Nats prospect Cole Henry way ahead of game as 2021 approaches

Here is an update on the Nationals' 2020 second-round draft selection, right-hander Cole Henry. The 6-foot-4, 211-lb., Henry was LSU's No. 1 starter in the most recent abbreviated season. He is rated as the Nats No. 4 overall prospect on MLBPipeline.com. Although the Tigers were only able to get four weekends of play in due to the coronavirus pandemic shutdown, Henry still managed to go ... read more

Report: Nats in Rochester on 10-year deal, but Richmond still in play

Two and a half years ago, the Nationals agreed to a two-year deal to have their Triple-A team play out of Fresno, Calif., after they lost their affiliation deal with Syracuse to the Mets. But now the Nationals have agreed to move to Rochester, N.Y., for what is reported to be a long-term affiliation. Kevin Reichard, founder and publisher of the Ballpark Digest, appearing on ... read more

Nats moving Triple-A affiliate to Rochester (updated)

The Nationals will play Triple-A baseball in Rochester, N.Y., in 2021, a club source has confirmed. The Nats' contract with the Fresno Grizzlies of the Pacific Coast League expired after last season. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Nats ended up playing only 140 games affiliated with Fresno. There is no confirmation how long the Nats' contract is with Rochester. The Nats had a two-year ... read more

Hitting updates on Antuna, Wilson and Pineda

Here are more capsules on a few of the Nationals' prospects and how they did this summer at the recently wrapped up instructional league, coming from Nats hitting coordinator Troy Gingrich. The Nats' No. 12 prospect is infielder Yasel Antuna, who begins play in the Dominican winter league starting tomorrow. He is listed as playing third base and shortstop. Gingrich said there was a good ... read more

Cornell watched Harper to help refine swing

One of the Nationals' nine free agent signings last summer was Zach Cornell out of Southeastern University. The left-handed hitting outfielder was Baseball America's Preseason NAIA Player of the Year entering the 2020 season. In 27 games at Southeastern prior to the coronavirus shutdown, he hit .519 (56-for-108) with 12 doubles, two triples, 10 home runs, 12 walks, 44 RBIs and 43 runs scored. Cornell, ... read more

Uncertainty abounds in minor league reorganization

There is so much uncertainty surrounding the 2021 season, even as the calendar creeps forward and pitchers and catchers are due to report for spring training in three months. And the uncertainty extends well beyond the major league season. If anything, there's even more uncertainty at this moment about the state of Minor League Baseball in 2021. As you probably know by now, Major League ... read more

Updates on catchers Pineda and Reetz

Here are updates on a couple of backstops the Nationals have high hopes for heading into 2021. Assistant general manager of player development Mark Scialabba said Israel Pineda has gotten a lot of notice for his power stroke, while 2014 third-round selection Jakson Reetz showed solid progress in 2019 and into the alternate training site this summer. Israel Pineda, 20 5-foot-11, 190 lbs.Bats: Right Throws: ... read more

Updates on young outfielders Quintana, Marte and De La Rosa

Here is a rundown of some of the outfielders that got in significant work during fall instructional league, which wrapped up last week in West Palm Beach, Fla. Nationals assistant general manager of player development Mark Scialabba detailed the play of three outfielders from the roster that worked out in October at the spring training facility. "There is really a group of three young Latin ... read more

Scialabba on progress of draft picks and free agents

Here are updates on how some of the Nationals draft class looked at instructional league workouts, which concluded last week in West Palm Beach, Fla. The players the Nats drafted in 2020 - right-handers Cade Cavalli, Holden Powell and Cole Henry, left-hander Mitchell Parker, infielder Sammy Infante and catcher Brady Lindsly - participated in instructional league during the month of October. Several 2020 undrafted free ... read more

Scialabba on instructional league, Cavalli's progress

The Nationals wrapped up their fall instructional league camp last week in West Palm Beach, Fla. Sixty-five players and more than 30 coaches, coordinators and training staff took part in the five-week workout. Assistant general manager of player development Mark Scialabba spoke about how the camp worked: "It was a great camp. Obviously, very thankful that we had support from ownership to allow us to ... read more

Updates on Rutledge and Denaburg's progress from Florida

Here are a couple of updates on a pair of former Nationals first-round selections in Jackson Rutledge and Mason Denaburg. Both attended instructional league for the last month. Rutledge, 21, was the Nats' top pick in 2019 and has appeared in 10 games. The right-hander loves to employ analytics to study his stuff, but Nats minor league pitching coordinator Brad Holman said he concentrated on ... read more

Teenagers Tomlin and Infante learning what it takes to succeed at pro level

Fall instructional league workouts are completed for 2020. Now these Nationals prospects head home or get ready to play winter ball. It was interesting to hear updates on how the first professional experience was for a pair of teenagers. Infielders Quade Tomlin and Sammy Infante got their first taste of pro ball for the last month at the Nats spring training facility in West Palm ... read more

Cluff makes plate adjustments to take advantage of quick-twitch strengths

A couple of weeks ago, we got an update on shortstop Jackson Cluff and how much he valued his time this summer at the alternate training site in Fredericksburg. Cluff, 23, appreciated the opportunity to stand in against big league pitchers and learned a great deal about what it takes to be a professional baseball player and how to maintain at this level from veteran ... read more

Mendoza focusing on shortening path to ball, increasing power

Nationals fall instructional league workouts wrap up over the weekend. Players now prepare for offseason conditioning and some will get extra at-bats in winter league competition. Rain has prevented the Nats from playing the intended full schedule, with over 20 inches of rain falling on South Florida during this month. I got the opportunity to check in with Nats hitting coordinator Troy Gingrich this week ... read more

Parker focused on fastball, curveball and splitter during Florida workouts

Nationals 2020 fifth-round draft selection Mitchell Parker got into to his first professional instructional league intrasquad game this week against the Marlins. The left-hander threw two scoreless innings for the Nats. Instructional league workouts continue until Oct. 28 in West Palm Beach, Fla., at the Nats spring training facility. "I had my first game against another jersey," Parker said. "It was fun. It was enjoyable. ... read more

Lee's summer work paying off in instructional league

"Bring it on!" That's how left-handed pitcher Evan Lee greeted me as we started to talk about his baseball summer during Nationals fall instructional league workouts and games in West Palm Beach, Fla., this month. You can tell by that reaction that Lee brings that same attitude to the mound when handed the ball for the Nats. Lee, 23, is currently pitching for the Nats ... read more

Cluff values Fredericksburg experience, now continues instruction in Florida

In late September, we got a chance to check in with shortstop Jackson Cluff, who spent the last month of the season at the Nationals alternate training site in Fredericksburg, Va. Cluff is rated as the No. 20 Nats prospect by MLBPipeline.com. He played his first season of pro ball at low single-A Hagerstown. Cluff said it was exciting to get a chance to work ... read more

2020 Nationals fall instructional league roster and schedule

MASNsports.com has obtained a copy of the Nationals' official fall instructional league 65-player roster for 2020. Players in attendance whom MLBPipeline.com lists as top Nats prospects include pitchers Jackson Rutledge, Cade Cavalli, Tim Cate, Mason Denaburg, Cole Henry, Andry Lara, Eddy Yean, Matt Cronin and Seth Romero, who is on a major league rehab assignment with a broken right hand. Top 20 rated Nats position ... read more

With no minor leagues, Cavalli made most of alternate camp

Cade Cavalli could justifiably look at the summer of 2020 and be bitter he missed out on his first season of professional baseball. With no minor leagues and no opponents to face, the Nationals' first-round pick could only spend the last two months working out every single day at the club's alternate training site in Fredericksburg, pitching simulated games to the same group of hitters ... read more

Updates on Espino, Eppler, Fuentes, Romero and Irvin

Nationals minor league pitching coordinator Brad Holman really likes the curveball of right-hander Paolo Espino. He remembers working with Espino while they both were with the Rangers in 2017. In the second part of our series on pitchers on the 60-man player pool in Fredericksburg, we highlight the veteran Espino and others. Last week, we focused on top pitching prospects Jackson Rutledge and Cade Cavalli. ... read more

Cronin refining curveball as he works toward big league goal

Lots of chatter from the Nationals recently about how well Matt Cronin is doing at the alternate training site. The left-hander has been dominant and has had the opportunity to showcase his stuff against experienced Nats hitters. "It was a little bit of an adjustment at first just facing more seasoned hitters," Cronin said. "Guys who knew the zone a little better and are used ... read more

Rutledge working on fastball command, improving changeup

Nationals top pitching prospect Jackson Rutledge has worked on commanding his fastball and curveball during his bullpen sessions and simulated games at the alternate training site in Fredericksburg. As Nats minor league pitching coordinator Brad Holman told me this week, it's all about moving the ball around the strike zone instead of narrowly avoiding it. "It's definitely been the emphasis during camp," Rutledge said during ... read more

Cavalli and Rutledge bringing the heat in Fredericksburg

Top Nationals pitching prospects Cade Cavalli and Jackson Rutledge continue to get their work in at the alternate training site in Fredericksburg, Va., under the direction of minor league pitching coordinator Brad Holman and the coaching staff. Rutledge is currently ranked No. 3 and Cavalli No. 4 in the latest MLBpipeline.com top 30 Nationals prospects list. "Well, obviously both those guys are extremely talented," Holman ... read more

Denaburg recovering from shoulder cleanup: "All reports have been positive"

Right-hander Mason Denaburg, the Nationals' top overall selection from the 2018 First-Year Player Draft, has been been progressing well from a shoulder cleanout we reported earlier this winter. Three of the Nats' top four first-round selections the past four drafts are in the current 60-man player pool, including Cade Cavalli, Jackson Rutledge and Seth Romero. Because he is undergoing rehab following the procedure on his ... read more

All in the family as Quade Tomlin signs with the Nats

The Nationals stayed in the family when they signed middle infielder Quade Tomlin as an undrafted free agent this week. Tomlin's father, Randy Tomlin, was the pitching coach for the Double-A Harrisburg Senators in 2011, spending many years working with Nats prospects. Randy Tomlin was his son's coach at Liberty Christian Academy in Lynchburg, Va. During his tenure as coach, the high school has won ... read more

Brzykcy brings 100 mph fastball to future Nats bullpen

The Nationals confirmed Wednesday that they have agreed to terms with nine undrafted free agents, including Virginia Tech right-handed fireballer Zach Brzykcy. The others agreeing to deals with the Nats were catcher Ray Torres IV, infielders Quade Tomlin, Gio Diaz and Brian Klein, right-hander Edward Ureña, outfielders Zach Cornell and Landon Dieterich, and slugging first baseman Jackson Coutts. Brzykcy springboarded into his junior season in ... read more

Updates on Nats pitching prospects Denaburg and Parker

More on Nationals pitching prospects from undrafted free agent Ray Torres IV. The catcher agreed to a deal with the Nats last week out of San Jacinto College North. Torres played for the Central Florida Gators, an elite travel team that included several top selections in the 2018 First-Year Player Draft. The Gators boast two national titles and 49 college commitments. One of the pitchers ... read more

Minor league season officially canceled

It had been a foregone conclusion for some time, but today's official announcement nonetheless hurts baseball fans around the world: The 2020 minor league season has been canceled. The announcement came after Major League Baseball informed Minor League Baseball it will not be providing its affiliated teams with players this season. MLB clubs have designated 60 players who may appear during the planned 60-game major ... read more

Torres felt "natural knack for catching" early on

Last week, we had San Jacinto College North baseball coach Tom Arrington preview catcher Ray Torres IV, who has reportedly agreed to join the Nationals organization as an undrafted free agent. Torres got the call from the Nats after the draft and agreed to terms, forgoing a scholarship offer to LSU. He told me he was ready to go pro after high school last year, ... read more

College coach on Rutledge: "He's a complete ballplayer"

Right-hander Jackson Rutledge started 10 games in the Nationals farm system in 2019, split between the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, short-season Single-A Auburn and low Single-A Hagerstown. Rutledge was the Nats' first-round pick in the 2019 First-Year Player Draft after playing for head coach Tom Arrington at San Jacinto College North. The big right-hander was a part of a trio of starters that led the ... read more

Nationals again look to build depth through draft

Sean Doolittle, Adam Eaton and Yan Gomes. All three players are prime examples of where the Nationals needed top-flight major league talent to compete for a title, but did not necessarily have that guy in their system at the time. All three made significant contributions on their road to winning the 2019 World Series. In the middle of 2019, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo brought ... read more

Nationals' "simple" approach in Dominican has paid major dividends

The Nationals have done a very good job in their scouting over the years in the Dominican Republic, especially recently with the signings of Victor Robles, Juan Soto and Wander Suero. Suero was signed in 2010. Robles inked his deal in 2013 and Soto in 2015. Nationals vice president and assistant general manager of international operations Johnny DiPuglia has spent many years scouting and fostering ... read more

Rundown of Nats' minor league roster cuts

Here is a rundown of the late May roster cuts by the Nationals of minor league players. Unfortunately, the shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic has now stretched on for two months, putting into jeopardy a minor league season altogether. Keon Barnum, 1B, 606 career minor league games, free agent signing Dante Bichette Jr., 3B, 73 games for Double-A Harrisburg Adalberto Carrillo, C, 42 games ... read more

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