Results tagged ‘ Jake Johansen ’

Nationals Named in Top 5 Under 25

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by Amanda Comak

Spring Training is the season of prospect lists. Industry insider Baseball America comes out with theirs, ESPN.com with their own, Baseball Prospectus chimes in, and MLB.com posts their updated rankings of the best up-and-coming talent in baseball in their Top 100 prospects, as well as organizational rankings.

farm graphicAs has been the case for the previous several years, the Washington Nationals are often viewed very favorably in those rankings as they continue, under President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo, to stockpile top young talent through the First-Year Player Draft and various trades.

But those lists usually focus on the still-developing talent in the Minor Leagues.

This week, Baseball Prospectus released its list of “25-and-under talent rankings,” a compilation of each organization’s best talent born after March, 1988 and a fascinating look at an organization’s youth and depth — even when that talent has already reached the Major Leagues.

“It’s hard enough to analyze immature and still-developing talents in their own context, but it’s even more demanding to compare those future Major Leaguers with the models they are aiming to become,” wrote Jason Parks in his introduction to the rankings. “It’s a thankless task that can get lost in the shuffle of the team prospect fury, but the compiled Under-25 lists are excellent snapshots of organizational health, at least as far as young, promising talent is concerned.”

The Nationals were ranked No. 2 in all of Major League Baseball.

From the article:

1. Stephen Strasburg (25)
2. Bryce Harper (21)
3. Lucas Giolito (19)
4. Anthony Rendon (23)
5. A.J. Cole (22)
6. Brian Goodwin (23)
7. Taylor Jordan (25)
8. Michael Taylor (22)
9. Jake Johansen (23)
10. Jefry Rodriguez (20)

Made MLB Debut? 4
Farm System Ranking: 18
Top 10 Prospects: RHP Lucas GiolitoRHP A.J. Cole, CF Brian Goodwin, CF Michael Taylor, RHP Jake Johansen, RHP Jefry Rodriguez, 1B Matt Skole, C Pedro Severino, RF Drew Vettleson, 3B Drew Ward
Prospects on the BP 101: 3
Top Prospect: Lucas Giolito
Summary: While the Nationals’ U25 list isn’t as deep as the Cardinals’, it offers an intriguing package of star power. Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper might be the best tandem in baseball for the next 10 years, and each offers an elite ceiling. Lucas Giolito is far from reaching his massive promise, but the trio of potential 8-grade ceilings at the top of Washington’s list is unmatched in baseball. For good measure, Washington has a potential all-star in Anthony Rendon and some solid role-5 guys at the back of its top 10. –Jordan Gorosh

Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, still just 29 despite the fact that he is about to appear in his 10th Major League season, often jokes that people think he’s old because he’s been around for so long. But in reality, 24 members of the Nationals’ projected 40-man roster will be under the age of 30 on Opening Day, 2014.

The rest of the rankings are fascinating in their own right, with the St. Louis Cardinals coming in just above the Nationals at No. 1 and the Atlanta Braves at No. 3, followed by the Pittsburgh Pirates and Miami Marlins. The bottom five (No.’s 26-30), according to these rankings: Los Angeles Angels, Detroit Tigers, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies and Milwaukee Brewers.

To read the full article, click here.

Nationals Youngsters Wrap Up Instructional League Camp

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by Mike Feigen

As the Nationals concluded the regular season and some of their top prospects prepared for the Arizona Fall League, other Nationals farmhands headed to Viera, Fla., to take part in the Instructional League.

Instructional League provides an opportunity for young players to continue their development by maximizing their strengths and working through their weaknesses in a controlled environment. It also allows executives, coaches and scouts to evaluate the progress players made during the year, and give further instruction as they head into the offseason.

Roughly 45-50 players participated this year, according to Mark Scialabba, Nationals Director of Minor League Operations. They ranged in age from 16-year-old third baseman Anderson Franco, one of the Nationals’ newest international signings, to Double-A infielder Jason Martinson, who celebrated his 25th birthday this past week. The camp also included a number of 2013 draft picks, who have yet to participate in Spring Training.

Ross Detwiler made great progress in the Instructional League.

Ross Detwiler made great progress in the Instructional League.

“Overall, it was a good camp,” Scialabba said. “It was about three-and-a-half weeks long, so it’s not an extremely long period of time – but when we’re on the field, we play the game hard.”

The Instructional League schedule is also helpful for rehabilitating Major Leaguers. This year they had left-hander Ross Detwiler, who did very well in his continued rehab from a back injury. Scialabba said everything was a success during Detwiler’s time in Viera, where he headed during the final weeks of the big league club’s season and pitched in game situations.

“Ross threw the ball really well,” Scialabba said. “He finished the camp healthy. Outing to outing he improved, and his fastball velocity was there. We couldn’t ask for anything more from Ross.”

For players with less experience than Detwiler, the Instructional League also helps prepare them for the length of a full big league season. Many Minor Leaguers see their game action come to an end around Labor Day, so the extra few weeks of baseball can be essential to their development. The extra playing time can particularly benefit players like 2012 first-round pick Lucas Giolito, who came back from Tommy John surgery to throw 36.2 innings between the Rookie Gulf Coast League Nationals and Short-Season A Auburn Doubledays this year.

“(Lucas) did a great job,” Scialabba said of the 6-foot-6 righty. “His stuff is off the charts and he has an electric arm. He has to learn to put away hitters with all three pitches, continue his development with PFP (pitchers’ fielding practice), hold runners and control the strike zone. We’re really pleased with his progression so far.”

Two other pitchers who earned high praise following their Instructional League performances were 2013 top pick Jake Johansen and young Dominican hurler Jefry Rodriguez.

Lucas Giolito continued to impress in his first full season of professional ball.

Lucas Giolito continued to impress in his first full season of professional ball.

Johansen, selected in the second round out of Dallas Baptist University, dominated in his first taste of Minor League action. The right-hander compiled a 1.06 ERA in 10 starts for Short-Season A Auburn, striking out 44 batters and allowing just 22 hits in 42.1 innings. Rodriguez, 20, went 3-0 with a 2.45 ERA for the GCL champion Nationals squad during the 2013 season and continued his progression in the Instructional League. Scialabba said the lean, 6-foot-5 right-hander touched 96 miles per hour with a good curveball in Viera, giving Nats fans another young arm to keep an eye on for the future.

On the offensive side of the ball, Scialabba singled out 2013 third-rounder Drew Ward and 20-year-old catcher Pedro Severino as stars of the Instructional League camp.

“Drew Ward really shined,” Scialabba said of the 18-year-old third baseman, who completed high school a year early to enter the draft. “He’s mature beyond his years; not only physically, but mentally. He has very good plate discipline for a young player, with a very short stroke that stays in the zone for a long period of time.

“Pedro is a young catcher with tremendous makeup. He’s a high-energy guy who has worked really hard at learning the English language. He has a contact bat, but his value is going to be his defense. He has a cannon behind the plate.”

When camp wrapped up a week ago, the final step for the Nationals participants was to receive their offseason workout plans and get their nutritional programs in order. Most players will take a break from baseball and start hitting the weights in the next few weeks, before ramping up their baseball activity closer to Spring Training.

Scialabba also said some select players will return to Viera this November for a newly implemented winter conditioning program. The extra instruction will give the staff yet another opportunity to ensure the young talent throughout the organization stays on course for a successful 2014 season.

Not A Minor Accomplishment

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The Washington Nationals farm system hasn’t so much met expectations in 2013 as it’s surpassed every one.

Ranked the No. 13 farm system overall in the preseason by Baseball America, the Nationals have surged to the third-best organizational record at 403-322 (.558) overall, trailing only Houston (.572) and San Francisco (.564). Three of Washington’s seven affiliates are playoff-bound, with a fourth in a close division race.

None of this is entirely unexpected either. Under the guidance of President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo, the Nats have gone from the Minor League cellar six years ago to a brief stint at No. 1 in last year’s Baseball America preseason rankings. Not to mention that this farm system has cultivated such talent as Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg and Anthony Rendon. In fact, 11 players on Washington’s active roster have come through its Minor League system.

Lucas Giolito, Washington's top pick in 2012, was recently promoted to Short-Season Auburn.

Lucas Giolito, Washington’s top pick in 2012, was recently promoted to Short-Season Auburn.

Perhaps most remarkable has been the Gulf Coast League Nationals, which have notched the most impressive mark in all of professional baseball. Since the season began on June 21, the Rookie-level entry has gone 48-9 (.842), better than even the tremendous run by the Los Angeles Dodgers, who posted a 47-12 (.797) record in the same span. The GCL Nationals lead their division by 24.0 games, have 13 more wins than the next best team in the league, and clinched their playoff spot long ago.

Obviously, such a run requires more than just luck. The GCL Nationals are tops in the league in most meaningful statistical categories. Their 2.49 team ERA and .279 team batting average pace the field, while their 5.52 runs per game is more than six-tenths of a run better than the next closest total. They boast the league’s leader and runner-up in ERA among qualifiers, 21-year-old righty Wander Suero (8-1, 1.65) and 20-year-old southpaw Hector Silvestre (7-0, 1.82). Righty Lucas Giolito, the Nationals’ No. 2 prospect, drafted 16th overall out of high school in 2012, has returned from Tommy John surgery and was recently promoted to Short-Season Auburn in the New York-Penn League after notching a 2.78 ERA and 25 strikeouts over 22.2 innings in the Gulf Coast League.

Like the GCL Nats, the High-A Potomac Nationals have put up ridiculous numbers in the Carolina League. Potomac is 81-51 overall, having already locked up a playoff spot by winning the Northern Division’s first-half championship with a 42-27 record. They’re currently 7.5 games up on Lynchburg in the second half, and will earn home-field advantage in all three Carolina League Division Series contests if they secure the second half title as well.

Walters has shown great pop for a middle infielder, sitting on the brink of a 30-home run season.

Zach Walters has shown great pop for a middle infielder, sitting on the brink of a 30-home run season.

Cutter Dykstra has helped pace Potomac on its most recent tear. During the P-Nats recent 10-game winning streak (August 10-20), the infielder racked up a .316/.447/.421 line. He also reached base in a league-best 29 games, putting together an 18-game hitting streak in the process. Meanwhile, right-hander Blake Schwartz is 11-4 with a 2.56 ERA and leads the league with a 1.03 WHIP.

The Low-A Hagerstown Suns (77-53) are also headed to the postseason, while the Double-A Harrisburg Senators (72-63) are a half-game up in their Eastern League division, where the top two teams reach the playoffs. The Suns are pacing the South Atlantic League with 5.03 runs per game, benefitting from a fairly balanced lineup. They’ve also recently added 2013 draft pick Jake Johansen, who was 1-1 with a 1.06 ERA and a 9.4 K/9 rate with Auburn. The Senators, meanwhile, boast a pitching staff that leads the league with a 3.46 ERA. Nationals third-rated prospect A.J. Cole — who earned the save in the 2013 Futures Game — is sitting at 3-2 with a 2.58 ERA since being promoted in late July.

Though the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs have posted just a 65-72 record, they have their bright spots as well in prospects like Jeff Kobernus and Zach Walters. Kobernus served a brief stint in the big leagues and earned International League Player of the Week honors for the week of August 12-18. He leads the team and is second among Nationals farmhands with a .324 batting average. Walters, meanwhile, has slugged 29 home runs, 10 more than the next closest total in the organization. The infielder has posted a .531 slugging percentage on the season, especially impressive from the shortstop position.

Top 10 List

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The 2013 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft concludes Saturday with rounds 11-50 taking place this afternoon. On Friday, the Nationals completed the first 10 rounds of selections, snagging eight amateur players to join their second-round selection Jake Johansen, who was taken on Thursday night. Here is a brief overview of the first 10 rounds of Washington’s latest draft class.

RD.   PICK        NAME                     POS.      HT.      WT.      B-T        SCHOOL

2       68            Jake Johansen      RHP       6’6”      235      R-R        Dallas Baptist

3       105           Drew Ward           3B        6’4″      210      L-R        Leedy (OK) HS

4       136           Nicholas Pivetta    RHP      6’5″      210      R-R        New Mexico JC

5       166           Austin Voth         RHP      6’2″      210      R-R        U. Washington

6       196          Cody Gunter         3B        6’3″      195      L-R        Grayson Cnty (TX) JC

7       226          James Yezzo         1B        6’1″      190      L-R        U. Delaware

8       256          David Napoli          LHP       5’10”      180      R-L        Tulane (LA)

9        185         Jake Joyce             RHP      6’0″      185      R-R        Virginia Tech

10      316         Brennan Middleton  SS      6’0″      185      R-R        Tulane (LA)

Check out our detailed report of Johansen, who took no time at all in becoming the first player of the draft class to sign with the club. In the meantime, here’s more on some other notable names on the list. Drew Ward is a unique case, having graduated high school early to make himself Draft eligible after what would have been his junior year. Already 6’4”, 210 pounds at just 18 years of age, the Oklahoma University commit is the highest position player selected by Washington this year.

The Nationals also selected a pair of junior college pitchers as well as a pair of Tulane University teammates on the second day of the Draft. But perhaps the player who stands out the most from the college ranks is seventh-rounder James Yezzo, a left-handed hitting first baseman who becomes the first player selected out of the University of Delaware since 2010. Yezzo led the Colonial Athletic Conference in a host of offensive categories on his way to Conference Player of the Year honors and a first-team All-American selection by Louisville Slugger.

The 2013 First-Year Player Draft concludes Saturday night while the Nationals are taking on the Twins.

Another Arm in the Stable

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When fans of teams other than the Nationals think of Washington’s recent First-Year Player Draft history, they tend to focus on the pair of No. 1 overall picks, Stephen Strasburg from 2009 and Bryce Harper a year later.

However, Nationals fans know as well as anyone how important the second round of the draft can be. They drafted Jordan Zimmermann in the second round in 2007 out of little-known Wisconsin-Stevens Point, and two years later found another big leaguer in the recently promoted Jeff Kobernus. When their first pick came around at No. 68 this year, took the route they traveled six years ago, again daring to dream on a powerful, right-handed arm from a small school in Jake Johansen, a 6-foot-6 hurler out of Dallas Baptist University.

Johansen gives the Nationals another powerful, right-handed arm.

Johansen gives the Nationals another powerful, right-handed arm. (Paul Metzgar/Dallas Baptist)

There were differing opinions of Johansen from the draft experts, but ESPN’s resident guru Keith Law had the Allen, Texas native ranked 63rd on his board heading into Thursday night. The Nationals liked what they saw, especially Director of Scouting Kris Kline, who watched Johansen pitch twice in games this year before inviting him to a workout in D.C. earlier this week.

“This is what we seek when we go out to the ballpark every day,” said Kline of finding a player like Johansen among the countless hours of driving around the country scouting amateur players.

Kline does not like to make Major League comparisons when discussing draft selections, but he conceded that Johansen’s arm action and delivery very were similar to that of Josh Beckett, another hard-throwing Texan.

With a fastball that can top out in triple digits, Johansen’s upside is obvious. Kline says he usually sits around 94 with his fastball, which is complemented by a pair of breaking balls – a hard cutter/slider that he throws around 88-90 and a curveball. Kline suggests that the former is already an out pitch, but sees both developing as the Nationals coaching staff gets a chance to work with him.

“There’s no reason why, with a few tweaks from our staff, this guy can’t be a front-line guy,” said Kline, who went on to compare him to Washington’s first selection in last year’s draft. “If you put him next to (Lucas) Giolito, you’ve got some pretty good-looking bookends.”

Of course, the Nationals had the different experience of patiently sitting through more than four hours of proceedings before they could finally make their pick. While that’s a good thing in the larger view of it all – drafting later means you’re performing better on the field at the Major League level – it was nonetheless a relief to finally be able to choose the player they hoped would be available after all that time.

“I’m glad he fell into our laps at 68,” said Kline. “When I called him up, I said, ‘Are you as excited as I am? I’ve been waiting all night for this.’”

The 2013 First-Year Player Draft continues Friday at 1 p.m. with selection number 74. The Nationals next selection does not come until the 105th pick.

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