Young catchers at Nats' lower levels growing up fast

Current short-season Single-A Auburn manager Patrick Anderson says the Nationals need a lot of catchers at their lower levels so they can build stamina at that spot in the lineup. Catching is a position that can administer wear and tear on bodies over the course of a season, especially for teenagers just getting their first taste of playing pro ball. "That position beats them up," ... read more

An in-depth look at Dominican Summer League roster

We next take an inside look at some of the notable prospects that played for the Nationals on their Rookie-level Dominican Summer League team in 2019. Nationals vice president and assistant general manager of international operations Johnny DiPuglia said he has been impressed with right-hander Eddy Yean. The 18-year-old is ranked as the Nats No. 6 prospect on the MLBPipeline.com top 30 for 2020. "We ... read more

Keister on high Single-A talent

Former Arizona State center fielder Gage Canning started last season at low Single-A Hagerstown, but after 10 games, moved up to high Single-A Potomac in mid-April. The 23-year-old hit .243/.311/.378 with 30 doubles, nine triples, 10 homers and 68 RBIs. Single-A Fredericksburg Nationals manager Tripp Keister expects to see more of Canning this season in the Carolina League. "Canning finished the year with us," Keister ... read more

Importance of Nationals' pitcher-catcher bond begins in Rookie-level ball

The Nationals work very hard on teaching their catchers how to guide each pitcher through their outing, making sure the duo remain on the same page, keeping them focused on the task at hand. This concentration on the next pitch - an ability to clear out distraction that might have been caused by the last play - is important in helping the pitcher and catcher ... read more

Spotlight on Hagerstown outfielders: Wilson, Connell and Rhinesmith

Jumping into the minor leagues today again and looking at some of the outfielders who played at low Single-A Hagerstown last season. Manager Patrick Anderson, now with short-season Single-A Auburn, saw some good growth and potential from his outfielders. We have already talked about all the tools Cody Wilson has shown. Wilson, 23, played 77 games for the Suns in 2019. He's still working to ... read more

More notes on catchers Pineda, Pratt, Cropley and Gushue

Taking a deep dive into catching prospects in the Nationals system, I reached out to catching coordinator Michael Barrett, who has been coaching for the organization since 2013 and caught in the majors for 12 seasons. Barrett told me of the sheer numbers he has to work with: The Nats had five catchers in short-season Single-A Auburn last year and as many as 17 catchers ... read more

Keister offers updates on pitchers Cate, Romero and Irvin

I recently got the perspective of high Single-A Fredericksburg manager Tripp Keister on a few of the pitchers he saw throw during October instructional league workouts and more recently in Nationals spring training. The first was left-hander Tim Cate, who I spoke with at the start of 2019 spring training in West Palm Beach. Keister said Cate, 22, moved up to Woodbridge, Va., midway through ... read more

Read makes defensive adjustment behind plate to help pitcher

The Nationals have a plethora of quality catchers in their system and have made a point to stockpile the position. One of their catchers with a ton of experience is Raudy Read, who played 14 games with the Nationals between 2017 and 2019. The Nats signed the 26-year-old in 2011 out of the Dominican Republic. Even a catcher who has logged 632 minor league games ... read more

FredNats manager Keister excited and hopeful for 2020 season

I got the chance to catch up with high Single-A Fredericksburg Nationals manager Tripp Keister recently and he broke down thoughts on the coronavirus shutdown, their new stadium opening and his potential roster for 2020. This will be Keister's ninth season coaching in the Nationals organization, and he desperately wants to get back to baseball and get a chance to see their brand-new stadium open ... read more

Shortstop Cluff has experience coming back from time away from the game

We spoke about Nationals prospect Jackson Cluff last month with Troy Gingrich. The Nats hitting coordinator was impressed with the shortstop's ability at the plate, showcasing outstanding bat speed and approach. Cluff's college coach, BYU's Mike Littlewood, knows Cluff's swing very well, and likes the youngster's "quick twitch" ability. "He's got tremendous bat speed," Littlewood said. "He's got good plate discipline. He knows what's a ... read more

Mendoza enjoyed switch to first base, eager to get back to baseball

I got the opportunity to catch up with Nationals prospect Drew Mendoza recently to see how it has been for him since spring training was shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. Mendoza returned to Tallahassee, Fla., to continue his workouts in hopes that the baseball season can be saved. Normally this time of year, the former Florida State star is deep into a baseball ... read more

Fredericksburg stadium baseball-ready for today's virtual opening day

The Single-A Fredericksburg Nationals will be hosting a virtual version of their opening day today. This was supposed to be opening day at their new, state-of-the-art facility, but all of baseball is currently in a shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. The broadcast will be available on the Fredericksburg Nationals Facebook page. The page will be live at 9 a.m. and at 5:30 p.m. will ... read more

Justin Lord focuses on mental side of game with Nats hurlers

The Nationals have a new pitching coach at high Single-A Fredericksburg for 2020, and he is a familiar face in the Carolina League. Justin Lord, who spent seven seasons as a pitching coach in the Baltimore system, comes to the Fredericksburg and takes over for Sam Narron, who is now the pitching coach for Double-A Harrisburg. Lord most recently was the pitching coach at high ... read more

Nats prospect watch: Cody Wilson has the tools to deliver on field

An obvious starting point for who will be next to have a good chance of making the big leagues is found in the Nationals top prospect lists. But what is also intriguing are players who are not on this list just yet or were not considered for some reason or another. Similar to undrafted rookies or free agents in the National Football League, these prospects ... read more

Nats Prospect Watch: At 18, De La Rosa ahead of competition

Exciting to hear positive news about 18-year-old prospect Jeremy De La Rosa. The left-handed hitting outfielder from Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic signed with the Nationals on July 2, 2018. De La Rosa spent 2019 with the Rookie-level Gulf Coast Nationals for 26 games, hitting .232 with a double, two triples, two homers, three stolen bases and 10 RBIs. "He has a lot of ... read more

Nats prospect watch: Pineda ready to bounce back from learning year

Failure is a big part of baseball. A hitter who fails seven times out of 10 is considered above average. Learning how to deal with failure and figuring out how to increase your chances of getting a base hit can go a long way to extending the life of a hitter at the higher levels. In 2019, this is what catcher Israel Pineda went through ... read more

Nats prospect watch: Reetz showed off power in second half

A big second half was important to catcher Jakson Reetz's potential move up in the Nationals organization. Reetz, a third-round 2014 selection in the First-Year Player Draft, hit .282 with 12 homers and 38 RBIs for high Single-A Potomac after the All-Star break. In the first half, he had hit .220 with only one homer. His slugging percentage jumped from .300 to .563. The Carolina ... read more

Nats prospect watch: Barrera's plate discipline one key to success

Catcher Tres Barrera made his major league debut late last season with the Nationals, appearing in two games. The Eastern League All-Star got off to a good start with Double-A Harrisburg and never looked back. Barrera was able to crank out 23 doubles, eight homers and 46 RBIs in the spacious FNB Field. "Tres had a great year last year," said Nationals minor league hitting ... read more

Nats prospect watch: Freeman's simple swing should pay dividends at Double-A

Nationals prospect Cole Freeman was a Carolina League All-Star in 2019 and also got a shot at playing 15 games in the Arizona Fall League for the Surprise Saguaros. The 25-year-old worked with Nationals hitting coordinator Troy Gingrich at spring training for a short time. Gingrich admired Freeman's compact swing. "I only got to see him for three days," Gingrich said. "He's very simple. He's ... read more

Nats Prospect watch: Nick Banks shortens swing to add to power stroke

Nationals minor league hitting instructor Troy Gingrich had more positive news on outfielder Nick Banks, who garnered a lot of attention last summer with his game-winning three-run homer in the Carolina League All-Star Classic in Frederick, Md. Banks, 25, is rated as the No. 27 prospect in the MLBPipeline.com Nats top 30. Gingrich said the left-handed hitting Banks made a big jump in his swing ... read more

Nats prospect watch: Jackson Cluff brings "quick twitch" swing to table

Following his first half-season in the minor leagues, former BYU shortstop Jackson Cluff got a chance to work out during instructional league and then into spring training with the Nationals. The left-handed hitter was a sixth-round draft selection in 2019. Cluff is rated as the No. 20 Nats prospect in the MLBPipeline.com top 30, Cluff, 23, is from Meridian, Idaho, and played for the Cougars ... read more

Nats prospect watch: Antuna healthy again

It was great to get an update regarding shortstop Yasel Antuna after the young Nationals prospect was out of almost all games due to injury for more than a year. The 20-year-old Antuna lasted only three games last season for Rookie-level Gulf Coast League after playing in 87 games at low single-A Hagerstown in 2018. MLBPipeline.com rates Antuna as the No. 12 Nats prospect in ... read more

Nats prospect watch: Mendoza getting aggressive with swing

Third baseman Drew Mendoza (Twitter: @MendozaDrew22) knew from his first few weeks with the Nationals organization that he wanted to make some adjustments to his swing. The 2019 Baseball America second team All-American was a standout third baseman at Florida State, but was ready from his first few days in pro camp to add power to his approach. It is the Nationals' policy with drafted ... read more

Nats prospect watch: Kieboom focused on aggressiveness at the plate

Nationals hitting coordinator Troy Gingrich said that top prospect Carter Kieboom started to get into a nice rhythm the final few weeks of March after a slow start to this spring training. "It was a different feeling for Carter this year because he knew the job was his for the take," Gingrich said. "He made a couple of adjustments in the offseason on his own, ... read more

Nats prospect watch: García works to employ lower half in swing

We switch gears now in our previews to the offense and check in with how Luis García's spring training was going before the shutdown. Um, yeah, it was going really well. The left-handed swinging García was hitting the baseball consistently to begin 2020. The 19-year-old shortstop slashed a stunning .417/.462/.542 in 15 big league games, with one homer and four RBIs. García is listed as ... read more

Nationals value graduates of their Dominican academy

The Nationals continue to do a very good job of fortifying their roster with quality prospects who started out at their Dominican baseball academy. It is one main reason why MLBPipeline.com has ranked the Nationals' international prospects in their top 10 in Major League Baseball. In a recent ranking, the Nats overall system was rated No. 5 in the top 10 of the 2010's. Being ... read more

Nats prospect watch: Teenagers Lara and Yean near top of pitching list

Nationals minor league pitching coordinator Brad Holman has insight on a couple of younger prospects who have reached the top 10 in the Nationals top 30 prospect list according to MLBPipeline.com, pitchers Andry Lara and Eddy Yean. Lara is only 17 and demonstrated the raw talent that the Nationals respect from instructional league in October to this spring training in February and March. Lara is ... read more

MLB announces assistance to minor league players is extended through May 31

Following up its recent announcement that Minor League Baseball players would be financially covered through April 8, Major League Baseball announced Tuesday that it has extended financial support until May 31 or until the beginning of the minor league season, whichever occurs first. MLB said players will continue to receive medical benefits and may continue to use any balance they have in the college scholarship ... read more

Nats prospect watch: Braymer fine-tunes changeup in big league camp

Nationals pitching coordinator Brad Holman said left-hander Ben Braymer had been focusing on his mechanics with his changeup at spring training before the shutdown. The 25-year-old out of Auburn started 26 games and tossed 139 innings last season. The MLB Pipeline No. 22 Nats prospect, Braymer made one start in spring training and worked in three games. No. 22 Ben Braymer "He's doing good. Obviously, ... read more

Nats prospect watch: Romero ready to pitch in 2020

Here is an update on left-hander Seth Romero (Twitter: @sethromero21), who missed all of 2019 as he recovered from Tommy John surgery. The 23-year-old was a 2017 first-round selection out of the University of Houston. MLB Pipeline ranks Romero as the No. 9 Nationals prospect in their top 30. No. 9 Seth Romero "He was another one who came to the instructional league and minicamp ... read more

Nats prospect watch: Cate working on fastball command

Good update here on left-hander Tim Cate and his progression prior to the shutdown. Nationals minor league pitching coordinator Brad Holman said Cate was making nice strides at camp and focusing on a few mechanical adjustments prior to the season beginning. Holman said they got started early this year with Cate in West Palm Beach. Cate, 6-foot and 185 lbs., is listed at No. 8 ... read more

Nats prospect watch: Denaburg building strength back in shoulder

A promising future awaits right-hander Mason Denaburg, who is looking to get back to full health and get back to baseball once the season (hopefully) gets back on track. The 20-year-old Denaburg was a first-round 2018 selection for the Nationals, but has been recovering from shoulder issues this offseason and had most recently started throwing again in spring training. MLB Pipeline has Denaburg at No. ... read more

Nats prospect watch: Crowe gaining valuable experience at every level

My continuing conversation with Nationals minor league pitching coordinator Brad Holman got to the point where I asked him if the coaching staff had used the World Series success by Nats starters when working with their future prospects. Holman said they did. Back in January he brought the pitchers together and showed them strategies and pitch selections that Stephen Strasburg, Patrick Corbin, Max Scherzer and ... read more

Baseball America Nats No. 1 prospect: 3B Carter Kieboom

No. 1 Carter Kieboom With All-Star Anthony Rendon moving on to the Angels this offseason, top Nationals prospect Carter Kieboom has an opportunity to take over at third base in 2020. Baseball America Nats correspondent Lacy Lusk said prior to spring training that Kieboom has demonstrated he is worth the risk at that important spot. "I think he's certainly worth giving a chance," Lusk said. ... read more

Baseball America Nats No. 2 prospect: SS Luis Garcia

No. 2 Luis Garcia Baseball America Nats correspondent Lacy Lusk says shortstop Luis Garcia didn't get off to the best start last season, but then was able to hit better as the year progressed. Garcia hit .241 with no homers and 12 RBIs in the first half of 2019. In the second half, he hit .272 with four homers and 18 RBIs. He was able ... read more

Baseball America Nats No. 3 prospect: RHP Jackson Rutledge

The Nationals' core prospect structure is based around starting pitching, and that is exemplified in the selection of right-hander Jackson Rutledge with their first-round draft pick from 2019. Rutledge arrived after a solid season at San Jacinto Junior College in Texas, and fires to the plate from a 6-foot-8, 250-lb. frame. Baseball America has the big right-hander locked in as the Nats' No. 3 prospect ... read more

Baseball America Nats No. 4 prospect: RHP Wil Crowe

The Nationals started Wil Crowe, one of their top prospects, in Monday's Grapefruit League matchup against the Mets. The right-hander (0-1) allowed a second-inning solo homer to Wilson Ramos, but pitched two innings with that one hit, one strikeout and no walks allowed in the 2-1 loss. Crowe displayed outstanding endurance in 2019 with 26 starts, between Double-A and Triple-A, going 7-10 with a 4.70 ... read more

Baseball America Nats No. 5 prospect: LHP Tim Cate

The Nationals have a talented left-handed pitcher in Tim Cate, who continues to get notice in the Baseball America Nats top 10 in 2020. The southpaw showed well last season for high Single-A Potomac and comes in at No. 5 this season. No. 5 Tim Cate Baseball America Nats correspondent Lacy Lusk said the University of Connecticut product demonstrated he belonged in the Carolina League ... read more

Baseball America Nats No. 6 prospect: 3B/1B Drew Mendoza

First base is a coveted spot in the Nationals organization, especially with Ryan Zimmerman not an everyday player anymore and the club using the likes of veterans Howie Kendrick and Eric Thames at that spot. Former Florida State standout Drew Mendoza has a shot to turn some heads in the near future and become that top candidate for a corner infield spot, similar to the ... read more

Baseball America Nats No. 7 prospect: RHP Andry Lara

This should be the year Nationals fans can track the progress on the field of the No. 7 prospect in the system, according to Baseball America, right-hander Andry Lara. Lara just turned 17 on Jan. 6)and is a hard-throwing starter who is not afraid to go after hitters. The Coro, Venezuela, native is expected to get some work in the Nats' Rookie-level system. Baseball America's ... read more

Baseball America Nats No. 8 prospect: RHP Mason Denaburg

The Nationals would like to see 2018 first-round selection Mason Denaburg build innings this upcoming season after battling through nagging injuries in 2019. The 20-year-old starter dealt with a shoulder issue that prevented him from enjoying most of his 2019 campaign. Baseball America Nats correspondent Lacy Lusk agrees this is an important year coming up for Denaburg. The right-hander is locked in as Baseball America's ... read more

Baseball America Nats No. 9 prospect: SS Yasel Antuna

At No. 9 on the Baseball America top 10 Nationals prospects list is 20-year-old shortstop Yasel Antuna. Antuna is from Peravia, D.R., and is a switch-hitter who battled injuries in 2019, which held him to only three games for the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Nationals. In 2018, Antuna played in 87 games for Single-A Hagerstown. The infielder slashed .220/.293/.331 with 14 doubles, two triples, six ... read more

Baseball America Nats No. 10 prospect: LHP Seth Romero

Counting down the Nationals' top 10 prospects in 2020, according to the latest Baseball America list, we begin at No. 10 with southpaw Seth Romero, the club's first-round selection in 2017. Romero worked his way back from Tommy John surgery last season and is expected to make his first appearance in minor league play since 2018. I caught up with him in last year's spring ... read more

FredNats on schedule for new stadium opening April 23

A top official for the Fredericksburg Nationals said the construction of the team's new home is on schedule, and that he is confident the venue will be ready for the 2020 season. The parent Nationals' high Single-A affiliate - formerly the Potomac Nationals or P-Nats - is moving to Fredericksburg, Va., from its previous home in Woodbridge, Va. The club began playing in Woodbridge in ... read more

Freeman's consistency and versatility keys to his success

Infielder/outfielder Cole Freeman has put together two of the most consistent seasons in his first two campaigns in the Nationals organization. Along the way, Freeman has proven his ability to excel as the level of competition intensified. In his first season out of LSU in 2018, Freeman played in 122 games with low Single-A Hagerstown, slashing .266/.354/.371 with 32 doubles, three triples, three homers, 26 ... read more

Nationals make few changes to minor league staffs

The Nationals are retaining the vast majority of their minor league coaches from this season, but several will be in new roles in 2020. Among the changes announced by the club today: Longtime Double-A Harrisburg manager Matt LeCroy is shifting to a roving position as quality control coordinator, Triple-A Fresno pitching coach Brad Holman is taking over as minor league pitching coordinator and Billy Gardner ... read more

Minor League Baseball refutes Major League Baseball's claims industry is "heavily subsidized"

In the ongoing discussion regarding Major League Baseball's intention to eliminate 42 minor league teams in 2020, the two sides met during the Winter Meetings in San Diego. Following the meetings, Minor League Baseball contends MLB misrepresented several of facts "repeatedly and inaccurately" pertaining to the conditions and financial burden undertaken by each team based on the current Professional Baseball Agreement (PBA). A detailed four-page ... read more

Reetz works on fundamentals as he moves up Nats chain

Nationals catcher Jakson Reetz finished off his 2019 campaign with work in the Arizona Fall League, batting .333 with a .519 slugging percentage. "It was awesome," Reetz said. "I was really happy that I got the chance to go and play. Nationals guys, I got to play with them. I got to meet a lot of other new guys. Our team was awesome. We had ... read more

Task force created to support minor league teams

Officials from two Nationals affiliates, the Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies and the low Single-A Hagerstown Suns, yesterday praised the creation of a task force organized by members of Congress to prevent Major League Baseball from eliminating 42 minor league franchises. U.S. Reps. Lori Trahan (D-Mass.), David McKinley (R-W.Va.), Max Rose (D-N.Y.), and Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) this week announced the formation of the Save Minor League Baseball ... read more

Double-A Harrisburg owner Mark Butler passes away at 61

The Double-A Harrisburg Senators this morning announced the sudden passing of principal owner and managing partner Mark Butler. Butler, the co-founder and CEO of Ollie's Bargain Outlet, died Sunday with his family, according to a company release. He was 61. "We are just numb. This is a tragic loss for our community. Mark was such an important part of the culture of our organization," said ... read more