbits a couple years later with a low 90’s fastball. The rest is history.

A couple of years after getting drafted by the A’s in the 7th round, Treinen has developed to the point where he’s looking like a future MLB ace or closer. He’s old for his development level, but Treinen performed nicely as a starter for Harrisburg last year–posting a 3.64 era, a 2.61 K/BB and a well above-average 3.22 G/F over 21 appearances. He simply keeps getting better and better, now pitching with a mid 90’s heater and excellent fastball command. He has already left a great first impression on new Nationals skipper Matt Williams in spring camp.

Treinen has electric stuff. His fastball sits firmly in the 93-95 mph range, touching 97 mph into the late innings, and he displays solid-average command of it. His best pitch is his heavy tailing 2-seamer, which grades out as plus-plus for velocity, movement and command. It’s a heavy bat-breaker, darting down and away to his arm side, and he trusts it enough to pound the strike zone with it.

While his sinker has developed into his go-to, Treinen isn’t a pure sinker/slider guy. He’s not afraid of straight balling. He likes to use his four-seamer to attack left-handed hitters by pitching them aggressively inside. Unfortunately, his tall, pop-and-drop delivery and heavy fastball reliance gives left-handed hitters a vastly better look at him. They’ve been able to pick up his arm and hit him like a vasty inferior pitcher throughout his pro career. His tendency to live on the white part of the plate limits his strikeouts, and lefties have shown the ability to punish his sinker as soon as he makes a mistake. To better neutralize southpaws that can turn on his velocity, he’s learning to make then uncomfortable–cutting his four-seam fastball on their knuckles, and then using his two-seamer and change off the outside to force them to slow their hands down.

Treinen’s off-speed stuff his most obvious improvement over the past two years. After relying almost solely on his fastball early in his career, he now has two decent off-speed pitches. He throws a fringy slider that shows above-average bite and depth when he’s feeling it. It has solid-average potential, clocking in the low-mid 80’s with disappearing break.  His command of the breaking pitch is behind his fastball and his tendency to under throw it makes it’s effectiveness inconsistent. His change remains below average despite the extra work he put into it last offseason, and there’s no telling how much he’ll trust it against MLB hitters. It’s clearly his third pitch, and he uses it mainly as a show-me against southpaws. But, it does have fastball arm-speed and it is good enough to round-out his game arsenal.

Treinen’s nasty power sinker is one of the best pitches in the minors. Now that he’s developed a strong breaking pitch and a game-worthy slider to go with it, Treinen projects well as a top shelf mid-rotation starter. He could’ve been an even better prospect if not for his lack of high-level competitive pitching and his (still) short off-speed repertoire. Regardless, the Nationals rotation depth means they’ll probably put him in the bullpen–where his power sinker-slider combo could play up to a special level. In that role, he could scrap his change-up and focus on what he’s good at–bringing the heat and killing right-handed hitters. His ground-ball rates and ability to keep the ball in the park are extraordinary, while his efficiency and command are excellent as well. The combination makes him a perfect fit for the late innings when the margin for error is tight. His strikeout rate, while somewhat low pitching out of the rotation will also likely increase as his stuff will have more power, and he won’t have to focus on keeping his pitch counts low. He could even end up as a closer, with a profile similar to Jim Johnson’s.

Jefry Rodriguez

Fastball Velocity Fb Movement Fb Command Curve Split Off Spd Cmd Delivery Overall Future Potential
60/70 55/60 40/55 40/60 30/45 30/45 Very Good MLB Starter

Long, lanky and raw, Rodriguez impressed the Nationals last season as a part of a dominant young GCL staff.  A converted infielder, Rodriguez is only recently celebrated his 20th birthday and has only 90 innings of professional pitching under his belt. In those 90 innings however, he has shown tremendous potential.

Blessed with a long, lithe frame, he bears a strong resemblance to former MLB fireballer Jesus Colome. He whips fastballs like Colome, with a four-seamer that clocks 92-93 consistently and hits 97 mph on the radar gun. His delivery is loose, and so is his arm action–showing easy arm speed that indicates he has room for added velocity. He also spins a sharp downer curveball in the high 70’s that has nice potential. He also throws a low 80’s splitter that he has trouble releasing consistently. His delivery is fluid and he has remarkably consistent timing for his age, though his arm slot and release point waver.

Rodriguez has become a favorite of Nationals pitching coordinator Spin Williams–along with the rest of the organization–for his stuff and athleticism. He’s an aggressive pitcher with plus velocity and movement on his pitches, and his fastball has sink to it. The package is pretty much everything you need for a bright future on the mound, and though he has a long way to go, Rodriguez is the real deal.

Internet Baseball Writers Association of DC announces Washington Nationals 2013 Player Achievement Awards

The Washington, DC chapter of the Internet Baseball Writers Association is an organization composed of Internet writers, on-line media outlets, and bloggers.

In accordance with its stated goal of promoting the members of the association and increasing awareness and respect as active members of the media that cover the Washington Nationals Major League Baseball club, the DC-IBWA is pleased to announce its member-voted winners of the 2013 Player Achievement Awards.

Since District Sports Page is one of the four credentialed independent sites that cover the team, we’re allowed up to three votes. This year Dave Nichols, Editor-in-Chief and Alyssa Wolice, Staff Writer, submitted votes.

Please feel free to leave your opinion on the votes in our comments section!

___________________________________

2013 WASHINGTON NATIONALS PLAYER ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS

Goose Goslin Most Valuable Player (Player most valuable to the success of the Washington Nationals):

1st: Jayson Werth (61 points, 7 first place votes)
2nd: Ian Desmond (39 points, 3 first place votes)
3rd: Jordan Zimmermann (23 points, 3 first place votes)

Others receiving votes: Ryan Zimmerman (8), Bryce Harper (4), Denard Span (3), Tyler Clippard (2).

Dave’s Vote: Werth-Zimmerman-Desmond. What Jayson Werth did this year was nothing short of phenominal.

Alyssa’s vote: Zimmermann-Werth-Clippard.

Walter Johnson Starting Pitcher of the Year (Excellent performance as a starting pitcher):

1st: Jordan Zimmermann (76 points, 12 first place votes)
2nd: Stephen Strasburg (42 points, 2 first place votes)
3rd: Gio Gonzalez (18 points)

Others receiving votes: Tanner Roark (8).

Dave’s Vote: Zimmermann-Strasburg-Gonzalez. The stoic righty from Wisconsin opened some people’s eyes this season, both in-market and nationally. He’s every bit as accomplished a pitcher as the other two and does nothing but pound the strike zone. something the other two could pick up on.

Alyssa’s vote: Zimmermann-Strasburg-Roark.

Frederick “Firpo” Marberry Relief Pitcher of the Year (Excellent performance as a relief pitcher):

 1st: Tyler Clippard (78 points, 13 first place votes)
2nd: Craig Stammen (30 points, 1 first place votes)
3rd: Rafael Soriano (28 points)

Others receiving votes: Tanner Roark (3), Drew Storen (2), Fernando Abad (1).

Dave’s Vote: Clippard-Soriano-Stammen. Clippard was unhittable almost all year. Unless, of course, when facing the Braves. Will have to get over that mental hurdle.

Alyssa’s vote: Clippard-Soriano-Stammen.

Sam Rice Hitter of the Year  (Excellence in all-around hitting, situational hitting and baserunning):

1st: Jayson Werth (68 points, 12 first place votes)
2nd:  Ian Desmond (37 points, 3 first place votes)
3rd: Ryan Zimmerman (17 points)

Others receiving votes: Bryce Harper (14), Denard Span (8).

Dave’s Vote: Desmond-Werth-Harper. Would you like to see Desmond work a few more walks? Sure. Would you like to see him not force the running game in certain situations? Yes. But his transformation from free-swinging hacker to party guy at the plate has been remarkable. If nothing else, this team can thank Davey Johnson for turning Desmond into the hitter everyone in the organization thought he was going to be. This, after Jim Riggleman almost ruined him.

Alyssa’s vote: Werth-Desmond-Zimmerman.

Frank Howard Slugger of the Year (Excellence in power hitting):

1st: Jayson Werth (76 points, 13 first place votes)
2nd: Bryce Harper (32 points, 1 first place vote)
3rd: Ryan Zimmerman (23 points, 1 first place vote)

Others receiving votes: Wilson Ramos (6), Ian Desmond (2), Adam LaRoche (1).

Dave’s Vote: Zimmerman-Werth-Ramos. The last two months of the season makes you wish Zimmerman had been at full strength from the get-go. He’s a complete power hitter in the prime of his career and hopefully an off-season of rest and normal strength training will have him primed again next season.

Alyssa’s vote: Werth-Zimmerman-Harper.

Joe Judge Defensive Player of the Year (Excellence in fielding):

1st: Denard Span (61 points, 12 first place votes)
2nd: Ian Desmond (34 points, 1 first place votes)
3rd: Wilson Ramos (18 points, 1 first place vote)

Others receiving votes: Bryce Harper (7), Adam LaRoche (4),  Ryan Zimmerman (3), Danny Espinosa (2), Jayson Werth (1), Kurt Suzuki (1).

Dave’s Vote: Span-Desmond-Ramos. Denard Span is a musician in center field. He never looks like he’s giving full effort because he knows how to play out there and make it look easy. But when he does makes a difficult catch, it’s that much more spectacular knowing how easy he makes the tough look routine.

Alyssa’s vote: Desmond-Span-Ramos.

Mickey Vernon Comeback Player of the Year (Player who overcame biggest obstacle in the preceding season to contribute on the field):

1st: Wilson Ramos (52 points, 8 first place votes)
2nd: Jayson Werth (12 points, 2 first place votes)
3rd: Ross Ohlendorf (11 points)

Others receiving votes: Stephen Strasburg (9, 1 first place vote), Drew Storen (6), Ryan Zimmerman (5, 1 first place vote), Taylor Jordan (5, 1 first place vote), Fernando Abad (1).

Dave’s Vote: Ram0s-Ohlendorf-Werth. Can we get a full healthy season from Wilson Ramos next season? Pretty please?

Alyssa’s vote: Werth-Ramos-Ohlendorf.

Josh Gibson Humanitarian Player of the Year (Player who meritoriously gave of himself to the community):

1st: Ryan Zimmerman (55 points, 10 first place votes)
2nd: Ian Desmond (28 points, 31 first place vote)
3rd: Gio Gonzalez (16 points, 1 first place vote)

Others receiving votes: Bryce Harper (9), Adam LaRoche (3), Denard Span (2).

DSP Vote: Zimmerman-Harper-Desmond. Zimmerman quietly goes about his philanthropic business just like he does on the field and the clubhouse.

Alyssa’s vote: Zimmerman-Span-Harper.

Minor League Player of the Year (Minor league player most destined for big league success):

1st: Lucas Giolito (20 points, 4 first place votes)
2nd: Anthony Rendon (15 points, 3 first place vote)
3rd: A.J. Cole (19 points, 1 first place vote); Brian Goodwin (19, 1 first place vote)

Others receiving votes: Taylor Jordan (17), Zach Walters (16, 3 first place votes), Billy Burns (13, 2 first place votes), Tanner Roark (6), Robby Ray (2), Nathan Karns (2), Danny Espinosa (1).

Dave’s Vote: Giolito-Cole-Goodwin. Giolito didn’t disappoint this season in his 11 starts between the Gulf League and Auburn. The 19-year old has a big fastball and two other pitches projected to be plus in the bigs.

Alyssa’s vote: Goodwin-Giolito-Cole.

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SURVEY QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

1. Which players on the 40-man roster at the end of the season are least likely to return in 2010? Dan Haren (12), Chad Tracy (9), Xavier Cedeno (4), Ross Ohlendorf (4), Danny Espinosa (4), Ryan Mattheus (4), Scott Hairston (3), Fernando Abad (3), Tyler Robertson (3), Chris Marrero (2), Mauro Gomez (2), Drew Storen (2), Steve Lombardozzi (2), Rafael Soriano (2), Jeff Kobernus (1), Tyler Moore (1), Corey Brown (1), Adam LaRoche (1).

Dave’s Vote: Abad, Cedeno, Haren, Mattheus, Ohlendorf, Robertson, Marrero, Tracy, Hairston, Brown. Obviously, some of these are veterans whose time have run out. Some are failed prospects. Some are journeymen. None will be particularly missed.

Alyssa’s vote: I realize that many in Nats country will disagree with me, but I would still argue that if the Washington Nationals can move his contract elsewhere, Adam LaRoche’s days in the District may be over. Bear in mind, however, that could be quite the “if.” After all, LaRoche signed a two-year deal last winter for a guaranteed $12 million in 2014 and, at the very least, a $2 million buyout in 2015. LaRoche has contributed very little to the batting order – in fact, his peak batting average all season fell shy of .270. While everyone and their mother seemed to shake off LaRoche’s sluggish start to the season with an excuse along the lines of “That’s LaRoche being LaRoche,” his numbers never rebounded – he finished the season with a slash line of .237/.332/.403.

2. Will the Nats sign Ian Desmond and Jordan Zimmermann to a long-term contracts extension before they reach free agency? Yes-both (9), No-both (0), Desmond only (3), Zimmermann only (2).

Dave’s Vote: Going out on a limb here, but I say they re-sign Zimmermann before he hits free agency, but Desmond waits and gets offers. If he has another big year in 2014, he’ll be poised to be one of the biggest free agents available at a very high-demand position.

Alyssa’s vote: Considering that Ian Desmond has two years left of arbitration, the Nationals are likely to do what it takes to come to terms on a contract extension before their shortstop hits free agency. Mike Rizzo has described Desmond as one of the team’s leaders and he has emphasized the importance of keeping home-grown talent in D.C. Desmond just missed the All-Star roster and finished up the season with 20 home runs, 80 RBIs and a .280/.331/.453 slash line. Keep in mind, there are few solid shortstops available on the market today and Desmond’s two 20-20 season seasons put him in elite company in the MLB history books.

Jordan Zimmermann could be a different story. While it is in the Nats’ best interest to secure a deal with this year’s 19-game-winner, Zimmermann’s strategy to hold off on a long-term deal last year could likely work again if he can boast similar numbers in 2014. With that said, the Nats can’t afford to let this year’s ace slip out of their grasp. Zimmermann finished off the season with a 3.25 ERA – a number that could have been significantly lower had it not been for a sloppy July. And, in many ways, he is getting better with time – he tossed the first two complete-game shutouts of his career – a one-hitter and a two-hitter – and his fastball consistently topped 95 in late September, while his slider reached 90.

3. What player was the biggest surprise for the Nats this season? Tanner Roark (7), Jayson Werth (6), Taylor Jordan (3), Ian Krol (1).

Dave’s Vote: Jayson Werth. I mean, seriously, who saw that coming. He put up the best season of his career and missed a month to boot. I had serious doubts the power would come back after yet another wrist injury last season. If he’s 80 percent of this next year the Nats will be in good shape.

Alyssa’s vote: This one is a bit of a no-brainer – the Nats’ biggest surprise this year has been 26-year-old right-hander, Tanner Roark. Roark finished the season with a 7-1 record and a 1.51 ERA over 53 ⅔ innings. In his short stint, he struck out 40 batters and kept the Nats close enough in the wild card hunt to keep things interesting through the late summer. Roark is certainly a candidate for a starter role next season, but it will be interesting to see if he can enjoy such success after facing opponents for a second and third time. After all, something doesn’t quite add up – this year, he recorded a 9-3 record with a 3.15 ERA at Triple A before his Aug. 9 promotion; however, in 2012, he was 6-17 with a 4.39 ERA. While that, of course, offers signs of development and improvement, it will be interesting to see whether his mid-80s slider continues to dazzle or players will figure out his pitching arsenal.

4. What player was the biggest disappointment for the Nats this season? Dan Haren (9), Danny Espinosa (6), Denard Span (2), Adam LaRoche (1).

Dave’s Vote: Espinosa. This is the second year in a row I’ve voted for Espinosa. It’s a damn shame he’s going to let pride ruin his baseball career. If he’d had the shoulder surgery last August the Nats would have gotten him back healthy at the All-Star break and he wouldn’t have broken his wrist. Now, he’s going to lose three seasons to what should have been a very fixable injury.

Alyssa’s vote: I think Denard Span takes home the title this year. Yes, his 29-game hitting streak brought fans back into the game at a time when the Nats weren’t playing meaningful baseball. And, yes, he had that fantastic catch against the San Francisco Giants on Aug. 14. But, those are essentially the only noteworthy contributions Span made this year – a year in which he was expected to be an explosive add for the Nats’ batting order. It’s true, players often struggle when adjusting to a new league, but Span’s hitting woes – particularly against left-handers – has been a bit mind-boggling. That’s not to say his dismal season is enough to warrant a trade – after all, his fielding has helped make up for what his bat has been lacking – but his .327 OBP is hardly what the Nats expected when they slated Span to be their leadoff hitter. Span’s speed on the base paths saved him a bit – he recorded 11 triples and stole 20 bags. But now, it’s up to Span to prove 2013 an outlier as he enters his second full season in the National League next year.

5. Who is your favorite professional Nationals writer? Adam Kilgore (7), Amanda Comak (4), Mark Zuckerman (3), James Wagner (1).

Dave’s Vote: Zuckerman. I’ll just re-post what I said last year — Mark’s perspective having been with the team since Day One is invaluable. It’s obvious from the community he’s built at Nats Insider that D.C. baseball fans appreciate his style and openness in covering the team. Because of his unique situation, he can blend analysis, commentary and opinion in his game stories much easier than the other beat writers, and his work is better for it — and better for the fans.

Alyssa’s vote: Adam Kilgore, for sure. That’s not to say there aren’t other quality writers on the Nats beat – there certainly are – but no other writer brings out the Nats’ personalities quite like Kilgore.

6. Who is your favorite non-professional Nationals writer? Harper Gordek-Nationals Baseball (2), Patrick Reddington-Federal Baseball (2), Citizens of NatsTown (2), Dave Nichols-District Sports Page (1), Luke Erickson-Nationals Prospects (1), Joe Drugan-The Nats Blog (1), Luigi deGuzman-Natstradamus (1), Nationals Archive (1), Nationals 101 (1), Sharkadina (1), Nationals Arm Race (1).

Dave’s Vote: Patrick Reddington-Federal Baseball. Patrick chronicles the daily, hourly and really, up-to-the-minute dealings of the Nats in such excruciating detail that it’s hard to fathom how he does it. His daily links post alone must take two hours to produce, let alone transcribing EVERY SINGLE radio, tv or podcast spot that has anything to do with the Nats. Then he conducts a live Game Thread and still manages to get a recap out minutes after the game ends. He’s a true workhorse for the advancement of dialog about the Nationals.

Alyssa’s vote: It’s honestly terribly difficult to pick a favorite Nats blogger, but I’d have to say I really admire the work that everyone at The Nats Blog has done this season. Both Joe Drugan and Erin Flynn provide very well-crafted game recaps that do more than simply rehash big plays – their writing styles make it clear that they still have fun reporting on this team, even when the Nationals offered plenty of reasons to be frustrated beyond recovery.

I’ve also burnt many an hour on the Nationals Archive website – and all of their Twitter feeds – so they certainly deserve a mention.

__________________________

Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Nats, Caps, and Wizards and covers college football and basketball for the Associated Press. Dave’s first sports hero was Bobby Dandridge. Follow Dave’s Nationals coverage on Twitter @NationalsDSP or @DaveNicholsDSP.

Alyssa Wolice is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page, covering the Nationals and Wizards. As a former production assistant, she covered the Nationals, Redskins, Capitals, Wizards, D.C. United and local collegiate teams. You can follow her on Twitter @awolice.

Jake Johansen Looking like a Draft Steal for Washington Nationals

Back in June, when the Nationals used their top draft pick on Jake Johansen, I thought to myself “the Nationals amateur scouting department is at it again.”

Even now that they’re winning, and signing free agents tied to compensation picks, the Nationals are still managing to take home the best young talent in each years draft class. After raking in all-world prospects like Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman during their early, sub-500 seasons in DC, they’ve taken home Anthony Rendon, Brian Goodwin, Alex Meyer, Lucas Giolito with much weaker draft slots picks in recent years.

They’ve also used their scouting department to extract great value from areas most organizations traditionally struggle in. They found ace-level pitcher Jordan Zimmermann at UW-Milwaukee, a DII program, former P-Nats catcher and on-base machine David Freitas at U Hawaii (sent to Oakland in the Kurt Suzuki deal), and took top outfield prospect Michael Taylor in the 6th round of the ’09 draft, when few pro clubs were even giving him work outs. In the mid to late rounds of recent drafts, they’ve snagged top arms like Tommy Milone (10th round in 2008), Taylor Jordan (9th round in ’09), Nate Karns (12th round in ’09), Aaron Barrett (9th round in ’10), and Robbie Ray (12th round in ’10), as well as slugging first baseman Tyler Moore (16th round in ’08).

Essentially, while under new hard-slotting rules and with lesser picks and lesser resources in general at their disposal, the Nats are still able to get it done.

This June, saddled without a first-round pick because of an (ill-advised) Rafael Soriano contract, they still took home the draft’s most gifted young athletes. They got a 6’6″ flamethrower out of Dallas Baptist in the second round, and then took the utterly underrated and supremely-toolsy Drew Ward in the third round. They followed those two gems with a bunch of other great picks, taking Cody Gunter, a smart third-baseman with thunder in his bat, crafty little southpaw David Napoli, and PAC-10 workhorse Austin Voth.

[Read more...]

NATS: Bryce Harper will compete in Home Run Derby

New York Mets Captain David Wright selected Washington Nationals’ Bryce Harper to participate in the National League Home Run Derby at the All-Star Game along with Colorado Rockies teammates Carlos Gonzalez and Michael Cuddyer.

Gonzalez leads the National League with 24 home runs, while Cuddyer has 15 on the year and the 20-year-old Harper and Captain Wright each have 13.

The 2013 Home Run Derby will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN HD, ESPN Deportes and ESPN Radio beginning at 8 p.m. ET on Monday, July 15.

Bryce Harper sporting his fantastic stirrups (1st inning) - Atlanta Braves v. Washington Nationals, 8/22/2012. (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Bryce Harper sporting his fantastic stirrups (1st inning) – Atlanta Braves v. Washington Nationals, 8/22/2012. (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

NATS: Vote for Ian Desmond! #DesiIn13

The Deadline is quickly approaching so get voting! Deadline is this, Thursday, July 11, 2013 at 4:00 p.m. ET.

Vote Ian Desmond in the 2013 All-Star Game Final Man Vote! VOTE HERE. Or text N1 to 89269.
***There is no limit to the number of votes.***

Desmond All-Star Final Vote Logo

 

SOCIAL MEDIA:
From 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. ET on Thursday, any tweet that includes a designated player hashtag (#DesiIn13) will be tabulated as part of the overall vote total used to determine the AL and NL winners. Fans may follow @MLB on the popular social networking service for the latest standings updates in advance of the 4 p.m. ET balloting deadline.

Washington Nationals send Harper, Zimmermann to MLB All-Star Game

Major League Baseball announced the players selected to play in the 2013 All-Star Game, to be played at Citifield, Queens, New York Tuesday, July 16.

The Washington Nationals will be represented in the starting lineup by Bryce Harper, the youngest All-Star since Ken Griffey, Jr. in 1990. He will be joined by starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann. Harper was elected by the fan vote.

Harper missed over a month with an injured right knee, but he overtook Justin Upton in the final fan balloting to earn a spot in the N.L. outfield alongside the Rockies’ Carlos Gonzalez and the Cardinals’ Carlos Beltran.

Ian Desmond was left off the N.L. team as shortstop reserves Jean Segura of Milwaukee and Everth Cabrera of the Padres were those teams’ sole representatives.

Desmond will be part of the N.L. final vote, along with Freddie Freeman of Atlanta, Adrian Gonzalez from the Dodgers, Hunter Pence of the Phillies and Yasiel Puig of the Dodgers.

 

NATS: Vote Washington Nationals for 2013 All-Stars

The 2013 MLB All-Star Game will be held at CitiField in New York City on July 16, 2013.

2013 All-Star Game Logo

Fans can cast their votes up to 25 times at MLB.com until Thursday, July 4 at 11:59 p.m. ET to make Nationals like Bryce Harper, Denard Span, Ryan Zimmerman, Danny Espinosa, Ian Desmond, Adam LaRoche, Wilson Ramos and Jayson Werth All-Star starters.

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