The minor league season is now in full swing. Teams have played five series, each of them lasting six games (with a few postponements along the way). So we’re starting to get a better sample size to evaluate players’ performances.
The Nationals farm system, as has been well documented, is a work in progress. But there have been signs of life in recent weeks, with some familiar names beginning to perform as hoped and a few newcomers beginning to make a name for themselves.
Here’s a rundown of the Nats’ four affiliates as they enter their sixth week of the season ...
Run Differential: minus-17
Team Offensive Stats: .240 AVG, .336 OBP, .390 SLG, .726 OPS, 144 R, 35 HR, 134 BB, 252 SO
Team Pitching Stats: 5.22 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, .261 OPP AVG, 29 HR, 128 BB, 263 SO
Highlights: Things have started to take a turn for the better in Rochester, which just won four of six against Worcester and scored 18 runs in two of those wins, 12 in another. Luis García, fresh off his brief stint with the Nationals, is on a tear at the plate, winning the league’s Player of the Week honors and batting .284 with seven homers, a .349 on-base percentage and .875 OPS overall. Carter Kieboom has also seen his production increase, though overall he’s still only batting .237 with three homers, a .396 on-base percentage and .764 OPS. Right fielder Daniel Palka leads the team with seven homers and a .934 OPS. The rotation continues to struggle, with hefty ERAs for Rogelio Armenteros (6.04), Ben Braymer (7.25), Jefry Rodríguez (7.56), Tyler Eppler (8.20) and Steven Fuentes (14.09). Newly signed lefty Josh Rogers, though, had a nice debut (one run in 5 2/3 innings). Justin Miller (0.68 ERA, 0.75 WHIP) and Dakota Bacus (2.03 ERA, 1.20 WHIP) lead the bullpen.
Run Differential: minus-31
Team Offensive Stats: .183 AVG, .267 OBP, .289 SLG, .556 OPS, 84 R, 18 HR, 87 BB, 278 SO
Team Pitching Stats: 3.46 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, .222 OPP AVG, 31 HR, 88 BB, 236 SO
Highlights: Pitching isn’t the problem in Harrisburg. The Senators own the league’s second-lowest ERA. Hitting is the problem, as evidenced by the league’s lowest batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage, not to mention the fact the team has hit 18 total home runs in 29 games. Right fielder Rhett Wiseman (.210/.310/.500) is the only position player with an OPS over .800. Catcher Jakson Reetz (.266/.390/.359) hasn’t hit for power, but is reaching base at a nice clip. First baseman Drew Mendoza is batting .160, but has four homers and a .308 on-base percentage. The rotation has been fair: Carson Teel (3.55 ERA, 1.03 WHIP), Tim Cate (4.25 ERA, 1.36 WHIP) and Mario Sanchez (4.26 ERA, 1.26 WHIP) have been the best of the group. The real stars are in the bullpen, with Gabe Klobosits (20 strikeouts, four walks in 11 2/3 innings) and Frankie Bartow (11 strikeouts, two walks in nine innings) each sporting 0.00 ERAs. Andrew Lee (0.71 ERA, 0.71 WHIP) is right behind them.
HIGH SINGLE-A WILMINGTON
Run Differential: minus-11
Team Offensive Stats: .216 AVG, .296 OBP, .364 SLG, .660 OPS, 117 R, 34 HR, 90 BB, 279 SO
Team Pitching Stats: 4.15 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, .232 OPP AVG, 25 HR, 121 BB, 305 SO
Highlights: Pitching remains the story in Wilmington, headlined by 2020 first-round pick Cade Cavalli (2.14 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 56 strikeouts, 10 walks in 33 2/3 innings). Second-round pick Cole Henry, though, isn’t far behind (3.00 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 35 strikeouts, eight walks in 24 innings). Jackson Rutledge, the 2019 first-round pick, remains on the injured list with a shoulder injury, but it’s not believed to be serious. Matt Cronin (1.46 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 23 strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings) and Alex Troop (1.93 ERA, 0.93 WHIP) lead the bullpen. As a team, the Blue Rocks aren’t hitting well, but several individuals have good numbers: right fielder Gage Canning (.281/.373/.563), third baseman Jake Alu (.265/.342/.559). Catcher Israel Pineda is batting a scant .136, but leads the team with six homers. Shortstop Yasel Antuna (.096/.200/.253) continues to struggle.
LOW SINGLE-A FREDERICKSBURG
Run Differential: minus-123
Team Offensive Stats: .194 AVG, .292 OBP, .248 SLG, .540 OPS, 97 R, 9 HR, 112 BB, 294 SO
Team Pitching Stats: 5.85 ERA, 1.64 WHIP, .267 OPP AVG, 36 HR, 148 BB, 290 SO
Highlights: Don’t let the awful numbers fool you. The FredNats are on a roll, having gone 8-5 since their historic 0-15 start to the season! Helping lead the turnaround is lefty Mitchell Parker, who owns a 3.29 ERA and 1.28 WHIP in six starts, and recently tossed six scoreless innings in back-to-back outings with only one total hit surrendered. Jeremy de la Rosa, the 19-year-old Dominican prospect who recently joined the roster, is off to a slow start (.169/.246/.237 in 15 games).