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Nats minor league affiliates at the break

Jul 17, 2014, 4:25 PM EST


With the MLB All-Star break occurring this week, it seems like a good time to take a look at the Nationals’ minor league affiliates. There have been some big surprises and disappointments in the Nats’ farm system in 2014, here is a breakdown of the standouts on each team:


Best position player: OF Steven Souza, Jr. 

Souza made his MLB debut earlier this season with the Nats on April 13, but since has been stashed away in Syracuse due to an outfield logjam in Washington. While in Syracuse he has thrived with a .371 average, 14 home runs, 62 RBI, 21 stolen bases and 53 runs in 74 games. Souza just keeps getting better and now holds a 1.063 OPS on the season. He looks like he could start for a handful of MLB teams right now and it will be interesting to see how the Nats make use of him moving forward.

Best pitcher: RHP Taylor Hill

Hill is another Chiefs player we saw in Washington this season, as he debuted on June 25. Overall he’s been dominant at Syracuse this season, holding a 9-4 record with a 2.63 ERA across 106 total innings. Since the beginning of last year he has a 2.83 ERA in 270 2/3 innings pitched down in the minors.

Biggest surprise: OF Destin Hood

Hood’s stock dropped significantly last season when he hit just .224 at Double-A Harrisburg, but this year he’s been a completely different player. Through 58 games at Syracuse (he played his first 19 at Harrisburg) he’s hitting .301 with seven home runs and 25 RBI. A former Alabama football recruit, Hood has always had the talent. Now it appears he’s putting it together.

Biggest disappointment: OF Brian Goodwin

This was supposed to be a big year for Goodwin with the uncertainty of center fielder Denard Span’s future in Washington. Goodwin, however, has essentially been passed on the organizational depth chart by Harrisburg’s Michael Taylor. Goodwin, a former first round pick, is batting just .219 through 81 games. This from a supposed future leadoff hitter.


Best position player: OF Michael Taylor

Well, have the Nationals found themselves something in this one. Taylor has exploded this season to emerge as the team’s best position player prospect by a longshot. The 23-year-old is batting .323 with 18 homers, 54 RBI, 67 runs and 27 stolen bases in 88 games. That’s just his offense. Anyone who follows the Senators closely will tell you he’s arguably the best defensive outfielder in all of Double-A. If Taylor keeps it up, it would not be surprising to see him get the call in September. Span may not be here in 2015 and they might want to see what they have in Taylor

Best pitcher: RHP A.J. Cole

Cole was promoted to Syracuse not too long ago, but his 14 starts at Harrisburg earned him this distinction. The right-hander was brilliant, going 6-3 with a 2.92 ERA and 61 strikeouts across 71 total innings. Cole, 22, is looking MLB-ready and if he were in an organization without the pitching depth of the Nats, you can bet he’d be up by now.

Biggest surprise: 3B Cutter Dykstra

Many Nats fans know the name, as Cutter is the son of former MLB star Lenny. He also has a famous wife. But this year Dykstra is starting to make a name for himself as one of the leaders of the Senators. Through 79 games Dykstra is hitting .297 with a .786 OPS, five home runs and 43 RBI.

Biggest disappointment: LHP Matt Purke

The career track of Purke has been an unfortunate one, as the lefty has been plagued by shoulder and elbow injuries ever since he was drafted by the Nats in 2011. This year he went 1-6 with a 8.04 ERA before it was determined he would need Tommy John surgery. Hopefully he can come back strong and someday reach his potential.


Best position player: 2B Tony Renda

A second round pick in 2012, Renda is being groomed as a potential future starter at second base. He’s nowhere close to the big leagues, but he has looked very good this season with a .295 average, .371 OBP, 49 runs and 13 steals in 66 games.

Best pitcher: SP Dakota Bacus

It’s somewhat slim pickings when it comes to the P-Nats’ pitching staff, as there have been very few standouts. Bacus, however, has been the leader of their rotation with a 3.71 ERA in 19 total appearances, 12 of them starts. The 23-year-old came to Washington from Oakland in the Kurt Suzuki trade last August.

Biggest surprise: RHP Bryan Harper

Bryce’s brother earned a promotion to Double-A this season after a strong first few months at Potomac. The former South Carolina Gamecock posted a 2.59 ERA with one save in 17 appearances before heading north.

Biggest disappointment: LHP Brett Mooneyham

The Nats’ third round pick in 2012, Mooneyham made his first 10 appearances for Potomac before being demoted to Hagerstown. In those games – seven of them were starts – he allowed 27 earned runs in 33 innings, good enough for a 7.36 ERA. The lefty out of Stanford entered the Nats’ system with high promise, but has really struggled over the last season and a half.


Best position player: C Spencer Kieboom

Kieboom was selected in the fifth round of the 2012 draft, but up until this season was affected greatly by injuries. He missed most of 2013 after having Tommy John surgery. Now he is healthy and thriving at Hagerstown with a .330 average, .877 OPS, five home runs and 41 RBI through 57 games. The Nats could use some more depth at the catching position down the pipeline and Kieboom is turning into a solid prospect.

Best pitcher: RHP Lucas Giolito

In his first full season as a pro, Giolito is looking every bit the blue chip prospect that made him a first round pick. The 20-year-old is 4-2 with a 2.47 ERA with 72 strikeouts in 14 starts. Giolito told CSN this week he expects to have an innings limit around 100 this season, so at 65 2/3 he’s about two-thirds of the way there.

Biggest surprise: RHP Austin Voth

Picked in the fifth round of the 2013 draft, Voth began the season at Hagerstown before moving up to Potomac. With the Suns he posted a 2.45 ERA in 13 starts with 74 strikeouts in 69 2/3 innings. He’s also gotten off to a nice start at Potomac with a 0.35 ERA through his first four starts, a stretch of 26 innings.

Biggest disappointment: RHP Jake Johansen

The Nats’ first pick in 2013, Johansen is a raw prospect with a high ceiling at this point. Still, his first full year in the minors has been a bit of a struggle. The 23-year-old is 5-4 this year with a 4.86 ERA in 17 games (16 starts). Opponents are currently hitting .285 off the Dallas Baptist University product.

  1. pburm9qp - Jul 17, 2014 at 4:37 PM

    I don’t know if I agree that Austin Voth being a surprise. He has had strong stats from day one and a very good presence everywhere he went. Ok, I’ll stop nitpicking now.

  2. Doc - Jul 17, 2014 at 5:13 PM

    Michael Taylor has more going for him than not, but he is on pace to make about 200 K’s this season—and that’s just AA!

    Let’s work on the strike-outs, Michael.

    Seems like a nice kid from a previous interview a month or so ago.

    Not sure where he fits in on the Big Team, but Souza’s time has come. AAA next year is really not an option.

  3. natinals10 - Jul 17, 2014 at 5:19 PM

    What are the nats going to do with Souza? They need a second baseman and possibly a shortstop if Desmond leaves. Any hint of him being moved?

  4. Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 17, 2014 at 5:37 PM

    I wrote here when Johansen was picked that I have him projected as a big bullpen arm. I think it’s headed in that direction and certainly can be revisited. Before he can do anything, they have to fix his mechanics which hopefully will lead to better control. If he can’t fix the control, he’s worthless.

    I agree about Voth. He dominated at Low A and got better at High A. The next step is what will really determine if the Nats have polished another gem.

    Cutter Dykstra is 25 years old and playing with kids that are 20 to 23. Hardly a surpise when the older guys improve. Poor baserunner and strikes out too much and isn’t a + fielder. It’s a cool story because of his name but call me when he’s batting .325 or more like um, Michael Taylor.

  5. Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 17, 2014 at 5:42 PM

    Partial Repost:

    Oakland is the clear #1. They have the “it” factor. Great team chemistry and they love playing the game. That right there is hard to overcome. Luckily they are in the AL.

    The best team in the NL is the Dodgers. It doesn’t mean they will go far in the playoffs because they lack what the A’s have and that is team chemistry and that’s what will make it open in the NL for whoever can get that X Factor going.

    The Nats need to add XFactor to their bench.

    My XFactor pick for the Nats is Cody Ross (he’s got 1 ring and was a huge XFactor guy) but I wouldn’t mind Brandon Barnes or Reed Johnson on my bench to get 2 guys to go with Frandsen and Lobaton and McLouth. Yes, I send Danny to AAA immediately. The rules allow him to come back in case of an injury at any time.

    Here’s Cody Ross’s slash .381/.409/.476/.885 and that’s in 22 pinch-hitting appearances and because he’s under 25 PAs, he’s not in the chart below.

    The 2 position players that are must-haves on the Nats bench are Michael A. Taylor and Steven Souza. See what they have. Remember, Tyler Moore made a huge impact in the 2012 Playoffs. Can one of these guys take a spot of a Nats bench player?

    I’m throwing the lefty/righty stuff out the window. Give me bench players that hit both!

    • Section 222 - Jul 17, 2014 at 5:49 PM

      Got new posted, and I’m interested in your reaction Ghost:

      When was the last time that Rizzo dealt anyone to get midseason help? I guess we traded for Hairston, right? But he usually picks guys up off the waiver wire – Mike Gonzalez for example. I think we might be engaged in a little wishful thinking here. Much as I’d like to see Cody Ross or Papelbon on our team, I doubt it will happen.

      • Section 222 - Jul 17, 2014 at 5:50 PM

        Oh I forgot, we traded someone to get Johny Gomes I think. Still, Cody Ross is a much bigger and more expensive move.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 17, 2014 at 5:56 PM

        The Rizzo plan is long-term adds and like you said he picked up Hairston who was D.O.A. and at the time I thought to myself Rizzo got fleeced, and he did. Not every salary dump player is worth it.

        Cody Ross is a salary dump. He’s no longer an evreyday player but he is killing it off the bench.

        Arizona needs to dump payroll. Have to do it quietly and quickly. 1st guy you pick up replaces Hairston. The 2nd one has to replace Espinosa who needs to find himself in AAA. For better or for worse, the Nats are stuck with Nate McLouth and there is nobody I can find except Kirk Niewenhuis who is remotely attactive as a lefty bat. The lefty bench bats that are good are all with teams still in the hunt.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 17, 2014 at 6:00 PM

        Cody Ross is making $9.5 mill this year and next year. I don’t know what Arizona was thinking when they signed him. They have to get rid of him. Rizzo can’t afford to pick up the whole salary but maybe he can if Arizona picks up $7 mill for next year.

        Probably cost the Nats someone like Cutter Dykstra in return.

      • natinalsgo - Jul 17, 2014 at 6:07 PM

        Can’t go cheap as you see what you get for a measly $2.5 million, a guy like Hairston. Sure, I’m kidding but that guy was a mistake from jump street.

    • natinalsgo - Jul 17, 2014 at 6:06 PM

      Ghost, I don’t trust any Rockies stats but Barnes is so much better off the bench than what he’s produced as a starter that you can call me interested.

      Always been a Reed Johnson guy. He does whatever they ask him to do and he has always produced off the bench.

      Cody Ross singlehandedly ruined the Phoolies in the 2010 NLCS and sent them home for the winter. For that I will always love the guy. He crushed timely hit after timely hit. That salary is an albatross. Another guy who hasn’t been a good starter but is a key bench and clubhouse guy.

      I like your thinking sending Danny to AAA for a refresher course and bring him back on Sept 1.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 17, 2014 at 6:09 PM

        Here’s what I don’t have. I don’t have splits on isolated pinch-hitting stats. Barnes is a righty who actually hits righties better than lefties in overall stats. His sample size of pinch-hits are best in the Majors and nobody knows who the guy is.

      • natinalsgo - Jul 17, 2014 at 6:14 PM

        You know who the guy is. He’s a low cost option which is nice and the Rockies aren’t going anywhere.

        My only trepidation is that Barnes could translate his numbers to Nats Park. Those Rockies guys have greatly disappointed when they are traded.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 17, 2014 at 6:20 PM

        Do you remember a guy named Matt Holliday? He went on to have pretty good career in St. Louis.

        A funny side-note is how Billy Beane got fleeced twice on Matt Holliday. Beane traded for Holliday and gave up a young Carlos Gonzalez and Huston Street only to then trade Holliday to St. Louis for top prospect Brett Wallace who was a bust.

        That was not one of Beane’s better moments on both sides of those trades.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 17, 2014 at 6:28 PM

        Also, don’t feel too sorry for Billy Beane because he originally fleeced Arizona when he traded them Dan Haren and got CarGo plus Brett Anderson, Chris Carter, Aaron Cunningham, Dana Eveland and Greg Smith!

        If only Beane held onto CarGo or got better prospects when he traded Holliday to St. Louis. He really was playing with house money but Beane usually is smarter than that. Brett Wallace, what a bust. Wallace eventually got traded for Michael D. Taylor who was a bust himself.

  6. natsguy - Jul 17, 2014 at 6:19 PM

    23 hours to sign Fedde.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 17, 2014 at 6:21 PM

      Count that down to 5 minutes because he won’t be signed until there’s 5 minutes left and it won’t be announced until the clock strikes zero.

  7. NatsLady - Jul 17, 2014 at 7:06 PM

    Jeff Bianchi will go on the DL so that Segura can be activated.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 17, 2014 at 7:30 PM

      Sounds like Bianchi was told he had a sore body part.

  8. Steady Eddie - Jul 17, 2014 at 7:25 PM

    Any word on how JZimm’s throwing session went today? I guess they may give it until tomorrow to see how he feels then. Unless it’s clearly bad from the get-go, in which case they would want to do another MRI or whatever appropriate tests before concluding anything.

  9. dcwx61 - Jul 17, 2014 at 8:42 PM

    There outta be a law, there needs to be a law
    that baseball may not take so many days off during the long days of summer.
    It is a crime for at the height of summer’s heat for baseball to take so many nights off.
    America needs to believe, that while everything about tomorrow is so uncertain, for today we have baseball.

    Play Ball, Damnit

    • David Proctor - Jul 17, 2014 at 9:27 PM

      Yes, this is brutal. But it’s almost over.

      • ArVAFan - Jul 17, 2014 at 10:17 PM

        Somehow, we make it through the winter, surviving for months on trade rumors and FanFest. Why does the All-Star break seem so long?

        But tomorrow there will be baseball in DC. And I will be there to watch it. Good words to go to sleep by.


        PS J Zimm, I hope your session went well.

  10. tcostant - Jul 18, 2014 at 8:47 AM

    Kind of strange that Hood just .224 at Double-A Harrisburg but was still moved up to Triple A? Am I missing something. He is doing great there, but an interesting move…

    • alexva6 - Jul 18, 2014 at 9:07 AM

      odds say he won’t sustain it but some guys are just late bloomers that don’t follow the traditional development progression. He is still only 24 with options left so he’ll be most likely there for another year. if he continues he’s a good asset to have.





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