Over the years, we’ve heard much about the Cardinals Way – an organization-wide process credited with developing several untouted prospects into major league regulars. More recently, the Pirates Way of developing pitchers has been mentioned more and more frequently. The Nationals have developed their own Way, writes Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post. Janes goes into the details of a system that depends on consistency from the minor league coaching staff. Catchers are a lynchpin in helping pitchers to develop. Coordinators rove between the affiliates as pseudo-quality control officials. The details provide an interesting glimpse under the hood of the Nationals minor league system.
Here’s more from the NL East:
- Nationals reliever Matt Belisle may decide to opt out of his contract tomorrow afternoon, writes Bill Ladson of MLB.com. Belisle inked a minor league contract with the Nationals earlier in the winter. His opt out day is tomorrow. To this point, he’s allowed three runs in five and one-third innings. Washington does appear to have a full bullpen in place without Belisle, making it hard to see a spot for him on the 40-man roster. Belisle himself is unsure if he’ll exercise the opt out. His best years came in Colorado from 2011 through 2013.
- The Phillies still have two or three unclaimed spots in their bullpen, writes Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. Manager Pete Mackanin said the club may add an arm via trade or waivers. There’s also “a good possibility” the team will roll with three left-handed relievers. Dailer Hinojosa, Jeanmar Gomez, David Hernandez, and Brett Oberholtzer are the four guys with relative secure jobs. Salisbury believes veteran Edward Mujica is likely to make the team too, while Andrew Bailey has fallen off in recent outings. Rule 5 pick Daniel Stumpf may be at an advantage if the organization wants to keep him. He would be one of the lefties. Salisbury has a full account of the 12 relievers still in the mix.
- Injuries to the Phillies outfield could open an opportunity for minor league journeyman Cedric Hunter, writes Salisbury. The 28-year-old received five plate appearances from the Padres in 2011. The rest of his career has been spent in the minors. Hunter hit .283/.331/.420 in 515 Triple-A plate appearances with the Braves last season. He also hit 12 home runs with 11 stolen bases. Mackanin is impressed with Hunter’s work in camp, saying “he’s looked good all spring. He’s squared the ball up as well as anyone all spring and he’s shown a good arm. I like him a lot.” The lefty could make for a useful platoon option with Rule 5 pick Tyler Goeddel.
- Updating a report from yesterday, Braves outfielder Jeff Francoeur is likely competing with Emilio Bonifacio and Michael Bourn for one of two spots, writes Mark Bowman of MLB.com. Bowman suggests the club is set to either trade or release Nick Swisher, but their plans for Bonifacio and Bourn are less certain. Last season, Francouer drew praise from Phillies players and coaches for his role as a mentor. The Braves are in a similar rebuild, adding value to mentor-type veterans.