The first week of the minor league season is complete, and for the first time in two years, we actually have some box scores and stats to pore through and get a sense of the state of the Nationals farm system.
The Nats’ four full-season affiliates are off to a rough start record-wise, but there have been some notable individual performances so far. Let’s run through each of the clubs, with some notable developments from the last week.
Keep in mind that with COVID-19 protocols, the schedule this season features six-game series against every opponent, so at this point each affiliate has only faced one opponent six times.
Run Differential: minus-7
Team Offensive Stats: .228 AVG, .327 OBP, .347 SLG, .675 OPS, 29 R, 5 HR, 27 BB, 57 SO
Team Pitching Stats: 5.68 ERA, 1.60 WHIP, .251 OPP AVG, 1 HR, 32 BB, 46 SO
Highlights: The Red Wings dropped three straight one-run games to Lehigh Valley to open the season. Jake Noll is off to the best start at the plate, hitting .353 with a .977 OPS in five games. Luis García, who is getting a chance to lead off, has two homers but is just 5-for-25 with two walks and seven strikeouts overall. Carter Kieboom had a rough opening night (0-for-5, four strikeouts) but is 5-for-14 with five RBIs, one walk and two strikeouts since. Gerardo Parra is 3-for-14 with four walks. The rotation has had a rough go of it so far; only Ben Braymer has completed five innings so far, and the lefty gave up three runs. Rogelio Armenteros (2 1/3 innings, five runs), Steven Fuentes (3 2/3 innings, eight runs) and Jefry Rodriguez (six walks in two-thirds of an inning) had rough season debuts. The bullpen, headlined by Dakota Bacus, Bryan Bonnell, T.J. McFarland and Ryne Harper, has been much better with a collective 3.28 ERA.
Run Differential: minus-16
Team Offensive Stats: .120 AVG, .217 OBP, .223 SLG, .440 OPS, 13 R, 4 HR, 20 BB, 66 SO
Team Pitching Stats: 3.49 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, .247 OPP AVG, 8 HR, 28 BB, 42 SO
Highlights: In winning just one game of their season-opening series at Somerset, the Senators were ice-cold at the plate, getting shutout twice and held to two or fewer runs two more times. Rhett Wiseman (3-for-14, two homers) is off to best start of the bunch. Cole Freeman and Drew Mendoza have also each homered once. Jakson Reetz is 1-for-11, but has drawn five walks. Cody Wilson, who began the season on the Nationals roster as a COVID-19 replacement, is 1-for-19. Shortstop Jackson Cluff is 1-for-21. Lefty Tim Cate has given up 11 runs (nine earned) in eight innings, serving up four homers. Righty Sterling Sharp, back in the organization after the Marlins weren’t able to keep him as a Rule 5 draftee last year, gave up eight runs (three earned) in 2 2/3 innings in his debut.
HIGH SINGLE-A WILMINGTON
Run Differential: minus-17
Team Offensive Stats: .192 AVG, .238 OBP, .254 SLG, .492 OPS, 14 R, 3 HR, 10 BB, 52 SO
Team Pitching Stats: 5.17 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, .226 OPP AVG, 3 HR, 31 BB, 56 SO
Highlights: After dropping five straight to Aberdeen to begin the season, the Blue Rocks finally notched their first win Sunday afternoon. Jackson Rutledge, the Nats’ 2019 first-round pick, was on the mound for that victory, making his second start of the season. The tall righty has battled command problems early, issuing seven walks in 7 2/3 innings. Far more impressive in his professional debut was 2020 first round pick Cade Cavalli, who tossed five scoreless innings, striking out seven while putting only three men on base. Joan Adon (five innings, two runs) also had a nice season debut. Outfielder Justin Connell (8-for-20) has been the best offensive performer to date, followed by second baseman Kyle Marinconz (5-for-19, homer, five RBIs). Two young prospects are struggling at the plate: shortstop Yasel Antuna (0-for-17, three walks, eight strikeouts) and catcher Israel Pineda (1-for-20, zero walks, three strikeouts).
LOW SINGLE-A FREDERICKSBURG
Run Differential: minus-50
Team Offensive Stats: .151 AVG, .277 OBP, .199 SLG, .476 OPS, 15 R, 1 HR, 27 BB, 75 SO
Team Pitching Stats: 9.19 ERA, 2.13 WHIP, .338 OPP AVG, 9 HR, 29 BB, 51 SO
Highlights: Nobody is more excited to return home than the FredNats, who were swept in Lynchburg and outscored 35-6 in their first two games alone. More importantly, tonight is the long-awaited opener of the new ballpark in Fredericksburg, which perhaps will produce the team’s first win since relocating from Woodbridge. Jake Randa (3-for-15, four RBIs, six walks) has the highest OPS on the roster at .695. There have been some solid pitching performances to date, led by Rodney Theophile (four innings, one unearned run), Pedro Gonzalez (3 1/3 innings, three unearned runs) and Mitchell Parker (four innings, two runs, seven strikeouts).