The first thing you need to know about The Fish Watch is that it’s not a list of sleepers. It is instead a list of players at various points in their respective minor league journeys that for one reason or another have piqued my interest enough that I am watching their development more closely than the bulk of prospects out there. To read more about this project, check out the introduction and master list.
Obviously since the season is over and some teams have had two updates, some have only had one and the NL West teams have had zero coverage thus far, this project did not work out as I had planned on many levels. Undeterred I’m going to sally forth and finish off this round of updates and call it good. Next season if I attempt this again I’m going to have to make some major changes to the structure, plan and concept of this series.
Feel free to check out the category archive to read previous installments of the series.
Washington Nationals (S2S 2012 Nationals Team Prospect List)
OF – Kevin Keyes (23) – Nationals 2010 7th Round Pick
Coming into this season, Keyes was just barely hanging on to the 30th and final spot in Baseball America’s Nationals Top-30. In 2012 he continued to flash an intriguing power bat with 21 HR and 27 2B and did so in a league that favors pitchers. However his LD% dropped off sharply from 18.5 to 11.1% while his OFB% jumped 5.8% to 37.5. All in all Keyes failed to make as much solid contact as consistently as he did in 2011 and that’s a problem since his value as a prospect is almost entirely tied to his ability to hit the ball and hit it hard.
If you’re looking for a little positivity here, there are two things you can point to. The first is that despite moving up a level, he kept his K% mostly in check. Instead of that rate spiking, it increased just 1.5 points to 24.8%. The second positive is that his isolated power (ISO) was almost identical to last season (0.247 in 2011, 0.242 in 2012). I don’t believe either thing is enough to keep him in BA’s rankings or elsewhere, but we shouldn’t lose sight of him completely given his power potential. Keyes will turn 24 in March and while his performance this season does not merit a move to Double-A Harrisburg for 2013, such an assignment might be in the best interests of the team and player alike.
RHP – Cameron Selik (25) – Nationals 2010 22nd Round Pick
After spending most of 2011 in the rotation, Selik pitched exclusively out of the bullpen in 2012 and was showing some very positive signs as a result. Chief among those was the stellar 34-3 SO-to-BB and 13.9 SO/9 in just 22.0 innings of work.
He was promoted to Double-A Harrisburg at the start of June and made his first appearance for the Senators on June 5th. Unfortunately he recorded just one out – on 10 pitches – before exiting with an injury. It was later revealed that Selik had torn his right latissimus dorsi muscle and was lost for the rest of the season.
The injury was a shame as he was really hitting his stride just before his promotion. He put together a 2.08 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 23-2 SO-to-BB in 13.0 innings during the month of May. Losing half a season is never a good thing but he should be able to bounce back and return to Potomac in 2013.
3B – Matthew Skole (23) – Nationals 2011 5th Round Pick
2011 – Auburn (A-): 0.290/.382/.438, 23 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 42 BB and 52 SO in 319 PA
2012 – Hagerstown: 0.286/.438/.574, 18 2B, 0 3B, 27 HR, 10 SB, 94 BB and 116 SO in 448 PA
2012 – Potomac: 0.314/.355/.486, 10 2B, 1 3B, 0 HR, 1 SB, 5 BB and 17 SO in 76 PA
What we saw from Skole in his time with Hagerstown is exactly the type of player his pre-draft profile hinted he could become. His excellent power potential was on display as was his patience at the plate. While he struck out in 25.9% of his plate appearances – a less than desirable rate – he also walked in 21.0% of them.
As John Sickels noted in his 2012 prospect book, Skole had an awful platoon split in 2011 hitting just 0.203/.298/.284 off of left-handed pitching (84 PA). That concern has been all but eliminated at this point as the young 3B crushed lefties to the tune of 0.295/.419/.558 in 161 PA with the Suns and carried that forward to Potomac where he hit 0.300/.364/.400 off LHP in 11 PA.
For a power bat, Skole was also very consistent over the course of the season. In the four months he faced SAL pitching, his single month OBP never dipped 0.400 and his SLG never got below 0.510. He also adapted very well to his mid-August promotion to the Eastern League. Despite a sharp drop in his BB rate, he still hit well overall and closed the season with a 0.351/.415/.486 line in his last 10 games.
He wasn’t on Washington’s initial list of players heading to the Arizona Fall League, but Skole has since been added to the Salt River Rafters roster. He will join fellow Nationals 3B prospect Anthony Rendon in the AFL and look to build upon what was an excellent and successful 2012 season. His stint in Double-A lasted just 18 games, but it’s not unreasonable to think that a strong AFL performance will propel him to an opening assignment with the Syracuse Chiefs (AAA) in 2013.
For more on the Washington Nationals, check out District on Deck!