While Bill Parcells is wildly overrated as a coach, his maxim of “You are what your record says you are,” is spot-on, and applies to the Potomac Nationals this year.
The P-Nats almost finished .500 in the first half, falling two games short at 33-37, and haven’t been above the break-even mark since May 13. Simply put, they’re not quite good enough to win consistently.
This is not to say there haven’t been bright spots. Victor Robles is the Nationals’ No. 1 prospect in the organization and for good reason. When he’s not getting plunked or picked off, he’s a force to be reckoned with on both sides of the ball.
It’s not a question of if he’ll be promoted but when, though it would be nice to see him fix the aforementioned flaws. The former has already caused him to miss considerable time in his career thus far; the latter isn’t going to get better when he’s facing pitchers with better moves or catchers with better arms. But I’m convinced he’s mastered high Single-A pitchers and is ready for the next level.
Another bright spot has been Taylor Gushue, a.k.a. “the guy we got for Chris Bostick.” After seeing Raudy Read’s nonchalance on defense last summer -- that 20 passed balls is more like 30 or 35 with major league scorekeeping -- it’s been great to see a catcher who hustles and keeps the ball from going to the backstop. It doesn’t hurt that he can hit for both average for power, too, though he can be had with off-speed stuff. It’s also worth noting he’s repeating the level.
Kelvin Gutierrez hurt himself running the bases on June 9, so he could be out awhile depending on whether it was a sprain or a hairline fracture. But before he was hurt, he was having an All-Star campaign and was making great strides on defense. The power switch still hasn’t quite been flipped, which is hard to explain given he’s a legit 6-foot-3 and a good 20 pounds heavier than his listed weight of 185.
Jack Sundberg has also been a surprise, considering he was held back from Hagerstown to start the season. While he’s not repeating the level, he is old for it (he turns 24 next month) but when Robles is deemed ready for Double-A, he’ll most likely take over in center and bat leadoff.
You may have noticed very little written about the Potomac pitchers. That’s because there’s not much to write.
Grant Borne and Taylor Guilbeau have replaced Estevez and Crownover, and while they’ve shown some promise, neither has been dominant. Luis Reyes, the only pitcher younger than 23 on the staff, has shown some improvement but has also been lit up more often not.
As mentioned last week, the hope is that the Nationals will start to move some of the talent up from Hagerstown as the 2017 draft picks filter in and just maybe, the team will start to play some winning baseball. That is, after all, the point of the half system in low Single-A and high Single-A.
Luke Erickson blogs about the Nationals’ minor league affiliates for NationalsProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter: @nats_prospects. His thoughts on the Nationals’ farm system will appear here as part of MASNsports.com’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our site. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.